Quoted by Decision '08 Hitchens says, among other things:
...Mr. Libby stands accused of misstating his conversations with almost every journalist in Washington except for the only one–Robert Novak–who actually published the totemic name of Valerie Plame. “We have not made any allegation that Mr. Libby knowingly and intentionally outed a covert agent,” Mr. Fitzgerald contentedly confirmed.
…As to the critical question of whether Mr. Plame had any cover to blow, Mr. Fitzgerald was equally insouciant: “I am not speaking to whether or not Valerie Wilson was covert.”
In the absence of any such assertion or allegation, one must be forgiven for wondering what any of this gigantic fuss can possibly be about. I know some apparently sensible people who are prepared to believe, still, that a Machiavellian cabal in the White House wanted to punish Joseph Wilson by exposing his wife to embarrassment and even to danger. So strong is this belief that it envisages Karl Rove (say) deciding to accomplish the foul deed by tipping off Robert Novak, one of the most anti-Iraq-war and pro-CIA journalists in the capital, as if he were precisely the pliant tool one would select for the dastardly work. And then, presumably to thicken the plot, Mr. Novak calls the CIA to confirm, as it readily did, that Ms. Plame was in the agency’s employ.
Meanwhile, and just to make things more amusing, George Tenet, in his capacity as Director of Central Intelligence, tells Dick Cheney that he employs Mr. Wilson’s wife as an analyst of the weird and wonderful world of WMD. So jealously guarded is its own exclusive right to “out” her, however, that no sooner does anyone else mention her name than the CIA refers the Wilson/Plame disclosure to the Department of Justice.
…What if Mr. Wilson spoke falsely when he asserted that his wife, who was not in fact under “non-official cover,” had nothing to do with his visit to Niger? What if he was wrong in stating that Iraqi envoys had never even expressed an interest in Niger’s only export? (Most European intelligence services stand by their story that there was indeed such a Baathist initiative.) What if his main friends in Niger were the very people he was supposed to be investigating?
Well, in that event, and after he had awarded himself some space on an op-ed page, what was to inhibit an employee of the Bush administration from calling attention to these facts, and letting reporters decide for themselves? The CIA had proven itself untrustworthy or incompetent on numerous occasions before, during and after the crisis of Sept. 11, 2001. Why should it be the only agency of the government that can invoke the law, broken or (as in this case) unbroken, to protect itself from leaks while protecting its own leakers?
Hitch obviously has his facts right. So what is going on? Why was this chap Fitzgerald (and a bunch of flunkies, no doubt) on the government payroll for two years, to discover that nothing happened but Mr. Libby did whatever it was that, however, didn't happen. Talk about government waste. And let's not even think about Judith Miller.
As for me, I've never even understood Watergate. But I suspect that it is another case of overpaid government employees finding some mischief to get into when not under adult supervision.
And what's with Valerie P's recommendation being accepted so casually by the high muckety-mucks at the CIA? You'd think she was recommending her nephew for a summer job in the mailroom, so casually was her offer accepted.
The CIA are obviously a bunch of bums, and bone stupid at that.