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August 1, 2005
Gray Lady On Plame: Never Mind

The New York Times finally noticed in its wall-to-wall coverage of the Valerie Plame leak case that Plame hardly equated to the deep-cover agent her husband, Joseph Wilson, claimed her to be. Far from learning the name and occupation of Wilson's wife from a Deep Throat inside source at the White House, it turns out that all Robert Novak had to do was read a book:

One of the most puzzling aspects of the C.I.A. leak case has had to do with the name of the exposed officer. Why did the syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak identify her as Valerie Plame in exposing her link to the C.I.A. in July 2003 when she had been known for years both at the agency and in her personal life by her married name, Valerie Wilson?

Mr. Novak offered a possible explanation for the disconnect on Monday, suggesting in his column that he could have obtained Ms. Wilson's maiden name from the directory Who's Who in America, which used that name in identifying her as the wife of Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador.

Mr. Novak did not explicitly cite the directory as his source. Nor was this his first public reference to the Who's Who listing. In a column in October 2003, three months after he had first disclosed Ms. Wilson's name and her role, Mr. Novak cited the published listing as evidence that Ms. Wilson's identity was "no secret."

But in drawing renewed attention to the published listing, Mr. Novak seemed to suggest more directly than ever before that the scrutiny that has focused on which of his sources provided him the name might have been misplaced, and that he might well have figured it out by himself.

So let's get this straight. Ambassador Wilson has so much concern for his secret-agent wife's cover that he gets her listed under her maiden name in Who's Who In America as his spouse. Then, just to ensure that she remains as anonymous as possible, he starts leaking information on the secret trip she arranged for him at the CIA to investigate Saddam Hussein's attempts to make a deal in Niger. And just to make absolutely sure that no one figures out who Valerie Plame is, he goes public and writes an op-ed stating for the record that the CIA selected him for this assignment -- which raises eyebrows everywhere, since Wilson never worked for the CIA before.

Now I understand Wilson's rage when this carefully constructed curtain of secrecy fell to the ground, courtesy of Robert Novak.

This just caps an already-ridiculous meme, one started by the media and one which indicts no one but themselves. The media demanded to know who leaked Plame's name to Novak, but none of them wanted to reveal their inside sources to resolve the mystery. Now we know why. None of them can read a book or do their own research, except for Robert Novak -- which explains why Patrick Fitzgerald seems to have lost interest in him.

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers! No, I'm not vacationing in Sag Harbor with Mickey Kaus, but I'll bet he and I would be reading the same book if we were -- Who's Who seems to be a great journalistic guide to everyone the CIA wants to hide these days.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at August 1, 2005 11:16 PM

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The story that got the dogs tongues wagging initially, that someone leaked the identity of a covert CIA agent, turned in to the story where the dog was being wagged by the over salivating tongue of the press. [Read More]

Tracked on August 2, 2005 4:16 AM

» Novak: Diligent researcher? from Rodger A. Payne's Blog
Still wondering about the leak of Valerie Plame's identity? Right-leaning blogs are currently buzzing about a somewhat interesting NY Times report from today (August 2) by Anne E. Kornblut. [Read More]

Tracked on August 2, 2005 3:59 PM

» Rove Was On The Grassy Knoll, Update VII from Flopping Aces
The article is kinda silly actually since we know the Who's Who is not Novak's source by his own admission: [Read More]

Tracked on August 2, 2005 9:09 PM

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