Another bite at the apple

by Ted on July 14, 2005

Jim Lindgren at the Volokh Conspiracy has joined the chorus of right-wingers whose interest in Joe Wilson outstrips their interest in anything else. He demonstrates how an intelligent mind can be seriously misled by restricting his sources to PowerLine (13 cites), the WSJ editorial page (6 cites), and single news story containing a significant error (5 cites).

Lindgren writes:

As the Washington Post reported: “According to the former Niger mining minister, Wilson told his CIA contacts, Iraq tried to buy 400 tons of uranium in 1998.” So Wilson had found evidence that tended to confirm the substance of the sentence in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

Quite a lot of the PowerLine/WSJ/Lindgren argument rests on this slender reed, but it’s not correct. The Washington Post has since printed a correction to that story- it was Iran, not Iraq.

Republicans have tried to argue that Wilson lied about the forged documents. The WSJ writes,

The same bipartisan report also pointed out that the forged documents Mr. Wilson claimed to have discredited hadn’t even entered intelligence channels until eight months after his trip.

This is misleading at best. Wilson didn’t claim that he discredited the documents- he didn’t even claim to have seen them! Wilson actually wrote,

As for the actual memorandum, I never saw it. But news accounts have pointed out that the documents had glaring errors — they were signed, for example, by officials who were no longer in government — and were probably forged. And then there’s the fact that Niger formally denied the charges.

Lindgren is correct that Wilson has falsely claimed that his wife had nothing to do with suggesting that he make the trip to Niger.[1][2] He is also correct to claim that the Senate report said differently. I’m pretty sure that the Senate report is correct, Wilson was lying, and Wilson deserves criticism for this.

However, Lindgren writes:

The Wall Street Journal says that Wilson had started lying to the press and public about how he was hired before his wife was outed, in part by Rove. (my emphasis)

Maybe I’m not reading carefully enough. But as far as I can see, the Wall Street Journal doesn’t actually claim this, and the charge itself isn’t true. Wilson’s editorial told the truth about how he was hired in his original New York Times column. He correctly identifies the people who sent him only as “agency officials.” Republicans have seriously misrepresented what Wilson said after his wife was outed (here, the RNC talking points claim that Wilson falsely asserted that Cheney sent him. In the very same interview cited by the RNC, Wilson said, “it’s absolutely true that neither the vice president nor Dr. Rice nor even George Tenet knew that I was traveling to Niger.”)

The best line of attack that the GOP has is an interview Wilson gave before his wife was outed in which he says:

Well, I went in, actually in February of 2002 was my most recent trip there—at the request, I was told, of the office of the vice president, which had seen a report in intelligence channels about this purported memorandum of agreement on uranium sales from Niger to Iraq.

Maybe this is what he was referring to. I honestly don’t know what role the office of the VP had in suggesting the trip. If Lindgren wants to argue that the trip was absolutely not requested by the office of the Vice-President, that Wilson wasn’t told that it was, and that the White House couldn’t respond without exposing Valerie Plame, he’s welcome to make that argument. Why it wouldn’t be possible to say, “The office of the VP didn’t suggest the trip” is unclear to me.

Lindgren tries out the argument that Plame wasn’t actually covert:

The other reason that Plame may not have been a covert agent is that, according to bloggers quoting Andrea Mitchell, who was involved in NBC’s early stories on Wilson, it was widely known that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA.

The sole evidence for this position is a post from Powerline, quoting an email, paraphrasing Andrea Mitchell. This won’t fly. Mel Goodman, a former CIA analyst, says “I’ve worked in Washington for the past 38 years, including 24 years at the CIA…and I know Ambassador Wilson….and I did not know that his wife was an agency employee.” Her friends and neighbors didn’t know. The CIA thought she was covert. Kevin Drum has collected quotes from four separate ex-CIA employees on the record saying Plame was undercover. This is not a sustainable argument.

Lindgren throws a lot of blame on Wilson:

Here it would be good to ask Wilson whether he thought that by lying about what he found in Niger and what he told the CIA and how he was selected, he was gambling with his wife’s safety. How could he be sure that people would know that Plame was a covert agent, or that there was a law against revealing her identity? Perhaps someone might have reasonably believed that they were correcting misimpressions that Wilson himself had created. Did Wilson realize that he had put the Administration in something analogous to a Catch-22?: Wilson can lie about how he was hired but the Administration can’t correct his lie without outing his wife. Did Wilson consciously decide to gamble with his wife’s safety by lying in a way that would be hard for the Administration to correct?

Kevin Drum does a good job of demolishing the idea of Joe Wilson as an angry anti-war extremist here. I’m sorry, but Wilson didn’t lie about what he found in Niger, or about what he told the CIA. His lie about his wife’s role in suggesting him postdates her exposure. His faith in the integrity of the White House was obviously misplaced, but that’s hardly sufficient reason to blame him.

Lindgren goes on to argue that Rove might not be guilty of a crime. I’d be a fool to argue with a law professor on the question; he may be right, or he may be wrong. I have to give him credit for finally acknowledging that there’s something not quite right about revealing the identity of a covert CIA agent, and acknowledging that Bush has some obligation to take action. But he does no service to his readers or himself by restricting his inputs so severely.

UPDATE: (a) Bob Somerby emails to explain the problem with Wilson’s history with the forged documents. It isn’t that Wilson said anything wrong in print about the docs; it’s that he left other reporters with the impression that he had found problems in the documents. That’s obviously not OK, and Bob is correct to argue that liberals are under no obligation to overlook it. I know we’re all sick of hearing “Wilson’s not the story here,” but Wilson’s not the story here. Rove’s decision to expose a covert operative is the story.

(b) Lindgren has updated his post.To his credit, he doesn’t use the incorrect line about Iraq trying to buy 400 tons of uranium. To his discredit, he makes no edits to the rest of his post; he still seems to feel that his anti-Wilson accusations, tone, and anger are all still appropriate, even without an offense to pin them on.

[1] A lot of comments are unhappy with this assertion. I was convinced by Tom Maguire that Wilson had misrepresented his wife’s role after she was exposed. I can’t reconcile this statement:

Apart from being the conduit of a message from a colleague in her office asking if I would be willing to have a conversation about Niger’s uranium industry, Valerie had had nothing to do with the matter. (from Joe Wilson’s book)

with this:

On February 12, 2002, the former ambassador’s wife sent a memorandum to a Deputy Chief of a division in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations which said, “[m]y husband has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity.” (from the Republican addendum to the Senate report.)

