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October 10, 2003

Comments

Al

Um, why does everyone assume that it has to be the SAME government officials that spoke to both Novak and Time? Nothing in the Time article indicates that it must be the same officials...

Seems to me that when Time says "government officials", it could just be referring to "the Senior Administration officials that talked to Novak", without knowing who those persons are. After all, you know simply by reading the Novak column that the people he spoke to were "government officials".

TM

And some government officials have noted to TIME in interviews, **(as well as to syndicated columnist Robert Novak)** that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. These officials have suggested that she was involved in her husband's being dispatched Niger...

So your suggested interpreation is that TIME spoke to gov't officials, and has also heard rumours that other gov't officials are talking to Novak?

And my take is that TIME is inserting the news that the officials thay interviewed admitted to talking to Novak.

I would not describe my version as an assumption - more like a reasonable interpretation.

Alex Parker

Though I do think that TIME's leaker and Novak's leaker were either the same person or people working heavily in coordination, I think this was probably a presumption made by TIME's writers, not confirmed by an inside source.

I keep wondering---why July 22? What happened then that caused them to change? Was it because of the Newsday article that came out on the same day?

If we assume that it is, it could either be that this article brought the Novak leak to their attention, or it could be that, because this piece was the first to include an intelligence source's confirmation of Plame, and they were in massive CYA mode? In which case, it would explain why they worded it vaguely enough to mean that it is possible that they learned from someone other than Novak's leakers.

Alex Parker

Also, where is the Vernon Loeb article? I think you forgot to link it.

Al

"reasonable interpretation" - seems reasonable to me, but let me offer this alternate theory:

TIME got a call from someone in the White House AFTER Novak's article came out pointing out Plame's ID. Like the Andrea Mitchell call, and the Isakoff hypothesis, TIME probably would not have realized that the timing of the WH's call is important here (since telling TIME Plame identity before the Novak article would be a leak, but telling TIME her ID after Novak's article would merely be pointing them to info that's already out there). Remember that the TIME article came out 2 days after Novak's article, so there was plenty of time for the WH to pick up on it and call TIME with Plame's ID after Novak had already published it.

Following through with this theory - let's say somebody from the WH did call TIME after the Novak article was published. TIME thought that the Plame info was important enough to put in its story (remember that the story was not about the Plame leak - it was about the WH going after Wilson; the Plame leak was only one example of how the WH was doing so), so it published the info. Then, AFTER TIME's story was already out on the web, somebody calls TIME and says (in effect) "Novak published the info about Plame 2 days ago". So TIME goes back and changes their story to include the parenthetical about Novak.

To me, this is the most reasonable theory that includes both Isakoff's hypothesis AND a reason for TIME changing its story after it is already out on the web. Whaddya think, Tom?

Al

One other thing - I wouldn't trust Loeb too much. First of all, he's WaPo's MILITARY reporter - not intelligence (that's Dana Priest). Second, he says that he was wrong about her being an analyst. Well, what else is he wrong about here?

What you posted is not the full transcript of the chat, for some reason (I think I actually posted the URL to it one one of your comments that day). I read that chat as it happened, and there was another question, in which Loeb basically said that on the Plame story he was just going on what he's read; and he certainly could have read Cliff May's article.

Tom Bowler

Tom,

You're doing such a terrific job keeping us all up on this issue. I rely on you point me to the pertinent articles and sources on it.

Now that I've got that out of the way, I'd like to say that Wilson's story is just so looney, I can't help but think he, himself, had something to do with the leak. To my knowledge there is absolutely nothing that would support this notion. It's just that his dispute with the administration on the uranium is such a stretch. If Tenet is to be believed, Wilson's report supported rather than contradicted the "16 words". Bizarre. Then look at the lengths he's going to, to push the story. He was even on Imus the other morning. The whole thing looks like a con job. VLWC anyone?

I hope we find out who sprung a leak.

TM

Can't say "Alright" without "Al". So, alright, Al, I see your point. (And is that TIME paragraph like an MC Escher drawing, or is it just me?)

So your theory is it was a generic statement - officials have tolds us, from reading the Novak column we see that officials have told him, to give emphasis to our story we will tell our readers about Novak, without intending to imply that it was the same officials.

Well, why not?

And if TIME explained to the Feds that they had a post-Novak leak, maybe that excused them. Or maybe their source mentioned Novak ever so briefly the first time, and only in a follow up said, no, dummies, I am not a source, I am a conduit!

I need to go score some of Rush's stuff.

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Wilson/Plame