Posts tagged ‘Valerie Plame’

Valeria Plame Affair and the Law of Unintended Consequences

I must confess to being at a loss over the whole Valerie Plame leak affair, which strikes me as mostly a political battleground between the two parties, so I have not really tried to figure it out. 

However, one thing struck me reading a story about it the other day:  The only thing that was clear to me was that folks on the left seem to envision an ultimate goal of bringing down either Karl Rove or Dick Cheney.  From a short-term political standpoint, I suppose this might be satisfying.  From a longer-term view, say out to 2008, it seems stupid to me.

Let's take Karl Rove first.  I have to take the left's word for it that he is an evil political genius.  But if so, why would you want the guy out on the street.  Right now he is wasting his talents on a lame-duck president who can't run in 2008, and neither can his VP.  Why do you want to put this powerful piece of electioneering artillery out on the street, available to a Republican candidate several years in advance of 2008?

The backfire from bringing down Cheney seems even worse.  As I pointed out a year ago, 2008 will be the first election in 50+ years where there is no incumbent VP or president running for either party.  There is nothing Republicans would love to do more than have a VP spot they could fill with a 2008 candidate.  The GOP Party apparatus would love it, because both Parties secretly long for a return to the day of smoke-filled rooms (rather than primaries) for selecting their candidates, and this would give Party leaders more control of the outcome.  There is nothing either party hates more than having Iowa select its candidates from an open slate - being able to choose a new VP would allow the GOP to effectively choose a front-runner.  The GOP would benefit no matter who is put in the position, because the suddenly have an incumbent running, with the advantages of being an incumbent, in 2008.  Does anyone doubt that the VP would suddenly get extra visibility over the next few years, as Clinton did for Gore?  Finally, Bush would love it, because it would give him another Miers-type opportunity to reward a friend (or crony, as your perspective may dictate) such as Condoleeza Rice.

The Media Does Not Have Extra Rights

There were two interesting court decisions today that each can be summarized as "the press does not have rights or legal privileges beyond those granted to any ordinary citizens"

The first case is the DC Circuit's decision to allow subpoena's of reporters about their sources in the Valerie Plame affair.

Appellants counter that Justice Powell could not have meant what the United States argues, as this would have given reporters no more protection than other citizens. However, they never make it clear why they are convinced that Justice Powell must have intended to give reporters more protection than other citizens. The Constitution protects all citizens, and there is no reason to believe that Justice Powell intended to elevate the journalistic class above the rest.

Much more here at Beldar.  I can't resist one quote from him:

And on its own, the DC Circuit's lengthy decision
today is absolutely fascinating for hard-core law wonks, especially
ex-judicial clerks. Indeed, I feel the urge to write several thousand
words about it "” dry quotes from the written opinions, connected by an
over-extended football metaphor, leavened with dollops of snark.


The second case is in Maryland, where the state court determined that two Baltimore Sun reporters do not have the guaranteed right to a level of access to government officials and information beyond that given to a private decision.  As a citizen of that state, I might want to punish my elected representative at the polls if I thought they were trying to stifle criticism by managing the press poll too much; however, I agree with the court that the paper is not owed any legal redress.

I am sure we will hear cries tomorrow from editors about growing threats to the first amendment.  Don't be confused: These decisions are about press privilege, not press freedom.  Neither you nor I can ignore a federal subpoena, and neither should a reporter.

If you want to worry about the first amendment, read this:

The survey of 112,003 students finds that 36% believe newspapers should get "government approval" of stories before publishing.