THE BIG LIE ABOUT VALERIE PLAME, by Larry Johnson

What you are allowed to think and what you do think are two different things, aren't they? That's another way of saying that this forum may be NSFW, if your boss is a Republican. A liberal won't fire you for it, but they'll laugh at you in the break room and you may not get promoted. Unless you're an engineer, of course, in which your obsession with facing reality is not actually a career-disabling disability.

Re: THE BIG LIE ABOUT VALERIE PLAME, by Larry Johnson

Postby admin » Tue Dec 29, 2015 10:04 am

A White House Smear
By David Corn
JULY 16, 2003

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Did senior Bush officials blow the cover of a US intelligence officer working covertly in a field of vital importance to national security–and break the law–in order to strike at a Bush administration critic and intimidate others?

It sure looks that way, if conservative journalist Bob Novak can be trusted.

In a recent column on Nigergate, Novak examined the role of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson IV in the affair. Two weeks ago, Wilson went public, writing in The New York Times and telling The Washington Post about the trip he took to Niger in February 2002–at the request of the CIA–to check out allegations that Saddam Hussein had tried to purchase uranium for a nuclear weapons program from Niger. Wilson was a good pick for the job. He had been a State Department officer there in the mid-1970s. He was ambassador to Gabon in the early 1990s. And in 1997 and 1998, he was the senior director for Africa at the National Security Council and in that capacity spent a lot of time dealing with the Niger government. Wilson was also the last acting US ambassador in Iraq before the Gulf War, a military action he supported. In that post, he helped evacuate thousands of foreigners from Kuwait, worked to get over 120 American hostages out Iraq, and sheltered about 800 Americans in the embassy compound. At the time, Novak’s then-partner, Rowland Evans, wrote that Wilson displayed “the stuff of heroism.” And President George H. W. Bush commended Wilson: “Your courageous leadership during this period of great danger for American interests and American citizens has my admiration and respect. I salute, too, your skillful conduct of our tense dealings with the government of Iraq….The courage and tenacity you have exhibited throughout this ordeal prove that you are the right person for the job.”

The current Bush administration has not been so appreciative of Wilson’s more recent efforts. In Niger, he met with past and present government officials and persons involved in the uranium business and concluded that it was “highly doubtful” that Hussein had been able to purchase uranium from that nation. On June 12, The Washington Post revealed that an unnamed ambassador had traveled to Niger and had reported back that the Niger caper probably never happened. This article revved up the controversy over Bush’s claim–which he made in the state of the union speech–that Iraq had attempted to buy uranium in Africa for a nuclear weapons program.

Critics were charging that this allegation had been part of a Bush effort to mislead the country to war, and the administration was maintaining that at the time of the speech the White House had no reason to suspect this particular sentence was based on faulty intelligence. “Maybe someone knew down in the bowels of the agency,” national security adviser Condoleezza Rice said days before the Post article ran. “But no one in our circles knew that there were doubts and suspicions.” Wilson’s mission to Niger provided more reason to wonder if the administration’s denials were on the level. And once Wilson went public, he prompted a new round of inconvenient and troubling questions for the White House. (Wilson, who opposed the latest war in Iraq, had not revealed his trip to Niger during the prewar months, when he was a key participant in the media debate over whether the country should go to war.)

Soon after Wilson disclosed his trip in the media and made the White House look bad. the payback came. Novak’s July 14, 2003, column presented the back-story on Wilson’s mission and contained the following sentences: “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.

Wilson caused problems for the White House, and his wife was outed as an undercover CIA officer. Wilson says, “I will not answer questions about my wife. This is not about me and less so about my wife. It has always been about the facts underpinning the President’s statement in the state of the union speech.”

So he will neither confirm nor deny that his wife–who is the mother of three-year-old twins–works for the CIA. But let’s assume she does. That would seem to mean that the Bush administration has screwed one of its own top-secret operatives in order to punish Wilson or to send a message to others who might challenge it.

The sources for Novak’s assertion about Wilson’s wife appear to be “two senior administration officials.” If so, a pair of top Bush officials told a reporter the name of a CIA operative who apparently has worked under what’s known as “nonofficial cover” and who has had the dicey and difficult mission of tracking parties trying to buy or sell weapons of mass destruction or WMD material. If Wilson’s wife is such a person–and the CIA is unlikely to have many employees like her–her career has been destroyed by the Bush administration. (Assuming she did not tell friends and family about her real job, these Bush officials have also damaged her personal life.) Without acknowledging whether she is a deep-cover CIA employee, Wilson says, “Naming her this way would have compromised every operation, every relationship, every network with which she had been associated in her entire career. This is the stuff of Kim Philby and Aldrich Ames.” If she is not a CIA employee and Novak is reporting accurately, then the White House has wrongly branded a woman known to friends as an energy analyst for a private firm as a CIA officer. That would not likely do her much good.

