Friday, July 20, 2007

Brief side trip

I don't normally get into media analysis; there are plenty of sources out there that do it, several of them at least more or less full time.

But I had to take a moment out to say in what will come as a shock to none of you, John Gibson is a bold-faced liar. (No, I am not just now discovering this.) In his column at FauxNews on Thursday, he gleefully referred to the dismissal of Valerie Plame's lawsuit against "The Big" Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, Richard Armitage, and Karl Rove, describing the judge as saying "you've got no case" and "forget it."
Judge John Bates said:

"There can be no serious dispute that the act of rebutting public criticism, such as that levied by Mr. Wilson against the Bush administration's handling of prewar foreign intelligence, by speaking with members of the press is within the scope of defendants' duties as high-level executive branch officials."

In other words, the judge said to Wilson, hey, you took on the president and the vice president; they have a right to fight back. And one of the ways they are allowed to legally respond is to inform the public that the vice president of the United States did not send Joe Wilson to Niger to investigate Saddam Hussein's nuke bomb quest. It was Wilson's CIA agent wife who did it. Case closed.
Now, first off, there are of course multiple lies in that last paragraph. Actually, no make this first off: Notice that Gibson has the judge addressing Wilson, not Plame. In Gibson's fetid little world, this has nothing to do with Plame, no, not even the lawsuit; it's all about assailing Wilson, who has been "huffing and puffing for years," who "crowed" about the Libby conviction, who's "windy" and "love[s] to hear himself spew."

But getting away from the ad hominems and back to the lies, they are mostly by insinuation but no less false for that. Wilson never claimed Cheney sent him to Niger; he claimed the CIA sent him as a means of answering a question Cheney had asked - which is true. Saddam Hussein not only did not attempt to get yellowcake from Niger, he was no longer even attempting to get nuclear weapons. Valerie Plame did not send Wilson; she had no authority to do any such thing and the most she might have done was suggest his name once the issue was raised - and since he had experience and contacts in the region, he was a natural choice. It was not known that Plame was CIA, particularly that she was covert; that's why revealing her name prompted the CIA to refer the matter to the DOJ in the first place. And the case is not closed; it is likely to be appealed.

But the real distortion lies in the quote from the judge, which completely and I say deliberately twists the basis of the decision. In fact, as AP reported,
Bates dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds and said he would not express an opinion on the constitutional arguments.
Bates based his decision on federal laws such as the Privacy Act that make it very difficult to sue federal officials for damages for actions undertaken in connection with their official duties. Once he accepted the Bush-leaguers' argument that leaking Plame's identity was "within the scope of defendants' duties," the outcome was certain. Significantly, in doing so he did not address Plame's contention that the leak was illegal and so not part of their duties. Putting the most sympathetic interpretation on that, perhaps because that leak not been declared illegal by any court (due to Libby's and others' obstruction of justice), he felt he could not find that it was, leaving Plame with no way to obtain damages.

Even so, he did say that if the claims in the suit are true, Cheney and the rest committed "highly unsavory" acts and that the suit raised “important questions relating to the propriety of actions taken by our highest government officials.” Which means that, when you come right down to it, Judge Bates was saying, as has happened so distressingly often these past years, "we know they fucked you over but we just can't prove it."

There is, or at least there should be, a difference between "getting away with it" and vindication. But whether there is or not, Shrub and his lying camp followers like Gibson are satisfied with the former.

Footnote: BuzzFlash notes that Bates is a Bush appointee who as a District Court judge dismissed the GAO's effort to learn who The Big's energy task force met with. He also was on the FISA Court and was a Deputy Independent Counsel for the (Ken) Starr Chamber for 18 months. I don't know that that is necessarily significant, but I thought it was worth noting.

No comments:

// I Support The Occupy Movement : banner and script by @jeffcouturer / (v1.2) document.write('
I support the OCCUPY movement
');function occupySwap(whichState){if(whichState==1){document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}else{document.getElementById('occupyimg').src=""}} document.write('');