"There are only two ways of telling the complete truth—anonymously and posthumously."Thomas Sowell

Friday, October 28, 2005

It's a Dirty Job, But...

I'll do it.

Not mentioning Scooter Libby's indictment would be conspicuous in its absence, so here goes. I hate chores, but I'll try to make it enjoyable and also use the term "unscrupulously torpedoed" at least once.

Now, writers at The Reform Club assume their gentle readers have a certain familiarity with the issues of the day. The details of this affair can be found and litigated elsewhere, and besides being too lazy to recap them, we would rather drink bourbon instead of scotch than conduct remediation without compensation.

First and foremost, anyone who was implacable about the violation of "the rule of law" during the Clinton impeachment circus would best help themselves and the republic if they just shut up and take their lumps. (This means YOU, Kay Bailey Hutchinson.) If there is no underlying crime here (and it appears there isn't), neither was there with Clinton. I mean, the Jones lawsuit was a civil case, for one thing.

This also puts the shoe on the other foot, although admittedly not as tightly. But the Libby indictment is for lying and obstructing, again with no underlying crime, so if we're to frogmarch him to the gibbet over that principle, it must be noted that Clinton was equally guilty.

I find the underlying crime, which doesn't exist, more to my own interest than the Law & Order aspects of the case:

Except for the crocodile tears crowd, no one is seriously maintaining that Valerie Plame's "outing" endangered anything or anybody. If she herself were concerned about the fate of her contacts, she wouldn't have posed for that cheesy photo in Vanity Fair.

Joe Wilson is a opportunist and a liar. (Don't take just my word for it--after two official reports debunking him came out, the Kerry campaign, which had co-opted him as an "advisor," dumped him like a bowelful of bad clams.)

Has-been/neverwas Wilson used his wife's access to get back into the Big Game. He secured an unpaid gig to go hang at the pool and drink mint tea in Niger and play International Man of Mystery, and when he got back, wrote an op-ed in the NY Times completely misrepresenting what he discovered in order to try to unscrupulously torpedo the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq. (And mebbe make some new friends, like future president John Kerry.)

Scooter Libby, as any loyal defender of his liege would, promptly and unscrupulously torpedoed Wilson back. That he had it coming was only icing on the cake, and that he indeed got sunk was the cherry on top.

So here we are.

I'm sure Mr. Libby would do the same again, because you don't let twits like Wilson endanger foreign policy, and Libby will dutifully if not cheerfully fall on his sword if necessary. But as right-thinking Americans, I'm sure we'll all presume Brother Scooter is innocent until proven otherwise. Perhaps, as he predicted today, he'll be "completely and totally exonerated."

He looks guilty as hell to me, but if he somehow slips the noose, I hope he devotes the rest of his life to tracking down the real leakers.


James Elliott said...

Except for the crocodile tears crowd, no one is seriously maintaining that Valerie Plame's "outing" endangered anything or anybody.

Except, you know, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in his indictment and his press conference. And the CIA, in requesting the investigation. "Covert" in the statute is taken to mean "classified." Plame's status was always classified. Lacking the requisite intent of damaging the intelligence community does not mean nothing was endangered by the action. The statute explicitly requires intent, which Fitzgerald, in his press conference, implies he did not think he could prove. What he did state, was that by committing perjury (as alleged), Libby willfully damaged Fitzgerald's ability to determine whether a crime had occurred or not. A criminal investigation's scope is not limited to the single charge under its original mandate.

Joe Wilson is a opportunist and a liar... He secured an unpaid gig to go hang at the pool and drink mint tea in Niger and play International Man of Mystery, and when he got back, wrote an op-ed in the NY Times completely misrepresenting what he discovered in order to try to unscrupulously torpedo the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq.

This is factually incorrect. The reports you cite never actually debunked him: They found that the evidence, at the time, was inconclusive either way. One, The Butler Report, was by former members of the Iraq Survey Group in the White House. The only "debunking" came from Orrin Hatch and two other senators on the intelligence committee who attached a dissent on the matter as an addendum to the official Senate Intelligence Committee report.

