September 30, 2003

The Valerie Plame Affair: Unclear on the Concept

A great many people seem to be unclear on one or more of the key concepts in the scandal revolving around the continued presence in the White House and out of jail of Bush aides who give aid and comfort to our enemies in time of war by blowing the cover of CIA operatives who are actually hunting for weapons of mass destruction.

The first person unclear on a concept is the strangely-erratic Jack Shafer, who writes:

The Plame Game - Will the leak of a CIA agent's name be the next big political scandal? By Jack Shafer: When yesterday's Washington Post gave Page One, above-the-fold treatment to the Novak-Wilson-Plame triangle, it bestowed official Washington scandal status upon the story, sending the rest of the press corps to the blogosphere and Nexis to catch up with what had been a slow-moving story...

No. No. A thousand times no. That's not what happened. Remember: the two White House officials called at least six different reporter. There were at least six people--prominent people--in the elite press corps who have known the whole story since before July 14. The fact that they thought that keeping their Karl Rove brownie points was more important than informing the citizens of the Republic that among Bush's closest White House aides are those who give aid and comfort to our enemies, et cetera--the fact that they thought keeping their Karl Rove brownie points was more important sheds a very interesting light on the flaws in our current press corps. But Shafer is completely wrong in implying that the press corps was flat-footed, or that it had to learn anything from weblogs.

The second group of people unclear on the concept are the principals--those who give aid and comfort to our enemies, et cetera. A piece of their side of the story surfaces in ABC News's The Note:

Two White House officials lashed out at Wilson, hoping to smear him in the minds of enough elite reporters to discredit him before his platform grew. They didn't want his wife's name out there in the public domain, so much as they wanted it in the brains of gatekeeping reporters...

In other words, the two White House officials had no idea that Robert Novak had as little sense of patriotism and as bad judgment as he does: they had no idea that Novak would actually blow Valerie Plame Wilson's cover, and so it's not really their fault. This is a remarkable line for those who give aid and comfort, et cetera, to plant in the press corps.

The third set of people unclear on the concept are a horde of commentators who want to know if it was Karl Rove himself who did it, and think it important whether Rove did it or whether Scooter Libby and Ari Fleischer cooked it up by themselves. That does not matter. What matters is that some high officials in the Bush White House think that it is cool to blow the cover of CIA operatives in the pursuit of narrow partisan political advantage, and that everyone else in the White House does not care. The fact that the leaks are coming from the CIA is very bad news: it means that there is nobody in the White House who loves his or her country enough to take action to try to get those who give aid and comfort, et cetera, fired.

Think about this. The entire White House staff has known for eleven weeks that in their midst are people whom George H.W. Bush would call traitors, and there has been no attempt to evict them. Karl Rove has been telling reporters that it is all Valerie Plame Wilson's fault for having Joe Wilson as her husband and that "Joe Wilson's wife is fair game." This is an administration that fires Larry Lindsey exceedingly gracelessly for giving an accurate estimate of the cost of the war of Iraq. And yet it hugs to its bosom those who really do give aid and comfort to our enemies, et cetera.

And this brings us to the fourth group of people unclear on the concept. Once again, let's let the increasingly-strangely-erratic Jack Shafer stand for a whole intellectual tendency:

Given that the White House knows who the leakers are, I would surmise that the administration will staunch the damage--and still the scandal--by strongly encouraging the leakers to offer themselves up for sacrifice out of duty to President Bush. If I were Bush, I'd avoid anything that could be construed as a coverup and start rehearsing my address to the nation about how a tiny precancerous lesion has been removed from the face of the presidency.

The White House has had eleven weeks to act, and has not done this. The cover-up is already eleven weeks ongoing, with the Bush White House hoping first that the CIA could be pressured into not making a criminal referral to the Justice Department, with the White House now hoping that somehow the Justice Department will make the thing go away, and with George W. Bush having "no plans" to ask any of his aides whether they are the ones who think it's cool to blow the cover of CIA operatives actually trying to find weapons of mass destruction. It's not just the two principals, by now it is virtually the entire White House staff who are accessories after the fact to a plan to aid and abet our enemies, et cetera.

