So liberals were allowed to puff up Wilson's "report" by claiming Wilson was sent "by the CIA." But – in the traditional liberal definition of "criminal" – Republicans were not allowed to respond by pointing out Wilson was sent to Niger by his wife, not by the CIA and certainly not by Dick Cheney.
So important was Wilson's fact-finding mission to Niger that he wasn't paid and he produced no written report. It actually buttressed the case that Saddam had tried to buy uranium from Niger, though Wilson was too stupid to realize it. His conclusion is contradicted by the extensive findings of the British government. (I'm not sure, but I think that's what Bush may have been referring to when he said, "the British government.") One could write a book about what Joe Wilson doesn't know about Africa. In fact, I'm pretty sure someone did: Joe Wilson.
About a year later, a bipartisan Senate committee heard testimony from a CIA official that it was Wilson's wife who had "offered up" Wilson for the Niger trip. The committee also discovered a Feb. 12, 2002, memo from Wilson's wife gushing that her husband "has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines [not to mention lots of French contacts], both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity."
Wilson's response to the production of his wife's memo was: "I don't see it as a recommendation to send me."
Wilson's report was a hoax. His government bureaucrat wife wanted to get him out of the house, so she sent him on a taxpayer-funded government boondoggle.
That was the information Karl Rove was trying to convey to the media by telling them, as described in the notes of Time reporter Matt Cooper: "big warning"! Don't "get too far out on Wilson."
Democrats believe that because Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, the White House should not have been allowed to mention that it was she who sent him to Niger. But meanwhile, Clown Wilson was free to puff up his apocryphal credentials by implying he had been sent to Niger on an important mission for the vice president by the CIA.
Despite the colloquialism being used on TV to describe the relevant criminal offense, the law does not criminalize "revealing the name" of a covert operative. If it did, every introduction of an operative at a cocktail party or a neighborhood picnic would constitute a felony. "Revealing the name of" is shorthand to describe what the law does criminalize: Intentionally revealing a covert operative as a covert operative, knowing it will blow the operative's cover.
Rove had simply said Wilson went to Niger because of his wife, not his skill, expertise or common sense. It was the clown himself who outed his wife as an alleged "covert" agent by saying he was not recommended by his wife, and thus the White House must have been retaliating against him by mentioning his wife.
Wilson intentionally blew his wife's "cover" in order to lie about how he ended up going to Niger. Far from a serious fact-finding mission, it was a "Take Your Daughters to Work Day" gone bad. Maybe liberals shouldn't have been so insistent about that special prosecutor.