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Friday, October 03, 2003

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PLAME COVERT? A SIMPLE LEGAL QUESTION   
Here's a novel concept for the Valerie Plame blame game -- knowing what the hell you're talking about. So Dave Nadig actually researched the law that the Bush administration supposedly broke in "outing" Plame. Here's Nadig:

"Yes, it’s all a key issue whether she was overt/covert. Yes, the media seems to be screwing it up in both directions on almost an hourly basis. It might be worth actually quoting the definition in the statute everyone’s all worked up about:

"'The term “covert agent” means –
(A) a present or retired officer or employee of an intelligence agency or a present or retired member of the Armed Forces assigned to duty with an intelligence agency -
(i) whose identity as such an officer, employee, or member is classified information, and
(ii) who is serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States;'

"So it seems to me there are really only three questions that are even relevant:

'1: Did she serve outside the US in the last 5 years? Note there is another reference about what 'serve' means, and simply traveling to a foreign country to gather intelligence seems to qualify.

"Or...

"2: Was her identity as an employee of the CIA in any way officially 'classified' -- regardless of what kind of a job she actually did.

"And...

"3: Was the source of disclosure a Federal employee (those to whom the statute applies).

"That’s really the only issue. The whole discussion about 'did people in DC already know' or 'was she actually put at risk' is completely irrelevant to the legal issues. I would add one other comment -- since the above definition is a simple matter of fact which her employer definitively knows the answer to, why would the Justice department be interviewing people to determine #3 on my list, without knowing the answers to #1 and #2 -- since presumably they could get that with a phone call (while we can't), and without an affirmative, there is no crime to be investigated?

"As usual, the media on both sides of this issue is spinning a lot of analysis and confusion around what is actually an extremely simple matter of legal fact checking. Whether we think it's legal or illegal is completely beside the point. The above 3 questions are all that really matter.

"A link to the actual law: http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/50/421.html"

What can I add but... so there!

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 5:06 PM | link  


Thursday, October 02, 2003

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HOW TO BOOK PAUL KRUGMAN ON YOUR TEEVEE SHOW   
Ever wonder how Paul Krugman gets booked on so many teevee shows? Once the momentum gets going, everyone has to have the guy on, just because everyone else did -- witness CNBC's "Kudlow & Cramer" last night, in which it was clear from numerous references to "taking the high road" that a non-confrontational opportunity for book promotion had been brokered in advance, and that Krugman's oft-repeated lies would be allowed to go substantially unchallenged. But it's not automatic -- people behind the scenes are doing everything they can to promote Krugman. One of my many informants in the media has leaked to me a letter being sent to hosts, bookers and producers to try to sell them on Krugman as a guest.

"Paul Krugman, one of the world's leading economists, has also become one of America's bravest and most influential commentators. As Nicholas Confessore wrote in The Washington Monthly, Krugman has a "proclivity for writing things before it is okay to write them." In THE GREAT UNRAVELING: Losing Our Way In the New Century [W.W. Norton & Company; September 15, 2003; $25.95 cloth] Krugman does it again - offering a chilling portrait of a nation on the brink. THE GREAT UNRAVELING weaves together Krugman's most influential Op-Ed columns from the The New York Times and other publications with substantial new material, including a powerful introductory chapter that places the outrages of recent years in context. This book tells a tale of promise betrayed. From irrational exuberance to corporate scandals, from the looting of California to the false pretenses used to sell an economic policy that benefits only a small elite, Krugman shows - with wit, passion and a unique ability to explain complex issues in plain English - how the nation has been misled. This is one of those books that can change the way people think about the world. It may even lead to what Krugman calls "a great revulsion: a moment in which the American people look at what is happening, realize how their good will and patriotism have been abused, and put a stop to this drive to destroy much of what is best in this country."

"ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Professor of Economics and International Affairs at Princeton University and winner of the John Bates Clark Medal for best economist under the age of forty, Paul Krugman has been named America's most important columnist by the Washington Monthly and columnist of the year by Editor and Publisher magazine. His twice weekly Op-Ed columns in The New York Times are read by millions.

"If you are interested in setting up an interview with Paul Krugman please give me a call at 617-254-4500 x118.

"Thanks in advance for your time and consideration. I look forward to speaking with you soon!

"Best -

"Kristie Sarchi,
Account Executive, Newman Communications"

So give Kristie a call -- tell her The Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid sent you!

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:41 PM | link  

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KRUGMAN POSTS TWO CORRECTIONS IN A SINGLE COLUMN!   
As far as I know, Paul Krugman has only posted two official corrections in the history of his New York Times column (here and here). With his column today, that number has doubled to four.

First, he corrects his mistaken statement in his Tuesday column that Winston Churchill said that the Marshall Plan was "the most unsordid act" -- when in fact, he said it of the Lend-Lease Act. Krugman writes,

"Correction: Many people, including Paul Bremer in recent testimony and myself in my Sept. 30 column, have linked Churchill's remark about the "most unsordid act" to the Marshall Plan. In fact, Churchill was referring to an earlier program, Lend-Lease. But one suspects that he wouldn't have minded the confusion."

But in classic Krugman fashion, it couldn't have been just a straight "I screwed up." No, he had to make it a correction on behalf of others who made the same mistake, and he had to assert that Churchill would not have minded the error. And even that is in his "one suspects" voice. I've heard of "the editorial we" -- is this "the editorial one"? Can't he just be enough of a mencsh to say "I suspect"? No -- he has to pretend (and trick the reader into believing) that there is some other or others who suspect -- nonexistent sources, as it were -- lending legitimacy to what is really nothing but his own personal speculation.

Okay... enough of that. All that's trivial. Here's the second correction, and it's a doozy -- although it's even sleazier than the one about Churchill. In this column about the Valerie Plame affair, after two months, Krugman has effectively acknowledged my criticisms of his July 22 column in which, with no evidence whatsoever, he claimed that Plame was a "covert operative."

First, in today's column he cites "David Corn at The Nation" -- who I speculated was Krugman's unacknowledged source for the "covert operative" assertion, a source that, itself, offered no evidence for its own assertion of Plame's covert status.  Second, in today's column, Krugman does not repeat the assertion that Plame was covert, or even mention it or anything equivalent to it. Gone!. This is significant because her covert status is utterly key to the idea that exposing her was a heinous political act. One suspects -- no, I know! -- that Krugman agrees with me that her status is, at this time at least, not known, or he would have mentioned such an important element of his story (and it certainly was not known on July 22 when he acted as though he knew it). Of course not mentioning it makes his whole story pretty weak, if not downright pointless. But he's relying on his loyal readers just assuming it -- so he doesn't have to take the risk of mentioning it again if it turns out not to be true. Once burned, twice plausibly deniable.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:14 PM | link  

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A LETTER YOU WON'T SEE IN THE TIMES   
I continue to get emails from Paul Krugman die-hards who simply cannot accept the reality that Krugman was mistaken when he asserted in his Tuesday New York Times column that Winston Churchill said that the Marshall Plan was "the most unsordid act" -- when in fact, he said it of the Lend-Lease Act. Okay, so how about this letter to the New York Times -- they haven't published it yet, and they probably won't, but it was leaked to me by Bruce Bartlett. It's from Warren F. Kimball, a professor of history at Rutgers, now teaching at The Citadel -- he is the author of The Most Unsordid Act: Lend-Lease, 1941 (1968) and the editor of Churchill & Roosevelt: The Complete Correspondence (1984).

