My high hopes for a Plame post have collapsed, along with my time management. However, this WaPo story telling us that Fitzgerald was not viewed in the top rank by the Admin will get play.
For myself, since Fitzgerald did not really investigate the leak and abetted chicanery by Tim Russert (and very probably engaged in some himself), I can't say I am outraged. Of course, I can't compare him to other US attorney and some of this only came out following the 2005 ranking, so I can't comment on the process used at DoJ. On the other hand, the public perception of Fitzgerald may be distorted by the reluctance of the media to name him when reporting on his mistakes.
BRAIN-DUMP: There was some amusing commentary [links? - I am thinking of Digby and fdl] about Brit Hume's suggestion that Ms. Plame was less than truthful in her denial on Friday of any role in suggesting or recommending her husband for his 2002 Niger trip (the fact that she recommended him for his 1999 Niger trip seems to be uncontested).
As to the background, I would note this post; point 1 is "Was Valerie involved in sending Joe?"; I would find a link to Byron York's exchange with Sen. Bond re the SSCI testimony of Ms. Plame's colleague; and since the left and the press seems to be having a failure of imagination, I would offer these suggestions as to why Ms. Plame might be inclined to, hmm, shade her story a bit:
1. Protect her movie deal and book deal;
2. Protect her (long-shot) civil suit;
3. Protect her husband's reputation, given his many past denials of her role;
4. It's a free throw (mandatory March Madness metaphor) - Ms. Plame is a media and democratic darling, so Chairman Waxman would never burden her with a perjury charge, or even such an allegation (not to mention the absurdity of perjury charges in this context and obvious materiality issues, since Joe's trip was hardly the subject of the hearing) ;
5. Where's the paperwork? There really are nepotism issues here, and the CIA file with the relevant paperwork noting the spousal connection might be a bit light - better for all to deny her role.
6. Placate the Senate - the unanimous portion of the SSCI criticized the CIA for sending an employee's spouse (see ERRATA below); they had an obvious problem that Joe Wilson seemed to know more classified info than he should have, yet no one would 'fess up to having, ahh, over-briefed him. That criticism is even more trenchant if Ms. Plame led the charge to get him the job, as Grenier believed. Kevin Drum noted the potential problems in this old post which suggested Joe changed his view of Iraqi WMDs as Val updated him on CIA assessments. Wow.
Do any or all of these possible motives fit, and is Ms. Plame lying? How could I possibly know - what, now I'm a human lie detector? But let's say that Ms. Plame is not inside the circle of trust.
Well, the good new is, I am no longer late with the rest of my life - I am hopelessly late.
1. From the SSCI, p. 25 (or p. 35 of this 521 page .pdf):
The Committee does not fault the CIA for exploiting the access enjoyed by the spouse of a CIA employee traveling to Niger. The Committee believes, however, that it is unfortunate, considering the significant resources available to the CIA, that this was the only option available.
I am reading that as polite and restrained criticism.
In an interview with TIME, Wilson, who served as an ambassador to Gabon and as a senior American diplomat in Baghdad under the current president's father, angrily said that his wife had nothing to do with his trip to Africa. "That is bulls__t. That is absolutely not the case," Wilson told TIME. "I met with between six and eight analysts and operators from CIA and elsewhere [before the Feb 2002 trip]. None of the people in that meeting did I know, and they took the decision to send me. This is a smear job."
Nothing to do with it! I wish I could find the comic follow-up in TIME from a year or two later (possibly following the release of the SSCI report and Wilson's separation from the Kerry campaign) - IIRC, they basically asked Joe Wilson whether his wife was involved and then didn't even bother to wait for his denial - he waved weakly, the reporter laughed, something like that. OK, I'm sure the reporter didn't *admit* to laughing, but I did...
[Check the attic! The link has dies but this excerpt lives on in the exhaustive and exhausting JOM archives:
That means Wilson was also shading the story: "Valerie had nothing to do with the matter," he wrote in his 2004 book The Politics of Truth. "She definitely had not proposed that I make the trip." When asked last week by TIME if he still denies that she was the origin of his involvement in the trip, he avoided answering. But he has maintained all along that Administration officials conducted a "smear job" on him and outed his wife in revenge.
Hey, my memory was not so bad there.]
Here is Wilson's denial from his book (retyped by yours truly, and they obviously weren't paying me enough to eliminate the typos).
And since the gingko-bilboa has kicked in briefly, let me toss out the idea that Gregory Djerejian had a long roster of Wilsonian denials of spousal involvement. Or maybe Beldar. It would be fun to find it; the time would have been right after the Senate report in July 2004, and the author was trying to goad Josh Marshall into reacting (IIRC, but that last bit is a stretch - however, Marshall had presented some original interviews with Wilson, so he did have a possible proprietary interest in giving us a follow-up on his source's credibility and his own credulity.) Well, that was two and a half years ago.
[OK, maybe this from G Djer, but I have an idea that he or someone followed up with even more. *Maybe.*]