In a July 2003 column, Washington Post reporter Robert Novak named former Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA agent. By leaking the information, the Bush administration was attempting to discredit Wilson, who had traveled to Niger in search of evidence that Saddam Hussein was attempting to purchase uranium (as the administration had claimed), and came up empty. On this day in 2005 Patrick Fitzgerald, special prosecutor for the case, indicted I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, even though other White House officials like Karl Rove and, especially, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage were clearly involved. Libby was convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice and sentenced to 30 months in prison. President Feeling generous of spirit, Bush commuted that sentence before Libby had served a single day. When Libby was indicted, then–Washington editor David Corn wrote the following in The Nation:

The leak was either a deliberate and malicious act or a careless one in which spin-driven officials cavalierly spread sensitive information without checking to see if it was classified. The disclosures about Rove and Libby prove that the White House misled the public when it claimed in 2003 that neither man was “involved” in the leak. (Rove apparently confirmed the leak for Novak.) These revelations also show that Bush was not serious when he said then that he would take “appropriate action” against any official who “leaked classified information.” It’s now clear that Rove and Libby did leak such information. Hiding behind the excuse that Fitzgerald’s probe was still under way, Bush in recent months has refused to explain his position or say anything about the conduct of his underlings.…

Indictments aside, the Plame case has discredited the White House. Bush aides self-servingly leaked information that potentially damaged the nation. And then the White House, and perhaps Bush himself, lied to the public about it. One doesn’t need indictments—or convictions—to see this case as a clear representation of the way Bush and his crew do business.

October 28, 2005

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