The Spy Who Loved Me

Why does George W. Bush want the terrorists to win?

Perhaps you've noticed that an awful lot of news outlets are finally getting all het up over Valerie Plame. (Note to Registerreaders: Plame is the story you'd have been reading if the Reghadn't been editorializing all week on yoga teachers at the sewage district instead.) Yes, people have finally started to notice that when Karl Rove, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff Scooter Libby, and persons yet to be determined said two years ago they had nothing to do with leaking Plame's status as a CIA agent tracking weapons of mass destruction, they were, how you say, unbelievablybald-facedflat-outfullofshit.

For those of you just joining us, JoeWilsonwas a former diplomat when the CIA sent him to Nigerto discover whether Saddamwas attempting to buy yellowcake uranium. Wilson found no evidence of it. Then came the whole shit storm—the "16 words" about yellowcake and Niger and Saddam that George Tenet, the director of the CIA, took out of at least three Bushspeeches before they were miraculously reinserted into Bush's State of the Union address—whereupon Tenet took the blame for not having taken them out . . . again.Perhaps you remember the administration blaming "bad intelligence" for the absence of WMD in Iraq? Yeah, this was that!

So Wilson hears the president's bullshit and writes a NewYorkTimesop-ed explaining that the president is wrong—that he himself went to Africa and determined there's no link between Saddam and yellowcake. The administration flips, and "senior administration officials" call at least six reporters to tell them Wilson had only been sent to Niger because his wife—yeah, you guessed it! Valerie Plame!—works for the CIA, so he's apparently some kind of pussy-boy who should be paid no mind.

But only the incomparable patriot RobertNovaktakes the bait; he prints Plame's name and status in an article intended to smear her husband—and maybe to intimidate other CIA folks into complying just a bit more with assessing intelligence in the manner JohnBoltonwants to hear. (Oh, yeah, Bolton's in this up to his eyeballs too.) Then Novak writes a second column, naming not just Plame but her phony CIA front company, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, for no discernible reason what-so-fucking-ever. Brewster-Jennings had agents tracking smuggled nukes in Libya, North Korea, Russia, Malaysia, Syria, Belarus, Iraq, the Congoand more than a dozen other super-fucking-dangerous places. And at least one of those agents or correspondents, in the wake of the outing, has reportedly been executed.

So that's the story up to last week.

Oh! Wait! But two years ago, when this was all going down, they called a special prosecutor who began looking into the outing of a covert CIA operative, because, as you'd imagine, it's a little bit illegal, and everyone involved denied being involved. Scott McClellan, the White House spokesman, called it "totally ridiculous" to imagine Karl Rove or Scooter Libby being involved, and said the president would fire anyone found to have leaked Valerie Plame's identity.

Oh again! So then Rove's lawyer admitted Rove had talked to reporters about Valerie Plame, but his big defense was that Rove said he never leaked her name(he only called her "Wilson's wife," even though Joe Wilson just has the one), so he didn't break the law. Because it wouldn't be against the law to, let's say, pointat a CIA operative and say, "That's a CIA operative!" if you didn't give her middle initial.

Oh, and in his second column, Novak gave out her middle initial too.

* * *

Now we get to the fun stuff, and the fun stuff is watching the GOP whine that—are you ready for it?—the Democrats, for partisan gain, are smearingsaintly Karl Rove! How? By pointing out that it might perhaps be a not-good idea for him to be outing covert CIA agents for partisan gain!

Didn't defense attorney JoeCavalloonce claim JaneDoehad raped the Haidl Three?

The Republicans have been doing everything in their power to muddy the waters: I, having read chapter and verse on this for two years, have occasionally found myself wondering if maybe Joe Wilson isn't a big, self-aggrandizing liar. After all, it's what RepublicanNationalCommitteeChairKenMehlmansaid in last week's Statement on the Partisan Attack on Karl Rove. It took me a whole 14 seconds of critical thinking to realize that these were the same talking points the administration had been trying to leak in the first place—with a CIA operative, every contact she's ever made, every co-worker she's ever had, and every contact they've ever made as potential "collateral damage"—and with as much relevance as the first time they tried it. Here's one of 20 bullet points from Mehlman's statement, with original boldface and citation, that is supposed to throw doubt on Wilson and excuse his wife's outing:

"Officials Said Evidence Was 'Thin' And His 'Homework Was Shoddy.''In the days after Wilson's essay appeared, government officials began to steer reporters away from Wilson's conclusions, raising questions about his veracity and the agency's reasons for sending him in the first place. They told reporters that Wilson's evidence was thin, said his homework was shoddy and suggested that he had been sent to Niger by the CIA only because his wife had nominated him for the job.' (Michael Duffy, 'Leaking with a Vengeance,' Time, 10/13/03)."

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