Fear of Clowns

"Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurrence of the improbable."
- H. L. Mencken

Monday, February 28, 2005

Right-wingers who can't tell and from or, and a midnight treat 


I had heard this in the past, but the notion that the law said to protect Valerie Plame's identity would only apply had she served outside of the US within five years of her outing is again rearing it's head in the right-wing echo chamber.

The thought comes from misreading "or" as "and" - the stuff about "five years" and other definitions not likely to apply are snipped out here,

(4) The term "covert agent" means - 
  (A) [...] or 
  (B) a United States citizen whose intelligence relationship 
  to the United States is classified information, and - 
    (i) [...]  or 
    (ii) who is at the time of the disclosure acting as an 
    agent of, or informant to, the foreign counterintelligence or 
    foreign counterterrorism components of the Federal Bureau of 
    Investigation; or [...]

Besides, it's nutty to suggest the DOJ would be investigating who revealed her identity for so long without first ascertaining whether the law applied. Then again, we're looking at wing-nuts here, so nuttiness is to be expected.

The NewsMax article linked to above not only repeats what appears to be a misreading of the clause mentioning "five years", but also excerpts a quote noting that Novak didn't commit a crime as if the original essay was saying no crime was committed by anyone. Says NewsMax,

Says Toensing, "The Novak column and the surrounding facts do not support evidence of criminal conduct.

Actually, said Toensing,

The Novak column and the surrounding facts do not support evidence of criminal conduct.

When the act was passed, Congress had no intention of prosecuting a reporter who wanted to expose wrongdoing and, in the process, once or twice published the name of a covert agent. Novak is safe from indictment.

Of course Novak shouldn't be indicted for printing something someone told him - bad judgment, perhaps, a crime - certainly not. He should instead be jailed on general principles.

OK, on that last bit I'm joking, I'm joking.

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