Man Without Qualities

Saturday, July 23, 2005

On The Sharm el-Sheik/Paris Express

The blasts ripping through Sharm el-Sheik dramatically indicate how misguided Continental European appeasement efforts really are. Over 80 people had been confirmed dead and many more injured. The victims include Britons, Germans, Italians, Czechs, Dutch, Kuwaitis, Saudis, Qataris, Spaniards, Austrians and Israelis.

Abdullah Azzam Brigades, al-Qaida, in Syria and Egypt, claimed responsibility for the Sharm el-Sheik attacks. The group was one of two extremist groups that also claimed responsibility for October bombings at the Egyptian resorts of Taba and Ras Shitan that killed 34 and for a Cairo bombing in late April. The authenticity of the claim has not been verified. Earlier this month, Dr. Ihab al-Sherif, Egypt's top envoy to Iraq was murdered and an Islamic web site claimed responsibility for al Qaeda in Iraq. Diplomats from other Muslim countries were attacked at the same time. The Bahrain charge d'affaires was wounded, and the Pakistani ambassador was assaulted, but escaped injury. The Pakistani foreign ministry consul in Iraq was kidnapped a few weeks ago.

None of Egypt, Bahrain or Pakistan has troops in Iraq. Egypt opposed the American-British invasion of that country. Pakistani did not permit the US to use its territories to invade Iraq. The cooperation of all of these Islamic countries with the US's efforts in Iraq following the invasion has been real, but quite modest. Iraq and Egypt have been "cooperating in the security field, with Egypt offering Iraq technical aid and training." Bahrain has publicly opposed any American move to establish democracy in the Middle East.

So it comes to this: A nation's merely opposing the US verbally and providing even the most modest cooperation gives no immunity to al-Qaida insanities. Being an officially Islamic nation doesn't help. It appears that nothing short of a defacto cold war against America satisfies these terrorists - and perhaps not even that. Any nation not joining arms against the US and its democratic efforts will have its territories bombed and its citizens and diplomats kidnapped and murdered in quantities by al Qaida thugs. And the resorts favored by such nations are targets: Very few Americans visit Sharm el-Sheik, that resort is popular with wealthy Arabs and Europeans - as the casualties list indicates.

Yet, most "old" Continental Europeans persist in believing that appeasement will eliminate the risks of al-Qaida bombs in Madrid, Paris and Berlin. It's bizarre, but that's what many Europeans continue to think. And the blasts in Sharm el-Sheik will probably just make them bury their heads more deeply in the sand.

UPDATE: Pete Dupont has some interesting, related thoughts.

(0) comments

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Speak, Memory ... But Only When It's Convenient

During the 2004 election the Man Without Qualities often found himself in awe of the degree the liberal media seemed to be helping George W. Bush's reelection. Now James Taranto scribes an interesting article on the same topic but from a rather different perspective. One memory of the 2004 proceedings that he revives is the hilarious estimate of the remaining potency of the media establishment in the making of a president. As Mr. Taranto recalls:
"The media, I think, wants Kerry to win," Evan Thomas of Newsweek said last July. "I think they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards--I'm talking about the establishment media, not Fox--but they're going to portray Kerry and Edwards as being young and dynamic and optimistic and all. There's going to be this glow about them . . . that's going to be worth maybe 15 points." Mr. Thomas later revised his estimate downward, to five points. If Mr. Thomas was right, then, Mr. Bush would have won re-election with a popular-vote margin of between 7.5% and 17.5% of the total vote--rather than the 2.5% he actually got--but for the liberal media.

Yet, Mr. Thomas is not the only mainstream media nabob who seem to be having a very hard time (and taking a very long time) understanding that the glory days are over. Here's a passage from a 2004 pre-election "analysis" provided by Editor & Publisher:
FLORIDA: Bush is in big trouble here, at least if newspapers have any sway. Every single large paper has gone for Kerry, with the Orlando and Bradenton papers abandoning Bush and The Tampa Tribune (formerly for Dubya) sitting it out. This is how bad it is for the president: As far we know, his two biggest Sunshine State catches so far are the Ocala Star-Banner and The Ledger in Lakeland. So let's give this state to Kerry. In fact, if Bush pulls this one out, E&P promises never to give any weight to editorial endorsements in the future.
Bush did a lot more than "pull this one out" in Florida - so is E&P going to remember to be as good as its analytic word?

Don't count on it!

