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WaPo perpetuates myth that Bush Admin Iraq War supporters “outed” Valerie Plame

WaPo perpetuates myth that Bush Admin Iraq War supporters “outed” Valerie Plame

Bush Derangement Syndrome never rests.

A reader called to my attention this sentence  in a Washington Post report about the Obama administration outing the identity of the CIA Station Chief in Afghanistan (emphasis added):

The disclosure marked a rare instance in which a CIA officer working overseas had his cover — the secrecy meant to protect his actual identity — pierced by his own government. The only other recent case came under significantly different circumstances, when former CIA operative Valerie Plame was exposed as officials of the George W. Bush administration sought to discredit her husband, a former ambassador and fierce critic of the decision to invade Iraq.

Scooter Libby was convicted for lying to prosecutors and obstruction of justice in the Special Prosecutor’s investigation, under a contorted theory that nonetheless prevailed with a jury.  He was sentenced to jail, but the sentence was commuted by George W. Bush.

Libby, a close confidant of Dick Cheney, however, was not the leaker.

The leaker was an Iraq War critic in the State Department, Richard Armitage. Christopher Hitchens reported at the time:

As most of us have long suspected, the man who told Novak about Valerie Plame was Richard Armitage, Colin Powell’s deputy at the State Department and, with his boss, an assiduous underminer of the president’s war policy.

The prosecutors knew from the start who the leaker was, but went after those closest to the White House not for leaking, but for covering up a leaker the identity of whom already was known to the investigators.  It was a perjury trap.

The conviction of Libby was a travesty.

So too is WaPo’s continuation of the myth that pro-Iraq war Bush administration officials leaked the identity to punish a war critic.


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Insufficiently Sensitive | May 26, 2014 at 1:19 pm

As most of us have long suspected, the man who told Novak about Valerie Plame was Richard Armitage, Colin Powell’s deputy at the State Department and, with his boss, an assiduous underminer of the president’s war policy.

And the media made no effort to discover nor disclose that fact, though it must have been known to them.

Until our mainstream media fire half their personnel and replace them with writers of un-leftist lives and opinions, the country will remain in a state of enforced delusion about current events and history.

Perhaps there’s no similar example of the long-term success of partisan propaganda in a democracy. Its damage to the nation is incalculable, but until some national disaster is directly attributable to this media myopia, it doesn’t look like the journalistic ‘profession’ has any intentions of giving up its percs and its influence over the minds of citizens.

Valerie Plame was not a covert agent and thus not covered by the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and thus leaking her name violated no law according to noted DC attorney Victoria Toensing.

    L.N. Smithee in reply to MarkS. | May 26, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    I was watching C-SPAN online as Victoria Toensing batted away Democrat pols telling her she didn’t know as much as they did about a statute that she drafted.

    That pig-faced douchebag Henry Waxman (I still can’t believe that the ugliest man in Congress represented Beverly Hills) accused her of lying, and tried to badger her into saying something that fit his pre-conceived talking points. There were no significant Republicans on the panel to rush to her defense. The rest of them were MIA, having checked out for the day after Plame herself testified. The only R in the chamber at the time was mushy moderate Tom Davis of Virginia, one of those go-along-to-get-along types who detests activist conservatives.

    In this YouTube clip that was posted by a self-described progressive, here’s Waxman trying to contradict Toensing by saying he had a personal conversation with CIA Director Gen. Michael C. Hayden, and that Hayden told him that Plame indeed was at the moment in question a “covert” agent, contrary to Toensing’s interpretation of the law that, again, she helped write.

    Waxman ended the hearings by implying that there was actual evidence that Toensing was being untruthful, or worse: Before hitting the gavel, he said:

    “[S]ome of the statements you’ve made without any doubt and with great authority I understand may not be accurate, so we’re going to check the information and we’re going to hold the record open to put in other things that might contradict some of what you say.”

