Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage Plays the Absent Minded Professor

Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was on CNN Late Edition: Armitage on Leaking Plame’s Identity and Smart Power. The National Review’s Byron York writes,

Richard Armitage appeared on CNN today, discussing Pakistan but also addressing his role as the original leaker in the CIA leak affair. He took the blame for leaking Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity, but he also gave us a bit more evidence to show that, from his perspective at least, it was entirely unintentional. But there must be a conspiracy in there somewhere.

Even liberal blogs are entertaining the idea that Armitage is being candid. There is a elevel of candor in the whirl of spin somewhere, but Armitage’s record speaks to a history of deception and spin. He is a paid up member of the original neocons. If politics is mostly theatre it suits Mr. Armitage’s talent for playing the gosh darnit, didn’t mean no harm buffery-lite role quite well. A man’s actions always speak louder then words, Richard Armitage, Abu Ghraib and CACI,

So who is Richard Armitage? None other than a former board member of CACI–the private contractor that employed four interrogators at Abu Ghraib prison–interrogators who worked with the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade there.

Novak vs. Armitage: Was the Plame Leak Deliberate?

In a column published on Wednesday, Novak accuses Armitage of not telling the truth. The former No. 2 at the State Department, Novak insists, “obscured what he really did.” Novak writes:

First, Armitage did not, as he now indicates, merely pass on something he had heard and that he “thought” might be so. Rather, he identified to me the CIA division where Mrs. Wilson worked, and said flatly that she recommended the mission to Niger by her husband, former Amb. Joseph Wilson.

Second, Armitage did not slip me this information as idle chitchat, as he now suggests. He made clear he considered it especially suited for my column. (italics – quotes from Novak column)

This account depicts Armitage as deliberately leaking information on Valerie Wilson. In our book, Isikoff and I raise the possibility that Armitage might have told Novak about Wilson’s wife and her CIA employment to distance the State Department from the burgeoning Wilson imbroglio–as a way of saying, We here at State had nothing to do with that trouble-causing Wilson trip to Niger. Novak claims that Armitage “told me unequivocally that Mrs. Wilson worked in the CIA’s Counter-Proliferation Division and that she had suggested her husband’s mission.” (Valerie Wilson’s role in her husband’s mission has been overblown; Isikoff and I lay this out in the book.)

Either way Armitage knew that he was up to his neck in it. Once caught what could he do. Lying was out of the question unless he wanted to go the Scooter Libby route. He kept his head down. He could have come forth at the very beginning, but didn’t. Could that be because he knew that telling a ideologically friendly columnists that Plame was just an analyst was bigger deal then he’s now claiming. It just doesn’t add up that he claims,

ARMITAGE: They’re not words on which I disagree. I think it was extraordinarily foolish of me. There was no ill-intent on my part and I had never seen ever, in 43 years of having a security clearance, a covert operative’s name in a memo. The only reason I knew a “Mrs. Wilson,” not “Mrs. Plame,” worked at the agency was because I saw it in a memo. But I don’t disagree with her words to a large measure.

How many times in that 43 years did he give a specific CIA analyst name to a reporter. Why did he think that suddenly that kind of gossip was acceptable. Foolish? How about some real candor. It was intentional and malicious. More on Armitage’s background, Armitage and Iran-Contra – Secretary Weinberger and Defense Department Officials

The notes demonstrated that Weinberger’s early testimony — that he had only vague and generalized information about Iran arms sales in 1985 — was false, and that he in fact had detailed information on the proposed arms sales and the actual deliveries. The notes also revealed that Gen. Colin Powell, Weinberger’s senior military aide, and Richard L. Armitage, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, also had detailed knowledge of the 1985 shipments from Israeli stocks. Armitage and Powell had testified that they did not learn of the November 1985 HAWK missile shipment until 1986.

And Iran-Contra Operative Richard L. Armitage in now Colin Powell’s No.2. He has always been in the thick of things. Barely escaping prosecution for his role of covering up in Iran-Contra even though he said he thought the whole scheme was a bad idea. Does he drink as much kool-aid as the other neocons like Cheney. Maybe not, but he has always lacked the personal courage to stand up to the Cheneys. Of course the national Review is trying to sell poor old Richard as the well meaning absent minded eccentric, its all they have left.