What Valerie Plame Did

WHAT VALERIE PLAME DID….I’ve been relatively quiet on the Valerie Plame front for the past year or so. Aside from Scooter Libby’s indictment there hasn’t been an awful lot of news, and what news there has been got picked over so thoroughly by the blogosphere’s resident Plameologists that there wasn’t much left to ruminate about over here.

However, after three years of guesswork from thousands of people about exactly what it was that Valerie Plame Wilson did at the CIA, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that David Corn has finally told us. It turns out that she didn’t just work on WMD issues, she worked specifically on Iraqi WMD:

In 1997 [Wilson] returned to CIA headquarters and joined the Counterproliferation Division….She was eventually given a choice: North Korea or Iraq. She selected the latter. Come the spring of 2001, she was in the CPD’s modest Iraq branch. But that summer ? before 9/11 ? word came down from the brass: We’re ramping up on Iraq. Her unit was expanded and renamed the Joint Task Force on Iraq. Within months of 9/11, the JTFI grew to fifty or so employees. Valerie Wilson was placed in charge of its operations group.

There was great pressure on the JTFI to deliver. Its primary target was Iraqi scientists. JTFI officers, under Wilson’s supervision, tracked down relatives, students and associates of Iraqi scientists ? in America and abroad ? looking for potential sources. They encouraged Iraqi ?migr?s to visit Iraq and put questions to relatives of interest to the CIA. The JTFI was also handling walk-ins around the world. Increasingly, Iraqi defectors were showing up at Western embassies claiming they had information on Saddam’s WMDs. JTFI officers traveled throughout the world to debrief them.

So that’s whose cover Robert Novak, Richard Armitage, Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, and God knows who else blew. The woman who was in charge of the entire CIA team trying to locate Saddam’s WMD.

Of course, this also sheds some light on why Dick Cheney and the entire White House crew seemed so interested in discrediting Wilson: because her team didn’t find anything. Cheney was visiting Langley, writing memos, demanding answers, and just generally obsessing over Iraqi WMD programs, and it was Valerie Wilson’s team that was failing to find what he wanted. I think it’s safe to say that he was displeased with Wilson and her team, and it stretches the imagination to think that this had nothing to do with the White House pushback against her husband’s relatively innocuous op-ed about his trip to Niger.

Is there more to the story? Corn and his partner, Michael Isikoff, appear to be metering out their reporting for maximum possible book exposure, so there might be more to come. Stay tuned.