I’m no Bob Novak.
The conservative columnist, it seems, receives different treatment from the CIA than yours truly. After senior administration officials told him in July that former ambassador Joseph Wilson’s wife was a CIA officer working in the field of counterproliferation–this was the leak that launched the current scandal–he called the CIA for confirmation. According to Novak, a CIA official was “designated to talk” to him. This official, in Novak’s telling, denied that Valerie Wilson (nee Plame) had “inspired” Joseph Wilson’s selection for a mission to Niger to check out allegations that Iraq had been uranium-shopping there. But this CIA person informed Novak that Valerie Wilson had been asked to solicit her husband’s help. The “designated” CIA official, Novak reports, asked that Novak not use Wilson/Plame’s name, saying she probably would not be given another overseas assignment but that exposure could cause “difficulties” if she traveled abroad. Novak claims the official never stated that Wilson’s wife or anyone else would be endangered. So he named her in a July 14 column and damaged her career and aided what might have been a White House attempt to punish or discredit Joseph Wilson–an effort that possibly undermined national security and possibly violated federal law.
Compare this to my experience with the CIA. After I learned from reliable sources the identity of a current National Security Council staffer who once worked with Valerie Wilson at the CIA in weapons counterproliferation, I wondered whether I should make the name of this person public, and I contacted the CIA.
This NSC staffer might–I emphasize, might–play a role in the Wilson leak scandal. I know of no reason to suspect he or she is one of the leakers. (A recent Newsweek story referred to this NSCer, but it did not name the staffer.) But perhaps this individual–whom I was told is a CIA officer assigned to the NSC–mentioned Valerie Wilson’s CIA connection to one or more White House colleagues during the period in which Joseph Wilson was causing the White House discomfort. (Wilson primarily did that by publicly disclosing that the Niger allegation was probably not true and by charging that the White House had reason to be suspicious of the claim.) Consequently, investigators probing the Wilson leak ought to ask this NSC officer–if they have not already done so–whether he or she talked about Valerie Wilson with anyone in the White House? If the Justice Department investigators can figure out how individuals in the White House came to know about Wilson’s wife (if they did), then the gumshoes might be able to find a trail leading to the leakers.