By all accounts, the time for groundless speculation on the Plame affair is running out. I thought I would lay down what we know. I won't entirely avoid leaks and unverified reports, but in the main, I rely on facts. I will lay this out in the form of a timeline, add some explanatory comments, and do some groundless speculation my self in a later response. I invite the reader to submit his own groundless speculation.
For this timeline, I have relied heavily on many sources, most particularly on the timeline at Factcheck. I will give some other, more partisan timelines below, for those who desire such things.
Note: My comments within the timeline, and entries not found in other timelines, will be placed in square brackets. All items are sourced, but I may not precisely source them here. Please check the linked timelines for sources not given here.
"Valerie Flame" is what Judy Miller, New York Times journalist, wrote in her notes as the first appearance of "Valerie Plame". Personally, this outing of a CIA agent always seemed one of the most egregious crimes of this administration. Lying about war... that gets debatable and can be defended as a "mistake". One might feel that's terrible morally, a crime against nature, but a lot of interpretation remains, owing to the fact that it is the President's job to make difficult decisions about war and action. But outing a CIA agent as retribution against those criticizing your facts (re: the Niger Yellowcake Story, which did turn out to be false) is very bad for the nation, very much a clear crime against the nation, and I think, against democracy and free speech.
For one, Valerie was in charge of operations keeping track of WMD around the world... that same WMD we are so very worried about getting into the hands of terrorists. For another, Bush Sr. oversaw enactments of a law to specifically criminalize such activities.
Well, Fitzgerald is now, finally, close to making indictments... or so the speculation runs. Fitzgerald has, we should admit, run a very clean and good investigation. There has been no leaking to speak of (unlike Starr's investigation of Clinton... which was an active leak-generator), and it has not been rushed. Fitzgerald has operated without regard or notice of the press, seeking out the facts of the matter in his office and among the primary data.
When Miller went to jail for not revealing her source... he let that be the story, "should reporters have to reveal their sources?" rather than use leaks and proxies to try to turn the story back to the particulars which give a different question altogether. Those particulars (in my estimation) are that Miller was complicit, a co-conspirator for the war. She was the channel by which the ridiculous "intelligence" Chalabi offered made it to press, she was behind the majority of factually incorrect stories on the runup to the war which the New York Times has had to apologize for, she was the bullhorn for the "intelligence" that Wilson sought to refute, the fake type of "intelligence of the willing" that is the opposite of what Plame's job consisted of discovering.
Miller's source that she was protecting was Scooter Libby, Cheney's Chief of Staff, who was the subject of much of the original speculation years ago. But Joe Wilson claims that Chris Matthews told him that Rove had called him and said Plame was "fair game". Rove himself has now given testimony four times to the grand jury. Fairly reliable (so it seems) rumors are coming out that two other of Cheney's aids have "turned" and helped the investigation (John Hannah and now David Wurmser). Speculation is running wild, therefore, that indictments will be handed out to high up people such as Rove and Cheney, and to numerous people, as many as 20 or more.
The New York Daily News is reporting that Bush did know of Rove's involvement and was "very angry" with Rove, and "made [Rove's] life miserable"... if true, good for you President Bush, but at the same time Bush was saying to the American people, "Listen, I know of nobody -- I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action".
We can't let a democracy be run this way... so here's to a just resolution for The Outing of Valerie Flame (Plame), and to hopes that politicians will hesitate before playing the Plame Game in the future.
good night and good luck.
[UPDATED: I accidently said Libby was on Rove's staff, but it's Cheney...]
Progressives run from principles of relativity because they believe
that these are principles of... well, I would call it nihilism.
I.e. "moral relativity" is held to be an idea by which anything goes...
that your moral judgments are totally local.
I disagree, while the symbol which is the two words "moral relativity"
can be assigned whatever real phenomenon one likes, I draw my idea of
relativity from the physical sciences. It's not just from physical
theories, such as General Relativity, but more from the principles of
relativity which Einstein, for example, used to deduce from thin air
his theory of Special Relativity... this is a principle also evident in
the so called classical model of Newtonian dynamics which contains, for
examples, velocity relativity.
This latter type of relativity is the more or less widely known
relativity that says you cannot know a body's velocity by itself, but
only in relation to another body... if two spaceships are traveling
toward one another at 1000 mph, this is indistinguishable from one of
the two being motionless and the other traveling toward it at 2000 mph.