"To the Editor:

"I feel a bit like a broken record, since I have had to make this correction on other occasions. Paul Krugman attributed to Winston Churchill the wonderful label of “the most unsordid act” for the Marshall Plan (NYT, 30 Sept. 2003). However sordid or unsordid the Marshall Plan may have been, I know of not a single shred of evidence that Churchill so referred to the Marshall Plan. He reserved that appellation for the Lend-Lease Act of 1941, the program that provided aid to those nations fighting Nazi Germany and later Imperial Japan.

"It would be nice if Mr. Krugman put that canard to rest in his column. I’d like to avoid having to write this letter again.

"Sincerely yours,

"Warren F. Kimball"

I think we can treat Kimball's view on this as authoritative.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:15 PM | link  


Wednesday, October 01, 2003

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STAND BY YOUR KRUGMAN II   
You never know what little thing is going to get a partisan true believer turned on. I've gotten torrent of emails from outraged Paul Krugman fans ever since I posted, on Tuesday, the fact that Krugman, in his Tuesday New York Times column, had both misquoted Winston Churchill and mischaracterized the quote as being about the Marshall Plan rather than, in truth, the Lend-Lease Act. Hey, this is no big deal. It's just an amusing example of how sloppy Krugman and the New York Times are when it comes to fact-checking (they simply don't fact-check at all, by their own admission and stated policy). But for some reason dozens of Krugmanoids out there felt they had to stand by their misquotin' man. Some noted that others have made the same mistake (so what -- isn't Krugman supposed to be guy who gets it right when all the stooges in the conservatively biased media get it wrong?). Some simply insisted that Krugman was right (even after listening to this MP3 recording of Churchill's own voice, confirming my characterization and refuting Krugman's). And others claimed that even if Churchill did say that Lend-Lease was "the most unsordid act in the whole of recorded history," maybe he also said the same thing of the Marshall Plan (yeah, right, like they're both the most in recorded history...).

As "Bobby" would say, "Hey folks!" If the Churchill thing set your wheels in motion, check out David Hogberg's fact-checking of the same Krugman col. Hogberg nails Krugman in egregious mischaracterizations of a Washington Post article he cites -- way worse than the Churchill slip -- as well as downright errors of fact in some of his statements about the reconstruction of Iraq. Will there be any corrections? No, of course not. Because you know who's in charge of the corrections -- the same guy who makes the errors and tells the lies.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:56 PM | link  

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NOVAK -- COVERT PLAME WELL KNOWN IN WASHINGTON   
The emails started up again from the Democratic drones who read William "Call Me Billmon" Montague's shill-for-Dean site -- at least there are emails whenever some news item seems to confirm that Valerie Plame was a covert CIA agent. When the news goes the other way (it seems to alternate every other day), the emails stop. These guys seem to think that I have a stake in Plame not being found to be covert -- when in fact my interest in the subject is pretty much limited to whether Paul Krugman had grounds to state that Plame was covert in his Times column two months ago. Even if she proves to be covert now (which is far from certain), that still doesn't make it right for Krugman to have said she was covert without any evidence whatsoever at that time. But while we're on the subject (it really is an intriguing story...)...

Today, being an odd-numbered day, it was time for the not-covert news to come out. Bob Novak's column today speaks volumes on this -- including his statement that Plame was well known the Washington community as a CIA operative for years. A covert known to be an operative is a contradiction in terms. To expose such a person is like shooting someone who's already dead -- it may be annoying, but it sure ain't murder. Novak also addresses the oft-heard charge that she must be covert, or else why would CIA director George Tenet have called for an investigation? Novak says,

"The Justice Department investigation was not requested by CIA Director George Tenet. Any leak of classified information is routinely passed by the Agency to Justice, averaging one a week. This investigative request was made in July shortly after the column was published. Reported only last weekend, the request ignited anti-Bush furor."

