Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Newspaper of Record Summarizes the Valerie Plame Affair

The New York Times today lives up to its standard as the newspaper of record by publishing a trio of pieces that sum up the Valerie Plame affair, including an assessment by Frank Rich of how last week's rushed Supreme Court nomination couldn't keep the story off the front pages:
When a conspiracy is unraveling, and it's every liar and his lawyer for themselves, the story takes on a momentum of its own. When the conspiracy is, at its heart, about the White House's twisting of the intelligence used to sell the American people a war - and its desperate efforts to cover up that flimflam once the W.M.D. cupboard proved bare and the war went south - the story will not end until the war really is in its "last throes."
Rich believes that the initial delay in securing records in the affair may have cost Alberto Gonzales a seat on the Supreme Court:
A new Gonzales confirmation process now would have quickly devolved into a neo-Watergate hearing. Mr. Gonzales was in the thick of the Plame investigation, all told, for 16 months.
Rich concludes by returning to the central story of this tangled affair:
Mr. Wilson's charge had such force that just three days after its publication, Mr. Bush radically revised his language about W.M.D.'s. Saddam no longer had W.M.D.'s; he had a W.M.D. "program." Right after that George Tenet suddenly decided to release a Friday-evening statement saying that the 16 errant words about African uranium "should never have been included" in the January 2003 State of the Union address - even though those 16 words could and should have been retracted months earlier. By the next State of the Union, in January 2004, Mr. Bush would retreat completely, talking not about finding W.M.D.'s or even W.M.D. programs, but about "weapons of mass destruction-related program activities."

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