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Valerie Plame

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This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's focus on the fallout of nuclear "spin."

The name of Valerie Plame Wilson (nee Valerie Elise Plame), wife of retired U.S. Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, was exposed on July 14, 2003, as a CIA covert operative by columnist Robert Novak, who wrote:

"Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate" the allegation.[1]

According to the September 27, 2003 edition of JustOneMinute (JOM), on July 16, 2003, David Corn "started this scandal" when he published the piece "A White House Smear" in The Nation, wherein he wrote:

"This is not only a possible breach of national security; it is a potential violation of law. Under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, it is a crime for anyone who has access to classified information to disclose intentionally information identifying a covert agent." [2]

Corn "had predicted that the investigation would die in the CIA—George J. Tenet would stay loyal to George W. Bush and quash this." JOM adds: "Evidently not. One guess—Mr. Tenet, pondering Bush's declining poll numbers and faced with in-house annoyance, decided to do the right thing. One presumes that, with Congress back in town, Mr. Tenet checked with his supporters on both sides of the aisle before proceeding."

Both Mark Kleiman and Josh Marshall had made recent comments on the matter, according to JOM.

On July 1, 2005, MSNBC Senior Political Analyst, Lawrence O'Donnell claimed that the leak came from Karl Rove. [3]


House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Hearing

On March 16, 2007, Valerie Plame Wilson testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Below are links to her opening remarks, including video links, as well as live blogging of the proceedings by both Firedoglake, David Swanson at After Downing Street, and SusanUnPC at No Quarter, followed by media articles and commentary.

Witnesses

According to the Committee's website, the following appeared as witnesses on March 16, 2007:

House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Website

See the Committee's website for Documents and Links.

Video Links

Plame's Opening Remarks

Live blogging

Firedoglake

  • Marcy Wheeler (emptywheel), "They're scared, "Firedoglake, March 16, 2007.
  • Pachacutec, Firedoglake, March 16, 2007:
  • Christy Hardin Smith, Firedoglake, March 16, 2007:

After Downing Street

  • David Swanson, After Downing Street, March 16, 2007:

No Quarter

Articles & Commentary

Plame v Cheney-Rove-Libby-Armitage

Valerie Plame and husband Joseph Wilson filed a complaint July 13, 2006, in U.S. District Court, accusing Vice President Dick Cheney, President George W. Bush's former top aide Karl Rove, and Cheney's former aide I. Lewis Scooter Libby of "participating in a 'whispering campaign' to reveal Plame's CIA identity and punish Wilson for criticizing the Bush administration's motives in Iraq," the Associated Press's Toni Locy reported.

"The lawsuit accuses Cheney, Libby, Rove and 10 unnamed administration officials or political operatives of putting the Wilsons and their children's lives at risk by exposing Plame.

"'This lawsuit concerns the intentional and malicious exposure by senior officials of the federal government of ... (Plame), whose job it was to gather intelligence to make the nation safer and who risked her life for her country,' the Wilsons' lawyers said in the lawsuit.

"Specifically, the lawsuit accuses the White House officials of violating the Wilsons' constitutional rights to equal protection and freedom of speech. It also accuses the officials of violating the couple's privacy rights," Locy wrote.

The Wilsons have set up the website WILSONSUPPORT.org for their legal defense fund, which includes a donation page.

White House Requests Dismissal

On November 14, 2006, U.S. Department of Justice lawyers, working on behalf of the Bush administration, asked a federal judge to throw out the lawsuit brought by Plame and her husband "against Vice President Dick Cheney and others for alleged involvement in disclosing her employment as a clandestine CIA operative," Reuters reported.

The lawyers claimed that "Cheney and the other high-level defendants in the lawsuit have valid claims of immunity because of their official positions" and that Plame and her husband "failed to allege that any of the defendants had violated a constitutional right." [4]

"Cheney's attorneys criticized the lawsuit in court papers, saying it invented constitutional rights, intruded on national security discussions and came two years after the statute of limitations had expired," the Associated Press reported.

Related Links

Plame Investigation

For articles regarding the Valerie Plame investigation, see:

Iran Intel

On the May 1, 2006, Monday evening Chris Matthews' Hardball, "MSNBC correspondent David Shuster confirmed what RAW STORY first reported in February: that outed CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson was working on Iran at the time she was outed" in July 2003 as a CIA covert operative by Robert Novak (see below). [5] See MSNBC video links posted by Crooks and Liars and Brad Blog.

