Paul Krugman: Who's unpatriotic now?

Paul Krugman on the wife of Joe Wilson and what it means to be patriotic.

And while we’re on the subject of patriotism, let’s talk about the affair of Joseph Wilson’s wife. Wilson is the former ambassador who was sent to Niger by the CIA to investigate reports of attempted Iraqi uranium purchases and who recently went public with his findings.

Since then administration allies have sought to discredit him – it’s unpleasant stuff. But here’s the kicker: both the columnist Robert Novak and Time magazine say that administration officials told them that they believed that Wilson had been chosen through the influence of his wife, whom they identified as a CIA operative.

Think about that: If their characterization of Wilson’s wife is true (he refuses to confirm or deny it), Bush administration officials have exposed the identity of a covert operative. That happens to be a criminal act; it’s also definitely unpatriotic.

So why would they do such a thing? Partly, perhaps, to punish Wilson, but also to send a message.

And that should alarm us. We’ve just seen how politicized, cooked intelligence can damage U.S. national interest. Yet the Wilson affair suggests that the administration intends to continue pressuring analysts to tell it what it wants to hear.