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. The punishment for such an offense is a fine of up to $50,000 and/or up to ten years in prison. Journalists are protected from prosecution, unless they engage in a “pattern of activities” to name agents in order to impair US intelligence activities. So Novak need not worry.

Novak tells me that he was indeed tipped off by government officials about Wilson’s wife and had no reluctance about naming her. “I figured if they gave it to me,” he says. “They’d give it to others….I’m a reporter. Somebody gives me information and it’s accurate. I generally use it.” And Wilson says Novak told him that his sources were administration officials.

So where’s the investigation? Remember Filegate–and the Republican charge that the Clinton White House was using privileged information against its political foes? In this instance, it appears possible–perhaps likely–that Bush administration officials gathered material on Wilson and his family and then revealed classified information to lash out at him, and in doing so compromised national security.

Was Wilson’s wife involved in sending him off to Niger? Wilson won’t talk about her. But in response to this query, he says, “I was invited out to meet with a group of people at the CIA who were interested in this subject. None I knew more than casually. They asked me about my understanding of the uranium business and my familiarity with the people in the Niger government at the time. And they asked, ‘what would you do?’ We gamed it out–what I would be looking for. Nothing was concluded at that time. I told them if they wanted me to go to Niger I would clear my schedule. Then they got back to me and said, ‘yes, we want you to go.'”

Is it relevant that Wilson’s wife might have suggested him for the unpaid gig. Not really. And Wilson notes, with a laugh, that at that point their twins were two years old, and it would not have been much in his wife’s interest to encourage him to head off to Africa. What matters is that Wilson returned with the right answer and dutifully reported his conclusions. (In March 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency concluded that the documents upon which the Niger allegation was based were amateurish forgeries.) His wife’s role–if she had one–has nothing but anecdotal value. And Novak’s sources could have mentioned it without providing her name. Instead, they were quite generous.

“Stories like this,” Wilson says, “are not intended to intimidate me, since I’ve already told my story. But it’s pretty clear it is intended to intimidate others who might come forward. You need only look at the stories of intelligence analysts who say they have been pressured. They may have kids in college, they may be vulnerable to these types of smears.”

Will there be any inquiry? Journalists who write about national security matters (as I often do) tend not to big fans of pursuing government officials who leak classified information. But since Bush administration officials are so devoted to protecting government secrets–such as the identity of the energy lobbyists with whom the vice president meets–one might (theoretically) expect them to be appalled by the prospect that classified information was disclosed and national security harmed for the purposes of mounting a political hit job. Yet two days after the Novak column’s appearance, there has not been any public comment from the White House or any other public reverberation.

The Wilson smear was a thuggish act. Bush and his crew abused and misused intelligence to make their case for war. Now there is evidence Bushies used classified information and put the nation’s counter-proliferation efforts at risk merely to settle a score. It is a sign that with this gang politics trumps national security.

DAVID CORN David Corn is Mother Jones' Washington bureau chief. Until 2007, he was Washington editor of The Nation. He has written for the Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Inquirer, Boston Globe, Newsday, Harper's, The New Republic, Mother Jones, Washington Monthly, LA Weekly, the Village Voice, Slate, Salon, TomPaine.com, Alternet, and many other publications. He is the co-author (with Michael Isikoff) of Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War (Crown, 2006). His book, The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception (Crown, 2003) was a New York Times bestseller. The Los Angeles Times said, "David Corn's The Lies of George W. Bush is as hard-hitting an attack as has been leveled against the current president. The Washington Post called it "a fierce polemic...a serious case....[that] ought to be in voters' minds when they cast their ballots. A painstaking indictment." His first novel, Deep Background, a political thriller, was published by St. Martin's Press in 1999. The Washington Post said it is "brimming with gusto....As clean and steely as an icy Pinot Grigio....[An] exceptional thriller." The Los Angeles Times called it "a slaughterhouse scorcher of a book you don't want to put down" and named it one of the best novels of the year. The New York Times said, "You can either read now or wait to see the movie....Crowded with fictional twists and revelations." The Chicago Tribune noted, "This dark, impressive political thriller...is a top-notch piece of fiction, thoughtful and compelling." PBS anchor Jim Lehrer observed that Deep Background is "a Washington novel with everything. It's a page-turning thriller from first word to last...that brings some of the worst parts of Washington vividly alive." Corn was a contributor to Unusual Suspects, an anthology of mystery and crime fiction (Vintage/Black Lizard, 1996). His short story "My Murder" was nominated for a 1997 Edgar Allan Poe Award by the Mystery Writers of America. The story was republished in The Year's 25 Finest Crime and Mystery Stories (Carroll & Graf, 1997). He is the author of the biography Blond Ghost: Ted Shackley and the CIA's Crusades (Simon & Schuster, 1994). The Washington Monthly called Blond Ghost "an amazing compendium of CIA fact and lore." The Washington Post noted that this biography "deserves a space on that small shelf of worthwhile books about the agency." The New York Times termed it "a scorchingly critical account of an enigmatic figure who for two decades ran some of the agency's most important, and most controversial, covert operations." Corn has long been a commentator on television and radio. He is a regular panelist on the weekly television show, Eye On Washington. He has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor, Hannity and Colmes, On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, Crossfire, The Capital Gang, Fox News Sunday, Washington Week in Review, The McLaughlin Group, Hardball, C-SPAN's Washington Journal, and many other shows. He is a regular on NPR's The Diane Rehm Show and To The Point and has contributed commentary to NPR, BBC Radio, and CBC Radio. He has been a guest on scores of call-in radio programs. Corn is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brown University.
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Re: THE BIG LIE ABOUT VALERIE PLAME, by Larry Johnson