"Intelligence sources say Valerie Wilson was part of an operation three years ago tracking the proliferation of nuclear weapons material into Iran. And the sources allege that when Mrs. Wilson's cover was blown, the Administration's ability to track Iran's nuclear ambitions was damaged as well." [6]

Steven C. Clemons wrote April 25, 2006, in The Washington Note:

"According to some inside the intel arena, Valerie Wilson's work had a lot to do with monitoring Iran's nuclear weapons appetite and capabilities and possibly helped feed Iran nuclear technology junk that could distract and complicate Iran's weapons program efforts. If true, this is quite consistent with the Iran Chapter" in James Risen's new book, State of War: The Secret History of the C.I.A. and the Bush Administration, Free Press (January 3, 2006) ISBN 0743270665.
"But if this account of Plame-Wilson's activities is true, those who exposed Valerie Plame Wilson helped undermine American national security in much more major ways that haven't yet been disclosed."

Related Links

Reverse Timeline

  • 1 October 2003: Novak explains: "My role and the role of the Bush White House have been distorted and need explanation."
  • 1 October 2003: "While Novak's decision to use Plame's name begs a journalism ethics debate, releasing her name to him or any reporter may well constitute a felony.... Sunday [29 Septemer 2003], The Washington Post said that White House officials had contacted six Washington reporters to disclose Plame's CIA identity."
  • 1 October 2003: Wilson told Ted Koppel on Nightline that "Washington reporters told him that senior White House adviser Karl Rove said his wife was 'fair game'." Wilson "plans to give the names of the reporters to the FBI, which is conducting a full-blown investigation of the possible leak."
  • 29 September 2003: "'Nobody in the Bush administration called me to leak this,' Novak said, saying the information was disclosed to him while he was interviewing a senior Bush administration official.... Novak said the administration official told him in July that Wilson's trip was 'inspired by his wife,' and that the CIA confirmed her 'involvement in the mission for her husband.' ... 'They asked me not to use her name, but never indicated it would endanger her or anybody else,' he said, adding that a source at the CIA told him Plame was 'an analyst -- not a covert operator and not in charge of undercover operators.'"
  • 29 September 2003: White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan on Karl Rove: "He wasn't involved,... The president knows he wasn't involved. ... It's simply not true."
Comment from Message Board Entry: "Of course, the only way Shrub could know that Rove was not involved is if he already knows who was involved -- which would make him (at a minimum) an accessory after the fact."
  • 26 August 2003: Wilson participated in a "public panel in Washington" on Thursday, August 21st, and is quoted as having said "At the end of the day, it's of keen interest to me to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs. And trust me, when I use that name, I measure my words." See transcript of August 21st panel discussion.
  • 8 August 2003: Days after Wilson "publicly voiced doubts about a reported Iraqi weapons program," Wilson says he became "a target of a campaign to discourage others like him from going public.... [and] Wilson's wife was identified by name as a covert C.I.A. operative in a column by the conservative columnist Robert Novak, a disclosure that Mr. Novak has attributed to senior administration officials."
  • 30 July 2003: When pressed, Scott McClellan told reporters: "I'm saying no one was certainly given any authority to do anything of that nature, and I've seen no evidence to suggest there's any truth to it." ... To date, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) have called for investigations and any number of other senators have told reporters that some sort of inquiry is probably in order.
  • 17 July 2003: "...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."
  • 14 July 2003: "Mission to Niger" by Robert Novak: "Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger.... The CIA says its counter-proliferation officials selected Wilson and asked his wife to contact him."
Fleischer: Saddam Hussein "had previously obtained yellow cake from Africa. In fact, in one of the least known parts of this story, which is now, for the first time, public -- and you find this in Director Tenet's statement last night -- the official that -- lower-level official sent from the CIA to Niger to look into whether or not Saddam Hussein had sought yellow cake from Niger, Wilson, he -- and Director Tenet's statement last night states the same former official, Wilson, also said that in June 1999 a businessman approached him and insisted that the former official, Wilson, meet an Iraqi delegation to discuss expanding commercial relations between Iraq and Niger. The former official interpreted the overture as an attempt to discuss uranium sales. ... This is in Wilson's report back to the CIA. Wilson's own report, the very man who was on television saying Niger denies it, who never said anything about forged documents, reports himself that officials in Niger said that Iraq was seeking to contact officials in Niger about sales."
  • 6 July 2003: Wilson's Op-Ed article "What I Didn't Find in Africa" published in New York Times.

Reaction/Response to Plame "Leak"

