Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Valerie Plame Kerfluffle

Again, I sometimes feel like I should just post a link to James Taranto's Best of the Web and be done with this whole blogging thing.

In today's edition, Taranto appears to have proved that neither Karl Rove nor anyone else in the Bush administration violated the Intelligence Identities Act when Rove casually mentioned (when asked by Time reporter Matthew Cooper - who was ostensibly interviewing Rove about domestic policy) that Plame had been at least partly responsible for the selection of her ineffectual husband by the CIA to conduct a mission to Niger to determine if the Iraqis had tried to buy "yellowcake" uranium from the Nigerienes.

(You'll recall that by Wilson's own account he spent the entire time "drinking sweet tea" with members of the Nigerien government in his leave-no-stone-unturned effort to get to the bottom of the Iraq-Niger WMD connection.)

Unless we're missing something, Joe Wilson has disproved his own accusation that someone in the Bush administration violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. USA Today reports:

'The alleged crime at the heart of a controversy that has consumed official Washington -- the "outing" of a CIA officer -- may not have been a crime at all under federal law, little-noticed details in a book by the agent's husband suggest.

'In The Politics of Truth, former ambassador Joseph Wilson writes that he and his future wife both returned from overseas assignments in June 1997. Neither spouse, a reading of the book indicates, was again stationed overseas. They appear to have remained in Washington, D.C., where they married and became parents of twins.'

This meant that Plame would have been stationed in the U.S. for six years before Bob Novak published his column citing her two years ago today. As USA Today notes:

'The column's date is important because the law against unmasking the identities of U.S. spies says a "covert agent" must have been on an overseas assignment "within the last five years." The assignment also must be long-term, not a short trip or temporary post, two experts on the law say.'

All the Democrats who are braying for Karl Rove's head can't be very confident that he's committed a crime. If they were, they would wait for an indictment, which would be a genuine embarrassment to the administration.

What would I do without James Taranto? I'll have to remember to send him a fruit basket come Christmas.

By the way, for those of you keeping score at home, this was my 100th post.

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