I don’t think that she did anything wrong by suggesting him, but I’m convinced that she did, in fact, suggest him.

[2] Read the comments; this might be more ambiguous than I’ve allowed.

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1

Anderson 07.14.05 at 10:59 am

There are good reasons why Jim Lindgren has not joined the Conspiracy’s move to enabling comments on posts.

2

Adrian 07.14.05 at 11:10 am

In fact the WaPo page Lindgren links to also contains the correction (though in a side column rather than interpolated), so it’s not the WaPo’s fault that Lindgren is still making this error.

3

Horatio 07.14.05 at 11:14 am

I think this is a case of seeing what you want to see.

4

Grand Moff Texan 07.14.05 at 11:15 am

Lindgren is correct that Wilson has falsely claimed that his wife had nothing to do with suggesting that he make the trip to Niger. He is also correct to claim that the Senate report said differently. I’m pretty sure that the Senate report is correct, Wilson was lying, and Wilson deserves criticism for this.

Uh, no. Plame didn’t have the authority to send him. Her superiors at the CIA cleared this up some time ago, and even went to USA Today with the story. Her coworker (still unnamed) did the same with Newsday.

The Senate report relied on the same INR memo (which the CIA also corrected) and the word of one guy who wasn’t in the meeting in question.

So, this is supposed to impeach Wilson’s credibility? Uh, no. But beyond that, it’s beside the point. Nothing Wilson says or does changes what happened to Plame. Screaming about Wilson is simply the right’s diversionary tactic, and I suspect the people they’re trying to divert are themselves. They continue to recycle old falsehoods, so if anyone has a credibility problem …..
.

5

geoff 07.14.05 at 11:16 am

As someone who likes the Volokh Conspiracy, and considers it to be generally fair and intellectually honest, I was sad to read Jim’s post, which digested far too much spin without a critical look at the underlying facts. The above post does a good job of pointing out the inaccuracies in much of what he writes.

That said, a larger issue is still whether Wilson’s conversations have any bearing whatsoever on the appropriateness of Karl Rove’s actions. They do not. The argument that Wilson’s “inaccuracies” couldn’t be discredited without outing his wife is utterly absurd on its face. A statement that Wilson was recommended by internal agency operatives or employees is sufficient right there. What Joe Wilson said or did has absolutely no revelance whatsoever to the Rove’s actions, end of story, and I truly wish conservatives would stop trying to link the two. I am concerned when these lines are crossed, no less by my own party than by any other.

6

Steve J. 07.14.05 at 11:18 am

“Maybe this is what he was referring to. I honestly don’t know what role the office of the VP had in suggesting the trip. “

This is from the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report:

PAGE 38

() Based on information from the CIA report from the foreign service, on February 12, 2002, the DIA wrote a finished intelligence product titled Niamey signed an agreement to sell 500 tons of uranium a year to Baghdad (NMJIC [National Military Joint Intelligence Center] Executive Highlight, Vol 028-02, February 12, 2002).

[snip]

() After reading the DIA report, the Vice President asked his morning briefer for the CIA’s analysis of the issue. In response, the Director of Central Intelligence’s (DCI) Center for Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control (WINPAC) published a Senior Publish When Ready (SPWR021402-05), an intelligence assessment with limited distribution, which said, “information on the alleged uranium contract between Iraq and Niger comes exclusively from a foreign government service report that lacks crucial details, and we are working to clarify the information and to determine whether it can be corroborated.” The piece discussed the details of the DO intelligence report and indicated that “some of the information in

PAGE 42

(U) On March 1, 2002, INR published an intelligence assessment, Niger: Sale of Uranium is Unlikely. The INR analyst who drafted the assessment told the Committee staff that he had been told that the piece was in response to interest from the Vice President’s office in the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium deal.

More excerpts at:

http://radamisto.blogspot.com/2005/07/joe-wilson-senate.html

7

darrelplant 07.14.05 at 11:19 am

I’m actually sort of hoping that Fitzgerald calls (or has called) in Andrea Mitchell to explore her comments about how widely-known Plame’s status as a CIA agent was.

http://www.darrelplant.com/blog_item.php?ItemRef=254

8

(different) Ted 07.14.05 at 11:22 am

Wilson is NOT lying about his wifes role. Keep in mind that

a) when asked many of the questions about “who sent him” just because he didn’t mention his wife does not prove that he was lying. If you remember things correctly, Wilson was making NO comments on his wife after she was outed. He said he would make no comment on her status with the CIA at all – due to obvious reasons. Thus, his not coming out right away and saying “my wife was involved in this” does not prove he was lying then.

b) Even the Senate report is INCONCLUSIVE about as to if his wife’s suggested him for the TRIP or suggested for him to be brought into the CIA for information about his knowledge of the region. What’s CLEAR from the Senate report is exactly what Wilson has always said when he could talk about it: his wife suggested (in a memo) that the CIA contact him for information on the vice president’s office request – as he was familiar with Niger and the officials in question (from the British report). He was brought into the CIA, they had discussions and then they asked him to go. There is no evidence WHATSOEVER that his wife originally suggested him for the trip itself, only that she thought he was someone the CIA could talk to about the reports. It’s not even clear if the CIA even wanted to send someone to Niger originally anyway as that determination was only made based upon meetings with Joe Wilson himself (at which is wife was NOT present) All of this is clearly documented in the Senate report. The conclusion that his wife suggested him for the TRIP (while mentioned as the probably conclusion by the report) is NOT backed up by the evidence in the report itself. Read at page 39 of the report for more information

9

Nur al-Cubicle 07.14.05 at 11:25 am

I have a rather long post on my blog today which you are invited to read. It is an article written for La Repubblica which recounts the Niger forgeries and Joe Wilson’s verification mission to the African republic. [This is also recounted at War in Context]

Once you’ve refreshed yourselves on the dossier, you will see that a massive smokescreen has been deployed not only by the Bush Administration but by Blair and Berlusconi who are unquestionably implicated in the compilation and mishandling of the dossier.

Sure wish we had those meeting notes from the Azores!

