Karl & Scooter: Off the Hook?With the recent revelation that Richard Armitage was the original Plamegate leaker, many conservatives are screaming for an apology from those who fingered Scooter and Big Daddy Karl as the culprits. Their position is that the secret was revealed by someone who didn't support the war and that since the Special Prosecutor didn't indict Armitage, somehow Scooter and Karl are just a couple of misunderstood good ole boys who are completely blameless in the whole affair.
And they call liberals Moonbats.
Armitage claims to have just been gossiping in revealing Plame, and that may be true. One must assume that since the Special Prosecutor didn't indict Armitage, he found there was no crime committed. I'm not a legal expert, so I can't speak to the rightness or wrongness of that decision. However, it remains that a secret was revealed, regardless of whether it fit the legal definition of a leak. Surely with all the emphasis on secrecy and security the administration constantly pounds down on us, Armitage is at least guilty of having a case of "loose lips blame Plame". It seems he may need some remedial training on what you should say to a reporter about spies in the employ of the government. The guy has a security clearance after all.
As for Scooter, he was not indicted for having leaked, but for having lied or twisting the facts about his involvement in the leaks. He's yet to be tried, so we can't say if he was legally guilty or not. As for Karl, the Big Guy appears to have gotten off scot-free, although it took repeated tries at testifying to the Grand Jury to sway the Prosecutor away from an indictment.
Whether any or all of these public servants end up in jail is a matter for the courts to decide based on the law. What is still open to question is motive, and in this case, motive could tell us much.
Scooter and Karl may or may not have been aware that Armitage already let the cat out of the bag, but whether he had is beside the point. More than a little evidence has already surfaced about where the Plame "talking points" may have come from. From that evidence, it appears Karl, Scooter, and possibly Big Dick decided that a little mud could be slung in the Wilsons' direction and this connection provided a ripe opportunity to take a little of the gloss off Wilson's claims about WMD. In other words, "His wife sent him on a mission that was obviously designed to discredit the administration, so the guy has ulterior motives. Don't trust him."
Was it illegal? Possibly not, with the exception of Scooter's involvement, which is still in legal limbo.
Was it ethical? It certainly seems a little fuzzy. The administration has suffered a rash of these "coincidences" that denigrate those not agreeing with the Iraq strategery. And oddly, none of them seem to be driven by the administration's ulterior motives.
Was it hardball politics? Undoubtedly, yes. The Bush administration is little different from any other in this regard. There's a lot of street fighting at any time, although in the current polarized environment it seems to be more vitriolic than usual and the administration has a particularly ugly switchblade they like to use.
But the biggest question is, "was it OK"? The answer there is undoubtedly not. The context of the war is already unbelievably polarized. The country is being rent asunder while the war plods on. I think it is especially disingenuous given Bush's promise to be a "uniter, not a divider". We don't need any more swiftboating of anyone, regardless of their political stripe.
At some point, politics must move away from a grand game of gotcha where success or failure is measured in tons of muck raked. While I'm not surprised this administration hasn't chosen to take the high road, it certainly would have been a nice change of pace. It would also signal a move away from the extremes and back toward the middle, which has been the traditional mood of the republic. If he had taken the high road, it would have been a striking example that the Democrats would have had to pay attention to.
As it stands no, someone has to do something, and it's just incredibly sad it wasn't them.
Truth Told by Omnipotent Poobah, Wednesday, September 06, 2006