Plame Affair: Whether it's legal isn't the point
I've been reading a lot of analysis on the revelation that Bush authorized the Plame leak. Of course the neo-con response is that it's ok cause Bush decided what's classified and therefore can't leak unclassified info. So it's legal.
The focus on whether it was legal or not misses the central point. The Bush Administration used it's position to attack a political opponent by revealing his wife as a CIA agent. The reason they did it was because *they knew* it would ruin her career. The intent was to send a message to Joe Wilson and others that if you want to take on the administration they would be willing to destroy your life.
Regardless of whether it was legal or not, this was the issue. Do we support this type of government (and political party), one that will not hesitate to win by any means necessary.
And regardless of whether it was legal or not, Bush denied knowledge. He lied.
Any legal ramifacations are merely icing if it turned out that the Bush administration was guilty of dirty tricks (which I think it's pretty safe to infer). Don't let the focus on law distract you.
Updated: I think the Austin Bay posting demonstrates my favorite Bugga-Boo. The use of Bullshit by the NeoCons. Example:
UPDATE: CNN is exploring another angle: that the White House is “hypocritical” because it has come down hard on leaks. But a word is missing in this accusation: “unauthorized.” The White House has indeed come down hard on anyone leaking classified information. The White House has also been tough on executive branch employees who pass information via unauthorized leaks. The president wants to control the dissemination of information and has made that clear. The information released today said that what Libby leaked as declassified and authorized — but try getting that clear on atv squawk show where the game is gotcha. The hypocrisy allegation, unlike the criminal innuendo, is certainly within rational bounds.
This statement is bullshit. Why? It focuses on whether or not the leaks were authorized and even throughs out that this is at least a legitimate debate. But in doing so it subtly lays down an utterly false assertion: that the question was more specific than it was. It implies that the parsing of his words was relevent in the context it was made.
The question Bush was asked was this: Did someone in the administration leak Valerie Plame's identity. His answer was, to paraphrase: "no, and I hate leaks and if I find someone leaked this information they'll get it".
He did qualify his statement, but these types of qualifications are only meaningful if you know you are misleading someone and want to be able to say you weren't technically lying. The answer was designed to mean something different then than it does now. It was CYA.
And if we are going to try to parser words, at least be correct. I've heard the 2 clips in question and he did not mention "authorized" leaks. The parsing was "classified", as in "the are too many leaks of classified information". The "legal" parsing is not on authorization but on whether the President automagically declassifies information if he leaks it.
Update 2: I think this post underestimates the problem. It's not Bush, it's the NeoCon Movement. InstaPundit, AustinBay... completely disconected intellectually from their words.