For UK readers, the seeming furore in the USA over the “outing” of Valerie Plame by the Bush administration, may seem too complex to be worth following. It is, like many such “scandals”, a Media-invented and inflated story serving the Media’s agenda. The purpose is to create a climate of scandalous revelations and catastrophes for the hated Bush administration.
The facts, in so far as there are any, are as follows, but first the background.
After 9/11, the Bush Government, casting around for the best way to carry the war to Islamic terrorism, focussed on those Middle East countries where terrorists were harbored by Governments. Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and Syria were the leading candidates. Iran was probably too big to tackle, given the depleted US military after the Clinton years and certainly going into all of them would have required a lengthy build-up and a much bigger army. Time was pressing if the terrorists were to be put on the defensive, and my own opinion is that the whole business of going to the UN was a smokescreen for military preparation. If not, it certainly gave Saddam time to conceal and distribute some very dangerous weapons.
Saddam in Iraq was an obvious candidate for pre-emptive military action. He was bellicose and had stockpiles of chemical weapons and was both a dedicated US enemy and an intimidating neighbor for other Arab governments. When confronting a hostile group, it makes good sense to take out the most extreme or vocal individual in that group.
The new Bush Government turned to the CIA for intelligence about the area and in particular to check claims by some Western intelligence agencies (the UK was one) that Saddam was trying to obtain nuclear materials from Niger. At this point it must be remembered that bureaucracies like the CIA usually have their own interests and agendas and often have more influence than elected Government leaders, who come and go.
Joseph Wilson, sometimes described as a “career diplomat” was despatched by the CIA to make enquiries. He was not selected and sent by Vice President Cheney, who probably had never heard of him. Wilson’s subsequent report to his CIA employers was inconclusive and seemingly not based on much research. It had no influence on the Bush Government, which chose to believe British intelligence and ultimately gave several (good) reasons for invading Iraq.
In the subsequent election fight between Bush and Kerry, Wilson emerged as a vocal Kerry supporter and published a book in which he made several claims damaging to Bush. One claim was that he had directly warned the Bush Government that the Niger story had no basis. Ultimately, a Congressional investigation found that Wilson’s claims were less than truthful on many counts, including that one.
In the meantime, the Bush political machine understandably wanted to know how and why Wilson had been selected for the mission. It transpired that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, a senior CIA employee, had lobbied for his appoinment. Here indeed was an example of nepotism. Wilson denied his wife had had any part in his selection, but this was later proved to be a barefaced lie.
Plame had once been an undercover agent, but was now in a desk job in Washington. She and Wilson sought publicity as the story unfolded and if indeed she was at risk from becoming known, their joint behaviour can only be described as reckless.
As part of their political defence, Bush operatives let one journalist or more know that Wison had got his job from a CIA insider and that it was his wife. She was not a covert agent, so this was not a crime, though it could be described as a punch at or below the belt. Cabinet aides leak stories to the Media all the time and this leak was on a par with most. The Fitzgerald enquiry has established that Plame was not covert (simply an operative) and hence her “outing” was not a crime. Libby, the Cheney aide, appears to have lied to the Grand Jury when answering Fitzgerald’s questions, though it is just possible his memory was faulty. It is likely he did not wish to carry blame for a politically motivated leak, even though that leak was not criminal. The Media had hoped that the leak would be pinned on Karl Rove, Bush’s key aide, and after Bush, the Media Class’ main enemy.
Much more could be said about this whole storm in a teacup, but what we have here is a typical Media contrived fuss in which key details are evaded, glossed over or misrepresented and headlines are used to create spin. The Media has once again marched in lockstep and in the background lurks its Agenda. Damage Bush, demoralise conservatives, distract the Government from pursuing a war and help set the political stage for the defeat of conservative nominees to the Supreme Court. The Democrat Party members play their part when required to by the Media masters. The current tactic being employed is interesting. It is, as with the Delay case, to criminalize what are essentially political actions.
If UK readers think that this tactic is only a US one, they would do well to note that it is this very day being used against the BNP, whose leader, Nick Griffin is due to appear in Court in Leeds for some political statements he made. It is ironic that Griffin and his Party are on the same page as the Democrats and the US media Class in attacking the Iraq invasion and parroting the nonsense about pre-war lies, big oil and neo-cons whilst Blair has alienated the BBC by supporting Bush and taking the war against terrorism to Iraq and Afghanistan.