It is a principle of relativity that there is no privileged point of
view, however, this does not mean all things are equal, ironically, it
means the opposite. No two things are equal (or else they would
be one thing). It means all you really can do is judge
relationships, and this idea applies to social and moral life.
In short, it says you cannot construct final judgment for a "thing in
itself", but you can judge the relationships, where "judging" is the
human analog of a physical measurement... a human moral measurement...
Here is an example, I take a difficult example so as to keep it interesting, I hope.
The Slave Owner. What a despicable thing slave owning is. Yes?
We would like to say, the slave owner is, thing in itself, an evil
person, an immoral person, probably unredeemable. But relativity says
that we do not judge the master in isolation or the slave in isolation,
but it is their relationship we are able to judge, to judge as immoral.
Is that acceptable? Well, consider the case of Thomas Jefferson, slave
owner. Few would say that Jefferson himself was unredeemed, instead,
his apologists often claim that "things were different"... and this
somehow forgives Jefferson. I never found that appealing, yet I do
respect Jefferson at the same time, but not for slave holding. I
believe relativity provides a better explanation than merely forgiving him due to what was "acceptable" at the time, not least of which because some at the time DID NOT accept that slave holding was morally legitimate, and they were RIGHT AT THE TIME. They were right at the time because the
relationship between slave and master is bad, or so I and most people judge, and it does count against
Jefferson, end of story. Had Jefferson repudiated slavery, in other words, he would have been even greater, great in yet another domain besides architecture and democratic philosophy.
Slavery is not justified, "back then", by virtue of it
being common and accepted. It was wrong it always was wrong. We fight slavery because it is wrong, and it is a relationship between humans which we discover by studying the
relationship between master and slave, a relationship of starkly uneven footing. Some still find that a fine relationship, and skepticism, more than relativity takes that into account (for another time, skepticism includes an acceptance of what is apparent, over dogmatic assertions, and various demonstrations that what is apparent is, ironically, much more compelling than dogmatic assertions)
We judge slavery as wrong and immoral (those of us that do) because of the elements of injustice in the relationship, but not because the slave owner was
immoral-in-himself and lent this immorality to his actions, as the classical analysis argues.
This doesn't change the real problem, and of course, it's still open to
debate after a relativistic analysis, whether or not Jefferson should be
characterized by that relation to the world, or by some other relation, say his
relation to Americans as one of the founding fathers. One relation is characterized by robbed liberty, the other, by liberty granted.
This may seem to do nothing but rearrange some semantics... but there is more to it than that.
It explains how we can call Jefferson liberal, though he was a
slaveholder which is not a liberal institution. It
focuses us away from the difficult (or impossible) question of
intrinsic worth or character. It changes our perspective from one that
tries to judge a man great or foul, and expects purely great or foul
accomplishments to follow, into one where we analyze an individual's relationships to
their nation, to history, to other individuals. It explains
better the imperfections of humans and why we take instruction from these imperfect humans nevertheless.
To try another difficult example in brief... Hitler is thought of as an
evil man, and I concur with that because his relation to his world was
so broadly dominated by relations easily judged as immoral and intentional to the point of "evil", from his propagandistic treatment of his fellow Germans, to his preference for war, to, of course,
his relationship to the victims of his genocidal and murderous tendencies.
none of those relationship, dominating our judgment of Hitler, should confuse us into thinking that the VW Beetle was
also a work of evil merely because it was the result of a Nazi
commission... in that case, providing a cheap car for the German
people, we have a lone relationship which can be studied in isolation,
which survived in isolation, which outlived the Nazis, and which, as much as Hitler's mere presence in the equation fouls the
history of that car, didn't stop it from eventually becoming a symbol of something quite distinct from Nazism. A relativistic approach explains this, because in this relationship, Hitler to the Germans that benefited from this inexpensive and easily maintained car, the car is good, and insofar as that car embodied this relationship to it's driver, it was a benefit unmolested by a regrettable association.
This extra example muddies the water but I wanted to remind you before the essay's end that this is
not a way of considering Jefferson, this is a general way of judging
history, men, and reality. While the relativist says you cannot judge things in isolation, s/he
does not say you cannot judge at all, but redirects your facilities to
judging the relationships between things, which you may still do according to your own intuition and as those things relations appear to you.