    A couple of weeks later, Toensing met Gen. Hayden at a Washington function, and in front of witnesses, Hayden said that he did NOT contradict Toensing in any conversation with Waxman, insisting he referred to Plame as an “undercover” agent, but NOT a “covert” agent. Toensing posted on her and her husband’s firm’s website a copy of a letter she wrote to Hayden asking him to tell Waxman he’s full of it (well, not in so many words).

    Milhouse in reply to MarkS. | May 27, 2014 at 11:29 am

    As far as we know. It’s possible that she was one, but the CIA refused to say. Which means if she had a cover it’s still there.

It’s only a small step from “never let a good crisis go to waste” to “never let a fake crisis go to waste”.

Here’s the deal, peeps…

At the relevant times Plame was a desk officer at CIA. She had not been “covert” for many months.

I have been in the traffic jam at Langley. Some years back, a “lone wolf” jihadi walked through that traffic jam…a twice-daily event…and calmly killed several CIA employees.

Every day…twice a day…Valarie Plame was in that gridlock, and could be photographed entering and leaving the CIA campus.

Nobody “outed” that lying SOS.

David Gerstman | May 26, 2014 at 2:02 pm

One point people don’t remember is that Bob Novak, too, was a critic of the war. In all likelihood Armitage was trying to boost Wilson, not hurt him.
But this underscores another problem with the reporting during the Iraq war. The number of government officials who, all of a sudden became “experts” due to their criticism of the war. It wasn’t just Joe Wilson, but also people like Richard Clarke, Michael Scheuer and Paul Pillar. (Clarke wasn’t as bad as the others.)
All of which shows that in Washington holding the proper views is more important than holding the correct ones.

Humphrey's Executor | May 26, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Compare and contrast how Bush handled the Plame investigation to how Obama handled, say, Fast and Furious; or any other of the scandals of the Obama Administration.

L.N. Smithee | May 26, 2014 at 3:32 pm

You had me in 100% agreement until you got to the part about a so-called “perjury trap.”

I said it during the White House Travel Office investigation, the FBI files investigation, the Whitewater investigations, the Paula Jones civil suit, the Lewinsky investigations, and the investigation about the alleged crime of leaking Plame’s identity: When you are put under oath, you swear to tell the truth, so there is no excuse for deliberately misleading people. You’re not supposed to get away with perjury. If there was such a thing as a “perjury trap,” the fact is that there is only one type of person who will get caught in that “trap”: A PERJURER.

That’s a GOOD thing.

George W. Bush commuted Libby’s sentence in 2007, but his refusal to grant a full pardon to Libby despite Cheney’s repeated pleas is to this day still a sticking point in their relationship. To that, I say amen.

    Milhouse in reply to L.N. Smithee. | May 27, 2014 at 11:52 am

    First of all, perjury is lying about a material fact. If the fact that Plame drew a check from the CIA wasn’t secret, then who told whom about it was not material to anything.

    Second, Libby was not under oath. He wasn’t charged with perjury but with lying to FBI officers. If they’re allowed to lie to you, why shouldn’t you lie to them?

    Third, there is no evidence that he did lie to them. We don’t know what he told the FBI; it’s his word against the agent’s, and I see no reason to believe the agent over him. Especially since the FBI has a deliberate policy not to record anything, the only possible purpose of which is to allow them to lie about it later.

    Fourth, even then it came down to him allegedly telling the FBI one thing, when Tim Russert told them something different. Even if that happened, how do we know Russert wasn’t the liar? Or that one or the other of them honestly misremembered what had been said?

Bush should have pardoned Libby the day he was convicted.

Libby’s only “perjury” was remembering a conversation differently than Tim Russert did.

great unknown | May 26, 2014 at 5:31 pm

Sadly, this blog is perpetuating the myth that the “WaPo perpetuates myth…”

In truth, the WaPo is deliberately and maliciously lying through its teeth…

The difference is significant and decisive.

The motives of the WaPo, I leave as an exercise for the reader.

From WaPo (also quoted above):

“The only other recent case came under significantly different circumstances, when former CIA operative Valerie Plame was exposed as officials of the … Bush administration sought to discredit her husband …[emphasis added]

I also noticed that earlier, when I first read it, and did a double take.

