By Linda Chavez
So now we know. The man behind the leak of former CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity was not presidential adviser Karl Rove, nor Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who is under indictment for allegedly obstructing the investigation into the leak and lying to investigators. It turns out the leaker was former State Department deputy secretary Richard Armitage, a man much loved by the media precisely because he could always be counted on to tell tales out of school. In his own words, Armitage is "a terrible gossip," an admission he made during the Iran-Contra congressional hearings in 1987. The credit for unearthing this information goes to David Corn and Michael Isikoff in their forthcoming book, "Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal and the Selling of the Iraq War."
Corn admits that Armitage was "a war skeptic not bent on revenge" against Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for publishing a 2003 article critical of administration claims that Iraq was trying to secure materials used in building nuclear weapons. But instead of acknowledging that Armitage's role in the leak undermines the whole conspiracy theory that the White House would stop at nothing -- even jeopardizing national security -- to get even with its foes, Corn says the Plame affair "remains a story of ugly and unethical politics, stonewalling, and lies."
The real ugliness -- indeed, cowardice -- is that the original culprit who leaked Plame's name never came forward publicly to explain himself. Although Armitage did reveal to federal prosecutors that he gave Plame's name to Novak, he did so only when he may have worried that he could become the target of the investigation after Novak noted in a column, three months after the original story, that his source was "no partisan gunslinger." Nonetheless, Armitage let sharks in the press circle the West Wing looking for blood for the next two and a half years, knowing he was the real blabbermouth.
Worse yet, Scooter Libby now faces possible jail time for allegedly misleading statements in an investigation into a non-crime committed by someone else, a person, in any event, who was already known to federal prosecutors. The real crime here appears to be this malicious prosecution.