Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
September 25, 2006
POLITICS: How Wrong Was Josh Marshall?

Plenty Wrong.

Now that it has been revealed that the main source for Bob Novak's column "outing" Valerie Plame Wilson as a CIA employee was Richard Armitage, Colin Powell's right-hand man at the State Department and (like Novak) no fan of the Iraq War, with Karl Rove and a CIA spokesman merely confirming what Novak had already been told by Armitage - and that the White House was kept in the dark for many months, at a minimum, about Armitage's role - it is clear that there was never any validity to the notion that Novak's column was the result of some neo-conservative cabal seeking retaliation against Wilson and his wife for Wilson's publication of a NY Times Op-Ed detailing what should have been a classified intelligence-gathering mission to Niger. This "neocon retaliation" theory was, as you will recall, the central and original theory of why the Plame story was a scandal at all, rather than a one-day story of a run-of-the-mill imprudent leak, and not even in the top ten as far as the most damaging leaks of the past five years.

Joe Wilson himself, of course, was the original source of this theory. But I thought it would be instructive to look back at one of the main blogospheric advocates of that theory - Josh Marshall - to get a full sense of how long and hard he pushed this notion, and thus how badly he ended up leading his readers astray. (I may get to look back at some of the other top Plame-ologists of the Left, but Marshall was perhaps the most visible and this post is long enough as it is). In Marshall's case, the conspiracy theory was particularly attractive because it fit in with his broader attack on Vice President Cheney and the "neocon" advisers in the Vice President's office and the Defense Department - indeed, Marshall repeatedly tried to retail a particularly baroque explanation in which the "outing" of Mrs. Wilson was tied to forged documents passed through Italy relating to Niger.

I should start by noting that re-reading Marshall's archives reminds me how slippery he is - he truly is a master of implying things without coming out and saying them. But the sheer volume of his posts on this story has, unsurprisingly, yielded up more than a few instances of Marshall actually saying what he intended his readers to believe:

First of all, the volume. Marshall has posted on this story 231 times since July 2003, as of a count I did a few weeks ago - 48 posts in 2003, 59 posts in 2004, 99 posts in 2005, and 25 posts through the end of August 2006. Let's look at the way he pushed this story - not each and every one of these quotes is damning in and of itself, but they give you the overall picture of Marshall's full-throated pursuit of the completely wrong direction on a story to which he devoted enormous efforts:

7/30/03

We know that two senior members of the Bush administration intentionally blew the cover of an undercover CIA officer whose job is combating weapons of mass destruction (WMD) proliferation. And their motivation was pure politics.

+++

To get back at Wilson, they blew the cover of his wife, Valerie Plame, a covert CIA operative specializing in tracking other countries' efforts to acquire WMD.

9/26/03

Whammo! NBC has a late report that the CIA has asked the Justice Department to investigate whether the White House broke federal law by exposing the identity of one of its undercover employees, Valerie Plame, to retaliate against her husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson.

9/27/03

The Post got one "senior administration official" to concede that "two top White House officials" disclosed Plame's identity to at least six journalists.
[Quoting the Post story]: "Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge," the senior official said of the alleged leak.

9/28/03

(OK, this one you need to read at length, not for any particular assertion of fact but just for its hyperventilating tone in detailing an interview of Condi Rice by Brit Hume)

10/2/03

[E]veryone's saying: that the problem centers on the vice president's office. And people are adding a name: Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the vice president's chief of staff and close advisor.

A mountain of rumor doesn't amount to a single fact. But two respected ex-CIA officers have now publicly pointed to the vice president's office -- a good sign, I think, that that's what they're hearing from ex-colleagues at CIA. An increasing range of circumstantial evidence points in that direction

10/3/03

[T]he war between the White House and the CIA is the big story. It's the feud from which this law-breaking springs.

10/4/03

I've avoided the rush of Novak-bashing that's swirled around this story. But his stance as a journalist simply trying to report out a story is being rapidly and severely diminished by his desperate effort to advance the agenda of those who leaked to him in the first place, i.e., to smear and discredit the Wilsons.

10/6/03

For the last ten days we've known that two senior administration officials blew the cover of an undercover CIA employee for some mix of retribution and political gamesmanship.

10/10/03

Meanwhile, back in wingerville, the search for the Holy Grail, or rather an innocent explanation of the Plame mess, continues.

10/11/03

Those two "senior administration officials" just finished the job that [Aldrich] Ames --- one of the arch-traitors of American history --- started.

