Newsweek, in what can only be a) a powerful advertisement for clothing and b) an endorsement of Wesley Clark, has a slideshow of presidents (and Clark) in their bathing suits.
The following link is not an endorsement. There are many issues of theory and methodology that make the results suspect. Still, you'll really want to see this.
How to argue against Strauss like an intelligent adult.
I wish I could find...oh yes...and here's another method.
(By the way, zizka's comment in that first link is worth reading.)
Harrison Ford referring to me as Mother Superior didn't help.
From a new biography: Alec Guiness, in letters and diaries, grumpily becoming Obi-Wan.
Ok, somebody is coming to the site who's browsing with Firebird, but using AOL. What up with that?
I don't want to speak ill of the dead, so let me get this in before Karol Wojtyla meets his maker. I'll credit his willingness to make gestures of comity to other religious leaders and his forgiveness for Sirhan Sirhan, which, however perverse your non-Christian instincts may find it, was in the best traditions of the Church he heads. But for his Church and for religion as a force in our lives, he's been a horrible pontiff; one who privileged doctrinal purity over a potent and relevant faith. Whether or not you are a Catholic, the alienation from the magisterial teachings of Catholicism that Wojtyla has effected are your loss as well as mine. I hold that against him.
There was a brilliant and concise piece by Jonathan Ree about religion in modern life published about 18 months ago in the Index on Censorship and reprinted in Harpers in July of 2002. I haven't been able to find it online and didn't want to post it here for fear of violating copyright. But what the heck, they can ask me to take it down. People should read it. So here's the scanned PDF (the misspellings are scanning artifacts). And here's one important passage, for those of you loathe to click--but really, it's worth clicking and reading the whole thing.
It all comes down to what Soren Kierkegaard—perhaps the wittiest Christian of them all—used to call "incommensurability." Incommensurability is a feature of all those areas of existence in which, as Kierkegaard put it, everybody begins from the same place and each generation starts off exactly where every other generation did. There is no such thing as progress when it comes to contemplating the immense disproportion between our puny individual existences and the vastness of the natural and historical worlds in which they fleetingly take place. Nor is there any stockpiling of knowledge when it comes to wondering what place parenthood may have in your life, or pain or illness or indignation. The fact that our lives and the lives of those we care about are matters of all-consuming interest to ourselves but of absolute indifference to the universe should be at least as thought-provoking for an atheist as for a believer. And when calamity enters our lives it is impossible not to long for the kinds of tact and thoughtfulness that, historically, have been the specialty of religions. It is religion that has supplied practically all the phrases, concepts, stories, and images that help us with such impossible tasks as remembering the unthinkable, forgetting the unforgivable, and lingering for a while over a fleeting instant of time. Religions have created prayers and liturgies and buildings and open spaces that may help us see our griefs and perplexities in their indissoluble individuality, but without forgetting their continuities with those of other people and other generations. The shocks and aftershocks of love and death call for occasional suspensions of our daily, weekly, and annual rounds; and off the top of our heads we are unlikely to dream up new forms of interruption as well suited to our needs as those that we have inherited from religions.
I have to admit, I did not foresee the day that just thinking about "no controlling legal authority" would bring a smile to my face.
Guy walks into the bathroom, takes a stall, and initiates a cell phone conversation. Who raises these people? Buncha savages in this town.
I know zilch about comics, but I do know a funny and nasty review when I read one. Enjoy. (with thanks to the person who sent it to me.)
I'm really rusty on the vocabulary of that bygone chivalrous time, so someone will have to inform me as to whether this is courting or wooing.
If my fiancee leaves me, there's always San Francisco.
How to have sex in San Francisco
A beginner's guide. By Karen Solomon
Darkness Falls Imagine you and your date are in a pitch-black room with 40 other naked people. If this sounds appealing to you – and it does to many, because the events always sell out – then Darkness Falls at art space Spanganga might just be your cup of very dark, very strong tea. Consult the Web site for the next couples or all-women event. www.spanganga.com.
Lush Couples and single women looking for a twist on the regular club scene are always welcome at these upper-crusty erotic evenings on the dance floor, and some may take advantage of the playrooms available upstairs. Reservations are required, and they must be made by women. A strict dress code is enforced, and partygoers only get location information once a reservation has been confirmed. (415) 923-1888, www.lush-sf.com.
