Monday, September 29, 2003

No shame
The flacks over at the National Review Online are already leaping to the administration's defense in what is shaping up to be a major scandal. For a brief summary see my earlier post. The gist of Mark R. Levin's article today (read it here) is that Wilson himself bears responsibility for his wife's outing as a deep-cover CIA agent because of the attention he drew to himself after the war in Iraq. This is truly an astounding argument.

Let me see if I understand it -- a respected former diplomat who served both Bush I and Clinton is sent on a perfectly legitimate mission to Central Africa to investigate claims of Saddam Hussein trying to buy Uranium from Niger. He subsequently discredits the charge (although anyone with two feet of foreign policy knowledge would have marked the documents as forgeries), and then watches in horror as the the President uses it in his State of the Union speech. He goes public with his findings, and then "senior administration officials" punitively expose his wife's identity. And somehow this is his fault? Look, if Wilson's wife truly was a deep-cover CIA agent, then clearly no one in Niger or anywhere else where she did her work was even remotely aware of her real identity. It's not like Wilson got to Niger and was greeted with, "Welcome to Niger Mr. Wilson, is your wife the double agent coming with you this time?" The only thing Wilson had to worry about was the viciousness of Bush's inner circle. And since outing a CIA agent can carry a penalty of ten years in prison, you can hardly the blame the guy for giving the people with knowledge of his wife's real identity the benefit of the doubt.

In another post for NRO, Cliff May argues that he knew Wilson's wife was with the CIA. Oh, well, I guess that makes it all okay, right? If everyone knew who Valeria Plame really was, then why has Tenet asked the Justice Department to investigate? Stumped? Me too.

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