Sunday, July 10, 2005


Walter Pincus And The Pre-Emptive Smear Job

Check this out, courtesy of Paul Lukasiak (by way of Atrios):

Pincus: Wilson "discredited" in 2002 By p lukasiak ALthough most of us have been following the Cooper revelations with regard to Karl Rove, Walter Pincus of the Washington Post has also spilled some beans. And the beans he spilled strongly suggest that the effort to discredit Wilson via his wife was not the result of Wilson's disclosing his trip in a NY Times column, but was being done in 2002 in order to discredit his reporting, and "fix the facts and intelligence" around the policy. Here is the key quote from the Pincus piece in Niemanwatch...
On July 12, 2003, an administration official, who was talking to me confidentially about a matter involving alleged Iraqi nuclear activities, veered off the precise matter we were discussing and told me that the White House had not paid attention to former Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s CIA-sponsored February 2002 trip to Niger because it was set up as a boondoggle by his wife, an analyst with the agency working on weapons of mass destruction.
In other words, the White House was not merely aware of Wilson's trip and its findings, someone had gone to the trouble to find out how the trip had originated, and then lied about Plame' s involvement in order to discredit his findings. (Plame did not "set up" the trip, as Pincus was told, nor did she "authorize" it, as Rove told Cooper. ) (Pincus's disclosure pretty much puts to rest the speculation that Miller's conversation with Rove was where he first found out about Plame.) Fitzgerald may be going after whoever told "the White House" that Plame was responsible for the trip --- and really going after the whole effort to "fix the facts and intelligence" in the run-up to the Iraq war. The real questions may now be: Why did someone investigate the detailed circumstances behind the Wilson trip and who did the investigation? Who is responsible for lying about Plames involvement in order to discredit Wilson's report within the White House (and, one assumes, make it possible for Colin Powell to ignore Wilson's findings as well?)
So, now we know: -- Rove didn't need to talk to Miller to know that Joe Wilson's wife was a highly-placed CIA operative -- Rove lied to Cooper about the Niger finding and about who authorized Wilson's trip (granted, we knew this a while back, but the press is even now dutifully repeating Rove's smears without stopping to correct them) -- Three days before Novak's piece hit the papers, Rove told Cooper that Wilson's wife was a CIA agent investigating whether there was still Iraqi WMD left over from the stocks Reagan gave Saddam in the 1980s. I've been reading a book called Boy's Life, by Robert R. McCammon. It's a good book, and I recommend it. It's too good to be made into a movie, especially a typical gutless Hollywood flick -- though now that I think on it, the folks behind the new (and vastly improved) Battlestar Galactica could be trusted to do it right. Anyway, the protagonist and hero is an eleven-year-old boy named Cory Mackenson, resident of Zephyr, Alabama. The time is 1964. And young Cory faces many monsters -- some two-legged, some not. Early in the book, Cory saves another young boy from being eaten alive by Old Moses, a giant snake that lives in the Tecumseh River, when the snake took advantage of a broken dam to swoop down on the flooded land. It's not that Cory killed the snake, either; all he did was shove a broomstick up its throat. But the snake, which had lived decades of its long life without ever meeting anything that fought back, panicked and turned tail. I don't think that Rove will necessarily panic. But I do think that, like Old Moses, Rove's gone so long without meeting any real or sustained opposition that he's forgotten how to fight a sustained fight; his foes usually wind up scared off before they can hurt him. He's like a fighter that hopes to take out his opponents in the first round, before they figure out that he has no wind and no wheels. But now he's up against a foe who is tougher, smarter, and more patient than he is. Patrick Fitzgerald doesn't slink away when someone tries shoving a broomstick down his throat.

I saw Paul's piece at TPMCafe, and I thought Pincus' revelations were astonishing.

One questions, though, upon reflection: where do you see the indication that Pincus's Administration contact and what he said about Plame in July of 03, clearly means that they were readying a smear in 2002? It makes sense that they did so then; clearly they wouldn't have liked Wilson's report. But couldn't whomever was speaking with Pincus been briefed in 03, after Wilson's NYTimes op ed identifying himself as the author of the Niger report, on what the White House spin would be now. Just wondering.
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