I know a lot about the covert business on both the policy and operational sides and this whole business of "naming names" is sickening, nauseating and the ultimate symbol of how far Washington under George Bush has come from what used to be the nonpartisan treatment of intelligence and the traditional standards of honor.
I have always refused to comment, even in off the record conversations with journalists, on the legal guilt or innocence of any party in this case. That is a decision by the legal system, without trial by media, and without trial by partisans. But this matter affects the core of our national security, the heart of our decision- making process about going to war, and the soul of our spirit of patriotism and honor that should rule out public disclosure of intelligence identities by any person, for any reason, ever.
The people most responsible for peddling Plame's name were the same people peddling WMD stories to Judy Miller and others.
This business about leaking identities is not only about partisan and political vendettas. It is about how and when we go to war, how and when we should not go to war, and why it is so fundamentally important that intelligence should be based on facts and truth, and not twisted and distorted for the ideology of going to war, or the partisanship of exploiting war.
What went wrong in Iraq, is that the democratic process of making the decision to wage war was corrupted and warped from the beginning.
This whole episode demonstrates how far from traditional moral and patriotic bearing Washington has come, during what historians will call, not fondly, the Bush years. In this environment anything goes, and insiders, surrounded by courtiers, substitute politics and spin for honesty and truth even on the matter of going to war.
Whatever the legal outcome, on fundamental issues of patriotism, morality and honor there is a higher standard for those of us who know how the real world works, on these matters.
The same people who bang the drums of war the loudest, are helping our enemies, by disclosing names. They are hurting our troops, by distorting our intelligence that is so essential to knowing when to wage war and how to wage it, when we must, and why to avoid it, when we can.
Let the courts decide the law, but those who do these dirty deeds deserve a special place in hell, and those who never risked their lives for our country themselves, and endanger the lives of covert people who risk their lives every day, and endanger the lives of troops who go to war with politically distorted intelligence, deserve the hottest place of all.
Let the courts decide the law, but I guarantee that when the sun has set on the Administration now in power, those who did these dirty deeds will be indicted by the court of history, while others will have to clean up the mess they leave.
My earnest hope is that they are indicted way before the historians get around to them.