We often disagree with the Washington Post, but the Post, unlike many of its rivals, is a serious newspaper. A case in point: this morning, the Post’s editors offered a sensible post-mortem on the long-running Valerie Plame affair. The Post’s conclusion:
Nevertheless, it now appears that the person most responsible for the end of Ms. Plame’s CIA career is Mr. Wilson. Mr. Wilson chose to go public with an explosive charge, claiming — falsely, as it turned out — that he had debunked reports of Iraqi uranium-shopping in Niger and that his report had circulated to senior administration officials. He ought to have expected that both those officials and journalists such as Mr. Novak would ask why a retired ambassador would have been sent on such a mission and that the answer would point to his wife. He diverted responsibility from himself and his false charges by claiming that President Bush’s closest aides had engaged in an illegal conspiracy. It’s unfortunate that so many people took him seriously.
For what it’s worth, I suspect that Mrs. Wilson terminated her CIA career because she and her husband had become wealthy and famous; there is no reason why she could not have continued her desk job in Langley after being mentioned in Novak’s column. But the Post’s conclusions are nevertheless on target.