Saturday :: Jul 16, 2005

Treasongate (Part VII): Details, Details

by eriposte

The latest articles on Treasongate from yesterday are more than tantalizing. The question of whether the mysterious/disputed INR/State Department memo was the source used by the Bushies to out Wilson's wife (Steve has commented on this) is one part of it. That the self-serving claims to protect Rove, if true, actually exposed another Rove lie (added to my GOP talking points debunking page), is another. But there are two other, equally important aspects that we need to keep in mind.

First, georgia10 in her excellent and detailed diary at Daily Kos (read it fully) reminds us of one of the most crucial aspects of the case - something Murray Waas talked about in the context of suspicions of purgery/obstruction of justice by Novak, Rove, et al.:

On the evening of September 29, 2003, the White House was instructed to preseve any and all evidence relating to the Plame investigation. Eleven hours later, Alberto Gonzales sent out an email instructing staff to preserve information. For eleven hours, the White House sat on Justice Department order. The phone records and email records (if they still exist) during that time are critical to Fitzegerald's conversation.

It is just one day after that 11 hour gap that Novak publishes his article refuting his "two senior administration officials" claim, blaming it instead on the CIA. It is just two days later that the White House changed its claims from broad innocence, instead employing legal jargon and super-technical statements filled with carefully chosen words: [my emphasis]

Second, the part which kept me thinking this morning - this cryptic statement towards the end of the New York Times article (bold text is my emphasis):

The information in the State Department memorandum generally tracked the information Mr. Novak laid out for Mr. Rove in their conversation, according to the account of their exchange provided by the person briefed on what Mr. Rove has told investigators.

But it appears to differ in at least one way, raising questions about whether it was the original source of the material that ultimately made its way to Mr. Novak. In his July 14, 2003, column, Mr. Novak referred to Ms. Wilson as Valerie Plame. The State Department memorandum referred to her as Valerie Wilson, according to the government official who reread it on Friday.

Is this just an inconsequential point? Swopa says no and says its implication is very significant:

So, just this morning, I reiterated my longstanding theory that the published leak of "the name 'Valerie Plame' ... conveyed an intent to damage her covert work." As I described it twenty-one months ago, it stemmed from sheer antipathy towards the CIA:

Having learned (by accident or through research) that Valerie Wilson used her maiden name when she worked overseas as a covert operative, Libby (or whoever) decides to pass her information along that way. It doesn't really add to the damage caused by the leak -- interested foreign parties could probably have figured it out for themselves, given the tipoff that Joseph Wilson was married to a CIA agent -- but it just serves as a raised middle finger to the CIA, a way to taunt them while pursuing the White House's political ends.

Looks like the question that Kevin Drum and I were asking almost two years ago is about to be on a lot more people's minds. Given this hard proof that Valerie Wilson was working under her married name (and presumably had been for a few years), it's hard to imagine an innocent reason for forcing her maiden name into the press reports.

As far as I can tell, whoever gave the name "Plame" to Robert Novak and Matt Cooper had to know that it was the name Valerie Wilson used in her undercover work for the CIA -- meaning that they were intentionally exposing a covert CIA operative.

So, who did pass the name along to Novak and Cooper? Via AmericaBlog, there are rumors that Novak's source was none other than Needlenose's longtime top source of traffic, Judith Miller. As for Cooper, fubar notes below that he's booked himself on "Meet the Press" for Sunday morning. Set your alarm, and be sure to have a hearty popcorn breakfast close at hand.

eriposte :: 11:28 AM :: Comments (11) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!