The most intriguing gem is that the (possible) manipulation of intelligence leading up to the war may actually be investigated due to its relevance to the case at hand, namely, who outed Valerie Plame as an undercover CIA operative. I find the idea of White House staffers under oath on these issues to be extremely exciting. (Excuse me for having a muckraking/wonk moment.)
This is long overdue, although Fitzgerald will likely only scratch the surface, as the use of intel is relevant but not the focus of his investigation. Yet as Dan Froomkin observed on his WP blog White House Briefing on Wednesday,
No official body has thus far investigated the White House's use of intelligence in the run-up to war, or whether it was fair for the White House to blame the CIA and other agencies, instead of taking the blame itself. The Senate intelligence committee chose to put that issue off indefinitely and the Silberman-Robb "WMD Commission" was explicitly not authorized to do so.
Or, as Daily Kos and many other bloggers remind us, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), in charge of the Senate Intelligence Committee (SIC):
promised Democrats that after the 2004 election the Committee would investigate whether the intel was manipulated by the Bush administration.
This has not happened yet, and it’s shameful. Regardless of one’s political views, this is important stuff, because intelligence should never be politicized or predetermined. All civil servants should be able to perform their jobs in a non-partisan, objective and competent manner without political pressure. Take away the left-wing conspiracy theories and you still have many credible unanswered concerns about how and why things broke down regarding intel. I’ll write up my own take on this later, but if the Bush admin deserves exoneration, then by all means, investigate and exonerate them.
Regarding the Plame affair specifically, before the special prosecutor Fitzgerald finishes his job, much of what’s printed is of course speculation, but the Post has for the most part been pretty intelligent and measured in its speculation. For instance, way back when this story first broke in 2003, VP Cheney’s chief of staff Lewis “Scooter” Libby (must be a prep thing... what’s up with a grown man being called Scooter?) was mentioned as a likely key player. This month it was confirmed he was a source for both Novak and Cooper, even if the details are yet to be fully revealed.
Why does any of this matter? At least one columnist has observed that how we went to war is still important because things are still going so badly in Iraq. If they weren’t, there would probably be much less interest in intel issues and the Plame affair.