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October 27, 2005

NOC NOC

Glaukon: NOC NOC.

Thrasymakhos: Who's there?

Glaukon: Not "knock knock." "NOC NOC." Non-Official Cover.

Thrasymakhos: CIA. Spies. Secret agents.

Glaukon: Victoria Wilson AKA Valerie Flame AKA Valerie Wilson AKA Valerie Plame AKA Valerie Plame Wilson.

Thrasymakhos: Do you understand it?

Glaukon: No. Does anybody?

Thrasymakhos: Tom Maguire might. I doubt it.

Glaukon: Well, you don't claim to understand it.

Thrasymakhos: Indeed not. But my not-understanding is at a very elevated and sophisticated level.

Glaukon: Do tell: what do you not understand?

Thrasymakhos: I do not understand why Scooter Libby (or whoever was Novak's source) did not take a dive in the fall of 2003. From the moment the CIA asked for an investigation, it was clear that this could be big trouble--for the administration was guilty as hell. At that moment Scooter Libby should have stood up and said: "I did it. I was pushing back against Wilson's lies and I forgot that his wife's status at the CIA was secret. I'm guilty." He would then resign, go to work for the campaign, get pardoned if there were to be any jail time--no criminal intent, Bush would say--and come back into the administration in early 2005. If you're guilty--especially if you're guilty--that's the dominant strategy. It gets you a sterling reputation as a stand-up guy. It wins you eternal gratitude from all the other guilty people who now escape scrutiny.

Glaukon: Sounds like the role Nixon had assigned to John Dean.

Thrasymakhos: Exactly.

Glaukon: Dean didn't take it.

Thrasymakhos: Dean is a patriot. That's why he didn't take it. Why didn't Libby (or whoever) take it? I don't know.

Glaukon: What else do you not understand?

Thrasymakhos: Perjury. This right-wing claim that if you can't prove that they're guilty of a more serious fundamental crime, you shouldn't indict on perjury or obstruction of justice. Almost invariably the point of committing perjury or obstructing justice is to muddy the waters so you can't be convicted of the more serious fundamental crime of which you are, in fact, guilty...

"Almost invariably"?

Thrasymakhos: The exception is Clinton. He lied not to try to cover up some crime but because he knew his adversaries would leak what he said, and he was scared of his wife. But, as I was saying, refusing to prosecute perjurers who are in fact guilty of a serious fundamental crime just because their perjury keeps you from proving their guilt--that just rewards the competent perjurers.

Glaukon: I wondered how you were going to draw a distinction that allowed you to advocate the keelhauling of Republicans for actions--lying to federal investigators--for which Democrats like Bill Clinton got off scot-free.

Thrasymakhos: Focusing on the seriousness of the underlying act--trying to hide one's pathetic little affairs with interns from one's wife vs. harming the national security--works well, doesn't it?

Glaukon: Yes, it does. I am lost in admiration.

Thrasymakhos: I am a trained professional.

Glaukon: Yes you are. What else do you not-understand?

Thrasymakhos: Alger Hiss.

Glaukon: Alger Hiss?

Thrasymakhos: Yes. Alger Hiss was convicted not of espionage but perjury. On today's right-wing line of argument, charges should have been dropped once it became clear they couldn't prove espionage. Doesn't anyone on today's right remember Alger Hiss? Everyone who was anyone on the right was there: J. Edgar Hoover, Richard M. Nixon, Joe McCarthy, William F. Buckley, Whittaker Chambers...

Glaukon: No.

Thrasymakhos: No?

Glaukon: No. William F. Buckley remembers that Alger Hiss was convicted not of espionage but of perjury. Perhaps a few of Buckley's epigones remember. (But they are keeping very quiet.) Nobody else. What else do you not-understand?

Thrasymakhos: The pointless, boastful lying in the fall of 2003. Cheney: "I don't even know who Joe Wilson is!" Bush: "Gee. I really hope they catch those leakers!" When all the while both of them knew that Cheney had launched the leaking campaign and that Rove, Libby, and company were in it up to their necks. It didn't gain them anything. And now it makes them look like the sleazy liars that they are--and makes them look so in a soundbite simple enough for the media to understand it. That I really don't understand.

Glaukon: You don't have much experience with fratboys, do you?

Thrasymakhos: I'm afraid not.

Glaukon: So are they guilty?

Thrasymakhos: Of course. From Cheney's perspective, that's the whole point. You want to tell the CIA to back off and shut up. What better way than to signal that you can and will leak information that will destroy the organization if the CIA continues its campaign of opposition-to-the-White-House-via leak?

Posted by DeLong at October 27, 2005 07:02 PM