Sunday, October 30, 2005

Plame: Round Two Begins

After 60+ hours of heads sniping and counter-sniping on TV following the announcement of Lewis Libby's indictment on charges of perjury and onstruction of justice on Friday, I must say I am amazed that apologists so often seem to be able to say that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald "found no violation" of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act or the Espionage Act without being called on it. Seems to me we all heard a long, awkward baseball analogy from Fitzgerald about the catcher blocking his view (or sand in the eye, or something) to the effect that he couldn't tell whether there were violatons or not. That's not much of a vindication for those who wish to argue that the White House acted beyond reproach.

In case we have any doubt about the seriousness of outing Ms. Plame, I would recommend 60 Minutes' brief report on the matter on Sunday. A number of commentators have explained 'what the big deal is' quite adequately, but few have captured the human side of the story as well -- the loss of cover for an intelligence analyst who did not otherwise enjoy diplomatic immunity, the loss of a life's work and career, the outing of her fictitious employer and consequent loss of a long-cultivated CIA asset, the insights into the workings of the CIA provided for all the world to see, the potentially dangerous effect on Ms. Plame's past and present associates, the potential effect on future spouses of diplomats, etc.

Whatever the outcome of this sorry tale, it certainly seems to have left one senseless unholy mess within a vital aspect of statecraft (i.e., our nation's intelligence gathering function) that had already taken quite a beating over the past decade.

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