Wilson, timing, and the Yellowcake Road

Kevin Drum has a good guess about what the White House was trying to conceal when it outed Valerie Plame: the fact that the documents purporting to show Iraqi yellowcake purchases in Niger were known to be forgeries before the 2003 State of the Union speech.

Kevin Drum offers a very plausible account of what could have driven the White House into such criminal recklessness in the Plame affair: the fear that Joseph Wilson might convince people that the White House knew the Yellowcake Road documents were forgeries before the 2003 State of the Union address with its famous “sixteen words.”

If that’s the truth, it might be relevant at a trial about the unmasking of Plame or its cover-up. I’d like nothing better. But as I read it, even if Fitzgerald had proof that, say, Dick Cheney had personally forged the documents, Fitzgerald lacks the authority to charge Cheney with that crime. He could, of course, ask for additional authority or refer matters beyond his scope back to the Justice Department for additional investigation and prosecution.

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