A couple more issues to watch.
According to this morning’s Washington Post, the president’s “aides said Bush has no plans to ask his staff members whether they played a role in revealing the name of an undercover officer who is married to former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.”
Today Scott McClellan said Karl Rove “wasn’t involved. The president knows he wasn’t involved.”
That sounds like the president has asked one of his staff members, i.e., Karl Rove.
Let’s say this is true — that Rove wasn’t involved. And frankly I’d be surprised if the White House would be so stupid as to say this if it weren’t at least true in some narrow, technical sense. But, again, let’s assume McClellan did not flatly lie in the president’s name this morning.
If that’s so, it sounds like the president requested and got a denial from Rove. But McClellan didn’t offer a blanket denial for anyone else. It seems like the president — or someone acting on his behalf — got a denial from Rove but didn’t get one from others, or knew not even to ask.
What’s clear from McClellan’s statement is that a lot is already known in the White House — probably everything — and they’re trying to keep a lid on it.
We’ve heard a lot about how blowing Plame’s cover was probably illegal and certainly dishonorable. But let’s walk through what the implications are.
Plame’s beat, if we can use that word, was weapons of mass destruction. And, of course, WMD is the big issue. It’s why Iraq, why Joe Wilson, why Niger, why CIA referrals. That’s what’s at the bottom of all this stuff. Keeping WMD out of the wrong hands is, or was, Plame’s job.
If that’s her job you can figure that over the years she’s been involved in various operations aimed at tracking proliferation, worked with various human sources, all sorts of stuff like that.
Now Plame’s name has been splashed across papers all over the world. And the folks that leaked her name made sure that they used her maiden name, Plame — the one she did most of her work under — rather than Wilson, the name which I’m told she now goes by.
So now her name’s out. You couldn’t unlock everything just knowing her name — covers are used and so forth. But once you know Plame is CIA, and what she looks like and so forth, you unravel most if not everything. And now every bad-actor and bad-acting government knows that anything that Plame was involved with, any operation, any company she was supposed to be working for, any people she worked closely with, are probably also CIA or at least work with CIA. WMD bad-guys now know to steer clear of them.
Let’s say there’s some operation Plame hasn’t been involved with for a decade — but it’s still on-going. People will remember she used to be in on that operation and thus it’s tagged as an Agency operation and it’s useless. Everyone will know to steer clear.
Now, I have no knowledge of any operations Plame was involved in or covers she used. These are hypotheticals. But it gives you a sense of the sort of work she was involved in and the potential collateral damage of exposing her cover. And consider what her work was: protecting Americans from weapons of mass destruction. Chew on that irony.