This is his defense, remember

by Ted on July 15, 2005

Let’s pretend to take the new story seriously.

You’re a senior advisor to the President of the United States. You get a call from Reporter X, who tells you that the wife of a critic of your boss is a [covert? maybe, maybe not; fair point from mdp] CIA agent who recommended him for a mission. (How does Reporter X know that she’s a CIA agent? How does she know, specifically, that she recommended him for the mission? That’s not your responsibility.)

What do you do?

(a) Check with the CIA to see if it’s true, and if she’s covert. If she is, fight back against the critic without confirming or denying the story.

(b) Don’t ding your plausible deniability by checking to see if it’s actually true, or if it’s a secret. Even though you don’t actually know, confirm that the critic’s wife is a CIA agent to anyone who asks. Spread the word that his wife is “fair game.”

If you chose (b), congratulations on your moral clarity. Spend the rest of the day making up funny names for the New York Times.

UPDATE: Oh, that’s bad.



des von bladet 07.15.05 at 10:57 am

There’s just one thing I’m puzzled about in your otherwise excellent and comprehensive coverage of this complex and important story: What’s the New York Times?


Grand Moff Texan 07.15.05 at 12:01 pm

Rove’s (new) story is just plain weird. What did it matter that she was his wife, or that (as INR believed, incorrectly) she had sent him?

How would exposing this change the story?

And why is this supposed to be ‘keeping a false story out of the press,’ when in fact the story was correct, and multiply confirmed thereafter?

All the GOP talking points I’ve seen so far (expecially the bazillion phony “quotes” from Wilson) seem to be aimed at containing the damage within their own base. It seems that spider-holes must be dug, and quickly.


A-ro 07.15.05 at 12:11 pm

Is there any evidence that reporter X told Rove that she was covert? If Rove was not told she was covert before he “confirmed” Plames identity to everyone, then I think the legal cases are in trouble. (Of course, it should go without saying that he should have checked into it before he spread the word, but that’s morality, not the law.)


JR 07.15.05 at 12:18 pm

Des von bladet- It makes a difference because the criminal statute, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act provides (EMPHASIS added):

“Whoever, having or having had AUTHORIZED ACCESS to classified information THAT IDENTIFIES a covert agent, intentionally discloses any
information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent’s intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined not more than $50,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.”

So Rove is reduced to contending that he did not know of Plame’s identity by virtue of authorized access to classified information. Instead he learned of it from a reporter. He’s looking to avoid indictment now.


des von bladet 07.15.05 at 12:29 pm

jr: I am not the Von Bladet you are looking for. Please move along.


fifi 07.15.05 at 12:32 pm

There’s a reason Scottie and Bush have been looking a little sheepish and distracted recently: their brain Rove is a patsy. Fitzgerald is going after an Islamofascist mole: Doug Feith. You think it coincidence the administration’s terrorist policy is one spectacular failure after another? You’ve never wondered how it were possible Osama could elude capture for years, sometimes it seemed at the last minute? Is “massive intelligence failure” a reasonable explanation for the most elaborate and advanced, _uncompromised_ intelligence gathering organization in history? You eggheads can be so naive.


Grand Moff Texan 07.15.05 at 12:37 pm

Fifi: while Bush was played by Chalabi, and while Chalabi and Feith worked hand-in-glove to launder propaganda into “intelligence,” I see no reason to suspect an ideological commitment on Feith’s part to “Islamofacism,” whatever that may mean.

Instead, the creationist epistemology cultivated by this particular group of elites finally rose to the point where it could do real damage. Speculating about cosmogency is safe enough, but the games Bush and the other deadend Darwin deniers played with intelligence got people killed.

Incompetence is a nearer explanation than conspiracy most of the time, imho.

Is there any evidence that reporter X told Rove that she was covert?

Since Rove’s “correcting a false story” story makes no sense, the only reason to talk about her at all was to burn her to punish Wilson for telling the truth.

No covert, nothing to burn, no motive.


Jack 07.15.05 at 1:15 pm

Was it really a burning of Plame, or a desperate and cavalier attempt to discredit Wilson’s testimony?


