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March 11, 2007

I Have An Opinion!

My site trouble prevented me from issuing my opinion on Scooter Libby's conviction. But now it's working again, AND I REFUSE TO BE SILENCED.

1. The whole thing should never have been in the criminal justice system. I don't think the law against naming CIA agents is a great idea to begin with. And I certainly think it's a terrible precedent to force reporters to testify about their sources. Moreover, I suspect both these things will come back at some point to bite progressives very hard in the ass.

I realize this perspective may be unpopular with some. And I understand where such people are coming from—it's only natural to want to see at least one of these guys punished someway, somehow. I've given into such temptation myself, on occasion.

But as we've learned, the criminal case addressed an extremely narrow issue, and most of the information it uncovered remains secret. By itself it gets us nowhere.

2. The whole thing should be the subject of a massive congressional investigation. The tiny issue was: did Libby commit perjury? The medium-sized issue is: whether any "crimes" were committed or not, what exactly did the Bush administration do, and why? The serious, largest issue is: why do we allow the Bush administration to hide behind jingoism, when it's crystal clear they couldn't care less whether any of us live or die?

Even for an anti-American America-hater like myself, this aspect of the Plame case was startling. I'm not surprised the Bush administration did what they did. I'm not surprised they tried to cover it up when caught. But I am surprised other American institutions—including the broader Republican party—hasn't focused on the large issue, and forced Bush at least to pretend he was sorry and fire some people.

I mean, you have an administration that's built their case for a giant war on terrorists and terrifying weapons of mass destruction. We live in a world where, whatever the Bush administration's lies and exaggeration, this is a real problem. And then they blow the cover of someone who's secretly worked for decades on WMD issues.

If you'd written a script like this, no one would believe it. It would seem like agitprop. And yet it happened. A woman works at some real risk for decades with no recognition at government pay rates for what she believes is the best interest of her country. An administration screams for years about how much they LUV AMERICA so much they'll do ANYTHING TO PROTECT US. But when this women becomes inconvenient, they squash her like a bug.

Likewise, when maimed soldiers come back from war, they're discarded like used tissues, even as Bush speaks constantly about how he LUVS THE TROOPS. Likewise, as New Yorkers wandered about in a haze of grief in mid-September, 2001, the Bush administration lied about the safety of breathing the air in lower Manhattan, even as Bush went on to give 20,000 speeches about THE HORRIBLE TRAUMA OF 9/11.

But all this apparently this makes no never mind to the Republican party, or the Washington Post editorial page. They have just as much contempt for us as the Bush administration itself. Indeed, their contempt may be deepest for those who actually believe all their lies about how we're all in this together and act on this belief. Suckers!

That's the main thing I take away from all this: the depth of the disdain these people feel for us. It's been bracing to witness—in their minds, we basically don't exist, except perhaps as useful props. The question now is whether we, the regular Americans, have enough self-respect to get our acts together and force them to care about our lives. And that's something that can't really happen in courtrooms.

Posted at March 11, 2007 07:21 PM | TrackBack

I don't think the law against naming CIA agents is a great idea to begin with.

Then Bush should start a drive to repeal it, since he's going to pardon Libby anyway.

Posted by: mb at March 11, 2007 07:44 PM

They really do ONLY WANT OUR MONEY, and all the power it represents. (our money buys the world's most powerful military,ever) That is the ONLY LEVERAGE we have against them at this time, and it's going to take one hell of a lot of AMERICAN TAXPAYERS pulling on that lever to move this Administration and Congress. (please tell me I'm wrong, show me a better way, as this will NOT be easy or painless)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 11, 2007 09:10 PM

It wasn't even a matter of the woman being inconvenient, was it? It was retribution against her husband.

Posted by: David Goldfarb at March 11, 2007 10:06 PM

Disdain is certainly what our government feels for us peons. Our government, or their government --- whatever, used to at least pretend that the huddled masses counted but now they no longer even pretend to represent us. Entropy has taken its toll, the great experiment is a flop, Americans believe in Bigfoot, space aliens, and the rapture. Perhaps the real question is not what happened to our government but what happened to us? Why do millions of Americans believe in superstitious twaddle like Armageddon preceded by the rapture? These end of days folk will look you straight in the eye and tell you the end could happen any moment, they want it to happen, it pleases them to no end that it should happen, it is more important to them than the horrendous amount of death in Iraq or the wounded soldiers and the lack of decent medical care for them. Why are so many Americans so sick and twisted and why should we care about such self centered and destructively insane people? Personally I am all for the rapture because it would be a great relief to see these stupid, brutal, ignorant, selfish sluggos disappear all at the same
moment. Oh what a boon to humanity that would be, why evolution might even begin again.

Posted by: rob payne at March 12, 2007 01:52 AM

But what do Bush & Co. actually say to each other when nobody else is around? Do they sustain among themselves the pretense of "caring" for others? Do they have some philosophical belief that their actions are justified? I often wonder about this.

Posted by: Rosemary Molloy at March 12, 2007 08:01 AM

But how you gonna "force them to care about our lives" when they don't even care (unless it's useful or indictable) about the lives of the members of their own Ueberclass? From the Clintons to the Bushes, loyal pals are dropped at the slightest hint that they may take 1 point off the popularity ratings or $10 million off the book contract offer.
Only force would force them. This is a class without principles, shame, or class.

Posted by: donescobar at March 12, 2007 08:18 AM

I'm glad you made that first point. I agree with your other points as well, but it's been disturbing to see so many liberal/lefties become such CIA fans. Outing Valerie Plame was immoral, because she was doing what CIA agents actually should be doing--trying to keep track of weapons in the hands of people who might want to kill us. But it's my vague impression that CIA agents aren't always out there doing things that would make us lefties proud.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at March 12, 2007 10:58 AM

rob payne: Please, Sir, I beg you, name what DAY in the entire history of the HUMAN RACE that humans weren't superstitious. When exactly was there an AGE OF REASON? When was the hour that the MAJORITY of people were NOT religious?
donescobar: The lever is money. Dangle it and they will jump as high as you like, with hold it, they will crawl on all fours with many tears before you. Listen to them and they will tell you ANY lie, any story, or even the TRUTH if that's what it takes to get it. Give it to them, WITHOUT OVERSIGHT, and they will waste it using it AGAINST YOU. (that's what they're doing now)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at March 12, 2007 12:39 PM

If you'd ever read any Le Carre or Ludlum the idea that the government would have any problem casually discarding intelligence operatives when it was convenient would hardly be a surprise. I guess that once again popular fiction is four decades ahead of some people's imagination....

But seriously, there are reasons why it should be against the law to reveal secret information. It shouldn't be done casually. What the White House did with Plame's identity was to make the assumption that their interest was more important than the work Plame did, or that they wouldn't get caught.

Posted by: darrelplant at March 12, 2007 01:20 PM

Thanks Jonathan. Posts like this are why I read and link to you regularly.

Posted by: n8nyc at March 12, 2007 02:25 PM