10

Grand Moff Texan 07.14.05 at 11:27 am

What Joe Wilson said or did has absolutely no revelance whatsoever to the Rove’s actions, end of story, and I truly wish conservatives would stop trying to link the two.

As Kevin Drum observed yesterday, many in the right blogsphere who were initially concerned about the outing (I remember Tacitus specifically, but I don’t mean to single him out) were now squarely onboard with the (irrelevant) talking points.

I can only imagine that much of the celebration on the left has made them defensive. There is still (according to WaPo) another WH official to be named, so in the fullness of time the picture cannot but be different from what it is now and that reasonable people will acknowlege it.
.

11

media in trouble 07.14.05 at 11:30 am

Don’t forget Wizbang also used that Wapo Article in its Ocham’s razoring of the sitution:

http://wizbangblog.com/archives/006463.php

Please notice my comment:
http://wizbangblog.com/archives/006463.php#081010

12

Steve Laniel 07.14.05 at 11:37 am

You know, liberals lose on these debates when they get bogged down in ridiculous detail. Republicans inject tons of doubt into issues that are really not confusing at all — who went where, who assigned what to whom, who did what.

We lose if we start debating on their terms. Here’s our talking point: “The government outed a secret agent, and her sources in Europe may have died as a result. This woman risked her life for her country. We need to bring the leakers to justice.” Everything else is just needless detail, and it serves the Republicans’ purposes.

The last time we let them do this, John Kerry lost the presidency. When is the last time you remember a Purple Heart being called into question? We shouldn’t let them do this again: this woman was a secret agent, they outed her, and they need to be punished for it.

13

Diane 07.14.05 at 11:39 am

I’m not so sure that Wilson lied about his wife recommending him for the job. Yes, there is a memo from Valerie Plame saying that her husband would be qualified for the job. But I remember vaguely that at the time that memo was released, she said that it was in response to a request from someone who asked her if her husband could do the job, not initiated spontaneously. This may have just been a rumor I heard, but if it is true, then it could prove that Wilson didn’t lie about *anything*, since this is the only falsehood that bears up under scrutiny. Or is there other evidence that she actually arranged for him to take the trip?

14

Tomm 07.14.05 at 11:55 am

Wilson did not lie about his wife’s role. This is yet another canard from the dead duck Demagogue and is traitorous brain. See the lead salon.com story today by Sidney Blumenthal, and I quote:

“The CIA subsequently issued a statement, as reported by New York Newsday and CNN, that the Republican senators’ conclusion about Plame’s role was wholly inaccurate. But the Washington Post’s Susan Schmidt reported only the Republican senators’ version, writing that Wilson was “specifically recommended for the mission by his wife, a CIA employee, contrary to what he has said publicly,” in a memo she wrote. Schmidt quoted a CIA official in the senators’ account saying that Plame had “offered up” Wilson’s name. Plame’s memo, in fact, was written at the express directive of her superiors two days before Wilson was to come to Langley for his meeting to describe his qualifications in a standard protocol to receive “country clearance.” Unfortunately, Schmidt’s article did not reflect this understanding of routine CIA procedure. The CIA officer who wrote the memo that originally recommended Wilson for the mission — who was cited anonymously by the senators as the only source who said that Plame was responsible — was deeply upset at the twisting of his testimony, which was not public, and told Plame he had said no such thing. CIA spokesman Bill Harlow told Wilson that the Republican Senate staff never contacted him for the agency’s information on the matter.

“Curiously, the only document cited as the basis for Plame’s role was a State Department memo that was later debunked by the CIA. The Washington Post, on Dec. 26, 2003, reported: “CIA officials have challenged the accuracy of the … document, the official said, because the agency officer identified as talking about Plame’s alleged role in arranging Wilson’s trip could not have attended the meeting. ‘It has been circulated around,’ one official said.” Even more curious, one of the outlets where the document was circulated was Talon News Service and its star correspondent, Jeff Gannon (aka Guckert). (Talon was revealed to be a partisan front for a Texas-based operation called GOPUSA and Gannon was exposed as a male prostitute, without previous journalistic credentials yet with easy and unexplained access to the White House.) According to the Post, “the CIA believes that people in the administration continue to release classified information to damage the figures at the center of the controversy.”

15

Kenneth Fair 07.14.05 at 12:03 pm

More to the point, who gives a rat’s ass whether his wife recommended him for the trip? What difference does it make to his qualifications, his investigation into the matter, or – most of all – the fact that there were no sales of uranium to Iraq?

And all of this is totally beside the point. Even if Joe Wilson were a murderous psychopath who drank the blood of infants, it still wouldn’t justify outing a covert CIA agent just for political retribution. I see a lot of shuffling and handwaving and goalpost-moving from the right-wing noise machine, but I haven’t heard one concrete reason why blowing an undercover agent and her front company was justified.

Keep in mind that this isn’t the only undercover agent this administration has blown – it also revealed the name of an al-Qaeda mole.

16

David in NY 07.14.05 at 12:03 pm

You know, I think something’s being missed here. If Wilson was such a liar, why did the White House have to go to the extremes it did to intimidate him and others. I think their extreme, if not criminal, actions give credit to what he was saying.

17

David Weigel 07.14.05 at 12:10 pm

I emailed Jim Lindgren a note about his Washington Post error at about 7:15am ET today. Since then he’s made two updates, but hasn’t corrected his mistake.

18

Horatio 07.14.05 at 12:14 pm

Apropos to your comment, Steve, check out this post at Dodecahedron.

19

Steady Eddie 07.14.05 at 12:21 pm

tomm, thanks for the cite to and quote from the Blumenthal article with the WaPo story about how the CIA debunked the INR [State Dept.] memo about the origins etc. of Wilson’s trip. That’s the same debunked INR memo that Steve j. cited, above, in his quote from Sen. Roberts’ half-baked report.

(That’s the Intelligence Committee report which the Democrats only partly signed onto, and then only with the promise, on which they have since largely been double-crossed by Roberts, that this “fixed” intelligence business would be revisited in a second stage investigation of how it was “fixed”. So don’t go claiming, Steve j., that because parts of the report were bipartisan that all of its assertions are beyond reproach or question. The report is a substantially bogus mess.)

20

Jon H 07.14.05 at 12:29 pm

I was going to make diane’s point, but she beat me to it.

