July 26, 2005--

Plame Game Time-Line-- Valerie Plame, Joe Wilson, Robert Novak, Karl Rove, Matt Cooper, Judith Miller, and the Beltway Media Chorus ignoring the timeline.

            Long before Robert Novak's July 14, 2003, column alleged to have "outed" Valerie Plame's status as a CIA "operative,"  Joe Wilson internationally touted, rather than merely "leaking," her covert name, Valerie Plame, as the maiden name of his wife, as part of his self-promotion as an international-affairs consultant (see the February 8, 2003, version of Wilson's own website "bio" page).  Wilson could have identified his wife as "Mrs. Valerie Wilson," but he deliberately identified her by the name she had used in her status as a CIA "operative."   Why did Wilson internationally tout the identify of his wife as "the former Valerie Plame" rather than as "Mrs. Valerie Wilson"?  Applying common-sense analysis to common-sense assumptions makes the answer reasonably obvious.

Common-sense assumption No. 1:  The law prohibiting identification of undercover CIA agents is founded upon a presumption that such identification would increase the risks of adversaries attempting to harm such agents and those with whom they may have dealt in their covert capacities.

Common-sense assumption No. 2:  Commencing with Wilson's marriage to Plame in 1998, Wilson's affection for his wife would have motivated him to minimize, rather than increase, such risks of harm to her (and to those with whom she had dealt in a covert capacity).  

Common-sense assumption No. 3:  On April 22, 1999, when Plame publicly identified herself as a $1,000 contributor to Al Gore's campaign for the 2000 election and in so doing identified herself as "Valerie Wilson" and listed "Brewster-Jennings & Assoc." (hereafter, "Brewster-Jennings") as her employer, she would have known that such self-identification would increase, rather than minimize, the risks for adversaries to discern that she was the same person as the "Valerie Plame" employed by Brewster-Jennings, in which name she had thus been employed while serving in a covert capacity for the CIA.

Common-sense assumption No. 4:  During the time period between the Wilson-Plame marriage in 1998 and February 8, 2003, both Wilson and Plame would have known that Wilson's publicly and internationally identifying his wife as "the former Valerie Plame" on his website "bio" touting his international-affairs expertise as a former U.S. Ambassador and former National Security Council consultant would increase, rather than minimize, the risks for adversaries to discern that the "Valerie Plame" previously known to them as an employee of Brewster-Jennings was the wife of one who had previously and overtly served official interests of the United States.

Common-sense assumption No. 5:  During such time period, Wilson and Plame would have known that their making it known within the Georgetown Cocktail Circuit and among many in the mainstream media in Washington, D.C., that she "worked at" the CIA would increase, rather than minimize, the risks for adversaries to discern that the "Valerie Plame" previously known to them as an employee of Brewster-Jennings was a CIA employee.

Common-sense assumption No. 6:  When Wilson publicly and internationally identified himself in his July 6, 2003, "What I Didn't Find in Africa" article in the New York Times as a person who traveled to Niger in February, 2002, as an agent for the CIA to investigate intelligence reports that Saddam Hussein had attempted to purchase uranium in Africa, he would have known that publishing his article would virtually guarantee that even any adversary too stupid to have already done so would then discern "Valerie Plame" to be the wife of a recently-active agent for the CIA investigating a matter related to what they would have previously understood to be related to Plame's portfolio as a Brewster-Jennings employee.

Common-sense conclusion A:  Wilson's and Plames' pattern of behavior during the five years from 1998 to his July 6, 2003. article in the New York Times makes it obvious that the reason they were willing to behave in ways that would increase, rather than to minimize, the risks of Plame's true status being exposed is that they both knew that her cover had been exposed to adversaries years earlier and that therefore further "exposure" to the general public would not increase any "risk" to her or to those who had dealt with her before her status became known to adversaries.

 

            Defenders of Wilson and Plame continue to imply that whoever "leaked" her CIA "operative" status to Novak nevertheless "blew her cover" and thereby created danger to her and those with whom she had previously dealt in a covert capacity.  They're correct that such leak led to her cover being blown but are trying to obscure the true nature of the undercover activities exposed as a result of such leak:    Wilson's and Plame's roles as political moles for Bush's political opponents.    What would all but the most stupid intelligence adversaries have learned from Novak's July 14, 2003, column that they had not already known for years (if not at least as a result of Wilson's July 6, 2003, article in the New York Times)?  They would have learned that a formerly covert CIA agent and her husband had collaborated with each other to serve as political moles for Bush's political opponents.

