by Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers
At long last, Plamegate -- the scandal surrounding the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson by two "senior administration officials" -- has exploded out of the D.C. beltway to become a major national news story.
It would appear that this scandal goes way beyond Karl Rove and who said what to whom when about Ms. Plame. It certainly is true, though, that turning over that slimy Rove-Plame rock was the way into the larger issues upon which Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald and his grand jury apparently are focusing.
(Ain't it almost always so in Washington? The cover-up is always a greater problem for the perpetrators than the original crime, for inevitably even seamier scandals are unearthed one by one; see the Pentagon Papers, Watergate, Iran-Contra, et al. The moral lesson -- admit your mistake early, bear the immediate hit, and move on unencumbered -- rarely seems to "take" among politicians, of whatever party.)
What's being covered up in the Plame/Rove case seems to revolve around the Bush Administration's orchestrated, and perhaps illegal, propaganda campaign to justify its invasion of Iraq. Valerie Plame and her husband Ambassador Joseph Wilson -- who wrote the op-ed in the New York Times that got this whole thing going -- are just the tips of very large icebergs, and one of those icebergs has a name: the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), which we'll examine below.
One of the ruling judges on the case of the two reporters who refused to divulge their Plame-outing source was about to go easy on them when he read Fitzgerald's new information -- eight pages of which were redacted from the public -- and said that the national-security seriousness of what he read changed his mind. The court then ordered Time's Matthew Cooper and the New York Times' Judith Miller to testify or else; Cooper finally did, and Miller is in jail for contempt of court.
We don't know what is in those eight blacked-out pages -- and, if they really do involve national-security matters, we may never be permitted to know precisely. But apparently they provide the locus around which Fitzgerald is building a case that could result in perjury indictments, at the least, for a number of Administration officials and perhaps journalists as well.
(Another judge said that the prosecutor's classified filing -- those missing eight pages -- "decides the case." In other words, to quote Lawrence O'Donnell: "All the judges who have seen the prosecutors secret evidence firmly believe he is pursuing a very serious crime, and they have done everything they can to help him get an indictment.")
Further, depending on what Bush and Cheney knew and when they knew it -- and what they did or covered-up in the possible light of such knowledge -- there may be plenty of ammunition for likely impeachment hearings. (Note: Bush hired a private attorney last summer for this CIA-leak case. )
And the two journalists in question, Cooper and Miller, have their own attorneys. It's defense-attorney heaven in the nation's capital these days.