Compare and contrast scandals

Compare and contrast scandals
: Just for the fun of it, let’s compare and contrast two scandals:

: In the U.K., someone — Dr. David Kelly — had unauthorized and possibly illegal contact with the press regarding confidential, classified government information on weapons in Iraq. The government reveals his name. He kills himself. The government gets hell for it. Revealing the name of the person is considered a scandal.

: In the U.S., someone, unknown, had unauthorized and possibly illegal contact with the press regarding confidential, classified government information on a CIA agent’s identity. The government is under pressure to find and identify and prosecute the person. Not revealing the name of the person is considered a scandal.


: Sometimes when a story breaks, I take the calculated risk of ignoring it because I think it will go away and I’ll be no worse off. I did that with the Valerie Plame CIA story. And why? Because this is — on the scale I set forth the other day — useless news. It has no impact on my daily life. I can ignore it. So can most of America. And that should make us in the news business ask whether we overplay these stories.

Now here’s Ed Cone giving hell to Glenn Reynolds because he’s underplaying the Plame story. Glenn responds at Ed’s site and in a post I quote below. I side with Glenn on this both because he’s not a newspaper and he has no obligation to report or comment on every dutiful story; that would make him predictable and dull. But even if he were a newspaper, I’d still ask whether the story is being overplayed.

: Totten’s ignoring it, too.

  • Jeff, great post. We live in “interesting times” indeed. The Chinese curse is upon us.

  • I find it curiouser and curiouser that Instapundit basically comments on everything Iraq/political but the one story that’s most damaging to date versus the Bush agenda is the one he clams up on.
    It’s like he’s making it up.

  • Hey Oliver — What’s this “clams up” stuff. At last count I’d done about 3,000 words on this since Sunday, and that was several posts ago. And yet you and Ed are saying that I’m ignoring it. That’s utterly bogus.
    Isn’t your real problem that I’m not scourging the Evil Bushitler as you’d prefer? It’s not how much I’m saying. It’s that I’m not saying what you want.
    If this story implodes, as it very well may, will you guys apologize? I doubt it.

  • Glenn, I’ve seen you devote more time and energy to off-handed remarks about the French than you’re paying attention to this story. I expect you to spin for Bush on this story (I’ve never called Bush Hitler by the way, and I’ve slammed many on the left for doing the same) but your coverage has been tepid at best.
    Instead your commentary has been: I’m confused. Joe Wilson is a moonbat. Bob Novak says it’s a nothing issue. Hey, look WMDS! (maybe. maybe not.)
    If the story implodes I’ll apologize just like the right did after all those Fox News stories about WMDs found in Iraq.

  • cms

    I think your comparison rather skillfully glosses the relevent diffrence between the two cases:
    Dr. Kelly, in leaking, was certainly indiscreet. One may argue that his method was wrong — that if he had doubts about the compiling of his country’s Iraq dossier, and the credibility of the information therin, and wished to discredit it, he should have come forward publically with what he knew. (As former Ambassador Wilson, being in an analogous position, did.)
    The leaker of Valerie Plame’s identity committed a felony, if, and it does seem increasingly clear this is the case, she was an undercover employee of the C.I.A.
    Kelly’s leak was a criticism of information already public. Plame’s leaker leaked information that was secret, classified in order to protect ongoing national security investigations. Kelly’s leak was critical of his government and its methods, but in no way damaged his country’s national security. If the allegations are correct, Plame’s leaker did damage national security by destroying the career of an U.S. government agent investigating WMD proliferation and potentially compromising all of her contacts. This appears to me to be a significant difference. It would appear that 80% of the American public takes a similar view of the distiction, and therefore of the seriousness of this matter.

  • cj

    I won’t speak for other bloggers, but the reason I haven’t commented on the “Plame Affair” reflects what I consider a POSITIVE of blogging — to wit, yeah, I could jump all over a (to date) half-baked scandal comprised of innuendo and speculation — or I could wait a week or two, and analyze any apparent FACTS that survive the fall out (or decide it’s not worth my attention at all).
    In short — while blogs often drive stories to the public media, the flip side is that blogs don’t *have* to engage in the feeding frenzy (ala sharks amidst chum) that so much of the national televised media exult in. (In fact, I would submit that this aspect of the media is what is driving many “consumers” to the blogosphere.)
    Point taken, any individual blogger exercises his/her discretion as to which story they will “jump on” and which story they will sit back and evaluate at a more leisurely pace. But that is no different than the “editorial decisions” any major news outlet makes.
    Neither did I post on the Laci Peterson affair, or the Dixie Chix affair, or…whatever; i.e., if you want cookie-cutter newsreel, hunker down in front of the t.v. If you want news selected via *personal priority*, read the blogosphere. If you don’t like what one blogger is offering (in toto, or in isolated incidents), read other blogs.
    It really is that simple. And no one in the blogosphere owes you an explanation for what he/she decides to post on. That IS the overarching philosophy of blogdom.

