In former Vice President Dick Cheney's memoir, titled 'In My Time', Cheney accurately stated that Richard Armitage of the State Deparment was the person who originally leaked the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame to reporter Bob Novak. Novak subsequently published that information, outing Plame's identity. Armitage's boss at the time was Secretary Of State, Colin Powell.
Colin Powell said Cheney was taking "cheap shots" at him, and responded with the following:
"Then he goes on to talk about the Valerie Plame affair, and tries to lay it all off on Mister Rich Armitage in the State Department and me. But the fact of the matter is when Mister Armitage realized that he was the source for Bob Novak’s column that caused all the difficulty and he called me immediately, two days after the President launched the investigation and what we did was we called the Justice Department. They sent it over the FBI. The FBI had all the information that Mister Armitage’s participation in this immediately. And we called Al Gonzalez, the President’s counsel, and told him that we had information. The FBI asked us not to share any of this with anyone else, as did Mister Gonzalez. And so, if the White House operatives had come forward as readily as Mister Armitage had done, then we wouldn’t have gone on for two more months with the FBI trying to find out what happened in the White House. There wouldn’t have been special counsel appointed by the Justice Department who spent two years trying to get to the bottom of it. And we wouldn’t have the mess that we subsequently had. And so if the White House and the operatives in the White House and Mister Cheney’s staff and elsewhere in the White House had been as forthcoming with the FBI as Mister Armitage was, this problem would not have reached the dimensions that it reached".
Powell conveniently omits the critical information here. As Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post points out, the first and most critical piece of information Powell left out is this - Powell and Armitage never told President Bush what Armitage had done. Instead, they remained silent as the Plame investigation built and was splashed all over the front pages of newspapers across the country, and the White House became embroiled in controversy.
Here's what really happened after Armitage told Powell he had leaked Plame's name, as reported by Michael Isikoff:
The next day, a team of FBI agents and Justice prosecutors investigating the leak questioned the deputy secretary. Armitage acknowledged that he had passed along to Novak information contained in a classified State Department memo: that [ Joe] Wilson’s wife worked on weapons-of-mass-destruction issues at the CIA... [William Howard Taft IV, the State Department’s legal adviser] felt obligated to inform White House counsel Alberto Gonzales. But Powell and his aides feared the White House would then leak that Armitage had been Novak’s source — possibly to embarrass State Department officials who had been unenthusiastic about Bush’s Iraq policy. So Taft told Gonzales the bare minimum: that the State Department had passed some information about the case to Justice. He didn’t mention Armitage. Taft asked if Gonzales wanted to know the details. The president’s lawyer, playing the case by the book, said no, and Taft told him nothing more. Armitage’s role thus remained that rarest of Washington phenomena: a hot secret that never leaked.
Here we have Colin Powell keeping the truth from President Bush because he didn't want the State Dept. to be "embarrassed", never mind that the entire Bush administration came under a cloud of scandal due to Powell's silence. As Bush told reporters he wanted to know the truth of the matter, Powell, knowing the truth of the matter, sat right next to Bush and said nothing. With friends like Powell, who needs enemies ?
For anyone who still might believe that Armitage somehow wasn't the leaker, or that Armitage's leak was inadvertent (I used to believe this myself until I found out differently), here's the video of reporter Bob Woodward's interview with Armitage. Armitage leaked Plame's name to more than one reporter:
As a result of this, we've had a fictional narrative woven by the media and Hollywood that the Bush administration outed Plame as payback for Joe Wilson's op-ed criticizing the Iraq War, and Scooter Libby was convicted of a crime (Libby never mentioned Plame in Libby's interview with Woodward like Armitage did, btw. Nor did Libby tell Novak about Plame. Novak testified at trial that Armitage was his source). Libby was convicted of making false statements based on differences between the way Libby remembered events compared to the way reporter Tim Russert remembered events. Libby was later pardoned by Bush. In the bullsh*t Hollywood movie about the Plame affair, Libby was cast as the bad guy. Armitage was omitted from the movie completely. The director said he omitted Armitage and made Libby the heavy for "efficiences of storytelling". Sure, whatever, Mr. Hollywood. How about a little truth in storytelling ?, especially when you're making a movie about the President Of The United States, you scumball.
And Colin Powell could have prevented it all from happening.
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