Bush dodges the Plame issue

The transcript of Bush's remarks about the Plame affair reveals that Bush seems to be operating from talkig points, and not addressing the substance or the seriousness of the scandal. As Josh Marshall of TPM points out:

There's no mention of blowing the cover of a CIA covert operative, no mention of Wilson, the issue of retaliation, or anything like that.

His repeated mantra is his opposition to "leaks of classified information." That of course is a much broader issue and, not coincidentally, a charge that the White House has previously levelled at Congress.

They're trying to move the subject on to much more comfortable ground and push the whole controversy over into the long and muddled history of leaks of classified information.

The law which seems to have been violated, of course, is a different one. And this allows the president to sidestep entirely the issue of his staffers retaliating against a critic by ruining his wife's career.

not to mention the serious threat to National Security. Cue Kevin Drum:

The fact that administration officials took it upon themselves to expose a CIA agent shows appalling judgment. They didn't know whether or not that endangered any CIA operations, which is why you just don't do this. And the fact that they did it for such base (and trivial) reasons says a lot about the kind of people they are.

But beyond that, of course the fundamental issue here is that � especially in a post-9/11 world � you don't play games with national security. Regardless of whether blowing Plame's network caused any serious problems, this is the reason the CIA is fighting back so hard on this: because they want to make sure no one ever does it again. Next time it might get a city full of people killed.

So: this affair exposes bad character and high school freshman levels of poor judgment among allegedly senior officials. But it also betrays a lack of seriousness about national security at a time when national security should be the most important thing they're thinking about.

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