Thursday, November 11, 2010

Plame, Lies, and Videotape

The September/October issue of World Affairs contains a tour de force by lawyer-journalist Stan Crock, which is not only the authoritative takedown of “Fair Game,” Douglas Liman’s meretricious cinematic hagiography of Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson, but also the essential case, laid out with amazing meticulousness, for a presidential pardon for Scooter Libby—the pardon that ought to have been forthcoming the instant he was indicted, and, failing that, issued before President Bush left office. Inexplicable judicial rulings, coupled with the inexcusably disgusting cowardice of the president and his counsel, Fred Fielding, left a brave and loyal man on the field of battle, fending for himself.

A couple of highlights from Mr. Crock’s piece:

The entire thrust of Liman’s film, told from the Wilson/Plame point of view, is that the White House did something wrong, that it manipulated intelligence and then retaliated against Wilson by exposing a covert operative and endangering national security. But no one was ever charged with violating the law that makes it illegal to expose spies because the law requires an intent to undermine CIA operations. . . . As trial testimony showed, neither Libby nor anyone else knew Plame was covert. Most importantly, Libby was acquitted on the only charges that relate to leaking Plame’s CIA employment.

The more you probe, the more Kafkaesque the case becomes. Conversations prosecution witnesses failed to remember became proof Libby couldn’t have forgotten them. Witnesses said the FBI’s potentially exculpatory contemporaneous notes about their testimony were wrong, and their more incriminating memories to the contrary months later were right. When a key prosecution witness was shown to have been confused about which reporter he spoke to about Wilson’s wife, the prosecution argued that a faulty memory “about Wilson’s wife does not in any way, shape or form suggest a reason why [the witness] would fabricate, make up, or invent a story.” For the prosecution, confusing which reporter a witness had a conversation with doesn’t mean the witness is lying. Unless the witness’s name is Scooter Libby. The movie should have starred Ludacris, not Sean Penn.

But read the whole thing.

And to Fred Fielding, wherever you are: Shame, shame, shame!


  1. One may question the fairness of our trials in general. There have been several cases recently of innocent people being released after many years in jail. One wonders how many other innocent people are in jail.

    Does the President say anything about the case in his book?

  2. I have long said that the person who revealed that Valerie Plame was "covert" was her husband, Joe Wilson, while discussing the matter with David Corn, writing for "The Nation".

    Robert Novak made no such "covert" claim about Valerie Plame. Novak only referred to her as a "CIA operative". An "operative" is not necessarily someone who operates in secret. Paul Begala has often been characterized as a "Democratic operative", but no one alleges that his deeds are done in secret.

    If anyone "outed" Valerie Plame, it was her husband.

  3. Mary saw "Fair Game" this afternoon, after reading your blog. She thought before and after her viewing that you made good points and said you helped her to enjoy the film as fiction. Of course, she no more than I has living acquaintance with any of the persons the film pretends to portray, so her reactions were quite spectatorly and momentary and will have no effect on her reheating and eating our Thanksgiving leftovers.