Grand Moff Texan 07.15.05 at 2:15 pm


How would it discredit Wilson’s account? I don’t see how. Instead, I see another retaliation, just as the administration did with O’Neil, Clarke, Kwiatkowski, Edmonds, and through Goss (at CIA) and Bolton (at CIA and State).

It’s a pretty clear pattern they’ve got going.


J Thomas 07.15.05 at 3:07 pm

I could see it as discrediting Wilson’s account, because that was just what they tried to do at the time.

The wingnuts were full of “Wilson was incompetent and the only reason he got the job was his wife got it for him”. While a reasoned analysis wouldn’t consider it discrediting, the approach seemed to be that if they just repeated over and over that he was discredited by it then he’d be discredited.

It could also have been intended to retaliate against her for being involved with a story they didn’t want to come out The two go together.


MDP 07.15.05 at 3:12 pm

Ted: You’re a senior advisor to the President of the United States. You get a call from Reporter X, who tells you that the wife of a critic of your boss is a covert CIA agent …

Who told the senior advisor that Plame was covert? Are you inventing this detail because it’s politically convenient, or do you have a cite? “CIA employee” isn’t equivalent to “covert CIA agent”.

In any event, it turns out she wasn’t “covert”:

– Joe Wilson acknowledges, “my wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity.”

– Plame was stationed in the U.S. for the six years preceding her “outing” by Novak.

(sorry for originally posting this in the wrong thread)


Chef 07.15.05 at 3:21 pm

Is Novak a Neo-Con and a policy wonk, like Steve Forbes? Is that why he’s not in jail? Tell me again why Miller is in jail and Novak is not?


Kevin Donoghue 07.15.05 at 3:31 pm

“my wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity.”

MDP, isn’t that rather an obvious statement? What about the day before?


luckyjack 07.15.05 at 4:03 pm


Why don’t you peddle your lunatic right-wing up-is-down traitorous horseshit somewhere else. You may have taken leave of your senses but most at CT have not. I suppose the CIA refers cases for investigation to the Jusice Dept. for kicks. Is being a traitor “politically convenient” for you MDP?

And no Ted, if you knew the first thing about this you’d realize MDP isn’t making a “fair point” but simply vomiting up the latest Republican smear against a CIA officer and her family. Spineless and pathetic.



Independent 07.15.05 at 5:10 pm

Maybe Conyers will hold another party for the tinfoil hat society down in the basement. Don’t give up, if you keep throwing shit out there something is bound to stick. Only problem is – noone will care but the tinfoil hat society.


GreenGiant 07.15.05 at 5:13 pm

Rove won’t be indicted from the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. The statute as written provides lots of wiggle room.

However, that doesn’t mean he is out of trouble in the least. He can still face espionage charges, and charges stemming from violating his NDA. Both charges dissociate the requirement of KNOWINGLY divulging classified information.

Frankly they are pretty much airtight compared to the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. VP’s covert status is null, only her classified status matters. (which was clearly secret). It doesn’t allow for negligent disclosure or divulgement of “well-known” classified information, nor does it allow for “confirmation” of classified information. far as I can tell, destroys the defense
his actions.


Jack 07.15.05 at 5:53 pm

Grand Moff, I think the idea would be to diminish his credentials and make him out to be a crank acting off his own bat on the one hand, distracting attention from his excellent credentials. On the other it distances the adminstration from the results of his mission.

I imagine Rove trying to encourage the kind of talking points that have come out now but the line is so weak that the journalists informed only picked up on the secret information aspect causing attention of entirely the wrong sort.

As an act of revenge it seems rather odd. She wasn’t personally endagered. I can imagine that she is very annoyed but it doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that would spring to mind as revenge. I mean it makes the couple look like the parents in Spy Kids.

This is not meant to be any kind of apologia, it just seems more likely to me.


MDP 07.15.05 at 6:58 pm

MDP: [quoting Wilson]“my wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity.”

Kevin Donoghue: MDP, isn’t that rather an obvious statement? What about the day before?

