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October 02, 2003

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"Edward"

For all of the current gnashing of teeth over this leak, can anyone explain why intelligence officials were so willing to confirm Ms. Plame's secret identity to Novak AND to a reporter for NY Newsday as early as July 21, 2003.

Great job keeping secrets there CIA guys.

Ulex

Uh, no, Edward.

Novak came to the CIA to ask if it would cause a problem if he revealed Plame's occupation in a column. Whoever he talked to obviously tried to talk him out of it. What was he supposed to say, "Plame? Never heard of her. But it might mess up some of our operations if you write about her." This CIA official Novak talked to, he probably thought Novak would write it in the article anyway if he denied it, so there was no point in trying to deny it.

The story was already out by the Newsday article, so there was no disadvantage to revealing her position then.

TM

Ulex - it seems pretty clear that if the CIA guy had said "We believe that publishing will endanger her life", that would have been that.

Why not say the magic words?


I have (a lot) more here, with links.

Key phrase from the WaPo:

The CIA occasionally asks news organizations to withhold the names of undercover agents, and news organizations usually comply.

http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/2003/10/valeri_plame_wi.html

Jim

Ulex,

How about refusing to confirm or deny her position both to Novak and Newsday. Even if it was different after Novak let the cat-out-of-the-bag, the easy confirmation to Newsday - before the story was "news" - supports Novak's point that the CIA wasn't hiding her secret very well, if at all.

Swopa

From the context of the WaPo article, it sounds like the CIA said (probably honestly) that printing her name wouldn't endanger her life -- but that it could cause other problems. However, they didn't specify those "other problems," perhaps believing that would worsen the leak ("Well, y'see, Bob, she supervises agents in North Korea and Iran . . .").

The CIA thinks/hopes Bob should take the vague message as enough to stifle the story, but Bob disagrees. Life's that way sometimes.

Swopa

Novak seems to endorse exactly the version of events that I describe above. From Meet the Press yesterday:

Novak: Could I just add—of course, and David will confirm me, that many times you get information and you check it out and they say, “Please, don’t print that. That really will cause a lot of trouble.” And we print it anyway. So, unless the trouble is defined...
Priest: But the tricky part here is the nature of the question cannot be answered by the CIA without revealing the answer to the question. And they themselves would be in tremendous trouble if they were even—if they were to say, “Don’t print that because she’s undercover.” So, they would have to be vague. And they are, usually, vague with us. That’s part of the difficulty in covering the agency.

Alex

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Bob

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Wilson/Plame