PlameGate: Novak Repeats the Aldrich Ames Canard

Christy covered Robert Novak’s latest dissembling on Meet the Press. Given the fact that Russert was running the interview, Novak felt free to lie whenever it served his purposes. The last part of the interview was reported by Christy thusly:

Novak says he doesn’t think he outed Valerie – thinks Aldrich Ames did so previously. [CHS: There are so many things wrong with that statement, starting with the fact that Ames, if in fact that is even true which I doubt, would have outed her within an intel context, and Novak publicly printed the information which outed her…well, publicly. Which is a whole other level of outing, now isn’t it? Let alone the fact that, as I recall, there has been a lot of dispute about any claim that Ames outed Valerie previously. The CYA Reputation Rehab Tour continues.]

How many times have we heard this excuse before? Cliff May wants you to believe that we all knew Wilson’s wife was a covert agent many years ago because hubbie told us so. Then again – the National Review crowd and Mr. Novak also claims she was not a covert agent.

Nicholas Kristoff did write this:

First, the C.I.A. suspected that Aldrich Ames had given Mrs. Wilson’s name (along with those of other spies) to the Russians before his espionage arrest in 1994. So her undercover security was undermined at that time, and she was brought back to Washington for safety reasons. Second, as Mrs. Wilson rose in the agency, she was already in transition away from undercover work to management, and to liaison roles with other intelligence agencies. So this year, even before she was outed, she was moving away from “noc” – which means non-official cover, like pretending to be a business executive. After passing as an energy analyst for Brewster-Jennings & Associates, a C.I.A. front company, she was switching to a new cover as a State Department official, affording her diplomatic protection without having “C.I.A.” stamped on her forehead.

There are two problems with this story. As Kevin Drum noted on October 11, 2003:

One more thing, though: Kristof really ought to tell us in general terms who his source for this column is. Someone in the CIA? Someone in the White House trying to downplay the damage? Plame’s next door neighbor? Since this story has been all about spin and counterspin from the very beginning, knowing where the spin is coming from is a crucial part of any story.

Secondly, the name Brewster-Jennings & Associates was first registered in 1994 and had served as the front name for several CIA operatives for the next nine years when Novak outed this company as a front to cover his rear end in the aftermath of his July 14, 2003 outing of the fact that Valerie Plame was a CIA agent.

If Aldrich had already given up Brewster-Jennings, why would the CIA continue to use it as the cover for its agents?