August 29, 2006


First Source of C.I.A. Leak Admits Role, Lawyer Says (NEIL A. LEWIS, 8/30/06, NY Times)

Richard L. Armitage, a former deputy secretary of state, has acknowledged that he was the person whose conversation with a columnist in 2003 prompted a long, politically laden criminal investigation in what became known as the C.I.A. leak case, a lawyer involved in the case said on Tuesday.

Mr. Armitage did not return calls for comment. But the lawyer and other associates of Mr. Armitage have said he has confirmed that he was the initial and primary source for the columnist, Robert D. Novak, whose column of July 14, 2003, identified Valerie Wilson as a Central Intelligence Agency officer.

The identification of Mr. Armitage as the original leaker to Mr. Novak ends what has been a tantalizing mystery.

Grey. I think I'll paint the ceiling grey.

Plame Out: The ridiculous end to the scandal that distracted Washington (Christopher Hitchens, Aug. 29, 2006, Slate)

I had a feeling that I might slightly regret the title ("Case Closed") of my July 25 column on the Niger uranium story. I have now presented thousands of words of evidence and argument to the effect that, yes, the Saddam Hussein regime did send an important Iraqi nuclear diplomat to Niger in early 1999. And I have not so far received any rebuttal from any source on this crucial point of contention. But there was always another layer to the Joseph Wilson fantasy. Easy enough as it was to prove that he had completely missed the West African evidence that was staring him in the face, there remained the charge that his nonreport on a real threat had led to a government-sponsored vendetta against him and his wife, Valerie Plame.

In his July 12 column in the Washington Post, Robert Novak had already partly exposed this paranoid myth by stating plainly that nobody had leaked anything, or outed anyone, to him. On the contrary, it was he who approached sources within the administration and the CIA and not the other way around. But now we have the final word on who did disclose the name and occupation of Valerie Plame, and it turns out to be someone whose opposition to the Bush policy in Iraq has—like Robert Novak's—long been a byword in Washington. It is particularly satisfying that this admission comes from two of the journalists—Michael Isikoff and David Corn—who did the most to get the story wrong in the first place and the most to keep it going long beyond the span of its natural life.

As most of us have long suspected, the man who told Novak about Valerie Plame was Richard Armitage, Colin Powell's deputy at the State Department and, with his boss, an assiduous underminer of the president's war policy.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 29, 2006 11:52 PM

The MSM folks have pursued two quite different objectives in their handling of this story. One has been to weaken Bush, the other to protect Colin Powell. I suspect the latter has been, and remains, their top priority. Armitage takes the bullet.

Posted by: ghostcat at August 30, 2006 12:08 AM

Seeing how bright Bush is, and the horrible position the press has put themselves in, I'm wondering how much of this happened because the White House played the press.....

Posted by: Robert Mitchell Jr. at August 30, 2006 12:24 AM

No Fitzmas for the rabid conspiracy crowd, and celebrating Armitage Day just isn't going to bring out the same sort of spirit in the left. Fortunately, they can keep themselves occupied by bringing out all their debunked Katrina disaster stories for a first anniversary review this week.

Posted by: John at August 30, 2006 12:34 AM

For some, it's always Bush's fault. Per Instapundit, But this only makes Bush look bad for his failure to fire Tenet -- and to roll some other heads at the CIA -- shortly after 9/11.

Wasn't that Powell's job?

Posted by: erp at August 30, 2006 7:32 AM

Erp - Powell was Secretary of State. I don't think CIA reports to him so he couldn't fire Tenet. And if Powell agreed with Armitage he wouldn't be firing him.

John's right - the Dems and MSM have seamlessly moved into Katrina bashing - the Plame story will simply fade away since it didn't pay any dividends for the MSM.

Posted by: AWW at August 30, 2006 8:05 AM

So, the mystery is, what has Fitzgerald been investigating for three years?

Posted by: sam at August 30, 2006 8:17 AM

I read a report that the appointment on Armitage's calender immediately following Novak was with Tom Cruise and an official from LA's Scientology center (!). I eagerly await the consipracy theories arising from that one...

Posted by: Mike Earl at August 30, 2006 10:15 AM

sam, I think he saw Judy Miller's name on a bunch of appointment calenders and decided to take another whack at her.

Posted by: Chris B at August 30, 2006 10:21 AM

Fitzgerald dragged it out in the hope that something, anything would fall into his lap. Tax evasion, or a sex scandal would have done nicely. He would have been Ken Starr with the entire MSM on his side if he had found anything.

Posted by: andrew at August 30, 2006 10:46 AM

If the CIA doesn't report to the State Department, to whom does it report? I could swear I remember when Condi was appointed, one of her first initiatives was to clean out the CIA.

Posted by: erp at August 30, 2006 11:39 AM

Fitzgerald was never interested in finding out the leak source; he was going after Republicans. He never investigated anyone except White House officials, and he gave guarantees to all media members that he would only question them about their contacts with White House officials. He knew early that Plame's name had been released by non-White House officials before any White House officials, so there was no crime, but he continued the investigation in hopes of getting a White House official on a false statements or perjury charge. Fitzgerald comes out of this looking very bad.

Posted by: pj at August 30, 2006 12:10 PM