Fridayâ€™s indictment of Scooter Libby, Vice President Cheneyâ€™s Chief of Staff, for obstruction of justice, perjury, and making false statements is indicative of this Administrationâ€™s larger plan to forward its agenda at any cost, and it was the American people that paid â€“ until now. It is plain now that from the start the Bush Administration was committed to making its case for the Iraq War, and it would not let the facts get in the way. Where the evidence differed from their script, they ignored it, buried it, and destroyed the credibility of those who brought it forth, and evidence suggests they did so illegally.
We must remember that any disclosure of covert identities has damaging effects on our countryâ€™s human intelligence collection capabilities. We ask many men and women to take risks around the world to collect information in order to prevent war and protect the safety and effectiveness of our soldiers. When a leak like this happens, there is a ripple of damage. Not only is the original covert operative compromised, but so are all the people who had contact with her overseas. The people with whom Valerie Plame dealt with overseas â€“ other covert agents and informants, for example â€“ have almost certainly been compromised.
To provide the oversight we are obligated to do, Congress must examine how this leak occurred, assess the damage to current and future intelligence collection, and review options for preventing similar episodes in the future. Our intelligence professionals need to know that Congress will help them preserve their cover, which is the only real protection they have in their often dangerous job collecting information to protect America.
My central point is: whatever happens in the courts, Congress owes it to our intelligence operatives to exert oversight in this matter.
I will be appearing on CBSâ€™s 60 Minutes, tonight at 7:00 p.m. discussing the Plame leak and its consequences. I hope youâ€™ll tune in, and I welcome your comments.