Friday, May 05, 2006

Inflammatory Opinion:
The Gaming Game

Jason LeopoldOn April 28, 2006, published a Perspective article by journalist Jason Leopold entitled, "Fitzgerald to Seek Indictment of Rove," in which were written the following words:

Despite vehement denials by his attorney, who said this week that Karl Rove is neither a "target" nor in danger of being indicted in the CIA leak case, the special counsel leading the investigation has already written up charges against Rove, and a grand jury is expected to vote on whether to indict the Deputy White House Chief of Staff sometime [sic] next week, sources knowledgeable about the probe said Friday [April 28, 2006] afternoon.
As of the dateline of this post on May 5, 2006, no media outlet has indicated that the grand jury to which Mr. Leopold referred had issued any indictment against Mr. Rove or anyone else in the matter of the outing of intelligence operative Valerie Plame. Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. Attorney overseeing the investigation into the matter, has made no indication of a plan to call a press conference to announce indictments; and has thus far today been silent on the matter despite having issued more than 30 of its news link e-mails since the article referenced above was published a week ago. On the same date that published Mr. Leopold's article, MSNBC was reporting that no indictments would be issued within the next week-and-a-half.

Mr. Leopold's colorful history has been chronicled previously: Guerilla News Network, while more or less confirming Leopold's version of events in a dust-up with Salon over an Enron story, nevertheless gave the following characterization: "Leopold has had trouble in the past producing verifiable sources." That Enron matter came to embroil such highly respected journalists as Paul Krugman.

Mr. Leopold's latest speculative journalistic venture masquerading as fact has ensnared a number of bloggers, hoping as they did that a journalist had a nearly indisputable inside source who knew exactly what was about to happen and when it would come down.

This will be a relatively short lecture.

No one—I repeat, no one—in the Valerie Plame scandal wears a white hat.

Valerie Plame, herself, was a non-official cover operative working first for the Central Intelligence Agency and later possibly for the State Department. Hers was the business of lies: her career was one of misrepresenting herself to those from whom she could extract information that could then be refined and issued to the intelligence community for further refinement, analysis, and synthesis. Spies are not above killing people; it happens, sometimes of necessity, sometimes of motivation frightfully less. Valerie Plame may be a hero of the state, but she is not the stuff of admiration by those less inclined to a life of subterfuge, manipulation, and the ruin of others.

Her husband, Joseph Wilson, has displayed a curiously consistent behavior bordering on self-promotion. He went to Niger at the suggestion by his wife, a consummate insider, to certain CIA employees. He had no obvious, prior credentials as an expert in document authentication, and yet that was his mission to Niger: to determine the authenticity of one or several documents rendering evidence that Saddam Hussein was trying to procure yellowcake from the African state. That the document was a forgery is separate from Mr. Wilson's involvement. That he was willing to publicly denounce a sitting President of the United States for using that false evidence as pretext for war is admirable, but only to a certain extent: it will never be a matter of more than blind speculation how much Mr. Wilson cared about the venality of the Bush Administration and how much he cared about putting himself into the spotlight that he has worked ever since then so diligently to hold upon himself through his spouse.

Those in the White House who planned and executed the outing of Valerie Plame acted in a wholly self-serving manner that became, because of the national security implications of the scheme, sedition against the United States of America. They who cart obsessive vengeance against political opponents, willful destruction of our government, and defiance of standing law to the door of madness number many, and they infect the halls of power in Washington from the White House to the CIA to the Department of State to the Treasury to the Justice Department and even into the federal judiciary. Their names are legion: Cheney, Feith, Powell, Bolton, Abrams, Wurmser, Rice, Hanna, Card, Ashcroft, Gonzales, Negroponte, and Alito, to name but a very few of the neo-conservatives, Dominionists, and extremists of other and varied stripes of a political discourse degraded by perversions from a better human spirit that would seek civility and progress.

Robert Novak hid behind the crumbling wall of journalistic authority to further the scheme of White House insiders. He then went on to become curiously, even fascinatingly, immune to public, rough treatment by a federal prosecutor for his role. It is utterly bizarre that the man who actually disclosed the name of the operative has suffered no legal punishment whatsoever for what he did.

