This is a story about a cover up, at the very highest levels of the US Government, of the events which led up to the disclosure to the press of the identity of a Valerie Plame. An act of disclosure of the identity of a covert agent is a criminal offence.

The agent whose identity was disclosed is Valerie Plame. Her husband, Joseph Wilson, was a retired diplomat who had been sent by the CIA to investigate whether Iraq had tried to buy “yellowcake” uranium from Niger. His conclusion was that it was unlikely that it had. He expressed this view, publicly. A week later, his wife was outed. Twice. Fitzgerald was accordingly appointed by the US Justice Department to consider whether the naming of Ms Plame constituted a criminal offence. He has not concluded that such an offence has been committed.

People do not cover things up, unless there is something to conceal. There is an obvious inference to make about whose role in the affair Libby was, and is, concealing.

Andrew Sullivan considers to the first “Plamegate” charges – perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements to the federal grand jury, but not outing a federal agent – against Cheney’s chief-of-staff, Lewis Libby:

Here’s my first take on the five counts of obstruction of justice, perjury and lying against Scooter Libby, before the press conference. The common thread appears to be Libby’s alleged determination to obfuscate where and how he found out that Valerie Plame was an undercover agent. I cannot understand why someone as smart as Libby would have taken such risks under oath, would have been so stupid, unless he felt the risks were necessary to protect someone or something. It’s hard to believe, in other words, that Cheney is not somehow involved. And it’s hard to believe that the indictment of Libby, and the continuance of the investigation into Rove, does not potentially lead to the highest potential source of this mess: the vice-president. Libby is now going to be pressured by the prosecutor to name others, as part of a plea agreement. (Who’s “Official A”?) The judge assigned to his case is known for hefty sentences, putting more pressure on Libby. The biggest aspen so far may be about to turn. Which other trees may fall? I’ll add one more thing: I don’t believe that five counts of obstruction of justice, perjury and lying by a major administration official are a “mouse,” or even a large rabbit. Not if you care about the integrity of government officials and the rule of law.

The investigation is still open. Here’s hoping that Rove is next to fall. Perhaps Cheney too.

UPDATE: There is a Guardian “Timeline” here.

This is the point:

If an investigation is called into the possible commission of a criminal offence, and evidence emerges that somebody has perjured themselves during the course of that investigation, it should be prosecuted.

The investigation may or may not be misconceived, or tinged by internal politics, or premised upon an outdated law, or inherently absurd. Capital will certainly continue to be made of this case by those whose concern is not the rule of law.

None of this is relevant to the question of whether a government official told the truth, or did not, or obstructed that investigation, or did not.

The Starr investigation into the whereabouts of Clinton’s penis was in itself a trivial matter as far as most sensible people were concerned. The question of the truth of the testimony given in connection with that investigation, by contrast, was not.