10/12/03

This is the point at which even Marshall must have started to realize that the "revenge" theory was problematic, although as we shall see that didn't make him stop implying it:

The White House was at war with Joe Wilson. And they were using everything in their arsenal to take him down. The authors of [a Washington Post] piece seem to have spoken to "administration sources" who told them that the motive for naming Plame wasn't retaliation but an effort to destroy Wilson's credibility and thus get reporters to ignore him. That theory of the crime, shall we say, seems to conflict with the account of the administration official who told the Post on he September 28th that the calls were "meant purely and simply for revenge."

For my part, I've always thought that this question of motivation was greatly over-determined. Revenge, a warning to other potential whistleblowers, attempts to undermine Wilson's credibility --- none of these strikes me as contradictory or necessarily exclusive of the others. I suspect they were all involved.

In fact, the "senior administration official" who was the source for the September 28th article seemed to believe both motives were involved, since he or she called the disclosure not only wrong but "a huge miscalculation," because they were irrelevant and did nothing to diminish Wilson's credibility.

10/15/03

All the available evidence points to the conclusion that Novak and his sources knew full well that Plame was a clandestine agent.

10/25/03

[L]ook at these various controversies: possible subpoenas over White House stonewalling of the 9/11 investigation, the multiple investigations of the pre-war intel on Iraq, the criminal investigation into the Plame disclosure.

There are differences in each, of course. But in each case, fundamentally, we're talking about the same players: the White House and Intelligence Community.

12/30/03

It's always been more or less an open secret who the perps are in this case. And they're very high-level folks -- people with deep influence of the formulation and implementation of policy. And the wrong-doing here is directly related to the execution of policy. So if a crime was committed, and if an indictment is forthcoming, it will bring under scrutiny a whole complex range of wrong-doing (though not necessarily criminal wrongdoing) relating to administration war policy and intelligence manipulation and other stuff we can go into at a later date.

+++

If the real perps are indicted, the political implications will be obvious and undeniable. And the fall-out will be rapid.


1/1/04

On whether it's possible that the leaker didn't know Plame's status was classified:

[L]et's stop the charade. They're guilty as sin. It's now crystal clear that from the very beginning the folks at the White House have known who did it.

1/2/04

At the moment the discussion is about whether the doers can beat the rap. (Did the person at the White House know she was covert, etc.?)

+++

[T]he basic facts of the matter have been in plain sight from the beginning. And whether an aide to the president is indicted or goes to prison is largely an issue for that particular person.

The issue here -- from the beginning, and now to the end -- is whether the president accepts such behavior and what the standard operating procedure in the Bush White House is: Do you punish a political opponent by attacking his family if it means exposing one of the country's covert intelligence operatives and breaking the law?



1/7/04

Democrats at least have the consolation of the Plame investigation, which continues to validate their least generous suspicions about how the Bush White House operates and underscore the president's seeming indifference to recklessness and law-breaking among high-level members of his own staff.

+++

[For defenders of the White House t]heir tactic lately is no longer to deny that some key White House officials tipped columnist Robert Novak off to the fact that Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a covert employee of the CIA. These days, they just say that it wasn't a crime.

+++

No matter how you slice it, top White House officials acted in a way that should disqualify them from future service on the president's staff.

3/7/04

That burn campaign against Joe Wilson got off the ground pretty quickly, didn't it? And the Plame hit came out of the Vice President's office.

3/26/04

On a controversy surrounding Richard Clarke:

This is Plame all over again, just with the lights on -- a kind of behavior -- a mix of pervasive secrecy and the use of state power to punish political enemies -- that is literally a danger to the republic.

6/28/04

Who is Dick Cheney? . . . When challenged, violence seems always to be his preferred method of response, that of first resort --- often a literal sort on the world stage, but with bureaucratic (viz. Plame) and what we might call verbal violence at home.

7/11/05

We don't know that the president knew about the decision to use Plame's work at CIA against Wilson in advance, though given the high-level working group assembled at the White House to go to war with Wilson, it's reasonable to suspect that he did.

7/12/05

Approvingly quoting a reader:

[T]he reason the Republicans were angry with Wilson is that he told the truth. And their preferred method of retaliation was to attack his wife.

Nope, wrong. You could look it up.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 9:25 AM | Politics 2006 | Comments (58) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

I don't know why you'd bother to read Marshall at all. He pretends at being some sort of intellectual when he really is just a thin-skinned, foul-mouthed leftist hack.

He's not worth the time or effort.

Posted by: Chip Gill at September 25, 2006 10:37 AM

How about giving the same treatment to Mark Kleiman, who went so far as to announce that he was going to start a blog devoted solely to Plame? http://www.samefacts.com/archives/_/2005/12/blog_designer_needed.php No idea whether he ever followed through on that project.

Posted by: Anono at September 25, 2006 10:37 AM

I've had my run-ins with Kleiman in the past - I may take on him as well if I get the time, I have the archive about halfway done. David Corn is the other obvious pick.

