VALERIE PLAME OR VALERIE WILSON?….This post is sort of an open thread. I have a question I’m curious to get feedback on.

Here’s the thing: the Washington Post article I blogged about this morning said, among other things, that a Post reporter was one of the targets of the White House leakers back in July. However, the reporter says that his source didn’t mention Valerie Plame’s name, only that “Joseph Wilson’s wife” worked for the CIA. This supports the theory that perhaps no one was really trying to expose Plame’s covert activities, but instead did it inadvertantly.

But ? Robert Novak did use the name Valerie Plame in his original July 14 column. Now, it’s certainly possible that Novak discovered her maiden name himself (it was publicly available), but I can’t think of any reason that he would actually use it unless the name was deliberately given to him by his White House source. After all, wives all have maiden names, but if they go by their married name (which she did), that’s the name it’s natural to use. It would be bizarre, for example, if someone looked up my wife’s maiden name and then referred to her as “Kevin Drum’s wife, Marian Riegel,” even though she doesn’t go by that name.

So here’s the question. The only way to get the White House off the hook for deliberately spilling the name that Plame used on her covert assignments is to posit that Novak decided to use it on his own for some reason. Can anyone come up with some plausible scenario in which he’d do this?

And let’s try to keep the flame wars and jokes to a minimum, OK? I’m genuinely curious to know if anyone can think of a reasonably innocent explanation for this.

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