There Goes Another One

From Holden:

Today Walter Pincus tackles the Bushite claim that Valerie Plame sent her husband to Niger.

Over the past months, however, the CIA has maintained that Wilson was chosen for the trip by senior officials in the Directorate of Operations counterproliferation division (CPD) — not by his wife — largely because he had handled a similar agency inquiry in Niger in 1999. On that trip, Plame, who worked in that division, had suggested him because he was planning to go there, according to Wilson and the Senate committee report.

The 2002 mission grew out of a request by Vice President Cheney on Feb. 12 for more information about a Defense Intelligence Agency report he had received that day, according to a 2004 report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. An aide to Cheney would later say he did not realize at the time that this request would generate such a trip.

Wilson maintains that his wife was asked that day by one of her bosses to write a memo about his credentials for the mission–after they had selected him. That memo apparently was included in a cable to officials in Africa seeking concurrence with the choice of Wilson, the Senate report said.

Valerie Wilson’s other role, according to intelligence officials, was to tell Wilson he had been selected, and then to introduce him at a meeting at the CIA on Feb. 19, 2002, in which analysts from different agencies discussed the Niger trip. She told the Senate committee she left the session after her introduction.

Senior Bush administration officials told a different story about the trip’s origin in the days between July 8 and July 12, 2003. [Funny, that period in July encompasses the days for which the transcript of the White House Press Brieifings are missing.] They said that Wilson’s wife was working at the CIA dealing with weapons of mass destruction and that she suggested him for the Niger trip, according to three reporters.

[snip]

Time magazine’s Matthew Cooper has written that he was told by Karl Rove on July 11 “don’t get too far out on Wilson” because information was going to be declassified soon that would cast doubt on Wilson’s mission and findings. Cooper also wrote that Rove told him that Wilson’s wife worked for the agency on weapons of mass destruction and that “she was responsible for sending Wilson.”

This Washington Post reporter spoke the next day to an administration official, who talked on the condition of anonymity, and was told in substance “that the White House had not paid attention to the former ambassador’s CIA-sponsored trip to Niger because it was set up as a boondoggle by his wife, an analyst with the agency working on weapons of mass destruction,” as reported in an Oct. 14 article.

We already know that one of Pincus’s sources on Plame was Scooter Libby, and there’s speculation that Karl Rove was another.