At its worst, treason was committed by high-ranking White House officials. At its best, we have witnessed a startling abuse of power by this administration, one which has seriously compromised our national security, jeopardized the war on terror and placed the lives of a covert CIA operative and her contacts in danger; all of what so far appears to be a reprehensible act of political retribution.
What we know at this point is that, on July 14th, 2003, the covert identity of a CIA agent was revealed to the American public by conservative commentator Robert Novak.
As a direct result, an entire intelligence network was destroyed, and our ability to thwart another terrorist attack was recklessly compromised.
We know that a State Department memo containing Valerie Plame’s identity was marked as classified and circulated on June 10th, 2003, under the direction of Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman.
We know that Secretary of State Colin Powell requested a copy of the memo the day after Ambassador Joe Wilson’s op-ed discrediting the administration’s case for the war in Iraq appeared in the New York Times.
We know that on July 7th, 2003, Secretary Powell took that memo on the Air Force One, where other senior administration officials may have had access to it. We also understand that Press Secretary Ari Fleischer may have had access to the same document.
That very day, Karl Rove, the president’s deputy chief of staff and senior political adviser, discussed the identity of Ambassador Wilson’s wife with Time reporter Matthew Cooper.
We also know that the vice president’s chief of staff Scooter Libby discussed Valerie Plame’s identity with reporters.
Despite the information we have about the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity, many questions remain.
Aside from Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, Colin Powell and Ari Fleischer, who else in the White House had access to the classified memo?
Given that so many of the president’s men had access to the memo, it is incumbent upon Congress, the special prosecutor and the American people to ask the following difficult question: What did President Bush know about the Valerie Plame leak and when did he know it?
Ah, yes. The Watergate question: What did the president know and when did he know it? And this is worse than Watergate. Much worse.