President Bush describes himself as a war president. Now he has a war indictment at his doorstep. The charges filed against his vice-president’s chief of staff, Lewis Libby, grew out of war fervour in the White House that was nothing short of a crusade. The president has gathered promoters of the Iraq war to support one another. Doubters have been silenced; opponents quickly sullied.

Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald was careful to acknowledge that the ‘’four corners” of the indictment against Libby do not accuse him of ‘’outing” CIA agent Valerie Plame, whose diplomat husband had undercut the administration’s main argument for attacking Saddam Hussein. Fitzgerald confined himself almost exclusively to the charges of perjury, making false statements, and obstruction of justice in the indictment. But he did opine that the disclosure of a CIA agent’s identity would be harmful to national security.

Did columnist Robert Novak have two administration sources for his July 14, 2003, column, which made Plame’s CIA role public? Did Cheney have a role in disseminating information against war critics? One of the dangers when a president rallies the nation for battle is that the secrecy and duplicity of war can twist decisions at home and abroad. When this happens, facts lose out to propaganda.