Plame Speaking

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Robert Novak's take on his leak:

To protect my own integrity and credibility, I would like to stress three points. First, I did not receive a planned leak. Second, the CIA never warned me that the disclosure of Wilson's wife working at the agency would endanger her or anybody else. Third, it was not much of a secret.

Whole col here.

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  1. A variation on LB’s lurid point above – I want a photo of this dame too. I personally don’t believe the woman even exists. I think Wilson and the leftover Clintonites at CIA mader her up. Then they convinced a couple of Rove loyalist agents that if they leaked her name they could get back at Wilson for the whole Niger thing. The resulting scandal is designed to help Clinton puppet Wessley Clark in the election.

    Gotta run, my tin foil hat is picking up coded radio signals from a bunch of black helicopters from the NSA.

  2. Joseph Wilson has been in diplomatic service, posted abroad, for most of the past 25 years–under both Repub & Dem administrations, I might add.

    He’s been posted to some dangerous places, including central Africa and Baghdad, where he was apparently the last “official” American to speak with Saddam before “Desert Shield” became “Desert Storm.” (Republicans described his actions then as “heroic,” and Bush Pere gave him a full Ambassadorial appointment–Novak actually notes this and then tries to paint him as some rabid Democratic attack dog.)

    Now, I do not know, specifically, how long he and the former Miss Plame have been married, or what their living arrangements have been over all this time…but it seems logical to assume that she would have been with him at some or all of these posts (leaving quite a commute to Langley, VA).

    It also seems logical that personnel, and/or their dependents, at US Embassies and Missions (like those of other countries) engage in espionage, or at least intellegence gathering of some sort, from time to time. Indeed, the wife of a junior US diplomat would seem ideally positioned to do this kind of work.

    Speculation? of course. But the blithe assumption that she was a “Langley desk jockey” seems pretty convenient, esp. considering the sources.

    Novak’s reference to Who’s Who is particularly fatuous. Nobody says her identity as Joe Wilson’s wife was a secret. It was her work for the CIA–ironically, focused on the proliferation of WMD’s–that was classified.

    Novak has for years been a conduit for GOP dirt in political fights, both intra- and inter-party. Read the July 14th column again. The whole purpose is to downplay and discredit Joe Wilson, and particularly his mission to Niger. Part of that spin is to say “his wife got him the job.” If that means outing his wife as a CIA op, well, that’s just collateral damage.

    Josh Marshall (scroll down) handles the meme that Ms. Plame’s employment was “common knowledge” in DC. (abstract: Joe Wilson’s name wasn’t common knowledge in DC before 7/6/03).

    m

  3. Jean Bart: “But if she wasn’t a spy, why would the CIA now be asking for an investigation? ”

    Because you don’t have to be a “spy” to be covert.

    The real world isn’t “Alias”.

  4. Speaking of Alias, this scandal won’t keep my attention much longer unless the chick turns out to look like Jennifer Garner.

    As to it being long on opinion and shallow on facts, it’s probably better that way. Enough has already been said about this woman’s possible role at the CIA. There’s no need to confirm to the world “Yes, Ms. Plame is a case officer, so any dictator who has noticed his bodyguard talking to her from time to time, be warned. She wasn’t just a hot tourist that he was trying to pick up on.”

  5. Apparently she’s a babe–40, tall, blonde, model good-looks, Wilson’s third wife, mother of 3 year old twins. She’s listed under Wilson’s entry in “Who’s Who in America.” Not so undercover, I’d say. And this “scandal” is about a column written 3 months ago? It’s about a leak to the press, the same press that lives on leaks? And they want an investigation? Slow news day, I’d say. Next…

  6. “She’s listed under Wilson’s entry in “Who’s Who in America.” Not so undercover, I’d say.”

    Does her entry say “covert CIA employee?”

    Move along, folks. Nothing to see here. Move along, show’s over…

  7. Other than the necessity for a babe in the scandal, a real letdown of this Planegate is that the big secret, who are the leakers?, is known to at least 7 reporters (and probably more since they’re so gossipy). So you don’t need a grand jury or independent counsel – you just need to hangout at a reporters bar in DC.

  8. “Apparently she’s a babe–40,”

    I heard the former CIA guy on PBS last night said she’d been covert for 30 years. She must have been one amazing ten year old if all these things are true.

