The Plame affair: denial in the New York Times

The persistently irritating John Tierney has done it again. In a typically smarmy column in the Oct. 25 New York Times, “And Your Point Is?”, he dismisses the Plame affair as a bunch of empty hot air, asserting that “no one deserves to go to jail for leaking information to reporters without criminal intent.” He also concludes: “No one deserves to be indicted on conspiracy charges for belonging to a group that believed Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Foreign policy mistakes are not against the law.”

Aw, shaddup already, willya? How stupid does this condescending little creep think we are? The “without criminal intent” is an entirely arbitrary assumption on his part. The last time we checked, outing the identity of a CIA agent was a federal crime—under a law, incidentally, passed by Congress in 1982 following a personal crusade by former CIA director and then-Vice President George HW Bush! (Former CIA agent Phil Agee, whose 1975 tell-all Inside the Company sparked the elder Bush’s crusade, has been watching the Plame affair with much ironic glee, the Florida Sun-Sentinel noted Aug. 21.) Tierney’s lame excuse is “there’s been no evidence yet that they [the leakers] realized it was illegal because of her status as a covert agent.” Hmmm, didn’t we hear somewhere that ignorance of the law is no excuse? And is even Tierney so gullible as to believe the White House didn’t lie about the supposed “intelligence” on Iraq’s WMD? We guess he didn’t read the Washington Post on March 22, 2003, when it was reported that the documents supposedly revealing Saddam’s efforts to procure uranium from Niger (“intelligence” cited triumphantly in Bush’s State of the Union address that year) had been determined to be forgeries by the United Nations, and had also been pretty much dismissed by the CIA. It’s astounding that the Times allows such disingenuous drivel to appear in its pages.

Amazingly, despite forged documents and outted agents, Tierney really expects us to believe an honest intelligence error was made. He writes:

The problem was that intelligence agencies weren’t sure what was going on in Iraq, just as they’ve rarely known for sure what’s going on anywhere. They’ve often failed to detect new weapons programs, like the Iraq nuclear program that was unexpectedly discovered after the 1991 war… After the 1991 surprise in Iraq, the CIA had a special incentive to hawkishly point to every warning sign it could find of WMD there.

Hold the phone! The crux of the whole case is that someone in the administration sought to take revenge against a CIA agent precisely because the agency wasn’t providing the “intelligence” Bush wanted of an imminent Iraqi nuclear threat! It has been reported everywhere now that the classified National Intelligence Estimate cited by Bush as warning of a near-future nuclear Iraq was actually (unlike the “white paper” version released to the press) full of caveats and doubts about the supposed threat. And the Plame/Wilson affair is clear evidence that elements in the CIA, at least, were consciously working against the White House manipualtion of the evidence. Tierney may swallow the notion of a gullible White House being bamboozled by a paranoid CIA, but does he really expect his poor readers to?

Note to Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr.: Get this cretin off the op-ed page, toot sweet.

See our last post on the Plame affair.

  1. intent
    Actually…the statute in question makes it a crime to *intentionally* reveal the identity of a secret agent. That is the problem for the prosecutor. We don’t know thus far whether the leakers realized that Plame was undercover. Even if they did, it would be hard to prove.

    1. If she wasn’t undercover…
      then why would her identity have to be “leaked”? Why couldn’t Miller and Cooper just get on the horn to Langely and ask, “Hey, does Valerie Plame work for you guys?” Sorry, I’m from Missouri on this one. This may give Karl, Scooter and Dick enough wiggle room to stay out of jail, but if it plays in Peoria this country is dumber than I thought.