The fifth group of those unclear on the concept are those who do not see the necessity of a special prosecutor. Here ABC's The Note is very clear on the concept indeed:

...we raised the bar for what outrages us. Still, every so often we trot out our "imagine if Clinton did that... " question, and this is such a case.

Remember -- revealing the names of agents has been a Daddy Party/Mommy Party split for years, as part of the "national security versus civil liberties" debates of the '70s, '80s, and '90s.

Imagine if a major newspaper reported that the CIA wanted the Clinton Justice Department headed by an attorney general whose former political consultant is now the president's top political adviser to investigate if the White House improperly revealed the name of an agent for apparently political purposes.

We are in the phase of the story in which reporters are mostly going to the Chuck Schumers of the world to let them express moral outrage. But what happens when the press goes to the Duncan Hunters of the world (long-time defenders of the importance of protecting the names of agents)?

And then there is the sixth group: those who do not see the importance of the role the CIA has taken upon itself here. As The Note says, 480 out of the 500 Washington journalists have the same theory: that it is George Tenet or someone familiar with his thinking who is saying that the White House staff were motivated by revenge. The top echelons of the CIA have, by their leaks over the weekend, left themselves with no place to retreat if the current White House staff survives. Possibly they have concluded that they finally have the lever to evict key members of the White House staff--give our weak and underbriefed Sultan a new set of hopefully more competent and rational viziers. Possibly they have concluded that their chances of changing anything are small, but that in the final analysis they are not bureaucratic hacks but patriotic Americans, and that this current White House bunch has crossed the final line.

I cannot tell which: whether this is the opening shot in a campaign to replace the incompetent hardliners and political hacks (paging Mr. Scowcroft, paging Mr. Baker, paging Mr. Kissinger), or whether it is the hopeless final Charge of the Intelligence Chiefs. Informing us which it is--why the CIA has decided that it has no choice but to wage this bureaucratic war of criminal referral and leak against the White House staff--is the most important thing our press corps could do for us today.

But I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by DeLong at September 30, 2003 09:54 AM | TrackBack

Comments

No, No Brad, really, don't be so mealy mouthed: next time let your hair down and tell us what you really think!

Posted by: Kate Gilbert on September 30, 2003 10:09 AM

Brad: You are exactly right. The essential and potentially administration-shaking aspect of this affair is not the leak itself. It is the fact that the White House has known about this leak for 3 months and DONE NOTHING. In that, I think that this business will follow the trajectory of nearly every scandal in Washington politics since Watergate: the real scandal -- and the political price to pay -- will be for the cover-up, not the crime itself.

Your point about the press corps being in Rove's pocket is also an excellent one... but one that I don't expect to see much about in the press.

Posted by: Kash on September 30, 2003 10:28 AM

This is damn fine work. This deserves front page, above-the-fold coverage at the WaPo. (Not just the Plame affair, your coverage of the Plame affair).

Your point about Rove/reporters is dead on. And that is a cancer that has the potential to seriously damage our little democracy. If the press gets, at the very least, extremely questionable calls from the WH, and at the very worst, illegal calls from the WH, and yet does nothing with the information for 3 MONTHS, out of a desire to stay in the good grace of the WH, we are in big trouble.

The foxes are guarding the hen house.

Posted by: Timothy Klein on September 30, 2003 10:35 AM

Fine analysis, sir, but why is an economist doing it and not a journalist? Don't economists have the economy to think about first?

Just asking.

D

Posted by: Dano on September 30, 2003 10:48 AM

Brad, I think you may be proven right on every count, but I also think you're sure of some things that you ought not yet be sure of.

First and foremost, I think, is "the two White House officials called at least six different reporters". This comes from the Post's anonymous "senior adminstration" source. It well may be true, but right now it's a) anonymous, and b) hearsay. Wilson also has claimed this, but his information is also second-hand. My money's on a reality very close to your assumption, but I think you're wrong to assume this as certain. I also think that you're wrong about "the press corps" and your assumed motive for their not following this story. This story has been public in its general shape since July. There's a lot more than six people in the Washington press corp, Brad. I don't know why the press hasn't seen fit to pay attention to this story, but it's my strong impression that the whole lot of the Washington establishment--press and government alike--assumed that this wasn't a big story. I'm very curious as to why.

