|Robert Novak and the CIA
||[Jul. 12th, 2005|09:55 pm]
Robert Novak had a serious question to answer.|
Why, why why?
Why would the CIA send Joseph Wilson, of all people, to Niger to investigate uranium sales?
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It's a serious question. Here's how Novak phrases it.
"I was curious why a high-ranking official in President Bill Clinton's National Security Council (NSC) was given this assignment."
Think about this. Why would the CIA contact a high-ranking official in President Bill Clinton's National Security Council to do some work for them?
Well, if I played the games that I've seen played, I'd accuse Novak of impugning the honor and decency of the CIA, the brave men and women who work so hard to protect us. But I'm not that kind of asshole, so I won't.
Instead, I'll just point out that, since the CIA is supposed to be apolitical, that question only makes sense if it's a trick question (or an essentially rhetorical one). Why? I dunno... maybe he did good work as part of the National Security Council?
I mean, forget how many waves Wilson was making. (How many waves was he making in 2002? He was a vocal proponent of containment and the disarming of Saddam Hussein, after all.) He was a damn good man for the job. He had the contacts, the language, and the bona fides to go around and ask the questions that needed to be asked. Better to ask, "why would the CIA ignore such a wonderful asset, if they thought they could use him?"
Novak says he was asked not to use Wilson's wife's name by a CIA offcial, "saying she probably never again will be given a foreign assignment but that exposure of her name might cause 'difficulties' if she travels abroad."
Here's a hint for future reporters.
Could the fact that revealing an agents name could get people hurt, or killed, be classified?
Let's pretend I'm a CIA operative, and that, if you knew this, it would put people at risk, okay?
Wouldn't the government keep that secret? Would the government willingly just tell you "Oh, if you reveal JOHN PALMER'S name, then PEOPLE COULD BE HURT OR KILLED AS A RESULT"? I mean, wouldn't that just blow the whistle on the fact that I'm doing important, dangerous stuff? Wouldn't the just have a stock answer for things like that?
I can't say that Novak is smart enough to think that through, but I hope future reporters do. It's entirely possible that the CIA *can't* tell people "don't reveal her name or people might get hurt."
But, no, Novak says he felt he had to reveal her name. It was the only way to explain the "otherwise incredible choice" the CIA made.
After all, "Well, Joseph Wilson has some good friends in the CIA. It sounds like some strings were pulled to get him this assignment", that's not good enough. It's not good enough to say that *someone* pulled strings.
Why not, exactly?
Seriously: which holds up better?
Robert Novak had to figure out *why* the CIA would pick a brave, capable volunteer to do some work the volunteer was eminently well suited for?
Or Robert Novak was given some information he could use to stir up some trouble?
Was Mr. Novak really unable to figure out why Joseph Wilson would get sent to Niger? Did he really have to say that Wilson's *wife* (instead of, say, "a friend") might have pushed for it? After being specifically asked not to reveal the name, did he really think there was no reason not to?
Which model fits better? Novak the bumbling clown, or Novak the troublemaker?