Postby admin » Tue Dec 29, 2015 10:06 am

Bush's Enemy Within
Robert Novak
Jul 10, 2003

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WASHINGTON -- Much of Washington was stunned last month when President Bush's chief counterterrorism expert resigned with a blast of criticism and then joined Democratic Sen. John Kerry's campaign for president. The shock among a knowledgeable few was even greater when an intimate adviser of Janet Reno as the Clinton administration's attorney general was named to a similar high-ranking terrorism post.

Defector Rand Beers's post as senior director for Combating Terrorism remains vacant. However, on May 27, Frances Fragos Townsend was named deputy national security adviser for Combating Terrorism. The announcement obscured the fact that she had been a Democratic political appointment who was partially blamed by erstwhile Justice colleagues for failure to investigate alleged Sept. 11 terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui. A White House official told me Townsend considers herself a career government employee and a "lifelong Republican," with no responsibility for the Moussaoui fiasco.

Careful political screening by the Bush operation for routine appointments seems to have broken down in filling highly sensitive terrorism posts. The Democratic establishment, probing for soft spots in the president's armor, is claiming a misdirected war against terrorism. Bush has already suffered from one enemy within, and now risks another.

Resignation of a senior national security aide on policy grounds followed by defection to the political opposition is unprecedented. The selection last August of Beers to replace resigned veteran terrorism expert Dick Clarke raised eyebrows on Capitol Hill. Career foreign service officer Beers repeatedly tangled with House Republicans over how to fight narcoterrorists in Colombia.

Beers, a registered Democrat, vigorously promoted President Clinton's cautious line on Colombian policy as his assistant secretary of state for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. He owed Clinton for saving his career in 1997, when White House aides wanted to sack him as a National Security Council staffer for failing to give the president FBI reports about illegal campaign contributions from China. Beers holding a highly sensitive post in a Republican administration was an accident bound to happen.

As Beers joined the Kerry campaign by attacking Bush, extreme care would have been expected in making further appointments. That is why the Townsend selection was so stunning to officials who knew her at the Justice Department.

Townsend began her government career in 1985 as a local prosecutor in Brooklyn, working under District Attorney Elizabeth Holtzman, a prominent liberal Democratic activist. Three years later, Townsend moved to the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan -- notoriously liberal-laden amid a Republican administration. Townsend's boss and patron there was Jo Ann Harris, whose orientation was liberal Democratic.

When Attorney General Reno in 1993 summoned Harris to Washington as assistant attorney general running the Criminal Division, Harris immediately brought Townsend along as her aide. Townsend was promoted to oversee international law enforcement and then became counsel to the attorney general for terrorism and head of the Office of Intelligence Policy and Review (OIPR) -- a political Reno appointment for a supposed career slot.

The line between career and political appointments at Justice has been blurred, but Townsend was viewed by old timers at Justice as part of the Reno inner circle. Her critics partially blame Townsend for changes in operation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) that they claim inhibited sharing of information between intelligence and prosecution.

That shortcoming was corrected by Attorney General John Ashcroft, but not before the failure to investigate Moussaoui prior to Sept. 11. The White House official told me that Townsend had tried to correct FISA shortcomings, but that is not the version by former Justice colleagues. Ashcroft sent Townsend to the Coast Guard as assistant commandant for Intelligence, where she remained until her appointment as the president's adviser on counterterrorism.

