It follows that one of the most sensational charges leveled 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 clamor 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.I bet he won't have any trouble getting invited to plenty of cocktail parties tho. He served his purpose: doing for the Democrats what Monica Lewinski did for the Republicans: He distracted the Administration from serious business. The difference is that the Republicans' business was conducting a global war against Islamist fascism.
That's not to say that Mr. Libby and other White House officials are blameless...(W)hen Mr. Wilson charged that intelligence about Iraq had been twisted to make a case for war, Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney reacted by inquiring about Ms. Plame's role in recommending Mr. Wilson for a CIA-sponsored trip to Niger, where he investigated reports that Iraq had sought to purchase uranium. Mr. Libby then allegedly disclosed Ms. Plame's identity to journalists and lied to a grand jury when he said he had learned of her identity from one of those reporters. Mr. Libby and his boss, Mr. Cheney, were trying to discredit Mr. Wilson; if Mr. Fitzgerald's account is correct, they were careless about handling information that was classified.
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.
Thanks, Ambassador Wilson.
And by the way, so far as I know, no one involved has ever explained why Mr. Wilson was not required- as is routine- to sign a non-disclosure agreement before going to Niger for the CIA. If he had, he never could have written the column which started all this. Was that an 'oversight" or did someone really just screw up the paperwork?