Tuesday, January 30, 2007
"I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors."
Every news article that talks about the Scooter Libby trial mentions that no one has been "charged with the leak itself." Conservatives have been using this as an exculpatory defense. "See, no one did anything wrong. This is just a minor perjury offense."
Of course, I don't remember Republicans thinking perjury was such a minor offense when Bill Clinton was president. But putting that aside, it has to be pointed out that everyone involved admits that they did leak the identity of a covert CIA officer.
There are only two reasons why they haven't been charged with that offense. First, Scooter Libby impeded the investigation by lying about what they did - and that is why he is now being tried. If he had not impeded the investigation, there very well might have been charges on the underlying crime.
Second, it is hard to prove in a court of law that the Rove, Libby and the others knew for sure that Plame was undercover. They knew she worked at the CIA, they knew they were leaking her identity, and they knew they were doing it for a political purpose. But they might or might not have known for sure that she was a covert agent.
So, this uncertainty might protect them for criminal prosecution. But it does not protect them from moral, political and societal judgment for what they have done. They all admit that they leaked Valerie Plame's name in what was an obvious attempt to smear her and her husband for political purposes. Even more importantly, they betrayed our trust by "exposing the name of our sources."
Some conservatives even had the audacity to say Valerie Plame might not have been undercover anymore because the notorious traitor, Aldrich Ames might have given her name to the Russians earlier. Well, that certainly is an interesting question: Who betrayed Valerie Plame first, was it Aldrich Ames or Karl Rove?
Whether Rove and Libby are criminals who have violated the letter of the law is an open question. But what is indisputable is that they have violated our trust. They have exposed the government's most important sources - Valerie Plame worked on counter-proliferation aimed at finding weapons of mass destruction - and they did it for politics.
At least, Libby and Richard Armitage, who also admited leaking Plame's name, don't work for the government anymore. How can Karl Rove, who avoided prosection for perjury by admitting at the last minute that he leaked the CIA officer's name, still be employed by the United States government? And how is Dick Cheney, the man who apparently orchestrated this whole leak in the first place still our vice president?
Is there no one that will hold these men accountable for what they have done? Have we lost all sense of proper outrage? Is there nothing we can do to remove these men who have betrayed our sources and our country?
I have not lost my sense of outrage, no matter how much obfuscation there is by the other side on what really happened here. The facts are clear and the people who are involved have admitted them on the record. We have no choice but to agree with George H. W. Bush. We should have nothing but contempt and anger for these men who have been shown to be "the most insidious of traitors."