Powell had this to say in response to Cheney’s book, which lays blame on Powell’s deputy Richard Armitage as the real leaker who revealed Plame’s identity as a CIA employee, setting off the appointment of a special prosecutor and the eventual conviction of Scooter Libby. Powell says this:
Then he goes on to talk about the Valerie Plame affair, and tries to lay it all off on Mister Rich Armitage in the State Department and me. But the fact of the matter is when Mister Armitage realized that he was the source for Bob Novak’s column that caused all the difficulty and he called me immediately, two days after the President launched the investigation and what we did was we called the Justice Department. They sent it over the FBI. The FBI had all the information that Mister Armitage’s participation in this immediately. And we called Al Gonzalez, the President’s counsel, and told him that we had information. The FBI asked us not to share any of this with anyone else, as did Mister Gonzalez. And so, if the White House operatives had come forward as readily as Mister Armitage had done, then we wouldn’t have gone on for two more months with the FBI trying to find out what happened in the White House. There wouldn’t have been special counsel appointed by the Justice Department who spent two years trying to get to the bottom of it. And we wouldn’t have the mess that we subsequently had. And so if the White House and the operatives in the White House and Mister Cheney’s staff and elsewhere in the White House had been as forthcoming with the FBI as Mister Armitage was, this problem would not have reached the dimensions that it reached.
Let’s count the ways in which this is inaccurate or misleading. To begin with, Powell leaves out the critical fact: 'He and Armitage never told the president what Armitage had done'. Instead, they sat silent as the investigation played out and others, including Karl Rove and Libby, were ensnared in an investigation for a crime that, if committed at all, was one for which Armitage should rightly have been prosecuted. Powell on Sunday slyly said they informed the attorney general that they “had information.” But they most definitely did not tell him, the president or the country that the leaker was Armitage.