Thursday, July 21, 2005

Secret Identity

The Washington Post is reporting today that the State Department had marked the identity of Valerie Plame as "Secret" in a memo that was apparently provided to the White House regarding the yellowcake/Niger situation. (The memo also appears to dismiss the possible connection, and opposed Joe Wilson's trip because they though the rumor to be groundless.)

On the political/ethical front (and should those two ever be put together?) this report makes WH's attempts to peddling the rumor, that Plame was the only reason that Wilson was sent to Niger, look all the worse. It doesn't specifically implicate anyone, because we don't know who exactly saw this memo, but it certainly makes it harder to believe that somebody at the White House didn't read this memo and use it as one of the bases for the smear campaign against Wilson.

On the legal front, we are still in the beginning part of the process (albeit toward the end of the beginning). There are three steps in determining the Plame status. First, the CIA's referral to the Justice Department; second, the grand jury determination; finally, a trial judge/jury verdict. We are only between steps one and two right now. And frankly we just don't have enough information to know what the grand jury knows, nor do we know how long the grand jury may keep the investigation going.

This is a story that will keep hovering around for a few reasons: the legal process is still going on; Judith Miller is still in jail; and it is a pretty easy storyline for the public to understand (rightwingers attempt's to cloud the issue notwithstanding). Supreme Court nominee or no, this will linger around thWhitete House for some time to come.

(HT - OTB)