The Plame case is not just (!) about the treasonous outing of a U.S. CIA agent during wartime, the destruction of the front company in which she was involved, and the jeopardizing of vitally important operations (and quite possibly lives). The Plame incident is part and parcel of the whole Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Rove campaign of lies that dragged the United States into a war with Iraq that had nothing whatsoever to do with fighting terrorists. Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame were simply two of the victims of this effort. Joe Wilson had to be destroyed because he had the temerity to point out the emptiness of the Administration's case on nuclear materials. That's why his wife was attacked and her operation ruined. But these events were always just part of a larger picture.
FACT: Immediately after 9/11 Bush ordered preparations for an attack on Iraq to begin, whatever the evidence showed.
FACT: In the words of the key Downing Street Memo:
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
In other words, the Bush Administration deliberately emphasized intelligence that fit their preconceived notions and ignored evidence that contradicted them.
FACT: Colin Powell's presentation at the UN in February 2003 was a tissue of fabrications, which Powell has since repudiated. Powell's speech was a major event on the road to war.
FACT: Condoleeza Rice, Dick Cheney, and every other major Administration figure was trumpeting the WMD lies tirelessly. Cheney even declared that Iraq's possession of such weapons was a certainty.
The Plame incident was merely a part of a far more serious effort--to sell an illegal and unnecessary war to the American people. (It worked with me, I deeply regret to say.)
The success of this sales effort has so far yielded these other facts: The Iraq war has so far cost the lives of almost 2,000 of our best young Americans. More than 10,000 others have been wounded. More than 10,000 Iraqi civilians are dead. The U.S. will lay out more than $1,000,000,000,000 before it's over. It has made Iraq a recruiting ground for terrorists and has involved U.S. forces in shameful and disgraceful interrogation procedures. And it has not contributed one iota to the destruction of Islamic radicalism. It has been an unmitigated disaster, perhaps ultimately the most tragic foreign policy blunder in American history.
The Plame case is all about that and more. How the Plame matter is treated will answer several questions:
Do conservative Republicans have to obey the law, or can they violate it with impunity?
Do conservative Republicans care about anything other than the preservation of their own power?
Will violations of the law, and the corruption from which they spring, be punished or not?
Will the Bush White House be held accountable for its actions?
Far-right, radical Republicans brought this war about. They engineered the lies behind it. They tried to crush anyone who had doubts about it. They smeared as traitors anyone who dared to criticize Dear Leader. AND NOW THEY MUST PAY FOR THIS--IN A COURT OF LAW AND IN THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION.
The Plame case was never just about one intelligence operation. It was always about something much more huge--and much more terrible.