Monday, October 31, 2005

The Real Story

If anyone at the White House broke the law, they of course should be held accountable, but I think the real story here is the incompetence of the C.I.A. The Weekly Standard agrees.

Novak's column can be viewed as critical of CIA ineptitude: the Agency's response to a request by the State Department and the Vice President's office to verify whether a specific foreign intelligence report was accurate was to have "low level" bureaucrats make the decision to send a non-CIA employee (neither an expert on Niger nor on weapons of mass destruction) on this crucial mission at his wife's suggestion. Did no one at Langley think that Plame's identity might be compromised if her spouse writes a nationally distributed Op-Ed piece discussing a foreign mission about a volatile political issue that focused on her subject matter expertise?

The public record provides ample evidence that the CIA was at least cavalier about, if not complicit in, the publishing of Plame's name. Moreover, given Novak's suggestion of CIA incompetence plus the resulting public uproar over Plame's identity being revealed, the CIA had every incentive to dissemble by claiming it was "shocked, shocked" that leaking was going on, and thus made a routine request to the Justice Department to investigate. . . .

While there is no suggestion that the Special Counsel is proceeding in bad faith, there should be abundant concern that the CIA may have initiated this investigation out of embarrassment over revelations of its own shortcomings.