It is technically true, in that Plame was exposed at the same time Bush administration officials were trying to discredit her husband. But the leaker’s name at long last released to the public was clearly not someone trying to discredit her husband. It is written as it would have been before Armitage’s name was released — establishing guilt simply by what someone’s motivations might have been. Correlation = causation. But the difference is that we now know what might have been, actually wasn’t.

I’m sure the author is aware of the underlying facts, so it is misleading at best.

The first thing I did was checked to make sure the article wasn’t in the Opinion section, which, of course, it isn’t. It is on the front page of the web site.

It then crossed my mind why this was being reported like this — (“don’t you dare criticize the Obama administration about this”?)

It also brought to mind discussions I recently saw on a message board, where all the resident Dems went on (unknowingly) as if what they thought all along about this investigation was how it actually concluded.

Now why would they think that?

Shame on the Washington Post.

Is this the kind of reporting new owner Jeff Bezos wants?

I am likely just stating the obvious to readers here, but these are things I thought before I ever saw this blog post.

    tom swift in reply to dougr. | May 27, 2014 at 5:49 am

    Bush administration officials were trying to discredit her husband

    They were? How so?

    This was always one of the major weak points of The Narrative; the purported motive of the Bush admin just didn’t make any sense.

    CIA was interested in getting info about Iraqi efforts to obtain uranium ore in Africa. Plame suggested that Wilson might be able to get some such info, because he already had government contacts in Niger. Niger is only the #4 exporter of African yellowcake, but it could be enough to establish that Iraq was indeed trying to obtain the material. Wilson went to Niger, and was given information by an ex-government minister there that an Iraqi trade delegation had indeed made apparent efforts to get the ore from Niger. Wilson returned, and reported the info to Tenet at CIA.

    What knowledge about that chain of events would discredit Wilson? The fact that Plame was Mrs Wilson? Big deal; a little hint of nepotism in Washington isn’t going to set anybody’s scandal sheet on fire.

      Milhouse in reply to tom swift. | May 27, 2014 at 12:04 pm

      Yes, they were trying to discredit her husband. The story that journalists at the time thought they had was that Cheney had personally hand-picked Wilson and sent him to Niger to find out what was going on, that Wilson had personally reported to Cheney’s people, and that Cheney had then ignored his report.

      When Nick Kristof first wrote this story, Cheney’s people, naturally enough, wondered what the hell he was talking about. They’d never even heard of Wilson, let alone sent him anywhere or got any report from him. So they asked the CIA what this was all about, and the CIA replied “oh, remember when you asked us to look into those rumors about Niger? We sent Wilson over there, and he reported to us, and we sent you a summary based on what he told us. We never bothered mentioning his name; it didn’t seem important”.

      And this was what Cheney’s people were telling the press. The press followed up by asking, if that were so, why the CIA would send Wilson rather than one of their own people. So Cheney’s people asked the CIA, and learned that the idea had come from his wife, who worked there. So they tried telling that to the press as well. It was a direct answer to the question, and the purpose was to discredit the claim (which Wilson himself never made, it seems to have been Kristof’s invention) that he had been Cheney’s hand-picked envoy.

        tom swift in reply to Milhouse. | May 27, 2014 at 1:00 pm

        Right, Wilson didn’t claim that Cheney sent him. Cheney asked Tenet what info CIA had on Iraqi attempts to acquire ore from Africa. Tenet said none; Cheney didn’t bring it up again. But Tenet later decided to pursue the matter, and that’s when Plame suggested that Wilson do it.

        A reporter (Cooper) later told Rove that he was working on a story about Cheney sending Wilson to Niger. Rove cautioned him that he didn’t think Cheney had anything to do with it, and that Wilson had been suggested by someone at CIA – the otherwise obscure Plame. Cooper then said that he’d heard that Plame was Mrs Wilson, and Rove replied that he’d heard that too.

