Valerie Plame: The Ball’s in Tenet’s Court

David Corn continues to follow the Valerie Plame story [*], though like the rest of us he struggles with the fact that he doesn’t really have anything fresh to report. The reason stonewalling is sometimes such a good strategy is that shutting off the flow of news shuts of the flow of news stories.

That’s the challenge for those of us who would like to see whoever outed Valerie Plame punished: to create newsworthy events, and to keep writing and talking about the story even when there’s nothing new to say. Note that the complete absence of any defense by the pro-Bush forces — no one is arguing in print either that they didn’t do it or that doing it was somehow justifiable — works toward their basic objective, which is to have everyone forget about it.

I have to admire the capacity of the right wing to maintain silence when anything they say would only make things worse for themselves, and to keep making noise about the misconduct of liberals even when there’s nothing new to talk about.

Corn does have one actual item of new (at least new to me) information: He describes in some detail the process by which investigations in such cases go forward, giving great prominence to the discretion given to the Director of Central Intelligence over whether to refer the matter to the Justice Department.

That being the case, George Tenet needs to feel pressure from people he respects. It’s a little puzzling to me why we aren’t hearing more public outrage from retired CIA officers and from the larger world of people not in the government, or no longer in the government, with credentials to make a fuss about what seems to have been an illegal, politically-inspired act damaging to the national security.

I’m thinking about people like Sam Nunn, Warren Rudman, Stansfield Turner, Anthony Zinni, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and William Cohen. (James Woolsey ought to be speaking out, but he’s too busy preaching World War IV and hoping he can talk Bush into fighting it.) But there’s also a semi-official CIA alumni group. So far, the only prominent folks who have spoken out have been those with partisan reasons for doing so. If that doesn’t change, it’s likely that Team Bush will be able to bury this scandal.

Summary here. Breaking news here: Wilson fingers Rove.

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