JUST ANOTHER THIRD RATE BURGLARY….Shorter Washington Post editorial board: We see nothing particularly wrong with half a dozen different Bush aides recklessly outing the name of a CIA NOC in order to distract the public from the fact that they had lied about Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program before the war. Doesn’t everyone do that kind of stuff?

Really, guys, if you’re just going to transcribe White House talking points, why not ditch the pretense and outsource the whole editorial page to Tony Snow? It might save everyone some effort in the future.

But I will give them, along with the rest of the right-wing talking point crowd, credit for one telling point. I think Patrick Fitzgerald really does owe us all an explanation of one thing: at what point during his investigation did he conclude that outing Valerie Plame’s name was not an indictable criminal offense? Was it early in the investigation? Not til the end? And why did he come to that conclusion? Merely because he didn’t feel he had enough evidence to convict anyone, or because he thought Plame’s outing simply didn’t violate federal law at all? He’s not allowed to talk about the evidence he compiled against people he didn’t indict, but he can talk about his team’s legal reasoning and its understanding of the federal statutes involved. And he should.

UPDATE: I pretty clearly asked whether Fitzgerald’s lack of prosecution on the underlying offense was due to to lack of evidence or lack of crime, which I thought was enough to make my question clear. But I guess not. So I’ve changed a word in the post to make it even clearer. Call off the dogs, folks.

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