The Plame Game Plays On

The Karl Rove-Valerie Plame-Joseph Wilson-Niger yellowcake-State of the Union chagrin-confidential sources dilemma-First Amendment martyr flap will be with us for a while. As will speculation and subplots.

*Where’s Robert Novak in all of this? The columnist was the first to drop the Plame name in public. Others are on thin ice and he skates?

*Rove rage: From political king maker and strategist extraordinaire to poster boy for the parsing of the letter and spirit of the law (about outing CIA operatives). After all, you can’t quote a wink and a nod. If nothing else, Karl Rove , the president’s deputy chief of staff and consigliere, violated an axiom any party hack knows instinctively. When you are a behind-the-scenes tactician and political architect and you BECOME the news, you become a liability for those you serve.

*White House mouthpiece Scott McClellan now knows first hand why Ari Fleischer stepped down in 2003 and probably how Ron Ziegler felt during Watergate. McClellan has become a media piñata for the press corps. The gotcha crowd can be prickly and preening on a good day, downright nasty and intimidating when they’re right. McClellan is hung out to dry while the Administration circles the wagons and devises a “smear campaign” defense.

*Poor Judith Miller . The veteran New York Times reporter probably deserves the benefit of the doubt. She obviously can’t do anything about others who are venerating her First Amendment martyrdom. And cooling her heels in the Alexandria Detention Center slammer for a brief period is surely not a career move. It’s even doubtful a book will result, let alone one that will zoom to the top of the New York Times Best Sellers List.

And don’t forget, the rationale for protecting her sources even transcends the sacrosanctity of the First Amendment. Recall that the last time one of hers was revealed, it turned out to be Almad Chalabi, the exiled leader of the Iraqi National Congress, who was pushing agenda-driven insider information. As we now know, that self-serving, faux intelligence — that Miller was a conduit for — helped buttress Bush Administration arguments that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

Until Confidential Sources-Gate, the Chalabi connection had been a journalistic albatross Miller had been trying to distance herself from. Now she has.

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