Glenn links to a interview Hugh Hewitt did with Mickey Kaus on the Plame "scandal". Several interesting aspects of the case are discussed. Most of this we already know, but Mickey does a good roundup and analysis of various elementts. My comments are interspersed (all emphasis mine):
HH: Mickey, you have to do this solo, and I think it's pretty impossible, actually. But for the benefit of the audience starting out, would you kind of line up what the speculation is about who tipped Bob Novak to Valerie Plame?
MK: Well, Novak has written a piece where he said he got if from one administration source who is not a partisan gunslinger, i.e. not Karl Rove. And then he confirmed it with a second source, who it's pretty clear now was Karl Rove. But the confirmation is suspect, according to the New York Times today. Novak called Rove, and Rove said I heard that too. Now that's not really a...that in itself is not really a confirmation. It's just saying he heard it, not that what he heard was true. So, that's what we know about Novak. The rampant speculation which is sort of going on sub rosa, which John Podhoretz floated a couple of days ago in the National Review, is that the original source for a lot of this is Judy Miller herself.
Interesting defense on the "I heard that too" line from Rove, and something I had speculated on when I heard the latest line from the left even by confirming the story Rove may have committed a crime under the IIPA.
HH: The imprisoned New York Times reporter.
MK: Right, who wrote a book on WMD's, and did a lot of reporting on WMD's, and Valerie Plame is a WMD expert at the CIA, and Miller may very well have run into her in the course of her reporting, and know that she's Joe Wilson's wife and put two and two together. And if you knew that when Wilson's op-ed came out, how could you not dine out on that? How could you not gossip about it?
Judith sure seems to be a nexus of this whole issue.. And she'd rather go to jail than talk.
MK: I certainly would.
HH: Of course you would. And now, stepping back, you had some funny stuff over at Kausfiles today about how welfare reform was cultivated by big journalists and high level contacts, etc. Do you see anything here that is remotely out the ordinary for Washington D.C.?
MK: Well, yes. There are CIA agents who are very upset about the identification of Ms. Plame. And I talked...I went into a group where Admiral Bobby Inman gave a talk, and he's, you know, a Republican, but probably an anti-war, Brent Scowcroft type of Republican...
HH: Most definitely.
MK: He was head of the NSA, he's a patriot. And he said he hoped that whoever leaked this got nailed, because as an intelligence guy, it's very serious when people are outed. So, they're judicial opinions with eight pages that are redacted, that judges then say, well, that's highly persuasive. Obviously, there's a national security case here. So, there is an important interest, and even if Karl Rove heard it from a reporter, the identity of a CIA agent is probably not something we want people bantering around the way they would, you know, is so and so going with so and so, or sleeping with so and so. Or is so and so gay? The standard things that are the stuff of unprinted Washington gossip. We probably want people to think twice, and Karl Rove has a security clearance. You're not supposed to blab about a lot of things if you have a security clearance. So I don't think it's over by any means.
HH: I didn't say over. I said whether or not it's unusual for Washington. I think actually that it is over, with regards to the intelligence identities protection act, because having read the brief in the DC Circuit case, filed by the major news organizations, it's fairly persuasive she was not under cover, or at least the CIA was so negligent in asserting that she was, that you couldn't really prosecute even the person who tipped Novak, not Rove.
MK: Right. That's right. And Rove has four or five other outs that seem pretty airtight.
Which has been my defense for the allegations that Fitzgerald is pursuingRove for perjury or obstruction of justice, etc. Why would Rove lie to the grand jury to protect himself of a case where he has 4 or 5 outs already? Or why wouldn't he just plead the 5th? That doesnt' mean that Fitzgerald isn't looking for perjury, just that the perjury target being Rove is unlikely.
MK: So I don't think that's going to be the basis of a prosecution, but there are other secrets acts, and I guess I don't move in those circles, so I don't know how ordinary it is. Certainly the back and forth between reporters and administration officials are totally routine. The alliance of reporters with like-minded officials in sort of crusades is totally routine, on both the left and the right. It's just the...I don't know how people...how careful people are with CIA covert status, because that's not the sort of reporting I do.
HH: You know what I think it going on here is that the reason Fitzgerald is still pressing so hard, it's not Plame's identity. It's the SCI stuff, the sensitive compartmented information. This all had to be SCI stuff...what he found there, where he went, who he talked to. That's got to have a color-coded cover on it, that gets passed around, and someone told someone about that. Now that's a problem, not a non...
MK: What do you mean SCI stuff? Sorry, I...
HH: Sensitive compartmented information is a classification above top-secret, which is code-worded, like veil, and different...that's where Bob Woodward got his term veil. That was top-secret, code-worded information. And I think there's some other leaks here that have come out in the course of this, and that's why this is going on. I don't think Fitzgerald is shooting at Rove at all, do you?
MK: Well, when I talk to reporters, they say he testified before the Grand Jury three times. That's a lot. So if you...so if you're his lawyer, that makes you very nervous, because that means A) they were interested enough to call him three times, and B) everything he says is now etched in stone, and any contradiction can be the basis of a perjury charge.