Posted by: The Crank at September 25, 2006 10:45 AM

Marshall's blog is easily the most disappointing one out there. He's obviously a very intelligent person who could make substantive arguments from the liberal perspective about both theory and policy. And frankly, with Kos' "winnerism" approach ruling the lefty blogosphere, there is a lack of such arguments. Instead, he spends most of his time chasing down the scandal of the month. Blech.

Posted by: T-web at September 25, 2006 10:49 AM

Are you saying that Karl Rove wasn't Matt Cooper's source? And that Scooter Libby wasn't Judith Miller's?

The Novak article wasn't the crime - the crime was telling people without security clearance about the employment of Wilson's wife. Each one of those men violated that law. Three high ranking officials all telling multiple media figures about Wilson's wife, all after Cheney makes notations on the Wilson editorial about Wilson's wife - yet you guys can't see a concerted effort to attack Wilson?

You could if the name Clinton was connected to the affair.

Posted by: Joseph at September 25, 2006 10:55 AM

Remember, it's not impropriety, it's the APPEARANCE of impropriety... ergo, Marshall and his willing agitprop accomplices like Corn are justified in contorting reality like a funhouse mirror in order to create a phony scandal, indignantly exhort for years to create maximum political volume, and slink off to the next soapbox when their nincompoopery is exposed as such, with no apology, no mea culpa, just a "who can blame me, it's just like them to have done this".

Posted by: MEC2 at September 25, 2006 10:59 AM

Marshall was one of the leftist blogs that I used to enjoy. I just about never agreed with him, but at least he seemed to have a good head on his shoulders and is certainly more thoughtful than the nuts at KOS and DU. Unfortunately his writing took a turn after the 2004 election, particularly with his demogogic (self-admitted, mind you) campaign against social security reform. Now there's little difference between him and the rest of the fringe crowd.

Posted by: paul zummo at September 25, 2006 11:02 AM

"the crime was telling people without security clearance about the employment of Wilson's wife. Each one of those men violated that law." You are incorrect, try again Joesph.

Posted by: abe at September 25, 2006 11:16 AM

Are you saying that Karl Rove wasn't Matt Cooper's source? And that Scooter Libby wasn't Judith Miller's?

The original source of the leak was Armitage, to Novak, who disclosed it publicly in his column and privately to others, which probably eventually made its way to Cooper, Miller, Libby and Rove.

Since Plame was not undercover, the disclosure was a non-event in any case (which is why no one has been charged). As for "attacking" Wilson, all they did was tell the truth about him on a matter he had been lying about: that his wife sent him on the Niger trip.

There's just no there there. The Left has only succeded in making itself look like a bunch of tinfoil-hat conspiracists again.

Posted by: TallDave at September 25, 2006 11:24 AM

What do you expect but spin from Vicious Sid's butt boy?

I once traced Rathergate and found he was spewing tales ealry on that one, too.

"Access" reportage is no better than the person you're accessing.

Posted by: clarice at September 25, 2006 11:25 AM

What do you expect but spin from Vicious Sid's butt boy?

I once traced Rathergate and found he was spewing tales early on that one, too.

"Access" reportage is no better than the person you're accessing.

Posted by: clarice at September 25, 2006 11:26 AM

I fail to see how any of this absolves the Bushies of intentionally outing Plame. Which they did, and for the reasons everyone said all along. They were pissed at Wilson, and they wanted playground bully retribution. Like the little chickenhawks they are, they got a 'secret pal' to do their dirty work, and the rest is history. And as a previous post said, the Novack column wasn't the crime, the outing of Plame was the crime.

You tools are such apologists for this band of cowards.

Posted by: Charles Vermont at September 25, 2006 11:30 AM

Charles Vermont,

Just for the sake of argument, let us assume that you are correct that it was "playground bully retribution."

There was STILL no "crime" committed, because there was no crime to BE committed. Plame had not been NOC for over 5 years, so the "crime" supposedly committed was impossible for ANYONE to commit, even if they wanted to.

Now, with that out of the way, I also think most of the other allegations are just too stupid for words (especially since it was relevant that she did indeed gt him snt on that trip, despite his publicly lying about it, which no one on the left seems to mind for some reason).

But, in terms of criminality, there is, legally and definitionally, no crime committed in this case.

Who's the tool, again?

Posted by: Deoxy at September 25, 2006 11:38 AM

Richard Armitage was hardly a "pal" of the White House, secret or otherwise.

Posted by: Ofc. Krupke at September 25, 2006 11:50 AM

Charles,
Your comment is quite brilliant, all it takes to be true is a complete rewriting of all the facts. Never let reality oppress you!