(0) comments

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Sources IV

Perfectly valid waivers of fundamental constitutional rights - such as guilty pleas and confessions to serious crimes - are routinely extracted from suspects under much more "coercion" than a media source such as Messrs. Rove or Libby face in deciding whether to sign waivers of confidentiality. ("Cut a deal with us, buster," says Good Cop, "and I'll see that you get only half the sentence of your accomplice and that your underaged son goes free even though he was involved in your drug ring!") Reviewing courts routinely uphold the validity of such guilty pleas and confessions, and such suspects thereby become convicts and are routinely sent to prison or execution. Are confidential source waivers signed by high officials supposed to be held to a higher standard of coercion than a confession to murder? Of course not.

The concerns of the media - including Cooper and the New York Times - about confidential source waivers have nothing to do with whether such waivers are somehow invalid. What the media cares about is whether honoring such waivers might restrict the flow of future leaks to the media (hence the attention being paid to reports that some potential sources already won't talk to TIME because of TIME's capitulation to the special prosecutor and the court in the Plame matter). That doesn't make the media wicked. But claims from those such as Miller, Sulzberger and Cooper that they are focused on some kind of coercive invalidity of such waivers is flatulence passed off as high principle. At least the Times and Ms. Miller have the relative honesty not to suggest that there is a difference between blanket and specific waivers in such considerations - a phony distinction to which Mr. Cooper (as discussed here) pretends to his great personal disadvantage.

Mr. Cooper's version of events is also undermined by another consideration: Suppose, as his attorney claims, Mr. Cooper could not contact Mr. Rove to obtain a specific waiver out of concern that Mr. Cooper might be accused of obstruction of justice (an absurdity, but take it as a hypothesis). Then Mr. Cooper had only to explain his concern to the special prosecutor and have the special prosecutor tell every person who had executed a blanket waiver of Mr. Cooper's concern and assure each such person that it was fine with the special prosecutor for anyone who had spoken with Mr. Cooper to execute an addendum to the blanket waiver stating that the waiver specifically applied to Matt Cooper and his interviews. A form of an acceptable addendum could have been helpfully provided to the special prosecutor by Mr. Cooper's attorney. That would have disgorged the "desired" specific waiver from Mr. Rove immediately - in the unlikely event that Mr. Cooper and his attorney ever cared about such things in the first place.
(0) comments

Bogus Bush Scandals Recap

From Astute Blogger. Things worth remembering.
(0) comments

Sources III

Matt Cooper scribes an article in TIME, "What I Told The Grand Jury." The article contains nothing new implicating Rove or anyone else. But it raises serious question about Mr. Cooper's own honesty, ethics and personal agenda. The article purports to describe Mr. Cooper's grand jury testimony, and includes this description of his testimony regarding I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby:
[T]he next day the Vice President's chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, told me Cheney had not been responsible for Wilson's mission. .... This was actually my second testimony for the special prosecutor. In August 2004, I gave limited testimony about my conversations with Scooter Libby. Libby had also given me a specific waiver, and I gave a deposition in the office of my attorney. I have never discussed that conversation until now. In that testimony, I recounted an on-the-record conversation with Libby that moved to background. On the record, he denied that Cheney knew about or played any role in the Wilson trip to Niger. On background, I asked Libby if he had heard anything about Wilson's wife sending her husband to Niger. Libby replied, "Yeah, I've heard that too," or words to that effect. Like Rove, Libby never used Valerie Plame's name or indicated that her status was covert, and he never told me that he had heard about Plame from other reporters, as some press accounts have indicated.

Consider Mr. Cooper's assertion that he had never previously "discussed" his August 2004 "conversation." (Why does he refer to his testimony as a "conversation?") Somebody conveyed much of the substance of that "conversation" to Susan Schmidt, who on November 26, 2004 wrote in the Washington Post:

Time reporter Matthew Cooper has told prosecutors that he talked to Libby on July 12 and mentioned that he had heard that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, a source knowledgeable about his testimony said. Cooper testified that Libby said he had heard the same thing from the media.

It would be a serious crime for anyone in the special prosecutor's office to have disclosed Mr. Cooper's testimony. But Mr. Cooper and his attorney (presumably, Richard Stauber) were free to do so. Is Mr. Cooper claiming in his new TIME article that he did not "discuss" his earlier testimony while knowing that his attorney or some other agent of his did discuss that testimony, or that he or one of his agents conveyed information to Ms. Schmidt through means other than a narrowly defined "discussion" (e-mail of a summary transcript, for example)? He is choosing his words with exquisite care. I think it is highly likely that Mr. Cooper knows exactly why Ms. Schmidt wrote what she did - but he's not telling us.

