A couple of reactions to the Armitage story have lit my fuse.
First up is Investor's Business Daily:
Did Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald Lie?
Plamegate: Patrick Fitzgerald's three-year manhunt to track down who blew Valerie Plame's CIA "cover" has been exposed as a costly sham. He apparently knew all along that his man was not Scooter Libby.
The latest revelations raise a question of far more gravity: Did Fitzgerald publicly lie? Let's look at the facts:
• The indictment of Libby that Fitzgerald extracted from the grand jury states that "on or about June 23, 2003, Libby met with New York Times reporter Judith Miller. . . . In discussing the CIA's handling of Wilson's trip to Niger, Libby informed her that Wilson's wife might work at a bureau of the CIA."
• In the Oct. 28 press conference announcing Libby's indictment, Fitzgerald claimed that "in fact, Mr. Libby was the first official known to have told a reporter when he talked to Judith Miller in June of 2003 about Valerie Wilson."
• That assertion is apparently false. A soon-to-be-released book, "Hubris," by Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and The Nation magazine's David Corn, finds that Armitage revealed Plame's identity in a meeting with The Washington Post's Bob Woodward a week before the Libby-Miller meeting in June 2003. In a Newsweek preview of the book, Isikoff cites "three government officials, a lawyer familiar with the case and an Armitage confidant" as sources for when the Armitage-Woodward conversation took place.
• Isikoff notes that "Armitage himself was aggressively investigated" by Fitzgerald. So Armitage fessed up at the outset. Fitzgerald long ago knew whom Armitage talked to and when. And he knew it was Armitage, not Libby, who was responsible for outing Plame (whose status as a secret CIA operative was dubious at best).
• Fitzgerald's contention in October that Libby was "the first official known to have told a reporter . . . about Valerie Wilson" may therefore have been a lie.
However - although he was wrong, and singularly slack in his investigation, as of Oct 2005 Libby was the first official known to Fitzgerald to have leaked, just as Fitzgerald said.
Oh, stop. I yield to no one in my enthusiasm for belittling the investigatory ineptitude that allowed Fitzgerald to overlook the leak to Bob Woodward by Richard Armitage. (And I want to copyright "What else did Fitzgerald not know, and when did he not know it?")
I suppose that is a "lie" in the "Bush lied" sense, but I don't think anyone can argue that Fitzgerald knew the statemetn was false when he made it, or intended to deceive others, or made it with reckless disregard for the truth. Fitzgerald was wrong, but it was not a lie.
The other post that caught my eye was by Christy Hardin Smith; since Byron York has embraced the concept of "the firedoglake theory of the case", it is probably worth seeing how that bellwether of the left is covering this. Not well, but the errors are predictable. Here are two:
Armitage realized he was the source of the initial leak, and he immediately went to the State Department’s offices of legal and intelligence affairs, owned up to what had occurred, and discusssed his errors with the FBI before Patrick Fitzgerald was even appointed as Special Prosecutor.
...as a prosecutor, I can honestly tell you that when you have a genuinely contrite person in front of you, who has owned up to all their activity, put everything out on the table, and you have all the facts to look at — both the prosecutor and the criminal investigators are more likely to work with that person in terms of using them as a witness against others, cutting a deal, everything.
Well, now that we have her general opinion,what does she think of Armitage, who sat on the news about his leak to Woodward (despite reported prodding from Woodward) until the grand jury expired in October 2005? Is that "contrite"? Is that what it takes to "own up"? What would concealment and obstruction look like?
And this "Keep Anger Alive" passage seems to be nonsense:
Back in October of 2005, I had this to say — and I still feel the same today:
Why has your cover been blown? Because you work as a CIA colleague of the wife of a man who dared to question the veracity of the President of the United States on a matter of national security, a matter of an exaggerated claim that was inserted in his State of the Union address to bolster his case for war in Iraq. And the President’s cronies and hatchet men decided to out this man’s wife for political payback, as a lesson to anyone else who would dare to question their decisions and as a means to staunch the bleeding from this initial salvo of criticism. Damn the consequences.
Again, does Ms. Hardin Smith want to attempt to relate her feelings to the facts of the Armitage situation? Armitage did not "own up" to his full involvement, but he was not a crony or hatchet man engaging in political payback, either.
Please - write a new script.