It happens all the time. Someone blows the whistle on wrongdoing. Then they get smeared and punished by the wrongdoer. This time it involves senior members of the Bush Administration. (Surprise, surprise!).
The facts as reported:
Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former United States ambassador with over 22 years experience, much of it with the CIA, was sent to Niger to investigate claims of Iraq buying Yellowcake uranium from there. He concluded the claims were false and so reported back to the CIA.
However, the administration apparently wanted to use the uranium purchase claim to justify the campaign against Iraq. They leaked information which was reported in the Washington Post by Walter Pincus that a ‘former ambassador’ had investigated and found the uranium claim to be true - which was patently false. Later, President George W. Bush used the claim to help justify the invasion of Iraq in his now infamous “16 words” in his January 2003 State of the Union Address.
An outraged Wilson went public charging there was a major ongoing coverup by the Bush Administration over Iraq:
"the real victims of the cover-up are the Congress, the constitution and, most tragically, the Americans and Iraqis who have paid the ultimate price for Bush's folly".
Then someone in the Bush Administration, widely believed to be Karl Rove, went on the attack against Wilson. Information was leaked to a cooperative ally in the press, columnist Robert Novak, who revealed the confidential information and ‘outed’ Wilson’s wife Valerie Plame by name. Ms. Plame for many years had been a covert undercover CIA operative, ironically investigating Iraq’s “Weapons of Mass Destruction”. This leak was very damaging and costly to Ms. Plame, the operatives she worked with and national security.
The outing and attack is being viewed as punishment against Wilson.
Of course, senior administration officials have denied leaking the information as that is in direct violation of Federal law. Karl Rove has explicitly denied any role in the leak.
A New York Times reporter, Judith Miller - a frequent administration critic - has now gone to jail for refusing to reveal her sources in the White House who leaked the story about Valerie Plame. She could be incarcerated until at least October. She definitely is one courageous woman. Tragically, the New York Times, Miller’s employer has caved in to the administration’s bullying and provided confidential material on sources, which can have no other effect than chilling potential whistle blowers - which apparently is exactly what this administration wants.
The prosecutor in Judith Miller’s case, US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald is quoted as saying:
"we can't have 50,000 journalists each making their own decision about whether to reveal sources.” "We cannot tolerate that.” “We are trying to get to the bottom of whether a crime was committed and by whom."
Significantly, there is no known judicial or legal action concerning columnist Robert Novak- an administration friend - who actually did the outing of Ms. Plame. Could there be double standards in play here?
Nah, not this administration!