Blowbuddies For gay men who like their play rough and no-frills, this fine establishment has been giving them pleasure for more than 15 years. In addition to glory holes, slings, prison cells, and other hot spaces and themes, it also offers on-site free HIV testing. It opens early on Fridays – 3 p.m. – for those who can't wait for the weekend. 933 Harrison, S.F. (415) 777-HEAD, www.blowbuddies.com.
I've never been to places like these. I am, I'm almost certain, a prude. "Almost" because I've been sufficiently unadventurous to avoid even being confronted with my own prudishness. Have any of you gone to something like this? I know Ted Barlow [god, he's naming names!] did some research on trans-sexuals, so he must have at least skimmed this scene. I would love to go--invisibly--and see what goes on.
So, the last two nights, I've gone to bed after blogging about the Plame affair and wound up...dreaming about blogging about the Plame affair. Brother. This can only mean one thing...obviously, I haven't said all I have to say about it.
Kidding, Unf, just kidding. I'll blog Plame as things occur to me, but perhaps some new topics are in order. I think I know just the thing.
Well, not quite sure what happened there. Either our server went berserk, or someone decided to bring us down--intentionally or incidentally, I don't know. Tech support tells me the site was using 99.9% of resources on its server so they suspended the account. We'll see if it happens again.
Ok, time to pull it all together and make some falsifiable predictions.
I think much of Robert Novak's account is true, though stated so as to obscure the truth.
One person broke the law: whoever told Novak that Plame was CIA. This is looking like Scooter Libby. He's a goner and in legal trouble.
"Second leaker" is misleading. Someone confirmed that Plame was CIA, but that's not quite a leak. Whoever talked to Novak second will avoid legal proceedings. Remember, Novak reports this person as having said, "oh, you already know." That's probably a false recounting, crafted to ensure that it seems no new information was divulged, but there will never be another version.
The only person who, if he's the "second leaker," will hurt the administration, is Elliot Abrams. That's because he's a convicted criminal and the White House was questioned about the wisdom of taking on a criminal. Otherwise, the "second leaker" will become irrelevant--or, to put it another way, this will crank up the outrage on both sides but won't change many minds about whether something bad happened. For what it's worth, I think the "second leaker" is Cheney. That's why we'll get a stonewall.
The Washington Post story that re-broke all this, that two people leaked to six reporters, is not true. I think two people (one of them almost certainly Karl Rove) pushed the story after the Novak column ran. These people broke no laws; they will be contrite and survive.
Note what this means. There are not several reporters with firsthand knowledge of leaking. Only Bob Novak has that.
Also, forget about this directly tainting Bush. Even if he was involved or authorized the leak, those conversations were strictly internal. No one on the inside will squeal. Nor do I believe that anyone would be foolish enough to write down or email such an authorization.
And forget about the argument that the White House's inaction since July 14 makes the people there culpable. That may be strictly true, but at this level, legal and political questions are intertwined. Inaction regarding a leak simply does not generate the political energy required to follow through with legal charges. And only a definitively illegal act is sufficient to bring down the President or his closest advisors.
So: Scooter Libby gone; Cheney unmasked (but legally clear); Rove and someone else engaged in nasty politics; Bush taking action to cleanse the White House of Libby and scold Rove. This is a serious blow, no doubt about it. But it's not fatal. There will be no impeachment and it won't even guarantee that Bush can't be reelected. But it will be a factor in 2004. Oddly enough, just how bad it will be for the administration depends almost entirely on how they act from here on out, not on what's already happened. If there's a long stonewall and a dripdrip, they're making it worse. If this wraps up in a couple of weeks with the appropriate people fired and scolded, the public will move on. We'll see.
Valerie Plame was among the small subset of Central Intelligence Agency officers who could not disguise their profession by telling friends that they worked for the United States government.
That cover story, standard for American operatives who pretend to be diplomats or other federal employees, was not an option for Ms. Plame, people who knew her said on Wednesday. As a covert operative who specialized in nonconventional weapons and sometimes worked abroad, she passed herself off as a private energy expert, what the agency calls nonofficial cover.
But that changed over the summer, when her identity as a C.I.A. officer was reported in a syndicated column by Robert Novak.What is nonofficial cover? Here:
Nonofficial cover. NOCs (the word rhymes with "rocks") are the most covert CIA operatives. They typically work abroad without diplomatic protection (often they pretend to work for some commercial enterprise). If these spies are caught, there's no guarantee that the United States would admit their true identities. When using official cover could put a spy's life and work at risk, NOC is the only alternative.
Hey, check out the front page on Drudge. Nevermind that someone may have just fingered the leaker (in the VPs office), Rush may be going down. (Or not...drug use...shrug...)
