the blog of DC Drinking Liberally

July 27, 2005

Bill Harlow, Watch Your Back


Today’s Washington Post has yet more confirmation that Valerie Plame was covert, this time from former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow, who warned Bob Novak not to identify her:

Harlow, the former CIA spokesman, said in an interview yesterday that he testified last year before a grand jury about conversations he had with Novak at least three days before the column was published. He said he warned Novak, in the strongest terms he was permitted to use without revealing classified information, that Wilson’s wife had not authorized the mission and that if he did write about it, her name should not be revealed.

Harlow said that after Novak’s call, he checked Plame’s status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative. He said he called Novak back to repeat that the story Novak had related to him was wrong and that Plame’s name should not be used. But he did not tell Novak directly that she was undercover because that was classified information.

But what does Harlow know? Surely not as much as a bunch of right-wing pundits and bloggers who have wide experience with Tom Clancy novels. In any case, we can expect to hear in the coming days about how Harlow is a partisan Democrat, voted for Gore and Kerry, was plotting against the White House from his CIA office, and certainly doesn’t have the credibility of upstanding citizens like Rove and Novak.

Another interesting point in the article concerns a bizarre story from Joe Wilson’s book, in which Novak, a week before his article was published, blabbed about Wilson’s wife identity to a complete stranger on the street — a stranger who turned out to be a friend of Wilson. Now we know that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has interviewed that mysterious stranger about the conversation with Novak, so the incident has gone beyond being a bit of possibly embroidered literary color.

But perhaps the most heartening sentence in the article is this one:

… Fitzgerald has asked not only about how CIA operative Valerie Plame’s name was leaked but also how the administration went about shifting responsibility from the White House to the CIA for having included 16 words in the 2003 State of the Union address about Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium from Africa.

It appears that Fitzgerald recognizes that this web of lies is about more than the outing of one CIA operative.

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DCDL is a blog by Washington, DC-area members of Drinking Liberally. Opinions expressed are the writers’, not those of Drinking Liberally, which provides no funding or other support for this blog.

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