Wow, what a week it’s been in the Valerie Plame mess.
First, there was the sight of Richard Armitage — Colin Powell’s #2 man when Powell was Secretary of State — being frog-marched out of his home by FBI agents and charged with exposing Valerie Plame’s identity. Some cynics say that in the end, Armitage — who had opposed the war in Iraq — will not spend any time in jail, but instead get a slap on the wrist and become the butt of jokes — much like former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, who stole and destroyed classified materials from the National Archives.
Then Powell himself issued a statement through his attorney — not even appearing in person — saying that the former Secretary of State would have no comments on the matter while it was still pending before the courts.
Then Plame’s husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, got hit with a legal one-two. First, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney hit him with defamation lawsuits, then the New York Times went after him for fraud. Legal experts say the Rove and Cheney suits will most likely be dismissed, but the Times one is on firmer ground — they published Wilson’s account of his trip to Africa on behalf of the CIA, and in it he flatly contradicted his official report — and that was under oath. Sources within the Times say the real motivation for the suit isn’t the embarassment for publishing it, but revenge for starting the whole mess that sent the Times’ Judith Miller to jail for almost three months. Miller herself is looking into suing Patrick Fitzgerald over the whole thing, as he apparently knew the real source was Armitage long before she was called in to testify — and was locked up for refusing to cooperate.
“Scooter” Libby’s lawyers are also eagerly poring over the new developments, in hopes of gaining him some break. It still strikes me as supremely ironic that the only administration official in legal trouble over the whole mess is a guy who lied about telling the truth about a liar.
I have to admit, I never saw one of the things that happened coming. But in my defense, neither did anyone else. But when John Kerry and Howard Dean made a joint public apology to President Bush and Karl Rove for wrongly accusing them of “outing” Plame as part of a plot to attack her husband, I thought large portions of the Left would commit mass suicide or lynch both men — or both. Leaks indicate that it was a deal cut between the DNC and the White House; if those two made a public apology, the Republicans wouldn’t use the whole thing to beat the Democrats to a bloody pulp in November’s election.
I think one thing that nobody — NOBODY — predicted was Valerie Plame herself signing on to the next James Bond movie. It’s unclear whether she will be a Bond Babe, the bad guy, or even the first female 007, but that just might be the first James Bond movie I’ll actually want to see.
There are some stories that end not with a bang, but with a whimper. The whole Plame mess was one that I had dearly hoped would end with just such a whimper, as Plame and Wilson would sink into their muchly-deserved obscurity and the whole silly thing would fade away. But if it’s going to go for the bang, at least it was a richly-entertaining one.
(Texas Rainmaker has his own piece, in a similar vein, up here.)