August 1, 2005


Correcting the CIA (Robert Novak, August 1, 2005, Townhall)

In the course of a front-page story in last Wednesday's Washington Post, Walter Pincus and Jim VandeHei quoted ex-CIA spokesman Bill Harlow describing his testimony to the grand jury. In response to my question about Valerie Plame Wilson's role in former Amb. Wilson's trip to Niger, Harlow told me she "had not authorized the mission." Harlow was quoted as later saying to me "the story Novak had related to him was wrong."

This gave the impression I ignored an official's statement that I had the facts wrong but wrote it anyway for the sake of publishing the story. That would be inexcusable for any journalist and particularly a veteran of 48 years in Washington. The truth is otherwise, and that is why I feel compelled to write this column.

My column of July 14, 2003, asked why the CIA in 2002 sent Wilson, a critic of President Bush, to Niger to investigate an Italian intelligence report of attempted Iraqi uranium purchases. All the subsequent furor was caused by three sentences in the sixth paragraph:

"Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me that Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report. The CIA [Harlow] says its counter-proliferation officials selected Wilson and asked his wife to contact him."

There never was any question of me talking about Mrs. Wilson "authorizing." I was told she "suggested" the mission, and that is what I asked Harlow. His denial was contradicted in July 2004 by a unanimous Senate Intelligence Committee report. The report said Wilson's wife "suggested his name for the trip." It cited an internal CIA memo from her saying "my husband has good relations" with officials in Niger and "lots of French contacts," adding they "could possibly shed light on this sort of activity." A State Department analyst told the committee that Mrs. Wilson "had the idea" of sending Wilson to Africa.

So, what was "wrong" with my column as Harlow claimed? There was nothing incorrect.

You can tell the whole Yellowcake affair was a clandestine CIA operation aimed at subverting a government (ours in this case) because of the way it's blown up in their own faces.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 1, 2005 9:06 AM

The noose is tightening, and not around the media's usual suspects. In this case, the real leakers and the gossipers are going to get stung.

Posted by: ratbert at August 1, 2005 9:38 AM

Unfortunately Ratbert it will just fade from the screen.

Posted by: Genecis at August 1, 2005 11:21 AM

If the real leakers and gossipers are the darlings of the msm, it will just fade from their screen, but it's up to us to make sure we don't let up until everything is exposed and those who have committed criminal acts go to jail.

Dare I hope?

Posted by: erp at August 1, 2005 11:51 AM

i don't know, gwb seems pretty intent on solving the mess at the cia and kicking out the problem people. don't be surprised if one or more people there end up being indicted. i see a judo move coming up whereby the attempt to subvert the administration is used against the people trying it.

Posted by: cjm at August 1, 2005 1:12 PM

Novak, for one, will tell the whole story once the grand jury is history. It won't be pretty, and he won't hold back (he isn't called the Dark Force for nothing). He's close to 70, and probably doesn't care whose ox he gores.

If Judy Miller and the NYT (and the Post and its minions) think they can spin this one away, they are wrong.

Posted by: jim hamlen at August 1, 2005 1:13 PM

Orrin, how does this evidence the CIA ignored evidence there was no nuclear program fit in to your theory that the CIA conspired to establish that there was no nuclear program?

Posted by: Rick Perlstein at August 1, 2005 7:12 PM

So it was Powell, wasn't it?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at August 1, 2005 7:32 PM


Tenent was tasked to find evidence of WMD so Powell and Blair would have the pretext they required. The careerists oposed the war so they tried undercutting Bush. Bush got rid of all of them after the election.

Posted by: oj at August 1, 2005 8:53 PM