His language! He earlier said that he'd fire anyone who outed a covert CIA agent. Now he says that he meant something different:
President George W. Bush said he would fire any member of his administration who broke the law as prosecutors focus on White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove in their investigation of the disclosure of a covert intelligence agent to reporters.
``If somebody committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration,'' Bush said today during a White House news conference with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India. ``It's best that people wait until the investigation is complete before you jump to conclusions.''
Bush's statement offers more protection for administration officials who may have discussed agent Valerie Plame with reporters, said Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University. On June 10, 2004, Bush answered ``Yes'' when asked whether he would fire anyone who leaked Plame's name.
``He's certainly backing off,'' Gillers said. ``Before it didn't seem to matter whether or not the revelation would be a crime.''
That's significant because the parameters for breaking the 1982 law about exposing an undercover agent are very narrow, Gillers said. A person would have had to reveal the name knowingly and with the awareness that the government was trying to conceal it. And it's only illegal if the agent worked overseas in the past five years; Plame has lived in the U.S. since 1997.
So did the leakers wait until exactly five years would be gone since Plame's last foreing assignment? The whole mess smells to high heavens.
But of course the wingnuts find the smell on the other side:
House Speaker Dennis Hastert sent out a press release assailing Democratic leaders such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi for failing to focus on policy.
``The Democratic leadership has revealed that their agenda is a cynical playbook of partisan politics, which only poisons the well for members who are working together this week in a bipartisan way to move America forward,'' Hastert said.
Ha ha ha. Laughs she in a cold and hollow voice. Turn the mirror at your own face, Dennis. And do tell me where you have been acting in a bipartisan way. Unless you mean the Republicans and the Republicans.
There are lots of blog posts on the details of the Plame Game, discussions on Ari Fleischer and Colin Powell, on whether Matthew Cooper's statement is now that Rove was the outer and on this memorandum that might have been the source of the outing information, and on and on. I just don't want to follow all the ins and outs. My interest in the legal game is deficient, something to do with having lived on the Olympus where there were no laws, I guess. I agree with Billmon that we might as well play our own Plame Games.