Friday, October 14, 2005
The greater issue is control of information. If anything good comes out of the Iraq war, it has to be a realization that bad things can happen to good people when the administration -- any administration -- is in sole control of knowledge and those who know the truth are afraid to speak up. This -- this creepy silence -- will be the consequence of dusting off rarely used statutes to still the tongues of leakers and intimidate the press in its pursuit of truth, fame and choice restaurant tables.
All restaurant table snarkiness aside, the problem with this statement is that this "leak" was hardly an attempt by administration sources to enlighten the public about some important fact that without the benefit of the leak would have been covered up. Let there be no doubt, if Valerie Plame had not been an undercover agent with the CIA, the attack on Wilson would have been a very public affair. They had to 'leak' this because of Plames status. So the question then is did this leak somehow enlighten the public in such a way that otherwise would not have occurred without the leak? Lets examine this issue.
The leakers are purporting that Joe Wilsons affiliation with his wife demonstrates that his findings are clouded with the specter of nepotism, and this is what is important for the public to understand. For the time being, let us set aside the issue of whether or not Wilsons findings would be clouded in this way. The issue then is: was this fact finding trip to Niger by Wilson instigated by his wife, or by others in the CIA who approached Valerie Plame to approach her husband? Check out this article from the Washington Post for a bit of a primer on who said what to who in order to generate the mission to Niger by Wilson. What strikes me about this article is that all the so called proof that the trip is initiated by Plame are from Republican Congressional sources. Whereas the evidence supporting the Wilson/Plame side is from "the CIA", "intelligence officials" (so called in order to not out them I'm sure) and a cable to officials in Africa asking their consent to the choice of Wilson. If on the other hand the supposition is that the entire mission Wilson undertook was created by Plame, why is the office of the Vice President interested in finding the facts regarding the Niger charges as early as February 12th? Did Plame just happen to decide to employ her husband on the very same issue that Cheney had expressed an interest in prior to her involvement by pure happenstance? Highly doubtful.
Looking at this from the outside, I must say that recent revelations regarding the administrations decision making process as to who to appoint to various positions fits very nicely with the Wilson/Plame side of the issue. They found a Republican insider (a veritable diplomatic hero in Bush 1's Iraq war) whose wife was currently in administration employ, and probably thought it would be a good idea to pick him for the job. Unfortunately for them he actually went to find the facts and not tow the administration line.
So the leakers are supposedly letting the public know that the findings of Mr. Wilson may be inaccurate due to nepotism. What does not make sense with this supposition is that the CIA at the time was very interested in finding supporting evidence for administration claims about the supposed threat from Iraq. So if a CIA operative (Plame) were to somehow influence the outcome of the fact finding mission, would it not make sense for that outcome to favor the administrations conclusion which the CIA is trying to prove?
The obvious answer to this is simple. The leakers wanted to discredit Wilson, while sending a message to others who may not tow the line going forward. That message was: "We'll do what it takes to punish you, even if it means breaking the law". They knew they were breaking the law or they would have just attacked Wilson regarding his wife in public.
Thus when Cohen pontificates:
"If anything good comes out of the Iraq war, it has to be a realization that bad things can happen to good people when the administration -- any administration -- is in sole control of knowledge and those who know the truth are afraid to speak up. This -- this creepy silence -- will be the consequence of dusting off rarely used statutes to still the tongues of leakers and intimidate the press in its pursuit of truth,..."he is right, for the wrong reasons. When the information flow is so controlled that only one side is allowed to hold forth on the issue in question, and that side is allowed to use the flow of information to punish those who do not tow the line, this leads to what Cohen purports to wish not to happen. It was not the leakers who were afraid to speak up here. It was the administration figures who did not tow the party line who were silenced, and then punished when they spoke the truth. Those were the tongues silenced. Even to the point of ruining their family members careers. Those who know the truth are afraid to speak out Mr. Cohen not because of the investigation by Fitzgerald, but because of the actions of this administration that led to that investigation. As if the leakers had any care for what the truth actually is or seeing to it that the public understands the facts Mr. Cohen... you should really know better and I suspect you probably do.
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