Besides Dr. Mike and Mark Steyn, you know who else I find really annoying (and not in a good way)? James Taranto, that’s who.
To demonstrate why, let’s look at a “Best of the Web Today” post about the revelation that Richard Armitage was the first to leak Plame’s CIA affiliation to Novak, and use it to illustrate some of the reasons why I find Taranto so insufferable.
Reason #1: Taranto is smugly confident of his own wit and intelligence, but he’s not very funny (and his work provides no evidence that he’s any brighter than your run-of-the-mill Marie Jon’ or Christian Hartsock)
As we observed on PBS 10 months ago, this was a “Seinfeld” scandal–an investigation about nothing.
Of course, much as this seemed like a sitcom, it had consequences in real life.
As we observed on Fox News many moons ago (or while we were watching Fox News – I’m not sure which), if Karl Rove tells journalists that, for purely partisan political purposes, a CIA NOC working on weapons nonproliferation is “fair game,” it doesn’t seem like a sitcom to us, it seems more like a black comedy (perhaps The Manchurian Candidate, with Karl playing the Angela Lansbury role.
Reason #2: Taranto will stick with a talking point forever, even if it has repeatedly been proven to be false
Because Armitage did not come clean right away, many people suffered:
* Millions of taxpayer dollars were wasted investigating a nonexistent crime.
James, even if you say this a million times, it doesn’t make it true.
Anyway, while it gets tedious, I guess the only way for the truth to prevail is to rebut the Right’s lies once a month or so.
So, here goes:
Even though “special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald ‘found no evidence that Armitage knew of Plame’s covert CIA status’” before he leaked her name to Novak, and so, per the statute, “there was no violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act,” this doesn’t mean that no crime was committed. James, honey, there is more than one law dealing with divulging classified material on the books.
And while I’m not saying that Armitage should go to prison, obviously he shouldn’t be trusted with classified material after this. And neither should those officials who confirmed Armitage’s slip about Plame to the press (because, one of the first things they tell you in your security briefing is that even though something has been leaked, it doesn’t mean its been declassified).
And personally, I believe that if Scooter was following Dick Cheney’s game plan, Cheney should have his security clearance revoked too (for at least a year).
I am amazed at all those who were up in arms because Sandy Berger, who had his clearance revoked and who had to pay a large fine, was perceived as getting special treatment for HIS security lapse (which didn’t result in the actual disclosure of classified material, mind you) think it’s just fine for other people to let CIA secrets slip. I guess it’s one of those “It’s okay if you’re a Republican” things.
But back to Taranto. In this piece Taranto also makes the claim that although “It was from a classified memo that Armitage learned Plame worked for the CIA, that the fact of her CIA employment wasn’t classified. (“By all available evidence, Plame’s covert status had expired by the time of her ‘outing’ anyway.”)
So, per Taranto, even though the CIA devoting its resources to maintaining Plame’s NOC cover, Plame actually wasn’t covert (i.e., under cover) because the “available evidence” indicates to him that she wasn’t, and he is a much better judge of these things that the intelligence organization.
Buy a clue, James! While Plame’s status may or may not have met the definition of a “covert agent” as described in the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, she WAS UNDER COVER. She was COVERT. Her CIA affiliation was CLASSIFIED. That’s why the CIA submitted a CRIMES report to the FBI. And that’s why the DOJ authorized a CRIMINAL investigation. But, per Taranto, apparently the government shouldn’t bother to investigate crimes where there wasn’t first a retroactive guilty verdict. (I guess he wants to live in the world of Judge Dredd.)
And anyway, while no one was prosecuted for leaking Plame’s identity, that doesn’t mean that a crime wasn’t committed. (Just like even if there isn’t enough evidence, now, to prove that George W. Bush was legally AWOL from the Texas Air National Guard, it doesn’t mean that the American taxpayers, who paid $1 million to train him, weren’t ripped off.)
And who are the victims of this crime? Yes, the CIA, Valerie Plame, and the American public.
But wait, that’s not what Taranto is claiming!
Reason #3: Taranto is clearly full of crap.
* Innocent White House officials were distracted from serving the country in order to participate in the investigation, which was in full swing a year ago when Hurricane Katrina struck.
Yes, the real victims here are “innocent White House officials” who had to worry about keeping their own lies straight during DOJ interviews, and who therefore couldn’t concentrate on dealing with Hurricane Katrina. So, Armitage (and Joe Wilson) are responsible for all the death and devastation caused by Katrina, and they should apologize to an innocent President Bush for causing his poll numbers to fall.
Reason 4: Taranto has no shame.
* Scooter Libby lost his job and was indicted for actions that never would have occurred but for the investigation.
Yeah, don’t you hate when you lose your lose and get indicted for crimes that you never would have committed if there wasn’t some kind of an investigation? Me too.And I guess that Scooter is the ultimate innocent victim here, in that the government FORCED him to commit a crime (by, you know, asking him questions and stuff).Reason #5: See reasons 1-4.
* The Democratic left, putting its faith in scandal to bring down the Bush administration, became even more fatuous and ineffective.
But the scandal gave the wingnuts a great new vocabulary word, “kerfuffle,” so it all evened out.
Reason #6: Taranto seems to be unaware of the glass houses/stones law.
The only winner in this whole deal is Joe Wilson’s ego–and think of the toll it’s taken on his poor little superego.
You could probably come up with your own list. This photo alone is reason enough for polite society to shun Taranto for about a thousand years:
But hey, life is short, and so we will go back to our usual policy of ignoring the guy, just like we ignore most other Internet trolls (except for Ann Coulter, of course).