Sunday, August 27, 2006

Newsweek: Plame leaker was Armitage

Mike Isikoff and David Corn have finished a new book called Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal and the Selling of the Iraq War. It's due out on October 3rd, but an excerpt has been obtained by Newsweek. It now appears that the source of the leaking of the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson -- who was working the Iran nuclear file at the time she was betrayed -- was none other than Richard Armitage, Gen. Colin Powell's number two while Powell was Secretary of State. Moreover, Armitage told at least two reporters: Robert Novak and Bob Woodward. It was, as we all know know, a deliberate attempt by the Bush Administration to discredit Joe Wilson, who wrote his now famous NYT editorial about his ill-fated trip to Niger -- which got the whole Iraq war started in the first place.

Novak conceded a few weeks ago he had a couple of sources on the story but refused to name them, saying that like other reporters he never named sources unless they agreed to be named; and he stuck to that this morning on Meet the Press. But at the end of the show, he did state matter-of-fact that it was way past time for the source to come forward and identify himself.

For once, Novak has gotten it right. The fact is, he should have kept his mouth shut and never mentioned Plame in the first place. But if it hadn't been him, it would have been Woodward, Tim Russert or the NYT's Judith Miller who would have had every reason to reveal Plame's name at the drop of a hat.

Dubya said nearly three years ago that if someone inside his Administration blew the cover of a secret agent, he or she should be dealt with. Given Armitage has no love lost for most of the hawks inside the White House as well as most of the spy agencies, he would do well to turn himself in now given he's sat on this for nearly three years without any repercussions. On the other hand, I fully expect 43 to give Armitage an unconditional pardon; just as 41 did for most of the conspirators in Iran-contra. After all, his role in the affair was to promote Big Oil's interests -- by shooting America in the foot by ruining the job of the one person in America who knew more about Iran than anyone else.

It just makes me shudder to think how stupid this was. Iran could have been brought to its needs by now, had Plame's identity remained a secret. Instead, the country formerly known as Persia probably already has the bomb. And besides, who would want to be a spy now after what happened to her?

UPDATE: David Corn offers his explanation about how he and Isikoff got the Armitage angle at Huffington Post. What he doesn't explain is how making Armitage the villain winds up insulating who most of us progressives still think is the mastermind behind it all: Karl Rove.

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