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Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Insight Magazine is now documenting the link between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.

Listen closely for this to be reported by the mainstream media. Listen very closely.

I'm going to weigh in on the issue of the alleged leak of a CIA undercover operative by Bush administration officials to columnist Robert Novak, but first a few things need to be made clear.

According to Novak, he was told by the CIA that Mrs. Wilson (or Ms. Plame, depending on who you read) was simply an analyst at the agency. She is not an "agent" (BBC) nor a "covert agent" (CNN, quoting Charles Shumer) nor an "undercover operative" (The Age), nor an "undercover CIA officer" (NY Times). (Thank you, unbiased media.)

Novak himself has said, "According to a confidential source at the CIA, Mrs. Wilson was an analyst, not a spy, not a covert operative and not in charge of undercover operators."

The biggest deal in this whole issue is that it has livened up the Washington scene. As MSNBC puts the question, "The sudden excitement in Washington came down to question of: Which would you read first, a 150-page 'whodunit' or a 2,000-page treatise on politics?" But it's more than that for Democrats who've been so eager to smell blood in the water since W took office. Joseph Wilson, the retired diplomat whose wife is at the center of this issue, has chummed the waters by calling out names.
It's of keen interest to me to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs. And trust me, when I use that name, I measure my words.

So he said on August 21st. A little more than a month later, on September 29th, he said on "Good Morning, America",
In one speech I gave out in Seattle not too long ago, I mentioned the name Karl Rove. I think I was probably carried away by the spirit of the moment. I don't have any knowledge that Karl Rove himself was either the leaker or the authorizer of the leak.

So much for "measured" words.

Then what do we have here? Another tempest-in-a-teapot, oddly enough related to the previous "Niger uranium" tempest. Novak did not get the impression from the CIA that giving out her name would endanger anyone in general or Mrs. Wilson in particular, and I believe he wouldn't have mentioned her name if he thought it would have. He's stated that the administration official simply noted that the trip to Niger was "inspired by his wife".

So my take is...>yawn< Given the best information we have (from Novak, not the un-measured words of Mr. Wilson), this is no big deal. I'm sure the CIA would like to know who's giving out names of its analysts, to just make sure that the names of operatives aren't handed out by the same source, and that's certainly a legitimate concern. But this name in this circumstance is going to be just another mean-spirited attempt by Democrats to smear Bush's image. That's the best they can do.

UPDATE: The AP is still calling Mrs. Wilson "an undercover CIA officer". The only credible source I've heard for what her job title is has been Mr. Novak, who, as I said, calls her position an "analyst" as per his CIA contact. But still the media continues to hype this story as some sort of outing of an American James Bond, yet never say by what authority they know that she was "undercover", or even if she was any sort of field operative at all. This is over-the-top hype at best, and liberal bias at worst, and from a news agency that feeds so many other news organizations.

UPDATE #2: Former CIA Director James Woolsey was interviewed this morning by CNN. Here's a piece of what he said, responding to what I quoted Novak saying:
WOOLSEY: Well, most of the time in the business, people don't really use the word "operative." Analyst would normally mean -- if that's true -- that she worked usually in Washington, that she would be able to admit to people that she worked at the CIA. And it would not be nearly so serious a thing.

If she was a clandestine service officer, an officer who worked in the field, recruiting informants, spies, or undertaking covert action, then naming her really would be a serious matter. And we apparently have a factual dispute, from what Mr. Novak said there, about whether she was a clandestine service officer or not.

Actually, the only dispute, so far as I can see at this point, is that Mr. Novak has a CIA source to back up his description, while the media is grabbing titles out of thin air. If Novak's wrong, there are some heads that need to roll at the CIA as well as the White House. If he's right, which I suspect he is, it supports my tempest-in-a-teapot description of the whole thing. And Woolsey would agree.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Back in May, I passed on an article by Jim Lacey at the National Review suggesting that perhaps the reason we might not find WMDs in Iraq because, lacking the money to pay for them and knowing what Saddam did to people who failed, just told the boss they had those weapons, when in fact they didn't. That article was interesting, but mostly conjecture.

Now comes an article in TIME magazine describing evidence that this might actually have been the case. It's also possible, based on interviews with former Hussein regime officials, that many WMDs were, in fact, destroyed, out of sight of UN inspectors and without any documentation of their destruction.

