According to lawyers representing Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, the source of the Plame leak was the person who told Libby to leak it to the press. And it was not, has had been speculated, Libby's boss, Dick Cheney, but rather Cheney's boss, President Bush himself. The President's staff has not denied a report that he personally authorized Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, Scooter Libby to leak information on Valerie Plame ten days before it was declassified (and it was declassified while the scandal was erupting-- given how hard it is to get them to declassify anything, even the timing of that has to be seriously questioned). This confirms what conservative columnist Robert Novak, who originally broke the story said last December at a luncheon of the John Locke Foundation in Raleigh, North Carolina:
"I'm confident the president knows who the source is. I'd be amazed if he doesn't."
"So I say, don't bug me. Don't bug Bob Woodward. Bug the president as to whether he should reveal who the source is,"
Well, the source has been revealed.
So what is the response from conservatives? Mostly to say that if the President leaked it, then it's legal. The President has the authority to authorize the release of classified information any time he wants to.
True enough, he does have that right. So it is legal. However, to authorize (but hide behind an 'anonymous source' cover) the naming of an undercover CIA operative purely for reasons of political retaliation against a person who challenged the administration's lies on Iraq (and as we now know, correctly challenged them) can be described by a whole lot of other adjectives, I can think of so many that I have to alphabetize them: an abuse of power, appalling, cheap, childish, cowardly, craven, deplorable, despicable, disgusting, galling, grudging, gutless, lamentable, malicious, mean, nasty, pathetic, petty, pusillanimous, selfish, shameful, shocking, small-minded, sordid, spineless, stupid, timid, treasonous, unacceptable, unethical, unpardonable, and weak.
Yes, if the President of the United States authorized this personally, then it was legal so in that sense there is no scandal, but it is hardly befitting a President of the United States. But it seems to fit this one's sad, sorry little behind.
I was reminded on some other blogs of the following.
Recall what the President said about the leak:
"If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is,..."If the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of." -- Feb. 10, 2004
And also, that when asked in June 2004 if he would fire anyone who had leaked Plame's name, the President answered, "Yes. (Houston Chronicle, 7/19/05).
Considering these direct quotes, is there anyone at all who would today not call the President a liar? If this doesn't qualify as a smoking gun that the President is a liar, then there is nothing at all that would.