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Sunday, October 28, 2007

Outed Agent Hits Vermont

War_dead_one Before going out to catch former CIA covert agent Valerie Plame Wilson's speech at the Sheraton Sunday afternoon, sponsored by Vermont Woman, I swung by author/musician Marc Estrin's place in Burlington's Old North End. Hadn't been by in a few months and I wanted to get the latest casualty count on the Bush-Cheney madness.

The number on the left, [449], is the latest U.S. death toll in  Afghanistan. In the middle, [3834] is the latest U.S. death toll in  Iraq. And on the right, [1,085,967] is the latest estimate of civilian deaths in Iraq, according to a Johns Hopkins study.

Reality check.

So was Ex-Agent Valerie Wilson [right] talking to Vermont reporters in the hallway before her speech. She's on a national tour plugging her new book: Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House.

Valerie_plame_wilson "My parents were Republicans," said Mrs. Wilson. "I was raised Republican when that meant strong national defense, a strong fiscal policy," she said, noting it's been changed so much "to the state it's in now, that it's now hard to recognize it."

Valerie's the career undercover agent at the Central Intelligence Agency outed by the White House in Robert Novak's column in 2003. V.P. Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff Scooter Libby got convicted for the leak, but then received a presidential pardon* (see correction below) - no jail time.

Hey, he was just doing his job, right?

As Wilson told the admiring crowd of 800 in the Emerald Ballroom, had "senior administration officials been sitting across from a Russian journalist at a fancy restaurant in downtown Washington and given him my name, that would have been called 'treason.'

"Why is it called anything different when it's filtered through an American journalist?

Good question, eh?

The former CIA agent told the gathering the American invasion of Iraq "was in many ways a response to an unproven academic theory put forward by the Neocons that democracy would blossom, that the invasion, conquest and occupation of Iraq would really just get democracy blooming throughout the region!"

Val_wilson_2 During the Libby Trial, she noted, "What came out very clearly was the extent to which the media, the White House press corps -  has a symbiotic relationship with this administration. That's nothing new, but the extent to which this administration has used intimidation tactics is unprecedented!"

Mrs. Wilson highlighted the "quite striking"  fact regarding the "very little shoe leather that was expended by the media on the reasons for going to war." The Washington press corps, she said, was "spoon-fed everything by the administration."

Sad, but true.

"Now it's true - anything the President says is news, but it seems to me we were let down by the media because they didn't actively pursue the mid-level managers at the Pentagon, the State Department and elsewhere. They could have told them a little different story."

Yes, indeed.

More here.

Nov. 3 post
- This from Marc Estrin. I got it wrong on the "pardon."

I did want to correct one thing in your blog. Scooter Libby was not pardoned; his sentence was commuted. This was very savvy of  the Bush lawyers. It leaves the case still open and "on appeal". Therefore Bush/Cheney/Rove can continue to argue that they cannot comment publicly because it's an ongoing investigation. Libby paid a small fine the very afternoon it was demanded -- if I recall, $250k -- but he had already raised $3+ million from Republican fatcats for the "Scooter Libby Defense Fund".

All in all, another good job done cheaply by the administration. Bread & Puppet made the same mistake for a "Pardon Me" circus act this summer, but no one would listen to me and accept the distinction. It was a funny act, though, with the puppeteers handing out pardons to the audience like pre-Luther indulgences, without charge.

Thanks, Marc.


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The funniest thing about the whole Plame affair is how strident all her supporters are when most likely in their earleir lives they were dead set against the existence of the evil CIA!


Is there a point somewhere in that statement? So what if they are against the CIA. One does not have to support the activities of the CIA to know that it is a complete betrayal of ones patriotism to out on officer that the President sent to to do his dirty work.

I want to close VT yankee and am completely against Nuke power. So I guess I'm a hypocrite when I turn my TV on to watch Sean Hannity.

Doug Hoffer

To Charlie

There is nothing funny about the history of the CIA or the Plame affair; nor is there anything hypocritical about accepting the need for intelligence while condemning some of the worst excesses of the organization (as even Congress did with the Church Committee report in `75).