Further investigations have shown that Scott Horton, former Iran-Contra felon, had a hand in forging the documents. Also implicated: Former Iran-Contra figures Michael Ledeen and Philip Giraldi, heavily connected to the neo-con community. Wilson's conclusions were backed up by the US Armed Forces and the State Department, and have been exonerated.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Then why did Kerry flush him?

connie deady said...

With all due respect Tom, you're acting awfully Straussian here. You're implying that because the "end" was so important (debunking Joe Wilson) that the means were justified.

Why would I be surprised that people hanging around Straussian true believers would commit perjury and obstruct an investigation?

connie deady said...

I realized my last comment wasn't clear. I wasn't implying that you are defending Scooter Libby or the leakers. I was merely responding to the qualifications regarding Joe Wilson or that the "outing" endangered anyone.

The qualifications mute the power of your statement...."what they did was wrong, BUT

Tom Van Dyke said...

Is the discussion politics or morality?

In the former, nice guys finish last. In the latter, is it immoral to violate the letter of the law although not its spirit?

As for the perjury, the security of the republic demands that Libby be made to suffer for it. But as far as morally condemning him, I find it difficult. Like the boy who broke the lamp, we all try to wriggle off the hook, especially if the lamp isn't even broken.

connie deady said...

In the former, nice guys finish last. In the latter, is it immoral to violate the letter of the law although not its spirit?

Sounds very Straussian to me. You are implying that it would be okay in a "just cause".

I'm a process person. If you follow a just process, then just results will usually occur.

However, I'm still not sure your point is correct. We don't know that it did no damage. The CIA isn't going to reveal the damage. I think that's an unwarranted assumption, as everyone who was in contact with her faux firm becomes suspect. Surely you can understand the CIA is not going to reveal the damage. They were the ones who called for the investigation, they were upset.

You are still engaging in justification.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I've merely asked a question to find out what we're discussing. I'm afraid the issue of hiding Anne Frank from the Nazis makes the ends/means discussion a bit more complicated.

We've been through this (common) slander of Leo Strauss before. I'm afraid I'll have to ask again for more, um, justification for it.

connie deady said...

Followers, Tom, followers. You know what I believe about what they believe. Don't try to tell me that Wolfowitz & co. don't believe it's okay to lie, etc. in pursuit of a goal they believe is right.

And you keep trying to divert the discussion away from the questions I asked.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I can see I'm making you angry again, Connie. But I'm trying to detect a question. The only one I found is:

Why would I be surprised that people hanging around Straussian true believers would commit perjury and obstruct an investigation?

My answer would be a) that is guilt by association b) you haven't remotely proved such guilt and c) that is begging the question, as in putting your desired answer into the phrasing of the question.

Oh, and d) Strauss is implicitly indicted and e) you shouldn't, nor should you believe they have stopped beating their wives.

This whole thing illustrates the difficulty in puzzling out the underlying principles behind partisan affairs. Smushing it all up just results in moralizing, usually in the favor of our own side. You have jumped to the climax of the discussion; I'm still back at the foreplay.

But to move things along, your "process" position rejects the possibility of moral dilemmas, which leaves one with the inertia of Hamletism. What if perjury were the only way of keeping Charlie Manson from killing again? I think your absolutist position on lying bears further scrutiny.

Moreover, as a self-defined "subjectivist" or whatever, in denying the possibility of rational ends, rational means are not on a very secure basis either, as Leo Strauss would say.

Come to think of it, he did. ;-)

connie deady said...

I guess my question is why deflect from the morality of process to attempt to justify the perversion of process because the ends were just or the outcome wasn't really harmful.

It's not really an absolutist position, but now you have me thinking. I think the issue, and where I think the Straussians go wrong is their belief that they have the ability to see through the delusion to the truth (as in the allegory of the cave). So in their world, they can see that lying is necessary to keep Charlie Manson from killing.

However, it could be that in fact, they are the delusional ones and they are incorrect in their perception that it is necessary to lie to keep Charlie Manson from killing.

From someone who has worked so many years in criminal defense, I see law enforcement willing to condone lies on the stand because they are protecting the greater good by putting the obvious criminal in jail. Or as one person cleverly commented on the OJ Simpson trial, the LA police framed a guilty man.

