Tuesday, November 20, 2007

When No News Is Huge News, & Vice Versa

One of the major political stories roiling the waters is Scott McClellan's assertion that he was sent forth to lie about the Valerie Plame Wilson affair at President Bush's behest (evidently). From the report in Politico:
“I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the seniormost aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby,” McClellan wrote.

“There was one problem. It was not true.”

McClellan then absolves himself and makes an inflammatory — and potentially lucrative for his publisher — charge.

“I had unknowingly passed along false information,” McClellan wrote.

“And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff and the president himself."
I am just a bit mystified as to why this teaser of McClellan's book is such huge news. We already know McClellan was not telling the truth. So now McClellan is confirming what we already know, and it's a huge freaking deal... for what reason exactly?

Furthermore, many of the very people who were dutifully forwarding the lies from McClellan knew he (and by extension the entire administration for which McClellan was the spokesperson) was not telling the truth because they were the ones who had received the leaks. The truth has been out there from day one, and the administration relied upon the presses code of ethics in order to perpetrate the ruse... feeding them the Plame story on background while denying doing so from the podium of the Press Secretary.

Singling out the Plame affair as the major case for McClellan being sent forth to lie is laughable. McClellan raised the bar to all new heights for demonstrably lying with a straight face to the press so the Plame business is hardly the exception to the rule here.

The initial splash of the McClellan story is not really the big news that everyone seems to think it was from my perspective. Sure... it's another brick in the wall, another drop in the ocean that adds to the body of evidence that this administration lies as a matter of course when politically expedient. It is another iota of proof that the lefty blogosphere has been spot on correct. But as far as I'm concerned we already knew this and McClellan's admission is old news.

So what is the huge news that will be the non news from all this? From my perspective that would be McClellan's publisher following up by saying that McClellan did not intend to convey a perception that he thought the President knowingly told him to lie. From a Rawstory report on a CNN feed:
"I just got off the phone with the publisher of McClellan's new book, and he tells me that McClellan does not charge in the book that the president himself was involved in any kind of conspiracy to mislead the public," reported CNN correspondent Jessica Yellin. "But of course, in the publisher's words, 'Scott did go out to take bullets without the proper flak jacket on.'"

In a series of 2003 press conferences, the former top White House spokesman had maintained that neither then-advisor Karl Rove nor Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, Scooter Libby, had been involved in the leaking of Plame's identity as a CIA agent. Yellin pointed to a previous interview with Larry King Live, in which McClellan suggested that both he and the president had been mislead about the Plame affair.

"It was also what the president believed at the time based on assurances we were both given," McClellan had told King. "Knowing what I know today, I would have never said that back then...I said that those individuals assured me they were not involved in this. I did speak directly with them and I was careful about the way I phrased it at them time -- even though I believed what they had told me to be the truth."
McClellan's publisher is thus claiming that not only did the leakers lie to McClellan, but they lied to the President. If true, this is what should have been the huge news when McClellan was peddling the untruth, and if not then it should be big news now. The top circle of Presidential advisers all lying to the Commander in Chief about outing a CIA officer... under nearly any circumstance such activity would define treason.

Frankly, I don't believe the publisher now. Especially when we consider that the President decided to commute Scooter Libby's prison sentence. Try to imagine a scenario in which a high level administration official would expose an undercover CIA agent, lie to the President, and when it all comes to light continue in their job with a security clearance. Far from purging the administration after a cabal had outed an undercover officer and lied to the President about it, and seeing to it that the guilty were held to account, Bush made certain that the one man who faced jail time as a result of the affair was spared serving any time at all. That is not the action of a strong leader who was lied too... that is the President taking an active role in furthering the cover up.

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