Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I Put My Name On This Column!

Richard Cohen is "chatting" with his readers Washington Post style. Questions are submitted in advance, and the tone of them is quite negative. He had a column yesterday stating that Scooter Libby was a victim, and should be freed from his persecution. People with a fucking clue demurred. Here are some highlights of today's discussion.

Centreville, Va.: Mr. Cohen -- in December 1998 you wrote in regard to Clinton's perjury: "The condemned man is guilty. He lied in the Paula Jones deposition and he lied to a federal grand jury and, most gallingly if not grievously, he lied to the American people. A hanging of some sort is in order." Given that he was convicted of lying to a grand jury, the American people's representatives as it were, what makes his case so different such that you think Libby should be spared "a hanging of some sort." You must admit you are not being consistent here.

Richard Cohen: No, I admit no such thing. I said in the column that I don't condone Libby's lying -- in fact I'm appalled by it. I didn't condone Clinton's lying, but singling out that one column about Clinton misses the message I wrote in several other columns

Please don't confuse me with facts. I meant to say that Clinton should be hanging out with David Broder and Sally Quinn at a cocktail party. You buy that right?

You had an op-ed piece in the NYT which was critical of the administration and they moved to respond. It's not like they had the IRS investigate him or bugged his phone, they leaked that his wife probably worked for the CIA and probably sent him to NIger in the first place. You might not think that's appropriate -- I condemned it at the time -- but it's not a crime.

Oh, they just destroyed a CIA front company that his wife worked for, and threatened the lives of any person she contacted overseas while she was working in a COVERT role. No big deal.

Richard Cohen: I think my responsibility is not the same as a politicians responsibility. I think there a lot of things that are done in any line of work that you may not want to see exposed. Everyone in their life is a hypocrite of some sort, we all have areas of our lives we aren't particularly proud of, we cut a corenr(sic) here or there.

Please don't go there Richard. We really don't want to know.

Boonsboro, Md.: Thanks for injecting some sanity into the dialogue. The scorched-earth politics of the past 15 years or so have not helped America one bit.

Richard Cohen: You're welcome, call anytime. I agree that politics is being played too hard and also that it's been too criminalized if I can use that word.

No, you may not use that word. Using words for a living is your problem. You do a piss poor job of it. This is not a phone call by the way. This guy who kissed your ass is typing on the internet tubes. Call Ted Stevens for remedial lessons.

Richard Cohen: I don't know how to answer that question because I don't know what the bad acts might be. If it's simply a question of "did Vice President Cheney set out to destroy the credibilty of Joe Wilson" that may be a bad act, but it's not a crime. Did they proceed knowing that his wife was a covert CIA agent? Maybe, but taht turns out not to be a crime either. This whole thing happens in Washington all the time, which makes it hard for me to believe Libby's covering up for anyone.

Other than a complete misunderstanding of the law, Cohen has a point. It is a crime to knowingly out a CIA agent. We don't know what everybody knew because Scooter Libby lied. But other than that, Cohen was making sense.

Four counts, not one: Why did your column minimize the charges Libby was convicted of -- namely, one count of obstruction, two counts of perjury and one count of lying to the FBI about how he learned Plame's identity and whom he told? You only mentioned "perjury," but isn't the obstruction charge the most venal? It hampered the investigation and stymied investigations of others involved in leaking Plame's name and CIA employment. Isn't that so?

Richard Cohen: No. I didn't mean to minimize it, I just meant to write in shorthand because it's a column and I have a maximum amount of words. But the special prosecutor knew immediately who leaked to Novak -- and it wasn't Libby. Let me just say that I put my name on my column, so I don't even know why I'm responding to someone without a name...

It is Washington Post policy that we only list our city and state in these chats. You are really a Dick, if I may call you that Richard. I wrote a column about how shiny Hiroshima was, and didn't get to the death and rotting flesh because of space constraints myself. I feel ya.

Phoenix: Hi. You mentioned "politics, like sex and real estate, should be done with the lights off." I get the Clinton references but would argue that your later reference to a Stalin-style trial done by the left undermines that idea. Politics should be done with the lights on because I, for one, would like to know my candidate's bedfellows.

Richard Cohen: (Laughs.) I don't want to beat this sexual analogy to death.