Posted by: SPQR at September 25, 2006 11:56 AM

I fail to see how any of this absolves the Bushies of intentionally outing Plame.

Sigh. One, Armitage wasn't a Bushie. Two, Plame wasn't "in" so she wasn't "outed." Three, the person who was most reponsible for the disclosure was Wilson himself: if you decide to start writing NYT op-eds in which you make wildly inaccurate accusations about a CIA trip your CIA wife sent you on, you have to assume people are going to ask questions.

Posted by: TallDave at September 25, 2006 11:58 AM

But guys, don't you know that it was really Bush's fault that Josh Marshall's blog took on an angrier and less moderate tone?

Posted by: Anono at September 25, 2006 12:02 PM

"Attack" Wilson? How about "correct Wilson and get the truth out, despite his repeated attempts to hoodwink the American people with the assistance of a complicit mainstream press, especially the NYT" -- or is that too verbose and reality-based for ya?

Posted by: Mike at September 25, 2006 12:04 PM

I can't believe these kool-aid swilling moonbats posting here continue regurgitating a thoroughly discredit narrative about what really happened after Joe Wilson started his own lies about Niger Yellowcake. Anyone can Google "Joe Wilson's top ten lies" and see where the Select Senate Commitee on Intelligence blew Wilson's fig leaf away ... particularly the part about Wilson's denial Valerie Plame's was ever involved in recommending him for the Niger trip in the first place. The CIA admitted Wilson's report didn't change their assessment one whit and the SSCI concluded Wilson had delivered a shoddy product with respect to the Niger yellowcake issue. Yet there went Wilson before the world claiming he had definitive evidence that Niger was never contacted by Saddam's agents/representatives concerning the possible purchase of yellowcake. And this despite the fact that a British intelligence service still maintains the original veracity of the story!

Of course these are the same tinfoil hatted hacks who still think the Bush TANG memos have yet to been proven fraudulent (buwhahahahahaha!) and the Downing Street Memos were a missed opportunity to really nail that evil Bu$Hitler (which all hinged on the British use of the word "fixed").

There are none so blind as those unwilling to see. It doesn't matter how many facts are presented to the lemmings on the left, they will continue believing their lies. And the most pathetic thing about all this is not the fact that liberals lie and engage in their kangaroo courts backed by voluminous amounts of conspiracy theories, BUT THEY ACTUALLY BELIEVE THEIR OWN LIES! They are seriously lost in that vacuum which exists between their own two ears.

Posted by: Hankmeister at September 25, 2006 12:07 PM

Dear Tool All,

I'm happy to see all of you continue to use your Limbaugh-supplied BS to try and refute the one and only FACT: A CIA operative's cover was intentionally blown. You will, of course, respond as a squad that she wasn't "technically" an operative, or some other BS that you've all been taught to spout whenever the inconvenient FACT is mentioned. Who cares that Armitage never has been seen in public with his tongue in Bush's mouth? He works for the administration. And he wasn't the only one doing the talking. It was a deliberate attempt to punish a whistleblower by attacking his wife. And which of you geniuses can GUARANTEE to the world that nobody was harmed? Do you have a roster of each and every contact Valerie Plame maintained in the course of doing her work? And can you assert with any confidence to none of those contacts has suffered in any way, now that her cover is blown? Of course not. That's because her work was 'supposed' to be secret.

Again, you are tools. And fools.

By the way, how many of you have read the April National Intelligence Estimate? How's that democracry spreading thing working out?

Posted by: Charles Vermont at September 25, 2006 12:09 PM

The original source of the leak was Armitage, to Novak, who disclosed it publicly in his column and privately to others, which probably eventually made its way to Cooper, Miller, Libby and Rove.
Miller and Cooper received this info from Libby and Rove before Novak's column was published.

Plame had not been NOC for over 5 years
There are reports that Plame went as part of her cover job with Brewster-Jennings in 2001, 2002, and 2003. Larry Johnson, a former CIA official said, "She met with folks who worked in the nuclear industry, cultivated sources, and managed spies" during this time frame.

From David Corn's recent book, Hubris:
Her unit was expanded and renamed the Joint Task Force on Iraq. Within months of 9/11, the JTFI grew to fifty or so employees. Valerie Wilson was placed in charge of its operations group. . . . [Valerie] Wilson, too, occasionally flew overseas to monitor operations.
. . . .
When the Novak column ran, Valerie Wilson was in the process of changing her clandestine status from NOC to official cover, as she prepared for a new job in personnel management.

What proof have you seen that she wasn't NOC?

Posted by: ketemphor at September 25, 2006 12:12 PM

Great job. Actually I think David Corn is more important: a) he wrote a book about it -- the book and the archives should be very interesting (but MUCH more work?), and b) he's a Pajamas Media guy too.

