Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Josh Marshall on the Plame affair

In regards to the Plame affair, where one or more government officials might have violated the law in revealing a CIA agent's identity, Josh Marshall asks:
If there's no legal case and no political problem, why don't the senior administration officials who leaked her identity just come forward?

If their rationale is a good one and they face no legal jeopardy, what's the problem?

It seems like a great opportunity to clear the air, settle the story, ascertain the facts and let the chips fall where they may.

Doing so will save much of the money being spent on the investigation Mr. Fitzgerald is running. They can save themselves a lot of attorneys' fees. And they can have a free opportunity to explain the rationale behind their decision and why they believed it was the right thing to do in the context.

I can only assume by their silence that they're rather less confident about the quality of their explanation and the degree of their legal jeopardy than their many voluble defenders in the conservative press.
As a practicing lawyer, if I had a client who was under government investigation for anything, I'd tell him that he would be crazy to think it would be a good idea to run to the press and tell all, even if he thought that he had a solid legal argument for his position. If there is even a 1% risk that the client might be wrong (i.e., that a court would find in the prosecutor's favor), no lawyer is going to let a client start talking publicly. Which is why it is absurd to draw any sort of inferences from the mere fact that someone hasn't talked to the press. One might as well say, "If the defendant accused of murder really had a good alibi, he would hold a press conference to announce it."

This is not to say that the subject(s) of investigation are innocent. But their reluctance to speak publicly is irrelevant at this point.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

James Taranto over at http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110005347 has similar comments.

7:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But, of course, if your boss (who just happens to be the President of the United States) were to say, "Its a matter of national security and the honor of this administration that whoever disclosed this information come forward publicly...", you'd do it in a moment. Right?

1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous the Second cites issues of national security and the honor of the administration as compelling in the Plame kerfuffle. As to national security, we have only the word of a notorious liar, her husband, that Valerie Plame is or ever was an undercover CIA operative. True, the honor of the administration has been impugned, by Wilson and a horde of media popinjays too lazy to verify facts, too eager to run with anything that damages the White House. Sadly, it is impossible to suggest that it is the honor of the news media that has been called into question. Honor is a meaningless concept in the media world.

John Van Laer [archicon53@yahoo.com]

2:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another fallacy to the notion that Bush should simply ask his loyal but guilty aides to self-identify is that, if he were to ask, no one (on the Dem side) would believe the folks who came forward.

"Who are they covering for", "Who else is involved", "Who didn't come forward" - use your imagination. And that would be followed by "We demand a proper investigation!".

Which we seem to be getting. Bush has been letting the process play out,and I don't think he had a better alternative.

4:41 PM  

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