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July 25, 2004

Joe Wilson, Novak, State, CIA, Clinton

Here are some more tidbits from Joe Wilson's book, The Politics of Truth. These pertain to the Plame-Wilson scandal more directly than my earlier excerpts on Joe Wilson's background.

First, on the question of who leaked Plame's name to Novak we hear on page 345 (I deleted the page number by accident--it is 3 hundred something):

[Of Novak] "He cited not a CIA source, as he had indicated on the phone four days earlier, but rather two senior administration officials."

I wonder if Novak's source really was someone in the CIA. If I were working on such a story, I'd call up my CIA contacts before my White House contacts. But I wouldn't use attribute the leak to the CIA in my story-- I'd say (truthfully) that it was a government official. Maybe "senior administration official" is a term of art among Washington journalists, and it isn't suppose to refer to senior CIA officials. But maybe Novak was just telling a white lie to protect his real source.

I have commented before on how strange it is that the CIA would commission Wilson for the Niger mission, when he would obviously sabotage Administration policy. From what Wilson says, it seems the State Department-- another bureaucracy unhappy with Vice-President Cheney and the hardline crowd-- was in on the mission. On page 17, Wilson says he went and told Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Walter Kansteiner about his Niger trip before he left, and Kansteiner approved it and gave him a little help.

There are some interesting bits on Wilson and Plame that I hadn't heard about before. Page 240 says that the reception at which he met Valerie Plame at the Turkish Embassy was where he and a general were accepting an award from the "American Turkish Council" on behalf of the European Command. His adultery is confirmed (he was still married to wife number two, though she gets very little mention in the book. On page 242 he reports of Valerie Plame," 'Ladies don't date married men,' she announced firmly as I tried to hold her hand," but her qualms didn't seem to last even a few months. "Soon after our return to Washington, we decided to move in together." I guess that doesn't count as dating. Something very surprising was, we learn on page 278, that Valerie "suffered a bout of postpartum depression". That is very serious stuff-- often more accurately termed "psychosis" than "depression". Sometimes such mothers even kill their children, or never recover. What are the implications of a psychotic CIA employee specializing in weapons of mass destruction?

Finally, on page 240 Wilson relates a weird story about how President Clinton worked a crossword puzzle while Wilson briefed him before a meeting with the President of Mali, "But when his African guest arrived, Clinton was brilliant. He demonstrated an understanding of Mali and a keen interest in his visitor and the issues being raised; it was virtuoso performance." It's not the doing something else while fatuous bureaucrat briefs you that surprises me, but that Clinton was doing a crossword puzzle rather than reading other papers or watching a computer screen. He wouldn't have been intending to insult Wilson; it is hard to imagine that a crossword puzzle is relaxing if you're doing it while being briefed on Mali; he wasn't doing it under a deadline. So why was he doing it? I guess Wilson was lucky Clinton only had a newspaper present instead of an intern.

Posted by erasmuse at July 25, 2004 10:43 PM

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