Porter Goss Channels the Red Queen

As much as it wants to prevent the appointment of a truly independent speical counsel, the White House needs to prevent real public hearings into the matter even more. So far, the committee chairs in the House and Senate seem to agree. [*]

The two Republican chairmen of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees said their panels were not pursuing the matter. Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas and Representative Porter J. Goss of Florida said that in their own view, based on limited knowledge, the disclosure was inadvertent. But both men said that if it turned out it was calculated they would treat it very seriously.

“I would say there is much larger dose of partisan politics going on right now than there is worry about national security,” said Mr. Goss, a former C.I.A. agent. “But I would never take lightly a serious allegation backed up by evidence.”

He added, referring to the independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr’s inquiry into former President Clinton, “If somebody sends me a blue dress and some DNA, I will have an investigation.”

Three comments on this:

1. Is my memory playing tricks on me, or were things done in the other order when Clinton was President and the Republicans were chasing him?

(Back then, of course, John Ashcroft was sure that the Justice Department couldn’t properly investigate the White House, and that only a special counsel could do the job right. [[*])

2. In the face of Mike Allen’s stories, and without having done any investigation, what basis do Goss and Roberts have for thinking that the leak was inadvertent? Is it anything like President Bush’s basis for “knowing” that Karl Rove is innocent? And why aren’t these guys applying their magical powers of gnosis to finding Osama bin Laden?

3. But you have to love Goss’s creative adaptation of the Red Queen’s verdict-first rules of procedure. In her scheme, remember, the evidence came last, after the trial. In Goss’s the evidence — not just a strong basis for suspicion, but proof strong enough for a jury — needs to come before any investigation, rather than being the product of investigation. Well, I suppose it’s a point of view.

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: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com