A fairly detailed account of it can be found here, but in brief, a former diplomat, Joe Wilson, was sent by the CIA in February 2002 to Niger to investigate claims about Saddam attempting to purchase uranium there. In the summer of 2003, after the liberation of Iraq, Wilson penned an article in The New York Times criticizing Bush for using the uranium purchase allegation in the run-up to the war, an allegation which Wilson claimed, based on his trip, to know was false. Robert Novak then wrote an article in which he revealed, based on sources in the White House, that Wilson’s trip to Niger came at the behest of his own wife, Valerie Plame, who worked at the CIA. This column produced an uproar, since Plame had at one time (if not still currently) been a covert agent, the deliberate outing of which can be a federal offense. An independent investigator was appointed to investigate 1) who in the White House leaked the information that Plame worked for the CIA; and 2) whether or not a crime had been committed when Plame was outed.
Today, the independent prosecutor produced the results of his grand jury investigation into the matter. And what have we learned? First, given that Fitzgerald has failed to produce any indictments on the actual outing of Plame, it appears that the supposed crime which instigated the whole episode did not, in fact, occur. Second, we still have no idea who in the White House leaked the name of Plame to Novak, who, despite being the author of the article which outed Plame, appears only once in the entire 22-page indictment of Libby. And that single reference to Novak seems to suggest that Libby, the only person who is now under indictment, did not even speak to Novak.
So what has this nearly 2 year investigation into a crime that apparently never occurred produced that we would not have had the investigation never occurred? An indictment of a person for allegedly lying about what he said to, and what was said to him by, reporters who never wrote anything publicly about Valerie Plame at all. In other words, what was uncovered was not a crime against Plame, the CIA, or the nation’s security, which prompted the investigation in the first place, but instead a crime against the investigation itself, a crime that would not have occurred (if indeed it did occur) had the investigation into a non-crime never been instigated.
If – if - Libby lied to the grand jury, then he deserves the indictment. But given the results, I’d say that this investigation wasn’t exactly a fruitful one.