Steyn on Plame

Mark Steyn is, shall we say, unimpressed with the scandal involved in the Valerie Plame affair.

Plame security breach? It just ain’t so, Joe (Chicago Sun-Times)

[…] As her weirdly self-obsesssed husband Joseph C. Wilson IV conceded on CNN the other day, she wasn’t a ”clandestine officer” and, indeed, hadn’t been one for six years. So one can only ”leak” her name in the sense that one can ”leak” the name of the checkout clerk at Home Depot.
[T]here’s only one scandal in this whole wretched business — that the CIA, as part of its institutional obstruction of the administration, set up a pathetic ”fact-finding mission” that would be considered a joke by any serious intelligence agency and compounded it by sending, at the behest of his wife, a shrill politically motivated poseur who, for the sake of 15 minutes’ celebrity on the cable gabfest circuit, misled the nation about what he found.

This controversy began, you’ll recall, because Wilson objected to a line in the president’s State of the Union speech that British intelligence had discovered that Iraq had been trying to acquire ”yellowcake” — i.e., weaponized uranium — from Africa. This assertion made Bush, in Wilson’s incisive analysis, a ”liar” and Cheney a ”lying sonofabitch.”

In fact, the only lying sonafabitch turned out to be Yellowcake Joe. Just about everybody on the face of the earth except Wilson, the White House press corps and the crowd accepts that Saddam was indeed trying to acquire uranium from Africa. Don’t take my word for it; it’s the conclusion of the Senate intelligence report, Lord Butler’s report in the United Kingdom, MI6, French intelligence, other European services — and, come to that, the original CIA report based on Joe Wilson’s own briefing to them.


The British suicide bombers and the Iranian nuke demands are genuine crises. The Valerie Plame game is a pseudo-crisis. If you want to talk about Niger or CIA reform, fine. But if you seriously think the only important aspect of a politically motivated narcissist kook’s drive-thru intelligence mission to a critical part of the world is the precise sequence of events by which some White House guy came to mention the kook’s wife to some reporter, then you’ve departed the real world and you’re frolicking on the wilder shores of Planet Zongo.

What’s this really about? It’s not difficult. A big chunk of the American elites have decided there is no war; it’s all a racket got up by Bush and Cheney. And, even if there is a war somewhere or other, wherever it is, it’s not where Bush says it is. Iraq is a ”distraction” from Afghanistan — and, if there were no Iraq, Afghanistan would be a distraction from Niger, and Niger’s a distraction from Valerie Plame’s next photo shoot for Vanity Fair.

Sounds about right. The story had all the earmarks of a major scandal when it was thought Plame was an undercover spy. When that turned out not to be the case, the response should have been, “Never mind.”

FILED UNDER: Africa, Intelligence, Iraq War, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. DC Loser says:

    …that the CIA, as part of its institutional obstruction of the administration…

    There you have it. It’s those unpatriotic CIA bastards’ fault. Oh my, the hysteria is building to a crescendo.

  2. Jeff321 says:

    why is there an investigation?

  3. Hal says:

    Wow James. You know she wasn’t an undercover spy?

    Never thought I’d see you stoop to this level, but I guess it was inevitable.

    Going to be pretty sweet to see you walk this one back.

  4. Lt bell says:

    all you conservative christian experts
    you know everything!

    who the hell does the CIA think it is to tell you what it’s agents are doing??????

    Rove and Bush are not the treason inspired greed
    sellers that they appear to be – just innocent
    victims of the vast liberal conspiracy — and no one–
    ever mention -that the conservative christians
    control over 5000 radio and TV stations

  5. Hey e e cummings,

    What lines do you use with conservative agnostics? Just curious.

  6. DC Loser says:

    It’s the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy, headquartered out of Langley, VA.

  7. ALS says:

    What lines do you use with conservative agnostics? Just curious.

    Hey, haven’t you been paying attention? All conservatives are white, male, evangelical Christians.

    (end sarcasm)

  8. Jeffrey Crowell says:

    What if this was an aide to Pres. Clinton? Boy, would the conservatives be howling now and asking for a special prosecutor. They would be spending $200,000 of the taxpayer’s money “to find the truth”.

    If this is not a serious breach of security- where is the limit? Rove and Libby have leaked classified info to personally hurt a political opponent. W’s father was with the CIA, and grieved deeply when the leaked names of CIA operatives led to the death of some of them. As a result, W promised his father that any such leaks would be dealt with swiftly. As with anything W says, “promises” and “truth” is just another foreign language. George W. makes Bill Clinton look like an altar boy.

  9. DC Loser says:

    George W. makes Bill Clinton look like an altar boy.

    I thought Clinton was slimy back then but now look back upon those days with nostalgia.

  10. ALS says:

    I thought Clinton was slimy back then but now look back upon those days with nostalgia.

