Ashcroft Appoints Special Prosecutor in Plame Identity-Disclosure Scandal
Attorney-General John Ashcroft recused himself Wednesday in the investigation of the Valerie Plame case, saying he will appoint a special prosecutor. High Bush administration officials broke US law in July of 2003 by revealing to reporter Bob Novak that Valerie Plame, wife of Ambassador Joe Wilson, was an undercover CIA operative. These Bush appointees did untold damage to US intelligence efforts, since they unmasked and put in danger all the contacts and agents overseas who had been known associates of Ms. Plame, an expert in preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The officials outed Plame in order to punish her husband, Wilson, for blowing the whistle on the Bush administration, revealing that he had reported to the US government as early as 2002 that the allegations of Iraqi uranium purchases from Niger were false.
Bush knows who did this dastardly deed, or could easily find it out. He has declined to demand that these persons resign and turn themselves in. This incident shows how vindictive and petty the Bush administration is, and how utterly unconcerned it is with real national security and weapons proliferation.
Ashcroft initially resisted the appointment of a special prosecutor. That he now has given in and recused himself raises a large question. Does he himself now have a strong inkling of who leaked Plame’s identity? If the person was close enough to Ashcroft such that the attorney general felt he had to recuse, the person was probably high indeed. (Karl Rove, “Bush’s [campaign] Brain”, is one suspect.)
The Democratic candidates generally brushed off Ashcroft’s gesture, promising that the Plame scandal would be an issue in the forthcoming presidential campaign.
By the way, although Bob Novak broke no law in revealing Plame’s identity, it is a shame on CNN that they did not make him resign over the issue. Newscasters have had to resign over ambiguous comments taken as racial slurs. Surely outing an undercover CIA operative is just as serious an offense?