Ratting out your employees, Oct. 25, 2005

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 29, 2005

The New York Times reported this morning that I. Lewis &uot;Scooter&uot; Libby first heard that Valerie Plame, the wife of former ambassador Joe Wilson, was a CIA agent from Vice President Dick Cheney.

And, get this, Cheney heard it from then-CIA Director and Medal of Freedom winner George &uot;Slam Dunk&uot; Tenet.

&uot;So Tenet was ratting out his own agents?&uot; radio commentator Don Imus queried this morning on hearing the news.

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That’s the kind of behavior from a boss that does not really inspire loyalty.

It’s painful to watch the &uot;Plamegate&uot; investigation proceed and see high-ranking government officials repeat mistakes made by previous administrations.

The administration of Richard Nixon was brought down in the wake of small-time burglary of Democratic offices at the Watergate hotel. The break-in was bad, sure, but politics is a tough game. It was the lying, obfuscation and covering up that brought down Nixon, Haldeman, Erlichman, et. al.

Now, 30 years later, here we are on the verge of prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald almost surely to bring indictments against someone, likely White House advisors Karl Rove and Libby, and perhaps even more, for their role in leaking Plame’s name to reporters in an attempt to discredit her husband for his criticism of the administrations WMD rationale for war in Iraq.

Once again the original accusation does not seem like it was even a crime because there has been no evidence made public that any official under investigation knew that Plame was a covert agent. Further, it’s fully understandable, if not justifiable, for members of the administration to attempt to discredit its critics.

But somewhere along the line, officials have apparently forgotten the lessons of 30 years ago, that the cover-up is worse than the crime.

And despite what Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson said on &uot;Meet the Press&uot; Sunday, perjury and obstruction of justice are not mere &uot;technicalities.&uot; They’re violations of the law and need to be prosecuted as such.

It will be an interesting few days.