In May, former CIA employee Valerie Plame, the woman at the heart of the CIA leak investigation, agreed to write her memoirs for Crown Publishing for a reported $2.5 million.
The book was scheduled to come out in fall 2007 and was to be titled Fair Game.
Everything seemed set. And then the deal fell through. A Crown spokesman told The New York Times that the company and Plame “had a difference of opinion on some of the contract terms.” Nobody offered any details.
Weeks later, in mid-July, Plame reached another agreement with another publisher, Simon & Schuster. This deal was said to be in the seven-figure range, but it’s not clear whether it is more or less than what Plame was going to receive from Crown.
Don’t bet on more. From all appearances, the value of Plame’s story is falling, not rising.
One June 13, after Plame lost the deal with Crown and before she had a deal with Simon & Schuster, word got out that CIA leak prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald had decided not to indict Karl Rove. That decision dealt a major blow to the premise of the proposed book: that Plame was the target of a nefarious conspiracy that reached to the very highest levels of the U.S. government, a conspiracy to reveal her CIA status as punishment for her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, for his criticism of the Bush case for the Iraq war.
To keep interest in the CIA leak case alive, Plame and Wilson need to push the nefarious conspiracy theory. But now it’s becoming more and more clear that there simply was no conspiracy, nefarious or otherwise.
First, Rove wasn’t indicted. And now columnist Robert Novak, who first revealed Plame’s identity, has told how he learned about her.
Novak — who still refuses to identify the source who first told him about Plame — has always said that source was not a “partisan gunslinger.” Novak says he was interviewing the source about a number of topics, including Joseph Wilson, who was in the news at the time.
“I said: ‘Why would they send Joe Wilson to Niger? He’s not CIA?’ …” Novak told Fox News’ Brit Hume recently. “He is not anybody who knows Niger that well. He served there a long time ago.”
At that point, according to Novak, the source “said [Wilson’s] wife worked in the Office of Nuclear Proliferation in CIA and she suggested [Wilson] go.”
“And that was it?” asked Hume.
“That was it,” said Novak.
Novak said he later called Rove and told him about what he had learned, and Rove said, “Oh, you know that, too.” Then Novak called up the CIA and checked out Plame’s status.
So the question is: What’s wrong with that?
The administration sends a man on an important fact-finding mission. The man later turns out to be a vociferous public critic of the administration. And journalists, politicos and other observers ask, well, why did they pick him for the mission?
It was — and is — a reasonable question.
The problem, for Plame and Wilson, is that that just doesn’t support any conspiracy theories.
So what about the book? What about Joseph Wilson’s speaking appearances? How to keep interest in the flagging CIA leak case alive?
Well — how about a lawsuit? Yeah, that’s the ticket.
So now we have “VALERIE PLAME WILSON and JOSEPH C. WILSON IV, Plaintiffs, v. I. LEWIS (a/k/a ‘SCOOTER’) LIBBY JR., KARL C. ROVE, RICHARD B. CHENEY AND JOHN DOES NO. 1-10,” filed recently by Mr. and Mrs. Wilson in federal court.
It charges that there was a “conspiracy among current and former high-level officials in the White House … to violate the constitutional and other legal rights of Valerie Plame Wilson and her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV.”
But a conspiracy to what?
Why, it was a conspiracy “to punish Mr. Wilson for his public statements regarding assertions by the President of the United States in the 2003 State of the Union address that he used to justify the war against Iraq.”
“As their chief method of punishment, the White House officials destroyed Mrs. Wilson’s cover by revealing her classified employment with the CIA to reporters prior to and after July 14, 2003, the date on which a newspaper column by Robert Novak made public that employment.”
Now, at this point, it is useful to consider who Novak’s source might have been. He has never been identified publicly, but everyone believes he is former State Department official Richard Armitage. And one thing to know about Armitage is that he was about as far from the Cheney camp as a Bush administration official could be.
So to believe Plame and Wilson you have to believe that Armitage, acting on orders from Cheney/Rove/Libby, granted Novak an interview, maneuvered the topic to Joseph Wilson and then set the nefarious conspiracy in motion.
And if you believe that, Valerie Plame has a book she’d like to sell you.
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