It follows that one of the most sensational charges levelled against the Bush White House -- that it orchestrated the leak of Ms. Plame's identity to ruin her career and thus punish Mr. Wilson -- is untrue. The partisan clamour that followed the raising of that allegation by Mr. Wilson in the summer of 2003 led to the appointment of a special prosecutor, a costly and prolonged investigation, and the indictment of Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on charges of perjury. All of that might have been avoided had Mr. Armitage's identity been known three years ago.
Nevertheless, it now appears that the person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame's CIA career is Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming -- falsely, as it turned out -- that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials. He ought to have expected that both those officials and journalists such as Mr. Novak would ask why a retired ambassador would have been sent on such a mission and that the answer would point to his wife. He diverted responsibility from himself and his false charges by claiming that President Bush's closest aides had engaged in an illegal conspiracy. It's unfortunate that so many people took him seriously. [Er, like the Post?]
Armitage’s admission is roughly equivalent to the blue dress in the Lewinsky scandal, the signal that “the f*** is off” as a politician I knew used to say. The fact that it was Armitage – a known rival of the so-called neocons/warmongers/chickenhawks in the White House and Defence Department – who revealed Plame’s CIA employment status to the media, and not the aforementioned neocons, utterly destroys the prosecutor’s, the mainstream media’s and the Bush haters’ “theory of the crime:” that the Bush White house deliberately endangered the life of a CIA operative because her husband criticized the administration. They were wrong. Oh, and the Wilsons are liars and fantasists.
I recall the frenzy in the U.S. media last fall, as it awaited indictments from prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, with some Democrats predicting a “Fitzmas” bounty of indictments, including one against Vice President Cheney. Even Jay Leno attempted to gin up the “scandal” in his monologue with regular jokes, usually delivered to a silent audience who had probably heard little of the issue, and didn’t understand it. I will be watching the Chris Matthews show this Sunday to see if he eats any of the bile he spewed over the last few years on this topic. But I haven't bothered seeing whether Leno has the fairness to mention the evaporation of the Wilsons along with their persecution fantasies: I switched to Kimmel months ago.
It would be interesting to know what Colin Powell knew and when he knew it. Has he known since 2003 that it was his own top aide who revealed Plame’s identity to Novak? Did he know that Armitage was the real leaker, while he watched Libby, Cheney and Bush publicly accused of a vindictive and possibly criminal leak to the media? If so, perhaps his silence was payback for the administration asking him to give his now-infamous WMD presentation to the UN Security council prior to the Iraq invasion.
As the editorial notes, Scooter Libby is still facing prosecution. [Joan's Note: but not unemployed, as Rondi Adamson helpfully advised: he got a gig at the Hudson Institute] Not for revealing Plame’s identity but for perjury during the investigation, because he could not remember the details of some discussions with journalists. His defense fund website is here. I’m sure after the Armitage revelation, Libby is feeling like that exonerated politician who years ago asked “Where do I go to get my reputation back?”