Paul Jacob

For years now, pundits left and right have been arguing about the Valerie Plame spy revelation case, and an associated leakage of some confidential reports about WMDs. The whole ordeal was and is so complicated that most of us tended to shrug off its importance. But it also looked so base and political, the secrets leak so under-handed, and the spy revelation so indecent, it was hard not to take some interest. And the parallels to Casablanca are there: both stories are about a prelude to war; both involve espionage and secreted documents . . . and a certain lack of forthcomingness on the part of most of the players.

Now Vice President Cheney's former second banana (chief-of-staff) "Scooter" Libby has implicated the President and the Vice President in the WMD leak. Scooter had been indicted, you will remember, for obstruction of justice regarding the Plame revelation. The WMD leak was related because it countered the article by Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, who had argued against the rationale for a war against Iraq. On July 6, 2003, Wilson publicly questioned the administration's claims about Iraq WMDs. Two days later, Scooter leaked confidential information about the WMDs to reporter Judith Miller. Then, a few days after that, Bob Novak, in discussing the matter, outed Wilson's wife, Plame, as a CIA agent.

Not a single collaborator in this imbroglio has been charged with revealing Plame's true occupation. Instead, the investigation has gotten embroiled in the other leak, and Scooter is apparently copping to that, though saying that nothing illegal had been done, because . . . (drum roll) . . . the president did it. It was the president who authored the command to de-classify some previously classified information. He gave it his official okey-dokey, so it's officially hunky-dory.

One could say that Scooter's lying, and is wholly to blame. But what he says about the president and the veep fits with a lot of other things we know. Both scenarios make sense, and a scriptwriter could play it either way. Not being in the thick of things, I'm certainly not in the know. But there is a great deal of suspicion that this goes all the way to the top.

So, if instructions came from on high, why are we only hearing about this now? If the president wouldn't take screen credit for his act earlier because (say) he wanted to survive the 2004 election, then why didn't he put a stop to all this after the election? Why waste so much time and money since then?

It's not as if the wheels of justice are as unimportant as the plot to a forthcoming Police Academy 13: The Revenge of the Bailbondsmen.

Whatever the truth turns out to be, it does look like things are getting uglier. For some allies of this presidency, this may even mark the end of a beautiful friendship.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.