Rampant speculation regarding the identity of the leaker here.
You really have to go read this article. Its very funny. My favorite line: "Apparently, this walking advertisement for the Death Tax coyly snapped a heel of her Manolo Blahnik, and No. 54 gave her a piggyback ride to safety." I especially like the "walking advertisement for the Death Tax" description. Its what I think whenever I read the NYT Sunday Styles section. Special bonus features of the article: no mention of the Plame/Wilson affair.
You've heard about what Rush Limbaugh said about Donovan McNabb, yes? McNabb is the very talented (black) quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. Here's Limbaugh, who was doing color commentary for ESPN during the game.
"I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well," Limbaugh said. "There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."
Donovan McNabb reveals that he has a deep understanding of the meaning of apologies.
He said what he said. ... I'm sure he's not the only one that feels that way but it's somewhat shocking to actually hear that on national TV. An apology would do no good because he obviously thought about it before he said it.
Precisely. Here's Limbaugh's response to the "controversy," as spoken on his radio show.
All this has become the tempest that it is because I must have been right about something," Limbaugh said. "If I wasn't right, there wouldn't be this cacophony of outrage that has sprung up in the sports writer community.
First, maybe it's time to retire the term "controversy" with its "one side says / the other side says" neutrality. Next, read Phil Sheridan's evisceration of Limbaugh's argument and ESPN.
The sick thing is, this is exactly what ESPN had in mind when the all-sports network hired veteran provocateur Rush Limbaugh for its Sunday NFL pregame show. You can imagine the meeting. The ESPN bigwigs must have needed drool cups to handle the runoff when they discussed the controversy Limbaugh would generate.
Here's your mistake, Rush. You stepped out of your radio comfort zone, where "Dittoheads" either echo your twisted view of America or you can cut them off. You stepped into a place where your bluff - and that's all it ever has been - is easily called.
A little history might be in order.
In 1985, Randall Cunningham was drafted by the Eagles. At his first news conference in Philadelphia, an older white reporter asked him, "What makes you think you'll ever be able to read NFL defenses?"
In January 1988, it was considered major news that an African American quarterback named Doug Williams was starting in the Super Bowl for the Washington Redskins. During the pregame week of hype, Williams was famously asked, "How long have you been a black quarterback?"
To his credit, he calmly replied that he'd always been a quarterback and he'd also always been black. Then Doug Williams went out and earned the most valuable player award in that Super Bowl.
The point is, this ground was covered a long time ago by those of us who cover sports for a living. Nobody is perfect, of course, but McNabb's tenure here has been marked by coverage that focuses on his performance, his progress and his work ethic. That includes positive coverage as well as negative.
From the most matter-of-fact wire service report to the most outspoken talk-radio shouter, McNabb's race has not been an issue.
Until now. Until Rush Limbaugh and his mouth made it an issue. But why is anyone surprised? This is the same man who once told an African American caller to "take that bone out of your nose and call me back." The same man who once said, "Have you ever noticed how all composite pictures of wanted criminals resemble Jesse Jackson?"
Finally, there is the substance of Limbaugh's statement, that McNabb isn't as good as the media say and that he's gotten credit that should go to the Eagles' defense. Anyone who has watched this team for the last three years would know that is laughable. The defense has been very good and has gotten due credit. But McNabb has been good much of the time, very good some of the time and great on occasion. Talk to his teammates and to his opponents and you hear the kind of respect that someone like Limbaugh would know nothing about.
I think I'm in love.
"Honey, I would fry pretty much anything because that is what the people like," said Olivia Acuna, who works at a booth that sells fried Snickers bars.
In fact, I think I may be a Texan.
Fried potatoes and catfish are old hat to Texans at what is billed as the largest state fair in the United States. What they long for is a new offering for the vats of hot grease to go along with fair favorites such as fried pickles, fried okra, fried corn on the cob and fried cheesecake.
This year, 14 new food items were introduced to the fair and eight of them are fried. New to the fair, held in a land that is home to chicken fried steak, are items such as fried Oreo cookies, fried candy bars, and fried cheese curds.
The reporter seems to think this is all very funny.
Some other fried favorites include fried tamales, fried turkey legs, and ice cream that is lumped into a ball, covered in breakfast cereal crumbs and dipped quickly in hot oil. Dieters can ask to have the ice cream served without chocolate syrup and whipped cream if they want a lighter version.
On the contrary, life has become very complicated.
