Friday, July 22, 2005


Slate-Papers: Leakgate & terrorist motivation


Citing the ever-so-popular "people who have been briefed on the case," the NYT says above the fold that Karl Rove and the vice prez's chief of staff, Scooter Libby -- both of whom spoke to reporters about now-outed CIA agent Valerie Plame -- were at the time quite busy crafting the administration's response to questions about the president's 16-word State of the Union assertion that Saddam was going after uranium in Niger. (That would be the same assertion that Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, undermined.) Supposedly, Libby and Rove even "helped" craft the letter former CIA chief George Tenet wrote taking the blame for ill-supported claim. Libby is shown, below right, at a White House dinner this week speaking to another guest.

Libby talking to dinner guestThe Times says that the leakers (defense lawyers?) see the above context as helpful toward Libby and Rove. (No, TP can't figure out why, either.) In any case, the Times says the Libby-Rove work was "particularly striking" for the unusual degree to which political and national-security arms of the White House were brought together in "an effort to defend the administration."

One more bit: In what seems to be a prosecutor-side leak, Bloomberg reported yesterday that the testimony Rove and Libby gave -- in which they reportedly said they first learned about CIA agent Valerie Plame via reporters -- is "at odds with what the reporters have said."

An op-ed in the NYT -- by a French academic -- questions the line that today's terrorists are reacting to British and others' foreign policies:

[I]f the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine are at the core of the radicalization, why are there virtually no Afghans, Iraqis or Palestinians among the terrorists? Rather, the bombers are mostly from the Arabian Peninsula, North Africa, Egypt and Pakistan -- or they are Western-born converts to Islam. Why would a Pakistani or a Spaniard be more angry than an Afghan about American troops in Afghanistan? It is precisely because they do not care about Afghanistan as such, but see the United States involvement there as part of a global phenomenon of cultural domination.

The Western-based Islamic terrorists are not the militant vanguard of the Muslim community; they are a lost generation, unmoored from traditional societies and cultures, frustrated by a Western society that does not meet their expectations. And their vision of a global ummah is both a mirror of and a form of revenge against the globalization that has made them what they are.

Eric Umansky writes "Today's Papers" for Slate. He can be reached at todayspapers@slate.com. Source: Today's Papers column, "Sound Check?"

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