By Thom Hartmann
Political smears by right-wingers are nothing new. In the election of 1800, John Adams had a surrogate newspaper publisher write an article about "Dusky Sally," the half-sister of Thomas Jefferson's deceased wife, who was also one of the Jefferson family slaves. Jefferson succeeded in avoiding the issue, and his friends pointed out that it was merely about his personal life, not national security.
George W. Bush may not be so fortunate.
Today comes the revelation in The Wall Street Journal that "A key department memo discussing Joseph Wilson's Niger trip was classified 'Top Secret,' and the passage about his wife's CIA role was specially marked 'S/NF' -- not to be shared with any foreign intelligence agencies."
Perhaps even more damning are reports that the Top Secret-S/NF document was apparently first delivered to Air Force One when George W. Bush and Colin Powell (who had apparently requested it from analysts within the State Department) were flying to Africa in 2003.
Somehow - nobody knows at the moment - the information in this Top Secret-S/NF document (the identity of Joe Wilson's wife) then migrated from Air Force One to George W. Bush's assistant, Karl Rove, and Dick Cheney's assistant, Scooter Libby. Rove and Libby then immediately began "dialing for dollars" - calling reporters with this juicy bit of Top Secret-N/SF information - in an attempt to politically assassinate Joe Wilson.
Which raises the question: "What did the President know, and when did he know it?"
It's unlikely that Colin Powell would have called Rove and Cheney (to give instructions to Libby) with the information in the memo - that was above his pay grade. Ditto for Ari Fleischer. And it's extremely doubtful that the pilots on the plane even knew about the explosive information they were carrying as they flew across the Atlantic.
Which leaves George W. Bush, as the only other person on that plane with the means, opportunity, and motive.
Thus, perhaps, the reports that Patrick Fitzgerald has now subpoenaed the phone logs of Air Force One.
Those of a certain age among us remember well the shocking moment when Nixon's lawyer, John Dean, confirmed to Congress that Nixon himself was involved in the Watergate scandal.
The urgency Bush brought to deciding on and releasing the name of John Roberts coincided relatively closely with a growing press awareness that the Sop Secret-S/NF memo with Plame's identity started it's long path to Bob Novak on Air Force One. Time - and an awakened press corps (and hopefully an awakened Congress) - will tell if Bush's own fingerprints are all over this treasonous act of political revenge.
Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com) is a Project Censored Award-winning best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk show, and a morning progressive talk show on KPOJ in Portland, Oregon. www.thomhartmann.com  His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection," "We The People," "The Edison Gene", and "What Would Jefferson Do?"