Townsend did not return my telephone calls. The White House official representing her said National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice obtained endorsements of her by Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert Mueller and CIA Director George Tenet.

"I am absolutely astonished," a former Justice Department told me when he was informed of her claims to being a lifelong Republican. With Democrats in full cry against Bush's conduct of the war against terrorism, the president can only hope Fran Townsend is not another Randy Beers.
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Re: THE BIG LIE ABOUT VALERIE PLAME, by Larry Johnson

Postby admin » Tue Dec 29, 2015 10:09 am

Plame Gate: Did Robert Novak willfully disregard warnings that his column would endanger Valerie Plame? Our sources say "yes."
By Murray S. Waas
2.12.04

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Two government officials have told the FBI that conservative columnist Robert Novak was asked specifically not to publish the name of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame in his now-famous July 14 newspaper column. The two officials told investigators they warned Novak that by naming Plame he might potentially jeopardize her ability to engage in covert work, stymie ongoing intelligence operations, and jeopardize sensitive overseas sources.

These new accounts, provided by a current and former administration official close to the situation, directly contradict public statements made by Novak. He has downplayed his own knowledge about the potential harm to Plame and ongoing intelligence operations by making that disclosure. He has also claimed in various public statements that intelligence officials falsely led him to believe that Plame was only an analyst, and the only potential consequences of her exposure as a CIA officer would be that she might be inconvenienced in her foreign travels.

The two administration officials questioned by the FBI characterized Novak's statements as untrue and misleading, according to a government official and an attorney official familiar with the FBI interviews.

One of the sources also asserted that the credibility of the administration officials who spoke to the FBI is enhanced by the fact that the officials made their statement to the federal law enforcement authorities. If the officials were found to be lying to the FBI, they could be potentially prosecuted for making false statements to federal investigators the sources pointed out.

Novak declined to be interviewed for this article.

The two officials say Novak was told, as one source put it, that Plame's work for the CIA "went much further than her being an analyst," and that publishing her name would be "hurtful" and could stymie ongoing intelligence operations and jeopardize her overseas sources.

"When [Novak] says that he was not told that he was 'endangering' someone, that statement might be technically true," this source says. "Nobody directly told him that she was going to be physically hurt. But that was implicit in that he was told what she did for a living."

"At best, he is parsing words," said the other official. "At worst, he is lying to his readers and the public. Journalists should not lie, I would think." These new accounts, provided by two sources familiar to the investigation, contradict Novak's attempts to downplay his own knowledge about the potential harm to Plame.

Moreover, one of the government officials who has told federal investigators that Novak's account is false has also turned over to investigators contemporaneous notes he made of at least one conversation with Novak. Those notes, according to sources, appear to corroborate the official's version of events.

That the FBI interviewed the officials who warned Novak not to publish Plame's name could not be independently corroborated through federal law-enforcement authorities. That's not surprising — the investigation has been shrouded in secrecy.

Over the past several months, the FBI has interviewed more than 30 Bush administration officials and has reviewed phone logs, personal calendars, and e-mail records, according to government sources. But Attorney General John Ashcroft tightly controlled information gathered during the probe, requiring FBI agents to sign unprecedented nondisclosure agreements that say they could face immediate termination if they speak to the press. As a result, scant information about the leak investigation has appeared in the media, making it all but disappear as a political issue for the Bush administration until the disclosure last week that a federal grand jury had been convened to hear evidence in the matter.

On December 30, Ashcroft recused himself from the case so a special counsel, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, could take over. And on January 21, a federal grand jury in Washington began hearing evidence, re-interviewing witnesses, and notifying others that they will be called. At least four Bush administration officials have testified so far before the grand jury.

Deputy Attorney General James Comey said the secrecy surrounding the investigation would continue -- partly because "we don't want to smear somebody who might be innocent and might not be charged."

Shortly after his column appeared, Novak seemed to suggest that the information about Plame was planted as part of a White House campaign. In an interview with Newsday reporters Timothy M. Phelps and Knut Royce, he said, "I didn't dig it out, it was given to me. They thought it was significant. They gave me the name and I used it."

Then Novak started to backtrack, giving the impression that the leak was more the result of his own initiative than from a White House source. He also claimed the Newsday reporters quoted him out of context, an accusation both reporters deny. (Full disclosure: Royce is my longtime friend.)

