More Plame: who knew?

Two items on the substance, and several on political developments and reactions:

Skeptical Notion (*) asks an excellent question about the Plame affair: how did the White House know Plame’s identity as an agent?

That’s not information everyone has.

If I were investigating the crime of revealing an agent’s identity, I’d start with senior administration officials

and try to find out, not so much who told, but who knew.

And in a somewhat related development, The Hill (*) reports that the Administration’s systematic sliming of anyone who dares oppose it has now extended to Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois. That helps answer the main question in my mind right now: What did the Bush crew think they were doing? The answer: They weren’t thinking at all, just lashing out. This looks like an organizational version of what the psych ER people call “decompensation.”

That bully-boy stuff has served Team Bush well so far, but winning through intimidation has its limits, as we may be about to see. Notice that Bill Frist is distancing himself from the smear. (Thanks to Eschaton for the link.) Complaining about Durbin’s leaking, when apparently he didn’t, isn’t going to make the going any easier for the White House when it comes to the leaking they were doing.

On the who’s-following-the-story side:

It looks as if Senate Intelligence is on the case (*). That’s convenient, because it gives Durbin a chance to show he can’t be bullied.

Perhaps by the time the committee is ready to report, the New York Times (other than Krugman), Washington Post, Instapundit, Mickey Kaus, Volokh Conspiracy, or the Drudge Report will decide to mention the scandal.

Tomorrow’s release of the redacted 9-11 report, with lots of stuff blacked out to protect the Administration’s Saudi friends, is a potential “news hook” for some of the chatterers to start paying attention to the Plame affair. The irony of redacting things everyone knows “for security reasons” while burning an agent just to get revenge on her husband may be strong enough to attract comment.

[With luck, the redactions will actually work to call attention to the Saudi connection, demonstrating once again the wisdom of Confucius: “Nothing is more obvious than that which is concealed.” I really hate it when Maureen Dowd says what I’m thinking, but she has the redaction story right.(*)]

The message discipline in the right blogosphere is starting to crack. Dr. Manhattan (*) joins Tom Maguire in looking at this story from the right. He thinks it’s “a big, felonious deal” but hopes the felonies will turn out to have been confined to the CIA. That might still be the case, but only if Novak was just making it up about the “senior administration officials.”

The Arizona Star (*) of Tucson has an editorial:

This is an issue that cries out for investigation. The White House no doubt will dismiss the issue as a ploy to discredit Bush for political gain. But that’s far too facile a justification for failing to pursue the matter.

Certainly the White House has signaled its preoccupation with secrecy. It was obvious in the refusal two years ago to release documents of Vice President Dick Cheney’s energy task force. A White House concerned with keeping even minor issues under wraps should have no difficulty understanding the far more dire implications of disclosing the identity of someone who may have been playing a key role in tracking weapons of mass destruction for the CIA. President Bush owes the American people a clear explanation.

(Thanks to Babelogue for the link

Thread starts here.

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: