Valerie Plame, an ex-CIA officer famously outed by a State Department official in the George W. Bush administration, is running for the open seat in New Mexico’s Third Congressional District. Unsurprisingly, the establishment media coverage of her candidacy largely ignored aspects of the Plame affair that are unhelpful to the left. Big Media also largely ignored the anti-Semitic materials she promoted on Twitter, a scandal that forced her resignation from the already controversial Ploughshares Fund.
“Plamegate” was rooted in a July 2003 New York Times op-ed by Plame’s then-husband. Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former diplomat, claimed the Bush administration manipulated intelligence about Saddam Hussein’s weapons programs to justify invading Iraq, based in part on a 2002 mission he took to Niger to investigate the alleged sale of “yellowcake” uranium to Saddam.
Shortly thereafter, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage leaked to columnist Bob Novak that Valerie had suggested Joe be selected for the mission. The apparent motive for the leak was to establish Joe’s report “was regarded by the CIA as less than definitive, and it [was] doubtful” top officials ever saw it. Novak claimed he was never informed Valerie had covert status at the time.
Attaining media martyr status after being outed, Valerie testified before the House that she did not suggest Joe for the mission and no nepotism was involved. A bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report found not only that Valerie specifically recommended Joe, but his report bolstered the intelligence about uranium sales for most intelligence analysts. The same report found the CIA did not inform the administration about its doubts about the reliability of that intelligence.
However, this information was not known until after the launch of a special counsel investigation into the matter. The circumstances of that probe now seem like a pattern. Attorney General John Ashcroft was recused from the case over his ties to White House officials. The probe was left to his deputy, James Comey, who appointed his longtime friend (and current lawyer) Patrick Fitzgerald to investigate.
Fitzgerald never charged Armitage for the Plame leak, ostensibly from lack of evidence that he knew Plame had covert status. Instead, he obtained convictions for obstruction and false statements by a juicier political target, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who was Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff.
Reporter Judith Miller, a key witness at Libby’s trial, alleges Fitzgerald deliberately withheld exculpatory evidence that would have made a guilty verdict unlikely. Others accuse Fitzgerald of squeezing Libby in hopes of obtaining evidence against Cheney or top Bush adviser Karl Rove. (Libby has since been pardoned. The Wilsons sued Cheney, Rove, Libby, and others—but not Armitage—alleging a conspiracy; the case was dismissed after proceedings in which even the Obama administration agreed the Wilsons had no business in federal court.)
The Plame affair may be seen as part of the foundation for the distrust some on the right now harbor for “deep state” bureaucrats undermining the executive branch and special counsel investigations that wind up focused on secondary issues. Plame’s legacy on this score, however, is not the whole of her disturbing record.
After exploiting her story in a book and movie, Plame joined the board of the Ploughshares Fund, an anti-nuclear nonprofit group. Ploughshares had already stirred controversy by funding the “echo chamber” organized by President Obama’s aide Ben Rhodes to push a nuclear deal with Iran. These efforts included $100,000 to NPR in an apparent pay-to-play scandal, as well as $500,000 to J Street, which assisted the White House in pressuring Jewish groups to support the pact.
While on the Ploughshares board, Plame used her Twitter account to promote an article by another former CIA officer titled “America’s Jews Are Driving America’s Wars.” When decent people objected, she did not apologize, but responded that retweets are not an endorsement, although it was not a retweet.
Plame added: “very provocative, but thoughtful. Many neocon hawks ARE Jewish . . . Read the entire article and try, just for a moment, to put aside your biases and think clearly.” The “thoughtful” article at issue asserted that Jews “own the media,” Jews should wear labels while on national television, and their beliefs are as dangerous as “a bottle of rat poison.”
Plame later claimed she “messed up” and only “skimmed” the article before sharing it. Her claim was laughable. She previously urged people to read the whole article. Plame also had a history of sharing articles from the same source, including one claiming “Israeli-occupied Congress confronts the White House.” Plame further shared a 9/11 conspiracy theory involving “dancing Israelis.”
Her so-called apology continues to maintain she acted carelessly. And she is still spouting that line, most recently on NBC:
For a former covert officer, Plame is not very good at cover stories.
As a result of this Twitter post and the aftermath, she resigned from Ploughshares in September 2017. After all, critics had already charged that the Iran deal’s “echo chamber”—with its insinuations about the power of pro-Israel lobbyists and dual loyalty—carried a stink of anti-Semitism from Obama on down.
Now, the establishment media coverage of Plame’s announced candidacy ignores the bigoted stink that lingers on her. The New York Times omitted any mention of her anti-Semitism or the details of Plamegate. The reporter defended her story as a short, 400-word announcement, though one which reprints part of Plame’s press release on health care.
The Times recently acknowledged, however weakly, its continuing insensitivity to anti-Semitism. But apparently yet another anti-Semite is running for Congress and it’s not “all of the news that’s fit to print” so long as the anti-Semite is a Democrat (see also: Ilhan Omar).
The Times was not the only offender. As noted by (((AG))) on Twitter, the Washington Post ran an Associated Press story that ignores Plame’s support for anti-Semitism; the Daily Beast similarly ignored it. So did The Hill and Roll Call. At least CNN mentioned it in one sentence, though it mentioned only the one article and credulously repeated Plame’s claim she had skimmed it.
Anti-Semitism has been a long-running scandal within the United Kingdom’s Labour Party, particularly regarding its current leader, Jeremy Corbyn. The scandal has been long-running because party members and the media spent years arguing over whether Corbyn was an anti-Semite, no matter how many incidents piled up in public. America’s establishment media should strive to do better, or our currently ugly politics will only get uglier.