I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious, of traitors. -- George HW Bush
It appears the Sunday shows and Brent Scowcroft's scathing condemnation will have to tide us over until the indictments start popping up on Fitzgerald's website. So I'd like to take a moment, before the New Yorker piece comes out, to consider how closely the comments may coincide with the impending indictments (if any).
Larry Wilkerson's outburst might be timed to coincide with the impending indictments, if you believe he is "the man who would say what Powell was thinking but was too discreet to say." But there's an even greater chance Scowcroft's statements are. That's because Scowcroft was involved in the Plame Affair from the start.
Scowcroft and Wilson first met when Poppy Bush was declaring Wilson a "true American hero" after Wilson got back from Baghdad in 1991. But they grew to know each other better through their mutual involvement in the American-Turkish Council. They discussed the rising push for war, but Scowcroft assured Wilson that the "right-wing nuts" would not "win the policy." (Wilson 290) In Fall 2002, as both Scowcroft and Wilson started publishing op-eds against regime change, Scowcroft was at least partially responsible for bringing Wilson to the attention of the Administration. Scowcroft brought a copy of Wilson's San Jose Mercury News column to show some people in the White House.
I sent my article to Scowcroft, Baker, and the president's father out of courtesy, because I referred to the lessons learned in the diplomacy of the first Gulf War.
Brent called me when he received the article. He kindly asked if he could "take it over to the White House," only about two blocks from his downtown office. He said that he thought senior officials ought to read the views of somebody who actually had experience in Iraq and with Saddam's government. By this, I took him to mean that he intended to share it with the national security adviser, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, or her deputy, Stephen Hadley. (Wilson 295-6)
So Scowcroft is--at the very least--witness to the fact that someone in the Administration knew about Wilson well before his July 6 2003 article.
But I don't think that's where Scowcroft's involvement in this affair ends. In his description of how he made up his mind to write his op-ed, Wilson says the following.
The last straw came when Dr. Rice, in a June 8 appearance on Meet the Press, told Tim Russert: "Maybe somebody in the bowels of the Agency knew something about this, but nobody in my circles." That was a lie, and I knew it. She had to have known it as well. The next day, I called a former government official who knew Dr. Rice and expressed my disgust at her continuing refusal to tell the truth. He replied that the interview had not been one of her finest moments. (Wilson 332)
I don't think it's too wild a guess to imagine this former government official is Scowcroft. After all, he was probably responsible for introducing Wilson's writing to Condi. So it would make sense for Wilson to call Scowcroft to share his disgust with Condi's claim that she had never heard of his trip; Scowcroft may know, after all, that she did. And the comment that the interview "had not been one of her finest moments" sure sounds like something a mentor would say to express disappointment at seeing his protege fail.
And if you believe that speculation, then this passage...
For four months, from March to July, I did what I could to encourage the White House to come clean on what it knew, including speaking to people close to the administration, senior officials at the State Department, and to staffs of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees. [emphasis mine]
...suggests Wilson may have been working through Scowcroft (and others) for months to try to get the Administration to admit they knew the Niger claims were bunk (which again may mean Scowcroft knows for a fact that Condi knew about Wilson's Niger trip). Granted, this involvement is not great. But it suggests Scowcroft was an ongoing ally of Wilson as he tried to get the Administration to tell the truth.
All this, frankly, makes me a little wary of the Scowcroft piece. Don't get me wrong. I look forward to seeing the Bush Administration receive a public whipping from a respected Republican elder statesman. (And the whipping Junior will get from Poppy? That's just gravy.)
But I worry that the Wilkerson piece and the Scowcroft piece will turn the impending court case into a fight between two (Republican) factions rather than a fight between the law and those who broke the law.
I probably don't need to worry. After all, if Scowcroft was this closely involved, there's no way the Bush Administration can attack him as a Wilson partisan without admitting that Scowcroft had reminded them of Wilson's trip. They can't attack Scowcroft without undermining one of the key lies that makes up their defense strategy.
In any case, I suspect that these attacks on Bush are a pre-emptive attack against the shitstorm Rove will unleash as soon as he gets indicted. So perhaps they're just smart politics.
Update: I'm wrong about Scowcroft's timing. He'd have preferred the timing did not coincide with his article, according to Steve Clemons.
I happen to know that Scowcroft did not know that the article was coming out this week and would have preferred his views to air some time after a week of potential indictments by Patrick Fitzgerald of White House heavyweights.