Tom Maguire gets results from Newsweek!!
Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball provide some interesting support for Tom Maguire‘s “oops!” theory of the Plame game. The highlights: No matter how voluminous the evidence to the contrary, the Bush White House likes to convey the impression of unflagging infallibility. But the prospect that a “senior administration official” goofed big time is gaining fast ...
Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball provide some interesting support for Tom Maguire's "oops!" theory of the Plame game. The highlights:
Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball provide some interesting support for Tom Maguire‘s “oops!” theory of the Plame game. The highlights:
No matter how voluminous the evidence to the contrary, the Bush White House likes to convey the impression of unflagging infallibility. But the prospect that a “senior administration official” goofed big time is gaining fast currency among those familiar with the events in the current Washington leak controversy, sources close to the case tell NEWSWEEK. The error, moreover, was no small thing: by confusing the timing of phone calls by made by White House officials attempting to discredit former U.S. ambassador Joseph Wilson, the anonymous official stoked the scandal, mistakenly portraying what was a crass case of political hardball into one of potential criminality…. New evidence for this view emerged today from a surprising source: Wilson himself. The former ambassador, who originally called for Bush’s top political director Karl Rove to be “frog-marched” out of the White House, acknowledged to NEWSWEEK that he got no calls from any reporters asking about his wife until he heard from Novak. If he had, he said, he would have vividly remembered it. One reporter, he said, did call him and say “watch out, they’re coming after you”—but that journalist is uncertain whether any reference was made to Wilson’s wife’s employment at the CIA. But after the Novak column ran, Wilson says, he got plenty of calls…. Rep. John Conyers, senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, yesterday wrote Rove a letter asking for his resignation, saying that Rove’s comments as reported by NEWSWEEK were “morally indefensible” and an indication that he was part of “an orchestrated campaign to smear and intimidate truth-telling critics.” (White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan has repeatedly refused to answer direct questions about Rove’s conversation with Matthews.) But even Conyers acknowledges that pointing to reporters to an already published newspaper column is hardly a federal crime. And if all the White House attempts to promote stories about Wilson’s wife took place after July 14, most of the records being turned over to Justice Department investigators may lead to nothing but a prosecutorial dry hole. That still leaves open the question of Novak’s original source—and at this point, White House statements are more carefully hedged than most of the public probably realizes…. White House spokesman McClellan has denied only that three senior officials—Libby, Rove or National Security Council official Elliot Abrams—leaked any “classified” information to Novak. One possible translation: whatever they may or may not have said to Novak, nobody passed along anything they knew to be classified at the time. (emphasis added)
Josh Marshall also picks up on the careful parsing of the White House denials. There’s one other reason this version of events makes sense — the “senior administration official” who leaked the original Post story has not come forward with any more blockbuster leaks to advance the story. Maybe this is because the original leak served its purpose — I don’t know. Does this excuse Bush’s lackluster statements about pursuing the leak? Yes and no. If the Maguire theory holds and Bush knows this as true, then it may explain why he’s not exercised about the issue — he knows that there was no criminal intent. However, as Maguire and I have pointed out repeatedly, Plame’s NOC status means that even if there was no criminal action, this was a serious breach of ethical boundaries, not to mention a threat to intelligence operations. For someone who’s supposed to bring honor and integrity back into the White House, Bush’s approach remains cavalier. [So do you think the left half of the blogosphere, like, just overhyped this?–ed. Not necessarily. First, the Newsweek theory of events rests crucially on the notion that the official who leaked the story to the Post made an important mistake. If you still accept the Post story as 100% correct, outrage is still justified. Second, Bush’s lackadaisical response to the damage that has emanated from the leak has opened him up to justifiable criticisms — proving once again that the response to the scandal is always more damaging than the scandal itself. So does this mean you’re going to switch parties?–ed. No, in the sense that the original Washington Post story erred in asserting that the original Plame leak was widely shopped around, intentional, and therefore malicious. If this version of events turns out to be accurate, the post-leak White House behavior qualifies as nasty, partisan, and inept, but not malevolent. On policy grounds, well, let’s just say that Noah Shachtman might need to give me a call.] Developing… UPDATE: Mark Kleiman finds this theory “hard to swallow,” but does not dismiss it out of hand. Tom Maguire also weighs in. Glenn Reynolds, as usual, has tons of links. Atrios alertly points to one piece of contradictory information.
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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