Whoever leaked Valerie Plame’s name to the press has “compromised intelligence sources and methods” and frittered “away the unity of purpose that President Bush has properly invoked as a necessity in combating international terrorism.”
If they destroyed the carefully constructed and expensively maintained persona given to what the CIA calls a NOC — an agent with non-official cover, who lacks the protections afforded by a diplomatic passport — Bush’s political strategist Karl Rove and Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, Lewis Libby, crossed what should be a bright red line.
Noted in an Editorial in the Boston Globe, today, “Such betrayals might have been expected in the Cold War.”
They should not occur because political operatives in the White House want to tarnish the reputation of a critic or settle scores with a CIA they may regard as too reluctant to tailor its analyses to the talking points of a vice president or a president.
Bush may soon be forced into choosing where he stands on this issue…
Did Bush know that Rove and Libby — or whoever the sources were — betrayed Plame’s cover and with it the CIA front company that supposedly employed her? Or was the president oblivious? Bush may soon have to choose between the role of participant in a coverup or an out-of-the-loop chief executive.
The WaPo has noted today that “special prosecutor in the CIA leak probe has interviewed a wider range of administration officials than was previously known.”
Prosecutors have questioned former CIA director George J. Tenet and deputy director John E. McLaughlin, former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow, State Department officials, and even a stranger who approached columnist Robert D. Novak on the street.
The net is so wide in Fitzgerald’s investigation that he has asked “not only about how CIA operative Valerie Plame’s name was leaked but also how the administration went about shifting responsibility from the White House to the CIA for having included 16 words in the 2003 State of the Union address about Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium from Africa, an assertion that was later disputed.”
While Bush officials continue their damage control campaign on this issue, it appreas that Fitzgerald believes “that Miller’s conversations may help him get to the bottom of the leak.”
Also murky is the role of Novak, who first publicly identified Plame in a syndicated column published July 14, 2003.