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Monday, October 31, 2005

Hitch: Plame, Wilson, Fitzkerfuffle..

Christopher Hitchens: What Goes Around, Comes Around
The Plame kerfuffle has made hypocrites of just about everyone.

If--and one has to say "if"--the transmission of any classified information is a crime, then as Mr. Fitzgerald also confirmed, one would be in the deep waters of the Espionage Act, which is "a very difficult statute to interpret." Actually, it is a very easy act to interpret. It declares that even something very well-known is secret if the state defines it as secret: the same principle as the dreaded British Official Secrets Act. As to the critical question of whether Ms. Plame had any cover to blow, Mr. Fitzgerald was equally insouciant: "I am not speaking to whether or not Valerie Wilson was covert."

In the absence of any such assertion or allegation, one must be forgiven for wondering what any of this gigantic fuss can possibly be about. I know some apparently sensible people who are prepared to believe, still, that a Machiavellian cabal in the White House wanted to punish Joseph Wilson by exposing his wife to embarrassment and even to danger. So strong is this belief that it envisages Karl Rove (say) deciding to accomplish the foul deed by tipping off Robert Novak, one of the most anti-Iraq-war and pro-CIA journalists in the capital, as if he were precisely the pliant tool one would select for the dastardly work. And then, presumably to thicken the plot, Mr. Novak calls the CIA to confirm, as it readily did, that Ms. Plame was in the agency's employ.

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