Plamegate Revisited: Who Really Leaked Valerie Plame's Cover?

09/27/20131 Comment

By James Corbett
September 26, 2013

In July of 2003, an unassuming article in The Washington Post set off a political scandal that rocked the Bush/Cheney White House. The article, penned by Robert Novak and run under the unremarkable headline, “Mission to Niger,” identified Valerie Plame—wife of ex-US Ambassador Joe Wilson—as a CIA operative on weapons of mass destruction. As a covert operative at the time of the story, the revelation of Plame's agency ties involved Novak and his “two senior administration official” sources in a lengthy criminal investigation. That investigation led to a grand jury directed by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald which resulted in no indictment or convictions directly related to the leak itself. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Cheney's Chief of Staff, was convicted of obstruction of justice and perjury in the investigation, and sentenced to 30 months in prison,but that sentence was commuted by President Bush in 2007. In August 2006, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was identified as the primary source for Novak's story.

The scandal was heightened by the sense that the revelation of Plame's status had been retribution for an op-ed that Wilson had published in the New York Times earlier that month claiming that the Bush administration had “twisted” the intelligence on Saddam's alleged weapons of mass destruction in order to “exaggerate the Iraqi threat.” Overnight the Wilsons became the causes célèbres of the anti-Bush Democrats, proof positive that the Bush White House had lied America into war and then had the audacity to burn those officials that spoke out against those lies. Even now, long after the scandal has subsided and all the players involved went, in the words of Fitzgerald, “back to their day jobs,” the Wilsons are still icons of the left and regularly appear in the media to comment on stories relating to crackdowns on government whistleblowers. Their story was even the subject of a big budget Hollywood action film in 2010 starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts.

One of the implications of Plame's exposure was that it also identified her listed employer, Brewster Jennings & Associates, as the company that she had used as cover during her covert CIA operations. The “outing” of Plame in 2003 also exposed Brewster Jennings as a CIA front. At the time Vince Cannistraro, a former counterterrorism chief at the CIA, opined that the exposure of Brewster Jennings had also exposed other agents who used the company as cover and jeopardized their operations.

This is the official story of the so-called “Plamegate Affair” as we have come to know it. The very foundations of the official Plamegate narrative, however, were undermined by former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, who told The Sunday Times in 2008 and reaffirmed in sworn testimony in 2009, that Brewster Jennings was in fact exposed by a high-ranking State Department official in 2001, two years before Plamegate.

As Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs in the Bush administration, Marc Grossman was the third highest-ranking official in the State Department at the time in question. He had served as Ambassador to Turkey under Clinton in the mid 1990s and maintains ties with various Turkish lobby groups including the American Turkish Council, currently chaired by Grossman's former State Department boss, Richard Armitage.

Edmonds has long asserted that an FBI case file exists confirming Grossman’s role in warning his Turkish contacts about Brewster Jennings in 2001. Identified by The Sunday Times by the case ID “203A-WF-210023”, the FBI denied a Freedom of Information request for the file by asserting that no responsive record could be found. The Sunday Times, however, independently obtained a document signed by an FBI official confirming the file's existence. A 2012 FOIA appeal request also indirectly confirmed the document's existence.

As Barbara Hollingsworth—a Washington, D.C. based journalist who is currently investigating the story—explains, this information completely contradicts the official narrative of Plamegate, raising troubling questions about the affair and what it says about the Justice Department's subsequent investigation.

If the Fitzgerald grand jury was indeed a sham trial, it would explain one of the persisting mysteries of Plamegate: why was no one actually convicted of leaking Plame's cover? As the Fitzgerald investigation itself showed, the first documented leak of Plame's CIA status came from Grossman. Later, Grossman became the key witness against Scooter Libby. Fitzgerald knew the leak came from Grossman, but specifically avoided prosecution of the leak.

The affair becomes even stranger when it is revealed that Marc Grossman is a long-time personal friend of the Wilsons, and that Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame themselves met via the American Turkish Council. Indeed, as the organization that Grossman tipped off regarding Brewster Jennings, and which subsequently passed the information to the Pakistanis, the American Turkish Council features prominently in the real Plamegate scandal.

As former CIA analyst Phillip Giraldi reveals, the ATC, while nominally a mere lobby for Turkish interests in Washington, is in fact part of the Turkish shadow government, combining Turkish business and criminal interests that use their contacts with high-ranking US government officials and former officials to facilitate all manner of illegal activities:

The ATC connection leads into the heart of FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds' story of nuclear espionage and cover up at the highest levels of the US government. That story was broached in a series of reports for The Sunday Times in 2008, a series that was ultimately quashed at the behest of unidentified parties that lead back to the US State Department.

The real Plamegate affair, then, predates the 2003 scandal by two years and leads straight to the doorstep of Marc Grossman and the American-Turkish Council.

The questions that this background raise about the Plamegate story are manifold. If Edmonds' testimony was simply false, as the FBI seemed to imply by trying to ignore the existence of the case file proving her claims, why has she never been charged with perjury? Why has Grossman never attempted to pursue her for libel? But if the claims are true, why has Grossman never been charged with exposing a covert CIA operation to a foreign entity? Why did Patrick Fitzgerald never press Grossman on the issue during his investigation? How has he passed background clearance checks as he continues to move back into important political office?

Was Scooter Libby and his defense counsel ever given the information on Grossman's leak, information that Edmonds claims she provided to the Justice Department's Inspector General's office? If it was given to Libby's lawyers, why did they never once raise the matter in court during the Libby trial? If it was not given to them, then why has Fitzgerald never been prosecuted for withholding possibly exculpatory evidence from a defendant under the 1963 Brady Rule?

Why did Judy Miller of the New York Times go to jail for refusing to give up her source on the Plamegate affair? How and why did Fitzgerald pursue Miller on the source of a story she never even published? And why does Miller express no surprise or outrage when informed about the fact that Fitzgerald's investigation was a sham?

Most bafflingly of all, why have the Wilsons, who have been so adamant about blaming Cheney for Plame's outing and vowing to pursue justice on the issue, never mentioned the earlier outing of Brewster Jennings by Grossman?

These are the questions that I will be exploring in a new series of Eyeopener reports starting next week on Stay tuned as we continue to explore the real Plamegate scandal and what it says about the rot at the heart of the American political system.

Filed in: Videos
Tagged with:

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. totemynote says:

    I sent this notion through speakpipe. But thought to comment here too as it’s the only segment I’ve seen that it seems to fit it. .

    I am wondering if Sibel Edmonds and Valerie Plame would ever sit down together and do a segment. BFP or here? Maybe a round table. Doesn’t it seem like a good idea? To me it seems like it would be almost historic. I would think even mainstream media would have something to say about it. Am I wrong?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Back to Top