This relates to your "third set of people unclear on the concept". I'm perfectly willing to believe that the White House has been criminally negligent as you claim. However, I can't disregard the very real possibility of simple incompetence. That is, the people responsible for this didn't realize (even after Wilson made a stink about it) the seriousness of what they've done, and, by extension, the rest of the White House didn't realize it, either. How can that be? Well, if this were the case, I think it would be the result of someone at NSC or otherwise mentioning when they shouldn't have Plame's agency affiliation, then the political hacks responsible for this ran with it without realizing that she was covert. Later, perhaps, when Wilson's complaints surfaced, maybe everyone involved was like, "Well, she's not a covert agent *now*. This is blown out of proportion." I'm not agreesing, I'm just sayin'.

And I think you're perhaps somewhat off-base about the CIA. There's not much new here, really. There has been a covert war between the CIA and the White House for a long time now. If it's true that the post's "senior administration official" was Tenet, then this is more directly about Tenet than it is the rest of the CIA executive. And in my opinion, this is Tenet's well-timed retaliation for the way that the White House embarassed him and the CIA in July. Tenet is a pretty politicized CIA director, as CIA directors go, and he's been embattled for a long while, even under Clinton. But he's a bureaucratic pit-bull and its amazing that he's been around this long. If there's a showdown going on here, and there no doubt is to some degree, it's primarily between Tenet and the White House and only secondarily (and not so personally as you claim) between the CIA seniority and the White House.

Posted by: Keith M Ellis on September 30, 2003 10:49 AM

It's, um, interesting that the press corps (and the intelligence community) is getting involved here just -after- the Bushies have lost some of their glow. Politics ain't beanbag...

Posted by: Matt on September 30, 2003 10:54 AM

You are missing the final, obvious, excuse already being bantered full-force on the right:

It aint no crime if it aint classified OR as I have also put it, not technically illegal.

The facts that the leaks occurred really seem besides the point to them. The real question stands, were the leaks criminal?

I believe that over the last several months, in fact even when Novak first reported the story, the White House had collected the evidence to support their eventual position that this was not a criminal leak.

- Everyone knew she was CIA they say, meaning regardless of whether you call it a secret, it was not really secret.

- The law's standard is subjective. We did not know we were leaking classified information.

Not technically illegal, Bush-Chenney 2004

Posted by: Vital Information on September 30, 2003 10:58 AM

You are missing the final, obvious, excuse already being bantered full-force on the right:

It aint no crime if it aint classified OR as I have also put it, not technically illegal.

The facts that the leaks occurred really seem besides the point to them. The real question stands, were the leaks criminal?

I believe that over the last several months, in fact even when Novak first reported the story, the White House had collected the evidence to support their eventual position that this was not a criminal leak.

- Everyone knew she was CIA they say, meaning regardless of whether you call it a secret, it was not really secret.

- The law's standard is subjective. We did not know we were leaking classified information.

Not technically illegal, Bush-Chenney 2004

Posted by: Vital Information on September 30, 2003 11:03 AM

I am surprised to see Henry Kissinger included among Brad's list of people who might make a useful contribution to foreign policy. Kissinger is one of the most evil men in American history, reponsible for countless deaths (see Christopher Hitchens' "The Trial of Henry Kissinger" for a partial list of his crimes).

Even if we were prepared to overlook the evil, we would still be faced with the venality: Hitchens also points out that Kissinger's public policy pronouncements, which he makes with the authority of an elder statesman and for ostensibly public-spirited purposes, always seem to correspond with the interests of his clients at his consulting firm.

Posted by: David J. Balan on September 30, 2003 11:06 AM

I wonder whether it is sucking up to Rove or keeping professional credentials burnished that is keeping the other reporters who were tipped from speaking up. There is no news value in letting on that you are among the decent journalists who chose not to participate in a crime, but there is the notion that journalists give special treatment to sources, no matter who self-interested or criminal. The next time somebody does something spectacularly damaging in front of a reporter, you still want to be the reporter in question. The ethics in this case are special. I would expect a reporter to let police know if a source indicated someone’s life was at risk, and ratting out CIA operatives does, in fact, put peoples lives at risk. I suppose one way to improve one’s guess about the motives of the reporters in question is to see whether they leak the names of the lawbreakers soon. The 3-month wait to find out is not encouraging.

