THE BIG LOSER in the Libby affair, it would seem to me, is the CIA. At least it will be if anyone pays attention.
Consider: Assuming that Valerie Plame was some sort of genuinely covert operative — something that’s not actually quite clear from the indictment — the chain of events looks pretty damning: Wilson was sent to Africa on an investigative mission regarding nuclear weapons, but never asked to sign any sort of secrecy agreement(!). Wilson returns, reports, then publishes an oped in the New York Times (!!) about his mission. This pretty much ensures that people will start asking why he was sent, which leads to the fact that his wife arranged it. Once Wilson’s oped appeared, Plame’s covert status was in serious danger. Yet nobody seemed to care.
This leaves two possibilities. One is that the mission was intended to result in the New York Times oped all along, meaning that the CIA didn’t care much about Plame’s status, and was trying to meddle in domestic politics. This reflects very badly on the CIA.
The other possibility is that they’re so clueless that they did this without any nefarious plan, because they’re so inept, and so prone to cronyism and nepotism, that this is just business as usual.
All of which is true. How valuable could the information have been if they sent some retired guy to have coffee with mining officials. He also notes revisionism occurring.
More thoughts from Tom MacGuire.
This is not to say that Libby or whoever shouldn’t be going to prison, but it does point out that there are still structural problems that remain. Come to think of it those problems have probably only gotten worse now that the national intelligence system is more centralized.