The Plame Affair (Finally) Getting Traction

Well, if you followed the news this weekend you’d have seen a story come out of nowhere about how the Bush Administration compromised an undercover intelligence operative just to get back at one of their political opponents, who happened to be that operative’s husband. It’s been picking up quite a bit of buzz.

Of course, readers of this blog will be familiar with this story, since I told you about it way back on July 30. So that’s two months that the Washington establishment has let this matter lie. Today, though, Bush looks a lot more vulnerable than he did then, so now people who didn’t have the backbone to do the right thing back then are suddenly scrounging some up. Good for them.

The bigger question is, of course, whether they’re willing to push this matter as far as it needs to be pushed. Betrayal of undercover intelligence agents by members of their own governments is bad enough when it’s motivated by ideology — say, if this were 1950 and it turned out that a key advisor to the President were an undercover Soviet agent. But even in that case, there’s at least some kind of high motivation involved. To betray your own people for no better reason than petty politics — that’s just despicable. The arrogance behind that kind of behavior is so completely appalling that I’m having trouble finding the words to describe it.

So I’ll use someone else’s instead:

We need more human intelligence. That means we need more protection for the methods we use to gather intelligence and more protection for our sources, particularly our human sources, people that are risking their lives for their country. Even though I’m a tranquil guy now at this stage of my life, I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious, of traitors.

Whose words are those? George H. W. Bush’s, from his 1999 dedication speech of the George Bush Center for Intelligence. They sum up the matter pretty well.