It’s allergy season, and if you were in the middle of sneezing you may have missed some critical news in Detroit’s premiere news daily, the once-great Detroit News.
First, there was an in-depth, one-inch report, (or as in-depth as you can get in 31 words), in a teeny-weeny sidebar “Iraq update,” attached to a buzzkill article entitled “'Fear' dominates Iraq."
The tiny story reads in full:
Sunnis return to parliament
Sunni legislators returned to Iraq's parliament Thursday after a five-week boycott, raising hopes the assembly can make progress on power-sharing bills demanded by Washington before the lawmakers take a month's break.
Now, you may recall that, earlier this week, the US Senate shut down all normal business for some 36 or more hours in order to grandstand on an Iraq war funding amendment premised on the Democratic argument that there has been absolutely, positively no political improvements in Iraq to justify the continuing military surge.
This slogan of no progress was repeated approximately four times per hour for a day and a half. It wasn’t true, as these slogans never are true, but that doesn’t matter now.
I would expect that, even setting aside the other previous political progress that the Democrats flatly refused to acknowledge, that the return of Sunni legislators after a five-week boycott is both welcome and unexpected news of political progress. Even more surprising and welcome for Democrats, who are committed to the dogma that Iraq is embroiled in an intractable civil war between Sunnis and Shias, which should make it all the more remarkable and cheering that one side in the war would show up at parliament to work on legislation peacefully with the other side.
The other buried news was on on the back page of the front section, just below “Scientists say checkers-playing computer can never lose.” It's an AP story reporting that Valerie Plame’s lawsuit against the Bush administration was just tossed out of court. (“Judge dismisses CIA leak case suit.”)
Though I’m sure the disappointed couple left the courtroom without benefit of being frog-marched, I’ll bet Ambassador Wilson and his wife were hopping mad at Judge John D. Bates’s opinion.
This also deserved a bigger headline.
The legal and political saga of Valerie Plame has been with us for four years, and continues to be a rallying point for enemies of the President. Because of it, innumerable Congressional hearings have been launched, thousands of articles, and millions of inches of snotty commentary have been written smearing the President as “leaking” confidential information. Based solely upon the mythical crimes against Ms. Plame, Democrats have called for everything from impeachment of Bush and Cheney to the use of the guillotine for executive branch officials who anger Washington socialites.
So one would think it would be a bigger story than this, sort of as if Planet Earth were suddenly found to be rotating from east to west.
Yesterday the court dismissed the Plame case in part for a lack of jurisdiction. But the dismissal was also because the court found no merit in Ms. Plame’s claims that White House personnel violated her privacy rights by discussing her and her irritating husband after they insinuated themselves into the national debate over the invasion of Iraq.
The critical bit about the judge's opinion was left out of the AP/News story, but the Washington Post included it in their story. (“Plame's Suit Against Top Officials Dismissed”).
Judge Bates wrote “there can be no serious dispute that the act of rebutting public criticism, such as that levied by Mr. Wilson against the Bush administration's handling of prewar foreign intelligence, by speaking with members of the press is within the scope of defendants' duties as high-level Executive Branch officials."
There should never have been any doubt about this, and for those of us who have never sworn a blood oath against George W. Bush, it seems rather obvious. But once in a while it takes an adversarial process, a strict rational evidentiary standard, somebody on the other side raising objections to unfair arguments, and a judge with a gavel, to undo years of slanders amassed by false reporting in an unbridled press.
I love it when this happens.