The Spin War Trumps the War on Terror

The White House official who leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame did more than attack a political enemy, writes Shaun Waterman. Plame worked for the CIA "on the very issue the Bush administration says was at the heart of its decision to go to war with Iraq: weapons of mass destruction. ... Plame's outing, whomever did it, has damaged the very effort the White House said it was pursuing in going to war in the first place. A very important line has been crossed here. The integrity of the policy goals - non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction - is now seen by at least some in the White House as less important than the integrity of the message - we didn't exaggerate the case against Iraq. ... The message seems to have trumped everything, even the need to get it right in the war on terror." And as Walter Shapiro notes in USA Today, the Plame flap is only one of several scandalous recent developments related to the war in Iraq. "In the past week, three major Iraq-related developments should have, in theory, caused lasting embarrassment to the Bush administration," Shapiro writes. "But because none of these flaps touched on illegality, they have been treated as one-day stories."