You'd Think Bush's Presidency Depended on It
By Jon Ponder on 7/7/2007, 3:12pm PT  

Guest blogged by Jon Ponder of Pensito Review

Bushies are experts at blowing smoke up their base. They're doing it now in full lather because George W. Bush's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentence on Monday was such a brazen buyout of a partner in crime that even rank and file Republicans can see it for what it is.

In particular, GOP operatives must raise doubts among what's left of the Bush lovers about Valerie Plame's covert status at the time Cheney's boys outed her. If her status was undercover, the leakers could be accused of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA). The seriousness of this crime may explain why rightwingers have been all over the Internet spreading the thoroughly debunked lie that Wilson was not covert --- and why two of them went on separate cable news shows last week to slip this false statement into the record.

Transcripts follow:

Yesterday on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:

JAMES TARANTO, OPINIONJOURNAL.COM: There's still no evidence that Valerie Plame was a covert agent. The person who leaked her name was Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state. Somehow nobody is calling for him to be put on trial for this. This whole thing was political and I don't think a man should go to prison for it.

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN: There is no question Richard Armitage should be accounted for leaking Valerie Plame's name but the issue here is that Scooter Libby in front of the jury of his peers and in fact with a Republican conservative judge upholding the verdict, was found guilty of committing perjury in front of an FBI agent, in front of the grand jury, obstructing justice and by all means, this administration gave this man a get out of jail free card, and that is truly a reprehensible act.

TARANTO: I'm sorry, Robert. I have a softer heart than you do.

ZIMMERMAN: No. I don't wish that on anyone but I believe this administration should be held accountable to their own words.

End of discussion.

As I mentioned on The BRAD BLOG yesterday, David Rivkin, a Russian-born GOP tool who served in the Bush I Justice Dept. made the same claim on Thursday's Hardball, with Chris Matthews:

[MELANIE SLOAN, executive director of the group called CREW, who is representing Joe and Valerie Wilson in their civil suit against the leak conspirators]: Going after Joe Wilson would have been fair. That would have been a totally reasonable thing to do. But to endanger national security by outing a covert CIA operative for political purposes...

(CROSSTALK)

RIVKIN: She was not a covert --- she was not a covert operative.

SLOAN: The CIA says that she was.

RIVKIN: The CIA has never said...

MATTHEWS: Well, we are going to have to find out whether they knew at the time that she was covert.

And we’re also going to have find out whether the battle here wasn’t between the CIA and the hawks in the White House, and that Valerie Wilson was seen by the hawks in the White House as a combatant in this fight, because they were very much at war, in a leaking war, as you know, Melanie, and I know, living in Washington, between the CIA and the White House.

They were leaking back and forth for weeks after we found there was no WMD.

RIVKIN: Right.

MATTHEWS: Everybody was playing the blame game. They saw Hillary—or, rather, Valerie as a combatant on the other side, apparently.

Bob Somerby was watching this too:

"Well, we are going to have to find out whether they knew at the time that she was covert," Matthews said. We don’t have the slightest idea what he could have meant.

Readers, we know what you’re probably thinking: Surely, Matthews knows about Patrick Fitzgerald’s court filing in May, in which he said "it was clear from very early in the investigation that [Plame] qualified under the relevant statute...as a covert agent." For what it’s worth, we’d guess that Matthews does know about that—although it’s possible that he doesn’t, given the way this press corps works. After all, his class deals in narrative, not fact --- and it deals in deference to conservative power.