Now if this is true it's the call for an investigation is both stale and routine, the Washington Post should certainly be criticized for its story Monday in which it led with the new of the investigation as though it were both brand new and exceptional.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:55 PM | link  


Tuesday, September 30, 2003

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ANOTHER FAKE CRISIS: INSURANCE   
Here's just the kind of thing I love to cover on this blog (when saving the world from Paul Krugman isn't crowding everything else out) -- the way statistics about economic activity are abused for political purposes. Here's a story from my colleague Bruce Bartlett, who posted this on his new blog, TrendMacro Talking Points. Check it out -- it's free for the rest of the year, and then it will be limited to paying institutional investors.

"The big story of the day is the increase in the number of people without health insurance. The number of those without coverage rose by 2.4 million between 2001 and 2002, and the percentage of those without coverage rose from 14.6 percent of the population to 15.2 percent.

"This is indeed a matter of concern. But none of the stories I read mentioned that there was a recession in 2001. The data were presented as if part of some worrisome trend, such as employers dropping health coverage or some nasty Bush Administration policy, rather than as the inevitable result of a rise in unemployment caused by the recession. Since almost two-thirds of Americans get health insurance from their employers, a rise in unemployment will automatically reduce coverage.

"To put the numbers in perspective, the number of workers with employer-based health insurance fell by 1.8 million between 1991 and 1992--two years comparable to 2001 and 2002, a recession year and the first year after. The percentage of those without coverage rose from 14.1 percent to 15 percent.

"It is also worth noting that the percentage of those without coverage rose almost every year of the Clinton Administration, reaching 16.3 percent in 1998. I don't recall this news making page one, as today's did. Thereafter, the number of uninsured fell as the unemployment rate fell, reaching 14.2 percent in 2000. The number will fall again as the unemployment rate falls.
"It is irresponsible for the media not to put these figures into proper perspective. The complete report with historical detail is available here."


Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:50 PM | link  

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THE MOST UN-FACT-CHECKED COLUMN IN HISTORY   
Referring to the Marshall Plan that helped rebuild post-war Europe, Paul Krugman says in his New York Times column today that

"...Truman led this country in what Churchill called the 'most unsordid act in history'..."

Reader Richard A. Rampulla and our friend Bruce Bartlett have both pointed out to me that this statement by Winston Churchill was about the Lend-Lease Act, not the Marshall Plan. In a 1940 speech (listen to it yourself, here), Churchill said that Lend-Lease was "the most unsordid act in the whole of recorded history." So Krugman not only rewrote the quote, he had it referring to the wrong thing. Ironic, too, considering that Lend-Lease was a compromise by which a hawkish American president (a Democrat, too, if I recall) managed to get American resources into the war when the nation as a whole was still opposed to joining hostilities.

Rampulla says, "Anyone who has ever read a book on the Second World War knows that. How can a Princeton professor not know that?" Well, this is what happens when the columnist does his own fact-checking (effectively there is no fact-checking, then) and there is little editorial oversight. If this error were made anywhere else in the paper, there would be a correction tomorrow. Not Krugman.

>>Update... Don't forget to tune in to "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross tomorrow on NPR. Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform will be on, rebutting Gross's interview two weeks ago with Krugman.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:46 AM | link  

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NOVAK: CIA SAYS PLAME NOT "COVERT"   
Well, what do you know. The nasty emails from all of William "Billmon" Montague's readers have suddenly stopped. Could it be because Bob Novak appeared on CNN's "Crossfire" tonight and told no less a personage than Paul Begala that according to his CIA sources, Valerie Plame is not, in fact, a covert CIA operative? Get this:

"NOVAK: When I called the CIA in July, they confirmed Mrs. Wilson's involvement in a mission for her husband on a secondary basis, who is -- he is a former Clinton administration official. They asked me not to use her name, but never indicated it would endanger her or anybody else.

"According to a confidential source at the CIA, Mrs. Wilson was an analyst, not a spy, not a covert operative, and not in charge of undercover operatives. So what is the fuss about, pure Bush-bashing?"

