Is there a Plame-ologist in the house?
Armitage was the source of Novak's leak. And Rove was Novak's confirmation.
The leak of information about an undercover CIA employee that provoked a special prosecutor's investigation of senior White House officials came from then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage, according to a former Armitage colleague at the department.
Armitage told newspaper columnist Robert D. Novak in the summer of 2003 that Valerie Plame, the wife of a prominent critic of the Iraq war, worked for the CIA, the colleague said. In October of that year, Armitage admitted to senior State Department officials that he had made the remark, which was based on a classified report he had read.
Novak collected what he considered to be a confirming comment from White House political strategist Karl Rove, then wrote a column in July 2003 that cited Plame's CIA employment as a reason to question the credentials of the critic, former U.S. ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.
The story, now, seems to be that Armitage made "offhand disclosures"--I guess that's a little more credible, or at least spinnable, than the idea that Armitage was an "overzealous staffer."
The problem with that idea is that Armitage made the offhand disclosure twice--once to Novak, and a three weeks later to the Sphinx-like and mysteriously silent Bush hagiographer and teabagger, one-time reporter great Robert "Bobbing for Apples" Woodward. That doesn't look offhand, to me. Especially not in the Beltway, where nothing is casual. Especially not with the NSA tapping everything.
NOTE God, the complexity. But isn't it really a simple story, underneath the who said what to whom when? The Republicans will do anything--literally anything--to save their sorry butts. Jeebus, Plame used to be a big story. But a lot of bigger stories have the same moral.
UPDATE Naturally, we Google FireDogLake for all things Plame-o-logical. FDL recommends The Next Hurrah for an excellent, Woodward-style, had-there-been-a-fly-on-the-wall-style description of what might have done down.
UPDATE Gack, not in WaPo until today, but in Newsweek on the 26th. Imagine the blogosphere, not aflame with Plame-ology! But with so much other shit hitting the fan, who can get excited about a few administration officials escaping indictment?
UPDATE Kevin Drum is skeptical:
Who gave Novak the name "Valerie Plame"? This has always been at the heart of the mystery, and it still is. You see, Armitage apparently learned about Joe Wilson's trip to Niger on July 7 from a State Department memo that (incorrectly) suggested he had gotten the assignment because his wife, a CIA analyst, had recommended him. But that memo referred to Wilson's wife as "Valerie Wilson," not Valerie Plame.
As one commenter suggests, the most likely hypothesis is that they're all lying, without exception. After all, an administration with a sociopath at the top would encourage other sociopaths to rise to the top as well.
As for me, the timing of this looks like a 5:00 horror writ large. Very suspicious.