Friday, February 10, 2006

Plamegate Made Simple

Juan Cole, Professor of History at the University of Michigan, offers an extraordinarily brief and cogent timeline of the events leading up to Plamegate on his blog "Informed Comment."

Plame, Cole notes, "had spent her life fighting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction" and Wilson had served his country well as acting Ambassador to Iraq in 1999, going so far as to attend a press conference wearing a hanging noose in place of a necktie subsequent to receiving a threat from Saddam Hussein. This, however, was not enough to protect them from Rove style partisan dirty tricks to maintain the flawed case for war.

"Once upon a time," Cole begins, "a former agent of Italian military intelligence named Rocco Martino , who had had some experience in the African country of Niger, came into possession of some forged, fraudulent documents..."

Cole then brings his readers, in storybook fashion, amusing pictures and all, on a quick little political journey through Karl Rove's connection to Italian Intelligence, alleged (now discredited) Iraqi attempts to purchase yellowcake uranium from Niger in 1999, Cheney's request that George Tenet, former Director of the CIA, look into those allegations, Joseph Wilson's visit to Niger at the behest of his wife, Valerie Plame, Secretary of State Colin Powell's balking at being asked to present "bullshit" to the U.N., and Cheney's authorization to leak Plame's CIA connection to the press in order to discredit Wilson after Wilson wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times; a series of events that culminated in journalist Robert Novak's printing Plame's in a column, thus destroying her career.

So, what's the big deal you say? Nobody died! Does that "nobody" include the tens of thousands of military and civilian casualties in Iraq who have thus far met their makers? Okay, perhaps that is to grant the Plamegate aspect of the run up to war a bit too much weight, especially if one argues, as do I, that the Bush Administration was set on going to war come hell or high water.

Still, Plamegate is not a victimless conspiracy. As Cole succinctly states... "All [Plame's] contacts in the global South were burned, and their lives put in danger. The CIA's careful project combating weapons of mass destruction collapsed." Insofar as that statement is true, suffice it to say that the world is less safe for Plamegate. And insofar as the world is less safe, we are all victims.

Read Cole's piece "Cheney Authorized Libby to Disclose Classified Documents" here.