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Right wing pundits unapologetic in face of Plame 'covert' revelation
Nick Juliano
Published: Wednesday May 30, 2007
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A newly disclosed court filing from special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald reveals that former CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson was indeed a covert agent who had traveled overseas undercover when her identity was revealed by columnist Bob Novak.

But pundits on the right continue to defend Novak and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who was convicted of perjury in the leak investigation, dismissing Plame's covert status and rehashing allegations that she improperly suggested husband Ambassador Joe Wilson's trip to Niger that undercut the Bush administration's pre-war assertions about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction.

"Like the shape-shifting T-1000 cyborg in Terminator 2, Patrick Fitzgerald's claim that Valerie Plame was a covert agent, and that therefore Scooter Libby deserves a harsh sentence for supposedly outing her, not only won't die a proper death due to lack of proof, it keeps mutating into new forms," writes Al Johnson on conservative blog the American Thinker.

Salon blogger Glen Greenwald outlines more than a dozen instances of Republican pundits insisting prior to Friday's court filing that Plame was not a covert agent. Even White House spokesman Tony Snow told Fox News host Bill O'Reilly in February, "She wasn't a covert agent."

Meanwhile, a Republican senator inserted into a report last week on pre-war intelligence allegations that Plame lied in her testimony before congressional committees regarding Wilson's trip to Niger.

According to Fitzgerald's filing, Plame traveled "sometimes in true name and sometimes in alias -- but always using cover -- whether official or non-official (NOC) -- with no ostensible relationship to the CIA."

Blog headingright.com responded to the revelation that Plame traveled overseas "always using cover" in the years prior to her outing with a, la-la-la-I-can't-hear-you.

"What you see her (sic) is a complete broadside fabrication from the rogues and nothing more," a poster wrote on the blog.

The main point of contention seems to be that Plame sometimes traveled using her own name and identified herself as a government official if not a CIA agent, although conservative pundits seem to ignore that she also used "non-official cover" during some of her travels, during which she would be seen to have no ostensible relationship with the CIA.

"Either way you look at it she was not a covert agent covered by the Intelligence identities Protection Act of 1982," read a post on conservative blog Flopping Aces. "This is why ole Fitz' never brought any charges against the leaker of her name."

Plame's name was revealed in a July 14, 2003 column by Novak, which occurred after her husband published an op-ed in the New York Times that called President Bush's assertion in his State of the Union address that year that Saddam Hussein was seeking uranium from Africa untrue.

Commentator Ed Morrissey, writing on his blog Captain's Quarters, used the new revelation to criticize George Tenet's tenure at the CIA.

"So now we have confirmation that Plame did get her cover blown. I suppose the only reason that Fitzgerald didn't bother to indict Richard Armitage for the crime was that it would have meant explaining how the CIA tried to hide its NOC asset in plain sight," Morrissey wrote, referring to the former deputy Secretrary of State who was eventually revealed to be Novak's original source.

Conservatives have tried to undercut that assertion by insisting that Plame simply sent her husband on a "junket" to Africa, despite the contacts he built as an ambassador on the continent.

Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., attached to a Senate intelligence report released last week a memo he said proved Plame recommended her husband for the trip, undercutting her assertion she had nothing to do with arranging the trip.

Bond told USA Today the memo "doesn't square" with her testimony that an unnamed CIA colleague raised her husband's name.

The memo from Plame reads, in part, "As you may recall [redacted] of CP/[office2] recently [2001] approached my husband to possibly use his contacts in Niger to investigate [a separate Niger matter] ... My husband is willing to help if it makes sense, but no problem if not, end of story."

Plame's attorney told USA Today that Plame was not responsible for Wilson's trip. Bond's report, the attorney said, is an attempt to draw attention from the "real wrong here -- a White House that outed a covert operative and undermined national security."