Tuesday, September 30, 2003

As the Plame story grows (something I wasn't expecting a week ago), the right-wing defense appears to be coalescing as well, lurching between "She and Wilson deserved it" and blaming it on Clinton.

Another long-lasting defense, though, is that it was actually the CIA that was responsible, and predictably enough, we've got Donald Luskin haplessly attempting to defend El Presidente.

Allen and Priest write,

"When Novak told a CIA spokesman he was going to write a column about Wilson's wife, the spokesman urged him not to print her name "for security reasons," according to one CIA official. Intelligence officials said they believed Novak understood there were reasons other than Plame's personal security not to use her name, even though the CIA has declined to confirm whether she was undercover.

"Novak said in an interview last night that the request came at the end of a conversation about Wilson's trip to Niger and his wife's role in it. 'They said it's doubtful she'll ever again have a foreign assignment,' he said. 'They said if her name was printed, it might be difficult if she was traveling abroad, and they said they would prefer I didn't use her name. It was a very weak request. If it was put on a stronger basis, I would have considered it.'"

This means that, effectively, the CIA itself participated in leaking Plame's identity. Think about the sequence of events. Novak talks to administration officials who tell him about Plame. He has the integrity to call someone at CIA to confirm his risky story before he runs with it -- and they confirmed it! Instead of saying "Valerie who? We've never heard of anyone named Valerie" or simply that "We don't answer media inquiries about CIA personnel" -- the CIA itself confirmed it, and in so doing the CIA itself leaked it.
Once again, Luskin doesn't get it. Novak got the information from the Administration, and called the CIA to confirm it. The CIA says "don't print this name, it'll create problems" to Novak, but he just takes it as confirmation and publishes it anyway.

To Luskin, that's complicitness, but Luskin (predictably) doesn't understand what the CIA guy did: that the information would have been out anyway. The "confirmation" was solely in an attempt to dissuade Novak from printing the name. It wasn't treason, it was damage control: not political (as Luskin and his ilk are attempting) but an attempt to prevent a grave injustice from taking place for partisan ends. They couldn't say "we don't know anybody by that name", because Novak would have taken it as CIA caginess and ran the story anyway.

I know that Tom Maguire and others have been flogging this "CIA leaked it" argument for months now, but in the wake of the Allan story, it's time to let it go. We know the administration did it, we know that she was working covertly (being an analyst has nothing to do with that, and Dsquared aptly described why she MUST HAVE BEEN COVERT, which Luskin screws up as well), and we know that the CIA is ticked about it, as the Allan source was almost certainly Tenet.

Oh, and one more thing, Donald:

Finally, I note with particular distaste that Billmon sent me an email himself (herself? who knows... he/she doesn't have the courage or integrity to blog or email under his/her actual name), to which I responded. He/she posted my response on his/her blog without my permission. That's a no-no... a serious violation of the netiquette observed by all decent netizens, and a copyright violation to boot. I've written to Billmon insisting that my comments be removed. We'll see. I'm not expecting much from him/her.
Hey, Donald? You know jack about copyright. If he's responding to the comments and credits them properly, it's fair use. Whether you sent them as an email or not has nothing to do with copyright, as whether or not they're publicly available has nothing to do with whether you have a copyright. The question of whether or not it's acceptable to publish emails is up in the air (I caught some hell for doing it and gave hell to Steven Den Beste for doing the same, so I've been on both sides), but as far as copyright, he's in the clear.

(If he isn't, then blogging's illegal. As Billmon aptly said: "See ya in court, asshole". )

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