  9. Forbes,

    –if she’s his third wife, maybe some of my earlier reasoning doesn’t apply…

    –once again. What the fuck does Who’s Who have to do with anything? As said above, the real world isn’t “Alias.” Hey, I heard she had a Social Security Card! And a Driver’s License! And a Visa Card!

    No, her existence wasn’t a state secret. Neither was her marriage. But her work for the CIA sure as hell was!

    There has been noise about this ever since July. David Corn wrote about it in the Nation a couple of days after Novak’s original column. The CIA made an “informal” request to the Justice Dept. many weeks ago; they’ve now made a Fomal Request per whatever procedure; plus the WaPo got someone within the Admin (Tenet?) on the record (anonymously), who obviously thought this was both stupid and wrong.

    Watergate was pretty slow developing too…

    PS: Check out Calpundit for the views of some (former) CIA professionals on what Plame’s job was and how serious this is. (at least three in the var’s posts; especially bracing is the transcript of Larry Johnson from the NewsHour)

  10. Scheiss…forgot to close the tag…but the link still seems to work.

    mea culpa

  11. Well, the law is pretty clear, if she was a covert agent (spy), that a crime was committed by the disclosure of this info to Novak. The severity of the crime seems to do with security clearance of the government employee disclosing the info, i.e. duty/responsibility/culpability for (mis)handling the info. The limited details allow for speculation, though most wrongheaded, I believe. Why? Very simple. What would any knowledgable (20+ years foreign service) husband’s reaction have been if your (covert agent) wife had just been outed by a nationally syndicated columnist. Hire an inside the beltway attorney and hold a news conference demanding a criminal investigation. Instead, he pens an article for The Nation and goes on The Daily Show on Comedy Central. Yes, he’s got plenty to say, but other than his opinion that there’s no yellowcake to the Niger story, there’s no there there! We’ve got reporters interviewing pundits, pundits interviewing reporters, and Jim Lehrer interviewing a guy who retired from the CIA in 1989. You have to speculate to find a story, and that’s called fantasy. Now I’ve got to go find what time Alias is on…

  12. My bad–the article in The Nation was before the outing by Novak. Sorry.

  13. Righteous indignation must be the favorite vice of the political classes. Nobody knows for sure what’s happened here, but there’s so much indignant invective going around in the last 3 days I figure the only sane response from ordinary citizens is to flip the bird with both hands and hope all these political ankle-biters bleed each other to death.

  14. My three points:

    Forget Anne Coulter, this is real treason. Second, who cares that the CIA “never warned” him that it was dangerous–common sense tells you that you don’t go around naming CIA insiders no matter what their capacity. Third, maybe it wasn’t a “secret,” but it was unconfirmed. Novak simply confirmed a rumor in the national media, which is every bit as “dangerous” as outing an operative.

  15. Uh, one problem folks. The Agency doesn’t make a habit of confirming the employment status of ANY employees working in the field, and they did confirm Plame’s employment to Novak. That tells me that either someone at Langley fucked up royally, or that this is a huge non-issue.

  16. It seems to me that this whole thing is very deep on opinion and very very shallow on fact. And until a few more of the facts are known this will remain nothing more than a swirling category 4 mass of hot air.

  17. So is this Plame woman good looking? I have yet to see a picture of her. Cause, if she doesn’t have nice gams – this scandal doesn’t have legs.

  18. LB – I agree. Government scandals are much more interesting when there’s at least one hot chick involved.

  19. I want to refute the above posts.

    But I can’t.

  20. On his claim that it wasn’t a “planned leak,” I believe Novak originally said (back before this bit him in the ass) that senior officials CAME TO HIM with this story. So his “nobody called me” claim is either a lie, or a deliberate Clintonesque parsing of words.

  21. Either that, or the story itself was not seen as a “leak” by his source because he or she did not divulge anything that should have been kept secret. Of course, this is just opinion, because I have not seen much in the way of hard facts with the whole thing. And thanks to BOTH parties playing the whole “hate the other side” game, I doubt that we will.

  22. But I haven’t heard anybody refute Novak’s claim that the CIA said she wasn’t a spy. Who knows what she actually did, but don’t you think that if she was a spy, the CIA would’ve told him, “no, she doesn’t work here, never heard of her, ” or, “on the record, no comment. Off the record, she’s a spy so you’d better not print her name or you’re going to prison.”

  23. Steve,

    But if she wasn’t a spy, why would the CIA now be asking for an investigation? Maybe some off the farm agents who are in “cahoots” with Karl Rove indentified her?

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