[Ed. – Of course.]
Valerie Plame doesn’t deny that blowing the cover of the CIA station chief in Afghanistan is a serious matter. It’s just that, discussing the issue at a Wednesday evening forum sponsored by The Atlantic, Plame seemed to view the outing of the CIA’s top spy on the front lines in the Afghan war as more of an embarrassment than an outrage.
“My understanding is … it was a military aide who compiled this list of those that were greeting the president when he came,” Plame said. “Colossally stupid, but I think it was inadvertent. It was an error … really stupid. The White House apparently has said that they’re going to do an investigation, and they’ll find someone who’s really embarrassed at the end of it.” …
Many observers seem satisfied with the White House’s explanation that the incident was just a regrettable error. And that is indeed what it appears to be. But such assessments represent a remarkable change in tone from the discussion several years ago, when the George W. Bush administration leaked Valerie Plame’s identity as part of a bitter fight over the origin and direction of the Iraq war. Back then, it was quite common to hear the words “traitor” and “treason” used to describe top Bush officials involved in the controversy.
There’s no doubt the Bush officials deliberately revealed Plame’s CIA connection, if not her name, to the press. But the Plame leak could be characterized as inadvertent in one sense: the leakers, both in the State Department and the White House, did not know that Plame’s status at the CIA was classified when they mentioned her to reporters. That is why no one was ever charged with leaking her identity; they did not knowingly and deliberately reveal classified information. So in that sense it was all a mistake. Yes, it was inadvertent, colossally stupid, an embarrassment — but it was a mistake.