Robert Novak comments on the big question of whether or not Valerie Plame was a “covert agent” within the meaning of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. When Mr. Libby was tried for various acts relating to the “leak” of Ms. Plame’s name, he was not permitted to argue that she was not a covert agent, and, therefore, no underlying crime existed. The prosecution did not attempt to prove that she was and made no mention of her status during the evidence phase of the trial. It was not until closing arguments that the prosecution said the word “covert” in connection to Ms. Plame.
While this issue was ignored at trial, it is the cornerstone of any wrongdoing by Richard Armitage and Joseph Wilson. If Ms. Plame was not a covert agent, then there is nothing wrong with telling people of her relationship to Mr. Armitage; it would be about as important to national security as outing a Hollywood couple as lovers.
The mainstream media, however, has been notoriously unwilling to investigate this matter and continually refers to her as having “covert” status. Based on that, Mr. Libby was convicted of numerous crimes; Rove’s reputation was tarnished; and Ms. Plame and Mr. Wilson stand to make millions in lawsuits and book deals for the “revelation” of her name. Not bad for two people who were living on governement salaries.