  • cj

    CMS: I would sincerely like to know if you put ANY stock in public opinion polls, especially those conducted during overwhelming media concentration on a single topic?
    Did you correspondingly rally around Bush’s popularity polls immediately following 9/11?
    I simply wish to point out the manipulation of popular opinion due to news saturation, regardless of the topic. I do not believe such “data” should be used to bolster one’s position.

  • big brother

    Could we consider, perhaps, NOT naming the woman all the time? None of the networks are, and it strikes me as a sensible course, given the substance of this affair.

  • You had me until the “Not revealing the name of thsi person is a scandal” part.
    Let’s just put it this way, your attempt at spin sucks.
    The actual scandal is that someone in the White House, for purely political reasons, blew the cover of an undercover CIA employee who was working in the Weapons of Mass Destruction field, and probably compromised her sources and methods.
    This, violated the law, and damaged U.S. national security.
    Arguably, you are defending the Blair Government, while making the BUSH administation [particularly the White House] look like a bunch of amoral, crooks.
    If that was your intent, then congrats!
    If not, and you were trying to show how the Bushies were being treated unfairly…then you’ve failed miserably, and have demonstrated your blatant lack of concern for the the law, and for our national security.
    If you want to be seen as anything other than a sycophantic partisan hack doing the bidding of your political masters, then you should talk about the REAL scandal and the REAL issues, as I have just described them.

  • Catherine

    Oliver, you are simply wrong. Instapundit has criticized Bush on many occasions on many topics. He has spoken and linked stories. And I believe it is Andrew Sullivan who talks about the Fifth Column, not Instapundit. Maybe you should read his book on the appearances of impropriety in politics to get a more balanced view of Instapundit?
    So far, from what I have seen the Bush White House has responded with full cooperation, and says that the person who did this will be fired. You wouldn’t have had such clear answer from the Clinton White House. Besides, if someone at my company does something illegal, it does not make me corrupt. If the company protected the individual, encouraged illegal behavior and tried to cover the wrong doing up, that would be another story. So far, I don’t see any evidence of this in the news hysteria. If there is a cover up, or someone instructed someone to leak information I will be screaming too. However, it is not as though someone has sold nuclear secrets to China.
    All that has happened to date is we have hysterics by Wilson which has put his wife’s name in every newspaper (good going; I never would have known her name otherwise) and Wilson accusing Karl Rove of leaking it and retracting those statements (he doesn’t “know” it’s Karl Rove he later clarifies, but he “thinks” he might be condone a leak).
    Oliver, weren’t you whining not too long ago that Instapundit never mentions you on his blog as though that was a conspiracy too?

  • weren’t you whining not too long ago that Instapundit never mentions you on his blog
    I have NEVER once complained about not being linked by Instapundit. He has linked to me several times, and I’ve thanked him both on my blog and in email.
    the Bush White House has responded with full cooperation
    The White House is cooperating with Justice after the story broke in the WaPo – where have they been since the incident happened in JULY?
    as though someone has sold nuclear secrets to China
    That never happened with PResident Clinton and it speaks volumes about where you’re coming from politically.
    All that has happened to date is we have hysterics by Wilson
    No, what we have to date is a criminal investigation of the white house by the doj initiated via a complaint from the cia.

  • KMK

    Why isn’t anyone bashing Novak for blowing her cover, undermining her work and possibly placing her in danger? Was she an analyst or an operative? If it’s such a damning leak why doesn’t Novak name his source? Was Novak investigating the Niger story when Wilson’s wife’s name came up and he put two and two together?
    Why, if the CIA asked Novak not to name her, did he? Why if he knew she was an op did he blow her cover?
    Novak added a new wrinkle Monday. “Nobody in the Bush administration called me to leak this,” he said on CNN’s Crossfire. He said Plame’s name came up during an interview with a senior administration official, and another official later repeated that Wilson’s trip to Africa was “inspired by his wife.” Novak dismissed the firestorm as “pure Bush-bashing.”
    Novak also said that while the CIA asked him not to use Plame’s name, the agency “never indicated it would endanger her or anybody else.”
    Sounds like very irresponsible reporting to me. Why not subpoena Novak and be done with it?
    A 1972 supreme court ruling, Branzburg v Hayes, states “the first amendment does not relieve a newspaper reporter of the obligation that all citizens have to respond to a grand jury subpoena and answer questions relevant to a criminal investigation”.
    On the China/Clinton thing. It was Space Systems Loral who who was hired by China to fire a satellite into space for them and after it didn’t launch properly (and blew up) China ask for a detailed analysis of why. SSL in their detailed report inadvertently gave them the missile firing sequence. China before that did not posses the technology. Clinton then turned around and pardoned SSL.

  • Puce

    go olivar hesoid INSTAPUDAT WHY AS NOT SAY? CHICKAN???

