William Kristol weighs in on the Plame Game in the Weekly Standard — and he hits the nail right on the head in two ways. First, they put the import of the scandal itself in the correct perspective: Revealing the identity of covert CIA agents is a crime under certain circumstances. But given the strict ...
William Kristol weighs in on the Plame Game in the Weekly Standard -- and he hits the nail right on the head in two ways. First, they put the import of the scandal itself in the correct perspective:
William Kristol weighs in on the Plame Game in the Weekly Standard — and he hits the nail right on the head in two ways. First, they put the import of the scandal itself in the correct perspective:
Revealing the identity of covert CIA agents is a crime under certain circumstances. But given the strict stipulations of the relevant statute, it seems unlikely that the Justice Department investigation will ever lead to a successful prosecution of the leaker or leakers. That doesn’t make the political reality or the moral responsibility any less urgent. Surely the president has, as the Washington Times suggested last week, taken “too passive a stance” toward this misdeed by one or more of his employees. Surely he should do his utmost to restore the White House’s reputation for honor and integrity by calling together the dozens of more-or-less “senior” administration officials and asking whoever spoke with Novak to come forward and explain themselves. Presumably the relevant officials–absent some remarkable explanation that’s hard to conceive–should be fired, and their names given to the Justice Department. The president might also want to call Mrs. Wilson, who is after all a government official serving her country, and apologize for the damage done to her by his subordinate’s action. (emphasis added)
Their second good point echoes the one I made in The New Republic Online — that this incident is endemic of a larger problem:
The leak controversy has revealed an administration at war with itself, a war intensified by the difficult aftermath of the war in Iraq. The situation there seems to be better than you would think if you read only the New York Times and the Washington Post, but worrying nonetheless. On Thursday, the commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, acknowledged that the enemy had succeeded in organizing itself in recent weeks to become “a little bit more lethal, a little bit more complex, a little bit more sophisticated, and, in some cases, a little bit more tenacious.” With its submission of the $87 billion package to Congress, the administration has begun to come to grips with the problem, and seems committed to doing what needs to be done. But reports suggest that the civilian efforts on the ground in Iraq remain spotty and that the military is stretched very thin. And even more striking, as debate has raged on its $87 billion request, the administration has been virtually invisible in making its case to Congress or to the American people. One reason for this is that the civil war in the Bush administration has become crippling. The CIA is in open revolt against the White House. The State Department and the Defense Department aren’t working together at all. We are way beyond “fruitful tension” and all the other normal excuses for bureaucratic conflict. This is a situation that only the president can fix. Perhaps a serious talk with Messrs. Tenet, Powell, and Rumsfeld can do the trick, followed by strengthening the National Security Council’s role in resolving intra-administration disputes. Perhaps a head or two has to roll. But the present condition is debilitating, and, given the challenges facing us in postwar Iraq, in Iran, and in North Korea, it is irresponsible to let it fester. To govern is to choose. Only one man can make the choices necessary to get the administration back on course. President Bush has problems with his White House, his administration’s execution of his policy, and its internal decision-making ability. He should fix them sooner rather than later. Time is not on his side.
Indeed (link via Kevin Drum).
Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and co-host of the Space the Nation podcast. Twitter: @dandrezner
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