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Plame Investigation Is Not a 'Game'

Tuesday, January 18, 2005; Page A16

In their Jan. 12 op-ed column ["The Plame Game: Was This a Crime?"] Victoria Toensing and Bruce W. Sanford misrepresented the scope of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which certainly does cover former covert agents who remain at risk (along with their contacts) even after their covert operations end.

They also said that Valerie Plame's status was allegedly known on the "Washington cocktail circuit," implying that it was widely known that she worked as a covert agent for the CIA. But columnist Robert D. Novak has said that he learned of Ms. Plame's status through a leak by senior administration officials. Even I, Ms. Plame's lawyer and neighbor, was unaware of her status until Mr. Novak blew her cover.

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The column said that Mr. Novak had suggested that Ms. Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, was "credentially challenged" to determine whether Iraq was trying to obtain uranium in Niger. However, Mr. Wilson had served in three African nations that produced uranium, including Niger, and had been ambassador to one of them, Gabon. In all, he served in seven African countries and as senior director for African affairs in the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton. His bona fides for the trip are spelled out in the report by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which divulged that Mr. Wilson had traveled to Niger in 1999 at the request of the CIA to look into other uranium-related allegations.

The Plame investigation is not a "game." Reporters may need to be protected, but calling for a halt to the investigation into the leaking of Ms. Plame's identity to Robert Novak is not the way to do that.

CHRISTOPHER WOLF

Washington

The writer is the attorney for Ambassador Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame.

Victoria Toensing and Bruce Sanford wrote of the Valerie Plame case, "It's time for a timeout on a misguided and mechanical investigation in which there is serious doubt that a crime was even committed."

This from a woman who joined with her husband, Joseph diGenova, in alternately heading and urging costly and continuous investigations of all things Clinton -- while never proving a single "crime" or even securing an indictment. How could The Post publish her piece with a straight face?

BARRY KEMELHOR

Rockville


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