White House looks for team players on Plame leak investigation

In addition to Instapundit/WSJ-type smears of Wilson, the White House appears to be moving in other ways to block a real investigation into the Plame leak. The most immediate tactic will be to rally support along party lines to block an independent investigator:
The White House encouraged Republicans to portray the former diplomat at the center of the case, Joseph C. Wilson IV, as a partisan Democrat with an agenda and the Democratic Party as scandalmongering. At the same time, the administration and the Republican leadership on Capitol Hill worked to ensure that no Republicans in Congress break ranks and call for an independent inquiry outside the direct control of the Justice Department.

"It's slime and defend," said one Republican aide on Capitol Hill, describing the White House's effort to raise questions about Mr. Wilson's motivations and its simultaneous effort to shore up support in the Republican ranks.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but Republican members of Congress now face the choice - loyalty to the state or loyalty to the Beloved Leader of The Party:
"I believe, out of a sense of loyalty, Republicans will stand with the White House for now," said a Senate Republican aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "I don't think the political pressure has reached that point yet."
By means of these tactics, the White House is clearly hoping that this whole affair will blow over. Blame will be spread; as other people have mentioned, the focus of the investigation will be on "leaks" in general, instead of this specific breach, which will be lost in the mix; attention may shift over to the CIA, or Congress, or other departments in the government, making the investigation a way for Bush and his cronies to root out their enemies; the investigation will proceed secretly and drag on interminably, until people forget about it.

It any event, it won't be surprising if there is a certain lack of documentary evidence relating to the Plame leak at the White House when investigators get there. Although the tip-off from the DoJ to the White House counsel was sleazy, it doesn't really mean much. It's been over 2 months; whatever important or incriminating documents were there are long gone. They might as well have memory holes in the White House. But, then again, considering that everyone in the White House "forgot" that uranium claim was bogus when writing the SOTU address, maybe it will turn out that there was never any kind of documentation to begin with.

One last thing - my own take on the Instapundit/WSJ/right-wing smear approach: what they are advocating is essentially the establishment of a kind of intellectual commissariat. They think that civil servants - or really anyone with any kind of public role - should have to pass some kind of "loyalty" or "political orthodoxy" test before being allowed to participate in any activity that has a bearing on governmental work or policy. Needless to say, what these self-appointed champions of the "American way" are advocating would have been a policy fit for the Soviet Union.

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