VALERIE PLAME UPDATE….It looks like we finally have some action on the Valerie Plame story. You remember her, don’t you? She’s Joseph Wilson’s wife, and someone at the White House allegedly outed her to columnist Robert Novak as a CIA spook a couple of months ago. Needless to say, that kind of thing is both very bad for national security and, for obvious reasons, very illegal too. The CIA really doesn’t like having its spies publicly named as part of political games by the party in power.

The big question, of course, is: is it true? Did someone in the White House out her? Last we heard, the CIA was investigating this, and it now appears that the internal investigation is finished and it’s time for some official action:

NBC News? Andrea Mitchell reported Friday night that the CIA has asked the Justice Department to investigate whether White House officials blew Plame?s cover in retaliation against Wilson. Revealing the identities of covert officials is a violation of two laws, the National Agents? Identity Act and the Unauthorized Release of Classified Information Act.

This is an important step. The CIA, you see, can do all sorts of nasty covert things in foreign countries, but the Justice Department can do even nastier things: it can issue subpoenas. In America.

Stay tuned. I have my doubts that this investigation will go anywhere ? after all, as long as Novak doesn’t squeal, the folks in the White House just have to deny everything and let the investigation die. And with Republicans in control of Congress, the special prosecutor act dead, and John Ashcroft running the Justice Department, investigatory zeal is likely to be somewhat below Ken Starrish proportions.

Still, you never know. The CIA must have come up with something or else they would have just dropped the whole thing. Maybe we’ll see Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House after all.

It’s a pleasant thought, isn’t it?

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