Saturday, October 29, 2005

Unhappy Fitzmas

I've seen a few attempts to make the best of it, but Fitzmas was an absolute slam-dunk victory for the neocons. 60 years? Libby won't do 60 minutes. It's actually the best thing that ever happened to him. He'll be pardoned and have to spend a few years out of obvious political activity, during which time he'll be given millions of dollars for his valiant services to the Cause, but will be all ready to return in triumph to the Cheney administration, when he can destroy whatever of the world is still left. Libby doesn't have to turn over anybody in the Administration because he knows he won't do any time. Just like in the Mafia, a conviction adds to your prestige.

Why did Fitzgerald not go after anyone for the substantive crime itself? My guess is that he couldn't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Plame was actually undercover. According to former CIA officer Larry Johnson, the CIA was worried that Plame may have been outed to the Russians by Aldrich Ames. What did they do in response? They brought her back to the states but continued to send her on undercover work to Europe. This is completely incoherent. Did they think there was a 50% chance that her identity had been revealed so they decided to cut her undercover work by 50%? Here's Ledeen on the matter (and he's right!):

". . . I entirely agree with those who have said that Fitzgerald has introduced an entirely different rationale into this process. He was supposed to determine if anyone had outed a covert operative. In this indictment, and in his press conference, he just said that her identity was classified, and so he wants to prosecute people for improper use of classified information. I expect the defense will have fun with that one. Is it criminal to say that so and so works at CIA? If so, a lot of normal people and even some journalists should be prosecuted forthwith."

Here's Fitzgerald himself:

"Prior to July 14, 2003, Valerie Wilson's employment status was classified. Prior to that date, her affiliation with the CIA was not common knowledge outside the intelligence community. Disclosure of classified information about an individual's employment by the CIA has the potential to damage the national security in ways that range from preventing that individual's future use in a covert capacity, to compromising intelligence-gathering methods and operations, and endangering the safety of CIA employees and those who deal with them, the indictment states."

Note how carefully written this is, and that it has nothing to do with proving the charges Fitzgerald would have to prove ('covert' is the missing word). It is as if Fitzgerald is trying to cleverly combine the charges he meant to bring with espionage charges, something he can get away with in a press conference but not something he can get away with in court (note the same trick is tried by the lefties here). The many inconsistencies in the CIA story would allow any good defense attorney to tear the whole basis of the charge, that Plame really was undercover, to shreds.

The only important recent thinking on Plamegate is at Think Progress, where Jennifer Palmieri points out that George Tenet requested and got a meeting with Bush on June 2, 2004, resigned with no good reason ever being given, later that day Bush lawyered up for the first time on Plamegate, and a few days later Cheney was interviewed by Fitzgerald. Palmieri writes:

"What could account for this confluence of events? Had Tenet found himself in the uncomfortable position of having to tell Fitzgerald some damaging information about the Vice President and thought he needed to leave the Administration because of it? Did Tenet deliver some bad news to Bush the evening he met with him that would prompt the White House to feel the need to announce that the President had sought outside legal counsel? It's speculation, but there is no denying that the timing is curious.

Tenet must have told Bush that he told Fitzgerald that he was the one who told Cheney about Plame (although I note that the fact it was Tenet who told Cheney is still being denied by 'several former intelligence officials', a denial which is consistent with my theory that this whole matter is a CIA conspiracy). Tenet was thus in an impossible conflict between his duties to the Bush Administration and his duties to the CIA, and had to resign. The fact that Bush immediately had to lawyer up may mean that he had not been aware of what Cheney had been up to, or it may mean that Bush was for the first time made aware that he could not contain the situation once the Tenet cat was out of the bag. It can't be a coincidence that Tenet required an emergency resignation, without reasons, and Bush immediately needed a lawyer.

The lesson from all this for the American left?: stop putting all your political hopes on a Republican prosecutor appointed by John Ashcroft, get the crooked voting machine problem fixed (absolute job one!), and try to win an election or two.