March 15, 2007
Serious Questions for Henry Waxman's Show Trial
A hearing tomorrow, called by House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, will focus on the purported outing of CIA celebrity agent Valerie Plame by the White House and Office of the Vice-President. More a show trial masquerading as Congressional hearings than a serious effort to craft legislation, the most important questions are likely to remain unasked, as least by members of the Democrat majority.
Apparently Waxman has limited access to simple facts. If Waxman had even a minimal desire to determine the truth, Joe Wilson would have been called to sit beside his wife and testify under oath to their joint decision to go into electoral politics.
The primary responsibility for the protection of agents' identities rests with the agents themselves. That is a fact hammered into all CIA employees from the moment they are hired. Valerie Plame Wilson initiated her own 'outing' by participating in her husband's successful effort to become an advisor to the Kerry campaign. The precise moment in which she abandoned any pretense of being 'undercover' is difficult to determine, but it is safe to presume it occurred prior to May 2, 2003.
On that day, during a meeting of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, the Wilsons succeeded in inserting Joe Wilson into the electoral political process. They also made contact with New York Times reporter Nicholas Kristof.
From Vanity Fair:
"In early May, Wilson and Plame attended a conference sponsored by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee, at which Wilson spoke about Iraq; one of the other panelists was the New York Times journalist Nicholas Kristof. Over breakfast the next morning with Kristof and his wife, Wilson told about his trip to Niger and said Kristof could write about it, but not name him."
The Wilsons pitched Ambassador Munchausen's fable to Kristof and he bought it with the same degree of faith that won Walter Duranty (and the New York Times) a Pulitzer prize for publishing every lie Stalin's propagandists fed him. The very gullible Kristof cobbled the Wilsons' bogus concoction into an article in the New York Times, published on May 6, 2003. In that article Kristof stated:
"Consider the now-disproved claims by President Bush and Colin Powell that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger so it could build nuclear weapons. As Seymour Hersh noted in The New Yorker, the claims were based on documents that had been forged so amateurishly that they should never have been taken seriously. I'm told by a person involved in the Niger caper that more than a year ago the vice president's office asked for an investigation of the uranium deal, so a former U.S. ambassador to Africa was dispatched to Niger. In February 2002, according to someone present at the meetings, that envoy reported to the C.I.A. and State Department that the information was unequivocally wrong and that the documents had been forged."
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence disposed of Wilson's fable on pages 443 - 444 of the report:
... The plan to send the former ambassador to Niger was suggested by the former ambassador's wife, a CIA employee. The former ambassador's wife suggested her husband for the trip to Niger in February 2002.
... On February 12, 2002, the former ambassador's wife sent a memorandum to a Deputy Chief of a division in the CIA's Directorate of Operations which said, "[m]y husband has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity."
... Rather than speaking publicly about his actual experiences during his inquiry of the Niger issue, the former ambassador seems to have included information he learned from press accounts and from his beliefs about how the Intelligence Community would have or should have handled the information he provided.
... The former ambassador told Committee staff that he, in fact, did not have access to any of the names and dates in the CIA's reports and said he may have become confused about his own recollection after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported in March 2003 that the names and dates on the documents were not correct. Of note, the names and dates in the documents that the IAEA found to be incorrect were not names or dates included in the CIA reports.
... While the CIA responded to the Vice President's request for the Agency's analysis, they never provided the information gathered by the former Ambassador.
... The Committee found that, for most analysts, the former ambassador's report lent more credibility, not less, to the reported Niger- Iraq uranium deal. [emphasis added]
According to the Vanity Fair piece, both of the Wilsons were present with Kristof and it is reasonable to assume that Valerie Plame Wilson at least listened attentively as her husband provided politically loaded misinformation to a Times byline reporter. Mr. Wilson casually disclosed his wife's maiden name in the preparation of numerous biographical sketches beginning with Who's Who and including Corporate and Public Strategy Advisory Group, the Middle East Institute and the EPIC Forum. Twenty people provided biographical sketches as participants in the antiwar EPIC Forum on June 14, 2003, some three weeks prior to the publication of Wilson's fable on the New York Times editorial page. Joseph Wilson was the only forum participant to include even a mention of a spouse, let alone her maiden name.
