Thursday, March 22, 2007

Was She Covert?

Robert Novak has an excellent column on the charade that was last Friday's testimony by Valerie Plame.

Republican Rep. Peter Hoekstra could hardly believe what he heard on television Friday as he watched a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing. Rep. Henry Waxman, the Democratic committee chairman, said his statement had been approved by the CIA director, Michael Hayden. That included the assertion that Valerie Plame Wilson was a covert CIA operative when her identity was revealed.

As House intelligence committee chairman when Republicans controlled Congress, Hoekstra had tried repeatedly to learn Plame's status from the CIA but got only double talk from Langley. Waxman, 67, the 17-term congressman from Beverly Hills, may be a bully and a partisan. But he is no fool who would misrepresent the director of central intelligence. Waxman was correctly quoting Hayden. But Hayden, in a conference with Hoekstra yesterday, still did not answer whether Plame was covert under the terms of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.

I get trolls here periodically who want to talk about how Plame's identity was "classified," or that "because the CIA says Plame was covert, it doesn't matter what the law says." Both of these arguments are nonsense, of course. If the CIA had declared Plame to be a pink elephant, it wouldn't have mattered unless she had fit the legal definition (assuming there is one, which there probably is somewhere).

Novak points out that the hearing was a complete political sham, designed to smear the White House and bolster lyin' Joe Wilson's phony claims and explanations.

If the Democrats had truly been interested in getting to the truth, there were questions they should have asked (but didn't).
Waxman and Democratic colleagues did not ask these pertinent questions: Had not Plame been outed years ago by a Soviet agent? Was she not on an administrative, not operational, track at Langley? How could she be covert if, in public view, she drove to work each day at Langley? What about comments to me by then CIA spokesman Bill Harlow that Plame never would be given another foreign assignment? What about testimony to the FBI that her CIA employment was common knowledge in Washington?

Instead of posing such questions, Waxman said flatly that Plame was covert and cited Hayden as proof. Hayden's endorsement of Waxman's statement astounded Republicans whose queries about her had been rebuffed by the agency. That confirmed Republican suspicions that Hayden is too close to Democrats.

Why were these questions not asked? Probably because so few Republicans actually even attended the hearing.
I asked Rep. Christopher Shays, who during nine previous terms in Congress had proved a tenacious questioner at hearings. "We felt the committee is so biased," he replied, "we would do better to just stay away."

Better to just stay away? What is wrong with these people? You can bet that Democrats wouldn't do this if they were in the minority. Hell, we know they didn't do that.

One of the most frustrating things about the Republicans is their refusal to fight Democrats when Dems want to get in the mud. The entire U.S. attorney flap is nothing more than the most brazenly partisan attempt to force Karl Rove and Harriet Miers to testify under oath, hoping to find something with which the Dems can hang a perjury charge on. If Republicans don't even bother showing up to point out the lies perpetrated by the Democrats and their accomplices, then we need to find some new Republicans.