The alleged email from Plame to a superior could well have been in response to some request, which may well have been verbal.

ie “Valerie, I told so-and-so that your husband would be good for the Niger trip. He wanted more information about Joe’s background. Could you send him an email?”

21

Felix Deutsch 07.14.05 at 12:31 pm

[1] A lot of comments are unhappy with this assertion. I was convinced by Tom Maguire that Wilson had misrepresented his wife’s role after she was exposed. I can’t reconcile this statement:

[…]

I don’t think that she did anything wrong by suggesting him, but I’m convinced that she did, in fact, suggest him.

The reason you can’t reconcile Wilson’s statement with the partisan Republican amendement is that the latter conveniently omits that Plame was prompted to write this memo by her chain of command.

Get it? Maguire is scum, just like the rest of them.

22

Bill 07.14.05 at 12:33 pm

He’s now “corrected” his post, but in a way that severely diminishes my respect for Mr. Lindgren. Check it out.

23

von 07.14.05 at 12:44 pm

Linked by ObWi [Second Update.]

24

Uncle Kvetch 07.14.05 at 12:49 pm

New wingunt talking point ahoy!

Via World o’ Crap, we learn that Ann Coulter has her own pet theory about just why Joe Wilson was sent to Niger:

“His government bureaucrat wife wanted to get him out of the house, so she sent him on a taxpayer-funded government boondoggle.”

You know, once you stop worrying and learn to love the wingnuts, this kind of stuff can actually be fun. I can’t wait to see this meme evolve as it makes the rounds–what’s really up with that marriage, anyway? Why was she so hellbent on getting him sent to Africa in the first place? Could Valerie Plame have “Hilary” issues, if you know what I mean? Hey, I’m just saying…

Over to you, Ms. Malkin. You know what to do.

25

molly bloom 07.14.05 at 12:51 pm

“Wilson can lie about how he was hired but the Administration can’t correct his lie without outing his wife. Did Wilson consciously decide to gamble with his wife’s safety by lying in a way that would be hard for the Administration to correct?”

Couldn’t the administration simply have stated “VP Cheney did not send Wilson, some low level CIA person did” instead of identifying Ms. Wilson as a CIA agent. Lingren needs to rethink or just admit he is regurgitating GOP talking points.

26

jerry 07.14.05 at 1:03 pm

You use the word “lie” very easily. Too easily? Too glibly?

27

Ted 07.14.05 at 1:15 pm

That’s a judgement call, Jerry. I’m genuinely disgusted by the self-sparing bend-over-backwards parsing that I’m seeing from the Republicans, and I really don’t want to indulge in it myself.

28

shinypenny 07.14.05 at 1:22 pm

More to the point, who gives a rat’s ass whether his wife recommended him for the trip? What difference does it make to his qualifications, his investigation into the matter, or – most of all – the fact that there were no sales of uranium to Iraq?

I’m confused about this too. Why does it matter? And how does it make Rove’s outing of his wife OK?

29

jerry 07.14.05 at 1:27 pm

Hmm, how about if you only use when discussing Republicans then? (Okay, I’m kidding.)

Still when dealing with humans with known faulty recollection devices and funky neural devices in control of their speech centers and a general lack of facts known, and various bureacracies it seems that there is a certain grace or elegance or simplicity to be had by being generous with the benefit of a doubt.

Unless you’re dealing with Republicans…. (Kidding again.)

30

owenz 07.14.05 at 1:31 pm

Sidney Blumenthol makes a persuasive case that Wilson’s wife did not, in fact, “suggest” that he take the trip. Rather, her two direct superiors requested that she send her husband – a request she complied with.

http://www.salon.com/opinion/blumenthal/2005/07/14/plame/index.html

[i]The CIA subsequently issued a statement, as reported by New York Newsday and CNN, that the Republican senators’ conclusion about Plame’s role was wholly inaccurate. But the Washington Post’s Susan Schmidt reported only the Republican senators’ version, writing that Wilson was “specifically recommended for the mission by his wife, a CIA employee, contrary to what he has said publicly,” in a memo she wrote. Schmidt quoted a CIA official in the senators’ account saying that Plame had “offered up” Wilson’s name. Plame’s memo, in fact, was written at the express directive of her superiors two days before Wilson was to come to Langley for his meeting to describe his qualifications in a standard protocol to receive “country clearance.” Unfortunately, Schmidt’s article did not reflect this understanding of routine CIA procedure.[/i]

31

Nash 07.14.05 at 1:49 pm

“UPDATE: (a) Bob Somerby emails to explain the problem with Wilson’s history with the forged documents. It isn’t that Wilson said anything wrong in print about the docs; it’s that he left other reporters with the impression that he had found problems in the documents. That’s obviously not OK, and Bob is correct to argue that liberals are under no obligation to overlook it.”

Let me get this straight. People like you and Somerby who are both inside baseball in terms of connections to people involved in and discussing this story think you can expect the REST OF US to come to the same conclusions you have based on the unpublished, unverified assertion that Wilson misled some reporters???

Sorry, that don’t hunt. You gotta give me, e.g., the date when Wilson started this disinformation campaign. Before or after it became general knowledge that the documents existed and that they were forged? And you gotta give it to me not as an inside baseball assertion by “the red states don’t watch Desparate Housewifes” Bob.

We trust you, but we don’t “trust” you, if you get what I mean.

32

Gareth 07.14.05 at 1:56 pm

I agree with jerry’s point that it is important not to overuse the term “lie” when people say things that turn out to be overstatements. Valerie Plame surely had something to do with the sequence of events that led Wilson to Niger, so he overstated.

But anyone who has read witness statements about a motor vehicle accident knows that honest witnesses overstate or understate and get things wrong. No one can expect to stand up to the barrage of nit-picking that the right unleashes when one of its princelings is in trouble.

Anyway, Wilson’s character doesn’t matter. Rove has now confirmed that he gave identifying information about someone who worked for the CIA. He may still have a few technical excuses between that and a criminal conviction, but, clearly, he should be fired.

The bigger point is that for these people (very much including Powerline, Glenn Reynolds, the Volokhs, etc.) loyalty to the Republican leadership trumps loyalty to country, basic morality or anything else.

33

Cliff 07.14.05 at 2:04 pm

On the claim that Wilson in unpublished comments did imply he had seen the documents, I wouldn’t be surprised if say, he had gotten copies, discreetly forwarded by e.g. contacts in British intelligence who knew just how bogus they were.

