Monday, October 31, 2005

TREASONGATE: Is David Corn Feeling Fitzgerald's Heat?

Did David Corn publish intentionally misleading quotations from Fitzgerald's press conference?


report of August 19, 2005, "TREASONGATE: IN CAHOOTS -- How The White House, Wilson, Novak, Corn and Plame Conspired for Treason" accuses DC and JW of being part of a broad double agent conspiracy to out Plame and Brewster Jennings.

One of the most interesting aspects of that report concerns the fact that it was David Corn who was the first person in the media to out Plame's "covert" status as a CIA officer. Novak published her name on July 14, 2003 but it wasn't until two days later, July 16, 2003, that DC was the first person to publish that she was an undercover CIA agent working on WMD. His source may have been JW.

It was Clifford May at The National Review who first brought this to our attention in a July 2005 column. [Readers -- I am no fan of The National Review and their war propaganda, but a fact is a fact. May raised very legitimate questions which must be answered.]

From my report:

Clifford May's article,
Who Exposed Secret Agent Plame?published in National Review online, July 15th 2005, makes a strong case that, while Novak was the first person to expose "Wilson's wife", Corn is actually the journalist responsible for first publishing Plame's undercover/covert status:

"This just in: Bob Novak did not reveal that Valerie Plame was an undercover agent for the CIA.
Read— or reread — his column from July 14, 2003. All Novak reports is that the wife of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson is 'an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction'...

So if Novak did not reveal that Valerie Plame was a secret agent, who did? The evidence strongly suggests it was none other than Joe Wilson himself. Let me walk you through the steps that lead to this conclusion.
The first reference to Plame being a secret agent appears in The Nation, in an article by DC published July 16, 2003, just two days after Novak’s column appeared. It carried this lead: 'Did Bush officials blow the cover of a U.S. intelligence officer working covertly in a field of vital importance to national security — and break the law — in order to strike at a Bush administration critic and intimidate others?'
On what basis could Corn 'assume' that Plame was not only working covertly but was actually a 'top-secret' operative? And where did Corn get the idea that Plame had been 'outed' in order to punish Wilson? That is not suggested by anything in the Novak column...

The likely answer: The allegation that someone in the administration leaked to Novak as a way to punish Wilson was made by Wilson — to Corn. But Corn, rather than quote Wilson, puts the idea forward as his own.

Corn’s article then goes on to provide specific details about Plame’s undercover work, her 'dicey and difficult mission of tracking parties trying to buy or sell weapons of mass destruction or WMD material.' But how does Corn know about that? From what source could he have learned it?"

Since Novak did not report that Plame was 'working covertly' how did Corn know that’s what she had been doing? Corn follows that assertion with a quote from Wilson saying, 'I will not answer questions about my wife.' Any reporter worth his salt would immediately wonder: Did Wilson indeed answer Corn’s questions about his wife — after Corn agreed not to quote his answers but to use them only on background?

Read the rest of Corn’s piece and it’s difficult to believe anything else. Corn names no other sources for the information he provides — and he provides much more information than Novak revealed...

May's report comes out on July 15, 2005. Citizenspook published our accusations on August 19, 2005. Buzz started to spread throughout the blogosphere about this theory.

Cut to Fitzgerald's press conference and the aftermath.

On the evening of October 28, 2005, DC published a
review of Fitzgerald's press conference for The Nation which was also published at Yahoo news. Pay close attention to the following passage:

Fitzgerald...did declare that "the fact that Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer was classified...but it was not widely known outside the intelligence community" and that "her cover was blown" by the Novak column. (So much for the goofy right-wing conspiracy theory that I colluded with Joseph Wilson after the Novak column to out Valerie Wilson as an undercover CIA operative. If you don't know about that, don't ask.)

This is a blockbuster screwup by David Corn.

" 'her cover was blown' by the Novak column."

Fitz did not say that.

DC has twisted what Fitz said and that quote is false. Fitz never said "her cover was blown by the Novak column" which is what DC implies by his "selective" quotation marks.

If Fitz did say that, DC would appear to be off the hook, but Fitz said something much different than what DC has mislead his readers to believe. And this does not take a rocket scientist to understand.

Here's what Fitz said:

"Valerie Wilson's cover was blown in July 2003. The first sign of that cover being blown was when Mr. Novak published a column on July 14th, 2003."

Recall that Novak and DC both published in July 2003. Novak outed her identity as a CIA officer on July 14, but DC published that she was an undercover spy on July 16th. Had Fitz said that Valerie Plame/Wilson's cover was blown by the Novak column, DC would appear to be vindicated. But Fitzgerald chose his words very carefully:

"The first sign of that cover being blown was when Mr. Novak published a column on July 14th, 2003."

That's much different than what DC wrote in his column. Fitz was careful NOT to say that her cover was blown by Novak's article. The "first sign" of it being blown was Novak's article, but the second sign was DC's article two days later.

And Fitz clarifies things further a bit later when he states:

"That brings us to the fall of 2003. When it was clear that Valerie Wilson's cover had been blown, investigation began."

According to that statement by Fitz, it was not "clear" that her cover was blown until Fall 2003.

Is David Corn feeling the heat?:

"So much for the goofy right-wing conspiracy theory that I colluded with Joseph Wilson after the Novak column to out Valerie Wilson as an undercover CIA operative. If you don't know about that, don't ask."

What's goofy is the bumbling manner upon which David Corn attempts to sway public opinion while leaving himself wide open for charges of willful misquotation.

It's not a right wing conspiracy, David. Citizenspook is not a right wing blog, nor is it a left wing blog. It's an independent analysis of Treasongate. The National Review is certainly a right wing propaganda rag but that doesn't color the facts. It's a fact that Corn's column was the first to publish that Plame/Wilson was an undercover spy.

It's also a fact that his October 28, 2005, report of Fitzgerald's press conference terribly misquotes him in a manner which is intended to divert attention from those questioning Corn and Wilson's roles in this conspiracy.

Fitzgerald never said -- "her cover was blown by the Novak column". He said the Novak column was the "first sign" of her cover being blown. Nothing in that statement contradicts allegations that you outed her status as a NOC. On the contrary, Fitzgerald's statment clearly indicates that things are not as cut and dried as David Corbnn would like people to believe