Thursday, November 24, 2005

Outing Plame? or Outing Brewster Jennings?

* further to my post yesterday where i again argue that it doesnt make sense that Plame was outed to undermine Joe Wilson's Niger argument, David Fiderer (in the process of slamming andrea mitchell) makes an obvious, yet highly relevant, point:
"Wilson's allegation that the "uranium from Africa" intelligence was flimsy had been conceded by the White House on July 7, 2003, the day after Wilson's op-ed piece. After the White House concession, Wilson's motivations and credibility were virtually irrelevant. Bob Novak's column wasn't making a substantive point, only a bitchy insinuation..."
I'm not sure that we have any evidence that the the disclosure was 'only a bitchy insinuation' - but his main point is very significant. The WhiteHouse had already agreed to pull the SOTU claim. It could be argued that they decided to pull it because the the documents had been proved to be forgeries at this point, which was separate to Wilson's claim that he didnt find anything in Niger 18 months earlier - but given that the retraction came the day after Wilson's op-ed, it's apparent that there was some connection between the two events.

Separately, Murray Waas' recent post on the Sep21 PDB which said that there was no AlQaeda / Saddam connection also says:
"The Plame affair was not so much a reflection of any personal animus toward Wilson or Plame, says one former senior administration official who knows most of the principals involved, but rather the direct result of long-standing antipathy toward the CIA by Cheney, Libby, and others involved. They viewed Wilson's outspoken criticism of the Bush administration as an indirect attack by the spy agency."
This possible motive has been lurking in the background since almost the beginning, but it seems to have largely been drowned out long ago and the Conventional Wisdom that the attack was an attempt to undermine Wilson's case seems to have stuck - almost without exception. I wonder whether Fitzgerald has bought into this lie?

The key to this idea that the outing of Plame was a 'shot across the bow' of the CIA is that, if this is true, then it must also be true that they knew they were outing BrewsterJennings in the process. Remember, they had been investigating Plame for at least 2 months by the time of Novaks first column- and apparently the only 'dirt' they found was Plame's CIA status.

The official outing of Brewster Jennings by novak occured on October 4 - although he partially did it at an earlier time on CNN - although i cant find the date. The outing in print occured a week after the CIA referred the case to the DoJ.

At a minimum, if the outing of Plame was a 'shot across the bow' - then the leakers must have known that Plame was undercover, and not a deskjockey - otherwise they were just shooting blanks. And if they knew that she was undercover, and they had been investigating her for 2 months, then they surely would have known that she was working for BrewsterJennings *and* that she was working on WMD and counter-proliferation, and they must surely have known that outing her "would have compromised every operation, every relationship, every network with which she had been associated her entire career, " as David Corn realised immediately.

again, up till the CIA referral, i'm not sure whether the consensus was that the Plame outing was to undermine Wilson, but in that Sep29 WaPo frontpage, the spin, apparently from Grossman, was that the leak was:
"wrong and a huge miscalculation, because they were irrelevant and did nothing to diminish Wilson's credibility... Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge."
and that narrative has basically stuck with us ever since! Do you buy it?


Anonymous said...

Fascinating... the negation of the Brewster Jennings ops to keep tabs on "illegal" WMD tech transfer globally from X to Y... (allies to friends of allies, or enemies to friends of enemies or some other combo perhaps?) might be an Administration vs. CIA situation. Could it be that we would want to tacitly facilitate or at least look the other way to let some entity receive WMD enabling technologoes all the while saying we are doing things to stops just such tech transfers?

lukery said...

good question. i'm leaning toward a more nefarious explanation - that some of the criminal arms merchants have bribed (or otherwise coerced) the relevant people in the administration, and that those officials pulled the plug on BrewsterJennings in order to protect their own financial interests...