Anyway, probably at the crux of my philosophy is my core belief that we can never know whether the end we perceive accomplishing is our own self-delusion. As a result, I can't accept perverting the process.

Tom Van Dyke said...

You would entrust Anne Frank to "the process"? No, I don't think you believe what you're saying.

connie deady said...

What are you talking about?

The process isn't just a legal system, it's a way of living one's life, by virtue, honesty, ethics. Of course I wouldn't entrust anyone to corrupt Germany. I would expect people of integrity to fight a corrupt process and change it for the better.

However, if you support and believe in the process, which I trust Scooter Libby did, then he shouldn't countenance corruption of the process. Bringing in corrupt processes rather misses the point.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I certainly was missing the point, which is why I posed such extremes to try to locate it.

Apparently your philosophy is functional only in the comparatively small number of countries where the process is not corrupt. (We assume that means the United States, even though you have seen law enforcement willing to condone lies on the stand.)

You yourself would not lie to prevent a murderer from killing again, you would gladly slip your head into the noose if asked, and I assume you wouldn't lie to save an innocent man, either.

I think I got it. Thanks.

connie deady said...

actual thoughts deleted.
Respect runs 2 ways

Tom Van Dyke said...

I honestly wasn't being cheeky with you. I didn't get your point until your last post.

If I've mischaracterized your position, it was not intentional.

Tlaloc said...

As JE pointed out a real crime did indeed occur. Read Fitzgerald's indictment of Libby and you'll see that he carefully lays out all the evidence that supports each requirement of the espionage act...and then doesn't indict Libby on that charge. Why?

The best argument I've seen so far is that as the investigation is still going and as he's made it clear that more indictments could be coming he was saying "I have the goods, I can make the case, But I'm not making it against this small fish." Makes you wonder which White House big players might be buying extra deoderant right now, huh?

connie deady said...

Tom, my original point was that Libby had no respect for the process. I do. It's clear you don't. You can't criticize him for lying, which you do, and then excuse him because Joe Wilson was bad (that's an end justifies the means argument). Do you believe that? Are you willing to defend lying and dishonesty for sake of a noble goal?

If so, then that puts you squarely in Straussian territory, because a core belief is the fact that because they understand the truth, there is a need to go around the process.

No need to turn this into what my beliefs are. It's your initial post putting forth your thoughts. I'm asking you to defend them and explain why you feel it necessary to drag Joe Wilson's credibility in. That's the reason for my response to you.

Tom Van Dyke said...

"Are you willing to defend lying and dishonesty for sake of a noble goal?"

You make it sound so evil.

Seriously, you are quite correct that your own philosophy isn't relevant to a dispassionate discussion, and it is in a way unfair for me to speak of it, but I brought up Anne Frank in an attempt to show that the question cannot be reduced to the moralizing of "lying is bad."

Of course, it's bad. But there are worse things, which is why we have moral dilemmas, a choice between two distasteful solutions.

connie deady said...

Well, there I can agree with you. There are times when we may choose to do wrong for the sake of a greater good.

The problem that I have is that I believe people in this Administration have been too quick to throw away long cherished processes because of their belief in the rightness of their goals. That's a dangerous road to go down, that's what happens when we throw out the Geneva convention to allow torture because it is terrorists.

Remembering the discussion of buddhism finding delusion an evil, I think that's why Scooter Libby was indicted. If you start believing that you know better than others, then it allows you to do things that violate laws. A lot of people have done wrong under the delusion that it was necessary to achieve good ends.

Anyway that was my problem with your fingering Joe Wilson. It was a form of justification. That somehow the end of pointing out Joe Wilson for the bad guy that he was (or the importance of selling the war) justified outing Plame, or lying about it to the grand jury.

Of course there are gray areas. I think one should follow the dictates of fools rushing in where angels fear to tread.

Tom Van Dyke said...

Well, there's nobody left here except you, me, and Joe the bartender. Your first paragraph says we've worked a little something out, a bit of the meeting of the minds after all.

The rest is politics, and they'll still be waiting for us in the morning.

Here's looking at you, kid.

connie deady said...

Looking back at ya, but there are issues about politics. Let's not reduce it to that.