    Was this sarcasm or seriousness?

  11. Mary says:

    The reason this has become so huge is because the Republicans created this monster.

    In the past few years, Republicans have raised dirty politics to a whole new level. It is strange to me to see how many Republicans are outraged at the American people’s opinion about the Rove situation. This may be partisan, but you have forced the Dem’s and the American people’s hand on this…you have taken the lead and created the ugly, hostile climate we find ourselves in today….two wrongs don’t make a right, but you do have to fight fire with fire…I do believe the Dem’s took the high road for so long and realized it wasn’t working. This is the only recourse left…I think this is a sign of things to come…so Republicans, keep your nose clean….they will look for anything, as you do and have done, to discredit your party. The Dem’s are still quite naive and innocent though…given the Ohio Governors situation lately, they could have jumped all over that and didn’t….Repubs sure would have….I actually agree more with Republicans on certain issues…I am an independant…but your tactics since Clinton, have been disgusting and I think Rove has been right in the middle of all of it….

    Reflect Republicans…Mary Martin

  12. Jerry says:

    What kind of agency allows someone to name their own spouse to conduct a critical mission involving national security? The CIA looks like a bad joke because of Valerie Plame. Beyond that if it’s true that she wasn’t covert for six years than who the heck cares? I don’t see how she could be covert and also have the authority to send her husband on a very high profile mission. This whole thing is ridiculous and a waste of time and resources.

  13. Willy Istvan says:

    It never ceases to amaze me that Liberals always find it necessary to stoop to not only exaggerations, but to bald-faced lying. The truth is, Bush never said he would fire anyone in his administration who was involved with this leak. I saw the original Bush statement over the weekend and all Bush said is that he would fire anyone who broke the law in regards to this leak. As usual, the Lefties had to spin this. Secondly, Rove never broke the cover of any covert CIA agent. Plame hadn’t been covert in over 6 years. Again, liberals and their mindless mainstream media propagandists have attempted to convince the American public that Plame was a covert CIA agent just days before Rove passed on a story that was common knowledge amongst most Washington insiders. Rove is only guilty of setting straight Cooper of Time Magazine because Cooper was about to publish an erroneous story regarding the identity of the person who sent Joe Wilson on his quest to find false information that he could use against Bush. You see liberals, it wasn’t Cheney; it was Joe Wilson’s wife Valerie Plame that was responsible for sending Wilson on his non-fact-finding trip to Niger. Rove’s motives were only to stop another Leftie lie from being published.

  14. LSP says:


  15. T, Jerome Hunter says:

    This is just too funny, or maybe it’s a little bit sad. Am I missing something? If Wilson is an idiot, and no one should have listened to him, why did Rove and others shop his Valerie’s ID around like they were trying to get bids on where the next GOP convention should be held? If he was such a sorry source, why would the Prez’s right hand man waste time on him at all? And sorry, like it was mentioned before, a White House official shouldn’t be trying to give away the name of ANY government agent. Oh, she’s not a secret agent, so it’s okay? That’s just it guys: If he didn’t know she was a secret agent or not, when he spilled the beans, then that means there was a chance she might have been a secret agent, right? That mean he willfully dropped her name without knowing what her classification was. That’s even more despicable. That’s like saying ” I don’t know if the alarm is on at the bank, so I’ll just break in and see.” If he didn’t know if she was secret, then that’s all the more reason not to sell her out genius! You don’t know! She may be and you’ll be committng a crime! And why do I care what kind of person Joe Wilson is? IS he self obsessed? Why should I care? All that matters is that what he reported must have been on point since the President mention of the uranium deal was in one speech, taken out of another, put back in for his Union address, and then his people said he never should have mentioned it in the first place. That doesn’t sound like it was stone-cold fact driven truth that all the free world knew about. Oh and one more little thing: JOE WAS RIGHT! Bush Lied! He didn’t mislead us. There were no weapons! Bush LIED! You know how I know he lied? He said that he knew there were weapons there and he had proof. The proof was halfway made up by his own people and half conjecture and rumor. Oh and THEY DIDN’T FIND ANY WEAPONS! Do you conservative single minded sheep realize that? The Liberal media didn’t conclude that there were no weapons. Bush did! He said it! Now I know you can’t believe what comes out of his mouth, but come on, don’t let THIS TIME be the first time you wise up and decide not to believe everything he says. He made up evidence to start a war to protect us from a guy who might or might not have attacked us in 25 years if all the other things in the world aligned the right way. My hero. You want to know why Liberals think this is a waste of resources? Because the organization we were supossed to fight is claiming responsibilty for a bombing in London. We’re more heavily invested in a war against guys not never attacked us. The guy who made tapes saying “Hey look at me! I bombed America!” is still out there and our “War Time” President says that he don’t give that guy much thought. And Wilson is the one with the CREDIBILITY problem? HA!