I am in Chestertown, Maryland this weekend where I have a place situated in some back woods.
I am at one of those points where I have two feet of articles and papers to plow through and want to comment on lots of what I’m reading. Lurking behind all of this policy drama on my kitchen table is the bizarre problem of a giant lake that has all of a sudden appeared down near my quarter mile long dirt and gravel road that runs along a creek. This lake is enormous, relatively speaking, and there were about five thousand Canadian geese in there this morning enjoying themselves doing lots of goose stuff.
It’s all idyllic in one sense — but behind this beauty are some very industrious beavers that have dammed up the creek. They have created a ten foot wall of mud, leaves, trees, and other stuff that have just made a lake, and it is rising. Anyway, I’m not quite sure what to do about it — so I’m going back to the papers.
The Valerie Plame affairs has now morphed into a new story — about journalistic freedom and protecting the identity of sources. Lots of others have commented on various sides of the debate about the standoff between Judge Thomas F. Hogan and Matt Cooper and Judith Miller, so I will defer on that subject.
But I want to comment for a moment about our President who expressed great dismay and concern about Plame’s identity being revealed by one or more of his staff. I heard George Bush say that he wanted to get down to the bottom of who leaked her identity and that those responsible would be severely punished.
Mr. President, this must be a topic of gossip in the White House mess. You must have some moles among your staff telling you what your retainers are saying. Who do they say did it?
Bob Woodward in Bush at War recounts a story of you, Mr. President, looking into the eyes of Vladimir Putin and seeing a “man of faith, a good man.” Have you looked into the eyes of all of your key staff and put the question squarely to them:
Karl, did you leak Valerie Plame’s CIA identity to anyone in the media? Come on, tell me.
Scooter, was it you? We need to solve this — and move on. Who was our Judas in this White House?
We’ll forgive them, but we need to get to the bottom of this and punish him, her, or them just a bit — and then forgive.
I think that the story is as much about the fact that the President has said he wants to know who did this among his staff — and that someone or some few are lurking in the White House as liars and scoundrels.
I’d think that just in case these evil-doing agents decided to harm American national security again, George Bush would be scheduling meetings with each staff member, looking into that person’s eyes, and asking them, “Tell me, did you do it?”
At minimum, finding the person ought to be on the President’s Christmas wish list.
I know I’m being somewhat naive here and facetious — but really, hold the President to his own condemnation of the Plame leakers.
— Steve Clemons