It could have even been a fwd:fwd:fwd:Check out this horrible amateur forging! ROFL circulated amongst the actual clued-in people in intelligence.

34

Felix Deutsch 07.14.05 at 2:09 pm

Lindgren is correct that Wilson has falsely claimed that his wife had nothing to do with suggesting that he make the trip to Niger.[1] He is also correct to claim that the Senate report said differently. I’m pretty sure that the Senate report is correct, Wilson was lying, and Wilson deserves criticism for this.

The partisan Republican addendum is “correct”, but only in a tortured way because it doesn’t give the complete story. It doesn’t “say differently” at all.

One can perfectly reconcile both accounts when keeping in mind that Plame was asked to write the memo.

Classic example for misdirection.

A little bit more critical thinking, please.

35

Steve 07.14.05 at 2:18 pm

My prediction:
This story ain’t going nowhere. Its too complicated, its too obscure, its too weird to have a clear right and wrong (as a comparison, Sandy Berger admitted to stealing classified documents in his socks, taking them home, and destroying them. And nothing happened). As a casual observer, I can’t understand why Robert Novak isn’t in jail (he broke the story, right?), and the lady from the New York Times is in jail (even though she didn’t even write a story?). It sounds like Wilson’s wife’s identity was common knowledge among the big wigs in Washington, it sounds like even if Karl Rove did what he’s accused of doing, he’s got a reasonable wiggle story (didn’t say her name, just said ‘his wife’ or somesuch, did it to downpeddle Wilson’s credibility rather than to expose his wife). And the whole premise: a government guy (whether Rove or someone else) exposed a covert agent to a reporter, knowing the reporter would spread the information around and expose the identity further, thus ruining the career of the covert agent, is itself ugly-its not clear that the government guy is any worse than the reporters that spread the story (nor no better)-just kind of a seedy story about a seedy town. Just too many bizarre, compicated, and ultimately trivial facts about a pretty obscure event (government bureaucrat in the CIA can no longer do covert work. Ho hum).
My own prediction? This story screams in the headlines for two or three more days, Bush announces his Supreme Court pick, and the story disappears as the Supreme Court fight dominates the headlines.

Steve

36

Bernard Yomtov 07.14.05 at 2:23 pm

I agree absolutely with Steve Laniel (#12).

It si idiotic to get bogged down in a bunch of irrelevant matters about Wilson, who sent him, etc. It doesn’t matter. Anyone, like Lindgren, who claims it does, is just spreading Republican spin.

Let’s stick to one point. Did Rove identify Plame as a CIA agent?

37

Basharov 07.14.05 at 2:29 pm

It isn’t that Wilson said anything wrong in print about the docs; it’s that he left other reporters with the impression that he had found problems in the documents.

What a weaselly way to call someone a liar. “He didn’t actually lie “in print,” but “he left other reporters with the impression that he had found problems in the documents.” So now Wilson is responsible for the “impressions” that these idiot reporters come away with after talking to him? What was he supposed to do? “Hey, guys, now that I’ve told you what I thought about the documents after reading about them in the news, what ‘impressions’ are you taking away with you? Please tell me so that I won’t leave you with the wrong ‘impressions,’ because if I do, Bob Somerby will decide that I lied about whether my wife was the one who sent me off on the wonderful, all-expenses paid vacation in the tropical paradise of Niger.”

Jeez, give me a break.

38

Richard McAdams 07.14.05 at 2:31 pm

“I can’t reconcile this statement:

“‘Apart from being the conduit of a message from a colleague in her office asking if I would be willing to have a conversation about Niger’s uranium industry, Valerie had had nothing to do with the matter. (from Joe Wilson’s book)’

“with this:

“‘On February 12, 2002, the former ambassador’s wife sent a memorandum to a Deputy Chief of a division in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations which said, “[m]y husband has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity.” (from the Republican addendum to the Senate report.)'”

What if (a) Plame’s colleague asked her to ask her husband to talk about it, based on general but vague understanding of his qualifications, and then after Wilson agree to the meeting, (b) Plame was asked to provide some specific background on Wilson for the individuals who Wilson was to meet with? As someone else said, timing is everything.

39

Grand Moff Texan 07.14.05 at 2:39 pm

Also from the oft linked article on this thread:

Schmidt quoted a CIA official in the senators’ account saying that Plame had “offered up” Wilson’s name. Plame’s memo, in fact, was written at the express directive of her superiors two days before Wilson was to come to Langley for his meeting to describe his qualifications in a standard protocol to receive “country clearance.” Unfortunately, Schmidt’s article did not reflect this understanding of routine CIA procedure. The CIA officer who wrote the memo that originally recommended Wilson for the mission — who was cited anonymously by the senators as the only source who said that Plame was responsible — was deeply upset at the twisting of his testimony, which was not public, and told Plame he had said no such thing. CIA spokesman Bill Harlow told Wilson that the Republican Senate staff never contacted him for the agency’s information on the matter.

.

40

Observer 07.14.05 at 2:48 pm

Mark Kleiman has a superb post at his website concerning why Rove may in fact be convicted of a crime. Lindgren focused exclusively on the IIPA, but as Kleiman convincingly points out, Rove might in fact be indicted for both espionage and for making false statements.

mailto:mark@markarkleiman.com?subject=The Plame Game:     No, it’s not all about     the Intelligence Identities Protection Act

41

TimW 07.14.05 at 2:49 pm

Who cares about Joe Wilson?? Fine… defend him because the smears against him are absolutely sickening on their face. The Republicans are actually trying to turn Rove into the whistleblower and Wilson into vindictive political scum… when it’s clearly the other way around.

Again… who cares about Joe Wilson?? This is about Karl Rove comitting a crime! It’s about Karl Rove being more concerned about destroying his political opponents… national security and the rule of law be damned. This scandal is not much ado about who is giving the President his blowjobs… this is about White House officials that would rather see their political opponents smeared than protect our national security secrets.

The political propaganda spin machine that is the modern Republican party is disgusting. Karl Rove is the poster boy of the GOP and his life story is their operating manual.

Read all about it…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Rove

42

TimW 07.14.05 at 2:59 pm

#36 Steve…

You’re right. It is tough to get to the bottom of many stories when you’re bombarded with ridiculous lies and spin. It would be hard for anyone to make sense of it all. Which is why the focus should stay off of Wilson and remain squarely on Karl Rove and the White House.

