Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Under pressure

Slowly but surely the screws may turning against the Bush White House over this CIA-operative outing fiasco.

From this BBC article that covers the whole skinny on this situation:

A court in Washington has held a reporter in contempt for refusing to testify in an investigation into the exposure of an undercover CIA agent.
The court ruled Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper must testify to the grand jury investigating the leaking of agent Valerie Plame's name.

Ms Plame's husband says her name was leaked in retribution for his article challenging the government over Iraq.

US District Judge Thomas F Hogan ruled that Mr Cooper and Tim Russert, the host of NBC Television's Meet the Press, must testify "regarding alleged conversations they had with a specified executive branch official".

The reporters had tried to avoid the grand jury subpoena on the grounds it violated the First Amendment of the Constitution's guarantee of a free press.

Several leading government officials have already testified to the grand jury or been interviewed by prosecutors - among them Secretary of State Colin Powell, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and former CIA director George Tenet.

President George W Bush himself was interviewed in June at the White House.

I do see and understand Mr. Cooper's fight against being strongarmed to admit his journalistic sources as being swampy incursions on free speech. And the fact he's willing to go to jail for it, as opposed to Tim Russert's cowardly caving in to the grand jury, is admirable.

But the fact is, free speech is one thing. Using free speech as an instrument with which to politically kneecap your adversaries and then counting on it as a shield when you get caught is another thing entirely. I'm glad to see this investigator has taken the kid gloves off. Or so it seems.

I truly cannot believe the White House administration has done so much hemming and hawing over a situation they could very easily have routed out in-house. It's crystal clear that the chain of command outright agreed with these ambush tactics. Bush wouldn't have consulted with a lawyer over this if he didn't have some part in it or knowledge therein of the shenanigans.

Like a friend of mine commented to me last week. This isn't a presidency. It's a ragtag collection of sewing circle hens and dishonorable cowboy wannabes.

Feckless thugs, the whole lot of them.


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