Boston, Mass.: It seems to me that there are at least six reporters stating that at least two TOP adminstration Officals volunteered the NAME of a uncover CIA operative. This lady is apparently a 30-year plus undercover operative, involved at the moment in undercover work involving nuclear materials. The result of unmasking her is to blind the USA intelligence service in the area of greatest threat to the U.S. public. This may or may not legally be TREASON, but it's beyond doubt the most treason -ike act by any adminstration I am aware of in the last 50 years.
Dana Priest: You've got a fair number of assumptions there that I don't buy, including her length of service and the nuclear secrets bit. If her job had been that sensitive, I would wonder why the agency didn't jump up and down quicker and why the Justice Department only this week decided to open an investigation.
New York : Other then the outing of a CIA employee that may have had political overtones due to a critic of this administration's 'yellow cake' fiasco, what do you think may have been done to our constitutional right to criticize our government without reprocussions?
Dana Priest: Not much. Most people in government whom I've met have more fortitude than that.And funny.
Alexandria, VA: Upon conclusion of the probe, do you think DOJ will send Wilson and Plame to Guantanamo for violation of the Patriot Act by slandering President Bush and Karl Rove and thus giving comfort to terrorists?
Dana Priest: Or maybe they will be whisked off to one of the CIA's secret interrogation centers abroad and questioned 24/7 by Nigerian uranium miners.
Mr. Bush's aides have not been beyond talking about classified information to make a point. In July, they declassified a lengthy executive summary National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq, a highly classified document, to underscore their contention that Mr. Bush's statements about Saddam Hussein were based on information that the C.I.A. and other agencies had agreed upon.Correct me if I'm wrong (I may be misremembering) but wasn't this classified information released at the insistence of the public and the press? And wasn't the complaint at the time that more of the information (about Saudi Arabia) should have been declassified? Do I have this wrong, or is that an extremely disingenuous and unfair paragraph?
I did not receive a planned leak ... During a long conversation with a senior administration official, I asked why Wilson was assigned the mission to Niger. He said Wilson had been sent by the CIA's counterproliferation section at the suggestion of one of its employees, his wife. It was an offhand revelation from this official, who is no partisan gunslinger. When I called another official for confirmation, he said: "Oh, you know about it." The published report that somebody in the White House failed to plant this story with six reporters and finally found me as a willing pawn is simply untrue.This is, again, a confirmation denial. It is utterly irrelevant whether Plame was outed casually, or whether Novak or the official made the call, or whether the outing was incidental to the call or its sole purpose. It is also beside the point that the official breaking the law wasn't who one would guess would be a law-breaker. Again, in denying, Novak has confirmed the key elements of the story. A CIA agent's cover was blown by a White House official. There has been no denial of that fact, not by Novak nor anyone else. The rest is just obfuscatory noise. Novak's other points are that "the CIA never warned me that the disclosure of Wilson's wife working at the agency would endanger her or anybody else. Third, it was not much of a secret." The first point may absolve Novak of some professional stain and he's entitled to make it. But it's artfully phrased and omits what he's already admitted: that the CIA asked him not to use her name. The second point is, again, irrelevant. It doesn't matter who else knew if her status was covert when the official revealed it to Novak. Imagine telling two people a secret and each of them telling several other people with the justification that at least one other person already knew. So, thanks to Bob Novak for clearing things up...again. Someone in the White House committed a crime. BUT: I think that when Novak writes, "The published report that somebody in the White House failed to plant this story with six reporters and finally found me as a willing pawn is simply untrue," he's right. It seems to me, in keeping with the post below, that the leak was not shopped around. Rather, it was published by Novak, and then pushed, by Rove. What's a bit counterintuitive is that the first act, the leak, may not have been malicious (I'm being generous), but was illegal, while the second act, Rove's follow-up, was certainly malicious but not illegal. In the morning, I'll try to fit the Time story into this picture. MORE: Here's the Time story. Here are the key lines.
And some government officials have noted to TIME in interviews, (as well as to syndicated columnist Robert Novak) that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.Quite ambiguous as to the sequence of events. My guess is that Time was one of the outlets contacted after Novak published (the Time article appeared 2-3 days after Novak's). But it's hard to know for sure based on those few lines.