Novak made another statement about his column during a September 29 broadcast of CNN's Crossfire. "Nobody in the Bush administration called me to leak this," he said. "In July, I was interviewing a senior administration official on Ambassador [Joseph] Wilson's report when he told me the trip was inspired by his wife, a CIA employee working on weapons of mass destruction. Another senior official told me the same thing.

"When I called the CIA in July, they confirmed Mrs. Wilson's involvement in a mission for her husband on a secondary basis ... they asked me not to use her name, but never indicated it would endanger her or anybody else.

"According to a confidential source at the CIA, Mrs. Wilson was an analyst, not a spy, not a covert operative, and not in charge of undercover operatives. So what is the fuss about, pure Bush-bashing?"

In his July 14 column, Novak claimed that Plame had played a role in the selection of her husband for a mission to Niger to investigate allegations that Saddam Hussein was buying enriched uranium. Yet White House and CIA officials have since said that Wilson, a former national-security senior director for African affairs, was chosen only because of his expertise, and that his wife had no role in his selection.

A government official also questions Novak's claims that the columnist "called the CIA" and "they confirmed Mrs. Wilson's involvement in her husband's mission." Rather, this person says, the CIA at first declined to comment. Still later, the same official contends that Novak was categorically told that Plame had played no role in the selection of her husband for the Niger mission.

"He was told it just wasn't true -- period," said the government official. "But he just went with the story anyway. He just didn't seemed to care very much whether the information was true or not."

Apparently the leak to Novak was made as senior Bush administration officials were reportedly attempting to discredit Wilson, who had been saying that the administration had relied on faulty intelligence information to bolster its case to go to war with Iraq.(President Bush had cited the Niger evidence in his 2003 State of the Union address.)

Congressional Democrats and some members of the Bush administration say the purpose of the leak was not only to discredit Wilson but also to intimidate other government officials from coming forward to question the administration's rationale for war.

Steve Huntley, the editorial-page editor of the Chicago Sun-Times, which is the flagship newspaper for Novak's syndicated column, says he "implicitly and completely trusts Bob Novak's reporting."

Fred Hiatt, the editorial-page editor of The Washington Post, which also ran Novak's column, declined to comment. Previously, though, he told his newspaper's ombudsman, Michael Getler, "In retrospect, I wish I had asked more questions, and I wish Bob had informed us and his readers that he had considered, and rejected, a CIA request to withhold her name."

(After Novak's column appeared, an anonymous administration official said the CIA warned Novak of "security concerns" that would arise if he were to publish Plame's name. Novak has disputed that account as well.)

In an online column, "Take Three Steps to Avoid Future Novaks," Aly Colón of the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit, educational organization for journalists, writes, "There's an old adage that claims journalists are only as good as the sources that feed them. Here's a new one: Journalists are only as credible as the ethics that guide them. By disclosing the identity of a CIA operative, Novak provoked a Justice Department investigation of his sources and raised serious questions about his ethical conduct."

What if Novak indeed purposely mislead readers of his column-- as the two administration officials have asserted to the FBI?

In an interview, Colón, while saying he could not speak to the specifics of this particular story said: "Any time a journalist purposely deceives his readers, he undermines the newsperson's or [his or her own] news organization's credibility" and "threatens the trust between the reader and reporter."

Murray Waas is a Washington journalist (read more at http://www.waasinfo.com ). Research assistance for this article was provided by Thomas Lang.
Copyright © 2004 by The American Prospect, Inc. Preferred Citation: Murray S. Waas, "Plame Gate Did Robert Novak willfully disregard warnings that his column would endanger Valerie Plame? Our sources say "yes."," The American Prospect Online, February 12, 2004
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Re: THE BIG LIE ABOUT VALERIE PLAME, by Larry Johnson

Postby admin » Tue Dec 29, 2015 10:11 am

Rove Reportedly Held Phone Talk on C.I.A. Officer
By DAVID JOHNSTON and RICHARD W. STEVENSON
JULY 15, 2005

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Correction Appended

WASHINGTON, July 14 - Karl Rove, the White House senior adviser, spoke with the columnist Robert D. Novak as he was preparing an article in July 2003 that identified a C.I.A. officer who was undercover, someone who has been officially briefed on the matter said.

Mr. Rove has told investigators that he learned from the columnist the name of the C.I.A. officer, who was referred to by her maiden name, Valerie Plame, and the circumstances in which her husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, traveled to Africa to investigate possible uranium sales to Iraq, the person said.

After hearing Mr. Novak's account, the person who has been briefed on the matter said, Mr. Rove told the columnist: "I heard that, too."

The previously undisclosed telephone conversation, which took place on July 8, 2003, was initiated by Mr. Novak, the person who has been briefed on the matter said.

