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Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Diplomat Joseph Wilson has certainly embarrassed the Bush administration with his revelations about the Niger "urain'tium" deal, and it looks like they may have gone in for a bit of payback courtesy of Bob Novak:

Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report. The CIA says its counter-proliferation officials selected Wilson and asked his wife to contact him. "I will not answer any question about my wife," Wilson told me.

Now the only thing really noteworthy about this is that Plame was apparently an undercover Agency operative. When asked about it, Wilson would neither confirm nor deny that his wife--who is the mother of three-year-old twins--works for the CIA. But let's assume she does. That would seem to mean that the Bush administration has screwed one of its own top-secret operatives in order to punish Wilson or to send a message to others who might challenge it.

Now I don't know whether Wilson's wife works for the CIA or not. But she is known to friends as an energy analyst for a private firm. So if she isn't a CIA operative, someone in the administration has probably ruined her career and possibly put her life in jeopardy. If she is a CIA operative, well, Wilson said (without acknowledging that she is an operative), "Naming her this way would have compromised every operation, every relationship, every network with which she had been associated in her entire career. This is the stuff of Kim Philby and Aldrich Ames." It would also be a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, which carries potential penalties of a fine of up to $50,000 and/or up to ten years in prison.

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