Tim Blair is always keen to correct any errors I’ve made, and jumps in on the latest revelations in the long-running Plame-Wilson scandal. My response is over the fold, but I thought it might be a good idea to check on some of his earlier corrections. One of the first is this one from May 2004 when Tim noted my observation that “the anniversary of Bush’s declaration of victory looks as good a time as any to date what seems increasingly certain to be a defeat [at least for the policies that have been pursued for the last year]” and suggested that I should “Try Footy Tipping”.
Given, the implication that I’m not much of a tipster, I thought it might be a better idea if I organised a tipping competition, allowing Tim and others to do better than me. The obvious topic is the date of the victory in Iraq, which I foolishly suggested, back in 2004, that Bush might not actually deliver. To get a definite winner, I’ll specify some rules corresponding to a conservative interpretation of the desired outcome of US victory culminating in a “democratic, stable and prosperous” Iraq. So here are the conditions
A No more than 30 000 US troops in Iraq
B A democratic government with control over the entire country
C Stability defined as no more than 100 deaths in a month from insurgency, civil and sectarian strife, kidnapping and so on
D Prosperity defined as restoration of 1990 levels of income per person and electricity supply per person
To enter, just nominate the first month, during Bush’s remaining term in office, when all four conditions will be satisfied, or vote “Not under Bush”. One nomination per person, please. Only comments nominating a date will be accepted.
To forestall disputes, I’ll offer a second competition, allowing entrants to nominate three of the four conditions and a month for their fulfilment.
The Plame game
Iâ€™m not a huge fan of scandals, and I havenâ€™t followed the Plame spy scandal very closely. Still, anyone who reads blogs has known for at least a week that Karl Rove, Bushâ€™s closest advisor, leaked the name of Valerie Plame, a covert CIA operative, as part of a political vendetta against her husband, Joseph Wilson.
Checking back, it appears that Rove advised Time reporter Matt Cooper that, in Cooper’s notes “it was, KR said, wilson’s wife, who apparently works at the agency on wmd [weapons of mass destruction] issues who authorized Wilson’s trip to Niger” (the subject of the dispute between Wilson and White House). No one appears to have challenged this: the recent news is about another leak to Robert Novak, who named Plame in a story published shortly after the leak to Cooper. This turns out to have come former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, and not, as many people suggested, from Rove. Just to add to the confusion, Cheney offsider “Scooter” Libby is facing charges over a third leak, to ace NYT WMD reporter Judy Miller – Tim links to a post defending Libby.
In a second post, Tim Blair states “Days since Professor John Quiggin called on Karl Rove to resign for leaking Valerie Plameâ€™s identity to Bob Novak: 430”. It’s easy to check that this is incorrect: I never mentioned Novak, and my post linked to a story about the leak to Matt Cooper of Time. Not only that, but Tim had already linked to my comment noting that the leak was to Time, not Novak, when he posted this. I guess we can start the clock on his apology for this error.
UpdateTim has graciously apologized, so we can stop the clock within the first hour. The lesson I draw from this is that trying to untangle scandals, leaks and so on is nearly always a waste of time, as it has been this time. Next time something like this comes up, I’ll try to stick to my original judgement and ignore the thing altogether.