The New York Times, the Washington Post, and rest of the mainstream media have vociferously and falsely proclaimed that the trial of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby was about the White House’s attempts to discredit a critic of the administration’s reasons for taking the nation to war against Iraq. That is not what the trial was about. According to the letter of appointment from the Deputy Attorney General, Patrick Fitzgerald was charged to investigate the “alleged unauthorized disclosure of a CIA employee’s identity”; not to investigate whether an already discredited critic of the war was unfairly being discredited once again.
When the story of who leaked Valerie Plame to Bob Novak first broke in October 2003, President Bush vowed “to get to the bottom of the matter.” Unknown at the time by the Bush administration, and maybe even the New York Times, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was already at the bottom of the matter. Armitage was the one who told Novak that Valerie Plame was with the CIA. So Armitage told his boss, Secretary of State Colin Powell, who in turn told other top State Department officials who then told the Justice Department who told Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald.
Accordingly, within days of being appointed, Fitzgerald knew that it was Richard Armitage who revealed the name of Valerie Plame to Bob Novak. Consequently, the absurd allegation that the Bush administration leaked the name of Valerie Plame to discredit her husband Joe Wilson falls apart with that very fact. The distinctly un-hawkish Richard Armitage, a Colin Powell protégé, was anything but a pro-war neo-con and would most certainly have no interest whatsoever in discrediting a fellow critic of the war.
Joe Wilson wanted to see Karl Rove “frog marched across the White House lawn in handcuffs.” What we saw instead was Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald frog marching the law and justice into a cesspool of political hypocrisy. Aside from the questionable conviction of Scooter Libby for lying about an alleged crime that never was a crime, the only other result of this travesty was to insure that if there ever is another investigation like the Valerie Plame fiasco, the answer most given by future administration officials and news reporters called to testify will be, “I do not remember.”
The tragedy of the Libby trial is the question of why it occurred at all. Fitzgerald was ostensibly charged to investigate the alleged unauthorized disclosure of a CIA employee’s identity. Having determined almost immediately that it was Armitage who first revealed that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA begs this question. If Fitzgerald already knew the name of the person who revealed Valerie Plame to Bob Novak, and making the determination that the disclosure of her identity as an employee of the CIA was not a crime, inherent in the fact that Richard Armitage was never charged or indicted, just exactly what was Patrick Fitzgerald investigating for three years?