There he goes again. It seems that John Tierney and his fellow right-wing NYT columnist, David Brooks have been programmed (a la Manchurian Candidate) to go into overdrive belittling the Plamegate investigation. Tierney’s perspective is especially irksome as I’ve noted in a previous post.
In Let’s Have a Big Hand For… he claims that the Alito nomination has already eclipsed the Fitzgerald investigation and speaks almost merrily as if the latter is already in the past: “Let’s pay a parting tribute to the veterans of the last one [battle]. Only now, after the special prosecutor has revealed how little criminal material they had to work with, can we fully appreciate their achievements.”
Isn’t that cute how Tierney is perfectly willing to substitute his astute legal judgment (where did he take that law degree?) for that of Fitzgerald who seems to feel otherwise in saying that these are very serious criminal charges.
He gives a series of witless “awards” (I suppose for the entertaining political theater of the past week) to the investigation in various categories. Among them is this one:
Murkiest crimes: Perjury and obstruction of justice.
To the special prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, they’re serious crimes that are prosecuted “all the time,” but that’s not how Washington veterans view them. It all depends on who’s accused of the crimes – Bill Clinton or Scooter Libby – and whether he’s in your party.
To legal scholars, these crimes are like tax evasion: deplorable and widespread but unlikely to be punished, especially when the perpetrators are not celebrities or public officials. “Perjury is extremely common,” said Sam Gross, a professor of law at the University of Michigan. “Perjury prosecutions are incredibly uncommon.”
So let’s see…unnamed “Washington veterans” don’t agree with Fitzgerald that perjury is a “serious crime.” Well, that seals it for me. Pat, close up shop. John Tierney thinks you’re wasting the Republic’s time on petty crime. Also note, that for Tierney this particular investigation is not serious because Democrats didn’t take Bill Clinton’s perjury seriously. Does that mean that during the Clinton investigation he also agreed that the perjury charge was a waste of the nation’s time? I’d bet not. Further, he’s dead wrong about how Democrats reacted to the charge against Clinton. If you’ll recall he almost lost his marriage, did lose the support of his vice-president, and earned the scorn and opprobrium of scores of Democratic national leaders. My how quickly Tierney’s memory fades when it’s convenient to his argument.
The columnist also recognizes Joe Wilson for another “prize”:
‘Our Man in Havana’ prize Joseph Wilson, for being even more persistent than the White House in hyping prewar intelligence. While administration officials now admit their pre-war ignorance, on Sunday Wilson sounded as confident as ever on NBC’s “Dateline” when he was asked whether his 2002 trip to Niger had proved that no uranium from that nation had been sold to Iraq.
“Absolutely,” he replied. “After eight days in Niger, I determined that it did not happen and could not have happened without a lot of people knowing, and there was absolutely no evidence that such a transaction had taken place or even had been contemplated.”
How could anyone have known that so definitively after spending a few days in a country and sipping tea with dignitaries? Why would anyone expect officials in Niger to suddenly reveal their secrets to a visiting U.S. ambassador?
What Wilson actually found was very little, according to a bipartisan Senate committee that investigated. The committee said that most of the analysts who heard Wilson’s oral report in 2002 concluded that the scant evidence he brought back, if anything, bolstered the theory that Iraq had been seeking uranium.
First, does Tierney think that Wilson’s work on this case involved merely eight days in Niger? You mean to say that Wilson didn’t read any reports or do any research before his trip to prepare him for what he would see there? You mean to say he didn’t do any post-trip follow-up work? The idea that a veteran international diplomat can’t investigate this type of charge in an eight day trip is simply ridiculous.
Second, is Tierney arguing that the Niger uranium report WAS credible even after everyone in just about the entire world (including Cheney, Libby and Bush) have abandoned it? Now that would be rich. We also have to admit that Tierney has clearly been reading his Graham Greene as the “sipping tea with dignitaries” is a lovely literary flourish. But of course it’s a dumb, unsubstantiated swipe at Joe Wilson who seemed to be a pretty tough negotiator when it came to Sadaam Hussein. If he could face down Sadaam, why does Tierney think he’d be a pushover for Niger “dignitaries?” Since when have you served your country as a diplomat, Mr. Tierney? You must have, otherwise how could you cast aspersions on Joe Wilson’s practice of his craft?
Valerie Wilson too comes in for ridicule:
Austin Powers international person of mystery award Valerie Wilson. Could a former U.S. ambassador’s wife, working at C.I.A. headquarters, really be a deep-cover spy? Then why did she represent the C.I.A. in meetings with other agencies, and why, after her name was printed, did she further out herself by posing for Vanity Fair?
After this passage we’ve got to assume that not only is Tierney a proficient lawyer and diplomat, but he’s also an experienced CIA hand. Otherwise, how could he decide that a former ambassador’s wife couldn’t be a spy? As for his gibe about the Vanity Fair photo, you’ll notice the operative phrase, “after her name was printed.” I’m sorry to have to use this phrase, but here I find Tierney an absolute moron. Her cover was blown by the time of the photo. Every foreign intelligence agency, every U.S. enemy, every contact she’d ever developed knew she’d been outed. She wasn’t under cover anymore thanks to Old Scoot. So why not pose for Vanity Fair? What more can she lose that Libby hadn’t already taken away from her? Further, in the Vanity Fair article she poses in sunglasses and head scarf. If she’d been his own wife, I doubt Tierney could’ve identified her.