I have a confession. I used to read and enjoy The New Republic, and especially someone who just called himself “TRB.” Was he another Digby? But I stopped reading TNR when some guy named Kinsley (now at Time) took over, and today I was reminded why.
Shorter Michael Kinsley: Scooter Libby should never have been prosecuted, let alone convicted, because he was the victim of an unfair “perjury trap,” just as Bill Clinton was. You see, poor Scooter was put in this unfair position where if he told the truth, he and/or Dick Cheney, Rove, et al might have been indicted for outing a covert agent, and if he refused to tell the truth, he could be indicted for perjury and obstruction. How unfair to be put in such a position.
So if I get the “logic” of this, if someone betrays the United States by exposing national security secrets, he/she should not be questioned about this, because that would put the traitor in the trapped position of being prosecuted for perjury or prosecuted for treason. How unfair.
Shorter Kinsley II: Scooter should never have been prosecuted, because it’s unclear an underlying crime was involved. [Oh, please; read the Judge’s opinions!]
Shorter Kinsley III: Scooter should never have been prosecuted, because even if he “leaked” to a reporter, reporters should be protected from revealing sources, so there’s no balance between the two parties to the leak; if reporters are protected, it’s unfair to charge the leaker.
Aside from the obvious disconnect between a reporter’s responsibilities and those of a government official who is statutorily obligated by criminal law to protect exactly this type of national security secret, what happens if Kinsley’s logic confronts this scenario:
Suppose Libby and Cheney held a public rally on the Washington mall and announced over the PA to the assembled neocons that Valerie Plame was a covert agent. Even Kinsley would (one hopes) recognize that both should be prosecuted. But if the two of them hatched a plot to launder the same information though Michael Kinsley (or Judith Miller, or indirectly via an unthinking third official — Armitage, Fleischer — to Novak/Cooper) who then publishes exactly the same information for them, then Kinsley’s logic says no one should be prosecuted for outing a US spy.
This is what passes for reasoned opinion by the Beltway’s elite punditry. But then, what did we expect from a man who (like most of his colleagues), in explaining the “facts” of the Libby case, can’t bother to get them straight — as in not being able to grasp the underlying crime, or in failing to explain Libby’s and Cheney’s role in uncovering and making sure Plame’s identity was circulated to everyone, including Novak — because, you know, that would have required him to actually read the judge’s opinions or what the real experts have explained, over and over. And that’s asking too much, because the leading experts are just girls and, even worse, DFH bloggers. But then, why didn’t he check out these experts or this one, or even these guys? Will the New York Times invite any of these experts to rebut Kinsley’s nonsense?
Photo credit to Snowriderguy.