It's sad that there are so few reasonable Bush opposition out there. There's quite a bit of muck and less than stellar competence by Bush's team -- but the hysterical Bush-bashing with no realistic alternative (out now -- Iraq will be fine. Not!) makes it impossible to take them serious.

Posted by: Tom Grey - Liberty Dad at September 25, 2006 12:14 PM

Ah, the patented Moonbat Troll Subject Change - the first sign of retreat.

I've posted before on why Corn's latest actually confirms that Plame was no longer undercover.

As to "intentionally blown" that would require knowledge of her cover status and an intention (that word again) to blow it. Evidence?

Posted by: The Crank at September 25, 2006 12:15 PM

That chickenhawk charge Charles Vermont trots out just never gets old.

Posted by: Steve in Houston at September 25, 2006 12:19 PM

Larry Johnson, a former CIA official said, "She met with folks who worked in the nuclear industry, cultivated sources, and managed spies" during this time frame.

Larry Johnson spent, what, three entire years in the CIA? In that time, possibly, he could have been trained to find his ass with both hands. By no means can he be said to be any kind of authority in, for example, what Valerie Plame was up to, any more than, for instance, Josh Marshall (just to pick a random reporter).

Posted by: Slartibartfast at September 25, 2006 12:29 PM
What proof have you seen that she wasn't NOC?
Ah, the "why can't you disprove a negative"? The fact that there have been no charges brought for outing a NOC would be the starting point. Posted by: RW at September 25, 2006 12:33 PM

I don't know why you'd bother to read Marshall at all. He pretends at being some sort of intellectual when he really is just a thin-skinned, foul-mouthed leftist hack.

Um, Josh has a PhD in history from Brown. Seems like that would qualify him as something of a for-real intellectual.

Posted by: pinson at September 25, 2006 12:38 PM

For the record, I'm not trolling, I was looking for an answer to a question that I had. The response to Corn's work that you point to does seem to show that Plame was not undercover during the time she was in Jordan, but it doesn't rebut whether she was officially NOC at the time or at any time within the five years prior.

As to "intentionally blown", I'm not defending that statement. However, if she was NOC, her cover was "carelessly blown" at best.

Posted by: ketemphor at September 25, 2006 12:39 PM

ketemphor - I was responding to the guy above you.

Posted by: The Crank at September 25, 2006 12:41 PM

And oh, by the way, a PhD from Brown also gets you Atrios.

So, I'm thinking: bad argument.

Posted by: Slartibartfast at September 25, 2006 12:46 PM

The Crank wrote:


I should start by noting that re-reading Marshall's archives reminds me how slippery he is - he truly is a master of implying things without coming out and saying them.

I suppose Marshall has learned to become more subtle (although, as The Crank rightly notes, it's hard to escape the collective sledgehammer of 231 posts). Here's what I wrote about Marshall in 2004 (I'm following up on someone else's comment on the guy):
Josh Marshall Establishment Democrat. I found his stuff to be really good a few years back, but recently he's spending more time rooting for the team (DNC/Kerry) than being objective. Also, darkly hints at constant "breaking soon" scoops that either never appear or completely underwhelm.

If you hadn't written that last sentence I would've. He pulls this trick every month or two, and in the three years I've been reading him I'm not sure it's *ever* really panned out in a big way. However, definitely played a big role, along with a few other key blogs, in booting Lott from the Majority Leader post.

Posted by: Yeechang Lee at September 25, 2006 12:52 PM

The fact that there have been no charges brought for outing a NOC would be the starting point
I offered the evidence I had seen that imply she was NOC, I was asking for counterevidence.
You can disprove a negative as easily as a positive, for one entails the other: Rocks are not made of pink cotton candy :: Rocks are made of something other than pink cotton candy.
The problem comes when making generalizations by attaching all or none to our statements. But facts can often be discerned when we sufficiently narrow our focus (e.g. this rock vs. all rocks)
Further, the fact that no charges have been brought for outing an NOC may have other reasons than whether or not Plame was an NOC. The one that immediately springs to mind is the difficulty a prosecutor runs into of proving intent.

Posted by: ketemphor at September 25, 2006 12:52 PM

Powell was a target of Plame's 'using her husband to use a foreign intelligence operation on the US government.' Plame wanted a leak, but she ended up with advisors, etc. She really wanted someone important like the VP to 'leak her.' She got the advisors and that is all and that was the intent once she went bad. Her intent was oraganized crime or conspiracy. She ended up leaking herself and having her scholl mates help her confirm her identity that lead to some outings.

Posted by: Ani at September 25, 2006 12:56 PM

Larry Johnson, a former CIA official said

Now that was funny...