Judith Miller used the cover of a national, formerly reputable, newspaper, The New York Times, to promote through disinformation a pro-war agenda that has led to a draining, long-term conflict that has killed and maimed tens of thousands of Iraqis, killed and maimed tens of thousands of American soldiers, and sent the federal budget deficits into territory that threatens permanent degradation of the American dominance on the stage of global finances. Ms. Miller had become close to Valerie Plame long before the outing of the latter. Ms. Miller's facile work on a book on weapons of mass destruction gave her an excuse to come into contact with Ms. Plame. Whether Judith Miller was playing her own hand or was an asset of some foreign interest, Valerie Plame probably understood that Ms. Miller's rapproachment was not entirely what it seemed on its face. Miller was trying to game a CIA operative to get into her close confidence. To what end that would serve is subject to speculation, but it is not beyond the realm of reasonable speculation that Miller knew before Libby and Rove started spilling beans that Plame was a non-official cover operative. It is very likely the case, in fact, that Miller did not need I. Lewis Libby, a fundamentally stupid man, to tell her information from the National Intelligence Estimate about Plame’s status.

And finally, Patrick Fitzgerald must be noted. He is a U.S. Attorney; he has successfully prosecuted all manner of scum and in the process has left more than a few unheralded and innocent lives damaged or disrupted. That's what prosecutors do: if they want something, they will use the inordinate power of their station to get it. They are not bound to always tell the truth; in fact, because of the white circle federal judges place around their courts with regard to truthfulness of officers of the court, what goes on outside that area can be and often is troubling to civil libertarians. The experience of a grand jury—as a witness or as a juror—can be life-altering. As a witness, you have no right to counsel present, and if you try to protect yourself with claims of constitutional rights or even common decency, a federal prosecutor grilling you will trot right down to the presiding judge's chambers and prevail upon said judge to virtually hang you in the street; and almost without exception, the judge will comply as if the U.S. Attorney has an affirmative relationship with the court utterly absence from any relationship the citizen has with the Constitution. And if you are a juror, may God help you if you make that prosecutor angry. You could end up being physically hauled into an isolated room by that prosecutor, court reporter in tow, for a session you'll never forget. Think about democracy and the rule of law; then think about grand juries: what you believe about civil rights and liberties in this nation should vanish into thin air.

Jason Leopold is just one of many journalists who have been gamed. The litany of claims about Karl Rove's imminent indictment goes back at least to the late Summer of 2003, when journalists for reputable news media outlets were predicting that the Deputy White House Chief of Staff was on the verge of being charged with crimes. Since then, the waves of rumors have lapped up from time to time, with each cycle being characterized by fewer and fewer seasoned journalists biting. But invariably, every time one journalist from the more reputable world of the mainstream—or in Mr. Leopold's case, formerly from that more reputable world—opens the door and declares that indictments are imminent, those below in the journalistic food chain have a feeding frenzy and in so doing are handed a bomb that hurts their credibility.

None of us are immune to this frailty. It is part of learning how to be wise, seasoned journalists that we occasionally get caught reporting what is not so. We get better as we go along, and we develop not just a sense of who is and who is not a good upstream source, but we also gather a forensic ability to understand what makes sense and what doesn't. Part of that is asking not just who is providing us with information, but also what that person's motivations are.

Mr. Leopold might have obtained his information from sources playing Karl Rove's hand. Rove has gamed the media before and nearly wrecked careers in the process. Mr. Leopold could otherwise have obtained his information from those close to Mr. Fitzgerald, a man whose utter contempt for journalists has resulted in the government's long-sought elimination of the fragile and wholly informal doctrine of journalists' source confidentiality. It is no mere coïncidence that the very same government that now so rabidly militates to secrecy chose to field into the Valerie Plame scandal investigation a prosecutor who has successfully destroyed the very most essential means by which a free press could frustrate that drive to secrecy. Mr. Fitzgerald is an agent of the state; to the extent that the state comes to see its people as unworthy of the full and open truth, the duty-bound agent of that state will jealously and with prejudice serve to separate it from guardianship of the will of its people.

Here's the inside scoop. Karl Rove will be indicted next week.

Or he won't be indicted next week.

Now, take that information and run with it; and always, always be suspicious of your source, even when it's the Dark Wraith speaking to you.

Thus, once again, has the Dark Wraith spoken.

This article is cross-posted from The Dark Wraith Forums.

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