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October 20, 2003


Alex Parker

Good theory.

I think it does follow that Kristof might have been told about Plame---which will lead to even more guessing about who his source was for his recent column about Plame.

According to the language of the 1982 law, it would still be a crime to reveal her name to journalists, even if they were thinking her name would not be in the column.

A few things to remember, though: There are also the TIME writers, who, I'm now convinced, were told of Plame's identity before Novak's column ran.

And also, there was the Newsweek piece that claimed that Karl Rove called Chris Matthews to say Wilson's wife was "fair game" after the Novak leak.

Another point: if they were so careful to say, "don't write about her," wouldn't that imply that they knew she was undercover? And then why would they let Novak write about her? I eagerly await your theory.

Sorry I'm too tired to apply links here, if you want the links go to my site's ***handy link list***


Well, thanks. As to a unified theory of TIME, I am still stumped on how they managed to stay out of the criminal referral, when Novak (pre-TIME) and the Newsday duo (Phelps Royce, post-TIME) were mentioned.

And the "don't print this" idea of the leak is that the WH knews she was CIA, and figured it was generically a bad idea to out her regardless of her role there. Very responsible and enlightened, actually. And the fact that none of the Select Six printed back in July may be their sense of chivalry, or it may be that they were asked not to.

Post-Novak, all bets were off. And the quick version of the theory is, Perle (or someone like him) had Defense Dept contacts, and was an Iraqi hawk. Valerie Plame was working as an intel liason, so the Defense Dept intel side knew her as a CIA analyst, which got back to Perle.

Perle (if we rely on the Milbank WaPo story) has been a good source for Novak over the years - Perle dishes to Novak, who, story in hand, calls the White House and the CIA, and produces his three puzzling sentences - no source, Sr. admin. officials, "the CIA says". And the big dirt about "operative" had no source.

This also drags Clif May back into the mix, since he heard about Ms. Plame from a "former gov't official", if I may quote from memory here. Perle would surely qualify.

Now, *IF* Perle was acting in concert with the WH, this could well be a criminal conspiracy. OTOH, Perle had his own emotional investment in the Iraq war, and may well have decided on his own to take a shot at Wilson. Or, murky middle ground, maybe Perle had a chat with some WH staffer who confessed that Wilson was a puzzle they couldn't solve, since the wife was off limits. A criminal hint, or just a casual chat?

Perle to Novak, Novak to world, Rove says, well, however we got here, here we are, and the rest is history. Novak tap dances like crazy, since almost any reasonable explanation points out that he is missing one source in his column.

Setting aside the Copernican aspect of this theory, the problem is, even if this is all on target, it is still wide open as to whether there was a criminal conspiracy or not.

Alex Parker

I get it...you're saying that the WH thinks it might be useful for dealing with the Wilson story to talk about his wife, but is scrupulous about outing her. Along comes unscrupulous Perle, and then they decide---whoops, cat's out of the bag, might as well go with it now.

It's possible. I'll give you that.

The obvious question would then be, can Perle accurately be described as a "senior administration official," since Perle technically doesn't have an official government position? Also, would he have such security clearance for access? I'm not quite sure what that Defense Policy Analysts Board thing is. If he didn't have access, then he is guilty of no crime, but those who leaked it to him are.

Hmmm...I'm going to have to go sharpen Occam's Razor. I think that, considering the circumstantial evidence, a 'conspiracy' (you have to remember that these people always work together, so by definition they are a conspiracy) seems more likely. A good piece of circumstantial evidence: the WaPo's 9/28 source, who seemed pretty sure that this was two WH officials working together, who called Novak and the rest of them.

More on your "CIA set them up" theory later.


Well, Perle wouldn't be a senior admin. official. He would be the invisible man in the first of Novak's three sentences below:

Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction [Perle]. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report [2 WH staffers]. The CIA says its counter-proliferation officials selected Wilson and asked his wife to contact him [chatty but ineffectual CIA spokesman].

So, Novak sources a non-incriminatory tidbit to the WH staff - it hardly follows that because Wilson's wife suggested him for the job, she is CIA. She might be a State Dept. liason who keeps a file of retired Ambassadors, or even George Tenet's personal trainer.

I am doubtful that Occam's Razor will be real helpful.

Alex Parker

You're forgetting Novak's second column, where he states:

During a long conversation with a senior administration official, I asked why Wilson was assigned the mission to Niger. He said Wilson had been sent by the CIA's counterproliferation section at the suggestion of one of its employees, his wife. It was an offhand revelation from this official, who is no partisan gunslinger.

This is what I thought, which is in my summary of Novak's column on my link list page:

In a column about Wilson's Niger trip, Novak mentions Wilson's wife by name and implies that her position with the CIA might have had a say in Wilson's selection for the trip. Plame's identity isn't precisely sourced, but it is implied that it might be from two senior administration sources; he later admits that they were in fact the source, but that her position was confirmed by a CIA officer.

Of course, I'm arguing that in his second column Novak distorted the facts, but he didn't outright lie. It seems that if his original source wasn't a senior administration official, now would be the time to say, right? It would take a lot of heat of Bush if Novak came out and said, "Actually, I learned of Plame's name from a non-governmental source, and the White House only confirmed it afterwords."

Mark Amerman

Let's forget for a moment that it was illegal to
reveal Valerie Wilson's CIA employment and ask if
it makes sense for someone in the White House to
reveal that connection period. Joseph Wilson is
a problem for the White House because he's out
there claiming left and right that the Bush lied
in asserting that Iraq had sought african uranium.

Clearly the White House has a motive to undermine
Mr. Wilson's credibilty. Now how does it undermine
Wilson's credibility to reveal that Wilson's wife
is a covert CIA agent dealing with of all things

There is not one side of that that is helpful
to the White House. Not that she is CIA, not that
she's a covert agent, and especially not that
she specializes in WMDs. All of this in the public's
eyes is just going to add to Joseph Wilson's

In comparison noting that there is something
incestuous about Valerie Wilson recommending
her husband for a trip to Niger seems trivial.
If we assume rational actors then logic points
away from the White House as being the source
of this leak.

But as we all know people sometimes do stupid
things. Occam's Razor argues though against this being
a conspiracy by the White House. It's one
thing to believe that one person's brain wasn't
working, it's another to imagine two or three
or more.

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