            Defenders of Wilson and Plame also attempt to make much of the State Department memo received by Colin Powell aboard Air Force One on July 7, 2003.  The contention is that the secrecy classification for the paragraph in that memo about Wilson's trip to Niger and about how a recommendation from his wife as a CIA employee had led to Wilson being selected  for the trip made it obvious that Plame was a covert agent.  However, reports about such classification make it reasonably obvious that the classification applied to the content of the paragraph rather than to any "covert" status of Plame, which the paragraph did not describe or mention.  In other words, the content of the paragraph included descriptions of information that Joe Wilson had sua sponte and selectively made public in his article in the New York Times the preceding day (July 6, 2003) but did not identify Plame as a "covert" agent.  Thus, common-sense examination of the paragraph would make it reasonably obvious that Wilson's article had rendered such classification virtually meaningless.  

            What does one do when someone so selectively leaks "classified" information?  Common sense makes it reasonably obvious that whoever "leaked" information about Plame's having recommended her husband for the trip was attempting to discredit the selective nature of Wilson's public "leaking" of information about his trip to Niger rather than attempting to disclose any "covert" status of Plame, which status the "classified" paragraph did not describe or identify.   Absent Wilson's and Plame's pattern of conduct from 1998 through July 6, 2003 (see "Common-sense assumptions and conclusions" above), all the public would have known was that a CIA employee named Mrs. Valerie Wilson had recommended her husband for the trip.  

            One may legitimately argue that one should assume that every CIA employee not already publicly known (such as Porter Goss) is a "covert" employee and therefore should never disclose the name of any CIA employee to avoid accidentally disclosing the name of an employee serving in a covert capacity.  Perhaps doing so should be criminalized, but the fact that the law currently criminalizes only the deliberate, intentional identification of one known to be a covert agent negates the basis for arguing that identifying someone as a CIA employee without such purpose and knowledge should be construed as a criminal offense under the law as written.  

        What about the alleged disclosure of "classified" information?  Other than the fact that Wilson had been "recommended" by "his wife," the "classified" information in that paragraph had already been "leaked" by Joe Wilson on the preceding day in his July 6, 2003 article in the New York Times.  Of course none of Bush's critics complains about that leak or about the fact that Wilson's July 6, 2003 article virtually guaranteed that even adversaries too stupid to have already discerned Valerie Plame's prior, covert role would thereby learn what their non-stupid counterparts had long known-- i.e., that as a Brewster-Jennings employee Valerie Plame had served in a covert role.

        Novak seems to be saying that someone other than Rove was his original source and that he treated Rove's reaction to hearing such information from Novak as a "confirmation" that Novak's real source had been correct.   It also seems that Rove's initial public denial was more limited than interpreted by the press and thus not inconsistent with his subsequent, more explicit assertion that he had not given anyone the name "Valerie Plame."  The larger point that everyone seems to be missing is that her formerly covert status had ceased to be a secret in the minds of adversaries and virtually everyone else to whom such knowledge would matter long before Novak's column.

        For what appears to be a reasonably objective time-line with respect to this whole controversy, go to http://www.factcheck.org/printerfriendly337.html.  That time-line seems more objective and less filled with opinion than the "time line" at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valerie_Plame.

   

I remember several news reports indicating that Plame's status as a CIA employee was virtually "common knowledge" in the Georgetown cocktail circuit, but I haven't been able to find url links to those sources, which links I did not at the time save.

  

I also remember several news reports indicating that Plame's status as a CIA employee was virtually "common knowledge" among many in the inside-the-beltway media circles, but I haven't been able to find url links to those sources, which links I did not at the time save.

--Jim Wrenn, Editor at PoliSat.Com.

 

        

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July 26, 2005 #01 Daily Update at PoliSat.Com, where satire is always commentary, but commentary isn't always satire.

Title:  Plame Game Time-Line. 

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