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SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 10, 2006
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EDITORIAL

Armitage’s admission comes much too late

Richard Armitage's belated acknowledgment and apology for inadvertently leaking CIA employee Valerie Plame's name to the press three years ago seems a bit cowardly.

The former No. 2 man in the State Department apologized last week, saying he mistakenly was the source for columnist Robert Novak and Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward getting the classified name.

Why Mr. Armitage didn't come forward when what appeared to be a scandal growing in the Bush administration is a mystery. He should not have allowed suspicion to fall on the president's closest aide, Karl Rove, and Vice President Dick Cheney, or allowed the government to spend millions of dollars on a nearly three-year special prosecutor's probe.

Critics even accused President Bush of revealing her name as a way to get back at Ms. Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for criticizing the Bush administration's run-up to the war in Iraq.

The indictment of Scooter Libby is a different situation. Mr Libby tried to subvert the investigation, which resulted in an indictment. But he would not have been indicted if Mr. Armitage had taken ownership of the leak. And reporter Judith Miller would not have gone to jail for contempt if he had stepped forward.

He called his mistake terrible but not malicious. His mistake, however, left a lot of casualties.

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