"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Sunday, December 5, 2010

PlameGate Redux

I have always thought the controversy over who "outed" Valerie Plame as a "spy" was a strange exercise, because it was based on strange premises.   The overarching premise was tied to the general thesis of the Left during the Iraq War that George W. Bush had "lied" to get us into the war by saying that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction -- nuclear, chemical, biological -- and that the invasion had proved that he didn't.   This premise was obviously false factually  -- of course, Saddam Hussein had WMDs, we know that he did, because he had already used them, both against his own people and against Iran in the earlier Iran-Iraq War.   And, of course, the invasion proved that he had at least some WMDs as late as 2003, because they found at least some of them and are still finding them.  

But, even if it were false, it shouldn't have mattered, because we couldn't prove it false until we invaded, and we can't have a rogue state, terror sponsor, fascist dictator like Saddam blackmailing the West with the threat that he might have WMDs.   This is no different than the current argument about Iran:   as we now find from the Wikileaks cache, even Arab countries want us to preemptively strike Iranian nuclear facilities -- because we have to be safe rather than sorry when it comes to WMDs in Islamofascist hands. 

The underlying premise was also false, because Valerie Plame was not a "spy."  She was a bureaucrat, working in a large bureaucracy that just happened to be called the CIA.  She was not in the field, and had not been in the field in any covert position for many years.   It was all a sham, as shown by this testimony by Victoria Toensing, the lawyer who helped draft the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which is the only statutory basis for concluding that Plame had been illegally "outed."  

I recall this issue, because Hollywood, in its typical fashion, has created a "fact-based" movie "inspired" by the Plame affair, called "Fair Game," that gets practically everything wrong.   In their view, Plame was an active agent involved in covert operations in Iraq who was outed by the White House as an act of political vengeance because her husband had debunked a story about Saddam Hussein seeking uranium "yellowcake" powder from Niger.   The truth:  Plame was not involved in covert operations; she was "outed" by Richard Armitage at the State Department without any political motiviation; and her husband's trip to Niger had supported the conclusoin that Saddam had been seeking to purchase yellowcake. 

Don't believe me?   How about the Washington Post?   Here's their editorial for today:
"Fair Game," based on books by Mr. Wilson and his wife, is full of distortions - not to mention outright inventions. To start with the most sensational: The movie portrays Ms. Plame as having cultivated a group of Iraqi scientists and arranged for them to leave the country, and it suggests that once her cover was blown, the operation was aborted and the scientists were abandoned. This is simply false. In reality, as The Post's Walter Pincus and Richard Leiby reported, Ms. Plame did not work directly on the program, and it was not shut down because of her identification.

The movie portrays Mr. Wilson as a whistle-blower who debunked a Bush administration claim that Iraq had tried to purchase uranium from the African country of Niger. In fact, an investigation by the Senate intelligence committee found that Mr. Wilson's reporting did not affect the intelligence community's view on the matter, and an official British investigation found that President George W. Bush's statement in a State of the Union address that Britain believed that Iraq had sought uranium in Niger was well-founded.

"Fair Game" also resells the couple's story that Ms. Plame's exposure was the result of a White House conspiracy. A lengthy and wasteful investigation by a special prosecutor found no such conspiracy - but it did confirm that the prime source of a newspaper column identifying Ms. Plame was a State Department official, not a White House political operative.
Fair Game also has the detriment of starring communist-sympathizer Sean Penn, who has to be one of the greatest actors and one of the most execrable (at least politically) individuals ever.

Don't pay a dime to see this propaganda.

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