Over the two-year course of the Plame Name Blame Game scandal, both President Bush and his spokesman Scott McClellan have both gone out of their way to aovid using the word “fired” to describe what would happen to a White House staffer who was discovered to have leaked classified information and/or broken the law.
Instead, they use phrasing that is both carefully and inelegantly constructed: the culprits “will no longer work in this administration” or worse, “will no longer be a part of this administration.”
Why not simply say the leaker “will be fired” or “have his employment terminated” or “find himself suddenly between jobs?”
The phrasing they use is too awkward, and too consistently repeated, to be accidental. It sounds like something that a committee of lawyers came up with.
As noted, I think it’s a signal that the main culprit is Ari Fleischer, who is in fact already “no longer a part of the administration.”
There is mounting evidence that it was Fleischer who ran afoul of the 1982 law that forbids government officials from knowingly revealing the identity of a secret agent. Fleischer saw a memo drafted by the State Dept. in which Valerie Plame Wilson was described as a CIA agent, and he must have talked to at least one reporter at Mrs. Wilson’s role in the authentication of the Niger forgeries: Judith Wilson.
Fleischer was famously not a part of the West Wing inner circle – not for nothing he was the only Jew in an executive suite where Baptists lead prayers every morning. More importantly, he’s not from Texas, and would therefore be the first candidate to be thrown overboard.
Maybe Team Bush knows that one day it will be Ari who is frog-marched to jail, and they are pre-emptively covering their asses so that reporters can’t say then, “You said you would ‘fire’ the leaker but you knew no one would be fired because Fleischer was no longer on staff.”
Or maybe they don’t want to come off sounding like Donald Trump.