Judy Miller's Revenge?
Judy Miller's revenge? White House reporter Richard Stevenson goes after Bush adviser Karl Rove's alleged involvement in the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame's name to the press in Tuesday's lead story, "At White House, A Day Of Silence On Role Of Rove." Valerie Plame is of course the wife of erstwhile diplomat turned antiwar hero Joseph Wilson, who was sent to Africa to investigate claims Saddam Hussein tried to acquire uranium and who wrote an op-ed for the Times alleging there was nothing to the allegations.
Stevenson opens with the White House playing defense: "Nearly two years after stating that any administration official found to have been involved in leaking the name of an undercover C.I.A. officer would be fired, and assuring that Karl Rove and other senior aides to President Bush had nothing to do with the disclosure, the White House refused on Monday to answer any questions about new evidence of Mr. Rove's role in the matter."
(What Bush actually said on Sept. 30, 2003, the day the Justice Department launched its inquiry over who leaked Plame's name: "If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action." And spokesman Scott McClellan said a week later: "If someone in this administration leaked classified information, they will no longer be a part of this administration, because that's not the way this White House operates.")
Of course, the case could turn on whether what Rove said involved "classified information."
Stevenson predicts,predictably, that revelations could be bad news for Bush politically: "With the White House silent, Democrats rushed in, demanding that the administration provide a full account of any involvement by Mr. Rove, one of the president's closest advisers, turning up the political heat in the case and leaving some Republicans worried about the possible effects on Mr. Bush's second-term agenda.But in private, several prominent Republicans said they were concerned about the possible effects on Mr. Bush and his agenda, in part because Mr. Rove's stature makes him such a tempting target for Democrats."
Stevenson hammers home: "Mr. McClellan and Mr. Bush have both made clear that leaking Ms. Plame's identity would be considered a firing offense by the White House. Mr. Bush was asked about that position most recently a little over a year ago, when he was asked whether he stood by his pledge to fire anyone found to have leaked the officer's name. 'Yes,' he replied, on June 10, 2004."
But as John Podhoretz notes in today's New York Post, the fact that Wilson was married to Valerie Plame was hardly a secret: "Plame's undercover status at the time was and is a little questionable in any case. How undercover could she have been when her name was published at the time as part of Joseph Wilson's own biographyonline?"
The Times again fails to point out that the anti-war Wilson has been discredited. For one, Wilson falsely denied his C.I.A. wife Plame set up his trip to Africa. And contrary to his statements (and an op-ed he wrote for the June 6, 2003 Times that started the controversy in the first place), the report he brought back from Niger actually strengthened the case in some quarters that Saddam Hussein had been trying to acquire uranium from Africa. As Podhoretz points out, a Senate reported noted that "for most analysts, the information in [Wilson's] report lent more credibility to the original Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports on the uranium deal, but the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) analysts believed that the report supported their assessment that Niger was unlikely to be willing or able to sell uranium to Iraq."
National Review's media blogger Stephen Spruiell points out: "When the Times report finally explains that Rove probably didnt knowingly leak classified information or break the law, its in the context of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgeralds investigation and the jailing of Times reporter Judith Miller. This last part of the story seems calibrated to get Miller off the hook - if theres no crime, why is she in jail? - while the first part is focused on all the reasons the Bush administration should now feel obligated to fire Karl Rove. The Times is going for everything it wants here - Rove fired and Miller exonerated."
Indeed, one could get whiplash from the mood-shift at the Times' editorial page about the government probe into who leaked Plame's name - a shift that occurred once the paper and its own reporter were in the firing line.
Go here to read Stevenson's lead story.
Unconstant Bush, Wise Ted Kennedy
Covering a Bush speech at FBI's training center in Quantico, Va., reporter David Sanger sows doubt about Bush and sets up Sen. Ted Kennedy as a straight shooter in "Bush Vows to Fight Until Terrorists' Defeat."
Sanger finds niggling differences in Bush's choice of words over time to suggest his inconsistency in the terror war: "It was the second time in the last week that [Bush] has begun to describe the terror groups as having an ideology; in the past the White House has said, in the context of Iraq, that they have nothing to offer the people of Iraq, and no governing philosophy other than attacking the United States and its allies. But now that tone appears to have changed, in what a senior White House official said last week was an effort 'to define the stakes more clearly'.Yet the president has not, in his two speeches, defined the 'murderous ideology' in any detail. On Monday, he simply quoted Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain saying, 'There is no hope in terrorism, nor any future in it worth living.'"
Then it's on to ultraliberal Kennedy for the concluding rebuttal: "Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts led the Democratic critique of Mr. Bush's speech.The president and his aides have declined, however, to specify how many Iraqis are trained, or how long the training will take. That led Mr. Kennedy to demand a timetable, something that the White House says is not possible to provide and not wise to announce, because it would alert the insurgents to hold their fire and wait out the Americans forces. The senator appeared unimpressed by that reasoning. 'The American people deserve to know when the Iraqis will be able to take over responsibility for their own security,' he said, 'and what impact it will have on our military presence in Iraq. It's time for the stonewalling to end and for accountability to begin.'"
For the rest of Sanger with Bush, click here.
Is Bill Moyers Liberal? Labaton Still Can't Say
Tuesday Arts section features a Stephen Labaton follow-up on the PBS budget fight, "Public Broadcasting Gets a Budgetary Lift."
"A senior Republican and a senior Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee endorsed overturning proposed cuts to the budget of public broadcasting on Monday, while the chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting defended himself against accusations by Democrats that he has injected politics into programming.The decisions under review include the hiring of a former official of a conservative journalism training organization to monitor several programs, notably 'Now' with Bill Moyers; payments of $15,000 to two Republican lobbyists last year to help defeat a proposal to have more broadcasters on the corporation's board; and the use of a White House official to help create a new office of ombudsman at the corporation to monitor balance in programs."
Again, Labaton refuses to acknowledge Bill Moyers' obvious ultraliberalism, but has no problem calling the Wall Street Journal editorial page conservative: "In the name of political balance, Mr. Tomlinson also rebuffed questions from Democratic members about his prodding of the corporation to provide $4 million to produce a weekly program that is broadcast on most public stations on Fridays and features members of the conservative editorial page of The Wall Street Journal."
To read the rest of Labaton, click here.
Seeing Class Warfare on a Pro-London Website
SarahBoxer's "Critic's Notebook" in the Arts section, "On the Web, Fearlessness Meets Frivolousness," manages to be critical of a website set up to support London after the terror attacks.
"The site displays a range of defiant postures. Some people hold up their middle fingers, presumably for the terrorists to see. Some people posted pictures of American soldiers, presumably for Londoners and Americans to see. But more and more, there's a brutish flaunting of wealth and leisure. Yesterday there were lots of pictures posted of smiling families at the beach and of people showing off their cars and vans. A picture from Italy shows a white sports car and comes with the caption: 'Afraid? Why should we be afraid?'
Boxer takes a left-wing, class-war angle: "A few days ago, We're Not Afraid might have been a comfort. Today, there's a hint of 'What, me worry?' from Mad magazine days, but without the humor or the sarcasm. We're Not Afraid, set up to show solidarity with London, seems to be turning into a place where the haves of the world can show that they're not afraid of the have-nots."
For the rest of Boxer, click here.