Thomas Sowell

The only reason her name appeared in the media was that her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, had attacked the Bush administration for going to war in Iraq. Wilson had gone to the African nation of Niger to check out suspicions that Saddam Hussein was seeking uranium from there, in order to create weapons of mass destruction. He concluded that this was not so.

Wilson became an instant hero to critics of the Iraq war in the mainstream media. The impression was widespread that the Bush administration-- specifically Vice-President Dick Cheney-- had sent him to Niger and then rejected his report.

This was news to officials of the Bush administration, who scrambled to find out who this man was and who sent him to Niger. Among those scrambling to find out was Scooter Libby.

What Libby and others discovered was that Wilson had been sent by the CIA, on the recommendation of his wife, Valerie Plame. When this was revealed in a column by Robert Novak on July 14, 2003, a clamor went up that a CIA agent had been "outed" in retaliation for her husband's criticism of the administration.

In reality, Robert Novak got his information from Richard Armitage, not Scooter Libby. Moreover, Novak was a critic of the Bush administration's decision to go to war in Iraq, so he was very unlikely to be part of a plot to retaliate against Wilson.

Neither Novak nor Armitage nor anybody else was prosecuted for revealing Valerie Plame's name, for it was no crime. But Scooter Libby was prosecuted big time for getting his facts wrong.

As someone who has any number of times had his memory corrected by consulting old records or old letters, I don't think a man's life should be ruined for that, when there was no crime to investigate in the first place.

Surely President Bush can pardon this man before leaving office.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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