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.
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.