The Kerry Campaign must have been impressed with the Wilsons' ability to gull a Times reporter by having source and confirmation share a common last name, for soon after Kristof's article appeared, Wilson was named as an 'advisor to the campaign' and held that position until the exposure of his prevarications. Wilson's status as a Kerry advisor, coupled with the Times' own Kristof having swallowed whole Wilson's tale, was sufficient for the Times to grant Wilson its editorial page on July 6th, 2003. The Wilsons, working together, had achieved a level of national notoriety based entirely upon their manipulation of the Kerry Campaign and the New York Times.
As Jim Marcinkowski, one of Plame's classmates during their CIA training, has noted, she's "a hell of a shot with an AK-47". There is no reason to disbelieve that assertion; however, ample evidence also exists that Wilson can shoot his mouth off at least as well as Plame can fire a rifle. Why did Plame not unload the weapon that was her husband's mouth-aimed as it was at her identity as a CIA agent? Indeed, why did she apparently load it herself by suggesting Wilson for the trip to Niger?
One person had the primary responsibility for the protection of a CIA agent's identity. Valerie Plame Wilson failed. One person was primarily responsible for the events and actions leading to the 'outing' of a CIA agent's identity. Joe Wilson succeeded.
Chairman Waxman has chosen to investigate the circumstances that led to the disclosure of Valerie Plame's relationship with the CIA for strictly political purposes. If the Chairman is seeking to protect other CIA personnel, Valerie Plame Wilson and her husband can provide a complete primer on what not to do. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson could be of great assistance by honestly and forthrightly answering some simple questions that should have been asked a very long time ago.
Based on what we know to date, Congressman Waxman's decision to look to the White House will not bring us closer to any answers. That fact should not diminish the importance of the task for other members of the committee. If you recognize your representative's name on that list, click it and send along a copy of this article with a suggestion to ask a few of the following questions.
Questions for Valerie Plame Wilson:
Since the CIA maintains an office which is responsible for contacts with the press, on what date did you report your May 2 and 3 contacts with Nicholas Kristof to that office?
Did you also inform that office of the nature of your contacts? Who did you speak to?
Specifically what did you report?
What is the procedure at the CIA for reporting that classified information has been compromised? What typically takes place after a report is made?
Have you ever followed that procedure? How many times, and on what dates?
Did you disclose the nature of the conversations between your husband and reporters to the CIA?
When did you first inform Joe Wilson that you worked for the CIA?
What did you tell him was the nature of your job at the agency?
When you informed him that you worked for the CIA, was he aware that you wanted to keep your identity protected?
Did you and he discuss the methods of keeping your identity protected?
Your name, Valerie Plame, was listed in Who's Who in America from 1999 through 2005, under your husband's listing? Did you seek special permission from the CIA to be included in that entry?
Did you accompany Joe Wilson to the 2003 EPIC Iraq forum?
Did your husband consult with you before including your maiden name in his bio published at that conference? Did you seek and obtain permission from the CIA for that disclosure?
Did you discuss this publication with your bosses at Langley?
Is it common practice for CIA agents to donate to political campaigns? When you contributed to the Gore campaign in 1999 under your own name, did you have any obligation to report that to your superiors?
At the time of the alleged disclosure by Richard Armitage that you worked at the agency, your husband was working for the Kerry campaign, correct?
Did you also donate money to Senator Kerry's campaign? What about organizations trying to help elect Senator Kerry?
When you informed Joe Wilson that you worked at the CIA, did you file a report that your identity had been compromised?
When you became aware that your husband had identified you in Who's Who in America, did you make a report that your identity had been compromised?
When you learned that your husband had included your name in his bio for the EPIC Iraq forum, did you make a report that your identity had been compromised?
When you learned that Joe Wilson had included your name in his bio at the Middle East Institute, did you make a report that your identity had been compromised?
When you learned that your husband included your name in his bio with the CPS Corporate & Public Strategy Advisory Group, did you make a report that your identity had been compromised?
At anytime did you, or anyone at the CIA, ask Joe Wilson to stop exposing your identity?
Only the Republican members of the Oversight Committee can prevent Congress from joining The New York Times and John Kerry on the Wilsons' sucker list. We wish them well.
Jane Woodworth, Jeff Dobbs, Mara Schiffren and Rick Ballard collaborated on this article (with help from several Plame aficionados from Tom Maguire's Just One Minute).