We just love all the crowing in the right-wing press about how Valerie Plame Wilson and the liberals who cheer her on are not going after Richard Armitage now that he has been revealed as the source of the leak exposing Plame as a CIA agent. This Aug. 31 piece by Byron York from the National Review is faily typical:
Will Joe and Valerie Wilson Sue Richard Armitage? No. They just want Cheney, Rove, and Libby.
The new attorney for Joseph and Valerie Wilson says the Wilsons do not plan to add former State Department official Richard Armitage to their lawsuit against top Bush administration officials because Armitage “did not act with the same level of malevolence” as Vice President Dick Cheney, top White House aide Karl Rove, and former Cheney aide Lewis Libby in the CIA-leak affair.
In July, the Wilsons sued Cheney, Rove, and Libby, along with ten other un-named co-defendants, charging that were part of a conspiracy to “discredit, punish and seek revenge against the plaintiffs that included, among other things, disclosing to members of the press Plaintiff Valerie Plame Wilson’s classified CIA employment.” Armitage was not named in the suit.
This week, a new book, Hubris, by the Nation’s David Corn and Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff, confirmed widespread rumors that Armitage was the original leaker in the CIA controversy.
A few weeks ago, the Wilsons made changes in their legal team, joining forces with the liberal advocacy group Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW). The Wilsons also hired the San Francisco-based firm Cotchett, Pitre, Simon & McCarthy. Constitutional lawyer Erwin Chemerinsky, who helped write the lawsuit, remains with the case.
Melanie Sloan, the executive director of CREW, is now the lead attorney for the Wilsons. In an interview with National Review Online, she said that if the account of Armitage’s outing of Plame in Hubris is correct, then “Armitage was just basically gossiping with [columnist Robert] Novak and just mentioned that Valerie worked for the CIA. His mentioning that to Novak is really not the same as the concerted effort that Cheney, Rove, and Libby made to get Valerie’s undercover identity out to the newspaper.”
“The underlying heart of the suit is about the conspiracy of these individuals to out Valerie Wilson in order to retaliate against Joseph Wilson,” Sloan continued, “and it doesn’t look at this point that Armitage was party to that plan.”
When asked about reports that Armitage told not only Novak about Mrs. Wilson, but also the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward, Sloan answered, “Woodward never printed it.”
“I’m not trying to say that what Armitage did was just fine,” Sloan continued. “It is obviously not OK. But it did not have the same level of malevolence as what Rove, Cheney, and Libby were trying to do, which was to out Valerie to punish Joseph.”
Sloan said that “there is still a lot that we don’t know” about the CIA leak matter, and that if it were shown that Armitage was part of a White House conspiracy, then he might be added to the lawsuit. But she said it doesn’t look like that is the case. “He didn’t even know that she was covert,” Sloan said of Armitage.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is best known for its filing of ethics complaints against members of Congress, the overwhelming majority of them Republicans. Sloan is a former aide to Democratic lawmakers John Conyers and Charles Schumer.
If the Plame-Wilsons are buying the line that Armitage is either a nice guy or out of the Rove-Cheney loop, they are deluding themsleves. SourceWatch, a watchdog on the right wing, provides us with Armitage’s bona fides:
Richard L. Armitage, considered to be a conservative “neo con” (neo-conservative), is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is one of the signers of the January 26, 1998, Project for the New American Century (PNAC) letter to President William Jefferson Clinton. He is also a former board member for CACI International, the private military contractor, which “is being investigated by no less than 5 US agencies for possible contract violations” and “employed four interrogators at Abu Ghraib prison” in Iraq, one of whom was singled out by General Taguba in his report on abuses of Iraqi detainees at the prison.
Most recently, Richard Armitage was the President of Armitage Associates. Previously, he served with the rank of Ambassador as the Coordinator for Technical and Humanitarian Assistance to the newly independent states of the former Soviet Union. President George Herbert Walker Bush appointed him as a Presidential Special Negotiator for the Philippines Military Base Agreement, a Special Mediator for Water in the Middle East and as a Special Emissary to Jordan during the 1991 Gulf War. In addition, Richard served in the Pentagon as Assistant Secretary of Defense and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy and then completed four tours of duty in Vietnam.
Richard Armitage, one of the Iran-Contra plotters, was a board member of Database Technologies (DBT)/ChoicePoint Inc before taking office under George Bush Jr. … Choicepoint is a partner of data mining company SAIC whose web site proclaims it has “developed a strategic alliance with ChoicePoint Incorporated to provide our clients with quick and effortless information retrieval from public records data. ChoicePoint Incorporated maintains thousands of gigabytes of public records data.
In the 1980 Reagan campaign Mr. Armitage was senior advisor to the Interim Foreign Policy Advisory Board, which prepared the President-Elect for major international policy issues confronting the new administration. From 1981 until June 1983 Mr. Armitage was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia and Pacific Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Armitage, who was denied a 1989 appointment as Assistant Secretary of State because of links to Iran-Contra and other scandals, served as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs in the Reagan years. U.S. Government stipulations in the Oliver North trial specifically named Armitage as one of the DoD officials responsible for illegal transfers of weapons to Iran and the Contras.
The New York Times also notes that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald apparently knew that Armitage was the source of the leak but nonetheless kept the investigation going for two years–long enough to indict Scooter Libby. The headline says this raises “New Questions About Inquiry in C.I.A. Leak.” OK, but here’s another question: Is Armitage going to be indicted now? And if not, why not?
See our last post on the Plame affair.