Much of the GOP-orchestrated smear of Joe Wilson has been based on the "findings" of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence in 2004 chaired by Rovian sex dwarf Pat Roberts of Kansas, who along with comrades like Orrin Hatch stuffed the report with enough BushCo. friendly-addenda to keep Ken Mehlman in talking points for donkey's years.
But the committee stopped before it could tackle the sticky subject of political manipulation of WMD intelligence that they promised to do in the 2004 report, saying that there wasn't "enough time." On the heels of assertions by Larry Johnson and other former CIA agents to the effect that "of course Valerie Plame was covert, dickhead," the committee members have presumably cleared enough church picnics and Pfizer fundraisers off their schedules to look into whether the CIA knows the meaning of the word "covert."
For two years now defenders of the White House have been arguing that Valerie Wilson (nee Plame) wasn't 'outed' or damaged in any way because she wasn't really covert in the first place. The arguments have been various: she was a glorified secretary, she hadn't kept her status a secret, she hadn't been abroad recently enough, she worked at Agency headquarters, etc. etc. etc.In other words, they'll look into the Downing Street Memo and the frivolous subject of fixing intelligence that lead to the deaths of 1700 Americans and untold Iraqis with all the urgency I devote to alphabetizing my spice rack.
There's always been a ready answer to the toadies peddling these excuses. No one on the outside really knows the details of Plame's service. By definition, her superiors at the CIA do. And they wouldn't have made a criminal referral if the law didn't even apply to the person in question.
In other words, either this whole debate about her status is rendered moot by the original CIA referral to DOJ, or you must believe that the referral was knowingly fraudulent.
Those who are so Bush-true as to hypothesize that the CIA made a knowingly fraudulent referral would have to contend with the fact that the Bush Justice Department and then later Patrick Fitzgerald both concluded that the referral was a valid one.
The only other possibility -- one which I've referred to jokingly in the past -- is to argue that she wasn't covert enough. That is to say, maybe she was covert to the CIA. But she really wasn't covert up to the standards of say, Bill Safire or Tucker Carlson or Bill O'Reilly.
And this, understand, is the premise of the new Roberts' hearings. Was she really covert enough? And does the CIA really know how to define 'covert.'
The only reason Chairman Roberts now wants hearings into this question is that it might generate more fodder for excuse-making for those who will climb any mountain and ford any stream to avoid holding any of the president's lieutenants to account.
Thanks again, Kansas.
Update -- Geoff, from the comments:
I guess Pat Roberts and his ilk got their idea of what it means to be covert from Get Smart. You go into a fake phone booth, then down a tunnel with several sets of doors, and into the Cone of Silence with Himey the Robot.Now that's funny.
Covert people would never, like, actually drive to work.