Unless you live in the White House, where seldom is heard a discouraging word, you probably know that Valerie Plame testified with devastating effect before Henry Waxman's House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Friday morning. It was absolutely fascinating, start to finish. For starters, half of the committee didn't bother to show up. Go ahead. Guess.
Since I don't watch television, I've never seen nor heard Waxman (I thought he'd be taller). I've never before seen nor heard the shrill and extremely irritating Victoria Toensing. I didn't know that Georgia has one of the most obnoxious and toadying congressmen in Christendom (Republican Lynn Westmoreland). More on all of this in a moment. There's more!
First, though, full disclosure: I'd have absolutely no idea who most of these people are were it not for the incredibly thorough work of the folks at Firedoglakeblog.
For the most comprehensive information anywhere, bar none, about all things related to the Scooter Libby trial and Plamegate, take a look at FDL's CIA leak case link. There you will find posts and videos (including clips from the Waxman hearings) from the FDLers who have been all over the Plame case like a casing on rancid bologna. Jane Hamsher and Christy Hardin Smith lead the way but the work of their colleagues is invaluable. Many of these folks have legal backgrounds, so they're not just sounding off via their rumps.
I raise the FDL source because I have relied almost exclusively on them for the straight skinny about what's going on with Plamegate. When I read it elsewhere, I check it out on FDL. Actually, I've spent WAY too much time at their site, hooked on their reporting and humor. Can you say "addictive"?
Okay, they did almost diddley squat for Anna and Britney. But apart from that, they're probably the most important emerging source of reliable progressive news on the net. They're making a huge difference for us.
And just so you know, after the big plug, if you abandon the Clothesline in favor of FDL, we will be utterly disconsolate. We think there's a place for both of us!
Okay, I'm babbling. Back to the point. Valerie Plame's testimony and the Q&A that followed.
Waxman got off the blocks in a powerful way by quoting none other than Father George H.W. Bush: "I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who expose the names of our sources. They are, in my opinion, the most insidious of traitors." Ah, Junior, big oops on ya.
Valerie Plame opened with her five-minute testimony. She is an awesome woman. She started a tad nervous, but quickly settled in to her talk. She seemed totally sincere, unassuming, genuinely devastated about the loss of her job. "It was over in an instant. That career path was terminated," she said. "I loved my career because I love my country." She was dismayed that she was outed by her own countrymen (and likely some countrywomen as well).
She made it crystal clear that she was a covert operative at the time of her outing. That in the past five years, she was not parked at a desk (as some have suggested), but in fact had traveled outside this country. She remarked that, in much the same way a general is still a general even when taking a short break from battle, she was still a covert agent, whether or not she was actively involved in operations at any particular moment in time.
Concerning the selection of her husband, Joseph Wilson, to travel to Africa, Plame said, "I did not recommend him. I did not suggest him. There was no nepotism involved. I did not have the authority." Seems pretty clear, doesn't it?
I'm not an analyst. I probably don't even know enough about this whole situation to be venturing an opinion. But I can tell you this. It's all of a piece. There is a repetitive pattern in this administration of placing ____ gain above the national interest. Possible words for filling in that blank are personal, political, partisan '" the three Ps in the Bush pod.
I was impressed with Valerie Plame's candor and sincerity. She answered all questions '" at least, those allowed by CIA restrictions. And when Republicans (and later, the acerbic Victoria Toensing) attempted to misplace blame on the CIA and anywhere else they could find to misplace it, by innuendo and spin, Valerie Plame refused to be lured into their sticky webs.
She is smart, classy and, near as I can tell, honest. That sets her totally apart from the Bush administration. Honesty is neither a value nor a description of that cabal.
Someone today (perhaps Waxman '" I didn't see who was speaking) made an off-the-cuff reference to the fact that the outing seemed like a petulant ploy (my words, not the speaker's). That is the modus operandi of BushCo. And with the First Pouter at least fronting that organization, it isn't all that surprising.
Time to cue the adults and the bloodhounds. This is just the beginning.
UPDATE: Americablog has links to video highlights from the hearings.