Saturday, April 08, 2006

News Story
Associated Press

"Leak-Hating President As Leaker-In-Chief?"


WASHINGTON - President Bush insists a president "better mean what he says." Those words could return to haunt him.

After long denouncing leaks of all kinds, Bush is confronted with a statement — unchallenged by his aides — that he authorized a leak of classified material to undermine an Iraq war critic.

The allegation in the CIA leak case threatens the credibility of a president already falling in the polls, and it gives Democrats fresh material to accuse him of hypocrisy.

A reader may notice that I ordinarily stay out of the day to day political fighting here on CUANAS. It's just boring and stupid to me, like watching Soap Operas. But, I guess, in this case, I will have to actually think about the "Leak" case a bit.

Ok, here goes.

The President did not deny that he authorized the "leak" because he didn't authorize leaking Plame's name. In fact, as the President has the authority to classify, and declassify, information by his own orders, no revelation of any information can be defined as a leak anyway.

AP admits as much in the very article quoted:

As president, Bush has wide latitude to declassify material. And there was nothing in the legal papers filed by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald to suggest Bush or Cheney did anything illegal, or had specifically authorized Libby to identify Plame.

But, in the following paragraphs, their "news" story goes here:

The latest flap comes as things seemed as if they could hardly get worse for the president and his Republican allies: Iraq, continued fallout over the botched Katrina response, the Dubai ports debacle, shortcomings in the new Medicare prescription drug program, the resignation of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and the collapse of a proposed immigration overhaul.

A new AP-Ipsos poll showed just 36 percent of the public approve of Bush's job performance, a low-water mark for his presidency.

Ok, so let's look at AP-Ipsos:

... if one were to judge by AP-Ipsos polling, one would have to conclude that American attitudes toward their President -- and indeed themselves! -- were beginning to seem positively… well, French.

AP press releases identify Ipsos coyly as an "international polling firm". Ipsos's own releases on its AP work describe the company as "a leading global survey-based market research company" -- as well as "non-partisan" and "objective".

One would hardly expect them to say otherwise. But here is what neither AP nor Ipsos want Americans to know and assiduously avoid saying: Ipsos is a French polling firm. Not that this should matter per se. But AP and Ipsos undoubtedly fear that to many Americans it might or that, in light of the current climate of Franco-American relations, it might at least raise some doubts about Ipsos's impartiality and objectivity.

And what is worse: about this particular French polling firm, these doubts would be highly justified. On its home market, Ipsos is well known precisely for the unreliability of its polls and for being especially tight with the French political establishment.

Here's how a November 2001 profile in the French economics weekly l'Expansion described the cozy relationship of Ipsos co-President Jean-Marc Lech to the occupant of the Elysée Palace:

"During the two seven-year-terms of François Mitterrand, he was one of the advisors to the prince and he held open house at Copenhagen, the famous restaurant on the Champs Elysées not far from the "castle". Since he began working for Jacques Chirac, he has left the Champs and stays put in the XV arrondissement at lunchtime. Now, he merely delivers his confidential polls personally to the antechamber of the President.

According to the latest Ipsos financial report, a holding company controlled by Lech and his partner Didier Truchot controls 35 percent of Ipsos capital and nearly half of the voting rights in the firm.

Ipsos's international expansion in the late 1990s was, incidentally, largely financed by the Artémis investment group of French businessman François Pinault. This is the same Artémis and the same Pinault that were heavily implicated in the Executive Life fraud and that only avoided being indicted in US courts presumably through the intercession of Pinault's close personal friend Jacques Chirac and by coughing up some $185 million. Artémis sold its stake in Ipsos when the firm went public in 1999.

Notice, you had never heard of Ipsos. To start with, many of us do not believe "polls" anyway. But, we at least, do know the names of the polling companies. The most commonly used poll companies are Gallup and Zogby. But, it seems, when AP needs to really hit Bush hard, they trot out Ipsos.


Who killed J.R.? Did Carey marry Big? Has Luke cheated on Laura? Ipsos could probably take a poll and tell you. But, of course, they are probably too busy plotting their coup on the United States government.