Tuesday, September 30, 2003

A genuine White House scandal. It's taken more than two months, but the mainstream media are finally in full battle cry over the matter of who leaked the name of former ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife to the media -- including, most prominently, syndicated columnist Robert Novak.

Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA operative or analyst; precisely which is apparently a matter of some dispute. Wilson contends that the White House deliberately blew her cover as retaliation for an op-ed piece he wrote for the New York Times debunking the Niger yellowcake claims.

Wilson points the finger squarely at George W. Bush's political guru, and has been quoted as saying:

I don't think we're going to let this drop. At the end of the day it's of keen interest to me to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs. And trust me when I use that name. I measure my words.

Here is Sunday's Washington Post story, which did much to move this nauseating scandal into public view. Here is today's New York Times follow-up. And Josh Marshall has more on this than you have time to read -- but scroll down and read his thoughts on the damage that may have been done to Plame's work on weapons of mass destruction.

Slate's Jack Shafer offers some smart (if overly cavalier) background and context.

And Rush Limbaugh is desperate.

Another scandal, all but forgotten. The Boston Globe today runs an op-ed by Clinton-administration official Jeffrey Connaughton on the Bush White House's decision to let some 140 Saudi nationals -- "including two-dozen relatives of Osama bin Laden" -- flee the US immediately after 9/11.

Connaughton's column prompts me to dig up a piece that former Massport executive director Virginia Buckingham wrote for the Boston Globe Magazine last September.

Buckingham -- now the deputy editorial-page editor of the Boston Herald -- wrote about how stunned she and other officials were over the quick getaway at Logan International Airport:

The next night, we experienced another surreal moment: the bin Laden family airlift. My staff was told that a private jet was arriving at Logan from Saudi Arabia to pick up 14 members of Osama bin Laden's family living in the Boston area. "Does the FBI know?" staffers wondered. "Does the State Department know? Why are they letting these people go? Have they questioned them?" This was ridiculous. But our power to stop their arrival or departure was limited. Under federal law, an airport operator is not allowed to restrict the movement of an individual flight or a class of aircraft without going through a byzantine regulatory process that had, to date, never succeeded. So bravado would have to do in the place of true authority. [Massport aviation director Thomas] Kinton said: "Tell the tower that plane is not coming in here until somebody in Washington tells us it's OK." He then repeatedly called the FBI and the State Department throughout the night. Each time the answer was the same: "Let them leave." On September 19, under the cover of darkness, they did.

Bad company. Boston Herald sportswriter Ed Gray today comes out as a gay man. He writes:

I'm out because I no longer, in good conscience, choose to ignore the unabashed homophobia that is so cavalierly tolerated within the world of sports. I'm out, because the silence of a closeted gay man only serves to give his implicit approval to bigotry. I'm out, because I refuse to continue hiding from the truth that an openly gay man has as much right as a straight man to play sports or report on them.

Unfortunately, Gray comes out right next to columnist Gerry Callahan (they're side by side both in print and on the Herald website), whose WEEI Radio (AM 850) morning show, Dennis & Callahan, specializes in homophobic "humor."

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