Sean Hannity dishonestly compared recent calls to investigate possible national security leaks to the Bush administration's proven efforts to leak the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame. In doing so, Hannity fabricated the record to downplay the Plame leak while jumping to conclusions to declare President Obama guilty before an investigation has taken place.
Hannity's false analogy comes as Congress and the Justice Department investigate the possibility that classified national security information has been leaked to the media. Fox News figures have rushed to judgment in order to scandalize Obama's foreign policy achievements by recklessly and baseless accusing the White House of politically motivated leaks.
On Monday, Hannity pivoted the Fox campaign to the Plame matter, falsely claiming that Plame "wasn't even a covert operative." He then added: "[L]ook at the special prosecutor, look at Scooter Libby. This is infinitely worse. This was super-secret."
On his radio show, Hannity also claimed that Plame "wasn't a covert operative," adding that from day one, the prosecutor in the Plame case, Patrick Fitzgerald "knew who the leaker was. ... The person that leaked the information was Richard Armitage, and so there was no reason to continue that investigation."
But the actual facts of the Plame scandal put to rest Hannity's scandal mongering.
The Bush White House leaked the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame after her husband, Joe Wilson, published a damaging 2003 New York Times op-ed questioning what President Bush had said about Saddam Hussein's supposed quest for weapons of mass destruction.
An investigation, conducted by Fitzgerald, found that along with Armitage two high-level administration officials had leaked the information: Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby subsequently was convicted and sentenced to prison for crimes related to the leak and subsequent cover-up. Bush later commuted Libby's sentence so he never spent any time in prison.
The investigation clearly showed, contrary to Hannity's comments, that Plame was a covert operative whose cover was blown by senior Bush administration officials and the leak compromised national security.
According to Fitzgerald, after Wilson criticized President Bush's assertions about Iraq and weapons of mass destruction, the White House engaged in a "concerted action" to "discredit, punish, or seek revenge against" Wilson. Libby leaked Plame's identity to a reporter as did Rove.
Fitzgerald also determined, in direct contrast to Hannity's claims, that Plame's status as a CIA official was classified. Furthermore, news reports have indicated that the CIA believed the damage caused by the leak "was serious enough to warrant an investigation" and that the subsequent disclosure of Plame's CIA front company likely put other agents' work at risk. And Fitzgerald stated that Plame's identity had been protected by the CIA "not just for the officer, but for the nation's security."
Libby was subsequently convicted of obstruction of justice and making false statements to investigators and sentenced to prison.
Hannity is determined to whitewash the record of senior Bush administration officials who leaked the identity of a covert CIA officer, and one high-ranking official who was convicted as for covering up the leak. That leak had the effect of compromising national security. Yet Hannity continues to downplay that leak while declaring the Obama administration guilty of compromising national security before any investigation has been complete.