Monday, September 04, 2006

Unfair criticism

It seems that in light of the recent news reports surrounding the source of the alleged leak of Valerie Plame's position with the CIA, that a firestorm has brewed up.

Yet it seems the right is more interested in settling scores with Colin Powell than it is in going after the real culprit: Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. Looking at some of the commentary at Redstate, or other conservative opinion sources (including the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, columnist Jack Kelly, and National Review Online). Have conservatives lost their sense of priorities?

Let's get the rough sequence of events down pat first. Armitage tells Powell he thinks he was the leak in October, 2003. He talked with the FBI that month. He did not even hire a lawyer. This was two months before Patrick Fitzgerald was appointed as a special prosecutor. Powell proceeds to have the State Department's general counsel inform the DOJ, and at the same time, then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales was informed in very general terms of what went on. Gonzales declined the offer of specifics. Yet James Comey appoints a special prosecutor. And the Special Prosecutor then launched what has turned out to be a two-and-a-half-year witch hunt.

I am not a mindless apologist for Secretary Powell. Over a year ago, at Strategypage, I dished out some strong criticism of his decision to designate the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia as a terrorist organization on par with Hamas, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda. In 2002 and 2003, I felt that not only did the neoconservatives have the right policy with regards to Iraq, but I felt their course of action was proper because there was enough evidence that a reasonable person could conclude that Iraq probably had a relationship with al-Qaeda - and it was best to take down Saddam's regime quickly

On both issues, my position has not changed. Proof of Saddam's regime's relationship with al-Qaeda was discovered as early as April, 2003, by a reporter from the Toronto Star. More recovered memos have shown outreach to other terrorist groups. The liberation of Iraq was a good call, and Colin Powell still thinks it was the right decision, and as a result, his friendship with Larry Wilkerson (a vocal critic of that decision) has apparently ended as a result.

But at the same time, I felt very uneasy about the personal attacks directed at Secretary Powell by some proponents. And here, we have a case where two men did the right thing - and it is not their fault the matter wasn't ended. The fact they weren't clairvoyant enough to foresee Patrick Fitzgerald going rogue is not their fault. And seeing the future only happens in fiction.

Furthermore, the big questions are those that must be posed to Patrick Fitzgerald. Did you know Armitage had come forward with exculpatory evidence? If not, why not? If you did, then why did you go on with this investigation for over two and a half years? Is there a good reason why you couldn't just let it die? Who or what motivated your decision to ignore the evidence?

The stuff about Powell and Armitage is a worthless sideshow. In addition to being grossly unfair, it is a waste of time. Petty score-settling is far less important than dealing with a special prosecutor who has gone rogue. Yet conservatives want to settle scores.

If this is what conservatism is, count me out.

1 comment:

Steve Falcon said...

HH - The questions for Fitzgerald to answer are appropriate and definitely need to be answered. But you forgot ONE very important question.

Since both Powell and Armitage knew the truth, why didn't they come out publically (or request a meeting with Fitz themselves) to end this thing? I mean, they've had two and a half years. What kept either one of them from coming forward?

I'm not prepared to let Powell and Armitage off so easy as you. However, I do think the brunt of disgust and anger here should be leveled at the drive-by media. It's hard to believe many of the people pushing this story didn't know that Armitage was the culprit. Yet, Powell, Armitage, and the DBM let the Bush Administration twist in the wind over this entire phoney scandal.