Sunday, July 31, 2005

What are we to make of the latest treasongate news?


As the investigation tightens into the leak of the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, sources tell TIME some White House officials may have learned she was married to former ambassador Joseph Wilson weeks before his July 6, 2003, Op-Ed piece criticizing the Administration. That prospect increases the chances that White House official Karl Rove and others learned about Plame from within the Administration rather than from media contacts. Rove has told investigators he believes he learned of her directly or indirectly from reporters, according to his lawyer.

The previously undisclosed fact gathering began in the first week of June 2003 at the CIA, when its public-affairs office received an inquiry about Wilson's trip to Africa from veteran Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus. That office then contacted Plame's unit, which had sent Wilson to Niger, but stopped short of drafting an internal report. The same week, Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman asked for and received a memo on the Wilson trip from Carl Ford, head of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Sources familiar with the memo, which disclosed Plame's relationship to Wilson, say Secretary of State Colin Powell read it in mid-June.


A recurring theme in many of the conversations and e-mails is how Judy, to the dismay of many of her colleagues, never played by the same rules and standards as other reporters. One source e-mailed to give me some examples of this pattern: "In Feb 2003, Judy was in Salahuddin covering the Iraqi opposition conclave. Iraqi National Congress spokesperson Zaab Sethna told a reporter who was also there that Judy was staying with Chalabi's group in Salahuddin (the rest of the reporters had to stay 30 minutes away in crappy hotels in Irbil), and that the I.N.C. had provided her with a car and a translator (Did the New York Times reimburse them?). The I.N.C. offered another reporter the same, but he turned it down. Judy had just arrived in a bus convoy from Turkey, big footing C.J. Chivers, who was also there covering the story for the Times. While everyone else on the buses had to scramble for accommodations, she was staying in a luxurious villa loaned to the I.N.C. by the Kurdish Democratic Party...

"Two years earlier, she was on assignment in Paris for the Times and conducted her reporting out of the ambassador's personal residence, where she was staying. Felix Rohatyn, the ambassador at the time, was out of town, but it would be interesting to know whether the Times reimbursed U.S. taxpayers for the use of the embassy while she was there on assignment. What is certain is that the Paris bureau was buzzing about this at the time, as getting too close to sources or accepting hospitality -- accommodations, meals -- is a violation of the Times's ethical standards. The feeling was that somehow Judy was able to do whatever she wanted."

For those interested in visiting Judy at the Alexandria Detention Center, one source emailed that Miller's visiting hours "are fully booked until September 15."

Curioser and curioser...

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