First of all, it is time to speak some truth to power in this country: Microsoft Word is a terrible program. Its terribleness is of a piece with the terribleness of Windows generally, a system so overloaded with icons, menus, buttons, and incomprehensible Help windows that performing almost any function means entering a treacherous wilderness of pop-ups posing alternatives of terrifying starkness: Accept/Decline/Cancel; Logoff/Shut Down/Restart; and the mysterious Do Not Show This Warning Again. You often feel that you're not ready to make a decision so unalterable; but when you try to make the window go away your machine emits an angry beep. You double-click. You triple-click. Beep beep beep beep beep. You are being held for a fool by a chip.
When, in the old days, you hit the wrong key on your typewriter, you got one wrong character. Strike the wrong keys in Word and you are suddenly writing in Norwegian Bokmal (Bokmal?). And you have no idea how you got there; you can spend the rest of the night trying to get out. In the end, you stop the random clicking and dragging and pulling-down and have recourse to the solution of every computer moron: with a sob of relief, you press Ctrl/Alt/Del. (What do Control and Alt mean, by the way? Does anyone still know?) A message appears: "You will lose any unsaved information in all programs that are running." O.K.? Cancel? End task? End life? The whole reason for rebooting was that you didn't have access to your information, so how can you save it? You can always pull the plug out of the wall. That usually ends your "session" (a term borrowed—no accident—from psychoanalysis).It's not so bad, but really, I just want to point out that in a magicial internet coincidence, Slashdot points us to this article on the inventor of Ctrl-Alt-Del.
"It was not a memorable event," said Bradley, a longtime IBM employee, speaking of that day in 1980 or '81 when he discovered control-alt-delete.
How do you defend the White House against charges that they outed a CIA agent? Umm, bring up the Japanese, of course.
I agree 100% percent with the conclusion to this InstaPundit post:
Forget Valerie Plame, the big scandal is why anyone in the Bush Administration would ever have tasked a guy with Wilson's views with an important mission.
Wilson is a Clintonista, pretty much. A liberal Dem and thus (in nearly all liberal Dems these days) living with an utter moral blindness, a taste for high spin and the complete inability to distinguish from carefully targeted air campaigns against enemy formations and, say, firebombing entire cities. Oh, and an unfortunate tendency to blame the Jews for everything bad in the Middle East. The kind of people who may have known that Edward Said's ideas animated terrorism, but did't care as long as Said was fashionable and his ideas just resulted in killing Jews somewhere on the other side of the sea. The average Dean supporter, in other words.
The Japan stuff is coming, really.
There are too many great details in this story for it to be true. But I think it is.
This post by Kevin Drum makes me think we need to make a distinction. I don't think the same person (people) is responsible for the leak to Novak and the subsequent calling of "at least six" journalists. It looks to me, as Novak said yesterday, that someone in the White House outed Plame to Novak, he confirmed it with someone else in the White House, checked with the CIA, and published it. And then I think Karl Rove got involved personally and called journalists to push the story. It's quite early to say this, but it looks to me like Rove will be off the hook and Matt Yglesias's Scooter Libby theory (and here) just became much more likely.
Aha!--the Calpundit post has one of his commenter's thinking along the same lines. Galois writes,
From all we've heard I would guess Rove did not call Novak, but did call other journalists after Novak's column appeared and pushed the story. This would explain the WH denial of Rove as the leak and Mitchell's claim she was only called after Novak's column appeared. It would also explain why Wilson backed off Rove as the source of the leak but maintained he heard it was involved after the fact. It would also explain why (at least) 6 journalists were called. Yes, that is not how one would leak something, but it is how someone would push a story that was already out there (thanks to Novak and Time).
We should be paying more attention to what Brad DeLong has to say about the search for the leaker(s).
The third set of people unclear on the concept are a horde of commentators who want to know if it was Karl Rove himself who did it, and think it important whether Rove did it or whether Scooter Libby and Ari Fleischer cooked it up by themselves. That does not matter. What matters is that some high officials in the Bush White House think that it is cool to blow the cover of CIA operatives in the pursuit of narrow partisan political advantage, and that everyone else in the White House does not care. The fact that the leaks are coming from the CIA is very bad news: it means that there is nobody in the White House who loves his or her country enough to take action to try to get those who give aid and comfort, et cetera, fired.
Think about this. The entire White House staff has known for eleven weeks that in their midst are people whom George H.W. Bush would call traitors, and there has been no attempt to evict them. Karl Rove has been telling reporters that it is all Valerie Plame Wilson's fault for having Joe Wilson as her husband and that "Joe Wilson's wife is fair game." This is an administration that fires Larry Lindsey exceedingly gracelessly for giving an accurate estimate of the cost of the war of Iraq. And yet it hugs to its bosom those who really do give aid and comfort to our enemies...