So this answers my question about why the CIA talked to Novak in the first place -- because Plame was a nobody. And it sure sounds like I was right all along about Paul Krugman's too-hasty characterization of Plame as a "covert operative," based on nothing more than some baseless speculations he read on David Corn's website -- speculations that he elevated to the pages of America's newspaper of record, and reported there as fact. And to disagree is to lie!

Or as David Brooks puts it so well in his New York Times column today,

"The quintessential new warrior scans the Web for confirmation of the president's villainy. He avoids facts that might complicate his hatred."

So when will the emails from Billmon's readers start again? Come on, guys. You seemed so interested in talking to me yesterday. Tell me now what one single shred of evidence there is that Plame is covert -- except that you've heard various versions of that claim echo throughout the liberal media for three months. That doesn't make it true. And even if, by sheer luck, it still somehow turns out to be true -- that doesn't make it right to say such things without knowledge.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 2:50 AM | link  

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BROOKS KO'S KRUGMAN... BRAVO!   
Bravissimo to David Brooks for his New York Times column today. Forget everything I said about his first couple of columns for the Times -- all is forgiven now! Today's Brooks column is a scorching attack on Paul Krugman and his blindly Bush-hating ilk. Of course it doesn't mention Krugman by name. It doesn't have to. It simply couldn't be more obvious. A few tasty morsels:

"A cascade of Clinton-bashing books hit the lists in the 1990's, and now in the Bush years we've got 'Shrub,' 'Stupid White Men' and 'Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.'"

And... aw, go ahead and say it... you know you want to! The Great Unraveling... yes!!

"The culture wars produced some intellectually serious books because there were principles involved. The presidency wars produce mostly terrible ones because the hatreds have left the animating ideas far behind and now romp about on their own."

Welcome back from two weeks promoting your "terrible one," Krugman. Your first homecoming column -- a typical jumble of baseless gossip about the Bush administration's crony corruption in Iraq -- is sitting right there next to Brooks' column, and it's your column Brooks is talking about when he writes,

"The quintessential new warrior scans the Web for confirmation of the president's villainy. He avoids facts that might complicate his hatred. He doesn't weigh the sins of his friends against the sins of his enemies. But about the president he will believe anything. He believes Ted Kennedy when he says the Iraq war was a fraud cooked up in Texas to benefit the Republicans politically. It feels so delicious to believe it, and even if somewhere in his mind he knows it doesn't quite square with the evidence, it's important to believe it because the other side is vicious, so he must be too...

"The warriors have one other feature: ignorance. They have as much firsthand knowledge of their enemies as members of the K.K.K. had of the N.A.A.C.P. In fact, most people in the last two administrations were well-intentioned patriots doing the best they could. The core threat to democracy is not in the White House, it's the haters themselves."

The best thing about Brooks' column is not just that it's a broadside attack on Krugman using the very majesty of the "newspaper of record" that gives Krugman his own power. It's that Brook's column is balanced -- he doesn't commit Krugman's biased, partisan sins in the process of calling him a biased, partisan sinner. Brook criticizes blind Clinton-haters, too -- and even faults himself a bit at the end. And what he says is clearly an opinion -- how refreshing to see opinions on the opinion pages once again, just like the good old days -- not the new-paradigm Rainesian opinion-as-fact column (to disagree is to lie!) that Krugman has pioneered and perfected. 

Read the whole thing. Read the whole thing now!

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 12:19 AM | link  


Monday, September 29, 2003

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THE RICH GET POORER   
As leftist rhetoric continues to assert on an almost daily basis that the current federal government deficit is the result of tax cuts for "the rich" that have hardly even taken effect yet, new statistical data from the Internal Revenue Service helps reveal the truth. Our friend Bruce Bartlett points out that the new data on tax-year 2001 (here and here) reveals that the aggregate income of the top 1% of taxpayers fell by $243 billion, reducing their share of total income from 20.8% to 17.5%. In other words, the rich got poorer.

