Christopher Hitchens begins his light-hearted debunking of the press’s Rove Rage by quoting P.G. Wodehouse, writing to a friend in 1954, when the Army McCarthy hearings were in full swing:
“Are you following the McCarthy business? If so, can you tell me what it?s all about? ’You dined with Mr. X on Friday the tenth?’ ’Yes, sir.’ (Keenly) ’What did you eat?’ ’A chocolate nut sundae, sir.’ (Sensation) It?s like Bardell vs Pickwick.”
As Hitchens points out, the McCarthy hearings never unearthed a crime. The press?s pursuit of Rove is likely to come up dry, too. Hitchens explains:
“Thus, and to begin with, Joseph Wilson comes before us as a man whose word is effectively worthless. What do you do, if you work for the Bush administration, when a man of such quality is being lionized by an anti-war press? Well, you can fold your tent and let them print the legend. Or you can say that the word of a mediocre political malcontent who is at a loose end, and who is picking up side work from a wife who works at the anti-regime-change CIA, may not be as ’objective’ as it looks. I dare say that more than one supporter of regime change took this option. I would certainly have done so as a reporter if I had known.
“OK, then, how do the opponents of regime change in Iraq make my last sentence into a statement of criminal intent and national-security endangerment? By citing the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982. This law, which is one of the most repressive and absurd pieces of legislation on our statute book, was a panicky attempt by the right to silence whistle-blowers at the CIA. In a rough effort to make it congruent with freedom of information and the First Amendment (after all, the United States managed to get through the Second World War and most of the Cold War without such a law), it sets a fairly high bar. You must knowingly wish to expose the cover of a CIA officer who you understand may be harmed as a result. It seems quite clear that nobody has broken even that arbitrary element of this silly law.”
I?m not sure it?s a silly law–we don?t want covers blown–but it appears that, silly or not, Rove didn?t break it–Valerie Plame, Wilson?s wife, had not been an undercover agent for at least five years.
Furthermore, back in ancient times, when I worked as a reporter, “I heard that, too” (pretty much what Rove said when Talkin? Matt Cooper mentioned that Plame might work, not necessarily in a covert capacity for the CIA) did not qualify as confirmation.
Another problem with the Rove as the leaker of Plame?s (erstwhile) covert status is that Cooper called him (ostensibly to talk about welfare reform).
Relevant to this, Captain Ed Morrisey of Captain?s Corner speculates on Cooper?s possible psychic powers:
“Did Rove force Cooper to call him using telepathic orders, secretly controlling Cooper? (Heck, if he could do that, he wouldn?t even have needed Cooper to call.) Hamburger and Wallsten make the same logical mistake that the entire Exempt Media does in arguing that Rove and the White House had embarked on a vendetta against Wilson. One does not conduct a vendetta by waiting for the phone to ring and hoping a conversation might get around to the subject at hand.”