Six days later, Mr. Novak's syndicated column reported that two senior administration officials had told him that Mr. Wilson's "wife had suggested sending him" to Africa. That column was the first instance in which Ms. Wilson was publicly identified as a C.I.A. operative.

The column provoked angry demands for an investigation into who disclosed Ms. Wilson's name to Mr. Novak. The Justice Department appointed Patrick J. Fitzgerald, a top federal prosecutor in Chicago, to lead the inquiry. Mr. Rove said in an interview with CNN last year that he did not know the C.I.A. officer's name and did not leak it.

The person who provided the information about Mr. Rove's conversation with Mr. Novak declined to be identified, citing requests by Mr. Fitzgerald that no one discuss the case. The person discussed the matter in the belief that Mr. Rove was truthful in saying that he had not disclosed Ms. Wilson's identity.

On Oct. 1, 2003, Mr. Novak wrote another column in which he described calling two officials who were his sources for the earlier column. The first source, whose identity has not been revealed, provided the outlines of the story and was described by Mr. Novak as "no partisan gunslinger." Mr. Novak wrote that when he called a second official for confirmation, the source said, "Oh, you know about it."

That second source was Mr. Rove, the person briefed on the matter said. Mr. Rove's account to investigators about what he told Mr. Novak was similar in its message although the White House adviser's recollection of the exact words was slightly different. Asked by investigators how he knew enough to leave Mr. Novak with the impression that his information was accurate, Mr. Rove said he had heard parts of the story from other journalists but had not heard Ms. Wilson's name.

Robert D. Luskin, Mr. Rove's lawyer, said Thursday, "Any pertinent information has been provided to the prosecutor." Mr. Luskin has previously said prosecutors have advised Mr. Rove that he is not a target in the case, which means he is not likely to be charged with a crime.

In a brief conversation on Thursday, Mr. Novak declined to discuss the matter. It is unclear if Mr. Novak has testified to the grand jury, and if he has whether his account is consistent with Mr. Rove's.

The conversation between Mr. Novak and Mr. Rove seemed almost certain to intensify the question about whether one of Mr. Bush's closest political advisers played a role in what appeared to be an effort to undermine Mr. Wilson's credibility after he challenged the veracity of a key point in Mr. Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech, saying Saddam Hussein had sought nuclear fuel in Africa.

The conversation with Mr. Novak took place three days before Mr. Rove spoke with Matthew Cooper, a Time magazine reporter, whose e-mail message about their brief talk reignited the issue. In the message, whose contents were reported by Newsweek this week, Mr. Cooper told his bureau chief that Mr. Rove had talked about Ms. Wilson, although not by name.

After saying in 2003 that it was "ridiculous" to suggest that Mr. Rove had any role in the disclosure of Ms. Wilson's name, Scott McClellan, the White House press secretary, has refused in recent days to discuss any specifics of the case. But he has suggested that President Bush continues to support Mr. Rove. On Thursday Mr. Rove was at Mr. Bush's side on a trip to Indianapolis.

As the political debate about Mr. Rove grows more heated, Mr. Fitzgerald is in what he has said are the final stages of his investigation into whether anyone at the White House violated a criminal statute that under certain circumstances makes it a crime for a government official to disclose the names of covert operatives like Ms. Wilson.

The law requires that the official knowingly identify an officer serving in a covert position. The person who has been briefed on the matter said Mr. Rove neither knew Ms. Wilson's name nor that she was a covert officer.

Mr. Fitzgerald has questioned a number of high-level administration officials. Mr. Rove has testified three times to the grand jury. I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, has also testified. So has former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. The prosecutor also interviewed Mr. Bush, in his White House office, and Mr. Cheney, but they were not under oath.

The disclosure of Mr. Rove's conversation with Mr. Novak raises a question the White House has never addressed: whether Mr. Rove ever discussed that conversation, or his exchange with Mr. Cooper, with the president. Mr. Bush has said several times that he wants all members of the White House staff to cooperate fully with Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation.

In June 2004, at Sea Island, Ga., soon after Mr. Cheney met with investigators in the case, Mr. Bush was asked at a news conference whether "you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found" to have leaked the agent's name.

"Yes," Mr. Bush said. "And that's up to the U.S. attorney to find the facts."

Mr. Novak began his conversation with Mr. Rove by asking about the promotion of Frances Fragos Townsend, who had been a close aide to Janet Reno when she was attorney general, to a senior counterterrorism job at the White House, the person who was briefed on the matter said.

