The "Hubris" files

Byron York takes a look at the new book about the Plame flameout by David Corn and Michael "Koran in the Krapper" Isikoff. It turns out that this story is mostly a big never mind.

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No one in the press corps knew it at the time, but if a newly published account of the CIA-leak case is accurate, Powell knew much, much more than he let on during that session with the press. Two days earlier, according to Hubris, the new book by the Nation’s David Corn and Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff, Powell had been told by his top deputy and close friend Richard Armitage that he, Armitage, leaked the identity of CIA employee Valerie Plame to columnist Robert Novak. Armitage had, in other words, set off the CIA-leak affair.

At the time, top administration officials, including President Bush, were vowing to “get to the bottom” of the matter. But Armitage was already there, and he told Powell, who told top State Department officials, who told the Justice Department. From the first week of October 2003, then, investigators knew who leaked Valerie Plame’s identity — the ostensible purpose of an investigation that still continues, a few months shy of three years after it began.

Justice Department officials also knew who else had spoken to Novak. In that same time period, October 2003, FBI investigators spoke to top White House aide Karl Rove, and Rove told them of a brief conversation with Novak in which Novak brought up learning of Plame’s place of employment and Rove said he had heard about that, too. So by October 2003 — more than two months before the appointment of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald — the Justice Department knew who had told Novak about Plame.

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Whatever Armitage’s motives, the fact that he was the Novak leaker undermines — destroys, actually — the conspiracy theory of the CIA-leak case. According to Isikoff, in an excerpt of Hubris published in Newsweek: “The disclosures about Armitage, gleaned from interviews with colleagues, friends and lawyers directly involved in the case, underscore one of the ironies of the Plame investigation: that the initial leak, seized on by administration critics as evidence of how far the White House was willing to go to smear an opponent, came from a man who had no apparent intention of harming anyone…”

It’s an extraordinary admission coming from Isikoff’s co-author Corn, one of the leading conspiracy theorists of the CIA-leak case. “The Plame leak in Novak’s column has long been cited by Bush administration critics as a deliberate act of payback, orchestrated to punish and/or discredit Joe Wilson after he charged that the Bush administration had misled the American public about the prewar intelligence,” Corn and Isikoff write. “The Armitage news does not fit neatly into that framework.”

No, it doesn’t. Instead, Corn and Isikoff argue that after Armitage “got the ball rolling,” his actions “abetted” a White House that was already attempting to “undermining” Joseph Wilson. That’s a long way from the cries of “Traitor!” that came from the administration’s critics during the CIA-leak investigation.

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While the authors intended that their title be aimed at the Bush administration, it could more aptly describe the left wing media who pushed this story. I am not talking about the left wing bloggers, Paranoia and conspiracies are part of their pathology. It is the mainstream media that was pimping this story for Joe Wilson and his odious agenda. Since they have no shame, it is unlikely that these revelations will change much of their storyline on this subject. You can tell that by the way that Corn and Isikoff still try construct a conspiracy theme around the bystanders at the White House who had heard the same story about Wilson's wife.

None of these guys have the least amount of interest in where Wilson got some of the classified information he was leaking that could not have been learned on his mission to dring sweet tea in Africa. I suspect it was probably pillow talk combined with a joint agenda of the spouses to undermine the administration and the war effort. We conservatives are entitled to our own analysis of events too.

As for Armitage, James Taranto has it right. He is no profile in courage.

All of this came about because Novak asked a good question. Who was responsible for sending this guy to Africa?

Update: Perhaps you can ask Wilson the question directly if you want to spring for the Nation cruise in December with Wilson, Corn and Scott Ritter among other in the same boat. Nah. I think this story is about over. BTW: What do these revelations do to the Wilson's frivelous lawsuit? Make it even more frivelous?

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