And I’m sure that if and when criminal indictments come down… EVERYONE will take notice. “White House Deputy Chief of Staff Indicted on Felony Charges” will get a reaction out of people.

A reporter is now in jail and a high ranking White House official has now been caught in a lie. A prosecutor doesn’t stick his neck out like Patrick Fitzgerald has.. especially when Republicans hold all the levers of power… unless there is something to this case. Stay tuned…

43

Brooklyn Girl 07.14.05 at 3:12 pm

I can’t reconcile this statement:

Apart from being the conduit of a message from a colleague in her office asking if I would be willing to have a conversation about Niger’s uranium industry, Valerie had had nothing to do with the matter. (from Joe Wilson’s book)

with this:

On February 12, 2002, the former ambassador’s wife sent a memorandum to a Deputy Chief of a division in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations which said, “[m]y husband has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity.” (from the Republican addendum to the Senate report.)

Why not? They are basically each saying one half of the same thing. Valerie Plame knew what the CIA had been asked to investigate and realized that her husband’s area of expertise was relevant and appropriate. She wrote a memo on February 12, 2002 describing that expertise to a superior. The superior felt that Wilson’s background qualified him for the trip. She conveyed that message. Wilson went to Niger.

Big deal.

44

Walt Pohl 07.14.05 at 3:12 pm

Either a certain segment of the American population has been eating lead paint, or the absurd opinions being expressed on this comment thread and elsewhere are bought and paid for. Everyone posting here, pro or con, knows perfectly well that what Karl Rove did was wrong, and that he should go to jail for it. Everyone posting here knows perfectly well that Joe Wilson said that he thought Iran was trying to buy 400 tons of uranium, not Iraq. Everyone knows perfectly well that the office of the Vice President asked the CIA for information about Niger yellowcake, so the CIA sent Wilson because he was a logical person to send, and that his wife did not have the power to send him anywhere. But there are far more people reading this comment board than commenting on it, so if the Republican party operatives can confuse just one person about the crime that was committed here, then someone’s money was well-spent.

45

kth 07.14.05 at 3:26 pm

Wilson’s statement that his wife “had nothing to do with” his being sent to Niger is dubious, and to call it a lie is perhaps at the absolute edge of what is fair.

But Wilson was taunted into this borderline lie by a straight-up, unequivocal lie: that his wife “sent” him on the Niger trip.

Of the two lies, Rove’s is ten times the more egregious.

46

a ship in the night 07.14.05 at 3:28 pm

This is misleading at best. Wilson didn’t claim that he discredited the documents- he didn’t even claim to have seen them!

Well the Senate Committe report provides a different account:

(U) The former ambassador also told Committee staff that he was the source of a Washington Post article (“CIA Did Not Share Doubt on Iraq Data; Bush Used Report of Uranium Bid,” June 12,2003) which said, “among the Envoy’s conclusions was that the documents may have been forged because ‘the dates were wrong and the names were wrong.”’ Committee staff asked how the former ambassador could have come to the conclusion that the “dates were wrong and the names were wrong” when he had never seen the CIA reports and had no knowledge of what names and dates were in the reports. The former ambassador said that he may have “misspoken”to the reporter when he said he concluded the documents were “forged.”

So he admitted to the committee that he had misspoken to a reporter about the authenticty of the Niger forged documents. Of course he then admitted that he got confused in his recollection.

Somerby is right. Wilson is not someone who libs need to go to bat for simply because he says what they want to hear.

47

Frank Probst 07.14.05 at 3:32 pm

On February 12, 2002, the former ambassador’s wife sent a memorandum to a Deputy Chief of a division in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations which said, “[m]y husband has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity.” (from the Republican addendum to the Senate report.)

——————————————————

I agree that this makes it sound like Wilson was lying about his wife’s role in getting him the trip to Niger. Blumenthal over at salon.com has said that this memo was written AFTER the decision was made to send Wilson, and that such memos is standard operating procedure for getting someone country clearance to make trips like this. The fact that this was in the Republican addendum to the report seems suspicious to me. I’m still inclined to believe that Wilson was lying. I suppose it’s possible he didn’t know his wife wrote the memo. In any case, there’s a date to work with here. When was the decision made to send Wilson to Niger? Was it before or after 2/12/02?

48

few 07.14.05 at 3:37 pm

My own prediction? This story screams in the headlines for two or three more days, Bush announces his Supreme Court pick, and the story disappears as the Supreme Court fight dominates the headlines.

Maybe, but I doubt it. The press is too worked up over Rove’s denial (via McClellan) of being the leaker. However, even if you are right and the story does disappear in a few days, it will come screaming back with a vengeance when the indictments come down. That’s the beauty of it; Republicans can spew all the misdirection they want, but this time it’s more that the press and public they have to fool. It’s a federal prosecutor. We are eventually going to learn the facts, and they ain’t gonna be pretty for Rove.

49

Diane 07.14.05 at 4:18 pm

In response to those who feel that it doesn’t matter if Wilson is telling the truth… Yes, it does. To me, at least. It’s true that even if Wilson were the biggest liar in the world, what Rove did was reprehensible. But it’s important to me that *I* know the truth, and I’m grateful to everybody in this thread who helped sort it out. Thanks.

50

james 07.14.05 at 4:19 pm

People in positions of power need to be held accountable to the law. If there is reason to believe Rove broke the law, it should go to trail. If he is found guilty, he should face jail time. If it turns out to be treason, he should face the death penalty.

The press did a poor job of researching and covering the Iraq / Niger news stories. Incorrect information was presented. Both the Iraqi pro-war and anti-war Iraqi war factions benefited from these incorrect stories.

51

Felix Deutsch 07.14.05 at 4:36 pm

frank–
I agree that this makes it sound like Wilson was lying about his wife’s role in getting him the trip to Niger. Blumenthal over at salon.com has said that this memo was written AFTER the decision was made to send Wilson, and that such memos is standard operating procedure for getting someone country clearance to make trips like this. The fact that this was in the Republican addendum to the report seems suspicious to me. I’m still inclined to believe that Wilson was lying. I suppose it’s possible he didn’t know his wife wrote the memo. In any case, there’s a date to work with here. When was the decision made to send Wilson to Niger? Was it before or after 2/12/02?

