"The Plame leak in Novak's column has long been cited by Bush administration critics as a deliberate act of payback, orchestrated to punish and/or discredit Joe Wilson after he charged that the Bush administration had misled the American public about the prewar intelligence. The Armitage news does not fit neatly into that framework. He and Powell were not the leading advocates of war in the administration (even though Powell became the chief pitchman for the case for war when he delivered a high-profile speech at the UN). They were not the political hitmen of the Bush gang. Armitage might have mentioned Wilson's wife merely as gossip. But--as Hubris notes--he also had a bureaucratic interest in passing this information to Novak.emptywheel has more:
Armitage may well have referred to Wilson's wife and her CIA connection to make the point that State officials--already suspected by the White House of not being team players--had nothing to do with Wilson and his trip.
Whether he had purposefully mentioned this information to Novak or had slipped up, Armitage got the ball rolling--and abetted a White House campaign under way to undermine Wilson. At the time, top White House aides--including Karl Rove and Scooter Libby--were trying to do in Wilson. And they saw his wife's position at the CIA as a piece of ammunition. As John Dickerson wrote in Slate, senior White House aides that week were encouraging him to investigate who had sent Joe Wilson on his trip. They did not tell him they believed Wilson's wife had been involved. But they clearly were trying to push him toward that information.
The Armitage leak was not directly a part of the White House's fierce anti-Wilson crusade. But as Hubris notes, it was, in a way, linked to the White House effort, for Amitage had been sent a key memo about Wilson's trip that referred to his wife and her CIA connection, and this memo had been written, according to special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, at the request of I. Lewis Scooter Libby"
But this very strong suggests that Armitage only had the information included in the INR memo. That, in turn, strongly suggests he didn't leak Plame's cover identity (remember, he told Woodward Plame was an analyst).with more to come, no doubt.
Therefore, whoever else leaked to Novak told him that Plame was an operative.
I still suspect it's possible that Novak had a third source--one who either said something that made Novak key into Plame or otherwise encouraged him to seek out the information. There is evidence to suggest Libby or Dick spoke with Novak, though it is unclear whether this conversation happened before or after the Novak leak.
But in any case, this story is a lot more interesting for the fact that it says Armitage didn't leak Plame's covert status, than it is for anything it says about Armitage
A NOTE OF SELF-PROMOTION: Hubris covers much more than the leak case. It reveals behind-the-scene battles at the White House, the CIA, the State Department, and Capitol Hill that occurred in the year before the invasion of Iraq. It discloses secrets about the CIA's prewar plans for Iraq. It chronicles how Bush and Cheney reacted to the failure to find WMDs in Iraq. It details how Bush and other aides neglected serious planning for the post-invasion period. It recounts how the unproven theories of a little-known academic who was convinced Saddam Hussein was behind all acts of terrorism throughout the world influenced Bush administration officials. It reports what went wrong inside The New York Times regarding its prewar coverage of Iraq's WMDs. It shows precisely how the intelligence agencies screwed up and how the Bush administration misused the faulty and flimsy (and fraudulent) intelligence. The book, a narrative of insider intrigue, also relates episodes in which intelligence analysts and experts made the right calls about Iraq's WMDs but lost the turf battles.
And there's more, including:
* how and why the CIA blew the call on the Niger forgeries
* why US intelligence officials suspected Iranian intelligence was trying to influence US decisionmaking through the Iraqi National Congress
* why members of Congress on both sides of the aisle who doubted the case for war were afraid to challenge the prewar intelligence
* how Cheney and his aides sifted through raw intelligence desperately trying to find evidence to justify the Iraq invasion
* how Karl Rove barely managed to escape indictment with a shaky argument.