As everybody knows by now, it was Richard L. Armitage, former deputy secretary of state, who was the original source of Robert Novak’s now-famous column of July 14, 2003, in which Valerie Plame, wife of Joseph Wilson, was outed as a CIA operative. Novak implied that she was instrumental in getting her husband the mission to Niger to check out reports that Saddam Hussein had tried to purchase yellowcake uranium for his nuclear project. President Bush had mentioned this information in his message to Congress.
But when Wilson returned, he wrote an article for the New York Times in which he said Bush’s data was false, implying that the president had lied to Congress. It should be noted that Valerie Plame and her husband were donors to the Democratic Party.
Of course, Novak refused to name the source of his information, and Armitage decided to remain quiet. Actually, Armitage merely mentioned to Novak that it was Wilson’s wife in the CIA who had helped her husband get the job. Novak then read Wilson’s bio in Who’s Who, which gave the name of his wife as Valerie Plame.
However, on Oct. 1, 2003, when Armitage read a second column by Novak, in which he described his source as a “no partisan gunslinger,” the deputy secretary feared that his identity would be revealed. So he called his boss, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and told him of his concern. They took up the matter with State Department lawyer William H. Taft IV, who then spoke with White House counsel Alberto Gonzales, who allegedly told Taft that he did not want to know. But why didn’t Taft or Powell go directly to the president with this important information?
In January 2004, the Justice Department chose prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity. He became aware that the leaker was Armitage, who resigned from the State Department in November 2004 but remained a subject of the inquiry until February 2006 when Fitzgerald told him in a letter that he would not be charged. The New York Times reported on Sept. 2, 2006:
Mr. Armitage cooperated voluntarily in the case, never hired a lawyer and testified several times to the grand jury, according to people who are familiar with his role and actions in the case. He turned over his calendars, datebooks and even his wife’s computer in the course of the inquiry, those associates said. But Mr. Armitage kept his actions secret, not even telling President Bush because the prosecutor asked him not to divulge it, the people said.
Why would the prosecutor keep this vital information from the president who had expressed concern over the outing of a CIA operative? Meanwhile, the liberal press hysterically speculated that it was Karl Rove and Vice President Cheney who most likely leaked Plame’s identity to the press.
Despite the fact Fitzgerald knew the source of the leak, he decided to go after reporters who refused to name their sources. Thus, Times reporter Judith Miller spent 85 days in jail for refusing to reveal her sources to the prosecutor. She was finally released when she agreed to testify before a grand jury.
So, why did Fitzgerald go after Scooter Libby, Vice President Cheney’s top aide? Apparently, Armitage had read a memorandum Libby had commissioned as part of an effort to rebut criticism of the White House by Joe Wilson. Who wrote the memorandum, and did it mention Valerie Plame? Was it the source of any leaks to the press? Apparently not, for it was Armitage who supposedly read the report and made the leak, not Libby.
Nevertheless, it was Libby who Fitzgerald decided to indict, and the jury found Libby guilty of perjury and obstruction of justice. But how could he have obstructed justice when it wasn’t Libby who outed Valerie Plame, but Armitage, who voluntarily admitted that he was the perpetrator of the so-called crime of outing a CIA covert agent?
If anyone has obstructed justice it is prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald, who told Armitage to keep his mouth shut or face prosecution, did not tell the president who the leaker was and spent the taxpayers’ money in a costly prosecution against an innocent man.
Is it not a crime for a U.S. government official to deliberately withhold vital information from the president of the United States? Is it not a crime for a federal prosecutor to threaten a suspect with prosecution if he dared to make public his guilt?
When is the government going to indict Patrick J. Fitzgerald?
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