Believe it or not

The Mineapolis Star Tribune is sponsoring a big-bucks lecture at Orchestra Hall by Valerie Plame Wilson tonight. Judging by the price of a ticket, the Star Tribune must be paying an astonomical fee for her services. Promoting the lecture in its pages yesterday, the Star Tribune published Kim Ode’s puff piece on Plame. A passage with a list that includes George Tenet, Karl Rove, John Ashcroft, and Valerie Plame caught my attention. It struck me that one name probably doesn’t belong on that list.
The passage that caught my attention in Ode’s story made out an alleged threat to Plame’s security created by Plame’s purported exposure and the CIA’s purported callousness toward the safety of Plame and her family:

Family? Yeah, right.
Thus the special bitterness she feels for what happened in the spring of 2004, when Plame’s name was on a list of those targeted by Al-Qaida hit squads. The others on the list — George Tenet, Karl Rove and John Ashcroft — already had round-the-clock Secret Service protection.
“I was concerned mostly, of course, because we had small children and what happens to them if something happens to me? So I went to the head of the CIA and requested security on our residence, at least through the [November] election,” she said. “It was declined. The CIA makes a big deal about, ‘We’re family, we’re family,’ but I was on my own.”

Both Valerie Plame and her husband have had the privilege of being exposed as prodigious liars by the Senate Intelligence Committee. I therefore looked around on the Internet to ascertain if this story has any authority to support it other than Valerie Plame’s say-so. It derives from a redacted portion of Plame’s memoir Fair Game (pages 180-183). One can only infer the outlines of the story from Plame’s redacted account. I assume the redactions reflect information deemed classified by the CIA, not to be discussed publicly by her. I asked Ode if she did anything to check the story, or if she had any authority other than Plame to support its veracity. She graciously replied:

The reference to Plame being on a hit list and denied protection came from her, as recounted in her book, which I’ve not read. During the phone interview, I had asked her whether this was true, having first read of this in an interview in Vermont she gave prior to another speaking engagement.

I asked CIA public affairs spokesman George Little to comment on the story yesterday. He was familiar with the relevant passage of Plame’s book and said he would check to see whether the agency had any comment. He subsequently wrote me:

Thanks for your call and email. With respect to your questions about the Star Tribune story, I decline comment.

One might reasonably ask: Why not? It would be nice for the CIA and/or Plame to substantiate the claim, if it is true. My guess is that they cannot do so. To the extent that Plame’s point is that her purported “outing” jeopardized her security, she should have to back it up. I conclude that Plame’s fabulation is another installment in the story I outlined, with slightly more help from the CIA, in “Three years of the condor.”
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