Wednesday :: Oct 19, 2005

Treasongate: Valerie Flame


by eriposte

UPDATE: Please check out my updated post on this here.

You all remember Judith Miller's famous "Valerie Flame" notation in her notebook and her deliberate obfuscation about not knowing the source for that name. Now, regardless of the source who gave her that name, Miller either made a mistake writing down Plame's name or received this information from a source who got Valerie Plame's name wrong. Until now, I was inclined to believe that the former was the case. Now, I've changed my mind.

The alert AspTrader at Daily Kos noticed something (bold text is my emphasis):

Novak used the name "Valerie Flame" in an article appearing in a Human Events article in October 2003.

How big a secret was it? It was well known around Washington that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA. Republican activist Clifford May wrote Monday, in National Review Online, that he had been told of her identity by a non-government source before my column appeared and that it was common knowledge. Her name, Valerie Flame, was no secret either, appearing in Wilson's Who's Who in America entry.

That was of course the same Novak article where he changed his story about the Valerie Plame expose after having heard about the Justice Department investigation. As leckavrea says in comments to the above post:

There was certainly something odd going on with the "Valerie Flame" mispelling. First it appears in the notebook used for notes by Miller of her June 2003 meeting with Libby. Novak's first article in July 2004 [Eriposte: actually 2003] spells the name correctly. After the leak investigation was announced, Novak did a follow-up article on the The CIA leak -- the original version with a date of October 1, 2003 correctly shows the name as Valerie Plame. However, the October 6, 2003 version of the same article in Human Events shows the name as Valerie Flame. The latter appears under the title It was not a planned leak but the only difference between it and the one published five days earlier is (1) Plame replaced with Flame, and (2) "(D.-N.Y.)" has been appended to Charles Schumer's name. So what source was the overzealous proofreader using? They obviously thought that source more reliable than Novak's own two earlier articles.

Of course, one should certainly wish Novak good luck in finding "Valerie Flame" in Who's Who. Emptywheel says:

I think it very likely Judy was involved in the cover-up conspiracy, along with Rove, Libby, and Novak. So the Flame thing might be part of the cover-up (it's about the only alteration of Judy's notes she could hide).

Second, you have just discovered what Carville was go[i]ng to say on CNN before he stormed off. They had a copy of Who's Who on the desk. I'm sure they were going to turn to it and show that it said Plame, not Flame. Also showing that Novak's October article was shite. Also showing it was part of a cover-up.

Which, if I'm right, suggests Fitz may know the Flame reference is part of the cover-up.

As for Judy being originally part of the cover-up, I think the data strongly indicates that was the case. As Emptywheel explains further at The Next Hurrah (bold text is my emphasis):

As I noted in my first thoughts on the NYT/Judy document dump this weeked, Judy's response when Taubman asked if she were one of the six writers involved in the leak was no simple lie:

In the fall of 2003, after The Washington Post reported that "two top White House officials disclosed Plame's identity to at least six Washington journalists," Philip Taubman, Ms. Abramson's successor as Washington bureau chief, asked Ms. Miller and other Times reporters whether they were among the six. Ms. Miller denied it.

"The answer was generally no," Mr. Taubman said. Ms. Miller said the subject of Mr. Wilson and his wife had come up in casual conversation with government officials, Mr. Taubman said, but Ms. Miller said "she had not been at the receiving end of a concerted effort, a deliberate organized effort to put out information.

That is, this lie is not an invention Judy made up all by herself. Compare Judy's Fall 2003 statement with the claim Novak makes in his  2003 column.

First, I did not receive a planned leak.

[snip]

The published report that somebody in the White House failed to plant this story with six reporters and finally found me as a willing pawn is simply untrue.

Judy and Novak--responding to the same article--provide almost the exactly same excuse. The leak was not planned, not deliberate. They weren't pawns.

Now, Murray Waas has reporte[d] investigators are looking closely at this story, as evidence of a cover-up.

Federal investigators have been skeptical of Novak's assertions that he referred to Plame as a CIA "operative" due to his own error, instead of having been explicitly told that was the case by his sources, according to attorneys familiar with the criminal probe.

Also of interest to investigators have been a series of telephone contacts between Novak and Rove, and other White House officials, in the days just after press reports first disclosed the existence of a federal criminal investigation as to who leaked Plame's identity. Investigators have been concerned that Novak and his sources might have conceived or co-ordinated a cover story to disguise the nature of their conversations.

The investigators have some evidence that Novak's story was the product of collaboration between Novak, Rove, and (presumably) Libby, part of an effort to tell a consistent story that exonerates everyone. Novak's story, then, is a product of the cover-up. And Judy Miller is telling a very similar story at precisely the same time.

By all accounts, Judy has long been playing a dangerous game with the FBI and Justice Department, on this case. I've documented her deceptions and slithery behavior elsewhere. That said, the commonality between Novak's and Miller's fake denials (how could they possibly have known that the leak wasn't "planned" or "concerted", especially when it was?) and the appearance of the name "Valerie Flame" associated with both of their writings (article in the case of Novak and notes in the case of Judith Miller) provides some indication that the use of "Flame" may have been more than a careless spelling error.

eriposte :: 7:50 AM :: Comments (19) :: TrackBack (2) :: Digg It!