And now, that Rove seems to have been identified as one of the leakers,
But whether or not Rove is one of the two principals, it is the accessories before and after the fact that we should be worried about: Condoleeza Rice, Stephen Hadley, Andrew Card, and all others who were blithely unconcerned about the presence inside the White House of those George H.W. Bush would call "insidious traitors."
Brad's right. Some people will think this is overreaching--trying to go after the whole administration when only one or two actually leaked--but I think Brad recognizes that if these charges are true, the primary questions we should be asking are legal and not political (not that they will be disentangled). In that frame, the relevant fact is that since July 14, the White House has not, by its own admission, taken any steps to discover if someone there blew an agent's cover. The only mitigating circumstance that I can imagine is that the White House was informed that the CIA was going to file a report with the Justice Department. I think that's very unlikely and even so, there's the question of why McClelllan didn't mention that yesterday. Go read all of Brad's post on this.
Atrios has the link. Karl Rove has been named "privately" by some of the journalists who were contacted.
Anne Galloway has this interesting bit.
According to Laura Groppe, CEO of the California-based Girls Intelligence Agency, there are more girls than boys online in North America, girls spend more time online than boys, and forty per cent of online game players are girls.
I'd love to see more information about that. The CEO of Girls Intelligence Agency may not be the very best source, but it is believable.
The details are being covered elsewhere at the moment but did you notice that in the first paragraph of today's WaPo story (linked below as well), Mike Allen and Dana Milbank really pin the White House to the wall?
President Bush's chief spokesman said yesterday that the allegation that administration officials leaked the name of a CIA operative is "a very serious matter" and vowed that Bush would fire anybody responsible for such actions.
Pinned and wriggling.
Much more detail on the Plame affair in the latest Washington Post story.
A senior official quoted Bush as saying, "I want to get to the bottom of this," during a meeting yesterday morning with a few top aides, including Rove.
And the irrelevance of Robert Novak is complete.
Another journalist yesterday confirmed receiving a call from an administration official providing the same information about Wilson's wife before the Novak column appeared on July 14 in The Post and other newspapers.
The journalist, who asked not to be identified because of possible legal ramifications, said that the information was provided as part of an effort to discredit Wilson, but that the CIA information was not treated as especially sensitive. "The official I spoke with thought this was a part of Wilson's story that wasn't known and cast doubt on his whole mission," the person said, declining to identify the official he spoke with. "They thought Wilson was having a good ride and this was part of Wilson's story."
The possibility that Valerie Plame was "just an analyst" is laid to rest.
Sources said Wilson's wife is a clandestine operations officer for the CIA, now out of the field and working on weapons of mass destruction.
And a possibility is broached that [I should have blogged when it occurred to me!] may explain much of the confusion about motivation and stupidity.
Neither the Novak nor the Time account mentioned that Plame had worked as an undercover operative, which indicates those who leaked the information may not have known she was.
1) Bush wants to find out who leaked.
2) Another journalist has told the Post that s/he was contacted by the leakers.
3) Valerie Plame's status was definitely classified.
4) The leakers might not have known that it was classified.
These facts, together, seem to me very bad news for the leakers and very good news for Bush. Some people were definitely peddling stories to discredit Wilson or intimidate future dissenters. Those people will be found and will be in a load of trouble. But the fact that they may have broken the law unknowingly, while irrelevant legally, makes a big difference politically and takes some of the edge of malice off. Less malice, less outrage. Bush can get rid of them, condemn their behavior and perhaps emerge in a better position than he was in before the news broke. Unless--and this seems less likely now--one of the "big names," (Rumsfeld, Rice, or Cheney) was involved. Then it will be the end of him. But note that I don't think Rove belongs on that list. Despite what blog readers may think, the name Karl Rove is unknown to about 98% of the country and the association in our minds between Bush and Rove just doesn't exist at large. Getting rid of Rove, of itself, won't necessarily hurt Bush. He will certainly miss him as a strategist. But even the link to Rove is tenuous.
Wilson said yesterday that he believes Rove "at a minimum condoned the leak," but said he has no evidence Rove was the original leaker. Wilson said that based on reporters' statements, he believes Rove participated in calls that drew attention to his wife's occupation after Novak's column was published. "My knowledge is based on a reporter who called me right after he had spoken to Rove and said that Rove had said my wife was fair game," Wilson said. He said that conversation occurred on July 21.
That's bad. It's Karl Rove bad. But it's not a hanging offense. We'll see.