The notion that the rats just innocently assumed that Novak and other reporters would be ethical and patriotic, leaving the Plame story untold, misses a critical point (but you knew that). It is illegal to rat out a CIA operative to anybody, even if the person you tell is absolutely certain to keep it quiet. I can't see the "unethical but legal" defense as anything but an after-the-fact effort. Before the fact, it wanders too close to realizing one is being hugely stupid.

To your list of possible motives for the CIA behaving as it does should be added that the CIA bigwigs want their agency to continue to go about its business. Whether this is a winner or a loser for CIA chiefs in the outside war, it is absolutely necessary to let their sneaky types know that this was an isolated incident and that a pound of flesh will be extracted. Otherwise, covert efforts are likely to fall on hard times for a very long while. However cavalier one may feel about using the names of CIA operatives to fight inside-the-beltway wars, the view from inside the CIA is almost certainly not cavalier. Take away their tools and they can’t do their job. If they can’t do the job, then they won’t.

Posted by: K Harris on September 30, 2003 11:30 AM

Keith,

You're way off. Think of how carefully Mike Allen and Dana Milbank researched this story. Think of how long this has taken to come out. They probably got their anonymous source to go on the record on background and then followed up on what he said. They said "at least six" journalists were called. There's a reason they are that precise. Today the Post has confirmation from another journalist who staying anonymous because of the legal reprecussions. Think of how carefully that story was written. They probably know the name of the at least one of the people calling reporters.
The White House may not have been doing anything about this for three months but the political reports at the Post sure have.

Posted by: KevinNYC on September 30, 2003 11:47 AM

Excellent summation of the gathering delusional clouds. Let's not forget that it was the CIA that stood up to Nixon when he tried to use it to stop the FBI's Watergate investigation. Long memories sharpening long knives in Langley.

I would caution though that the violation occurs when a person with clearances tells someone without clearances. We don't know if the person or persons who leaked to the press had the clearances for the information, or if the violation happened within the government.

Also, it doesn't matter if many people without clearances knew the information. We keep lots of stuff classified that is well known. We've even prosecuted people for disseminating information already published or available on the Internet.

Posted by: john on September 30, 2003 11:50 AM

The CIA may know it's really going bad in Iraq, and that's their assurance that the Administration isn't going to stay longer than Jan 2005.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on September 30, 2003 11:52 AM

"Not technically illegal, Bush-Chenney 2004"

Not catchy enough. How about:

"Support our troops, not our intelligence assets"

Posted by: chris_a on September 30, 2003 11:53 AM

You forgot right wing radio. Of course their whole objective is to deflect and obfuscate as much as possible. Listening to Rush during lunch, he is attempting to paint the entire episode as a Democratic smear effort. When listeners asked him why this all of sudden became a big thing, the fact that the CIA requested that Justice investigate the White House never came up. Just Democrats this and Democrats that. Democrats attacking Bush, they see an opening and this is part of their effort to chip away at the President's credibility. Isn't this dangerous to spin this so hard to the base, to the point that if the truth comes out mass disillusionment might take over?

Posted by: Arthur Young on September 30, 2003 12:02 PM

If you do not like not technically illegal-Bush-Cheney 2004, how about:

Aint no crime if aint classified?

Posted by: Vital Information on September 30, 2003 12:37 PM

I should think we could settle for "No controlling legal authority."

Posted by: buce on September 30, 2003 12:52 PM

Keith M. Harris writes:

> This relates to your "third set of people unclear on the
> concept". I'm perfectly willing to believe that the White
> House has been criminally negligent as you claim. However,
> I can't disregard the very real possibility of simple
> incompetence. That is, the people responsible for this didn't
> realize (even after Wilson made a stink about it) the
> seriousness of what they've done, and, by extension, the rest
> of the White House didn't realize it, either. How can that be?
> Well, if this were the case, I think it would be the result of
> someone at NSC or otherwise mentioning when they
> shouldn't have Plame's agency affiliation, then the political
> hacks responsible for this ran with it without realizing that
> she was covert.