Posted by: Sue at September 25, 2006 1:01 PM

Oh, God. Having a Phd in no way automatically makes one an intellectual.

ketemphor, there is an official definition of being undercover. Plame does not fit it, no matter what activities she was involved in. Of course, if you want to call a dog's tail a leg then I suppose you could say dogs have 5 legs. Reality is a stubborn thing.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at September 25, 2006 1:09 PM

About all the evidence you need that Valerie Plame was not NOC is that she commuted to her office in CIA headquarters every day, and had since her last overseas posting some six or more years previously.

Posted by: R C Dean at September 25, 2006 1:10 PM

And, ketemphor you were offering hearsay, not evidence.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at September 25, 2006 1:12 PM

What about Lawrence O'Donnell? He also led a lot of people to think that, "He was in the KNOW".

Posted by: sergei at September 25, 2006 1:28 PM

A regular drive through the front gate in daylight would seem to quash the idea the Plame could ahve been a Secret Agent. It is nonsense for anyone in the media to have ever written that she could have been an endangered covert agent when Novak wrote of her.

Posted by: Charley at September 25, 2006 1:40 PM

Two words: Jason Leopold

Posted by: Hoodlumman at September 25, 2006 1:48 PM

For everybody's info, covert agents are not posted to Langley. Period. Anybody who says Plame was covert is a liar, a moron, or both. That defines Joe Wilson.

Posted by: jeff at September 25, 2006 2:18 PM

It was Josh Shlippery Marshall's big scoop coming on the Yellow Cake matters that first got me interested in the Ballad of Joe and Val. It was June, of '04, just as Joe hit apogee.
====================================

Posted by: kim at September 25, 2006 2:19 PM
You can disprove a negative as easily as a positive, for one entails the other
Okay, prove you didn't eat your own feces on Feb 12, 2004. Then prove that Bill Clinton didn't slap his mom when he was 8. And of course, there's always the "when did you stop beating your kids?" example, which is quasi-famous for being used in the argument that demanding that folks disprove a negative is a fool's errand and the last refuge of scoundrels.
. The one that immediately springs to mind is the difficulty a prosecutor runs into of proving intent.
To the cogent thinker, the thing that immediately springs to mind when no one charged with a crime is that there probably was no crime. No matter, you find _______ guilty and it's up to them (or, apparently, us) to prove to you without a reasonable doubt that they're innocent, otherwise you're right. Oh, and that Josh Marshall's penchant for being wrong is to be dealt with by muddying the water.

How close am I?

Posted by: RW at September 25, 2006 2:21 PM

You can disprove a negative as easily as a positive

It is up to the person making the claim to provide evidence of that claim. I can tell you that I'm Batman and easily tell you to "prove me wrong" if you question it.

If she was a NOC, it would be extremely easy to prove such a thing. It is illogical for somebody to claim negative evidence to support their point of view. "You haven't proven she isn't a NOC, therefore, she must be." It's silly.

Posted by: Jay at September 25, 2006 3:37 PM

I remember one of my co-workers asking me in all seriousness to prove exactly why Earth, Wind & Fire was not the greatest band ever. I must say that the unintentional humor of it all rendered me without a retort. They are a pretty cool band. Nice sequins.

Posted by: tsmonk at September 25, 2006 3:57 PM

And those horn arrangements! Wooo!

Oh, and Marshall is now officially part of the discredited leftwing hack squad that got large lumps of coal on Fizzlemas. Elite company!

His supporters here are clinging desperately to the story carefully laid out over three years, supported by many sourceless truthout(the window) articles, and in Joe Wilson's funhouse of smoke and mirrors.

Plame's over, kiddies.

Nobody but the leftwingnuts bit. Now they're eating crow. A halarious sight to behold, it is.

Posted by: Good Lt at September 25, 2006 6:22 PM

HI-larious, that is. :-)

Posted by: Good Lt at September 25, 2006 6:24 PM

Maybe someone can prove that ketemphor has NOT seen the tremendous error of his assertion and thus slinkered off to his comfort zone of the lefty blogs & reveling in the prospect that no matter what, they'll still make him feel more secure about his intentions, instead of recognizing that clicking on Insty's link here and attempting to spin some of the blather put forth on those aforementioned sites was really a bad idea.

Although, the EW&F thing was easier to comprehend, I guess. But, really, I'm shocked that an adult would even try to pass off the notion that asking to disprove a negative is plausible....didn't most people learn that by the time they reached puberty?

Posted by: RW at September 25, 2006 9:49 PM

I've been reading Marshall almost since he started, and I agree with many of the assessments here: in the past, he was always intellectually stimulating, but recently, he has become more hackish.

