Don’t they even know how to act innocent?

Reading the transcript (*) of Scott McClellan’s second press briefing in two days in which he was asked about the Plame story and couldn’t give a credible answer convinces me that the WH knows it’s in deep doo-doo and has no clue about how to get out. McClellan isn’t even pretending that the Administration is upset that someone burned one of our spies. If it wasn’t the senior officials Novak says it was, then why isn’t the WH interested in finding out who it was?

McClellan’s repeated assertion that saying “two senior administration officials” is like saying “anonymous” doesn’t pass the giggle test. We’re talking about no more than ten people at the right level who might have known the key fact.

And Tenet’s silence is truly eerie. Someone burned one of his people. Why isn’t he breathing fire, demanding the help of the Justice Department in getting to the bottom of it?

Of course, even if the White House started to make the sounds of injured innocence now, it would be too late. If Novak had burned Plame by some feat of investigative reporting, rather than having been handed the facts by Team Bush, the White House and the CIA should have started screaming bloody murder a week ago, when the Novak column came out. Are we supposed to believe that no one in the Administration reads Novak?

David Corn’s new column (*) makes more or less the same point: the apparent indifference of this administration, usually so reliable a source of theatrical outrage, is utterly damning.

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Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: