Barzini reveals himselfIn the

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Barzini reveals himself?

In the Wall Street Journal today, the editors return to the Wilson matter and then let the other shoe drop. “Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald should fold up his tent,” the editors write. This move was anticipated last week when the Journal lamented the Fitzgerald investigation’s “especially paralyzing effect on the office of the Vice President.”

As it happens, the claim that Wilson’s wife recommended him or selected him for the job — the peg on which the Journal hangs its hat — is among the weakest leveled against him. Though the authors of the Senate report chose not to include this point, Plame’s bosses at the CIA have always said they came up with the idea to send him, not her. Indeed, only yesterday a senior intelligence official confirmed to me that, according to her bosses, Plame “did not initiate” the idea of sending Wilson on the Niger mission. Her bosses came up with the idea, the official explained, and then she agreed to ask him if he’d be willing to undertake it.

More importantly, however, the whole question is legally irrelevant. Even if Plame pulled strings to get the gig for Wilson and had the Agency arrange for him to stay at Niger’s most palatial and exclusive hotels, and even if Wilson had lied about it, all of that would leave the legal case enitrely intact. There’s no scoring political points exception to the law in question — not even if you think they’re valid political points, not even if they are valid points.

The folks at the Vice President’s office who are under scrutiny might — as Brown, Douglass, Garrison and Phillips once did — be appealing to the higher law that transcends mere statutes. But we’ll see.

The Times says that Fitzgerald is “expected to announce in a matter of weeks whether he will prosecute anyone.” And it’s not clear to me that he will choose to bring any indictments. Like everyone else, I have no idea. Yet the Vice President’s office would clearly like to see the investigation scuttled or at least lay the political groundwork for a defense against possible indictments. We should thank the Journal for showing us where they’re going with this.

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