Wierd. Yeah, this may still be a widespread ruse planned for a while by Hussein's guys, but it's no longer just conjecture. There's now evidence that this might be the case, although one must certainly consider the source of this evidence; Hussein henchmen who may still be fearful of the long arm of the Ba'ath party.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Rep. Jim Marshall (D-GA) thinks the media is sabotaging our success in Iraq by overly hyping the specs of bad news in the midst of the torrent of good news they're ignoring. "The falsely bleak picture weakens our national resolve, discourages Iraqi cooperation and emboldens our enemy." It's good to hear this from the other side of the aisle. Hope they're listening over there, especially the allegegly unbiased news folks.

After a week of business travel and one of vacation on the beach, I'm back. :)

Dorothy Rabinowitz had a good article yesterday on analyzing the left's demonizing of John Ashcroft, and how the ACLU has been hijacked by the far left. It's a good start at deconstruction of the allegations being thrown at him, especially when she points out that Janet Reno speaks out against him even with the Branch Davidian civil rights fiasco in her own past.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

On a business trip this week, and on vacation next week, so blogging may be light.

President Bush spoke to the nation last weekend, and one of the things he said was that he was going to approach the international community to ask for help in the reconstruction of Iraq. Some folks are painting this situation as though Bush is going back, contrite, hat in hand, to the UN and ask for the help he didn't ask for before. The problem is, he spent the better part of a year trying to get the UN to help remove the threat of Hussein, and for his work he got a UN resolution that most of those who passed it didn't want to enforce. Those who refused to put any meaning behind the threat of force talked a good game about being concerned and wanting to help, blah blah blah.

Well, we, and a large number of countries, went in and did the job that the UN said it wanted done but wouldn't lift a finger to do. Asking them to now put their money where their mouth is (or was) isn't any sort of backing down on the part of Bush. It's simply asking them to pony up for the cost of implementing their own resolution.

The US and the UK paid with the lives of their soldiers. The very least the rest of world can do is commit some money. And Dubya has nothing to hang his head about.

Wednesday, September 03, 2003

The Cybercast News Service has a good article today on how Democrat senators are instituting a de facto religious test in confirming federal judges. Oh, but they're not saying it's a religious test, only that...
"According to Senator Schumer, it's the fact that they 'seriously hold' these beliefs that gives them concern," [dean of the Ave Maria School of Law Bernard] Dobranski observed. "If you're shallow or superficial in your grasp and beliefs that apparently makes you okay."

If you're not serious about your beliefs, then you're OK, apparently. However, they're facing a consistency problem.
"His beliefs are so well known, so deeply held that it's very hard to believe, very hard to believe that they're not going to deeply influence the way he comes about saying, 'I will follow the law,' and that would be true of anybody who had very, very deeply held views," Senate Judiciary Committee member Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said of Pryor during his June 11 confirmation hearing.

Does this mean the Shumer will now lead the charge to confirm Pryor, now that Pryor (in spite of his deeply held beliefs) followed orders to remove the 10 Commandments monument from the Alabama courthouse? He proved he can and will follow law that he does not necessarily agree with:
Although I continue to believe that the Ten Commandments are the cornerstone of our legal heritage and can be displayed constitutionally as they are in the building of the Supreme Court of the United States, this controversy is no longer one involving a debate in the federal courts. The Supreme Court of Alabama has now spoken and ordered compliance with the federal injunction. Under our Constitution, federal and state courts must respect the orders of each other.

So will Chuck Shumer put his actions and his words in sync with each other? Hold not thy breath.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Looks like "Uncle Walter" has realized the error of his ways...maybe.
The about-face by Mr Cronkite, 86, acknowledged the charges of "Nimbyism" but also added new passion to the debate raging over the wind farm.
Mr Cronkite, who has a house on Martha's Vineyard, stopped short of backing the wind farm outright. But he announced last week that he would wait for a government report before making up his mind.

"As an ardent environmentalist I have been uneasy about my strong statement that did not include my belief that wind power must be harnessed," he said after meeting the head of the company behind the farm, Cape Wind Associates.

So Mr. Cronkite's support for renewable energy is based on how close it is to him and the results of a government report. How reassuring for all those folks who believed his extolling of its virtues.