February 06, 2004

The Plame Affair: update
Posted by Jon Henke

Breaking news on the Plame investigation....

Federal law-enforcement officials said that they have developed hard evidence of possible criminal misconduct by two employees of Vice President Dick Cheney's office related to the unlawful exposure of a CIA officer's identity last year. The investigation, which is continuing, could lead to indictments, a Justice Department official said.

According to these sources, John Hannah and Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, were the two Cheney employees. "We believe that Hannah was the major player in this," one federal law-enforcement officer said. Calls to the vice president's office were not returned, nor did Hannah and Libby return calls.

Bear in mind, the issue of criminal activity rests not on whether they simply mentioned her name, but on whether they KNEW she was an undercover agent. That's going to be the vital piece of information. Whether or not they did, they should be fired with extreme prejudice for trying to cover this up.

This, though, strikes me less sinister than the article seems to imply....

According to one administration official, "The White House was really pissed, and began to contact six journalists in order to plant stories to discredit Wilson," according to the New York Times and other accounts.
The implication, of course, that the White House leaked her name for revenge. Their action, though, does not lead to that conclusion. We've no idea, at this point, whether her name was mentioned with knowledge of her status, or simply in passing.

Moreover, there's nothing untoward about calling journalists to call their attention to facts left out by Wilson. The case remains interesting, though, and worth pursuit.

(via Daniel Drezner)

UPDATE: It's worth noting that these suspects come from Dick Cheney's office. IF they turn out to be guilty - or simply responsible - it may well rebound on Cheney.

And if it does? Cheney may be forced to step aside.

And if he does? The VP position would be open...a strategic boon for the Bush administration. (say, Giuliani, what you doing for the next four years?) Democrats would not be happy about that development. It would be a formidable ticket, to say the least.


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