And since the rich pay most of the taxes around here, overall tax receipts fell dramatically in 2001 -- and are estimated in the federal budgeting process to keep on falling in 2002 and 2003 -- hence the forecasted deficits. The chart tells the story -- tax receipts are falling while GDP has continued to rise. In fact, since the top in 2000, individual tax receipts have fallen by over 23% -- and there sure hasn't been any 23% tax cut in effect since 2000. And Social Security tax receipts continue to rise, indicating that it's not a matter of overall unemployment.

It's that the rich are suffering. Bartlett says it's "due entirely to the stock market collapse and the recession." In that environment, the annual income it took to qualify for the top 1% "fell from $313,469 to $292,913. This fall in income is what led to a decline in aggregate tax payments by this group from $367 billion to $301 billion."

Bartlett also points out that because the poorer rich have been earning less and paying less taxes, their proportion of overall tax payments has gone down -- from 37.4% to 33.9%. So get ready for the leftist demagogues -- they'll say this means that the rich aren't paying their fair share of taxes any more. But Bartlett calculates that, in fact, the top 1% paid a slightly higher tax rate on their diminished income than they had paid on their higher income the year before (27.50% in 2001 to 27.45% in 2000).

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 9:06 AM | link  

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THE PLAME GAME HEATS UP   
The matter of Bush administration officials leaking the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame in connection with their attempt to discredit her husband Joseph Wilson has reared its ugly head again. CIA director George Tenet is calling for an investigation, and an unnamed administration official has confirmed the leak, according to a Washington Post story yesterday. Reporters Mike Allen and Dana Priest have buried the lede, though. They have reported -- but apparently not recognized the significance -- of the fact that the CIA itself abetted the exposure of Plame in Robert Novak's July 14 column. Allen and Priest write,

"When Novak told a CIA spokesman he was going to write a column about Wilson's wife, the spokesman urged him not to print her name "for security reasons," according to one CIA official. Intelligence officials said they believed Novak understood there were reasons other than Plame's personal security not to use her name, even though the CIA has declined to confirm whether she was undercover.

"Novak said in an interview last night that the request came at the end of a conversation about Wilson's trip to Niger and his wife's role in it. 'They said it's doubtful she'll ever again have a foreign assignment,' he said. 'They said if her name was printed, it might be difficult if she was traveling abroad, and they said they would prefer I didn't use her name. It was a very weak request. If it was put on a stronger basis, I would have considered it.'"

This means that, effectively, the CIA itself participated in leaking Plame's identity. Think about the sequence of events. Novak talks to administration officials who tell him about Plame. He has the integrity to call someone at CIA to confirm his risky story before he runs with it -- and they confirmed it! Instead of saying "Valerie who? We've never heard of anyone named Valerie" or simply that "We don't answer media inquiries about CIA personnel" -- the CIA itself confirmed it, and in so doing the CIA itself leaked it.

Now why would they do that? Well, maybe she wasn't really a covert operative, the revelation of whose name would create any particular danger for her (in which case the administration's leaks wouldn't be so scandalous). Or maybe she was covert, and the CIA was as pissed off at Wilson as the Bush administration, but for their own special reason: because Wilson had gone public with the findings of a CIA-sponsored study, thus effectively leaking himself. And who recommended him for the job? The little woman... Valerie Plame. So it looks like George Tenet ought to be asking for two investigations here.

What the Post reports, by the way, is precisely what Novak told me in confidence on July 23, but at Novak's request I did not report it in my coverage of the issue on this blog or the version for National Review Online. Also, I note that Tom Maguire of the Just One Minute blog has flagged the significance of this element of the Post story. Tom absolutely for sure is the one-stop-shop in the blogosphere for the Plame story -- to see his indispensable Plame timeline, click here.

