Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Media Firestorm in Washington

Mission To Niger

The US political scene seems completely consumed by the indictment handed down by Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald against Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff "Scooter" Libby.

The wolfpacks in the more liberal-oriented media had hoped that Fitzgerald would bring down the President's Deputy Chief of Staff - and architecht of the Bush electoral victories - Karl Rove.

For all the enormous noise generated by the issue, the substance of the story that has generated the present firestorm on the US media scene seems rather thin.

The assumed accusation is that Rove and/or Libby deliberated leaked a covert CIA operatives name to the media in order to discredit a story that was critical of some of the information pointing at Saddam Hussein aquiring nuclear weapons.

To me, this sounded unlikely from the very beginning for the simply reason that the information that was allegedly leaked in no way discredited the story. The information was fairly irrelevant to the issue under discussion.

Linked from here you can read the July 14, 2003 story that started the firestorm. The information on the Ambassador's wife doesn't really either add to or subtract anything of political significance from the story.

In the Washington rumour hothouse, it is of course journalistically interesting with that extra CIA angle to the story, but hardly more than that.

Leaking more or less secret and inside information is of course part of normal life of most more or less normal people in Washington. The media is filled with such things on daily basis. But the leaking of the names of a secret CIA operative is a special crime, and accordingly this particular story quickly acquired a dimension of its own.

Since then, a Special Prosecutor has spent more than two years trying to find out how this information ended up in Robert Novak's column that day and if anyone should be indicted for leaking secret information.

At the end of the day the Special Prosecutor hasn't been able to find that Karl Rove did anything wrong, and has ended up indicting "Scooter" Libby for issues that has to do with his behaviour during the investigation rather than the leaking of the information.

That's of course serious, and will now result in the indictment being tested in a trial, but separate from the core issue.

And is that it?

More than two years and an immense amount of agitation, speculation and accusations that - as concerns the original substance of the story - has so far ended up in nothing.