Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Comparing Karl Rove and Sandy Berger

When Sandy Berger was accused of taking copies of classified documents which he was authorized to access, he was called "Sandy Bergler" (by Michelle Malkin and Wizbang), and Instapundit instantly broke out the comparisons to Watergate and Iran-Contra. Insty also wrote: "You'd think that a man in his position would be more careful."

A commenter at the almost fascist LGF wrote:
Is there anyone really so brain-dead that he could remove highly classified documents from a secure reading room INADVERTENTLY! I hope a judge inadvertently sentences him to some jail time (fat chance).
And LGF itself was very disturbed that an adviser to John Kerry would be messing around with classified material in this way.

I'm not interested in whether these comparisons are apt or not. Berger should have know better, but I don't care. The 9/11 commission says that they are confident no original documents were missing, so no harm done. And Berger is certainly entitled to know classified material, even though he shouldn't have been moving those files around. The documents themselves remained secure in any event.

I want to see whether the right wing is applying the same standards to alleged security leaks.

A year later, Malkin writes: "John Podhoretz calls Plamegate one of the "hey, big whoop" stories of all time:" and describes the reporting on the case as follows: "The NY Times clings to the Evil Genius narrative, despite what its own reporting and follow-ups from other press outlets shows..." The reporting actually indicates that Plame was under cover, and that someone probably broke some law.

Wizbang who wrote of the Berger affair (while turning Berger into "McBergerler," and transforming a mildly creative jab into a poor attempt at a pun):

I'm reminded of one of Steve Martin's stand-up routines from the 70's where he imagines himself hauled into court for bank robbery. He seeks dismissal of the charges on the grounds of forgetfulness. "Your Honor," he pleads, "I forgot that bank robbery was a crime."
Now says:

Wilson's quote shows his duplicity. "My wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity." HARDLY! If she was not a covert op, then she had no identity to be blown! The whole thing is a liberal fantasy that Wilson is riding for his 15 minutes of fame.
Yes, when Wilson says that outing his wife destroyed her cover, he was actually admitting the cover never existed. Nice parsing. Since then he's insisted that this is a massive exercise in circular logic, ignoring the exposure of classified information to America's enemies.

LGF seems to be avoiding the story.

Michelle Malkin claims this investigation is just petty partisan animus, not an issue of national security, then she approvingly quotes Bill Murchison as he tries to turn this into an issue of Washington gossips, not national security:

Yawn. Washington may be a nice place, but its inner workings aren't nearly as compelling to those outside the Beltway as to those inside. These people imagine normal folk sit around dishing the dirt on Valerie Plame? Fat chance.
This is the equivalent of claiming that the Berger story was a fashion faux pas.

Instapundit thinks this is about the CIA trying to undermine the rush to war. Yes, let's all investigate why the CIA was trying to evaluate the evidence for Iraqi WMD. That won't embarrass anyone in the administration. Then he claims there was no actual outing.

Of course, when the story first broke, Insty was pretty sure this wasn't a big deal since it wasn't a good enough sort of intimidation:

But it doesn't make sense to me. First, if you want to "intimidate" someone, committing a felony at which you can be caught -- and which doesn't hurt the target -- doesn't seem to be the way to do it. What possible benefit was there to the Bush Administration in saying that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA? When what they could have said is what the British did say, which is that Wilson was gullible and inept? Had Plame been fired on a pretext, or Wilson's taxes been audited, or some such, then there'd be an "intimidation" argument. But this? Perhaps I'm too missing something here, but this seems like a rather tepid version of intimidation -- or, for that matter, revenge.
I'm not seeing the outrage. Just a lot of excuses.

And for those who still think Plame wasn't undercover, why was the paragraph with her name in it code word classified? The memo is considered the likely original source, and anyone reading it knew that the information about Plame was classified. Disclosing it was a crime, whoever did it.