Bring Us The Two Heads

This mornings Washington Post details the current state of the probe (still in its formative stage). Heads (apparently two) will need to roll, and quickly. What this administration does not need is an inquiry that extends deep into the campaign season.

The Valerie Plame affair can go one of two ways:

1) It can be over quickly if the two administration officials responsible for the leak are quickly terminated and prosecuted.

2) It could become the Watergate/Iran Contra/MonicaGate for this administration.

As much as Democrats would like to make the “16 words” of the State of the Union an issue that sticks, value judgments and decisions based on intel information will never resonate as an issue. There will always be a way to show that Bush was acting in good faith, even if it is not to the liking of those opposed to the war. Deliberately blowing the cover of CIA agent is the kind of wrong that the voting public can understand.

Presidential history is replete with examples of small acts that have spiraled out of control and damaged presidents due to bureaucratic predilection for cover-up. At the core of the recent scandals is a singular act (break-in, document shredding, diddling an intern and lying to a grand jury about it) that resonated as “wrong”. For all the time and effort expended on Whitewater, the reason it never amounted to anything damaging was that there was no “singular act” that resonated from the whole affair.

Surely this is going to be very hard for the administration to offer up the heads of two of its own, but the consequences of not doing should not be very hard to recollect. The two administration officials are looking at serious jail time too, since charges of treason are a possibility. They would be well advised to study the cases of Jim and Susan McDougall, then seriously consider some pre-emptive plea bargaining.

Update: Asymmetrical Information has more on the story, as does Glenn Reynolds.

Update2: Michele calls for names, and Donald Luskin explains that Plame’s identity and occupation were not secret prior to the Novak article and lots of other nuances to the story.

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  1. Sandra September 29, 2003
  2. Norbizness September 29, 2003
  3. Chuck September 29, 2003
  4. Hatcher September 30, 2003