On July 6, Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador to Iraq,
wrote an opinion column in the New York Times in which he
questioned the intelligence used by the Bush administration to
justify war with Iraq. Wilson himself had gone to Niger to
investigate the validity of rumors that Iraq was attempting to
purchase uranium from there and found the evidence lacking.
On July 14, just eight days later, syndicated columnist Robert
D. Novak wrote a column that ran in The Washington Post and other
newspapers about Wilson’s report and why it was ignored by the
administration. In the middle of his column, Novak wrote, “Wilson
never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an agency
operative on weapons of mass destruction.”
Wilson was, understandably, quite upset at the leak of his
wife’s name and CIA involvement and has claimed that it is a
deliberate retaliation by the Bush administration in response to
his criticism. His vocal outcry has lead to an investigation into
the leak, an investigation that could lead to felony charges under
the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982.
The show gets interesting when you look at how the other players
involved have reacted to the investigation and public opinion, and
how political opponents of the Bush administration have attempted
to crash the party. Novak said on CNN’s “Crossfire,” “Nobody in the
Bush administration called me to leak this. There is no great crime
here.” In a column he wrote Wednesday, Novak admitted that he was
asked not to disclose her name, but “he never suggested to me that
Wilson’s wife or anybody else would be endangered. If he had, I
would not have used her name.” Novak is quoted in a cnn.com article
as saying “according to a confidential source at the CIA, Mrs.
Wilson was an analyst, not a spy, not a covert operative and not in
charge of undercover operators,” which is in direct contradiction
to the quote from his July 14 column.
So far, everything is fairly straightforward. The husband is
angry that his wife was endangered; the journalist is trying to
pretend he didn’t do anything unethical, and the Bush
administration is trying to look cooperative. Then, from out of
left field, come three women senators, led by my home state of
California’s Barbara Boxer, denouncing this as an affront to women.
Boxer is quoted as saying, “As mothers, as women in nontraditional
careers, this situation is most troubling to us.”
Now there are plenty of things to be angry about in this
situation. Wilson could be right, and it could have been a
deliberate attack. Putting his wife in danger to get back at him is
clearly an immoral act. You can be angry at the irresponsibility of
the journalist in disclosing her name, even when asked not to, for
claiming that she was an operative without having confirmed that
fact, or for not thinking about the implications his naming her
would have on her, her family and any contacts she may have had.
You can complain about Novak’s immaturity in not admitting his
error and apologizing. You can denounce the administration for
ignoring the report in the first place. Yet, no matter how I try, I
cannot see how this is an attack on women.
What I find offensive is that these women would use this
incident, which is quite serious and puts the lives of many people
in jeopardy, to attempt to further their own political careers.
They are so eager to attack a political opponent that they refuse
to stop and look at how ridiculous their claim is. They are so busy
trying to look as if they are looking out for the interests of
women that they don’t have the time to actually do so.
Russell is a junior studying physics. He is Nuclear Propulsion
Officer Candidate in the United States Navy.