This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
Wouldn’t you know, but the critics of the Bush administration were right. A Richard was indeed at the heart of the Valerie Plame episode. Only, it wasn’t Richard Cheney. Instead, we now know it was Richard Armitage, Secretary of State Powell’s right-hand man until they both left Foggy Bottom early in Mr. Bush’s second term. The disclosure, which came after Mr. Armitage’s official calendar from 2003 was released to the Associated Press in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, answers one big question that has spurred incessant speculation since 2003. The news raises plenty of other questions, however. For example, where has Mr. Armitage been all this time?
Why didn’t he speak up when the controversy over the leak first surfaced? Or when Patrick Fitzgerald launched his grand jury investigation? Or when Mr. Fitzgerald indicted Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, in connection with the case? Or when Ms. Plame and her husband, Joseph Wilson, filed their civil suit against Messrs. Libby and Cheney and Karl Rove? The instinct for self-preservation is understandable, even enshrined in the Fifth Amendment, but Mr. Armitage’s inaction is appalling in light of the trouble he could have spared so many people had he come forward sooner. Even though investigators appear to have known about his involvement as early as autumn 2003, Mr. Armitage stood silently by while the president’s critics sullied the good names of Messrs. Cheney, Libby, and Rove.
At least now it will be possible to dispense with all the conspiracy theories, since Mr. Armitage is certainly not part of the neoconservative cabal at the White House that the left has blamed for retaliating against Mr. Plame after her husband took to the pages of the New York Times to oppose the war in Iraq. Rather, this leak is now exposed for what it was — idle Beltway chitchat about a factoid that Mr. Armitage thought a reporter might find relevant. What a shame Mr. Armitage himself didn’t help the country to that conclusion sooner.