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OK, that might be a bit of hyperbole. I can't know for sure if this is the best one. But I think it is, and I've read zillions of them.

The Plamegate story is exceptionally important (below I'll explain why). Unfortunately, the story is complicated. And the Bushists (with the help, witting and unwitting, of various journalists) cynically exploit that complexity to discourage people from understanding the story.

However, if explained well, anyone can grasp the story in about five minutes. And yesterday Eric Mink of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch explained the story very, very well.

Here's what makes Mink's article great. It's short (1250 words). In that small space, he manages to tell the whole story from beginning to end. He makes it simple and concise by omitting every needless word and every secondary detail. Plamegate has a mountain of confusing secondary details; Mink includes 100% of what's important, and leaves out everything else.

And the one minor flaw in Mink's article is something I think I manage to correct in this diary.

The right is working overtime right now to claim that the recent Armitage revelations make the Plame matter irrelevant. As Mink says: "the reaction to this information [about Armitage] has been a kind of mushing together of disparate elements to produce a dizzying rewrite of recent history." Mink shows very clearly why this latest righty spin is complete nonsense. In this regard his article is extremely timely. That's why the article is a must-read, even if you already comprehend Plamegate.

By going to the heart of the matter, Mink shreds, directly or indirectly, every righty talking-point on this topic. And he builds his case on very firm ground by specifically citing the key primary sources that document underlying facts.

I could imagine only one way to improve the article: Mink could have provided links to all his sources. He didn't, but I provide the most important links in a Sources section, below.

There's no point in rehashing the full contents of the article, because Mink is already so concise and crystal-clear. I'll just summarize his key points, which summarize the entire Plamegate matter:

Rove and Libby took "concerted actions" in order to "repudiate Mr. Wilson." In doing so they "harmed national security" by revealing "classified information" (those are Fitzgerald's and Judge Tatel's words). "Rove [and Libby] helped end the career of a 21-year CIA veteran who was working to prevent the spread of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. In doing so, [they] betrayed the trust of the American people" (those are Mink's words).

The White House lied about this.

Rove still works in the White House.

All this is a terrible disgrace.

Why the Plamegate story is so important

Bush's single greatest crime is the Iraq war. Bush's central argument for selling the war was WMD. Bush's central WMD argument was nukes (which are arguably scarier than BW and CW). The heart of the nuke argument (along with a bogus story about aluminum tubes) was a bogus story about Nigerien yellowcake. The White House outing Plame was all about trying to defend the bogus yellowcake story.

That's why Wilson, Plame and yellowcake have a central role in revealing Bush's treason. And that's why the efforts to push the Plamegate story aside are so strenuous and sustained.

And therefore all of us must be well-educated on this, in order to push back. And all the education you need is easily found in Mink's 1250 words.

Mink's sources

The following are the key primary sources mentioned by Mink. I've embedded the links in excerpts from Mink's text. The excerpts appear in the same order that Mink mentioned them:

[On] July 14, 2003 ... a column by ... Novak first revealed [Valerie Plame] Wilson's name and described her job working on intelligence about weapons of mass destruction ...

On Aug. 27, [2006,] Newsweek released a story [reporting] that ... Armitage ... was the first government official to tell Novak that [Valerie Plame] Wilson worked at the CIA on weapons of mass destruction ...

I went back to the voluminous official legal filings of the prosecution and defense in the Libby case ...

I reviewed the first-person accounts of sworn grand jury testimony written by Time magazine's Matthew Cooper (July 25, 2005) ...

... and former New York Times reporter Judith Miller (Oct. 16, 2005) ...

I re-read Novak's Sun-Times columns, including the one (July 12, 2006) explaining the information he provided about his sources to Fitzgerald.

... a Feb. 15, 2005, concurring opinion written [by] David S. Tatel ... (that link is to useful excerpts; the full opinion is in this pdf)

... despite categorical denials by White House press secretary Scott McClellan in 2003 on Sept. 29 ["there was no information that has come to our attention to suggest any White House involvement"], Oct. 4 (note: I think Mink means Oct. 6) ["if anyone in this administration was responsible for the leaking of classified information, they would no longer work in this administration"], Oct. 7 ["they {Libby, Rove} were not involved"] and Oct. 10 ["they {Libby, Rove} were not involved in this"] ...

More sources

For more, see the dKosopedia "Plame affair" article and "Plame Leak timeline."

For excellent ongoing Plamegate coverage, see emptywheel at The Next Hurrah, Firedoglake, and Jeralyn Merritt's TalkLeft.

To see what the insane, deluded, counterfactual wingnuts are saying on this topic, look no further than Tom Maguire's JustOneMinute.

Originally posted to jukeboxgrad on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 08:55 AM PDT.

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