Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Right: Never Right, and Never Wrong

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You've heard of the "blue code of silence," right? Well, here is Glenn Greenwald on what I call the "red code of denial":

NBC News, yesterday:
An unclassified summary of outed CIA officer Valerie Plame's employment history at the spy agency, disclosed for the first time today in a court filing by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, indicates that Plame was "covert" when her name became public in July 2003. . . .

The employment history indicates that while she was assigned to [Directorate of Operations - Counterproliferation Division], Plame, "engaged in temporary duty travel overseas on official business." The report says, "she traveled at least seven times to more than ten times." When overseas Plame traveled undercover, "sometimes in true name and sometimes in alias -- but always using cover -- whether official or non-official (NOC) -- with no ostensible relationship to the CIA" . . . .

The unclassified summary of Plame's employment with the CIA at the time that syndicated columnist Robert Novak published her name on July 14, 2003 says, "Ms. Wilson was a covert CIA employee for who the CIA was taking affirmative measures to conceal her intelligence relationship to the United States."

The right-wing noise machine spent the last two years repeatedly, continuously and emphatically telling their followers the exact opposite[.]

And Glenn went back and found examples -- from Fox News, the National Review, the Washington Times, right-wing blogs like Instapundit, and lots more. Here are just two that Glenn dug up, the first written by Barbara Lerner at National Review, and the second by Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit [bolds are Glenn's]:

The charge was false, and the CIA knew it was false from the get-go. Valerie Plame was their employee; they knew she was not a classified agent because she was not covert and had not worked abroad for more than five years.

Since it seems as clear as anything in this affair that Valerie Plame was not a covert agent the day before Novak's column either, I think we can chalk this up to Joe Wilson's habitual disingenuousness. . .

Nobody ever said that she wasn't working for the CIA -- the question is whether she was a covert spy or a paperpusher, and the answer seems pretty clearly to be the latter.

Manufacturing reality:
Many people who listen to right-wing commentators such as these get their "news" about the world primarily, even exclusively, from these sources. And these sources, knowing that, routinely create their own self-affirming though wildly warped realities, in the process denying the most established facts or asserting propositions for which there is no factual basis (Fred Barnes: "The CIA made such a big deal out of Valerie Plame and her name being published. She wasn't even an covert agent or anything" -- Glenn Reynolds: "Since it seems as clear as anything in this affair that Valerie Plame was not a covert agent the day before Novak's column").

And there are countless identical statements about Plame that are not included here where the commentator confined their assertion to whether Plame was "covert" within the parameters of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. Victoria Toensing, for instance, repeatedly made misleading statements insinuating that Plame was not covert -- even calling for Senate Democrats to investigate the CIA's criminal referral of the Plame disclosure -- but typically couched those claims as a statutory analysis, rather than a straight-forward claim about her employment status with the CIA.

But the above-listed right-wing pundits simply made clear, unequivocal statements about Plame's status with the CIA that were outright false. They had no basis at the time for making such statements. But, as they so often do, they made them anyway, because those statements helped to defend the Leader and bolster their political agenda. Most of all, they know that their readers will trust what they say even when those statements are demonstrably false.

That is the purpose they serve -- to say whatever needs to be said, whether true or false, to diffuse concern among their followers that the Leader has engaged in any real wrongdoing. That is why Tim at Balloon-Juice -- who last night said: "I could entertain myself for hours looking up the hair-singingly civil manner that countless conservative blogs attacked the idea that Valerie Plame was a covert agent. If one in twenty corrects their error you can color me shocked" -- can rest easy. No shock is forthcoming. These falsehoods are never acknowledged, let alone retracted, because they are a critical part of the role they play.

Cross-posted at Shakesville.

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