White House Plame defense shaping up

· long story short

Reading around at TPM and Orcinus today I can see the outlines of a White House defense for the burning of deep-cover CIA agent, Valerie Plame.
First, they will assert that the two senior administration officials (Possibly I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and Elliott Abrams) who told Robert Novak that Joseph Wilson’s wife was CIA and had recommended him for the Niger reconaissance job did so without knowing this information was classified. This would reconcile both the rumormill that fingered those two and the nondenial denials that say that they were not involved in and would not condone any “leaks of classified information.”
This would also, presumably, clear them of criminal liability based on their lack of intent.
All other calls from the White House would then fall into the class of Rove’s follow-up notifications to Washington journalists that Wilson’s wife had become “fair game” due to the “inadvertant” leak of her undercover status.
In fact, a close reading of Novak’s original column shows that sentence-by-sentence, Novak first asserted Valerie Plame’s CIA status and in the subsequent sentence claimed that two senior administration officials told him merely that she was involved in the decision to send Joe Wilson to Africa. This makes it possible to assert that Novak may have learned of her status outside of the conversation in which he learned of her presumed involvement in the CIA decision about who to send to confirm or debunk the “yellowcake uranium” claims.
Between these clues, a presidential slip of the tongue, and a new Newsweek article by Michael “I Shot the Sheriff” Isikoff, a picture is taking shape of a White House more interested in identifying the “senior administration official” who tipped off the Washington Post to the referral from CIA to Justice than in outing the top aides who burned the CIA operative.
So there you have it, an innocent chance burning of an agent’s cover (oopsie!), and then “fair game” to go after an administration critic’s family (just politics as usual), capped by the leak to the Washington Post (betrayal!). I can see it now. How long before we hear that’s their story and they’re sticking to it.