September 1, 2006
Earlier this week it was revealed that the source for Robert Novak's infamous op-ed piece that fingered Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife Valerie Plame as a CIA agent was none other than Richard Armitage. He's a respected veteran professional diplomat and had even expressed misgivings about the military mission to topple Saddam Hussein before the war began. In other words, he had no political motivation to leak that name, contrary to what many leftists and even much of the mainstream media had claimed. So today it was a great pleasure to read that the Washington Post editorialists set the record straight about this grossly distorted scandal -- it did not represent a political vendetta by Karl Rove or anyone else in the the White House. They stopped short of admitting they were wrong, and took pains to note that Scooter Libby other officials were careless with secret information.
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.
Given the firestorm of media scrutiny over this complicated matter, and even hints of impeachment charges from the Democrats, "unfortunate" is putting it very mildly. Well, at least they finally they got the essential point right. I've been harping on the fact that Wilson's own actions were what attracted attention to his wife's identity all along; for example, see July 16, 2005. Upshot: the whole scandal really was "much ado about nothing."