Saturday, July 16, 2005

PLAME WATCH One wrinkle of the Plame story has always been of special interest to me. And while it speaks directly to the current discussion of the saga, it's been overlooked in recent days.

It arises from this Washington Post article, which ran September 28, 2003:

Yesterday, a senior administration official said that before Novak's column ran, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife.


"Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge," the senior official said of the alleged leak.


It is rare for one Bush administration official to turn on another. Asked about the motive for describing the leaks, the senior official said the leaks were "wrong and a huge miscalculation, because they were irrelevant and did nothing to diminish Wilson's credibility."
Two points.

1. This (rebellious) official is clearly describing--from within the Bush administration--a carefully coordinated effort rather than accidental, inadvertent White House involvement.

Rove may not have been one of the two "top White House officials" to which Mike Allen and Dana Priest's source is referring. But the source clearly refutes the idea that this was anything other than a deliberate, White House-orchestrated abuse of power.

2. Just who was this "administration official"? To the best of my knowledge, we haven't heard from him (her?) since. And while back in 2003, Josh Marshall went out on a limb with some informed speculation about why it might be George Tenet, no one seems to have come anywhere near nailing this down.

Does Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald know? Have Allen or Priest been called before the Plame grand jury? I can't find any reporting suggesting they have, although a Chicago Tribune story from March 5, 2004 suggests Fitzgerald issued subpoenas for records of all White House contacts with both reporters.

But it's hard to understand why Fitzgerald would send Judy Miller off to prison and not even try to talk to reporters who got an administration official to blow the whistle on the White House's bad behavior.


CONTRAPOSITIVE is edited by Dan Aibel. Dan's a playwright. He lives in New York City.