Mr. Novak then turned to the subject of Ms. Wilson, identifying her by name, the person said. In an Op-Ed article for The New York Times on July 6, 2003, Mr. Wilson suggested that he had been sent to Niger because of Mr. Cheney's interest in the matter. But Mr. Novak told Mr. Rove he knew that Mr. Wilson had been sent at the urging of Ms. Wilson, the person who had been briefed on the matter said.

Mr. Rove's allies have said that he did not call reporters with information about the case, rebutting the theory that the White House was actively seeking to intimidate or punish Mr. Wilson by harming his wife's career. They have also emphasized that Mr. Rove appeared not to know anything about Ms. Wilson other than that she worked at the C.I.A. and was married to Mr. Wilson.

This is not the first time Mr. Rove has been linked to a leak reported by Mr. Novak. In 1992, Mr. Rove was fired from the Texas campaign to re-elect the first President Bush because of suspicions that he had leaked information to Mr. Novak about shortfalls in the Texas organization's fund-raising. Both Mr. Rove and Mr. Novak have denied that Mr. Rove had been the source.

Mr. Novak's July 14, 2003, column was published against a backdrop in which White House officials were clearly agitated by Mr. Wilson's assertion, in his Op-Ed article, that the administration had "twisted" intelligence about the threat from Iraq.

But the White House was also deeply concerned about Mr. Wilson's suggestion that he had gone to Africa to carry out a mission that originated with Mr. Cheney. At the time, Mr. Cheney's earlier statements about Iraq's banned weapons were coming under fire as it became clearer that the United States would find no stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons and that Mr. Hussein's nuclear program was not far advanced.

Mr. Novak wrote that the decision to send Mr. Wilson "was made at a routinely low level" and was based on what later turned out to be fake documents that had come to the United States through Italy.

Many aspects of Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation remain shrouded in secrecy. It is unclear who Mr. Novak's other source might be or how that source learned of Ms. Wilson's role as a C.I.A. official. By itself, the disclosure that Mr. Rove had spoken to a second journalist about Ms. Wilson may not necessarily have a bearing on his exposure to any criminal charge in the case.

But it seems certain to add substantially to the political maelstrom that has engulfed the White House this week after the reports that Mr. Rove had discussed the matter with Mr. Cooper, the Time reporter.

Mr. Cooper's e-mail message to his editors, in which he described his discussion with Mr. Rove, was among documents that were turned over by Time executives recently to comply with a subpoena from Mr. Fitzgerald. A reporter for The New York Times, Judith Miller, who never wrote about the Wilson case, refused to cooperate with the investigation and was jailed last week for contempt of court. In addition to focusing new attention on Mr. Rove and whether he can survive the political fallout, it is sure to create new partisan pressure on Mr. Bush. Already, Democrats have been pressing the president either to live up to his promises to rid his administration of anyone found to have leaked the name of a covert operative or to explain why he does not believe Mr. Rove's actions subject him to dismissal.

The Rove-Novak exchange also leaves Mr. McClellan, the White House spokesman, in an increasingly awkward situation. Two years ago he repeatedly assured reporters that neither Mr. Rove nor several other administration officials were responsible for the leak.

The case has also threatened to become a distraction as Mr. Bush struggles to keep his second-term agenda on track and as he prepares for one of the most pivotal battles of his presidency, over the confirmation of a Supreme Court justice.

As Democrats have been demanding that Mr. Rove resign or provide a public explanation, the political machine that Mr. Rove built to bolster Mr. Bush and advance his agenda has cranked up to defend its creator. The Republican National Committee has mounted an aggressive campaign to cast Mr. Rove as blameless and to paint the matter as a partisan dispute driven not by legality, ethics or national security concerns, but by a penchant among Democrats to resort to harsh personal attacks.

But Mr. Bush said Wednesday that he would not prejudge Mr. Rove's role, and Mr. Rove was seated conspicuously just behind the president at a cabinet meeting, an image of business as usual. On Thursday, on the trip with Mr. Bush to Indiana, Mr. Rove grinned his way through a brief encounter with reporters after getting off Air Force One.

Mr. Bush's White House has been characterized by loyalty and long tenures, but no one has been at Mr. Bush's side in his journey through politics longer than Mr. Rove, who has been his strategist, enforcer, policy guru, ambassador to social and religious conservatives and friend since they met in Washington in the early 1970's. People who know Mr. Bush said it was unlikely, if not unthinkable, that he would seek Mr. Rove's departure barring a criminal indictment.

