A long piece on Karl Rove and the allegations that he leaked the undercover status of Valerie Plame appeared in yesterday’s Washington Post.

It had all the drama of a burgeoning Watergate story. But if you actually read it, it was a lot of storm and fury signifying…almost nothing.

Here is my favorite example:

“The White House response was swift. There is a simple rule in politics: Kill a story before it kills you. The Bush team spread word to reporters that Wilson was a Democrat, a supporter of Bush?s political opponents who was sent on an inconclusive mission that people in power knew nothing of.

“Then, they went a step further.

“Two days after Wilson went public, columnist Robert D. Novak told Rove that he was hearing that Wilson had been sent on the mission at the suggestion of his wife, who was working in the CIA, a lawyer familiar with the conversation said. ?I heard that, too,? Rove replied, according to the lawyer. Rove said Novak had told him Plame?s name and that that was the first time he had heard it, the lawyer said.”

How did the White House go “a step further”?

By Rove?s taking a call from Robert Novak in which Rove said of Plame?s CIA affiliation, “I?ve heard that, too”?

Although skeptical, Mickey Kaus of kausfiles does an excellent rundown of the theory that Rove actually heard about Plame?s identity as an agent from reporters.

Revealing a covert CIA agent?s identity can do enormous harm?it compromises not only them but the safety of their sources and means that the money used to set up a false identity (often hundreds of thousands of dollars) goes to waste.

Newsweek?s Jon Alter interviewed a former covert agent on NBC over the weekend, and she told him all these things.

But wasn?t Plame, who worked a desk job at the CIA headquarters in Langley at the time of leakgate, also a *former* covert agent?

How does Jon Alter?s revelation of this woman?s identity in the interview differ from the Plame case, except that the agent was willing to be revealed and, much to her credit, isn?t married to loudmouthed former ambasador Joseph Wilson IV?

I?m asking.

Can somebody out there help me?