Then there is his revelation that "Libby had also given me a specific waiver." How could such a "specific waiver" have been obtained from Mr. Libby if what Mr. Cooper's attorney, Richard Stauber, said in his dramatic detailing of how a "specific waiver" was obtained from Mr. Rove is true:

[O]n Wednesday morning ... I picked up a copy of the Wall Street Journal. And in there, right at the end of the article about this matter is the following statement: "Mr. Rove hasn't asked any reporter to treat him as a confidential source in the matter," Mr. Luskin said, who I understand is Mr. Rove's lawyer. "So if Matt Cooper is going to jail to protect a source, it's not Karl he's protecting." I immediately called Matt from the plane and said, "You ought to take a look at this comment. I think it is interesting and I think we should give a shot of calling Mr. Luskin and seeing if we could get a specific waiver," which Matt authorized me to do. I arrived in Washington early Wednesday morning. I put in a call to Mr. Luskin and asked him for a specific waiver.

How was it proper for Mr. Cooper to obtain a "specific waiver" from Mr. Libby but not Mr. Rove? Mr. Stauber says he had not previously asked Mr. Rove for a "specific waiver" because contact with Mr. Rove might constitute obstruction of justice, as reported by Howard Kurtz:

Matthew Cooper ... never asked White House political adviser Karl Rove to release him from a pledge of confidentiality because Cooper's attorney believed that any conversation between the two men could be construed as obstruction of justice. "I forbid Matt to call him," Richard Sauber said yesterday. "I cringed at the idea. These two witnesses would have to explain their discussion before the grand jury." .... Cooper insisted he would "never be able to work" in journalism if he accepted the general waiver that Rove and other White House officials had given journalists. "I just thought those blanket waivers handed out essentially by one's boss are hard to consider uncoerced," Cooper said in an interview yesterday.
But Mr. Cooper and his lawyer now want us to believe that all it took was a squib in the Journal to get Mr. Stauber over his "cringe." And we are also expected to believe that Mr. Cooper was concerned that Mr. Rove's blanket waiver was "coerced" but that a specific waiver somehow would not be "coerced"- even though the coercive pressure on Mr. Rove had only been growing and the "specific waiver" merely stated that the earlier blanket waiver applied to Mr. Cooper. And on top of that we are supposed to believe, without explanation, that Messrs. Stauber and Cooper did not consider contact with Mr. Libby for the same purpose to pose the same concerns. And let's not forget that Mr. Stauber wants us to believe that he was prepared to have his client spend time in jail for contempt, but "cringed" at the idea of his client having to explain contact with Mr. Rove. This is all grossly implausible on its face. Whatever, Messrs. Cooper and Stauber are and have been up to, they almost certainly haven't disclose it yet.

In a prior post I wrote that Mr. Cooper had lied about the number of his sources for his original TIME story on the basis of the post-testimony comments of Mr. Cooper and his attorney, which I construed as indicating that Mr. Rove was his sole source. That was my error. This morning Mr. Cooper said on "Meet the Press" that Messrs. Libby and Rove were among the "government officials" referred to in Mr. Cooper's original TIME story and also said there may have been other sources for that information - and he declined to elaborate. He said that he has given all information to the grand jury. Isn't Mr. Cooper cute?

This is what was in Mr. Cooper's original TIME article:
[S]ome government officials have noted to TIME in interviews, (as well as to syndicated columnist Robert Novak) that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. These officials have suggested that she was involved in her husband's being dispatched Niger to investigate reports that Saddam Hussein's government had sought to purchase large quantities of uranium ore, sometimes referred to as yellow cake, which is used to build nuclear devices.

Mr. Cooper's new TIME article does not say that Mr. Libby "noted" any such thing. Instead, Mr. Cooper described his interview with Mr. Libby this way:

I asked Libby if he had heard anything about Wilson's wife sending her husband to Niger. Libby replied, "Yeah, I've heard that too," or words to that effect.

The sentence "I asked Libby if he had heard anything about Wilson's wife sending her husband to Niger" obviously does not even contain a reference to the CIA or to weapons of mass destruction. And Libby replying, "Yeah, I've heard that too," or words to that effect, does not constitute a "note" on Mr. Libby's part. If Mr. Cooper is counting Mr. Libby as one of the "government officials [who] have noted to TIME in interviews, (as well as to syndicated columnist Robert Novak) that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction" on the basis of what he describes in his new TIME article, then Mr. Cooper grossly misrepresented or misconstrued what Mr. Libby actually said - and grossly overstated the support he had obtained for his original article.

But then he still has those mysterious "other officials" to fall back on, doesn't he?

Valerie Plame is a government official, isn't she? Judith? Valerie? Are you listening?

(0) comments