        For a while, the press and the Festering Underground (DU, DailyKOS, etc) were pushing the angle that this meant that Rove was the villain who’d disclosed the secret identity of the CIA’s master spy, but that eventually fizzled.

        It’s still not at all clear how anyone could think that this reflected poorly on Wilson. So he was sent by Tenet at CIA, rather than by Cheney. Why would that be a big deal?

          Milhouse in reply to tom swift. | May 27, 2014 at 5:15 pm

          tom, Wilson didn’t claim it, but Kristoff did. He wrote that Wilson had been sent on Cheney’s behest, which the press were taking to mean that Cheney had specifically asked for him to be sent.

          It’s still not at all clear how anyone could think that this reflected poorly on Wilson.

          It debunked the claim that he had been sent by Cheney. He also originally claimed (or Kristoff claimed on his behalf) to have reported directly to Cheney’s staff. This later became a claim that he knew for certain that the CIA had passed his report back to Cheney’s staff, who had certainly read it, because why send someone and then not read his report? Now we know that 1) He made no written report at all; 2) There was no reason why his oral report would have been passed on to anyone outside the CIA, or why his name would have been mentioned in any brief to Cheney’s staff.

They never would have had to do anything if the press was so one-sided; the press would have done it for them.

And the term is Political Prisoner.

harleycowboy | May 27, 2014 at 11:08 am

Never let the facts interfere with the argument.

Well, it’s perfectly true that Plame “was exposed as officials of the George W. Bush administration sought to discredit her husband”. That doesn’t say Bush officials deliberately exposed her, just that in the process of this effort to discredit her husband, she was exposed.

The truth is that if the fact of her employment with the CIA was meant to be secret, nobody in the White House knew that. In fact to this day we don’t know whether that was meant to be secret; the CIA refused to say. So Libby and Rove did innocently disclose this fact to journalists, none of whom thought it remarkable enough to be worth publishing. The only published “leak” came from Armitage, who likewise had no idea it was meant to be secret, if indeed it was.

The real howler in the WaPo piece is not that, but the first part of the quote. The disclosure marked a rare instance in which a CIA officer working overseas had his cover — the secrecy meant to protect his actual identity — pierced by his own government. The only other recent case […] Plame was not, as far as we know, “a CIA officer working overseas” with a “cover”. To the best of the knowledge of anyone outside the CIA, she was simply someone who lived in Washington, went to work every day at the CIA, and went home. There doesn’t seem to have been any effort made to keep this secret.

It’s possible that, unknown to anyone outside the CIA, this was only a cover for her real job running spy networks in Iran or something, but if so nobody blew that. Or rather, her husband and David Corn blew it, by making such a fuss about Novak’s innocuous piece, thus drawing attention to her and making her secret job — if she had one — impossible to continue.

I was even more disgusted by the very last paragraph of the WaPo article:

“The identities of at least three CIA station chiefs in Pakistan have been exposed in recent years. In one case, a CIA officer became a target of death threats after his cover was blown, forcing the agency to rush him out of the country.”

They went out of their way to dredge up a misinformation from the Bush era skipping over three more directly relevant instances during Obama’s/Clinton’s tenure.

Apparently, this was neither “rare” nor the “only other recent” case. Unless of course you failed to read the article to the end where they contradict themselves directly by saying “in recent years”. I bet the authors originally led with his paragraph but the Obama protection squad at WaPo moved it to the nether regions.

And how is a CIA chief being rushed out of Pakistan due to death threats less relevant that Plume being outed in the comfortable confines of Washington D.C.?

One follow up question regarding Smithee’s perjury comment: Wasn’t there an Obama lackey recently that lied under oath and when caught, claimed that it was okay because the damage that the truth would have caused was worse than the lie?

    Milhouse in reply to DanJ1. | May 27, 2014 at 5:19 pm

    The ones in Pakistan weren’t exposed by their own government. It’s indeed rare for that to happen, and Plame was not an example.

The Armitage Colin Powell connection with Flame is indeed a can of worms and no doubt Powell the reason the media had little to say about it. It did not fit the agenda.