Sunday, April 09, 2006

"I'm with Stupid"

The Washington Post's Barton Gellman and Dafna Linzer must each be wearing my mom's favorite T-shirt today after reading Fred Hiatt's lead editorial in their own paper.

If you haven't seen it, Gellman and Linzer's front-page story confirms what we all have known for two years:
Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald for the first time described a "concerted action" by "multiple people in the White House" -- using classified information -- to "discredit, punish or seek revenge against" a critic of President Bush's war in Iraq. [...]

Cheney "specifically directed" Libby in late June or early July 2003 to pass information to reporters from two classified CIA documents: an October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate and a March 2002 summary of Wilson's visit to Niger. One striking feature of that decision -- unremarked until now, in part because Fitzgerald did not mention it -- is that the evidence Cheney and Libby selected to share with reporters had been disproved months before. [my italics]
And yet, in his editorial in the very same issue of the paper, the not-very-anonymous Fred Hiatt mimics the type of disconnect between the news and editorial departments we used to believe was the trademarked domain of the Wall Street Journal:
Mr. Wilson subsequently claimed that the White House set out to punish him for his supposed whistle-blowing by deliberately blowing the cover of his wife, Valerie Plame, who he said was an undercover CIA operative. [...] After more than 2 1/2 years of investigation, Mr. Fitzgerald has reported no evidence to support Mr. Wilson's charge.

Never one to stop at making himself look stupid with one mistake when a legion could secure the pageant title, Hiatt fills his editorial with an intimidating collection of factual errors, logical inconsistencies, and outright lies, all of which have been detailed by Judd at Think Progress, analyzed by Josh at Talking Points Memo, and mocked by the always lovable Jane at Firedoglake.

Now, certain hyperventilating blogs over on the right--the dwindling number of genuflecting peasants who still worship King George, anyway--are celebrating Hiatt's editorial (none of the writers apparently turned to the front page of the paper). One gullible cheerleader, firing away on one cylinder, meekly claims that critics of the editorial "attempt to move the goal post here." His argument: the "good leak" of the NIE intelligence, although admittedly done to smear an enemy for purely political purposes, shouldn't be conflated with the exposure of Wilson's CIA-operative wife, which was done to smear an enemy for purely political purposes. The Plame leak, they quiveringly claim, wasn't part of the "concerted effort" at all, even if committed by the same perpetrators, to the same reporters, for the same reasons, at the same time, to discredit the same enemy.

Such arguments are nothing more than a logic-free attempt to muddy the waters. What's becoming clear is that even Republicans seem to concede that Bush, Cheney, and Libby were indeed releasing classified information for the sole purpose of discrediting one of their most formidable critics--even when they knew that the information "had been disproved months before."

Embattled neocons and GOP diehards, increasingly unable to defend the rationales invented for the war or the reason why 2,350 American troops have died, refuse to explain how any of these leaks, either of "disproved" intelligence or of Plame's identity, were "good." For whom? For what purpose? As Georgia10 at The Daily Kos summarizes:
And this is why the President's actions are so revolting, so repulsive. His abuse of power--and yes, selective leaking in this way is an abuse of power--wasn't meant just to silence a war critic. It was to meant to silence the American people, to assuage their doubts about his leadership, and to portray himself as a competent Commander-in-Chief worthy of re-election.
The astonishing thing is that there are still sycophants like Fred Hiatt who don't mind making idiots of themselves trying to invent justifications for the selective release of "disproved" classified intelligence to smear a political enemy. Perhaps the next T-shirt Gellman and Linzer should each wear will say, "Don't ask me, I just work here."