Dec 27, 2003 1:43 am


Why the calm looks and carefully-crafted answers at the White House regarding the Wilson-Plame affair? Why no outrage that someone would endanger national security and break the law in the White House?

As Mark Kleiman (who has done yeoman work on this story) puts it:

Reading the transcript (here) of Scott McClellan's second press briefing in two days in which he was asked about the Plame story and couldn't give a credible answer convinces me that the WH knows it's in deep doo-doo and has no clue about how to get out. McClellan isn't even pretending that the Administration is upset that someone burned one of our spies. If it wasn't the senior officials Novak says it was, then why isn't the WH interested in finding out who it was?

McClellan's repreated assertion that saying"two senior administration officials" is like saying"anonymous" doesn't pass the giggle test. We're talking about no more than ten people at the right level who might have known the key fact.

And Tenet's silence is truly eerie. Someone burned one of his people. Why isn't he breathing fire, demanding the help of the Justice Department in getting to the bottom of it?

Of course, even if the White House started to make the sounds of injured innocence now, it would be too late. If Novak had burned Plame by some feat of investigative reporting, rather than having been handed the facts by Team Bush, the White House and the CIA should have started screaming bloody murder a week ago, when the Novak column came out. Are we supposed to believe that no one in the Administration reads Novak?

David Corn's new column (here) makes more or less the same point: the apparent indifference of this administration, usually so reliable a source of theatrical outrage, is utterly damning.

Who is the White House protecting? Condi? Dick Cheney? If you recall, these folks acted as if Clinton defiled the place. This story, if true, dwarfs anything the Clinton administration EVER did. (Of course, at this very moment there are several things on the front burner of media attention that dwarf anything Clinton ever did.)

I'm really beginning to think that W's campaign slogan people in 2000 who insisted he would bring"honor and dignity" to the White House were just playing some sort of sick joke on the rest of us.

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