There are some strange inaccuracies in the Post story, for what it's worth. First, the story claims "The only recipient of a leak about the identity of Wilson's wife who went public with it was Novak, the conservative columnist..." For some reason they have forgotten about Time Magazine's July 17 story in which they wrote, "And some government officials have noted to TIME in interviews, (as well as to syndicated columnist Robert Novak) that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction." If the Post had reported that, would they have identified Time as "the liberal magazine"? I doubt it. Howard Kurtz, the Post's media reporter, fails to mention Time as well, in a column today focused on the ethics of Novak's decision to run with the story.

I note en passant that another Post story today by Mike Allen makes an especially hilarious error. He says, "Novak published her maiden name, Plame, which she had used overseas and has not been using publicly." This echoes complaints by Wilson that revelation of his wife's maiden name was especially dangerous for here (see, for example, this NBC "Today" interview -- link thanks to Maguire). Yet Wilson himself used his wife's maiden name publicly -- on the web page giving his biography at the Middle East Institute, where he is listed as among "media resources" (link thanks to Seamole, thanks to Maguire).

Now on to more personal matters. I've gotten a little wavelet of not-very-friendly emails from Paul Krugman fans who have taken the Washington Post story yesterday as vindication of claims made in Krugman's July 22 New York Times column, and have taken the opportunity to shower me with opprobrium because I dared question him about it. In point of fact, in my critique of Krugman's column here and for National Review Online, I never even slightly questioned Krugman for saying that administration officials had leaked Plame's name. How could I have? That was plain as day from the Novak and Time articles that Krugman cited. It was never in question.

No, what I faulted Krugman for was his entirely unwarranted-at-the-time statement that Plame was a "covert operative." Nothing in the Post story sheds any new light on that question. Indeed, in the passage I quoted above, the Post is at pains to note that the CIA has never confirmed whether or not Plame was covert. It's still a mystery. Krugman may be right, and he may be wrong. My point is that he was just guessing on the pages of the "newspaper of record." As usual, opinion disguised as fact. To disagree is to lie.

Apparently all the emails have been inspired by a posting on a left-wing blog called "Billmon." The particular way Billmon -- whoever he is -- frames his "I told you so" is to try to find fault with the fact that my original comments here and for NRO are heavily annotated with amplifications made the day after they were originally posted, in which I examine in detail the possible sources from which Krugman may derived his claim that Plame was covert. Hey -- what's wrong with that? I only wish Krugman had the integrity to amplify upon (or heaven forefend, perhaps even to retract) some of the multitude of claims he makes that turn out to be either wrong, or require further explanation in light of new knowledge. But noooo. When I do that, it's a confession of weakness, and an opportunity for Krugman fans to unite in lip-smacking satisfaction that Krugman's most potent critic is wrong wrong wrong and therefore must be wrong wrong wrong in all the terrible things he's ever said about Krugman.

When is Krugman going to say he was wrong wrong wrong about the NASDAQ in February 2000 (just the opposite -- in his new book he pretends he was right). When is he going to say he was wrong about an imminent "third oil crisis" or about SARS spreading around the world and wrecking the economy, or about the BBC's claims about "sexed-up" intelligence, or about American soldiers in Iraq dying of thirst because the army isn't giving them enough water? Huh, what about those Billmon, if that is indeed your name? You're going to have a long wait before the Post publishes something you can claim vindicates Krugman on those babies.

Finally, I note with particular distaste that Billmon sent me an email himself (herself? who knows... he/she doesn't have the courage or integrity to blog or email under his/her actual name), to which I responded. He/she posted my response on his/her blog without my permission. That's a no-no... a serious violation of the netiquette observed by all decent netizens, and a copyright violation to boot. I've written to Billmon insisting that my comments be removed. We'll see. I'm not expecting much from him/her.

Update... Turns out to be a him. "Billmon" is William Montague, according to an email I just got responding to my demand to remove my remarks from his website. Among other things, the message to me said, "See ya in court, asshole." Leftists are such wonderful, caring people... aren't they?

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 1:28 AM | link