What they mean is: Promises of confidentiality should not apply to Bushies. Meanwhile, two years into special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation, it is not even remotely clear that a law was broken. The 1982 law requires that the CIA take "affirmative measures" to hide the identity of a covert operative. At this juncture, it is not clear that Plame was covert in 2003 or that Karl Rove or Libby knew she had been. Those distinctions are highly material, even if they are all but ignored by the Bush-haters.
What of The New York Times? The paper was overly slow to report this story -- and top editors look bad for not getting the whole story from Miller sooner. The Times also looked downright silly this year when it redubbed Plame as "Valerie Wilson" -- as it reported that Karl Rove told a reporter Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, without naming her.
Still, the Times was right to stand by the principle that journalists protect a promise of confidentiality. As New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller put it, "I hope that people will remember that this institution stood behind a reporter, and the principle, when it wasn't easy to do that, or popular to do that."
"Popular" is the key word here. The left, and many journalists, enjoy a conceit that, when journalistic controversies erupt, the right will be armed with pitchforks, while the left thoughtfully hashes out the finer distinctions. In this instance, the Bush-hating left has been ready to discard its principles in order to discredit a journalist who wrote stories it doesn't like. If they could jail her for her reporting, they would. And like Miller, they're proud of actions that calmer minds would not wish to broadcast.