MK: So, if Fitzgerald was that kind of prosecutor, yes, I don't think Rove is out of the woods.
HH: He did not...but his lawyer has repeatedly asserted he's not a target. They have not given him a target letter.
MK: Right. But they sometimes don't do that, because that triggers all sorts of protections. You don't want to do that until the last minute. I think he's...morally, he's almost out of the woods.
HH: Yeah, I agree.
MK: But legally, it's a tougher thing, and you know, assuming he was truthful in all his testimony.
We know he testified 3 times because he's admitted to it. If you were worried about being a target or being portrayed in the media as being a target, why would you release that you testified 3 times? My question is has anybody else testified that many times?
HH: Now perjury, of course, would lie against anyone who testified. I have not seen reported, and I want to know. Has Joe Wilson testified before the Grand Jury?
MK: Very good question. I don't know the answer to that.
HH: Because if he has, everybody is fair game at this point, because Joe Wilson has a record of lying, that not even Joshua Marshall disputes anymore.
MK: Well, but does he have a record of lying under oath?
HH: That's the key question. But that's why this might be dragging on for a long period of time, and why Miller might in fact hold the keys to the cell for Joe Wilson. Let me ask you about Andrew Sullivan writing today, as I have said, if this backfires on the press, because they rushed to judgment, it could turn out into another Bush triumph. I don't know yet, but it's a possibility. Do you agree with that?
Hmm.. And Joe Wilson has also praised Miller for keeping her mouth shut....
MK: It is a possibility, and certainly those TV pictures of the press hounding Scott McClellan, all the big boys suddenly decided hey, this is a story. We're going to get tough. I think that helps, every time they show that, it helps Bush. So, it's entirely possible, and it'll be another case if it all fizzles out. It will be another case of the left, you know, going crazy about something, and having it fizzle, which has been their tendency of late.
How true: Texas ANG, Jeff Gannon, Rove's speech, etc. And thats all in the last year! I still don't understand the fascination the left has with Karl Rove. He wasn't elected to anything, he hold no real power, he doesn't run for election. The namesake of this blog is related to the hysteria that the left feels for this man.
HH: Sort of like Michael Moore saying the Saudis got to get out of the country, or Howard Dean saying Bush may have been warned by the Saudis, you know, an extravagant claim made by a hard left partisan, that gets caught up in the media and then proves them to be silly. Is it a shooting the pumpkin moment? Sort of like when Dan Burton shot the pumpkin in the Vince Foster deal?Keystone cops is a great analogy. The whole Wilson trip reeks of unprofessionalism and beaurocratic backstabbing. Groups inside the CIA didn't want to invade, didn't want the Niger/Uranium story to be discovered, so they sent in a ringer, who would drink sweet tea, ask a few questions, and issue a report
MK: Not quite, because you do have guys, you know, who are serious people. I mean the CIA put in a complaint, saying please investigate this. So, it's hard to say this is Dan Burton shooting a pumpkin. It's our own CIA. And they, at least part of our bureaucracy, thought it was serious enough to start this in motion.
HH: But there are reasons for them to have done that, unrelated to serious concern over secrecy, which is serious concern over looking like a group of keystone cops for taking Joe Wilson's wife advice to send Joe Wilson, who is a Gore supporter and partisan, who changed his story. I mean, if all of a sudden, they realize, duh, we sent the exact wrong person to Niger, we'd better somehow throw up some smoke, this is a great smoke thrower.
MK: That's true, and the CIA has the...you know, there are people who say that they're vindictive when they're embarrassed. They get mad. So yes, that's possible. But it means it's not...it's hard to dismiss as a bunch of kooks.I'm not sure he'll quickly realize it, but maybe I'm not giving him enough credit. The Kossacks and the MoveOn crowd certainly see this as a winner, or at least are so desparate for a win, for something to stick that they may be going for broke on this one.
HH: Oh no, it's not a bunch of kooks. It's just...I think it's a wildly intersting, if we had time for it, detective novel. That's the last question, Mickey. Against the backdrop of London and increasing concerns that there are cells, both in London and Lodi and other places. Is this a winner for Democrats, for Harry Reid to be offering amendments on the floor to revoke Karl Rove's security clearance?
MK: No, but he'll quickly realize this. This is a sort of scandal where you have to make a big stink, because you're hoping to stampede people. And you're hoping to stampede sources, and you're hoping to panic somebody in the administration who'll say, maybe Karl Rove's become a liability. And that's why you make a big stink. But if it doesn't go anywhere, I think he'll drop it pretty quickly.
HH: And so, as we enter into the silly season, how long does this last? We've got a Supreme Court nomination and terrorism coming up. This can't really have enough oxygen to go on much longer, does it, absent an indictment?I think your right too Mickey.
MK: I don't think so, but unless Matt Cooper said something we don't know about. But that would be my judgment. That's what I tell my left wing friends, who say oh, it's snowballing. And I say no, it's not. It's melting. But who knows?
HH: Mickey Kaus, I think you're right. I think it's melting. Thank you, friend.