  • "I thought I had seen political dirty tricks as foul as they could get, but I was wrong. In blowing the cover of CIA agent Valerie Plame to take political revenge on her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for telling the truth, Bush's people have out-Nixoned Nixon's people. And my former colleagues were not amateurs by any means."
  • "Regardless of whether or not a special prosecutor is selected, I believe that Ambassador Wilson and his wife -- like the DNC official once did -- should file a civil lawsuit, both to address the harm inflicted on them, and, equally important, to obtain the necessary tools (subpoena power and sworn testimony) to get to the bottom of this matter. This will not only enable them to make sure they don't merely become yesterday's news; it will give them some control over the situation." [7]
  • 30 September 2003: "White House Counsel's Memo on Leak Probe", New York Times: "Text of an e-mail to White House staff Tuesday from counsel Alberto R. Gonzalez about the Justice Department's investigation about the leak of a CIA officer's identity."
  • 30 September 2003: "Remarks by President Bush to the Travel Pool After Meeting with Business People" in Chicago, IL:
"I know of nobody -- I don't know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action. And this investigation is a good thing.
"And again I repeat, you know, Washington is a town where there's all kinds of allegations. You've heard much of the allegations. And if people have got solid information, please come forward with it. And that would be people inside the information who are the so-called anonymous sources, or people outside the information -- outside the administration. And we can clarify this thing very quickly if people who have got solid evidence would come forward and speak out. And I would hope they would.
"And then we'll get to the bottom of this and move on. But I want to tell you something -- leaks of classified information are a bad thing. And we've had them -- there's too much leaking in Washington. That's just the way it is. And we've had leaks out of the administrative branch, had leaks out of the legislative branch, and out of the executive branch and the legislative branch, and I've spoken out consistently against them and I want to know who the leakers are."
"The first rule of scandal is that the cover-up is worse than the crime. With that in mind, we ought to be looking to see if any effort was made to prevent the CIA from requesting a Justice Department investigation. And we ought to find out who warned the White House Counsel that something was up, so that Alberto Gonzalez could warn the White House staff in his now famous e-mail."
  • 1 October 2003: "Probe targets White House. Bush ordered his staff to cooperate as the Justice Dept. announced a full-scale inquiry into the CIA leak. Justice left open the possibility of a special counsel" by Ron Hutcheson and Shannon McCaffrey, Philadelphia Inquirer: "The developments raised the prospect of a full-blown White House scandal while Bush is sinking in job-approval polls, struggling to win international help in Iraq, and grappling with Congress over his request for $87 billion more in war-related spending."
  • 1 October 2003, "Iraq puts Cheney in harsh spotlight. Role: His broad influence on White House policy makes the low-profile vice president a high-profile target for Democrats" by Susan Baer, SunSpot.net: "CIA Director George J. Tenet says Dick Cheney was not briefed on Wilson's conclusions. Nor has Cheney been tied to accusations that the White House punished Wilson for his role in forcing the retraction by blowing his wife's cover as a CIA operative."
  • 1 October 2003: "Leak inquiry is a chink in Bush's moral armor" by Warren P. Strobel, Philadelphia Inquirer: "...revelation of a Justice Department criminal investigation into whether administration officials - believed to be at the White House - leaked the name of a CIA officer to get at a Bush opponent."
  • 2 October 2003: "Investigating Leaks," Op-Ed New York Times: "Attorney General John Ashcroft has put himself and the president in a very dangerous position with his handling of the Justice Department's investigation into how Robert Novak got the name of a C.I.A. operative for publication in his syndicated column. After career lawyers conducted a preliminary investigation into the leaking of the officer's name, Mr. Ashcroft chose to proceed with a full investigation within the Justice Department. He did so despite department guidelines that would have permitted him to appoint an outsider, who would serve at Mr. Ashcroft's discretion but could make independent decisions. Instead, Mr. Ashcroft has decided to leave the investigation under the authority of the department's counterespionage office. That office employs career lawyers who routinely investigate this sort of leak and have the security clearances to do so with dispatch."
  • 2 October 2003: "Attorney General Is Closely Linked to Inquiry Figures" by Elisabeth Bumiller and Eric Lichtblau, New York Times: "Deep political ties between top White House aides and Attorney General John Ashcroft have put him into a delicate position as the Justice Department begins a full investigation into whether administration officials illegally disclosed the name of an undercover C.I.A. officer." Names of inquiry figures associated with Ashcroft are: Karl Rove and Jack Oliver.
  • 2 October 2003: "FBI Narrowing List of CIA Leak Suspects" by Curt Anderson, AP.
  • 2 October 2003: "FBI Creates Team to Investigate CIA Leaks", AP: "Overseeing the investigation is John Dion, a 30-year career prosecutor who has headed the counterespionage section at the Justice Department since 2002."
  • 2 October 2003: "Outside Probe of Leaks Is Favored" by Dana Milbank and Mike Allen, Washington Post: "Confronted with little public support for the White House view that the investigation should be handled by the Justice Department, Bush aides began yesterday to adjust their response to the expanding probe. They reined in earlier, broad portrayals of innocence in favor of more technical arguments that it is possible the disclosure was made without knowledge that a covert operative was being exposed and therefore might not have been a crime.... At the same time, administration allies outside the White House stepped up a counteroffensive that seeks to discredit the administration's main accuser, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, whose wife was named as a CIA operative. Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie gave a string of television interviews with the three-part message that the Justice Department is investigating, that the White House is fully cooperating and that Wilson has a political agenda and has made 'rash statements'."
  • 10 October 2003: "Why the Federal Conspiracy and Fraud Statutes May Apply Here" by John Dean.

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