“Plame” vs. “Wilson”

“PLAME” vs. “WILSON”….I’m not going to blog obsessively about the Scooter Libby trial since so many other people are doing it far better than me, but here’s a snippet from Marcy Wheeler’s rough transcript of the prosecution’s questioning of Ari Fleischer today:

P: Was anything discussed?

Fleischer: ….What I recall Libby saying to me, reiterated that VP did not send Wilson. Amabssador Wilson got sent by his wife, she works at CIA, works in CPD, I recall that he told me her name. This is hush hush this is on the QT.

….P: Her name, how did he describe her name?

Fleischer: I believe he said Valerie Plame.

This was on July 7, 2003. Four days later Robert Novak wrote a column in which he outed “Valerie Plame” as a CIA operative. Not “Valerie Wilson,” the name she used socially, but “Valerie Plame,” her maiden name and one that she used only on agency business. Novak says he used that name because he looked up Joe Wilson’s biography in Who’s Who, discovered Valerie’s maiden name there, and for some reason decided to use that name in his column. This was despite the fact that the whole point of his column was that Wilson had been sent to Niger as part of some nepotistic boondoggle arranged by his wife.

I’ve never believed the Who’s Who story because it makes no sense. Why deliberately use someone’s maiden name when it’s not the name she normally goes by? Rather, I’ve always figured that somebody in the Bush administration used the name Plame and gave it to Novak, but for some reason Novak doesn’t want anyone to know that. And sure enough, Fleischer’s testimony makes clear that the name “Plame” was the one known to people inside the White House. If that’s the name Libby used, then it’s the name everyone else used too.

You can ignore all this if you want. 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.