PlameGate, Armitage, and “Operative”

The apologists for Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby are having a field day spinning the Michael Isikoff article that Richard Armitage was a chitty chatty back in 2003:

Armitage acknowledged that he had passed along to Novak information contained in a classified State Department memo: that Wilson’s wife worked on weapons-of-mass-destruction issues at the CIA. (The memo made no reference to her undercover status.)

Christy Hardin Smith calmly notes:

Armitage may have told Novak and Woodward that Valerie was involved in some way in her husband’s selection as the CIA’s man-on-the-ground in Niger, but it appears, according to Isikoff at least, that he did not have knowledge at that point that she was a covert operative, which is an essential piece of the charging puzzle for Patrick Fitzgerald’s prosecution.

She provides a lot more as well as links to other posts that are not tainted by the tendency of the rightwingers to provide any excuse possible for the behavior of Cheney and his loyal followers.

But let’s focus on what Armitage did not know but Novak did when he penned his July 14, 2003 outing of Plame’s covert status. Novak at first tried to claim he did not say Plame was an undercover agent – but of course his own column undermines this mendacity. The National Review crowd tried to dismiss this tidbit as news as we all knew the Joe Wilson was married to Valerie Plame. But the public did not know Joe’s wife worked for the CIA. The National Review tried to argue that Plame was only a desk jockey at the CIA – which may have been consistent with what Armitage thought before July 14, 2003 – even though we all knew after the publication of Novak’s piece that the National Review crowd was lying when they made this bogus claim. And now Tom Maguire argues that Armitage had to know that Plame was a covert agent. As usual – Tom has made a charge without a shred of evidence.