Newsweek reported, this past weekend, that it had obtained copies of email messages from Time reporter Mathew Cooper that indicated that President Bush’s political guru and chief hatchet man, Karl Rove, perhaps in a felonious act, revealed to him that former ambassador Joseph Wilson’s wife was a CIA “operative”, as she was characterized in a column by Robert Novak. It is a felony, subject to several statutory stipulations, to reveal the identity of intelligence “operatives”.
As you will recall, during the Bush administration’s sale of the Iraq war to the U. S. public, various administration officials cited reports of Iraqi attempts to secure uranium from Niger as one justification for the invasion. The allegation was based upon documents provided to an Italian journalist, who provided them to U. S. officials. The Italian journalist and U. S. officials promptly determined that the documents were forgeries containing a number of obvious defects.
During this time the CIA contacted former ambassador and career diplomat Joseph Wilson, who had been stationed in Africa; and, according to Wilson, asked him to travel to Niger to investigate the allegation of Iraqi attempts to secure uranium there. Mr. Wilson has indicated that he came under the impression that Vice-president Cheney had asked for the investigation of the Niger documents. Mr. Wilson traveled to Niger and in short order determined that there was no evidence of Iraqi attempts to obtain uranium there. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also weighed in with the judgment that Niger’s uranium mining and marketing program was in full compliance with IAEA requirements.
After Bush administration officials, including Director of National Security Rice, continued to cite Iraqi attempts to secure Niger uranium as justification for war Mr. Wilson published a commentary in the New York Times putting the lie to the Administration’s Niger uranium story.
Subsequent to the appearance of Mr. Wilson’s commentary, columnist Robert Novak reported that he had been informed by “senior administration officials” that Wilson’s wife, Valarie Plame, was a CIA “operative”; and that it was she who had suggested to CIA officials that her husband be retained to investigate the Niger uranium report. Subsequent to the Novak column a number of other journalists reported the story.
During the ensuing two years the White House has repeatedly and categorically, denied that Karl Rove, or two other suspected White House officials (“Scooter” Libby and Cheney), ever revealed Plame’s identity.
What the Cooper emails indicate, is that the Bush administration has been lying to the public about the whole Plame affair. I’m shocked.
This story has many interesting facets, from the seeming obliviousness of the President; to the absolute, and well recognized, venality of Karl Rove; and what of New York Times reporter Judith Miller, who has been jailed for contempt in refusing to reveal a source for information of the Plame affair, even though she never published a story of the matter?
I will follow up in a future post with a discussion of Miller’s role in this drama, and her role in selling the Iraq adventure to the U.S. public. I think that eventually we will learn that it was Miller who revealed Plame’s identity to Rove et al and Rove passed it on to his media lapdogs.
For now, the Bush administration has been caught in another lie, this one used in an attempt to cover up the potentially felonious act of the President’s top advisor. Will Bush be held to account for the lying? Will Karl Rove be “frog marched” out of the White House, as Joseph Wilson predicted two years ago? Will Judith Miller be identified as she who outed Ms. Plame? Stay tuned.
The media, having been repeatedly lied to by the White House, seems to have awakened from its years long slumber by the smell of blood in the water; and I don’t expect it will let the story go.