Tuesday, August 02, 2005
The CIA field manual's missing rule: For those of you aspiring secret agents, today's New York Times provides us with a rule that is key to keeping your covert identity secure: Don't let your politically minded spouse list your name in his/her Who's Who listing.
One of the most puzzling aspects of the C.I.A. leak case has had to do with the name of the exposed officer. Why did the syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak identify her as Valerie Plame in exposing her link to the C.I.A. in July 2003 when she had been known for years both at the agency and in her personal life by her married name, Valerie Wilson?
Mr. Novak offered a possible explanation for the disconnect on Monday, suggesting in his column that he could have obtained Ms. Wilson's maiden name from the directory Who's Who in America, which used that name in identifying her as the wife of Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador.
Mr. Novak did not explicitly cite the directory as his source. Nor was this his first public reference to the Who's Who listing. In a column in October 2003, three months after he had first disclosed Ms. Wilson's name and her role, Mr. Novak cited the published listing as evidence that Ms. Wilson's identity was "no secret."
But in drawing renewed attention to the published listing, Mr. Novak seemed to suggest more directly than ever before that the scrutiny that has focused on which of his sources provided him the name might have been misplaced, and that he might well have figured it out by himself.
Journalists may do dumb things, but they're not complete idiots. Statistics may give them trouble, but they're often able to put two and two together.
The Times' John Tierney was right -- this is “nadagate.”