While I often disagree with him, I used to be challenged by him. He would frame arguments in ways I hadn't thought of and give me new ways of looking at things. But I can't remember how long it has been since he has done that for me. It seems like every post is either (a) trying to score partisan points to his already partisan audience; (b) pointing out some perceived corruption on the part of the Republicans; or (c) some link to some other part of TPM where (a) and (b) are going on in some other form. In short, he's become a more literate version of Kos.

I finally realized that this shift had occurred after a pretty intelligent post earlier in the year about how Democrats can't just run on corruption alone, but that they also need to put together a coherent message of what they themselves believe and stand for. It was impassioned, and it was dead on: if the Dems actually did that, they would walk away with th election. But, despite his own good advice, Marshall proceeded to spend the next 50 or so posts pointing out corruption and never once offered that coherent message he called for.

That sealed it for me: he has sold out to the need to drive up reader to generate ad revenue, and real vision doesn't get as many clicks as a good "Rove about to frogmarch" story. The result of the sell out has been intellectual poverty. It's a shame.

Posted by: Jeff at September 25, 2006 10:48 PM

Okay, prove you didn't eat your own feces on Feb 12, 2004. Then prove that Bill Clinton didn't slap his mom when he was 8.

Prove that you did (or did not) eat a burrito on Feb 12, 2004. Prove that CarrotTop did (or did not) fall off his bike when he was 8. The trouble here isn't in proving a negative, it's in proving anything that happened in the past without documentary evidence.

"when did you stop beating your kids?" isn't contentious because of pushing someone to prove a negative, it's contentious because it presupposes that you did beat your kids at some point in the past.

To the cogent thinker, the thing that immediately springs to mind when no one charged with a crime is that there probably was no crime.

We found a dead body under the bridge with a knife in it, but noone has been charged with a crime, ergo there probably was no crime. Hmmm, cogent thinker?

Maybe someone can prove that ketemphor has NOT seen the tremendous error of his assertion ...

Why even go there? What is gained by trying to insult me personally? If you really must know, I was posting here yesterday during a short break and spent the majority of my remaining hours of consciousness working on a hairpin microstrip filter design.

But, really, I'm shocked that an adult would even try to pass off the notion that asking to disprove a negative is plausible

Honestly, you may want to review any formal logic text.
p -> q therefore !q -> !p
X is not a member of set A is equivalent to:
X is a member of the set of all things not in set A

I'm pretty sure I could prove that rocks are not sausages to all but the most hardened of skeptics.

Posted by: ketemphor at September 26, 2006 10:14 AM

OK, I clicked over here from the Corner. I don't intend to become a troll or cause trouble, but I'd like to make a few comments.

First, it's fascinating to me to see the way conservative blogs have reacted to the way this investigation fizzled and Joe Wilson proved himself to be a schmuck. It reminds me of a football player doing an end zone dance when his team is losing 49-7, but hey... I'll freely admit that Josh Marshall and other lefty bloggers don't come off well from this episode. The conspiracy theory fizzled, and it's pretty clear that the only actual crimes committed were by administration officials with guilty consciences lying to the grand jury.

Still, let's look at the actual, established facts here.

1. The CIA ultimately concluded that Saddam did not attempt to purchase uranium from Niger. Therefore, even if by dumb luck, on the only relevant issue to the American public, Wilson appears to have been right and the Administration was wrong.

2. Several Administration officials leaked information to reporters that blew the cover of a CIA operative who worked on WMDs, in order to discredit her husband. It cannot be proved that they did so intentionally or maliciously, Plame may not have been technically covert, and Wilson may have been a big ol' liar. Even if we stipulate every single one of those points, this affair doesn't shine a favorable light on the people working in the Bush Administration. And let's not forget that Libby has been charged with perjury.

3. There were no WMDs in Iraq, and a bipartisan majority of the Senate Intelligence Committee just filed a report debunking all the claims of Iraqi collaboration with al-Qaida. So maybe those of us who thought the war was a bad idea aren't so crazy after all? You want to talk about conspiracy theories, let's talk about the one we went to war for, mmkay? And yes, yes, I know that many people in the CIA and the Democratic Party fell for the WMD conspiracy theories, too. But have you learned any lessons from this that might apply to Iran?

4. Recent reports indicate that the war in Iraq is sowing sectarian strife and terrorism and crippling the Army, yet the President is unwilling to even change strategies and indicate he is serious about winning the war. Can anyone here actually DEFEND Bush on this and explain why it's a better plan than John Murtha's, without resorting to bad World War 2 analogies and cliches about "resolve"?

I should also mention those crazy muckraking liberal bloggers with their conspiracy theories about Halliburton, Abramoff, Foggo, the Duke, Ney, and DeLay... oh wait! Those weren't crazy.

