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Wednesday Aug 30, 2006

What We Know About PlameGate

Today, the NY Times and W. Post further confirm the scoop by David Corn and Michael Isikoff, that Richard Armitage -- Colin Powell's #2 when they were both at the State Dept. -- was Bob Novak's other source for his outing of Valerie Plame Wilson.

Armitage is no neocon (though he is now advising neocon John McCain), and was not part of the Cheney-Libby-Rove effort to discredit Joseph Wilson.

Isikoff suggests Armitage was just being a cavalier gossip, who "apparently hadn't thought through the possible implications of telling Novak about Plame's identity."

Corn floated the possibility that he may have been trying to distance his fellow moderates at State from Wilson, so White House officials wouldn't be further suspicious of their loyalty to the Administration.

More importantly, both stress that there were two tracks of leaks.

One involved Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby and Karl Rove as part of an underhanded campaign against Joe Wilson. The other was Armitage on his own with little to no nefarious motive.

The surfacing of the Armitage track does not magically wash away what we already knew about the Cheney-Libby-Rove track.

We know that Cheney raised the notion that Wilson's fact-finding mission to Niger was a "junket" arranged by Plame.

We know that Libby -- Cheney's #2 -- sought a memo from State to learn more about the origins of Wilson's trip. (That memo fell into Armitage's hands and was the source of his leak to Novak. It also, according to Corn, was "based on notes that were not accurate.")

We know that Libby leaked about Plame to NY Times' Judy Miller and Time's Matt Cooper.

We know that Rove leaked to Cooper and Novak.

We know that these leaks occurred (as Corn reminds us) "prior to the appearance of the Bob Novak column that contained the Armitage leak."

We know that Libby has been indicted for lying about his role in the leak.

We know that even though Rove was not indicted, by discussing the identity of an undercover agent with reporters, he violated his security clearance agreement.

And it has been 1147 days since that agreement was violated without the White House taking the necessary "corrective action."

(Armitage also should have lost his security clearance, but he's no longer in the Administration and presumably, he doesn't currently have clearance to lose.)

What we don't know is if the Special Counsel investigation will go beyond the Libby indictment.

We know there will be no indictments of Rove and Armitage. (We don't know why exactly there was no Rove indictment.)

We know there have not been any indictments over the leaks themselves.

(Which is not the same as saying the leaks were not crimes. Fitzgerald described his four criteria for an indictment: determining "whether a crime has been committed, who has committed the crime, whether you can prove the crime and whether the crime should be charged." He may believe the leak was a crime, but be unsure of his ability to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, or have other political or practical reasons for not charging the crime. )

We don't know if that will always be the case. (TalkLeft suspects the investigation, which is still open, has an eye on Cheney.)

But even if there are no more indictments, what is known is disturbing and damning.

A anonymous campaign was waged by taxpayer-paid government officials to tar the reputation of a Administration critic exercising his First Amendment rights, destroying his wife's career as a public servant in the process.

It was true before the Armitage revelation. It's true now.

Posted by Bill Scher on Aug 30, 2006 email post email Spotlight / / You are in PlameGate
Posts Near Aug 30, 2006
Aug 29, 2006Editor's Note

Aug 31, 2006Rumsfeld's Other Question