Saturday, October 29, 2005

Our 27 months of hell (Or, "Just when you thought it was safe to pick up a newspaper...")

Whose hell? His, or ours? As part--apparently--of a publicity blitz, everybody's favorite opportunist has written a piece to whine and cry about the vagaries of his un-sought-after fame. Pardon me while I hurl.

"Like being punched in the stomach!"

But on July 14, 2003, our lives were irrevocably changed. That was the day columnist Robert Novak identified Valerie as an operative, divulging a secret that had been known only to me, her parents and her brother.Valerie told me later that it was like being hit in the stomach. Twenty years of service had gone down the drain. She immediately started jotting down a checklist of things she needed to do to limit the damage to people she knew and to projects she was working on. She wondered how her friends would feel when they learned that what they thought they knew about her was a lie.

Sounds odd when you juxtapose it with this: I'd allow the reporter to reveal that I "live in the Palisades, an affluent neighborhood of Washington, D.C., on the fringe of Georgetown." And if that kind of information weren't enough to really ensure my security, I would point out for the benefit of would-be evildoers that "the back of [my] house has a stunning view of the Washington Monument."

Or this: WOODWARD: ... They did a damage assessment within the CIA, looking at what this did that Joe Wilson's wife was outed. And turned out it was quite minimal damage. They did not have to pull anyone out undercover abroad. They didn't have to resettle anyone. There was no physical danger to anyone and there was just some embarrassment. So people have kind of compared -- somebody was saying this was Aldridge James or Bob Hanson, big spies. This didn't cause damage.

And especially this: Plame's "cover," a company called "Brewster-Jennings & Associates," was so flimsy that she used it as her affiliation when she made a 1999 contribution to Al Gore for president. She identified herself as "Valerie Wilson" in this case. The same Federal Election Commission records showing her contribution to Gore also reveal a $372 contribution to America Coming Together, when the group was organizing to defeat Bush.

The Wilson's are wonderfully adept at painting the picture of horribly-victimized patriots, it's just a shame that many facts don't quite do the story justice. What else does the champion of truth have to say?

Denial aint just a river in Egypt

Clinging to his meme like a hapless victim floating at sea clings to a life preserver, Wilson regurgitates his Niger story:

It was payback -cheap political payback by the administration for an article I had written contradicting an assertion President Bush made in his 2003 State of the Union address. Payback not just to punish me but to intimidate other critics as well.

Why did I write the article? Because I believe that citizens in a democracy are responsible for what government does and says in their name. I knew that the statement in Bush's speech- that Iraq had attempted to purchase significant quantities of uranium in Africa- was not true. I knew it was false from my own investigative trip to Africa (at the request of the CIA) and from two other similar intelligence reports. And I knew that the White House knew it.

Sorry Joe. The WH knew that British intelligence had independently sourced intel that confirmed the suspicion that Hussein was trying to buy weapons-grade material. An assertion that the British government still stands by today, two and one-half years later.

What I wonder is if you knew that. If you didn't know it at the time, I suppose I can forgive the mis-statement. But have you never heard of, much less read, the Senate Intelligence Committee's report that completely disproves your storyline?

From this bit of selective memory, we move into an even more stupefying bit of mental gymnastics. To this point Wilson has clung to the meme, asserting that what he stated was true and right and never refuted. From here he cranks it up a notch or two, moving to a bit of obtuse rhetoric that is stunning:

Although there were suggestions that she was behind the decision to send me to Niger, the CIA told Newsday just a week after the Novak article appeared that "she did not recommend her husband to undertake the Niger assignment." The CIA repeated the same statement to every reporter thereafter.

Thats fine as far as it goes, but it just doesn't go very far. I refer you and Joe back to the SIC report where it is learned that the CIA's own documentation makes it clear that Valerie worked to get her husband the assignment to Niger. Facts 2, Joe 0.

All light and no heat

As any good writer does, Joe saves his best for last. His close is bold and strong, asserting the rightness of his position. But once you get past the light, you realize there's no heat coming from this argument:

The grand jury has now concluded that at least one of the president's men committed crimes. We are heartened that our system of justice is working and appreciative of the work done by our fellow citizens who devoted two years of their lives to grand jury duty.The attacks on Valerie and me were upsetting, disruptive and vicious. They amounted to character assassination.

Senior administration officials used the power of the White House to make our lives hell for the last 27 months. But more important, they did it as part of a clear effort to cover up the lies and disinformation used to justify the invasion of Iraq. That is the ultimate crime.

A bold and strong statement to say the least, it sounds horrific until you understand what we're talking about. The 'crimes' in question more resemble this than they do this.

In 2004, Martha Stewart went to prison for obstructing justice in an investigation into a charge that could not be proven. Now we're watching the same movie with a slightly different cast. Seems to me--as well as a whole lot of other people more informed and knowledgeable on the subject--that if in fact Rove, Libby or anyone else committed an actual crime in their discussions of Ms. Plame's name that we'd have heard about it on Friday.

Instead what we got was a lot of pontificating about the alleged but apparently unprovable crime that no one will be charged with, coupled with an exacting explanation of tgenerallylly-accepted default indictments from a prosecutor who has nothing else to work with.

Yes, Joe! It's been a long time coming, but vindication at last!

Every day that he or any of his fellow travelers choose to speak on this, I become more convinced of the argument for the leak's status as proxy-fight over the Administration's Iraq policy. After 27 months of hearing how the WH had criminally persecuted this poor man and his wife and how this would be the tipping point for exposing the lies, deceit and wrong-doing of the Bush Administration, you can color me unimpressed.

Unimpressed with Joe's willfully obtuse re-telling of his story and wholly unimpressed with a two-plus year investigation that nets us no charges for the crime under investigation.

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