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Joe Wilson Most to Blame for Ending Valerie Plame’s Career

The Washington Post editorial board has reached surprising conclusion after digesting the news that Richard Armitage was the initial source of the “leak” of Valerie Plame’s identity to Bob Novak.

Mr. Armitage was one of the Bush administration officials who supported the invasion of Iraq only reluctantly. He was a political rival of the White House and Pentagon officials who championed the war and whom Mr. Wilson accused of twisting intelligence about Iraq and then plotting to destroy him. Unaware that Ms. Plame’s identity was classified information, Mr. Armitage reportedly passed it along to columnist Robert D. Novak “in an offhand manner, virtually as gossip,” according to a story this week by the Post’s R. Jeffrey Smith, who quoted a former colleague of Mr. Armitage.

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.

[…]

[I]t 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.

Quite right.

The column has caveats, rightly so, that Cheney, Rove, Libby and company could have handled the fallout better and ended the mess much sooner. The instinct to stonewall and treat the press as an adjunct to the opposition party is perhaps the most unfortunate aspect of this administration. Still, they are innocent of the dastardly charges made against them by Mr. Wilson.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Fersboo says:

    ….treat the press as an adjunct to the opposition party is perhaps the most unfortunate aspect of this administration.

    Is that a symptom or illness?

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  2. DL says:

    To the degree that the MSM distorts truth for political purposes (one direction only) and encourages voters to hate Bush – it is a member of the opposition party. “If it looks like a dusk and…”

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  3. DL says:

    I should have said that’s “Duck” (not dusk)Next time I’ll take the second to spell-check.

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  4. Anderson says:

    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.

    Jesus H. Christ. Has anyone ever seen the WaPo editorial board and the WSJ editorial board in the same room together?

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  5. Ex-State Dept. Official Revealed Plame…

    Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told columnist Robert Novak the identity of underc…

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  6. madmatt says:

    So has armitage been in a cave with bin ladin for the last several years? Why didn’t he say anything earlier…or is it like the death squads he was unaware of back under bush 1? The man is a notorious heat taker for rethug scum…

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  7. Fersboo says:

    Madmatt,

    Colin Powell told him to be quiet.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  8. […] It is also unfortunate that so many on the left and the in the MSM ignored so many of us in the center and on the right who have been saying the same thing for over 2 years. […]

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  9. […] Outside The Beltway […]

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  10. The instinct to stonewall and treat the press as an adjunct to the opposition party is perhaps the most unfortunate aspect of this administration.

    Any serious review of the facts would see that treating the press as an adjunct to the opposition party is just rational behavior. Or perhaps you are still waiting for Rather to break the CBS story that the TANG memos were faked.

    Can you run it by me again on how Cheney, Rove, Libby and company could have ended the mess sooner? It was the fourth horse man of the GOP apocalypse that was the original source, not any of those you list. It was Powell who was told shortly after the Novak article but didn’t tell those listed as a tactic in bureaucratic fighting. It was Fitzgerald who knew this in the first week of investigation and didn’t wrap up the investigation “mess much sooner”.

    And don’t forget that Libby would be saving himself a lot of time and trouble if he had just pleaded the fifth on every question asked. Instead he tried to cooperate with the investigation the Fitzgerald continued and is now on trial for a faulty memory (or at least that is his defense).

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  11. Michael says:

    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

    Wait, is the Post suggesting that Iraq really was trying to purchase uranium from Niger? So far all I have heard was that it was definitely debunked, has this information changed?

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  12. madmatt says:

    No there was not an attempt to buy yellowcake, just the “liberal” media providing cover to lying rethugs!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  13. Anderson says:

    I think the WaPo’s board would benefit from a brief lecture on “proximate cause” and “but-for causation.”

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  14. The Media – Fast and Loose with the Facts…

    It’s funny, all the stories that the media seems to exaggerate, especially when it comes to either A) Race or B) President Bush.

    But when it finally comes down to getting to the truth of the matter, you normally find things are rarely what the med….

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  15. Gary Denton says:

    So he disregards the reporting in his own paper to repeat a previously debunked smear?

    Fred Haitt has been strongly pro-war and pro-Bush and consistently wrong for years in that so-called-liberal bastion.

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  16. Herb says:

    Com on all you “Bush Haters”. Let’s hear your “APOLOGY” for the ranting and raving you made here on OTB. You guys blamed Chaney, Rove, Bush, along with anyone who are in the “Hate Bush Circle”, that would listen to your “Knowledge” that the Bush Administration want to slam joe wilson.

    Let’s hear it NOW

    APOLOGIZE

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  17. A Musical Message To All The Libs Disappointed By Fitzmas…

    It’s been a tough day for the Fitzmas crowd. WaPo called it for the other side. And even though some are still desperately holding on, it’s over. But since I’m such a bleeding heart, here’s a little ditty that’ll hopefully……

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  18. All Over But the Whining…

    There was no Fitzmas. There will be no Fitzmas. There’s no chance that there will be a Fitzmas. If that means I’m the Grinch, so be it….

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  19. Tano says:

    I find this WaPo editoral entirely unconvincing and purposely igmoring some obvious facts.

    First of all, I find it absurd to claim that Wilson was “asking for it” in terms of revealing his wife’s identity. Sending an experienced diplomat with much area expertise on such a mission is not at all unusal. It has happened many times, without some sort of a justification built in, that the media and the administration is thereby free to burrow into the CIA and publicly expose those who were involved in sending the diplomat.

    And of course, there is the obvious question of how it is that Armitage came to know about Plame’s role and her identity. He passed it along as gossip – well, he must have recieved it as gossip from the WH. And that, of course, gets to the original charge. That the WH was orchestrating a campaign to spread the word about Plame. Armitage may have been the first whose words found their way into the press, but he was not the only one. We know that Rove and Libby were doing the same.

    And that Libby perjured himeself when testifying about his role.

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