Plame vs. Wilson

Kevin Drum finds it interesting that Ari Fleischer today testified that Scooter Libby told him, four days before Bob Novak’s story was filed, about Valerie Plame’s role in sending her husband, Joe Wilson, to Niger.

Not “Valerie Wilson,” the name she used socially, but “Valerie Plame,” her maiden name and one that she used only on agency business. . . . Novak’s use of the name “Plame” has always been one of my pet obsessions in this story, and I continue to think it’s the key to something. Maybe eventually we’ll find out what. Maybe even today.

There are two problems with this.

First, we already know that Richard Armitage was Bob Novak’s source, not Scooter Libby. Not only does Armitage admit this and Novak confirm it, but prosecutor Patrick Fitgerald made a point of emphasizing it during opening arguments.

Second, none of the testimony thus far about the timeline provides any evidence that Libby knew “the wife” as anything other than “Valerie Wilson” or “Mrs. Wilson.” That’s the name in the file Marc Grossman got from INR and that Craig Schmall had written in the margin of his notes.

So, either Fleischer’s “I believe” is simply wrong–likely swayed by press accounts which have referred to her as “Plame” all these years–or there is some missing piece in the prosecution timeline.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. clarice says:

    On cross he said he wasn’t sure.
    On the other hand there was a Bloomberg report sometime ago that WH logs showed Novak called Fleischer just before the Libby luncheon meeting and since this was all so unmemeorable that crack reporters Gregory and Dickerson do not seem to have recalled Fleischer telling them either, perhaps when he finally testified about this months later (after having received an immunity grant) he confused what Novak told him and what Libby did.(Fleischer never confirmed the call and we only know it was logged in, not whether Fleischer took it.)

  2. Anderson says:

    Agreed that Drum may be off on the Novak thing, but if Libby was telling Fleischer how hush-hush Plame’s ID was, and *if* Fleischer’s “memory” is accurate, then that’s significant to the case, tho not to the Novak issue.

    It’s easy to get tripped up. This case is *not* about Novak’s outing of Plame. It’s about what Libby knew, when he knew it, & whether he can make a jury think he forgot it.

  3. James Joyner says:


    True. None of the witnesses before Fleishcher have given any indication that the issue of “the wife” was a big deal to Libby and Cheney. What they were interested in combatting was the idea that OVP had sent Joe Wilson and that they were intentionally covering up his report to sell a vision they knew was untrue. All indications thus far are that they found about about Wilson’s trip from media accounts and were thus scrambling for damage control.

  4. Anderson says:

    Presumably the U.S. is leading with its weaker witnesses & building up, a common tho debatable tactic … I wonder who the closer will be?

  5. vnjagvet says:

    That Fleischer “remembered” the name Libby gave her as either “Plame” or “Plamay” may be significant.

    It seems unlikely that Libby would have orally passed on the name as “Plamay”.

    Perhaps his “recollection” was wrong. Yathink?