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Saturday, April 8, 2006
When Conflict Resolution Fails
Topic: NewsBusters
A debate occurred on the April 8 "Fox & Friends Weekend" between token WorldNetDaily liberal Ellen Ratner and conservative Newsday columnist Jim Pinkerton over the relevance of the news that President Bush authorized the leak of information from a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iraq, which ex-vice presidential chief of staff "Scooter" Libby then passed along to the New York Times, to the leak of the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame, Pinkerton proposed a solution: "Ellen, we'll let sort this out."

Which NewsBusters' Mark Finkelstein attempts in an April 7 post -- and fails. He cites NBC's Kelly O'Donnell as the voice of reason (it's usually a bad sign when the anti-MSM folks cite the MSM as evidence) as saying, "It's important to point out Libby and senior White House officials say that nowhere in these documents does it suggest that the president told Libby to release the name of Valerie Plame."

A much more accurate way to resolve this would be to go to the source (via Media Matters): the legal documents filed by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald in which the Bush leak link was first disclosed. Under a heading called From a section titled "The Relevance of the NIE to This Case":

Defendant [Libby] understood that the Vice President specifically selected him to talk to the press about the NIE and [former U.S. Ambassador and Plame's husband] Mr. [Joseph C.] Wilson [IV] on July 12, 2003, in place of then-Assistant to the President for Public Affairs, Cathie Martin, the usual press contact person from OVP [Office of the Vice President]. This is relevant to show the importance that defendant and his boss placed on the conversation concerning which he later testified. During his conversations with the press that day, defendant discussed Ms. Wilson's CIA employment with both [Time magazine's] Matthew Cooper (for the first time) and Judith Miller (for the third time). Thus, there is no way to present the relevant events concerning defendant's discussions with reporters about Ms. Wilson without discussing defendant's role in disseminating the key judgments of the NIE in those same conversations.

So it's not unrelated, despite what Finkelstein and Pinkerton suggests. Ratner should have made a counter-offer: "Jim, let Media Matters sort this out."

P.S. NewsMax similarly falsely claimed that "the so-called leak authorized by Bush had nothing to do with Plame - but instead covered Iraq war intelligence that was mostly already in the public domain." If the material that Libby leaked was "already in the public domain," why did Bush have to declassify it?

Posted by Terry K. at 9:40 AM EDT

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