THE BIG LOSER in the Libby affair, it would seem to me, is the CIA. At least it will be if anyone pays attention.
Consider: Assuming that Valerie Plame was some sort of genuinely covert operative — something that’s not actually quite clear from the indictment — the chain of events looks pretty damning: Wilson was sent to Africa on an investigative mission regarding nuclear weapons, but never asked to sign any sort of secrecy agreement(!). Wilson returns, reports, then publishes an oped in the New York Times (!!) about his mission. This pretty much ensures that people will start asking why he was sent, which leads to the fact that his wife arranged it. Once Wilson’s oped appeared, Plame’s covert status was in serious danger. Yet nobody seemed to care.
This leaves two possibilities. One is that the mission was intended to result in the New York Times oped all along, meaning that the CIA didn’t care much about Plame’s status, and was trying to meddle in domestic politics. This reflects very badly on the CIA.
The other possibility is that they’re so clueless that they did this without any nefarious plan, because they’re so inept, and so prone to cronyism and nepotism, that this is just business as usual. If so, the popular theory that the CIA couldn’t find its own weenie with both hands and a flashlight would appear to have found some pretty strong support.
Either way, it seems to me that everyone involved with planning the Wilson mission should be fired. And it’s obvious that the CIA, one way or another, needs a lot of work.
UPDATE: More thoughts here.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Ed Morrissey is correcting Wolf Blitzer, who seems to have a poor grasp of the facts.
MORE: Don’t miss this must-read post from Tom Maguire, either.
And Brian Dunn has more questions about why Wilson was sent.