Of all the despicable things various presidents have done, I can't think of anything worse then manipulating public opinion to justify an unnecessary pre-emptive war (Nixon was close with Cambodia but that extended an already immoral war rather than starting one; we'll leave Johnson and the Tonkin resolution for another time). The Plame affair was one part of that and deserves to be discussed so that it never happens again.


So, when Plame entered the hall to speak, was she applauded? After all, before she became a hero (by being outed), she worked for an organization that we all despise, right?


Yes Vermonter, you got my point.


"I can't think of anything worse then manipulating public opinion to justify an unnecessary pre-emptive war"

I can, how about NOT reading an intelligence report that questions whether or not WMD's existed before voting to send troops to war. Or even worse, allowing yourself to be manipulated into believing that the removal of Saddam Hussien was unnecessary.

Doug Hoffer

Hillary bashing (however much fun) does not excuse the Decider.

And I guess you think the U.S. should remove all tyrants. There's no shortage. Please tell us where we should go next and who exactly should do the dirty work.


Doug that should be decider S since Congress voted for the war and there are many members it should be pluralized. And no not all tyrants need to be removed just the ones that using weapons of mass destruction on their own people because of differing beliefs. See the persecution and subsequent murder of an estimated 1 million Kurds is a good example of a tyrant that needs to be removed. Or, tyrants that fail to abide the rules. Ignoring UN resolutions that they agreed to provides for the use of military forces to enforce those resolutions. That is reason to remove a tyrant. Where should we go next, well that's easy any place where the government is persecuting it's own people for their beliefs, any place where a government is murdering it's own people for expressing their beliefs, any place that repeatedly violates UN resolutions that have agreed to. And since it is a UN violation then the UN needs to enforce their own orders. If they can't they should disband. Of course the UN does nothing so that means that the US is the most likely candidate to enforce the UN's resolutions for them.


"allowing yourself to be manipulated"

How about making some sense here.

Just who allows themselves to be manipulated? Either you are ignorant of the alternate truth which you would otherwise follow or you follow along because you have your own agenda.

Doug Hoffer

So I guess the U.S. military will be pretty busy over the next 20 years.

I'm sorry, you can't say you care about UN resolutions and ignore the Charter, which says clearly that you can't go around invading countries on your own. The U.S. is not the UN.

I notice also that one of your justifications was "any place that repeatedly violates UN resolutions that have agreed to". Here again, some wiggle room. If the UN adopts a resolution, it's done. The fact that some countries ignore them is unfortunate but you can't claim to respect the UN except when you don't want to.

And BTW, why the distinction for WMD? Is it OK if a country is brutalizing its own people with conventional weapons? Heck, China has been doing that for decades. Should we attack China?

I share your concern about oppressed people but it's just not as simple as you seem to think. Iraq is a pretty good example of what can go wrong. Once set in motion, these things cannot be controlled.

The bottom line is that no one country can or should act unilaterally in such matters. That is the whole point of the UN.


Doug I disagree and I think you missed my point on some of these. You are correct in that the UN charter says that you can't invade countries without authorization, but then again it also says that if a country is not abiding a resolution then the use of military action is necessary. Basically the UN won't abide it's own charter. It really makes the whole body useless, but someone eventually has to do something. I don't really understand your second point. If a country repeatedly violates a UN resolution the countries of the UN are obligated to use military force to enforce those resolutions per their charter.

As far as a distinction for WMD's that wasn't intentional, what was intentional that I think you may have missed by the China comment was not as much a persecution of the people, but only specific groups. Let's face it, Hussien targeting the Kurds is no different then Hitler targeting the Jews. If you just plain are an evil dictator that oppresses the people in General it really is too bad ,but it isn't ethnic cleansing.

As far as the UN and acting Unilaterally, well look at our own constitution. There is a reason the President can wage war for 90 days without congressional approval. That being that it is well known that Congress like any political body can not get their hands off the arses and get something done. The UN is the same thing, trying to get approval from all the countries is pretty much impossible. Telling the UN where to stick their charter would be the smartest thing the US ever did.


So, when Plame entered the hall to speak, was she applauded? After all, before she became a hero (by being outed), she worked for an organization that we all despise, right?

