This administration seems to be as reactionary as any that recent American history has seen. Successive military operations against defenceless civilians in Iraq, the bombing of the camps in the Sudan, the summary execution of the followers of David Koresh...
What's to defend? The right of the president's spin doctors to blacken the reputation of an employee as a 'stalker'. And should we support the right of the Oval Office to organise uncredited leaking and briefing against a relatively young and inexperienced woman?
I deplore the preoccupation with what is ultimately a trivial issue of who sleeps with who. But rejecting the seriousness of the charges does not entail supporting the tactics adopted by White House to deflect attention: not when those include traducing the reputation of a female employee, nor when they entail the bombing of Iraq.
Far from being a scumbag, Christopher Hitchens is a radical journalist whose writing on Palestine, Kurdistan, against the Mother Teresa cult, and against the beatification of Princess Diana are all excellent and courageous contributions to journalism. I don't agree with him about everything, but I don't disagree with him about this.
I don't see Hitchens on the side of the GOP here. I see Nathan on the side of the lying butcher in the White House.
In message <008e01be52b8$2aa3f1c0$84ba8482 at nsn2>, Nathan Newman
<nathan.newman at yale.edu> writes
>Sorry. I don't buy it. Hitchens is now working for scum Ken Starr
>Leftists who think Ken Starr -- defender of GM's and the Tobacco lobby's
>perjury - is the friend of truth and serve his purposes are just over the
>rainbow. Hitchens just moved from journalistic critic to rightwing
>operative, no different from Linda Tripp or Lucianne Goldberg.
>If Blumenthal did release Hitchens (and there is dispute on that),
>Blumenthal is an idiot but that does not make Hitchens any less of a scum
>himself. Starr's use of the grand jury has been a juridical nightmare, far
>worse than Clinton's petty lies about sex.
>If Hitchens wants Clinton removed for bombing Iraq or shredding welfare, he
>should campaign for that. But collaborating with Starr's McCarthite
>intimidation of witnesses (see Julie Hyatt Steele and the whole range of
>Arkansas folks he's terrorized for four years), that makes Hitchens actions
>far more odious than anything Clinton has done in the Monica affair.
>From: Steve Perry <sperry at usinternet.com>
>To: 'lbo-talk at lists.panix.com' <lbo-talk at lists.panix.com>
>Date: Sunday, February 07, 1999 11:14 AM
>Subject: RE: Hitchens Turns GOP stool pigeon
>Well, if Sancho Panza's attorney expressly released all journalists from any
>background agreements regarding what Sancho told them, exactly what is wrong
>with Hitchens nailing the little rat in a lie? As for "turning sources over
>to prosecutors," I can tell you as a long-time editor that this is awfully
>fucking far from the typical case of journalists rolling over for cops.
>Blumenthal did Clinton's dirty tricks, lied about it, and *then* through his
>attorney dared anybody to bust him. If the situation is accurately
>characterized in the news account you append, I'd have happily done the same
>From: Nathan Newman
>Sent: Sunday, February 07, 1999 9:31 AM
>To: lbo-talk at lists.panix.com
>Subject: Hitchens Turns GOP stool pigeon
>Okay, Hitchens is way off my list of credible sources. If folks like
>Hitchens turn over sources to prosecutors, then the whole First Amendment
>shield for journalists is going to disappear.
>Frankly, if Hitchens is becoming a stool pigeon to try to throw Blumenthal
>in jail for the benefit of the GOP who hates him, Hitchens is basically a
>rat in my book.
>Hitchens has been irritating me for a while, but this is truly disgusting.
>February 7, 1999
>Journalist Submits Affidavit Naming Aide as a Source
>By ALISON MITCHELL
>WASHINGTON -- A free-lance journalist who has been critical of President
>Clinton throughout the Lewinsky scandal has provided an affidavit to House
>investigators saying that Sidney Blumenthal, a White House aide, provided
>him with information disparaging Monica S. Lewinsky.
>The affidavit by the journalist, Christopher Hitchens, contradicts the sworn
>testimony of Blumenthal, who has maintained that he was not a source of
>damaging comments about Ms. Lewinsky, the former White House intern.
>During questioning by House prosecutors earlier this week, Blumenthal, a
>senior White House communications aide, said that Clinton had described Ms.
>Lewinsky to him as a "stalker." But Blumenthal denied that he had repeated
>that description of her to reporters. Asked about the source of such
>characterizations in news reports, he said, "I have no idea how anything
>came to be attributed to a White House source."
>William McDaniel, Blumenthal's lawyer, has also said that his client "didn't
>peddle it, he didn't urge people to write about it, he didn't tell people
>about it." McDaniel previously said that if journalists felt bound to
>protect Blumenthal's identity as a source, "they're released."
>An official of the House Judiciary Committee said investigators received a
>call after Blumenthal's deposition, either late Thursday or early Friday,
>saying the committee might want to talk to Hitchens, a British journalist
>working in Washington who writes for Vanity Fair and The Nation magazine.
>Hitchens was contacted on Friday by committee investigators who took an
>affidavit from him. In the affidavit, Hitchens said that during lunch last
>March at the Occidental Grill, a restaurant near the White House, Blumenthal
>had said several times that Ms. Lewinsky was a "stalker" and that the
>President was the "victim" of an unstable young woman.
>The affidavit was circulating on Capitol Hill tonight and was made available
>by a Congressional official sympathetic to the House case against Clinton.
>Tonight, Blumenthal said in a statement, "My testimony to the Senate was
>truthful. If someone is saying it was not they are mistaken." Hitchens could
>not be reached for comment.
>Hitchens also said in the affidavit that Blumenthal had told him that
>polling showed that Kathleen E. Willey, a White House volunteer who said the
>President made a sexual advance to her near the Oval Office, had high
>approval ratings but that those numbers would not look as good in several
>The affidavit, which was signed by Hitchens and dated Feb. 5, was turned
>over to Senate leaders today. The Senate would have to hold a vote if it
>wanted to enter the document in the impeachment record.
>The affidavit contradicts Blumenthal's deposition and his testimony before
>the grand jury. A Republican aide to the House prosecutors, who insisted on
>anonymity, said the affidavit "raises the specter of perjury by one of the
>President's chief defenders," and that it added to the House case of
>obstruction of justice.
>Senator Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, said that the Justice Department
>could investigate false testimony, but that the statement by Hitchens was
>"collateral at best" to the case against the President.
-- Jim heartfield