Correction: July 16, 2005, Saturday Because of an editing error, a chart on Friday describing events that led to a criminal investigation of the leak of Valerie Wilson's work under cover for the C.I.A. misstated her whereabouts at the time her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, traveled to Niger in February 2002. She was at the agency's headquarters in Virginia, not in Niger.

Correction: July 16, 2005, Saturday Because of an editing error, a chart on Friday describing events that led to a criminal investigation of the leak of Valerie Wilson's work under cover for the C.I.A. misstated her whereabouts at the time her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, traveled to Niger in February 2002. She was at the agency's headquarters in Virginia, not in Niger.

Correction: July 19, 2005, Tuesday A front-page subheading on Friday with an article about the disputed involvement of Karl Rove, the White House senior adviser, in leaking the name of a C.I.A. officer omitted attribution for an account of Mr. Rove's words to the columnist Robert D. Novak. The conversation was described by someone who had been officially briefed on the matter. According to the account, Mr. Rove said "I heard that, too" after hearing about the officer from the columnist. The subheading should not have attributed the account of that comment directly to Mr. Rove.

David E. Sanger contributed reporting for this article.
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Re: THE BIG LIE ABOUT VALERIE PLAME, by Larry Johnson

Postby admin » Tue Dec 29, 2015 10:15 am

AP Falsely Reported Wilson "Acknowledged His Wife Was No Longer In An Undercover Job" When Her Identity Was First Publicly Leaked
by ANDREW SEIFTER
Media Matters
July 15, 2005

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In a July 15 article reporting new details in the ongoing criminal investigation into the leak of CIA officer Valerie Plame's identity, the Associated Press distorted a remark by former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV to falsely report that Wilson "acknowledged his wife [Plame] was no longer in an undercover job at the time Novak's column first identified her." In fact, Wilson merely emphasized that his wife's cover was blown at the moment when columnist Robert D. Novak revealed her identity in a July 2003 column.

From the AP report:

In an interview on CNN Thursday before the latest revelation, Wilson kept up his criticism of the White House, saying [White House senior adviser Karl] Rove's conduct was an "outrageous abuse of power ... certainly worthy of frog-marching out of the White House."

But at the same time, Wilson acknowledged his wife was no longer in an undercover job at the time Novak's column first identified her. "My wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity," he said.

Federal law prohobits goverment [sic] officials from divulging the identity of an undercover intelligence officer. But in order to bring charges, prosecutors must prove the official knew the officer was covert and nonetheless outed his or her identity.


But the context of the interview on the July 14 edition of CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports demonstrates that the AP misconstrued and falsely reported Wilson's remarks. In stating that "My wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity," Wilson was simply noting that Plame's identity was no longer secret after Novak publicly revealed it. In fact, when host Wolf Blitzer specifically asked Wilson if his wife "hadn't been a clandestine officer for some time before" Novak's column was published, Wilson responded that he could not comment on her past status as an undercover officer, but noted that "the CIA believed that a possible crime had been committed." The implication of Wilson's statement is clear. Had Plame not been a clandestine officer at the time Novak published her identity, the CIA would not have believed a possible crime had been committed.

From the July 14 edition of CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports:

BLITZER: But the other argument that's been made against you is that you've sought to capitalize on this extravaganza, having that photo shoot with your wife [in the January 2004 Vanity Fair magazine], who was a clandestine officer of the CIA, and that you've tried to enrich yourself writing this book and all of that.

What do you make of those accusations, which are serious accusations, as you know, that have been leveled against you?

WILSON: My wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity.

BLITZER: But she hadn't been a clandestine officer for some time before that?

WILSON: That's not anything that I can talk about. And, indeed, I'll go back to what I said earlier, the CIA believed that a possible crime had been committed, and that's why they referred it to the Justice Department.

She was not a clandestine officer at the time that that article in Vanity Fair appeared.


And as Media Matters for America has documented, multiple press outlets reported that Plame was an undercover CIA operative at the time Novak wrote his column.

Note: After this item was written, but before it was posted, the AP corrected its error. New versions of the article read:

In an interview on CNN earlier Thursday before the latest revelation, Wilson kept up his criticism of the White House, saying Rove's conduct was an "outrageous abuse of power ... certainly worthy of frog-marching out of the White House."

Wilson also said "my wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity."

In an interview Friday, Wilson said his comment was meant to reflect that his wife lost her ability to be a covert agent because of the leak, not that she had stopped working for the CIA beforehand.


Though the AP ran a correction, other news outlets had already repeated its mistake. CNN's Ed Henry told viewers that "Wilson himself suggested that she was not undercover." The Drudge Report link to the AP story suggested the same thing, and numerous other news outlets picked up the AP article.
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