Drudge has up the following statement from Robert Novak.
'Nobody in the Bush administration called me to leak this. In July I was interviewing a senior administration official on Ambassador Wilson's report when he told me the trip was inspired by his wife, a CIA employee working on weapons of mass destruction. Another senior official told me the same thing. As a professional journalist with 46 years experience in Washington I do not reveal confidential sources. When I called the CIA in July to confirm Mrs. Wilson's involvement in the mission for her husband -- he is a former Clinton administration official -- they asked me not to use her name, but never indicated it would endanger her or anybody else. According to a confidential source at the CIA, Mrs. Wilson was an analyst, not a spy, not a covert operator, and not in charge of undercover operatives'...
Nobody called him to leak it, rather, it was divulged during a call either initiated by Novak or made by the leaker for (ostensibly) another purpose. And that is completely irrelevant. What Novak's statement does is confirm that a "senior administration official" is the leaker and that another "senior administration official" confirmed that the original leaker had given true information. Further, Novak also confirms that the CIA asked him not to use Plame's name, but, apparently, didn't phrase it strongly enough for Novak to take it seriously. Further yet, the apparently mitigating list at the end of Novak's statement, "not a spy, not a covert operator, and not in charge of undercover operatives," pointedly does not say whether she was associated with undercover operations in a way that could compromise those operations should her name become public.
In other words, Robert Novak just confirmed that two senior administration officials committed a crime.
Turns out the singular they has been around for longer than some grammarians would like to admit. From Joan Taber Altieri (as jjoan ttaber altieri) in The Vocabula Review:
Beyond the world of linguistics, it isn't generally known that singular they was once accepted usage in English writing and speech. There is no evidence that speakers of Middle English and early Modern English used gender-inclusive he as we know it today (Hook 333). In fact, Bodine claims, "English has always had ... linguistic devices for referring to sex-indefinite referents, notably the use of singular 'they' (their, them)" (168).
I might congratulate myself on having written "she or he" five times in a paragraph with only moderate awkwardness, but as early as 1749 Henry Fielding wrote in Tom Jones, "Every Body fell a laughing, as how could they help it."
I haven't been speculating about who might have been behind the Plame leak because I think the circle of people who might have done it could be quite a bit wider than assumed. Josh Marshall notes that the most recent Washington Post story has become more vague about its sources.
The descriptions of sources is now vaguer. Top White House officials have become White House officials. Senior administration officials are now administration officials.
I think Matt Yglesias has the reason here.
One thing I was taught back in the day on the school paper was that when you're describing anonymous sources you shouldn't do so in such a way as to set off a guessing game about who the source is. In other words, don't say "according to one female professor in the physics department..." if there are only two female professors in the physics department.
But there's also this article by Clifford May with a rather arresting aside.
On July 14, Robert Novak wrote a column in the Post and other newspapers naming Mr. Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA operative.
That wasn't news to me. I had been told that — but not by anyone working in the White House. Rather, I learned it from someone who formerly worked in the government and he mentioned it in an offhanded manner, leading me to infer it was something that insiders were well aware of.
My cautionary conclusion: even if this Post story is right that "top" White House officials are behind the leaks, that does not limit us to officials who themselves have the relevant security clearances. It's a considerably larger circle and includes people even news junkies haven't heard of. We'll see.
MORE: I just heard Joseph Wilson on the radio. He was adamant that he had not identified Rove as the leaker (and, if you check the quote, he's right). He also said, in what was a surprise to me, that he doesn't know who "the leaker" (quote, singular) is. But, again oddly, given that profession of ignorance, he said he knew "for a fact" (I think that's what he said) that Rove knew about and condoned the leak "after the fact." Head spinning.
I don't think that's right. First, knowing that it wasn't Rove (either because his phone logs were checked or because he swore on the Bible or what have you) doesn't mean that one knows who was involved. And there's another possibility. Here are the portions of today's press conference.
QUESTION: Yes, but I'm just wondering if there was a conversation between Karl Rove and the President, or if he just talked to you, and you're here at this --
McCLELLAN: He wasn't involved. The President knows he wasn't involved.
QUESTION: How does he know that?
QUESTION: How does he know that?
McCLELLAN: The President knows.
QUESTION: What, is he clairvoyant? How does he know?
McCLELLAN: No, no, I spoke to Rove. I spoke to him about -- no, I spoke to him about these accusations, I've spoken to him.