So, you know, feel free to chortle with glee about the egg on liberal bloggers' faces. But have you looked at the scoreboard lately?

Posted by: violet at September 26, 2006 12:38 PM

Mmmmmm.....I smell another round of subject-changing here.

Posted by: The Crank at September 26, 2006 1:19 PM
Prove that you did (or did not) eat a burrito on Feb 12, 2004.
A receipt can handle that. I cannot prove that I did not, which is point.
Prove that CarrotTop did (or did not) fall off his bike when he was 8.
A picture/home movie, a diary entry, his parents' testimony, etc., could prove that he fell off. I cannot prove that he did not, which is the point.


We found a dead body under the bridge with a knife in it, but noone has been charged with a crime, ergo there probably was no crime. Hmmm, cogent thinker?

In that edition of "changed scenario" you have a piece of evidence: a dead body. In the subject at hand, we have no evidence of a NOC being outed only the language of partisans. The authorities involved know the people who supposedly "outed" said person and they were not charged. A confession and still no crime. Sinking in yet? No, we have...only your charges that people prove that the crime did NOT happen.

Which, as outlined, is the avenue least traveled by cogent adults for a reason. If you think a crime has been committed, then prove it. Apparently, the people with an unlimited budget & subpoena power don't think there is a crime...they have Armitage admitting, so proving guilt isn't the issue & you're left claiming that it's "intent". If that's the crutch you're willing to carry, by all means...have at it. Whatever makes you sleep better.

Posted by: RW at September 26, 2006 1:46 PM

ketemphor, just to say, in closing, that I'm not trying to be confrontational...just opining that the declaration that disproving a negative is just as easy as proving a positive is a fallacious statement. As noted, I can easily prove that I ate a burrito X years ago if I only have a receipt or if someone else was with me or if the establishment that I purchased remembers me. Okay, the latter portions aren't easy and the former isn't likely, but a receipt does the trick. It's pretty much impossible to prove that I did NOT eat a burrito.

That's why our nation is aligned with the "innocent until proven guilty" theme: it's up to the accuser to prove the charges. Likewise, the assertion that someone (Armitage, presumably) can "prove" that a crime didn't occur is actually folly, in this case. All we have is his word ("I didn't mean harm"), unless someone can find a written statement made prior to the contrary. Which is why it is the duty of Fitzgerald to prove that a crime was committed.

That you're attempting to reverse the normal order of things by way of attempting to "score" in an internet debate - when you're the only person who accepts the notion that disproving a negative is a plausible tactic, at that - should be illustrative. If Armitage is guilty I hope the guy serves in jail for a long time. But, it's not up to us to prove anyone's innocence; if you're making a charge, it's up to you to prove their guilt.

Basic stuff, I thought.

Posted by: RW at September 26, 2006 2:09 PM

"Mmmmmm.....I smell another round of subject-changing here."

Well, that response sums it all up nicely. Hey, our team just won a game! Mentioning that we're 30 games out of first place, the entire bullpen is on the DL, and the manager is passed out drunk would be "changing the subject." Can't have that.

Ah well, pop some champagne and celebrate if you must, Crank. It's been a rough season, and you guys deserve to feel good about yourselves for a change.

Cheers,
Violet

Posted by: violet at September 26, 2006 2:34 PM
It's been a rough season, and you guys deserve to feel good about yourselves for a change.
You might want to win a few elections (outside of primaries, that is) before declaring that the other team is out of first place. Remember when Tom Daschle was SML?

Yeah, he'd try to change the subject, as well.

Posted by: RW at September 26, 2006 3:01 PM

I am so happy you pointed out that Josh Marshall and a cast of thousands were wrong. I am sick of seeing the news that this is all about Jason Leopold and that he was the only one who was wrong. The people most responsible for peddling that line of BS are people like Josh Marshall because they don't want to be exposed as also being wrong on this story. So they dump it all on Leopold. What about Murray Waas? The hero of the left has been wrong mroe often than not and now he's in hiding.

Posted by: sandra at September 27, 2006 8:43 PM

"Plame's over, kiddies."

Shouldn't be,

The Wilsons appear to have been attemping to deliberately sabotage United States forreign policy during a period when United States forces were under fire in Iraq.

That's called treason where I come from.

In addition, Ms. Wilson appears to have secured employment for her husband in a position for which he had no qualifications. That ought to be actionable.

At the very least the Wilsons should be forever barred from future employment with the government, and ought to be denied any benefits (salary, pension, etc.) deriving from the jobs they once held

If it was up to me, they'd likely be tried and executed.

Posted by: Dave Surls at September 29, 2006 1:17 AM
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