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Joe Yellowcake's fifteen minutes of Plame-fame are finished

By Carol Devine-Molin
web posted July 18, 2005

You saw it; everybody that tuned in the news last week saw it: White House spokesman Scott McClellan was fiercely pummeled by journalists regarding White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and his ostensible malfeasance in the Wilson-Plame matter. The liberal mainstream media was in the throes of "gotcha" euphoria as it attempted to push Karl Rove - the architect of Dubya's two successful presidential campaigns - every step of the way toward the gallows for a high-tech lynching. These Leftist journalists didn't let a little thing like facts get in the way of their feel-good frenzy of get-evenism and hatred against a man that's come to epitomize Republican victory. But, unfortunately for them, truth has a way of coming to the fore. Now Democrats and their cohorts at Big-Media are hurting with disappointment and one big old hangover for indulging their vitriol with abandon.

Let's get to the nub of all this twisted and convoluted rubbish put forth by the liberal news media: Purportedly, Rove illegally outed Valerie Plame as a covert CIA agent in retaliation for her husband's "findings" that the Africa-yellowcake link to Saddam Hussein was unfounded. This story is inaccurate on so many levels that it's difficult to know where to begin. For starters, Saddam was clearly seeking nuclear materials from Africa. Journalist Mark Steyn summed it up best when he stated: "In fact, the only lying $@**%! turned out to be Yellowcake Joe. Just about everybody on the face of the earth except Wilson, the White House press corps and the moveon.org crowd accepts that Saddam was indeed trying to acquire uranium from Africa. Don't take my word for it; it's the conclusion of the Senate intelligence report, Lord Butler's report in the United Kingdom, MI6, French intelligence, other European services -- and, come to that, the original CIA report based on Joe Wilson's own briefing to them."

Moreover, no law concerning Valerie Plame's CIA status has been breached by Karl Rove. Although still a CIA employee, Ms.Plame has not operated as a covert CIA agent in about nine years. One of her former bosses at the agency said that Ms.Plame made no bones about being a CIA employee - She told friends and neighbors. In fact, reporter Andrea Mitchell noted that "all the journalist knew" Valerie Plame worked for the CIA. If Ms. Plame's CIA status was supposed to be a secret, then it was surely an "open secret".

And then there's the matter of Rove's intent when he referenced Wilson's wife (no name provided by Rove) in conversation with journalist Matt Cooper. Rove was simply attempting to set the record straight and steer Cooper away from Joe Wilson's phony story about Vice President Cheney sending him to Niger, Africa. It was actually Joe Wilson's wife - an employee of the CIA - who helped him land the Africa assignment that required him to investigate any evidence of Saddam Hussein's nuclear ambitions. Shortly before this communication with Cooper, Karl Rove had been provided with Wilson's wife's name (Valerie Plame) by journalist Bob Novak, who also heard of Ms. Plame's role in securing the Niger job for her husband. In response to Novak's overall account, Rove replied, "I heard that, too." Rove was the recipient of information (pre-Novak conversations), but from whom? It was likely another journalist. As noted by the New York Times, "Mr. Rove said he had heard parts of the story from other journalists but had not heard Ms. Wilson's name" , until, of course, it was provided by Novak. To Mr. Rove's credit, he had issued a global or blanket release, waiving any confidentiality so that all reporters he had communicated with on the Wilson-Plame matter could step forward and provide Grand Jury testimony. Reportedly, this waiver was signed by Rove about a year and a half ago. Matt Cooper's negotiated release from confidentiality this past week represented pure theatrics. Cooper had that blanket release from Rove, which already applied to him and any other reporter. 

According to former federal prosecutor Victoria Toensing - who helped craft the specific law in question that protects covert CIA agents – Karl Rove did not violate the statute. John Gibson of the Fox News Channel asked her the following: "Did Rove -- if he said to Matt Cooper what he is reported to have said, did that constitute breaking this law?" And Toensing replied: "No. If he just said to Matt Cooper that the wife is CIA, that doesn't give any fact to provide the prosecutor with the element that he has to prove Karl Rove intentionally gave up a covert agent with the knowledge that she was deep undercover. And this is very important -- the CIA had to be taking the affirmative measures to keep her identity secret. They (the CIA) flunk that on about three counts." Toensing further noted that, "they weren't taking affirmative measures to protect that identity. They gave her a desk job in Langley. You don't really have somebody deep undercover going back and forth to Langley, where people can see them... But probably the worst thing that they did, John, was that, when Bob Novak called and said, well, I have got the name and isn't she working for the CIA, they just kind of shrugged and said, well, you know, she probably isn't going to have another overseas assignment anyway. Nobody from the top part of the agency called and said, you cannot print this name. They didn't threaten him with criminal prosecution, as they have done with other reporters on matters that I've worked on. There was nothing to signal that this was important to the CIA."

From this writer's perspective, Joe Wilson presents as a very strange character indeed. Clearly, Wilson lied when he said that his wife had nothing to do with his assignment in Niger, Africa. In fact, Valerie Plame was instrumental in getting him the job. My sense of Joe Wilson is that he's a complicated individual motivated by both personal and political animus. On a personal note, it must have enraged Wilson when he learned that Rove was disseminating the truth and exposing him as a liar: For Wilson, apparently the best defense was an offense. Wilson decided to punish Rove, making the false claim that Rove outed his wife as a covert CIA operative when, in fact, she's just a CIA employee, which is common knowledge. Setting aside the notion of illegality, Wilson also maintains that Rove's remarks about Plame were thoroughly improper. I don't see how that's the case. Rove can't be castigated for pointing out the truth: It wasn't Vice President Cheney who sent Wilson on the mission in question. And it was already a widespread story among journalists that Valerie Plame used her CIA clout to help her husband obtain the overseas assignment to Niger, Africa. It seems to me that, if anything, Plame should have her actions assessed by the CIA. Unless, of course, its standard practice for CIA employees to advocate on behalf of family members who are seeking work on secret missions abroad. Frankly, that would be unfathomable.

In any event, Wilson appears to be a dedicated Democrat who supported John Kerry for the presidency. And just this past week, Wilson held a joint press conference with Senator Chuck Schumer who is notorious for his deeply partisan and divisive Leftist tactics. Wilson's alignment with Schumer sends up all kinds of red flags and raises significant questions: Before leaving for the mission in Africa, was Wilson already patently biased against the Bush administration and its views on the Iraqi rogue regime? Was Wilson truly open to the possibility that Saddam's regime might be interested in acquiring nuclear materials with a view toward the eventual ending of inspections? Lastly, Wilson was in Niger for a relatively brief period, clearly too short a timeframe to make a proper evaluation. I would think little credence should be given to Wilson's conclusions based on that limitation alone.

Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.

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