The trial of Scooter Libby is long over, and right-wingers just can't let it go.

The reptilian Robert Novak still wonders aloud whether Valerie Plame was really covert. Fox News' Brit Hume accused Plame of lying under oath in her testimony before Congress. Although lacking first-hand knowledge of the facts of the case, dour lawyer Victoria Toenging can't bring herself to call Plame covert and insists that she didn't meet the narrow definition of covert agent in the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA).

Freepers won't budge from their talking points: There was no underlying crime; Plame was not covert; she was a low-level paper-pusher yet finagled a junket to Niger for her husband; everybody in Washington knew she was a spy; she blew her cover when she walked into work.

Enough already.

Recently I listened to the podcast of PBS's terrific series News War. Lowell Bergman interviewed David Szady, the FBI's assistant director for counterintelligence from 2002 to 2006 -- during the Plame investigation.

Whenever there is a leak of classified information, the aggrieved agency must answer 11 questions posed by the Department of Justice before an investigation is launched. You can read the list of questions here.

The questions are aimed at determining whether the information was properly protected, whether its release affected national security, whether it was declassified before release, and so on. One of the questions is whether the information is true:

LOWELL BERGMAN: The information has to be accurate?


LOWELL BERGMAN: So when the government announces a leak investigation and it comes to your office, it's confirming that the...that the report in the newspaper, for example, or on television, was true?

DAVID SZADY: Yes. Indirectly, yes.

LOWELL BERGMAN: That's one way to fact check.

Obviously, DOJ isn't going to waste FBI resources tracking down sources of information that is false or insignificant. So at least four well-informed sources believed that a crime occurred by the release of Plame's identity: CIA, DOJ, FBI, and Fitzgerald.

Was her identity classified? Yes. Was she covert? Yes. Had her name been declassified before being released? No. Was national security harmed by the disclosure? Yes.

Regardless of whether it met the narrow definition of the IIPA, it was not a good thing. The White House blew the cover of a CIA operative working on WMD, during wartime.

The Libby trial showed in no uncertain terms that Joseph Wilson was targeted for daring to call attention to the Bush administration's lies. Either Plame's cover was blown deliberately, or Bush & crew are criminally incompetent and cannot be trusted to properly handle classified information. The only question is why Rove, Libby, Armitage and the rest of them still have their security clearances.


"Hey rule of law!"