  • Catherine

    Oliver – your ignorance speaks volumes about you. I suppose you don’t remember the bipartisan Congressional Cox report which detailed how Clinton made it possible for the Chinese to upgrade and create more nuclear weapons? The whole Cox report is available to the public. It is not imagined.
    From the New York Times, May 21, 1999 By Jeff Gerth
    “The questions about the Clinton Administration’s response to information about the Chinese activity go beyond security procedures at the labs. The Cox committee, officials said, also found fault with the Administration’s loosening of controls over the export of sensitive commercial technologies that have applications to nuclear weapons systems.”
    “In 1996, Clinton relaxed controls on sales of advanced computers to countries like China. The next year his Administration resisted Congressional efforts to retighten those controls. The Cox committee concluded that some of the American computers sold to China went to organizations involved in military activities and that ineffective verification requirements meant that American computers might have been used for military purposes like upgrading nuclear weapons or developing more accurate missiles, officials said.”
    “In 1996, China pledged to stop physically testing nuclear weapons, increasing its reliance on advanced computers for simulations.”
    “That same year President Clinton shifted licensing responsibility for some commercial satellite sales from the security-oriented State Department to the business-friendly Commerce Department. The Cox committee, officials said, concluded that the shift was a mistake. The technology used to launch a satellite into space is similar to the technology used to deliver a missile armed with nuclear warheads.”
    “Some of the panel’s most severe criticism was aimed at Hughes, which the committee found had intentionally side-stepped State Department licensing requirements in 1995, officials said.
    The issue involves a 1995 decision by the Commerce Department that officials have said permitted Hughes to help the Chinese solve a rocket failure — even though State Department approval was required.”
    “At the time, the chairman of Hughes also headed President Clinton’s export advisory council.”
    In a 1998 New York Times report by Jeff Gerth (archived only available if you pay for it) Gerth revealed that in 1996, Loral, an American aerospace company, had, without a license, provided China with ballistic missile technology that enabled China to improve its rocket guidance systems. When the Justice Department began a grand jury probe of this apparent illegal transfer, President Clinton quickly reclassified the technology and approved its transfer, effectively undermining the Justice Department’s case against Loral.(Clinton later pardoned SSL)
    Then there is this:
    They declassified “old” nuclear information, 11 million pages worth to “level the playing field,” as Clinton’s Hazel O’Leary explained it. By 1994 the administration had abolished the COCOM system that had safeguarded technology transfers from Western countries to East Bloc or communist nations.

  • Catherine

    And Oliver, you did complain. That was when I first learned of your existence, and it sticks out in my mind because I thought man, what a whiner. Instapundit linked you saying something a long the lines of “there, I linked you now you can’t complain.”
    It happened.

  • Yeah, the Cox committee was as bipartisan as the Bush administration. Anyway, rationally discussing that issue with you guys is as impossible as getting you to slam the Bush team for giving the Saudis a free pass.
    As far as your other smear, it just isn’t true. I’ve been blogging a lot longer than Instapundit and I don’t go around bawling for hits and being added to people’s blogrolls. If the comment you’re referring to is the one I do, I believe Professor Reynolds’ comment was made in jest. I have never once, not ever complained about him not linking me – you can email him and ask him, I’ve spoken to him in real life when we filmed the PBS special.
    But you seem to have an adverse reaction to the truth.

  • cms

    I’m not sure I get what you’re driving at when you ask whether I take any stock in public opinion polls, cj.
    Do I think public opinion polls accurately reflect the opinion of the public when they’re taken? Well, yes, generally. Gallup is a reputable poll taking organization, ABC and the Washington Post are reputable news organzations, and the link I posted shows both the questions asked and the answers given. The poll says over 80% of the American public considers this a serious matter. I believe that to be the public’s opinion. I also believe that following 9/11, when asked if President Bush was doing a good job, particularly on matters of national security, the vast majority of the American public said, yes, he was doing a good job. Furthermore, this corresponded with my own personal experience, as I knew many people who believed his response to the 9/11 attacks was measured, appropriate, even stirring. So, yeah, I do believe that that was the public’s opinion. It may have changed since.
    Regarding the Plame affair, I myself believe that it is a very serious matter. If the charges are true, then it would appear that, at a minimum, government officials deliberately attempted to destroy the career of a person who is working to protect our nation from grave threats, out of base motives of political intimidation. At their worst, if the charges are true, then the national security of our country may have been materially damaged and the lives of agents of our government placed in danger.
    I may be biased in my assement of the situation. I may be incorrect in my suspicious, and the charges prove baseless. But I certainly think they’re seroius, and deserve serious and thourough investigation. And the American public seems to agree with me.

  • Catherine
    On Wilson’s Bio, he names his wife.

  • Dark Avenger

    The question is, was she undercover at the time her name appeared in his online biography?
    It could be that she was undercover until she got married, then became an analyst, working undercover here in America for the CIA, but not running any agents or the stuff she used to do overseas.

  • Must have missed the part where it says COVERT AGENT FOR THE CIA.
    That’s the crime, kids. Deal.

  • Oliver: I got nothing against you. Except I think you’re really made for TV.
    I just posted my latest oped length item on Plame. That’s the second today. I’m probably up to 5000 words since Sunday. This is clamming up?