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The Real Target of the Valerie Plame Leak: Valerie Plame

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It is well established fact that people inside the White House leaked the identity of Joe Wilson's wife to attack him for challenging the intelligence that justified the Iraq War. But what if the larger target of the leak was someone who was also challenging that intelligence -- from the inside? What if the real purpose of outing Valerie Plame was to out Valerie Plame?

We asked these questions of Joe Wilson when he came on our show a couple of months ago and he understandably said he couldn’t comment. He couldn’t comment because his wife worked at the CIA as a covert operative, possibly in the field of weapons intelligence. There is a chance she knew significantly more about the fixing of intelligence than her husband did.

If Valerie Plame was half as vocal inside the government as her husband was outside, there would be an excellent motive for the White House Iraq Group to get rid of her. Remember, there were dissenters inside the CIA on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program. If Plame was one of those dissenters, removing her from her position would come in awfully handy. Out her and throw her husband’s objectivity into question – kill two birds with one stone.

We don’t know how much of Plame’s work was about the Iraqi weapons programs. And we don’t know what she thought of the intelligence on Iraq. But if I were the prosecutor in this case – or the jury – I’d want to know if the people who outed Plame did so to prevent her doing further work on this topic, voicing further dissent within the government or acquiring more information.

If the co-conspirators in this case revealed Plame’s identity with the express purpose of blowing her cover, it would make their actions indisputably illegal.

One of the defenses of Rove and Libby is that they didn’t know Plame was a covert operative. This knowledge is necessary to prove the crime of revealing a covert agent’s identity. Their defense would be more plausible if their purpose was merely to damage Joe Wilson’s credibility by suggesting his wife at the CIA sent him on the trip to Niger. But if the purpose of the leak was to make sure Plame no longer worked at that position, then they certainly would have known that she was undercover and their specific intent would have been to blow that cover.

If I were running this investigation, I’d want to know – was Valerie Plame collateral damage or was she one of the intended targets?