Wilson refuses to say. Maybe he wants to leave the misimpression that she was a covert agent until the moment Novak’s column appeared. Since the entire world now knows she worked for the CIA, why is he being coy about her status at the time?


modus potus 07.15.05 at 7:05 pm


Under law, Wilson couldn’t say. As someone who’s held security clearances, it was drilled into me that even if classified information was revealed on the front page of the New York Times, it was neither to be confirmed or denied until I had determined that the classifying authority had de-classified it.


paul 07.15.05 at 8:02 pm

I hope that this is the story Karl is telling the grand jury. There’s gotta be perjury in that story if told under oath.


MDP 07.15.05 at 9:02 pm


Why was Wilson willing to confirm to Vanity Fair that Plame was a covert operative in the 1997?

At the time, Wilson was based in Stuttgart, serving as the political adviser to George Joulwan, the U.S. general in charge of the European command; Plame was based in Brussels. Meeting in Paris, London, and Brussels, they got very serious very quickly. On the third or fourth date, he says, they were in the middle of a “heavy make-out” session when she said she had something to tell him. She was very conflicted and very nervous, thinking of everything that had gone into getting her to that point, such as money and training.

She was, she explained, undercover in the C.I.A. “It did nothing to dampen my ardor,” he says. “My only question was: Is your name really Valerie?”



Charles 07.16.05 at 12:30 am

Uh… MDP.

By the time of the Vanity Fair interview, the CIA had confirmed that Plame had been covert by filing a criminal complaint with the Department of Justice.

Right up to the day that Novak blew her cover.

The attempt to pretend that Plame’s NOC status was not destroyed by the Novak article is a morally bankrupt argument. It serves only to try to save criminals from the lash of justice.


nick 07.16.05 at 1:38 am

Maybe he wants to leave the misimpression that she was a covert agent until the moment Novak’s column appeared.

And maybe you’re full of shit, mdp. Or rather, maybe you were not full of shit until the day you received your GOP talking points enema.


MDP 07.16.05 at 5:27 am

Charles: Uh… MDP. By the time of the Vanity Fair interview, the CIA had confirmed that Plame had been covert by filing a criminal complaint with the Department of Justice.

modus potus wrote that, “[u]nder law, Wilson couldn’t say” whether Plame was a covert agent. I responded with the question about Vanity Fair because Wilson confirmed precisely this information to the magazine. I’m not saying Wilson did anything wrong in speaking to VF. I am saying that his selective reticence is suspcious.


rdb 07.16.05 at 5:41 am

John Dean @ Findlaw: It Appears That Karl Rove Is In Serious Trouble

No Apparent Violation Of The Identities Protection Act


Charles 07.16.05 at 10:43 am

MDP, the answer to your point is probably in the question Blitzer asked.

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

Once the CIA filed a criminal referral and that fact was disclosed to the public, the fact that she was a NOC at the time Novak wrote his piece was on public record. But *when* she became did not enter the public record immediately. In between the time that the NOC status was disclosed and other biographical details became public record, Wilson might be said to have disclosed classified information had he answered a question like Blitzer’s. Indeed, only he and Plame know the details of the agreement they have with the CIA on what they may and may not talk about. Furthermore, the agreement as to what is public record and what is not has almost certainly evolved as more material has come out.

By the time of the Blitzer interview, the Plame biography was out there, and was probably on the public record. However, people who hold security clearances are very careful about unscripted discussions and reflexively dodge questions that people who don’t hold security clearances may think are innocuous. I am pretty certain he could have answered the question without disclosing confidential information. But he may have sensed a trap that could have resulted in disclosure.

So, why Wilson chose to answer Blitzer as he did is a matter of speculation. Basically, nothing is certain except that Wilson has been more or less cautious depending on the circumstances. That may have a lot to do with how well events are scripted and whether inadvertent disclosures can be fixed by an editor before going nationwide. Maybe not.

By looking for minor dissonances in Wilson’s story while ignoring gross dishonesty by the White House, you are grasping at straws while timbers are crashing down on your head.

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