Skip to comments.Plenty of irony in Plame affair
Posted on 10/05/2003 4:32:15 AM PDT by billorites
IF AMBASSADOR Joe Wilsons wife, Valerie Plame, was indeed a covert agent for the CIA (and not just an analyst), and if a Bush administration official did expose her, a 1982 federal law may have been broken and someone should pay. But considering the many ironies of this story, Wilsons allegation that Bushs administration outted his wife to punish him (by risking her death, implicitly) just doesnt figure.
Wilson wrote a New York Times op-ed faulting the White House for suspecting that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger. (An ambassador in both the George H.W. Bush and Clinton administrations and a long-time friend of and former aide to Al Gore, Wilson admits he became anti-George W. Bush after the 2000 South Carolina primary. He is now a big supporter of John Kerrys Presidential campaign.)
Irony No. 1: The Bush administration allegedly released the name of a CIA officer as political payback against the officers husband. Doesnt the Bush administration need the help and high morale of the CIA right now to help prosecute the War on Terror? What would it have to gain by putting a CIA operatives life in danger? One must assume the leaker knew he wasnt endangering Valerie Plames life.
Irony No. 2: Columnist Bob Novak was the journalist who printed Plames name. Novak opposed the war against Saddam Hussein because he, like Wilson, did not believe Saddam had weapons of mass destruction that were a threat to the United States. Was Novak used by the administration? Was he callous about Plames safety?
Having worked for Novak for five years, I know him to be an exceptionally savvy journalist who doesnt allow himself to be used as a pawn of any administration. He is a patriot who cares deeply about the safety of men and women defending our country, and he is a recent convert to Catholicism who takes ethics and human life seriously.
Novak explained in his Oct. 1 column how Plames name ended up in his July 14 column. After Wilsons predictably anti-Bush New York Times piece appeared, Novak probed into the matter of why the CIA would want a Kerry supporter to go to Niger to investigate possible yellowcake uranium sales in the first place. Administration officials said the reason Wilson was sent was because his wife, a CIA officer, pushed for him to go.
Heres where a law may have been broken by administration officials, but here is where it also is necessary to digest a few facts.
The fact that Wilsons wife was a CIA officer is newsworthy, because it tells Americans that even after the massive intelligence failure of September 11, the CIA may be making decisions based on politics and personal ties instead of whats best for the country.
Was former ambassador Joe Wilson the best person to send to Niger to search for uranium dealers? Maybe not, given his strong anti-Bush bias and the implausibility of thugs from Niger revealing anything noteworthy to an official ambassador who grandstands in the New York Times about his CIA connection. Why did the CIA not send a qualified investigator in Wilsons place?
Secondly, it is important to realize this: Lots of people in Washington work at the CIA, and most of them are not glamorous secret agents whose lives would be endangered if their identities were revealed. In fact, columnist Maureen Dowd has revealed that Plame blabbed to Wilson about her CIA work around the time of their first kiss. She was apparently as casual as the administration about her cover.
In the 10 years I spent in Washington, I met three people who rather off-handedly told me they had done work for Langley, the Virginia neighborhood where the CIA is openly situated. When Novak called the CIA to confirm his sources allegation, he wrote, the CIA confirmed it but asked him not to print Plames name. The CIA did not say that printing Plames name would endanger her. Instead the official said it could make traveling overseas more difficult for her, Novak reported.
Heres where a journalist makes a decision about motives: Is it likely that the CIA asked that Plames name not be printed because her life or health would be jeopardized as an analyst? Or is it more likely that the CIA is embarrassed that someone found out the politics and personalities behind its post September 11 decision making?
Irony No. 3: Who are the fiercest defenders of CIA operatives and fiercest critics of freedom of the press now? U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Harvard officials, and the editorial pages of the liberal Washington Post and New York Times.
If a law was broken, whoever broke it should pay the price. But lets not be naive and accept Joe Wilsons tripe about the White House wanting to endanger his wife as payback for his criticisms. The more likely motivation is administration concern that even after the CIA fell down on the job before 9/11, it continues to take short-cuts in the War on Terror.
Bernadette Malone is the former editorial page director.
Yes! Personally, I wouldn't be surprised if Novak had gotten her name from some relatively high-ranking type in the CIA itself.
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Bush needs to clean house at the CIA, and he should have started when he first took office.
"The fact that Wilsons wife was a CIA officer is newsworthy, because it tells Americans that even after the massive intelligence failure of September 11, "......the CIA may be making decisions based on politics and personal ties instead of whats best for the country."
Although Wilson claims that he "offered" to go to Niger on assignment "pro bono" and that he only received expenses , chances are he received a nice lump sum in an off shore checking account.
Could this be why Mrs. so called Secret Agent Man was outed? That someone in the CIA who was not a 'mole' and had the best interests of the US Treasury at heart was aghast at the sum of money Wilson did receive for "sipping sweet tea" at government expense?
If the White House was in the business of paying back all the people who've come out against their policies, they'd be too busy to conduct the war and reconstruction of Iraq, not to mention run the country.
I have been several references to Wilson mentioning (bragging?) that his was worked for the CIA at cocktail parties.
Uh, could you run that past me one more time?
President Bush needs to clean the Clintonistas out of the State Department, Pentagon and FBI, too. Hundreds of new low-level jobs need to be created in broom closets at these agencies. They've shown that they are more interested in bringing down the president than protecting America.
(Sorry, didn't have any coffee yet.)
There have been reports of Wilson bragging that his wife worked for the CIA. Before the Novak article.
Attention seeking still, obviously.
Do you understand the difference between political appointees and career bureaucrats? Your statement indicates you do not. You cannot just "clean house" of civil servants who disagree with you.
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