Thursday, July 5, 2007

Teach the controversy

The Republican talking point or meme, which says that Libby deserves leniency, because, although lying to investigators and a grand jury was bad, there was "no underlying crime" -- really disclosing Plame's identify as a CIA operative was no big deal -- is getting wide play in the mainstream media. There are several variations on this Republican thesis. There's "everybody was doing it" -- Armitage was the source for Novak's story (tellingly, Rove's name usually goes tactfully unmentioned, though Rove was the second source). And, there's Plame was not "really" covert, though the CIA and prosecutor Fitzgerald both asserted that she was.

As I noted in previous posts, on NPR and the PBS NewsHour, this meme has gone unrefuted and largely unchallenged. Do I really need to document how it is fared on CNN and elsewhere?

Meanwhile, in the blogosphere, where logical analysis and a memory for events stretching back through the dark ages of political history even a year or two ago is still possible, this meme is being challenged.

Steve commenting on the Matthew Yglesias blog:
"Why didn't Fitzgerald go after Armitage? Did he, in the end, conclude that leaking Plame's name was not a crime?
I don't understand how anyone who has been following the story could still not understand the answer to this question. I blame the right-wing efforts to obfuscate the issue with as much noise as possible.
The answer is that the reason why Armitage, Libby, and the other leakers weren't prosecuted under the IIPA is that the IIPA requires proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the leaker had actual knowledge that the CIA agent's employment was classified at the time of the leak.
To prove that, you need to be able to prove how the person found out about the fact of CIA employment. In the case of Armitage, it was clear that he didn't know; he found out from a document that said nothing about Plame's covert status. In the case of Libby, it was less clear what he knew, but Fitzgerald nonetheless concluded that he couldn't prove anything beyond a reasonable doubt.
The real issue is what Cheney knew and when he knew it. Libby's lies were intentionally designed to keep Fitzgerald from getting a closer look at Cheney and determining what role Cheney had in the leak campaign and whether he knew Plame was covert. That's why the obstruction was a big deal. That's why no one was charged; the IIPA requires that you prove knowledge and Fitzgerald couldn't."

What do you suppose it would take for such a point to be be part of the discussion on, say, CNN or CBS, in the pages of the New York Times or the Washington Post?

A revolution?

Teach the controversy, mainstream media, teach the controversy.

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