No, you go it wrong and thus mischaracterize the question.

The final decison was made after 2/12/02, but not by Plame and only after Wilson was interviewed by the CIA.

The point is that Plame wrote the memo because she was asked by her higher-ups who knew her husband to provide a concise writeup of Wilson’s credentials (which were casually known at the CIA).

52

Robert Waldmann 07.14.05 at 5:28 pm

I haven’t read the comments above (naughty me). I would like to address the very unimportant question of whether Wilson lied about Plame’s role in choosing him. Just as an exercise I would like to see if I can reconcile the claim in Wilson’s book “Apart from being the conduit of a message … Valerie had had nothing to do with the matter.”

With the memorandum from Plame to a Deputy Chief of a division in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations“[m]y husband has good relations with both the PM and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity.”

Now when I recommend my spouse as expert on a matter, I don’t always tell her. Plame might perfectly well have neglected to tell Wilson about the memorandum at the time either because it was boring or because she wished to give him the impression that someone else remembered and valued his qualifications (spouses do stuff like that).

Of course, I have to argue that Plame did not proofread Wilson’s book. Now I personally sure find that plausible, but my personal spouse has never written about me in a book (she promises me that the husband character in her short story is completely fictional and I trust her enough that I will never ever read it).

I mean you shouldn’t assume that a husband knows what his wife is saying about him or that a wife knows what her husband is writing about her.

Or maybe Plame forgot about the memo she had written over a year earlier (it happens). I mean Ted do you remember every blog post you wrote 12 months ago ? I’ve read things that I have written and said something like “damn that hits the nail on the head” then blushed when it was explained that I was the author.

My guess, like Ted’s, is that it would be odd if Plame had no input on the choice of Wilson and that Wilson lied to make her seem even more of an innocent bystander than she is. Like Ted, I don’t think this matters at all.

53

bling 07.14.05 at 5:43 pm

There is no evidence WHATSOEVER that his wife originally suggested him for the trip itself, only that she thought he was someone the CIA could talk to about the reports.

Yeah, didn’t the Wilsons have twin toddlers at that point? I really don’t think she’d be urging that he be sent to Niger then. Toddlers are hard enough for one parent, but twins?

One thing I think is quite unjust is these two long-time civil servants– for mere political reasons– are being tarred as being somehow unpatriotic or deceitful. The truth probably is that she didn’t really want her husband to go on what could have been a dangerous trip when they had small children, and he probably had other vacation sites in mind than Niger– but they both placed their own country’s interest over their own and “donated” this. I know that Rove and Bush and the rest of them have complete contempt for the vast majority of Americans– they show it in so many ways. But they and their advocates make me almost apoplectic. They are happy to trash other people’s reputations, ruin their careers, and then point fingers and say, “See? They’re publicity hounds!”

What Bush and Rove have done to public discourse in this country– their disregard of fair play, their absolute devotion to untruth, their contempt for logic and rationality and evidence… it’s enough to make me despair. I don’t know if we can come back from this. I firmly believe most Americans don’t want this– just as they didn’t want Clinton’s private life used against him and showed their support by giving him great approval ratings through the impeachment. Bush hasn’t figured out that maybe his much much lower poll ratings are because Americans mostly don’t like his attitude and behavior. But there’s that 40% who actually think It’s OK if you’re Rove– that it’s the person, not the action, that determines whether you’re accepted or not.

That’s why they just laugh when you say, “If this was a democrat presidential aide, and he outed a CIA agent, you’d be saying to hang him!” Well, duh. That’s what counts– not what they do, but what party they belong to.

I don’t know why there’s this personality cult built around such unappealing personalities….

54

J Thomas 07.14.05 at 5:47 pm

I think democrats simply have a different perception of the world from many republicans.

Try out this logic, not to believe it’s correct but just to see how it would look.

If invading iraq was the right thing to do, and if it was hard to invade iraq without falsifying evidence, then falsifying evidence was also the right thing to do.

It’s the CIA’s job to help further american policy. The CIA (and related organisations) could have falsified the evidence much much better, they could have falsified it so well it might have taken 40 years to prove it was wrong. But they didn’t do so. The CIA was very reluctant to fake evidence for Bush.

Since the invasion was right, the CIA was wrong not to support it in every possible way. Since the invasion was right, the CIA was treasonous to leak evidence that the rationale for it was faked.

The administration had to work around the treasonous CIA to get its job done. They had to do whatever they could quickly think of to discredit the leaked CIA reports.

Since parts of the CIA were opposing the government, and the CIA was not disciplining them or stopping them, the natural conclusion is that the CIA must be thoroughly purged.

It’s undetermined whether the purpose of the CIA opposing the government was that parts of the CIA wanted to create US policy in opposition to the legitimate policy makers. Or maybe their purpose was to aid democrats at the expense of republicans. But once we accept that the invasion was the right thing to do, then definitely it was wrong for the CIA to give less than complete support to the war. The CIA itself should have silenced or killed Wilson and Plame.

And so it’s irrelevant about the minor technicality of exposing a CIA agent who would inevitably be sacked and perhaps tweped in a couple of years anyway. That whole operation was compromised, it was infiltrated by democrats or by people who were trying to create policy or something. There was no reason to think these people or any of their contacts were worth anything to the USA. To the extent that there’s an issue here at all, the issue is democrats attempting a partisan attack on the US government, and then there’s the related issue of getting the CIA effectively purged.

….

We now return you to your reality-based consensus. But remember that your reality is not the only one, that there are other realities that are just as compelling …. in the Twilight Zone.

55

Charles 07.14.05 at 6:24 pm

I have read the Senate report and am otherwise well-informed about this story. I am not interested in hearing “pleasing tales” as Somerby calls them. I want the truth.

That said, Grand Moff has it basically right.

Somerby is being an ass on this issue. Mr. Wilson may be guilty of puffery and/or minimizing the role his wife played in his selection for the Niger trip. Or maybe not. But if Somerby were to hold himself to the same standard he holds Wilson to, he would have hanged himself in shame rather than simply and appropriately noting the Iraq/Iran correction in the WaPo article.

