Monday, November 12, 2007

Armitage Says Blowing Valerie Plame's CIA Cover Was Foolish, But Not Ill Willed

Just back from Santa Fe, where Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson office in the same building as a friend, I was greeted this morning by a CNN article reporting that Richard Armitage told Wolf Blitzer in an interview on Sunday that he did not realize Plame was a covert agent when he discussed her with columnist Robert Novak in 2003.

Armitage, a former Deputy Secretary of State, said he was "extraordinarily foolish" to leak Plame's name, but that he did so in part because, seeing a memo that Plame had publicly chaired a meeting, he mistakenly assumed she did not have a covert status with the CIA. Armitage said that in 43 years with a security clearance he had never seen a covert operative's name in a memo.

At the end of July, discussing the importance of convicting Scooter Libby, I noted that Armitage, Karl Rove and others involved in blowing Plame's cover had never been held accountable in court--and that the Special Prosecutor had never made clear why.

If Armitage is being accurate about his own role, his self-judgment sheds some light on why it may have been impossible to prove criminal intent on his part when he told Novak that Plame was in the CIA.

It also tends to argue that Armitage, near the top of the diplomatic corps, may have been used by Rove, Cheney and others who were all too eager to sell the public on the U.S. invasion of Iraq, regardless of the consequences.

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