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September 17, 2003


Paul Zrimsek

One thing that's puzzled me about this story from the first is: Why would Karl Rove or anyone else outside the CIA be given the identities of any of their agents in the first place? Where's the need-to-know?


Well, there is a theory I will call the "innocent or inadvertent disclosure". It is possible that Ms. Wilson was operating covertly in Iran seven years ago, and expected to take up a covert assignment in Pakistan in 2005. Right now, however, WH staffers meet her (or hear about her work) as one more analyst working on WMDs. The WH staff ought to keep their mouths shut about CIA types as a general rule, but it is not obvious to anyone meeting her for the first time that she is secretly La Femme Nikita, and it is not a fact that anyone at the CIA broadcasts to the White House. Hence, a train wreck.

Other theories abound, natch.


I like to suggest the idea that the person who 'outed' Valerie Plame Wilson was the Ambassador himself. Oh, not with a call to Novak but with his editorial in the Times.

Consider the following scenario: Suppose Wilson had written an editorial in the Times about an errand he had run in Africa for the Russian mafia. Wouldn't every prosecutor & Interpol investigator in the world worth his or her salt then assume that Wislon was a full member of the Russian mafia, no matter how much he denied it? Wouldn't they further assume that his spouse, business associates, and graduate students were also working for the mafia until proven otherwise?

That sort of guilt-by-association may not occur to media types, but is the stock-in-trade of prosecutors and investigators.

Replace the mafia with the CIA and foreign proscutors with foreign intelligence agencies and you have the current affair.

The lesson would seem to be that if you don't want your spouse and associates to be associated with the CIA, don't write your own involvement with the CIA.

Wilson had no excuse not to know that.


I haven't heard that before, but I have heard the speculation that the CIA (well, some people within it) might very well be irked that he blew his own cover with the CIA. His mission was, from his NT Times piece:

... discreet but by no means secret. While the C.I.A. paid my expenses (my time was offered pro bono), I made it abundantly clear to everyone I met that I was acting on behalf of the United States government.

Well, did he say "CIA" to everyone he met? If he told people he was asking on behalf of State, or Commerce, then every damn person who travels on honest to God State or Commerce business will be suspected of being a CIA lackey.

Emphasis added to buttress a weak point - maybe everyone is already suspected. But still, it can't help, and might hurt, to have the Ambassador confirm what lots of people suspect and we spend a lot of time denying.

Anyway, that is the theory.

Paul Zrimsek

Thanks for the theory, Tom. Everyone else I've heard from on this subject-- including, to the extent I understand his rather confusing testimony, Amb. Wilson himself-- seems to be assuming that of course there are people in the White House who are in a position to deliberately blow the cover of secret CIA operatives. While you could fit my knowledge of the spook world into a thimble and still have plenty of room left over for my knowledge of the inner workings of the White House, it seems an odd way of doing business just on general principles.


If anyone in the administration leeked Plame's status as a CIA whatever, if she actually has said status, they should be punished in whatever way the law allows.

But these hyperventilated notions spread that "Naming her this way would have compromised every operation, every relationship, every network with which she had been associated in her entire career[,]" is flat out silly.

She wouldn't be 'compromised' if WE think she's CIA, but if the Iranians, Syrians, etc. think she is CIA. And unless those folks' intelligence agencies suddenly became a lot more trusting, they must have started thinking about her CIA connections when the Ambassador wrote about his errand for the CIA.

Just because reporters didn't 'suspect' Plame's CIA association (if any) until they read it in Novak doesn't mean that the damage wasn't already done by the Ambassador himself.

Nathan Zachary

I was wondering if anything new was developing with this story.
Maybe the Democrats are also unsure of who to blame, so they are keeping quiet so as to not shoot down one of their own, or it is one of their own and they are keeping quiet....


It's amazing how convuluted your reasoning can become when the GOP screws up. Everyone screws up from time to time and this is truly a screw up of epic proportions, but rather than acknowledge the mistake and accept that your folks don't walk on water, you engage in the minutest of hair-spliting in order to blame the other side.

It reminds me of the time Rush Limbaugh was asked to comment on a representative accused of illegal activity. Before answering, he said, "It depends, is he a Democrat or a Republican?"

Jon Henk

I'm gonna have to go with Tom on the "Oops" theory.....it's the only thing I can think of to explain the lack of motive.

"Revenge" just doesn't hold water in my mind.
Generally people don't cut their own throats to tweak somebody else. It just doesn't make sense....and it doesn't seem like it would work.

Still a potential crime, but it would explain a few things.

bob mong

It reminds me of the time Rush Limbaugh was asked to comment on a representative accused of illegal activity. Before answering, he said, "It depends, is he a Democrat or a Republican?"

Do you have a source for this? Or, at least, a date? Because this sounds like an internet myth to me.

Jack Kelly

Has it been noted that covert operatives are unlikely to use their real names? If Plame is "outed" by publishing her real name, our intelligence agencies need to go back to Spy-101.

This issue seems to lack an ability to coalesce. Either the Ooops theory is correct or someone may be trying to create a US equivalent to Dr. David Kelly.


Kija, seems to miss a key point in all this, in their effort to show that the GOP does not walk on water.

Novak asked a very simple question, to the effect, given Wilson obvious amateurish job of investigation, limited to drinking tea poolside with a few businessmen and government officals in Niger, why was he given the job in the first place? This is a very baffling aspect of the entire affair.

The fact his wife worked as CIA was offered as a rational for giving what appears to be an incompetent bungler such an important assignment. It is a rationale that makes sense. Whether the party knew anything beyond the simple fact she worked there, is pure conjecture.

If she were covert, using her maiden name would be pretty dumb, especially being married to a US ambassador. And it appears that being married to Wilson would be pretty dumb for a covert agent as well, considering the fact that he published his findings in the NY Times.

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