As National Public Radio described the story behind Joe Wilson's amusingly titled book, "The Politics of Truth" (available on the $1 table in fine bookstores everywhere), in May 2004:
"Last July Wilson wrote an op-ed piece in the New York Times saying that this particular intelligence regarding Iraq was false. A week later, columnist Robert Novak revealed that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA operative."
This is like saying: "John Hinckley shot Ronald Reagan; Reagan later died." Every word of that is true, but what it implies -- that Hinckley killed Reagan -- is false.
In the exact same way, the grand White House conspiracy promoted by Wilson and the mainstream media cites chronological events to prove causation.
The media's conspiracy theory is:
Wilson said Bush's famed "16 words" in his 2003 State of the Union address -- "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" -- were a lie.
Wilson's wife was then revealed to be an "undercover" spy at the CIA, exposing Wilson and his family to danger.
Therefore, she was "outed" by the White House as retaliation against Wilson for calling Bush a liar.
Point No. 1 of liberals' conspiracy theory has been proved false since Britain's Butler Commission reviewed its government's pre-war intelligence on Iraq and concluded that "the British government had intelligence from several different sources indicating that this visit was for the purpose of acquiring uranium."
It was again proved false when our own Senate Intelligence Committee also concluded, in July 2004, that Saddam Hussein had sought uranium from Niger.
So there went the White House's motive for muddying up Wilson: Government fact-finding commissions, here and in the United Kingdom, were muddying up Wilson on their own simply by finding facts.
Point No. 2, that Wilson's wife was an undercover agent, has been proved false even to the willfully blind since Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald announced the conclusion to his pointless investigation last year, saying that Plame's employment with the CIA was not undercover, but merely "classified."
Everything is "classified" at the CIA. They have no idea when 19 terrorists are about to hijack commercial aircraft and slaughter 3,000 Americans, but the CIA is very good at play-acting James Bond spy games.
How covert was Valerie Plame at the CIA? Her top-secret code name was "Valerie Plame."
All this should have been enough to end conspiracy theories of White House skullduggery. But the nation's newsrooms simply continued asserting that someone in the Bush White House had "outed" Valerie Plame, despite the fact that revealing her employment with the CIA was not illegal.
Thus, as recently as January of this year, a New York Times editorial said the issue of the "leak" about Wilson's wife, whom the Times called "a covert CIA operative whose identity was leaked" (two strikes already), concerned "whether the White House was using this information in an attempt to silence Mrs. Wilson's husband, a critic of the Iraq invasion."
Wilson was more precise about the White House "leaker," variously naming Karl Rove, Lewis Libby and Dick Cheney as the source. He even described "a meeting in the suite of offices that the vice president occupies, chaired by either the vice president or Mr. Libby," where, Wilson said, the decision was made to destroy him.
(If the secret plan hatched in the vice president's office was to send evil spirits to enter Wilson's body and make him act like a fool, the plan worked brilliantly.)
Now it turns out, even point No. 3 of liberals' conspiracy theory was false: The original "leaker" of Plame's name to columnist Bob Novak -- not a crime -- was not in the White House at all. It was Richard Armitage, a State Department official and opponent of the Iraq war.
The information that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA had nothing to do with harming Wilson. It did not come from the White House. It did not even come from someone who supported the war in Iraq.
The rest of the world found out Armitage was Novak's source last week, something Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald knew from the first week of his investigation. So what was Fitzgerald investigating?
Even people who think the president should not be subject to civil suits in office do not deny that Bill Clinton had an affair with Monica Lewinsky and lied about it in a civil suit brought by Paula Jones. However irritating it is to liberals that lying about sex under oath is a crime, there was a crime that Ken Starr was investigating.
What was Fitzgerald investigating? Not only was there no underlying crime, there was not even -- as the Times put it -- "an attempt to silence Mrs. Wilson's husband" (or an attempt "to respond to people calling you a liar in the New York Times," as normal people put it).
Fitzgerald's entire investigation was nothing but a perjury trap from beginning to end for anyone who misremembered anything about who told whom what about a low-level nobody at the CIA who happened to be married to a Walter Mitty fantasist.