Posted by: vermonter | Oct 29, 2007 8:39:21 PM

Yes Vermonter, you got my point.

Posted by: Charlie | Oct 30, 2007 5:26:30 AM

We all got your point and we've been mocking it ever since.

Doug Hoffer


"As far as a distinction for WMD's that wasn't intentional, what was intentional that I think you may have missed by the China comment was not as much a persecution of the people, but only specific groups. Let's face it, Hussien targeting the Kurds is no different then Hitler targeting the Jews. If you just plain are an evil dictator that oppresses the people in General it really is too bad ,but it isn't ethnic cleansing."

Now I'm really confused. First you said we should invade if a tyrant is killing his people with WMDs. Then you said it doesn't have to be WMDs. Now you say it's not enough if he's just killing (or oppressing) any or all of his people, it has to be ethnic cleansing.

I suspect that the people being killed or oppressed who are not an ethnic minority would not be happy with your distinction.

C'mon. You've laid out an incredibly aggressive and militaristic vision for the U.S. The distinctions you are making are not principled. If you think we should act on behalf of oppressed people, what difference does it make if it's ethnic cleansing or not?

This is EXACTLY the reason your position is completely untenable. These decisions are not always black & white and, frankly, the U.S. government is not wise enough to make these kinds of decisions. So instead of bemoaning the failures of the UN, we should work hard to make the UN more responsible & responsive.

I couldn't agree more that tyrants, oppression, and ethnic cleansing demand a response, but it must be by the world community. No single country - however militarily strong - can do this without terrible repurcussions (to say nothing of the burden in lives & money).

To be clear, I share your outrage. I just think your prescription is a step in the wrong direction. The arrogance of power has led to too many failures over the centuries. We need another way.

Peter Joes

JPC's prescription is similar to the Neo-con way as laid out in the basic policy piece on the Project for a New American Century website. This document was signed by Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Jeb Bush, etc. (before W's election).

They tried to make it work in Iraq and we are all paying for the consequences.

The simple fact of the matter is that military might does not translate into world dominance as the neo-cons thought. And, as time goes on and technology explodes, it will become increasingly easy for an aggrieved party to wreak major consequences on their opponent.

We need to find a way to resolve disputes without resorting to war.

The United Nations was set to fail from the get-go. We need a better form of international governance to prevent wars or the future of the world is indeed bleak.



"We all got your point and we've been mocking it ever since."

mtbikevt, apparently you don't have a point.


Doug, I actually think we are for the most part on the same page, although not in total agreement. I believe that any military action should be entered in only with the blessing of more then one country, and the UN. The problem here is the UN will never be in agreement and the countries with veto power will likely never be in agreement so what then. There comes a time when somebody has to step up no matter how popular or unpopular it is. I wish the UN was a better governing body, and agree with Peter Joes in that we need to form a International gov't that works.

THe wmd's ethinic cleansing thing was to illustrate what would warrant military versus diplomatic intervention. If someone has WMD's and are not willing to negotiate then a military stike is necessary. If a tyrannt is engaging in ethnic cleansing they need to be removed from power. If a tyrannt is just a jerk and oppressive then there is room to really work on diplomacy, if they still won't change their ways then someone has to step in. See bascially I think that there is a time and place for both, I think when Saddam gassed the Kurds he should have been removed, not decades later. I think if N. Korea fails to hold up to their end of the treaty then there needs to be very extreme sanctions followed by military force if that still doesn't work. If some jerk in some XXXXstan, is simply taxing the people, not provided social care, health services, and in general making life horrible for his people then we need to work diplomatically, offer incentives first, then back that up with sanctions if necessary. But the key is to have the UN on board and to have them be willing to back up their sanctions/resolutions if necessary.

Unfortunately it is a really agressive military vision, but that's what has occured due to the lack of action by the UN for half a century. Empty threats have led to countries not really caring what the UN does.

One way to rectify the problems is to get rid of the veto power of certain countries, a single country should not have the power to override every other one. The best solution would be to dissolve the UN and create a true international body that is willing to do what is necessary.


look a little closer Vermonter, there's a point. I'm sorry I don't have the time necessary to write it out to the length required for you to get it.

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