An AP analysis today says that the Valerie Plame leak is really begin to show how the Bush administration dealt with critics of their administration—even when they were right:
Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's CIA-leak inquiry is focusing attention on what long has been a Bush White House tactic: slash-and-burn assaults on its critics, particularly those opposed to the president's Iraq war policies. If top officials are indicted, it could seriously erode the administration's credibility and prove yet another embarrassment to President Bush on the larger issue of how he and his national security team marshaled information - much of it later shown to be inaccurate - to support their case for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.
The grand jury is concluding a 22-month investigation of whether administration officials illegally leaked information disclosing the identity of an undercover CIA officer, Valerie Plame, in an effort to discredit her husband, former diplomat and war critic Joseph Wilson.
Anxiety at the White House increased after Bush adviser Karl Rove's fourth appearance last week before Fitzgerald's grand jury, and with a New York Times reporter's firsthand account of her dealings with I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide. [...]
The piece by reporter Judith Miller also fueled speculation that Fitzgerald was seeking to determine whether Cheney played a role in a campaign to discredit Wilson.
"The grand jury investigation has the possibility of really shining a light on the credibility of the administration, how officials tried to undermine those who were criticizing them and how they then covered up that attempt," said American University political scientist James Thurber.
"The question of whether the vice president was involved, we'll probably never know. But it was pretty close to him," said Thurber. He questioned whether Rove and Libby would have operated "on their own" in discussing Wilson's wife with reporters.