I disbelieve. To work at the CIA in any capacity you need a Top Secret security clearance. To be a covert operative requires clearance at a greater level. To know the name of an operative presumably requires clearance as high or higher than that (in the military, there are designations such as "Sensitive Compartmentalized Intelligence" although I do not know what the equivalents are at the CIA). I'm not sure what level of clearance is required to work at the White House, but I'm guessing it would start at Top Secret. But the number of people in the White House who have appropriate clearance to know the names of covert CIA operatives is probably very, very small. So small that you are definitely aware you have such clearance and *most definitely* aware that others do not. Now, within the Clinton whitehouse, there were ongoing and sometimes completely egregious breaches of secrecy, but the Bush whitehouse was alleged to be a much tighter ship. For this information to have slipped into the wrong hands required something majorly wrong to have happened. So the possibilities are that the "outers" had the necessary security clearance (and need to know) themselves, or that the "outers" did not have the appropriate clearance but were in contact with people who did. Anybody who had the clearance knows you can't necessarily even move a piece of paper containing the information from one room of the White House to another without following special procedures, so would certainly have a clue that they were not supposed to mention it out loud to somebody who didn't have the appropriate clearance. So even if the people dialing the phones were complete idiots, they had to have gotten the information from somebody who should definitely have known better, or who else is so stupid that they couldn't even remember what clearance levels would go with what sorts of information.

A second point here is that, after Novak published the information, somebody in the White House should have definitely known that something very bad had happened. Perhaps most White House staffers don't read the papers, but some do. Moreover, I'm sure somebody from the CIA at some point in the last 11 weeks made a query at the appropriate level about what the hell happened. At this point, a decision was made whether to find out, whether not to find out, or whether to ignore the CIA. Obviously, the appropriate level to make the query was at or above the level where the leak must have occurred, so what they did with the query was also resolved at that level. This is very serious stuff. It is possible that incompetence was solely the cause, but it would be incompetence at a higher rather than a lower level.

Posted by: Jonathan King on September 30, 2003 12:52 PM

I should think we could settle for "No controlling legal authority."

Posted by: buce on September 30, 2003 12:57 PM

The shit has hit the fan.

Go to

http://atrios.blogspot.com/

There you will find an audio hook up to "Guardian" reporter Julian Borger who names Rove as the source of the Plame "outing," and says every reporter in the Beltway knows it's Rove.

So how can Rove stand there and deny it?

Because of the LEGALIZED BALCKMAIL OF UNNAMED SOURCING!!!

It must end NOW!

If you're reading this Mr. Krugman (and I surely hope you are) might I suggest that you have a friendly chat with the NYT editorial staff?

They know perfectly well it's Rove. They have his number on speed-dial!

WHO WILL BE OUR EMILE ZOLA?!?!!!

Posted by: David Ehrenstein on September 30, 2003 12:58 PM

John writes:

>Also, it doesn't matter if many people without clearances
> knew the information. We keep lots of stuff classified that is
> well known. We've even prosecuted people for disseminating
> information already published or available on the Internet.

OK, but I suspect that the "well-known" stuff does not include the names of covert CIA operatives. The clearance level for information like that is really, really high and "need to know" only. I think there is very little chance this was an innocent slip of information that somebody thought was widely known.

Posted by: Jonathan King on September 30, 2003 01:00 PM

I agree with Timothy Klein's post above. Last night I downloaded Condoleeza Rice on "Meet the Press". I couldn't actually believe my ears that she said Tenet told us not to use the Niger uranium claim but three months later we'd forgotten he'd told us and that's how it ended up the the State of the Union address. If the US press is incapable of getting her to resign for the sheer incompetence of that statement, let alone the incompetence of the act, then yes, "we are in big trouble".

Posted by: C Lake on September 30, 2003 01:04 PM

Think way back. Bill Bradley decided not to take on Bush Sr - too hard to beat. Bill Clinton was the governor of a small southern state (not really southern, but that’s not the point), who probably had in mind that running and losing once would be all right for name recognition purposes. Politics can change quickly.

Bush Jr once looked invincible, but he no longer does. Iraq and jobs, now Plame. The long list of other issues (the wrecking of fiscal policy to enrich the rich, for instance) may finally begin to stick, now that the press smells blood. It is more important now for Democrats to choose well, since we may have to live with whoever comes out of the convention standing up.

