The Corner

Plame & Marshall

An email from the baseball crank:

Two thoughts. First of all, the WSJ piece shows how difficult it would be to prove criminal knowledge of covert status to get a conviction. But the standard for getting an indictment is . . . well, let’s just say that it can be done. I have a lot of respect for Patrick Fitzgerald, but it would not be too difficult for him to find a way to indict the relevant government officials if he wanted to, given that it appears that they probably were national security people with pretty high-level security clearances. If the evidence is indeed as elusive as suggested, I suspect Fitzgerald is torn between the desire to do the right thing and the power to be an overzealous “indict first, evidence later” prosecutor, and wants to cover all his bases before he stands down.

Second, note that Marshall is big on denouncing the effort to expose how Wilson got picked for the Niger trip. But take a little trip in the Wayback Machine to July 8, 2003:

The most interesting bit of reporting I’ve seen today on the White House’s concession about the fraudulence of the Niger-uranium documents comes at the tail end of a wire story from Reuters …

A U.S. intelligence official said [Joseph] Wilson was sent to investigate the Niger reports by mid-level CIA officers, not by top-level Bush administration officials. There is no record of his report being flagged to top level officials, the intelligence official said.

“He is placing far greater significance on his visit than anyone in the U.S. government at the time it was made,” the official said, referring to Wilson’s New York Times article.

The message here seems pretty clear: Joseph who? Wilson, this ‘intelligence official’ is saying, is some small-time operator who got sent to Niger by some mid-level functionaries at the CIA. All the people who counted had no idea he’d even gone on his trip. And they certainly didn’t know about his vaunted report.

Now, I wouldn’t be being very straight with you if I didn’t start by saying that I don’t find this claim particularly credible. But could this be true?

Let’s run through what we know.

Wilson has said repeatedly that he was sent to Niger because, as he wrote in the Times, “Vice President Dick Cheney’s office had questions about a particular intelligence report.”

Now, note the difference in what’s being said here. No one, let alone Wilson, has claimed that any “top-level Bush administration officials” sent him on his investigatory trip. What he and others have said is that CIA officials sent him out, because they were following up on a request from the Office of the Vice President (OVP) to look into the Niger-uranium allegations.

So to start with you can say that the ‘intelligence official’s’ statement amounts to a sort of non-denial denial. But what about the broader question? Was the whole effort triggered by an inquiry from the OVP or not?

Wilson says yes. And presumably he’s basing this on some knowledge of the situation. Nick Kristof said the same thing in his June 13th column in the Times, though it’s possible that Wilson was his source. But if there’s a factual dispute here, let’s find out. Is Wilson’s description of the OVP’s involvement accurate? In particular, did the OVP get Wilson’s eventual report? I think this is something a good investigative reporter with juice should be able to resolve for us pretty quickly. So, again, let’s find out.

* * *

So I don’t think dumping on Wilson, which seems to be the White House’s preferred strategy now, is going to cut it. But in each of these cases, let’s find out. If Wilson and Thielmann are fibbing let’s expose them. And if their superiors are playing fast and loose with the truth, let’s find that out too. Let the chips fall where they may.

By now, of course, you know who said all this:

Most Popular


If Amy Wax Is Wrong, Let’s See the Data

Regarding the kerfuffle Jason Richwine addressed here earlier, the economist Glenn Loury has posted an impassioned plea to his Facebook page. Loury, you may recall, hosts the video blog where Wax made her controversial claim that black students at Penn Law School rarely graduate in the top half of the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

San Francisco Bans Fur Sales

San Francisco has banned the sale of fur. From the CBS-SF story: San Francisco has become the first major U.S. city to ban the sale of fur clothing and products. Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a measure that prohibits the sale of fur clothes, accessories, even souvenirs in stores and ... Read More

For the First Time in Weeks, Relief Sweeps over Austin

Making the click-through worthwhile: The Austin bomber is done in by one of his own devices; some new numbers suggest that a small but significant portion of Trump voters are tiring of the chaos and aren’t showing up to support other Republicans in 2018; and the mixed news for conservatives coming out of the ... Read More

The Baleful Effect of #MeToo on Campus

Remember the series of hurricanes that pounded the Caribbean last summer? Something like that has been occurring on college campuses, as they're hit by one destructive mania after another: diversity, Title IX, anti-speech protests. Now it's the #MeToo Movement. In this Martin Center article, British academic ... Read More
Politics & Policy

A Time for Choosing

This year’s Conservative Political Action Conference was controversial. Invitations to European nationalist populists such as Nigel Farage and Marion Maréchal-Le Pen (the niece of Marine Le Pen) caused many longtime conservatives to question whether they still belong to the conservative movement. Vocal critics ... Read More