Linda Chavez

Corn implies that it doesn't matter who the original source of the leak was because Rove confirmed Plame's identity when asked about it by Novak and passed on the information to Matt Cooper of Time magazine. Corn also blames Libby for revealing Plame's identity to another reporter, Judith Miller, then a writer for the New York Times. But neither Cooper nor Miller disclosed the information; and it was Novak's column that spurred the federal investigation that later resulted in Libby's indictment. And Armitage was Novak's primary source.

Corn admits that Armitage was "a war skeptic not bent on revenge" against Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for publishing a 2003 article critical of administration claims that Iraq was trying to secure materials used in building nuclear weapons. But instead of acknowledging that Armitage's role in the leak undermines the whole conspiracy theory that the White House would stop at nothing -- even jeopardizing national security -- to get even with its foes, Corn says the Plame affair "remains a story of ugly and unethical politics, stonewalling, and lies."

The real ugliness -- indeed, cowardice -- is that the original culprit who leaked Plame's name never came forward publicly to explain himself. Although Armitage did reveal to federal prosecutors that he gave Plame's name to Novak, he did so only when he may have worried that he could become the target of the investigation after Novak noted in a column, three months after the original story, that his source was "no partisan gunslinger." Nonetheless, Armitage let sharks in the press circle the West Wing looking for blood for the next two and a half years, knowing he was the real blabbermouth.

Worse yet, Scooter Libby now faces possible jail time for allegedly misleading statements in an investigation into a non-crime committed by someone else, a person, in any event, who was already known to federal prosecutors. The real crime here appears to be this malicious prosecution.

Linda Chavez

Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .

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