Man Without Qualities

Friday, July 29, 2005

Valerie And Judith And Arianna

Mickey Kaus notes Arianna Huffington's fleshing out of the Judy's-the-source theory, which proceeds in part:
It's July 6, 2003, and Joe Wilson's now famous op-ed piece appears in the Times ... Miller ... goes ballistic. ... So she calls her friends in the intelligence community and asks, Who is this guy? She finds out he's married to a CIA agent. She then passes on the info about Mrs. Wilson to Scooter Libby (Newsday has identified a meeting Miller had on July 8 in Washington with an "unnamed government official"). Maybe Miller tells Rove too -- or Libby does. The White House hatchet men turn around and tell Novak and Cooper. The story gets out. This is why Miller doesn't want to reveal her "source" at the White House -- because she was the source.
Whoa! Stop right there Ms. Huffington, right with that breathless hypothesis that Judith Miller found out Joe Wilson is married to a CIA agent from one of Ms. Miller's friends in the intelligence community.Really? How likely is that if Ms. Plame was a covert agent? Are people in the "intelligence community" prone to handing out each other's names to reporters - even when those names are attached to clandestine operatives? Of course not! Even aggressive, uber-political White House operatives know it's not right to reveal a CIA agent's name to a reporter unless the operative knows that the "revealed" name and agency affiliation are already public ... when the operative has heard them from another reporter, for example. Are we now supposed to believe that Ms. Miller's friends in the intelligence community thought it was just fine to "out" Valerie's position to Ms. Miller even if Valerie's name and/or CIA position were secret? Such a casual "revelation" is consistent with the conclusion that Valerie Plame was simply not a covert agent - a conclusion that seems more and more likely on many counts.

Mickey suggests that maybe Judith "had no 'source' as such, but directly observed Plame's CIA activities in the course of her previous reporting on WMD. For example, if she interviewed Plame." But one doesn't "directly observe" an agent's "CIA activities" by interviewing the agent. One directly observes an agent only where one trails the agent and bugs her living and work spaces. Judith didn't do that to Valerie. If Judith obtained her information by interviewing Valerie then Valerie must have told Judith about Valerie's activities - a very likely thing that was suggested by the Man Without Qualities all the way back on July 16.

But, more broadly, isn't it more than a little absurd to deny that Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame probably worked in concert? Like husband and wife. Judith's "source" could just as easily have been Joe Wilson himself. But, as I have noted before, it is unlikley that Mr. Wilson would be so revealing of his wife's position without her specific, prior approval.

And here's one additional item worth thinking about: If Mr./Mrs. Wilson really are Judith's source, and the Wilsons really do think that the White House actually "disclosed" Mrs. Wilson's clandestine position to the public (that seems to be Mr. Wilson's public position), then doesn't that imply that Mr./Mrs. Wilson don't think that mere disclosure to Judith constituted disclosure to the public. Yet, the concensus seems to be that Messrs. Rove and/or Libby were entitled to deem "public knowledge" any information obtained from any reporter - including Ms. Miller. These appraoches are obviously not consistent.

Suppose Mr./Mrs. Wilson is Judith's source and that Judith is the Rove/Libby source. But suppose further that Ms. Miller actually told Rove/Libby that the information she was disclosing had been obtained from confidential sources in violation of federal law. Would Rove/Libby still be off the hook just because they obtained the information they disclosed to the public from "another reporter" - that is, Judith? Just asking!

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