With this week's revelations that former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage was Robert Novak's other Valerie Plame source, supporters of the White House have done an odd kind of victory dance. Armitage's role is proof, they say, that there was no concerted effort to punish Joseph Wilson and expose Plame's identity because Armitage wasn't even on the Rove/Libby side of the debate.
If there was a genuine conspiracy, Armitage would have been the last guy to join in. The WaPo editorial board embraced the conservative line of thinking today.
It follows that one of the most sensational charges leveled against the Bush White House — that it orchestrated the leak of Ms. Plame's identity to ruin her career and thus punish Mr. Wilson — is untrue. The partisan clamor that followed the raising of that allegation by Mr. Wilson in the summer of 2003 led to the appointment of a special prosecutor, a costly and prolonged investigation, and the indictment of Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on charges of perjury. All of that might have been avoided had Mr. Armitage's identity been known three years ago.
Media Matters has a great piece explaining why reports like these are badly misguided.
-- Guest Post by Steve Benen, The Carpetbagger Report