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                                       politics + culture

Friday, October 28, 2005

encyclopedia brown

Jane at firedoglake links to this thread at Kevin Drum's, it's really fascinating.

I guess this moment brings out the inner Encyclopedia Browns on all sides. Good stuff.


  • Here's my problem right now in thinking about all of this. If you look at the transcript of Fitzgerald's press conference, the first question and answer is perhaps the most explicit moment of addressing what's next, could there be more indictments, etc. Here's the key sentence however: "OK, is the investigation finished? It's not over, but I'll tell you this: Very rarely do you bring a charge in a case that's going to be tried and would you ever end a grand jury investigation." This sentence obviously has some verbal slip in it -- which makes it much more difficult to parse. What's rare? To bring a charge in a case (i.e. indict Libby) and close the grand jury investigation? Or does he mean, "it's very rare that you would end a grand jury investigation and then indict someone" (or, in his more prolix language, "bring a charge in a case that's going to be tried").

    I think most people are taking this last interpretation but its certainly not what he actually says. What he actually says, as far as I can tell, are a string of words that don't really fit together in the order that he says them, and we're supposed to rearrange them somehow.

    I wish he had been more explicit in this sentence or that someone had followed up.

    By Blogger awol, at 3:38 AM  

  • Always nice to see Encyclopedia Brown seep his way into the public discourse. There are a lot of Bugs Meanies out there...

    So, apologies for a long, off-topic discussion of Robert Novak and Official A, but I can't help myself (I should really start my own blog for this sort of thing--wink).

    But let's assume Rove is Official A and that Official A was Novak's confirming source (assumptions which now seem to be confirmed).

    The indictment says this about Official A:

    21. On or about July 10 or July 11, 2003, LIBBY spoke to a senior official in the White House (“Official A”) who advised LIBBY of a conversation Official A had earlier that week with columnist Robert Novak in which Wilson’s wife was discussed as a CIA employee involved in Wilson’s trip. LIBBY was advised by Official A that Novak would be writing a story about Wilson’s wife.

    Based on that, we have no idea if Official A was Novak's initial source, or his confirming source. Since Novak told Official A that he would be writing a story about Wilson's wife, I'm inclined to believe that Official A offered the confirmation Novak needed to run with the story--i.e. Official A is the second source.

    But Novak is a hack. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that he told Official A (as the initial source) that he'd be running with the story even before he had any confirmation. It's also possible that his initial source said something like, "If you want to run with this, I assure you that 'Official A' will confirm it--here's his phone number."

    Now let's go back to the public version of Novak's contacts with the leakers. In it, he mentions two conversations--a detailed, initial one that sounds very much like the talk with Official A described in the indictment, and a confirming one that leaves out almost all detail:

    During a long conversation with a senior administration official, I asked why Wilson was assigned the mission to Niger. He said Wilson had been sent by the CIA's counterproliferation section at the suggestion of one of its employees, his wife. It was an offhand revelation from this official, who is no partisan gunslinger. When I called another official for confirmation, he said: 'Oh, you know about it.'

    Certainly, Novak's own "offhand revelation"--that the initial source is "no partisan gunslinger"--is meant to telegraph that Rove was not the initial source. But if Rove is Official A and Official A is the confirming source, it was extremely dishonest for Novak to imply that his conversation with the second source was limited to, "Oh, you know about it." If Official A was the confirming source and the indictment accurately describes this contact, Novak could have written, "I then called another official who confirmed the substance of this conversation." But Novak didn't write that--he omitted the detail and published a quote designed to mesh with the, "all the reporters knew about Plame" legal defense strategy. Hmmm.

    Of course, if you flip it around and assume Rove is Official A and Official A is the initial source, Novak is even more dishonest--going out of his way to describe Karl Rove as "no partisan gunslinger?" Come on.

    So I don't know what to make of this. It's all fairly obvious (also convoluted and pointless). Either way, Novak looks like a slimy guy helping Karl Rove avoid unpleasantries: "old news." So I'm just going to "take a deep breath" and let it go--I trust the prosecutor to take it where he will.

    That said, if anyone wants to keep thinking about it (and perhaps mention the "conspiracy" word), it may be helpful to remember that Novak's man-on-the-street conversation with that friend of Joe Wilson ("an asshole" "His wife, Valerie, works for the CIA") took place on July 8th--a few days before the conversation with Official A--and that the "no partisan gunslinger" column came out just a few days after the announcement of a federal criminal investigation.

    By Blogger &y, at 9:08 AM  

  • Very late update: Here's Kos and the Gang discussing this same sort of Novak/Official A nonsense.

    By Blogger &y, at 2:34 PM  

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