Friday, April 07, 2006

 

The Plame Game Flame

By Way of Introduction

I want to put the links up front, because there has been so much excellent commentary, in response to so much faux outrage and posturing from the mediots (to use Sister Toldjah’s term).

In addition to Sister Toldjah, Tom Maguire has at least two excellent riffs here and here at Just One Minute, John Podhoretz in The NY Post, factual reporting in the The New York Sun, Austin Bay, Paul Mirengoff at Powerline, Andrew McCarthy, writing at The Corner, and Captain Ed at Captain’s Quarters.

The best summary, I think came from Captain Ed:

Not too long ago, newspapers made a big deal out of nothing when it came out that Bush had given Cheney the authority to declassify material at his discretion. At the time, they clucked their tongues at the delegation of authority to the VP, claiming that it showed Bush's disinterest in his responsibilities. Now suddenly everyone is shocked to find out that Bush has the authority to declassify material. In fact, he has the ultimate authority to do so, and he is only responsible to the voters in the execution of these duties. And the estimate on Iraq and WMD involved in this story was released to the press on July 18, 2003, at a White House briefing.

Why did George Bush release the NIE at all? Because Joe Wilson had busied himself by spreading misinformation via leaks to Nick Kristof and Walter Pincus, and then finally under his own by-line at the New York Times twelve days prior to the release of the NIE information. The media had demanded answers to the charges leveled by Wilson and his supporters, and those answers were found in the NIE. The decision to declassify it and publish it came as a result of that demand. Once the decision is made to declassify information, it can be released in any number of ways. This was both leaked and openly presented in the same fortnight.

Beyond the issue of the Libby leak and its tie to George Bush, the hypocrisy of the media is truly astonishing. I just at at a dinner two nights ago where Senator Chris Dodd demanded that Congress pass a federal shield law to protect reporters from revealing sources. Why? So that they can report leaks of exactly this kind. I suppose when they like the leaker, then they call him a whistleblower. When they don't like the leak, and especially when it turns out not to be all that significant, then apparently the source is a weasel who doesn't deserve protection.

John Hinderaker added the following observation over at Powerline:

This is the same "scandal" the press tried to sell a few months ago. I wrote about it here. The Sun article (unlike some other press accounts) explains clearly what was going on. Intelligence insiders like Joe Wilson were leaking a combination of falsehoods and minority views to the press in order to challenge the administration's decision to go to war with Iraq. This was deeply unfair. In October 2002, the intelligence agencies presented to the administration their "consensus estimate" with regard to Iraq's WMD programs. The consensus of all of the agencies (CIA, DIA, etc.) was, with a "high level of confidence":

Iraq is continuing, and in some areas expanding its chemical, biological, nuclear and missile programs contrary to UN resolutions.

We are not detecting portions of these weapons programs.

Iraq possesses proscribed chemical and biological weapons and missiles.

Iraq could make a nuclear weapon in months to a year once it acquires sufficient weapons grade fissile material.

The Bush administration naturally relied on the consensus of the intelligence agencies in making decisions about Iraq and in describing the dangers of Saddam's regime to the American people. This is why the "Bush lied" theme is so foolish.

What could I possibly add to what’s been said already? Only that it I am profoundly dispirited from the lengths to which the media opposition to Bush will go, and their willingness to sacrifice any semblance of reason, proportion, perspective, or (needless to say) objectivity.

My Take

So I want to try something else. I want to try to understand the logic of those who trumpet this latest “revelation” as big news. People like Andrew Sullivan, or the editors at The New York Times.

So here it is in a nutshell. If a government employee comes across classified information, and that information is really important to an accurate public understanding of vital information, that’s a leak, maybe whistleblowing, but it’s definitely virtuous.

If the President concludes that the media is grossly misreporting a situation, creating false impressions, passing along rumors, disseminating inaccurate information, and on his rightful authority, elects to declassify information to set the record straight, that’s a leak, possibly a criminal offense, but it’s definitely immoral and hypocritical.

And I’m having a tough time, you see, because The NY Times has spent hundreds of column inches arguing that seeking the government employees who willfully and illegally disclosed information about a classified NSA program, was a witchhunt, and looking to punish people who “share the truth.”

But the President, acting on his authority to declassify information that had already been widely disseminated in the media, to confront and contradict untruths wildly promulgated by the media, if it was information the NY Times wanted to get, why then that would be a welcome leak. As long as they didn’t think it came from the Administration. (And of course it was something that hurt the Administration in some way).

Ah, but you see it’s all about President Bush’s hypocrisy, you see.

I am also trying to remember if we haven’t seen this pattern of reporting before, where old news get hyped as new news to see if a new frenzy or “media flame” can be generated. Almost like it was planned, or something.

Like when the Patriot Act came up for renewal, and the “NSA Story” happened to to leak out. Well timed. Almost like some “Anti-Rove” were at work, manipulating media attention.

Either the 2006 Election Season has started early, or somebody out there is getting some Spring Training in Information Operation (I/O) techniques.



UPDATE: Winds of Change linked here in their Monday Winds of War summary.

Links: Peace Like a River



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