This affair has all the hallmarks of a juicy Washington soap opera, but at its heart is a most serious charge. If someone is found guilty of revealing the identity of an undercover intelligence agent, they put that agent's life, and that of her sources, at risk. It is not a mere "technicality" as some Republicans are suggesting.
It has been a bad week for the Bush administration. Still staggering from the backlash over its handling of Hurricane Katrina, President Bush was forced to withdraw his nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court vacancy two days ago. Ms Miers, the President's personal lawyer, was disliked by hard-line Republicans who suspected her of being too liberal. To everyone else, Ms Miers was just not qualified for the position, having never served as a judge. Such opposition might once have been brushed aside. That the Bush administration capitulated demonstrates the extent of its vulnerability.
This was also the week in which the US death toll in Iraq reached 2,000. Two years after President Bush hubristically declared "mission accomplished", Iraq is in bloody turmoil. And the pressure is showing at home. The President's approval ratings are at their lowest level yet.
The furies tormenting the Bush administration all spring from the same source: overweening arrogance. Arrogance led the administration to manipulate the case for war - and also, it seems, to settle a score with an individual who had the nerve to question this case. It was arrogance that led the President to believe he could get away with appointing his personal lawyer to the Supreme Court.
This court case - and any to come - will inevitably focus public attention on the manner in which America went to war and the way the White House goes about its business. In the eyes of America - and the world - it will surely be the Bush administration itself that is on trial.Reuse content