Let's get something straight. There are only two issues I take seriously: The security of this country, and the liberty of its people. Anything else, I take with a cocktail. Or, as happens some days, I just shop the Victoria's Secret catalog.
So let me make a point I thought I'd made yesterday, but this time with a little more force and clarity. I wrote:
"The truth will out," it's said - and the WSJ argues that Rove merely helped it along. But do we really want the truth outed in intelligence matters? No matter the political cost, aren't these things best handled quietly if only for the peace of mind of other, better agents?
I don't care if Valerie Plame had a cover or not. I don't care if her husband was a lying prick. (Although, to his credit, he certainly seemed to know how to enjoy adult beverages in foreign countries on somebody else's dime.) I don't care if anyone had a secret agenda. I don't care if that agenda was at odds with Administration policy.
What I care about, first and foremost, is the security of this country during time of war. By extension, I care about our intelligence services being able to do their jobs. By further extention, I care about our intelligence officers not having to fear public reprisals.
Private reprisals? Certainly. Including getting fired? But of course. (And starting, I wish, with George Tennet on 9/12/2001.) However - no matter what the circumstances are, no matter who the players are, and no matter which party they belong to, these are matters to be settled privately.
America's intelligence community is already hobbled by shortsighted laws and Mr. Magoo rules. Some of them are asked even to put their lives on the line, and do so even when the odds (and Washington) are stacked against them.
Did Plame deserve what Rove seems to have leaked? Almost certainly. There are hundreds of other agents who don't deserve that kind of treatment - but who may now fear it.
That's bad for our intelligence community. That's bad for America.