She testified that Mrs. Wilson was not a covert officer, which would surely come as a surprise to Mrs. Wilson who testified that she was. In fact, it must have come as a surprise to General Hayden, Director of Central Intelligence, who approved language used by Congressman Waxman, viz., “Valerie Plame was a covert officer.”
How can Ms. Toensing come to that surprising conclusion? Quite simply. She redefines the terms “covert officer.” I won’t go into the details of how she does this because, frankly, it’s too arcane. But you will get the idea from a famous riddle that President Lincoln posed:
Question: If you call a dog’s tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?To bolster her case that Mrs. Wilson was not a “covert officer within the meaning of the law” Ms. Toensing asked a series of rhetorical questions, such as, “Why didn’t the head of the CIA go to Novak, when he knew the article was forthcoming, and ask him not to publish it?” and “Why didn’t the CIA briefer who spoke to Cheney and Libby tell them that Plame was covert?”
Answer: Four. Calling a tail a leg won’t make it so.
Whenever I hear someone use the rhetorical device of asking several questions in rapid fire, each containing untested assumptions, I am reminded of what my old man used to tell me: “A fool can ask more questions than a wise man can answer.”
But over and above that, don’t forget the possibility that each one of Ms. Toensing’s rhetorical questions has a logical answer. For example, why didn’t the Director of Central Intelligence call Novak to put the kibosh on the outing of Plame? Answer: Novak had already been told by the CIA not to publish the article.
In this case, Ms. Toensing’s questions threw enough baffle-dust into the air that you might come away with the conclusion that one can be a covert agent without being a “covert agent under the statute” covering unauthorized disclosure of a covert agent’s identity. But that doesn’t mean that Cheney, Libby, and Rove didn’t violate the relevant Executive Order relating to classified information. It’s clear that they did.
Bad news for Republicans: Democrats have subpoena power. A Republican hack like Victoria Toensing is not going to slow them down one bit. Go for it Mr. Waxman.
“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”