Jack Kelly today succinctly dresses down all those, including Richard Armitage, who turned Armitage’s accidental mention of Valerie Plame’s name into a witch hunt under special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.
There is no reason that the nation had to wait since October 2003 for the new book by Michael Isikoff and David Corn to tell us Plame’s name wasn’t given to the press as part of a White House vendetta, but as an innocent and duty-bound telling of the truth, Kelly writes for Real Clear Politics.
Reflecting neither innocence nor a sense of duty is the way that even the original “leaker” Armitage, now a former deputy secretary of state, kept silent as others like Karl Rove and Lewis “Scooter” Libby were publicly accused and hunted down for his act.
Sham prosecution. Kelly writes:
For more than three years, Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have been accused, falsely, of being the source of the leak. Mr. Armitage, Mr. [Colin] Powell, and Justice department officials knew the truth, but said nothing. Clarice Feldman, a Washington, D.C. lawyer, described Mr. Armitage's silence as “inexplicable and perfidious.”
“Had he spoken out publicly immediately, could there have been a reason for the press to have demanded the appointment of the feckless special prosecutor?” she asked.
Mr. Fitzgerald knew in his first few days on the job that Mr. Armitage was the leaker; that the leak was inadvertent, and that the Intelligence Identities Act hadn't been violated. Yet he has persisted in a sham prosecution.
Mr. Isikoff and Mr. Corn write that: “the Plame leak in Novak's column has long been cited by Bush administration critics as a deliberate act of payback, orchestrated to punish and/or discredit Joe Wilson after he charged that the Bush administration had misled the American public about prewar intelligence.”
They add, lamely, that: “The Armitage news does not fit neatly into that framework.”
They don’t mention that Mr. Isikoff and (especially) Mr. Corn have been among the journalists flogging this meme, and the time that it takes to research and write a book indicates they've known for quite some time that it isn’t true. They're only willing to tell the truth, now, for money.
Political intrigue. We now know that Amitage in July 2003 inadvertently told columnist Bob Novak the truth: that Valerie Plame, a CIA worker, was the one who in 2002 recommended her husband, Joseph Wilson, for a CIA-paid trip to Niger.
Wilson, a Democratic Party hack, has misrepresented what he discovered on that trip. He found tentative evidence that President Bush was correct to say (later) that Saddam Hussein had “sought” uranium in Africa. Nevertheless, Wilson in 2003 called Bush a liar for saying it.
Wilson also implied strongly, repeatedly and publicly that Vice President Dick Cheney had asked him to take that 2002 Niger tour. Wilson nurtured that falsehood to suggest that even the Bush administration trusted his judgment. Well, the truth is, no. Only his wife trusted him enough to suggest him for the Niger mission.
Vanity Fair cover. When Novak’s story on Plame’s role in the Niger trip was published July 14, 2003, Wilson quickly changed the subject, accusing the Bush White House of “outing” his CIA wife to get back at him. He claimed his wife was a top secret undercover agent, and now, he said, her job and life might be in jeopardy.
Washington went into hysterics. Democrats (and David Corn) stirred the pot: Was it a crime to mention Plame’s name? Armitage in October 2003 explained to Department of Justice officials that it was he who first told Novak about Plame. Then came the witch hunt and, from Armitage, a mysterious silence.
But Plame had not done CIA undercover work in at least six years. And with Plame’s name and identity public, her life was now in so much peril that she and Wilson posed for the cover of the January 2004 Vanity Fair magazine.
Payback time. In fact, it was no crime to identify Plame. It was right to blow the whistle on her and her husband. How else could we understand the CIA’s sending Wilson on that junket?
It was a nice try, Plame and Wilson. You’ve made a lot of money with your dishonesty. Now pay us back for that wasted trip.