Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Armitage revelation

My friend Mark Harden is dancing a little jig in the endzone to celebrate what he believes is the ignominious end of the CIA Leak scandal brought on by the revelation that Robert Novak’s primary source was Richard Armitage, a top aide to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Why this should make any difference is unclear to me, however. We know that Novak was not the first journalist to learn about Valerie Plame, just the first to actually go to press with it. We also know that Novak went to Karl Rove with this information to get confirmation before going to press.

Kevin Drum sums it up well here.

Armitage is hardly the end of the story. Whether his gossiping was innocent or not — about which I remain agnostic — the fact remains that several other people were also aggressively talking to multiple reporters about Plame's role at the same time. If Armitage really didn't have any malicious intent, it's a helluva coincidence that he happened to be gossiping about the exact same thing as a bunch of other people who did have malicious intent.

And David Corn makes clear why and how the White House campaign to discredit Ambassador Wilson set the ball to rollling in the first place.

The Armitage leak was not directly a part of the White House's fierce anti-Wilson crusade. But as Hubris notes, it was, in a way, linked to the White House effort, for Amitage had been sent a key memo about Wilson's trip that referred to his wife and her CIA connection, and this memo had been written, according to special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, at the request of I. Lewis Scooter Libby, the vice president's chief of staff. Libby had asked for the memo because he was looking to protect his boss from the mounting criticism that Bush and Cheney had misrepresented the WMD intelligence to garner public support for the invasion of Iraq.

Finally, if the fact that Armitage was Novak’s primary source somehow makes everything OK with respect to the administration’s involvement in outing a covert CIA operative, why did Patrick Fitzgerald go forward with the investigation anyway? We also know that Novak went to Fitzgerald at the outset and told him who his sources were. So Fitzgerald has known all along that Armitage was Novak’s first source, and yet he pushed forward with the case and still indicted Scooter Libby for perjury and obstruction of justice. So the Armitage revelation changes nothing in that respect.
Also, if it was all no big deal, as Bush supporters are now claiming, why did Libby perjure himself before the grand jury?

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