QUESTION: And Rove told you that they were not true --
McCLELLAN: That's why I would be telling --
QUESTION: -- or is it just you --
McCLELLAN: That's why I would be telling you what I did.
QUESTION: -- or is it just you who is telling us?
McCLELLAN: No, I have spoken to him and been assured. And that's why I reported to you and reported to the media that it is simply not true. I like to check my sources, just like you do.
I would sum those up as: Rove told us he wasn't involved. The ambiguity about Bush's "knowing" is let stand. His knowing, in this case, seems to be a believing. I don't think this is the likeliest scenario, but the upshot of the press secretary saying that Bush "knows" Rove wasn't involved because Rove said so is that Rove (if he was involved) has just been hung out to dry in order to protect the President. We'll see.
UPDATE: Ted Barlow has a rather different take on McClellan's remarks.
Faced with the direct question over and over, McClellan repeatedly fails to say that Rove told him that he wasn't the source of the leak. One logical conclusion is that Rove did not, in fact, tell McClellan that he wasn't the leaker, and McClellan knows better than to ask.
Where I read "I have spoken to him and been assured," as confirmation that Rove had denied the accusations, Ted sees a telling ambiguity in that "been assured," which indicates that speaking to Rove and being assured don't go together. I think Ted's right. It's clear, on re-reading, that Rove did not tell McClellan that he (Rove) denies the charges. So, who did the "assuring?" Someone assured McClellan and the President "knows" that something is "not true." Who's got the knowledge?
Kevin Kelly's car benefits from urban camouflage:
I made up a fake company name, appropriated a 1950s-era logo that once belonged to a nuclear energy mutual fund, painted safety stripes on the back, and plastered a fake vehicle number all over the place. I also added flashing yellow lights in the rear window, and a police-style spotlight and rubberized push bumper to the front.
It deters criminals and parking cops alike.
UPDATE: Todd Lapin, not Kevin Kelly. Thanks to Kathleen for pointing it out.
What am I missing? Bizarre paragraphs from Howard Kurtz on the Plame affair.
If recent history is any guide, federal investigators are unlikely to discover who the leakers are. In 1999, a federal appeals court ruled that independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr and his staff did not have to face contempt proceedings for allegedly leaking damaging information about President Bill Clinton because no grand jury secrets were disclosed. The next year, a former Starr spokesman, Charles G. Bakaly III, was acquitted of making false statements about his role in providing information to the New York Times.
In 1992, Senate investigators said they could not determine who leaked confidential information to National Public Radio and Newsday about Anita Hill's sexual harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas during his Supreme Court confirmation. In 1989, then-Attorney General Richard Thornburgh launched an unsuccessful $224,000 investigation of a leak to CBS of an inquiry into then-Rep. William H. Gray III (D-Pa.).
Howard, from the story in your own paper (my emphasis):
The official would not name the leakers for the record and would not name the journalists.
We (that is, your buddies down the hall) already know who the leakers are. So does Joseph Wilson. Soon we (that is, we) will all know.
Josh Marshall is rocking. He found this.
Sources close to the former president [George H.W. Bush] say Rove was fired from the 1992 Bush presidential campaign after he planted a negative story with columnist Robert Novak about dissatisfaction with campaign fundraising chief and Bush loyalist Robert Mosbacher Jr. It was smoked out, and he was summarily ousted.
He has the whole thing covered. Just go and scroll.
jhp has a great post on what the Plame affair is not.
It is not a scandal.
It is not a partisan political game.
It is not an excuse for partisan attacks from the left.
It is not certain to end justly.
Right on all counts. Read the whole thing.
The Washington Post has another story about the Plame affair. Here's what's new:
Several Democratic presidential candidates and Charles Schumer are calling for the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the charges. They say that the DOJ can't be unbiased.
We are told that Joseph Wilson has identified one of the reporters besides Bob Novak who was called by the two people in the White House: NBC's Andrea Mitchell. Mitchell hasn't commented.
Bush has no plans to ask his staff members whether they played a role in revealing the name of an undercover officer
Bush's decision will surely be reviled in the lefty blogosphere, but let's keep in mind that we don't know who was involved, what Bush knew, and what really happened. Bush knows all those things. I'm sure he has no plans to ask, but I'm also sure he knows. We don't know whether he's now making political or legal calculations. Again, we'll see.
All of this political stuff on the blog is important and all, but I think the only two words you need to keep in mind over the next several weeks are these:
Blogging for me may be light (or lighter than usual, at any rate) over the next few days as I concentrate all of my spare mental energy into hating the Atlanta Braves.