Friday, July 15, 2005

Yet another idiot reporter printing the claims of Victoria Toerag and Bruce Sanford as if they were true:

The law was meant to crack down on what the act's congressional authors called "conscious and pernicious" disclosures of agents' identities, rather than disclosures arising from casual conversation or other circumstances.


Congress "did not intend for government employees to be vulnerable to prosecution for an unintentional or careless spilling of the beans about an undercover identity," wrote two Washington lawyers who helped draft the law, Victoria Toensing and Bruce Sanford, in an analysis of the Plame case this year. "A dauntingly high standard was therefore required for the prosecutor to charge the leaker."

Toensing, a deputy assistant attorney general under President Reagan, sees hurdles for Fitzgerald and strongly believes no crime was committed. In an interview, she said she doubted Plame qualified as a "covert" operative, and she said the CIA was "cavalier" about protecting her status. Plame's CIA position was "cocktail circuit talk" around Washington, Toensing said.

The wishes and dreams of the spinmeisters who "helped draft the law" are entirely meaningless. They are not members of Congress; they did not vote on the law; their opinions do not reflect the intent of Congress. The staute says what it says. And it doesn't say "pernicious," or contain an exception for "careless."

Every journalist who quotes this pair is conciously revealing him or herself to be an useful idiot for the Administration. Consider the consequences of using drafters' opinions as evidence of legislative intent: Our current laws would be interpreted by taking testimony from the lobbyists for the pharmaceutical manufacturers and credit card companies who write the legislation.

This idiot also provides no specifics regarding Toerag's purported doubts and recycled blather about the cocktail party circuit. He should either provide facts or leave Toerag's uninformed wishful thinking out of the article.

Further, he might want to point out that the concepts of "cavelier" and "cocktail chatter" aren't found in the statute and aren't relevant to application of the statute. The issue is whether the U.S. is taking affirmative measures to conceal the agent's identity as a covert agent, not whether those measures succeded or were sufficiently pursued.

Then there's this:

Prosecutors have all but ignored the law. A national security law expert at Syracuse University law school, William Banks, said he could find no published legal decision interpreting the law.

Some think the law's dormancy reflects government employees' care to protect agents' identities in recent years. Others say the dearth of prosecutions shows that Congress intended to outlaw only very specific misconduct.

And yet others say their pets control their thoughts and order them to kill.

Those four sentences provide no information from which a reader could make an informed decision about whether "prosecutors," either individually or as a group, have "ignored" the law" or, if so, their reasons for doing so.

I realize journalists for daily papers have to be generalists, without expert knowledge on every subject on which they write. But you might expect them to have the minimal ability to question the assertions of a partisan hack offering opinions and unsubstantiated claims in the service of her party.

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