Okay, can we finally get rid of one of the Libby Lobby’s key talking points–that Valerie Plame Wilson was not an undercover CIA employee? This should be one outcome of the House oversight and government reform committee hearing on Friday, at which Valerie Wilson spoke for the first time at length about the leak case.
From the start of this scandal, confederates of the Bush White House (and backers of the war) have tried to diminish the significance of the administration leak that outed her as a CIA officer (as both legal and national security matters). Conservatives insisted she was not a clandestine officer doing anything important and that her employment at the CIA was either no big secret or no secret at all. A brief sampling:
* On September 29, 2003, former Republican Party spokesman Clifford May wrote that the July 14, 2003 Robert Novak column that disclosed Valerie Wilson’s CIA connection “wasn’t news to me. I had been told that–but not by anyone working in the White House. Rather, I learned it from someone who formerly worked in the government and he mentioned it in an offhand manner, leading me to infer it was something that insiders were well aware of.”
* On September 30, 2003, National Review writer Jonah Goldberg huffed, “Wilson’s wife is a desk jockey and much of the Washington cocktail circuit knew that already.”
* On October 1, 2003, Novak wrote, “How big a secret was it? It was well known around Washington that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA….[A]n unofficial source at the agency says she has been an analyst, not in covert operations.”
* On July 17, 2005, Republican Representative Roy Blunt, then the House majority leader, said on Face the Nation, “This was a job that the ambassador’s wife had that she went to every day. It was a desk job. I think many people in Washington understood that her employment was at the CIA, and she went to that office every day.”
* On February 18, 2007, as the Libby trial was under way, Republican lawyer/operative Victoria Toensing asserted in The Washington Post, “Plame was not covert.”
Anyone who has read Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, by Michael Isikoff and me, would know (as we disclosed for the first time) that Valerie Wilson was the undercover operations chief for the Joint Task Force on Iraq of the Counterproliferation Division, a unit of the agency’s clandestine operations directorate. (See my piece, “What Valerie Plame Really Did at the CIA,” here.) Both the book and the article reported that she had traveled overseas–undercover–within the five years before her name appeared in the Novak column.