I am impatient with centrists/leftists who will let a criminal escape as they argue about the purity of the process. Maybe Somerby could examine the purity of Senator Pat Roberts’s pledge that after the election, the Intelligence Committee would examine how the intelligence was used by the Administration.

There really are a lot of more important issues than Joe Wilson. Failing to investigate the intelligence issues, failing to investigate how the intelligence process has been politicized by people like Karl Rove may leave the door open to an attack in which Americans pay with their lives for the privilege of having an extended debate by effete know-it-alls on the moral character of Joe Wilson.

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Ginger Yellow 07.14.05 at 6:53 pm

j thomas, that’s pretty much exactly John Gibson’s idea, except with a medal for Rove chucked in.

57

Steve J. 07.14.05 at 8:21 pm

19 STEADY EDDY – “That’s the same debunked INR memo that Steve j. cited, above, in his quote from Sen. Roberts’ half-baked report.”

No it isn’t. I did not quote from the appendix.
What I quoted gives some evidence that the prime morivation for Wilson’s trip was questions from the VP.
OK?

58

snuh 07.14.05 at 9:04 pm

all right, so maybe she went as far as to recommend him. so what? presumably the people she recommended him to still made their own decision.

59

Brian 07.15.05 at 12:37 am

If invading iraq was the right thing to do, and if it was hard to invade iraq without falsifying evidence, then falsifying evidence was also the right thing to do.

And if invading Iraq was the right thing to do, and it was hard to invade Iraq without cancelling elections in America, I suppose cancelling elections would be the right thing to do. Democracy can be so tiring.

60

Tom Doyle 07.15.05 at 3:52 am

Has the Bush administration disputed the accuracy of Wilson’s account of his trip? If there’s no conflicting account attacking his credibility makes no sense.

61

Jack 07.15.05 at 4:26 am

It’s just a massive Chewbacca defense. There are several claims that don’t really hold water which would be less effective if they did because more attention would be focussed on the relevance.

His wife recommended him for the trip? So what? Was it a bad recommendation? Was he wrong? No.

I think it is a form of wool gathering. Confronted by an awkward fact you can change your beliefs or accept the explanation that fits both the fact and your belief. A couple of iterations later and you can be somwhere quite bizarre. That doesn’t mean that it won’t work of course.

62

Jeremy Osner 07.15.05 at 6:49 am

Brian — actually it was difficult to invade Iraq without killin’ all those puppies. I swear! I had to do it if I was gonna invade Iraq!

63

Steve 07.15.05 at 8:09 am

“Here is Joseph Wilson himself, talking to Wolf Blitzer on CNN today: “My wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity.”*

Hilarious. It didn’t even take a supreme court announcement, or a full day, for me to be proven right. The story is over, folks. Try again.

Steve
* See Instapundit, or Powerline, or CNN itself.

64

Stuart 07.15.05 at 8:44 am

Congratulations, Ted. I’m now so thoroughly confused about this entire episode that I have absolutely no idea what happened. And I don’t wish to spend another minute on it. Which leads me to believe that if a semi-news-junkie like me with a graduate degree can’t follow the convolutions in this case without having to devote more time than he has available, most of the public can’t and won’t be bothered with it either. The press is in a frenzy because this affects their own inside baseball, but I don’t think anyone cares anymore. Telling them Karl Rove plays hardball is like telling them Las Vegas is hot in the summertime.

65

Jake 07.15.05 at 8:50 am

Steve–
yeah, it would been easier to understand had Wilson phrased it, “My wife stopped being a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity.” Of course, since you’re not supposed to confirm or deny, he couldn’t really say that.

66

Njorl 07.15.05 at 9:58 am

Plame’s group was tasked with analyzing any potential Iraq-Niger connection. During group discussions, Plame mentioned Joe Wilson’s potential expertise, and usefulness, though not necessarily the idea of sending him to Niger. That decision was reached as a group. However, the group did not have the authority to send him to Niger. The group delegated Plame to ask Wilson if he’d be willing to go to Niger. That much is known and accepted by reasonable people. It is probable, though just supposition on my part, that the group also delegated to Plame the task of writing a memo to the authorizing entity to request the trip. Now, is that Plame requesting that her husband be sent on the trip?

No.

Wilson always maintained that it was his wife’s group that recommended him for the trip. In sending the memo, she was simply acting as part of the group – the most logical choice for writing the memo. Wilson never claimed that his wife recused herself from all participation in the group’s activities concerning him.

67

Charles 07.15.05 at 10:55 am

Steve has just managed to demonstrate how ethically bankrupt the right has become.

The quote “My wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity” is taken from a larger context, in which context it is clear that Wilson is saying that Novak’s exposure ended his wife’s clandestine career (as jake noted).

The fault is not that of Steve, who seems to be a simple fool parroting what he is told by people slightly more clever. But Powerline is a lawyer and Instapundit is a professor. They are the ones who are ethically bankrupt.

Steve, here’s a small clue: the CIA would not have filed a criminal complaint unless Valerie Plame had been a NOC. There are ways not to be taken in by professional liars. One is to walk your way through the implications of a statement and see if it dissolves on contact with reality.

This was even flimsier than Glen and Hindgasser’s usual.

68

J Thomas 07.15.05 at 12:59 pm

Charles, if you drink the koolade and suppose that important factions within the CIA were working against the war and against Bush’s re-election, the they might file the criminal complaint without good reason. Nobody knows but them whether she was really NOC. (If Bush appointees go into the CIA and announce that she really wasn’t a problem and fire the people who said she was, that would look bad. So they haven’t done it yet, though they’re likely to do it when the criminal proceedings look worse.)

Once you believe that the CIA was the enemy and was tacitly allied with Saddam and the democrats against the USA and the republicans, then it all makes sense.

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Charles 07.15.05 at 3:51 pm

J Thomas, that’s not Kool Aid. That’s LSD.

I can understand why political partisans who are not risking their professional reputations would purvey this sort of nonsense. But lawyers and professors do have careers and reputations.

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J Thomas 07.15.05 at 5:53 pm

Charles, I think the idea is that lawyers and professors aren’t risking their careers provided their side wins. And they are risking their careers if they back the losers.

As for reputation, if they get a reputation for loyalty among the winners then it doesn’t matter what their reputation is among the losers.

It’s a new world. I don’t much like it but I don’t get to choose what world I live in (unless I drink the kool-aid). I only get to choose how I behave in it.

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