Many have wondered what was the purpose of the “Who’s Who In America” sitting on the desk in yesterday’s Robert Novak walk-off incident on CNN’s Inside Politics.
In a column that ran in the Sun-Times on Monday, Novak suggested he learned Plame’s identity partly from reading Who’s Who in America. A CNN source said a producer had placed a copy of Who’s Who on the set Thursday prior to the taping, apparently so it could be consulted while Novak was asked about the issue.
So what would they have found?
Here’s what’s inside the book siting on that desk…
Melvin Schuetz from Baylor’s Moody Library forwarded Joseph Wilson’s bio from the 2003 edition of Who’s Who in America [Volume 2 (L-Z)]. He notes:
- Wilson’s entry carries over about 5 lines to the next column, which is why it cuts off in mid-sentence at the end. The relevant text is “m. Valerie Elise Plame, Apr. 3, 1998,” which not only appears in the 2003 edition, but ALL editions from 1999-2005!
So, via Who’s Who, the name “Valerie Plame” has been associated publicly with Joe Wilson since the Clinton era – nice secret… ***
Update: For the commenters and blogs tracking back saying variation of, “Plame’s identity was never a secret,” (a point I address below at the ***) this post originally related back to what the book was doing on the table [See yesterday’s post on the Novak meltdown]. Was it supposed to scare Novak? Given the content of the book why would it? It says what he said it said…
Update 2: More on Novak and Plame later, but perhaps the raging debate in the comment section can dissect what effect, if any, Novak’s piece would have had if he used Valerie Wilson instead of Valerie Plame? Also do you think Novak, on hearing of the wife’s involvement got her name from Who’s Who and stuck with it OR found the Who’s Who reference to backup his source(s)?
*** Evidently one cannot even make a snarky remark about the Plame affair without having to explain oneself ad nauseum. OK here goes…
I’m over generalizing here, but it seem like there wasn’t an outing of an agent until two non-secret bits of information were combined.Joseph Wilson’s wife’s maiden name, most would now agree, was not a secret. That Wilson worked at the CIA was not widely known, but it was hardly a secret [See Cliff May at NRO and Just One Minute]. That Wilson’s wife was (or had been) a covert operative was only known to (if reports are to be believed) the Cuban government and perhaps those receiving information form Aldrich Ames, but it was still a secret. Novak puts two pieces of non-secret information together and gets this flashpoint.
But how did that combination “out” a covert agent? I turns out the the Valerie Plame name (remember, according to many commenters her name’s no big deal) was her cover. If her cover name was Valerie Jones how exactly would Novak’s column as it was written have “outed” her? It’s wouldn’t have. As former federal prosecutor Joesph DiGenoa contends it sure looks like the CIA didn’t exactly bust a nut to “take every conceivable step to protect this person’s identity.”