Crime and punishment are interesting – and important – but the big issue is whether Bush can hold onto the presidency. The presidency is a huge lever, multiplying the impact of good and bad deeds. What Bush’s minions did on his behalf was bad, but has importance beyond the single crime, both because of that lever and because news of the crime can be used to help unseat Bush. Does Rove think Plame was “fair game”? Then Rove is fair game. Even if he cannot be proven to have leaked Plame’s position to Novak, his name is linked to the event in the “buzz” and he should face the implication everywhere he goes. Does Bush care to “get to the bottom” of the issue only when a beltway bruiser savvier than he is forces him to care? Well, let’s ask that question, over and over again.

Today’s economic data suggest that, no matter how strong Q3 growth may be, the economy is not a one-way bet. That will almost certainly keep Bush off balance. Spinning the economy, the war and the Plame cover-up simultaneously seems an awfully big job. So let's keep pointing out how bad Bush is to anybody who will listen. Tell your friends to actually go to the polls and vote, for once. Send a check to the Democratic nominee. Let's dump this bozo.

Posted by: K Harris on September 30, 2003 02:05 PM

"So even if the people dialing the phones were complete idiots, they had to have gotten the information from somebody who should definitely have known better, or who else is *****so stupid that they couldn't even remember what clearance levels would go with what sorts of information*****."

Hmmm. Who do we know of in the White House -- at a very high level indeed -- with such a built-in sense of privilege that he wouldn't think such rules applied to him? (Clearance levels? Hey buddy, I don't need to remember no stinkin' clearance levels!)

Posted by: Canadian Reader on September 30, 2003 02:21 PM

Advice to politicians: "Embrace scandal, for it is the most secure power of state."- Dario Fo

Let the Plame Games begin.

Posted by: john c. halasz on September 30, 2003 02:35 PM

K Harris writes:

> Today’s economic data suggest that, no matter how strong
> Q3 growth may be, the economy is not a one-way bet. That
> will almost certainly keep Bush off balance.

Given how surprised people were by Consumer Confidence and the Chicago Purchase Manager's report (just a sliver above contraction??), are we that certain about how strong growth was in Q3?

Posted by: Jonathan King on September 30, 2003 02:45 PM

Shafer's article also brings up the odd notion that the White House might get away with it by driving through the space between Novak's two sentences, and claiming that, while somebody there did call up Novak to smear Wilson and his wife as payback for Wilson's failure to spin in the right direction, Novak had in fact found out that Plame was a CIA agent from some other, more expendable source, so the White House didn't commit any felony here.

Oh, that makes me feel much better.

Posted by: Matthew McIrvin on September 30, 2003 02:59 PM

"...Karl Rove has been telling reporters that it is all Valerie Plame Wilson's fault for having Joe Wilson as her husband and that 'Joe Wilson's wife is fair game.'..."

Half of the American people agree with him. For God's sake, face up to that hideous fact, and start thinking, honestly and with no punches pulled, about how we got where we are--the past two years, the past ten years, the past twenty-five years, the past fifty years, and so on, all the way back, at least until you come to Pym and Prynne. (There is no hope of understanding America until you understand why the Puritans left England. You must get all the way into their minds--filthy, stinking place thought that be.) It will be incredibly, mind-shreddingly painful, but it must be done. Put everything else out of your minds and focus on this to the exclusion of all else. This is the only way that we *may* discover a way forward.

Posted by: Frank Wilhoit on September 30, 2003 03:19 PM

I for one would like to hear Rice et. al. start talking about what was in the NIE for the week following Novak's article. She was very quick to use the NIE for cover on Iraq. I would think that exposure of an operative's identity would have made it into an NIE.

Posted by: halle on September 30, 2003 03:48 PM

Half of the American people agree with him? Do you have some numbers on that? Half of the American people, when last asked, think Bush is doing a good job, and it mystifies me why (actually, it doesn't: it's still the long, ever-descending tail of the Sept. 11, 2001 shock). But I'd bet that most of them had no idea who Valerie Plame was at that point, since the story hasn't been getting much coverage. The Puritan base is much smaller than that.

