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July 02, 2007



"The Bush administration was right to expose Plame, which wasn't illegal anyway as it turned out"


Nathan Smith

I read this in a lot of different places. I think the story is that Plame wasn't actually undercover, as she had been State-side for six years or something. In any case, Libby is being charged with perjury and obstruction of justice, not with outing a CIA agent-- the outcome of the investigation seems to confirm that the latter was not a crime. I have better things to do than investigate this in greater detail.


"I have better things to do than investigate this in greater detail."

I'm certain this is true, but the blog entry reads like a Free Republic extrapolate-up-the-facts post rather than a Nathan Smith commentary, leading me to believe that Nathan has been unfortunate in his sources.

The quick summary is that Plame was indeed undercover, though of a certain kind that is not like being a deep agent and the compromise of her identity merely cost money and embarrassment. Because the IIPA is quite narrow in its definition of a covert agent and is intended for intentional disclosure*, courts would potentially have decided it did not apply to Armitage's screw-up with respect to Plame. Nonetheless, Armitage's apparently inadvertent and quickly disclosed (to the prosecutor) security violation could have been grounds for indictment. Fitzgerald declined to charge Armitage, but that is not because no laws had been broken: it was merely unclear that the infractions rose to the level of an IIPA violation and Armitage's cooperation was important for identifying who *else* may have disclosed Plame's identity.

As for Wilson's supposed disclosure of his wife's identity**, it's worth noting that so far all those who have made public allegations to that effect have had to retrench significantly from claims that, if true, should have been verifiable.

*Intentional, but not for malicious purposes. The latter would involve treason charges and is, of course, even more serious.

**I don't know if this is the manner in which Nathan felt that Wilson "risked national security for political payback and then lied about it," but it's my best guess.

Nathan Smith

I meant that Wilson risked national security for political payback by publishing an op-ed falsely claiming that Bush had lied in his State of the Union uranium-from-Niger remark. But maybe political payback isn't the right word. Wilson was trying to influence policy. Bureaucrats who seek to undermine the policies of elected leaders are, by definition, a threat to democracy.


So it's bad to influence policy? Should our elected leaders try to form policy in a vacuum? Doesn't that also contradict the very intent of blogs such as this one, and movements such as the civil rights movement?


I have to wonder if Nathan has actually read Wilson's article. It doesn't seem to accuse Bush of lying. It mentions distortion of intelligence, but doesn't name a particular malefactor.

I also second Tom's comment wholeheartedly and add the comment: in what way was Wilson a bureaucrat in '02?


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