Byron York must fancy himself the next Mary Matalin, Republican stooge turned book editor with zero judgment.
The Wilsons then began talking to Simon and Schuster, but in the interim, Patrick Fitzgerald sent out word that he did not intend to indict Karl Rove. Even with New York publishers who are avidly on the side of anyone willing to attack the Bush administration, that news did some damage to the Plame proposal. The value of her book, such as it was, was that it would tell the story of the human costs of a conspiracy that went straight to the top of the U.S. government. A Rove indictment would have been a great blessing for her book proposal; the absence of such an indictment was a great loss.
And if there are no further indictments in the case — and it certainly seems that Fitzgerald, by sending word to Rove and to Robert Novak that their parts in it were over, is winding down rather than gearing up — then the conspiracy scenario that underlay the Plame book proposal, and indeed all of Joseph Wilson's public appearances, appears to be falling apart. How does one keep that alive, at least through a seven-figure book deal and a few more speeches? Well, a lawsuit wouldn't be a bad idea.
Matalin, of course, is known for paying Mary Cheney a $1 million advance for a book that sold mere thousands of copies. Maybe it's just that conservatives don't read enough books, so they can't judge the value of them.
There are lots of reasons why York is wrong about Plame's book. People like spy stories. People like stories from those chased out of public service by the Bush Administration--which seem to do well even in the absence of indictments related to their complaint. And most of all, there's the fact that Plame is a beautiful and poised ex-spy who, Jim Marcinkowski tells us--has frightening skill with an AK-47. The press is dying for a story like Valerie Plame. The press is going to sell this book, even without a lawsuit.
But maybe Byron's poor judgment just comes from a larger inability to read. He asserts that:
And if there are no further indictments in the case — and it certainly seems that Fitzgerald, by sending word to Rove and to Robert Novak that their parts in it were over, is winding down rather than gearing up
Both Novak and Rove were quite clear--their part in this investigation is over. They've never said the investigation was over, which I'm sure old spin-meisters like Rove and Novak would have said, had they had the opportunity.
Now maybe Byron, the right's second most acclaimed expert on this after Tom Maguire, simply has missed the last three months of discovery relating to Libby's trial. You know, the part where Fitzgerald keeps revealing more and more details of Cheney's involvement in this? And maybe Byron isn't any good at math, either, because it sure seems like Rove and Novak haven't said the investigation was over, and it sure seems like Fitzgerald keeps showing us evidence that goes beyond a perjury indictment. 2 + 2 = Cheney and Libby in ongoing trouble.
But you know what? I think Byron is being willfully dumb here. Otherwise, why would he trot out the old Barbara Comstock talking point, suggesting that Fitzgerald was out of control (and contradicting his prior paragraph by admitting the investigation is ongoing)?
The bigger question in all this involves Fitzgerald. Remember that everything we are learning now, he has known for years. For example, he apparently knew who Robert Novak's sources were by January 2004, less than two months after he was appointed. Yet he continued with the case — indeed, continues with it to this day — for reasons that are not clear. He set a terrible precedent for the use of waivers in forcing reporters to testify or face jail. And all of it appears to have happened after he learned that the main players in the case had not violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act or any other national security law.
At least he didn't make claims about Fitzgerald's big spending, having been smacked down by Christy over that once already. A few more like that Christy, and maybe he'll learn to read something beyond Republican talking points.
But Byron still seems to be forgetting a bunch of things. He says everything we're learning now, Fitzgerald has known for years. Well, um, so have we, at least with respect to Novak's "revelations" this week. He doesn't seem to remember that there are "main players" in this case beyond Karl Rove and Bob Novak. And he seems to have forgotten what we learned when. (He also seems to think the span of time between December 30 and January 12 is just shy of two months, but then I've already shown that Byron doesn't have much aptitude for math.)
Well, let's see, Byron. Here are some things Fitzgerald learned after January 2004:
- Karl Rove leaked Plame's identity to Matt Cooper and somehow all evidence of that conversation disappeared, an event that has direct bearing on an IIPA violation (July 2005)
- Scooter Libby and Judy Miller chatted on June 23, in a meeting he didn't reveal to the prosecutors, and Libby raised the issue of Plame working for the CIA, an event that has direct bearing on an IIPA violation (October 2005)
- Bob Luskin was tipped off by Vivnovka that Cooper would identify Rove as his source--and only then did Rove start testifying about his conversation (October 2005)
And all that's before Fitzgerald received 250 pages of email in February 2006. It has taken the White House two and a half years to comply with the FBI's subpoenas. Why shouldn't Fitzgerald get two and a half years after he finally gets all the evidence?