Lest we forget
As acting ambassador to Iraq in the run-up to the first Gulf War, he was the last US diplomat to meet with Saddam Hussein, in 1991.President George H. W. Bush called him "a true American hero."
He very publicly defied the Iraqi strongman by giving refuge to more than 100 US citizens at the embassy and in the homes of US diplomats - at a time when Saddam Hussein was threatening to execute anyone who harboured foreigners.
He then addressed journalists wearing a hangman's noose instead of a necktie.
He later told the Washington Post newspaper that the message to Saddam Hussein was: "If you want to execute me, I'll bring my own fucking rope."
What operations his wife undertook is unknown, since she was undercover. We don't know which of her contacts have been killed, or what investigations have been blocked because someone remembers discussing nuclear material with Valerie Plame. We don't know these things, because it's only possible to stop rogue states and terrorists from getting nuclear weapons by having undercover agents in the field, agents whose identities are secret and protected.
All we know is that the CIA invested a lot of time and money getting her under cover, and Karl Rove mentioned to at least one person that she was CIA. If Rove didn't mention it to Novak, there are three spies in the administration (Novak cited two administration sources).
By spy, I mean someone who:
lawfully having possession of, access to, control over, or being entrusted with any … information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause[s] to be communicated, delivered or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive itIt's also worth noting that, since at least two people are involved in this, we have what the law might call a conspiracy:
If two or more persons conspire to violate any of the foregoing provisions of this section, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each of the parties to such conspiracy shall be subject to the punishment provided for the offense which is the object of such conspiracy.The lawbreakers "Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both."
Conspiracy to commit espionage isn't the sort of thing that you just pardon. Spiro Agnew resigned over tax evasion. Nixon resigned over a conspiracy to bug phones and steal files (among other things). I'm not sure that any president could get away with pardoning people for conspiracy to commit espionage.