Posted by: Matthew McIrvin on September 30, 2003 03:52 PM

Jonathan,

It ain't over till the final revision, but yeah, we know Q3 GDP growth was strong. If consumer spending remains flat at the August level through September, there is something like 6%+ annualized personal consumption growth as a base for Q3 GDP. Inventories may kick in something, and the trade deficit started off the quarter smaller. May be some hickups from government spending and housing, but not enough to make the overall growth figure weak.

The point is not to get carried away by the impact of tax rebate checks and refis until we see whether they have revved things up enough to keep growth strong in Q4 (watch out for holiday sales) and beyond. The ugly thing about today's data was that the jobs components worsened in September and the buying plans in the consumer confidence reports also deteriorated.

Posted by: K Harris on September 30, 2003 04:05 PM

K Harris writes:
> It ain't over till the final revision, but yeah, we know Q3
> GDP growth was strong. If consumer spending remains
> flat at the August level through September, there is
> something like 6%+ annualized personal consumption
> growth as a base for Q3 GDP.

Ah. Well, that does help a lot. Thanks for clearing this up. I guess I just can't quite get my head around the notion that GDP can be this good when the employment market is so...lackluster. But, as you mention, this could become more of an issue in the quarter or quarters to come.

Posted by: Jonathan King on September 30, 2003 08:11 PM

I, for one, have been feeling the slow rumble of scandal that is Plame. Little did I know that the CIA would go "all-in" and force the hands of the other players. (There's a reason that Texas hold'em is the WSP Master's game!) Seems everyone in the blogosphere has slowly been holding their collective breaths, waiting to see if a CIA exposure would go unpunished...or not. I guarantee you, given the lengths Tenet has already gone to, expect nothing less than a firing/trial/impeachment. Pick horse, and watch the race!

Posted by: plasmastate on September 30, 2003 08:20 PM

I, for one, have been feeling the slow rumble of scandal that is Plame. Little did I know that the CIA would go "all-in" and force the hands of the other players. (There's a reason that Texas hold'em is the WSP Master's game!) Seems everyone in the blogosphere has slowly been holding their collective breaths, waiting to see if a CIA exposure would go unpunished...or not. I guarantee you, given the lengths Tenet has already gone to, expect nothing less than a firing/trial/impeachment. Pick horse, and watch the race!

Posted by: plasmastate on September 30, 2003 08:33 PM

This is an excellent board. Nice reading. May I join?

Posted by: John Burgess on September 30, 2003 08:48 PM

Great piece, Brad! However, one thing that I have not seen in the flurry of coverage is Plame's exact status. Most often, I have seen her referred to as an "analyst," and often times cited as an analyst on WMD. The Intelligence Identities Protection Act specifically recognizes the following: "certain United States undercover intelligence officers, agents, informants, and sources. So her exact status is quite important.

Posted by: Jon Mote on September 30, 2003 08:54 PM

Jon Mote: So her exact status is quite important.

The CIA thinks knows her exact status. The CIA thinks a crime has been committed

The question is answered quite satisfactorily.

Posted by: Timothy Klein on September 30, 2003 11:11 PM

Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst himself, last night said on PBS' NewsHour that:

1) She WAS an operative, working undercover, and 2) Novak's effort to imply that analysts can't be undercover is FALSE -- Johnson himself was an analyst and spent his entire career undercover!

Also, Bush WH counsel Gonzales states in his first memo that she was "undercover".

Therefore, exposing her was a felony, per USC 50, Chapter 15, Section 421.

PERIOD.

Posted by: Phoenix Woman on October 1, 2003 08:18 AM

Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst himself, last night said on PBS' NewsHour that:

1) She WAS an operative, working undercover, and 2) Novak's effort to imply that analysts can't be undercover is FALSE -- Johnson himself was an analyst and spent his entire career undercover!

Also, Bush WH counsel Gonzales states in his first memo that she was "undercover".

Therefore, exposing her was a felony, per USC 50, Chapter 15, Section 421.

PERIOD.

Posted by: Phoenix Woman on October 1, 2003 08:19 AM

Two words -- Scooter Libby

Posted by: citizenx on October 1, 2003 05:46 PM
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