Debra J. Saunders

Besides, if Wilson's husband, Joe, didn't want his wife to be outed, he should have kept a low profile. The Washington Post got it right when it editorialized: "The person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame's CIA career is Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming -- falsely, as it turned out -- that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger, and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials."

The White House had a right to set the record straight -- although you would think that the vice president would have better things to do than lead the charge. It reflects poorly on the Bushies -- and Armitage -- that it did not seem to occur to them that they might be divulging classified information.

If Cheney comes across as heavy-handed and drunk with power, he can share that honor with Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald hasn't charged admitted leakers Armitage, Rove or former press secretary Ari Fleischer -- but, in order to investigate their ostensibly illegal leaks, he made some 2,000 White House staffers produce records. And he put then-New York Times reporter Judith Miller behind bars for 85 days -- when he already knew the source of Novak's column.

In a sense, then, Cheney and Fitzgerald have something in common: Capt. Queeg. They both are willing to trample other people's lives in order to avenge perceived threats, they are both ruthless to those who do not bow to their will, and they've both lost sight of the truly big threats. The ship is off course, and they're hunting for whoever stole the strawberries.

Personal note: Please take a moment to think fondly of Molly Ivins. In person, she was lively and gracious. On paper, she brought spark, fury and wit to the opinion pages -- and I am quite relieved never to have been at the receiving end of her pen.

Debra J. Saunders

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