There goes the fertility rate of anybody reading this. Thanks are on your way from Planned Parenthood.

Scooter Libby's champions, people who think he's deserving of a pardon, feel he's the victim of a poltiical vendetta, and if the war had been over when George Bush landed on an aircraft carrier, Libby wouldn't hasve been indicted -- the war was still popular.

If only Bush had won the war then. They could have committed all the crimes they wanted scot free if it wasn't for that pesky lack of a plan, and lying to the public about there being proof of WMDs in Iraq.

Richard Cohen: I don't quarrel with the jury. In fact, let me just say that my own reading of the trial was that he was guilty. I don't believe that he forgot. But I do believe that while it is inpermissable for anyone to lie to a grand jury -- I'm not quarreling with that -- I'm just saying that when you get called before a grand jury and you are a target, there ought to be a crime involved. More than that, in this government, in our government, we ought to make sure that the basis of it is not a political disagreement. I feel sorry for Scooter Libby. I don't agree with the guy's politics, I've never met him, I don't know him at all. But I do know that he was a successful lawyer probably making ... god knows, a lot of money ...

A grand jury's job is to investigate if there is a crime. When people lie to the grand jury about the events, it makes it hard to do that. He made a lot of money though, so fuck it. Let's throw him a parade, and park him in a big office at the American Enterprise Institute. Political dispute is should you raise taxes or not. Leaking a CIA agent's name is treason.
Boston MA: If Bush felt he needed to respond to Wilson, why not do it

openly, on-the-record, based on the merits?

Richard Cohen: Good question. I'm not sure Bush was involved in this at all, but in general I agree. We in the press have been too willing to allow people to abuse confidentiality for political reasons to attack. And I don't think we should permit it, but believe me, Dick Cheney didn't event this.

Event this? Quit abusing language, and we may be a bit skeptical of your reassurances of Dick Cheney being innocent here. Was he in his evil lair all week? Did Cheney tell you on background that he was just minding his own business?

New York, NY: In this chat you just said the following: "In Libby's case, I don't know the reason for the crime. I don't know whether or not he was telling the truth and simply forgot he leaked this information -- it's a remote possiblity but I don't buy it." With all due respect, whether you buy it or not means squat. A jury of Libby's peers bought it. They sat through a trial and weighed the evidence and found Liby guilty without a reasonable doubt. Isn't it a little arrogant for you to substitute your judgment for those that sat through the entire trial?

Richard Cohen: I didn't say that. I said I agree that he lied. I agreed with the jury. This is not a technical thing. I thought he was guilty. I thought he lied. Put that in your "squat."

I am getting the vapors. This was very fucking uncivil Dick.

San Jose, CA: The spin seems to be that because Armitage may have been the initial leaker and he didn't violate the IIPA, no one who subsequently disclosed Plame's name or status could have committed a crime. I don't think that is a correct interpretation of the statute. Is it?

Richard Cohen: My understanding of it is that a covert agent -- in order for you to commit a crime by exposing a CIA agent, they had to be stationed overseas in a covert position, and then there is a time limit on it.

You understand that the Moon landing was fake, and that when women have told you that it wasn't you, but them that it was the ladies who had the problem.
You have to ask your self what was Joe Wilson thinking? Did he really think he could write a column in the New York Times without risking blowing the cover of his wife? I find that hard to believe.

If a man pisses off another man, the "victim" can rape his wife. Look it up. It's a law I think.
Ramsey, NJ: You are comfortable saying that the Plame case is "all about nothing." As you know, Ms. Plame was at the heart of the Brewster-Jennings CIA front company involved in investigating weapons of mass destruction. Do you know which agents were compromised as a result of her exposure? Which foreign assets and missions? You don't. So how can you possibly say this case is about nothing? Whose word are you taking about that? And why? Bill Camarda, Ramsey, NJ

Richard Cohen: I'm not taking anyone's word about it, I'm not saying there were no consequences to her outing, but it was done inadvertently. And in fact, a special prosecutor could not bring a case against anybody for the leak.

Shit happens when you use the press to go after whistle blowers anonymously by attacking their wife. You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs. I am the liberal reporter at the Post. Isn't that neato?

Trifecta needs a beer or twelve now.