Thursday, July 14, 2005

Disclosure for Me, But Not for Thee

In Joseph Wilson's book, The Politics of Truth, the timeline of the disclosure of Valerie Plame's name by Bob Novak, according to Wilson himself, pretty clearly exonerates Karl Rove from any charge of outing a covert agent of the CIA on July 11th, 2003.

Wilson learned that Novak knew about his wife on July 8th, six days before Novak's article appeared in print. A friend, who was a total stranger to Novak, encountered him walking on a Washington DC street, and apparently decided to amuse himself by asking Novak what he thought about Wilson's Op-ed in the NY Times two days earlier. Getting this reply:

“Wilson’s an asshole. The CIA sent him. His wife, Valerie, works for the CIA. She’s a weapons of mass destruction specialist. She sent him.”

Wilson says the friend immediately broke off from Novak and went to alert to him about this.

Keep in mind that Wilson has been claiming that disclosure of his wife's CIA status endangered her life, and sit down to read what he did to prevent it:

I contacted the head of the news division at CNN, Eason Jordan, Novak’s titular boss, whom I had known for a number of years. It took several calls, but I finally tracked him down on his cell phone. I related to him the details of my friend’s encounter with Novak and pointed out that whatever my wife might or might not be, it was the height of irresponsibility for Novak to share such information with an absolute stranger on a Washington street.

He compounded the 'damage' by informing another journalist that his wife was a CIA agent! Apparently in violation of the law.

With his wife's life supposedly in the balance, Wilson reacted with cat-like cunning:

I asked him to speak to Novak for me, but he demurred — he said he did not know him very well — and suggested that I speak to Novak myself. I arranged for him to have Novak call me and hung up.

Novak called the next morning, but I was out, and then so was he. We did not connect until the following day, July 10.

What's a couple of days when it's only a matter of life and death for the mother of your twins.

Nor was Wilson alert enough to deny to Novak that his wife was in fact CIA. Though what Novak was up to could prove deadly to several people (Wilson later has claimed) he merely:

... assumed...that the CIA would itself quash any article that made reference to Valerie. ...I knew that protection of the identity of agents in our clandestine service was the highest priority, and well understood by the experienced press corps in Washington. Novak had still been trolling for sources when we spoke on the telephone, so I assumed that he did not have the confirmations he would need from the CIA to publish the story. I told Valerie, who alerted the press liaison at the CIA, and we were left with the reasonable expectation that any reference to her would be dropped, since he would have no way of confirming the information — unless, of course, he got confirmations from another part of the government, such as the White House.

But of course, Novak got all the confirmation he needed from that very same CIA. Crackerjack diplomacy, Joe!

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