Valerie Plame: It's Payback Time

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This is a partial transcript from "The Beltway Boys," on July 15, 2006, that has been edited for clarity.

Watch "The Beltway Boys" Saturday at 6 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. ET and Sunday at 2:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. ET.

FRED BARNES, CO-HOST: Let's check out our ups and downs.

DOWN: former CIA officer Valerie Plame. She and her husband are suing Vice President Cheney, Scooter Libby, and Karl Rove, accusing them of conspiring to destroy Plame's career. Here is Plame Friday.


VALERIE PLAME, FORMER CIA OFFICER: I would much rather be continuing my career as a public servant than be a plaintiff in a lawsuit, but I feel strongly and justice demands that those who acted so harmfully against our national security must answer for their shameful conduct in court.


BARNES: Mort, there is self inflation, self-puffery, almost like I've never seen before. Valerie Plame was a relatively unimportant CIA analyst, not an undercover agent and is saying that because her name came out that has done horrible harm to America's national security.

I mean, please! I mean, that's a little ridiculous.

And besides, she started the whole thing. Remember how this whole flap began. It began with her recommending her husband for some CIA trip to Niger in Africa to find out whether the Iraqis had been there seeking uranium.

Then he comes back. And after a while writes a piece for The New York Times. This was not some undercover sentence or something. He writes for The New York Times, accusing the Bush administration of ignoring what he said he found, and saying that Saddam had sought uranium in Africa, and that it's a huge flap.

His accusations turned out to be almost entirely untrue, as was revealed when he got called under oath before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

But anyway, in the whole controversy, her name became public.

Now the first one to write her name in print was Robert Novak, the columnist, who we know very well. He was in the center of the controversy. He says there was no attempt to smear her that he ever came across.

Listen to what he told Brit Hume on FOX the other day.


ROBERT NOVAK, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: I saw no such campaign. Nobody in the administration ever said anything critical about Wilson to me. And my column was not critical of Wilson.

As I say this, the information came out to me in the course of an interview by a person who was not — believe me — in the business of playing political dirty tricks.


MORT KONDRACKE, CO-HOST: Look, I think the public is massively confused about this whole case. And frankly, I am, too.

BARNES: I'm not.

KONDRACKE: And well, you're not, because I know you're not. Because you are a far-seeing individual. I am confused. And I've read a lot about this case. I've read practically every word I can find.

The public probably believes that there was a White House conspiracy. That's what they've been told by the media. Karl Rove at one time did say that Valerie Plame was fair game. She was a classified employee...

BARNES: Exactly.

KONDRACKE: …after her name was out.

BARNES: OK, her name was out. But the idea that the White House regarded her as fair game suggests that in advance, she was regarded as fair game.

KONDRACKE: No, no. It points out, but there's no evidence of that.

BARNES: OK. On the other hand, as you say, the Senate Intelligence Committee looked into this case and basically blew holes in everything that Wilson said.

I would love to see a full airing of this where — in public where everybody could find out what really happened. It's not likely to happen in the Scooter Libby case, where the issues are fairly narrow, that criminal case.

It's not likely to happen here either, because the Wilsons have a weak case. I mean, they're basing everything on "information and belief", which means they don't have any proof.

The controlling Supreme Court case on this, 1982, basically sides with the government against people who claim to be whistleblowers.

Furthermore, if the trial, if it doesn't get thrown out in the first place — this is a civil case — will be deferred until after the Scooter Libby case.

So you know, I think that we're never probably going to get to the bottom of this. I would say that I think that the White House would have been better off after Wilson's New York Times op-ed piece came out to have the vice president or Condi Rice or somebody like that write an op-ed piece in The New York Times rebutting what Wilson said instead of anything being done in secret.

BARNES: Look, I agree with you that the White House initially handled it very, very poorly. They panicked. They didn't know what to make of it. And after a while, they realized it was entirely wrong.

I think one organization has really gotten to the bottom of it. So that's why I'm sure, not that I know any more than you do. I just think I know where it points.

And that is the Senate Intelligence Committee. Now I realize most Americans are not going to read their report. It's pretty long, but it was an utter embarrassment to Joe Wilson, who admitted that things he claimed were true or things he'd leaked to reporters were not true at all. It completely destroyed him.

Now the Plames, I guess, are not getting what they expected out of Joe Fitzgerald, the — Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, so now the suit.

KONDRACKE: OK. DOWN: Democrats. A fundraising video produced for the Democratic congressional campaign committee is getting some unwanted attention from Republicans.

The GOP says that the flag-draped coffins of soldiers in that video that were — who were killed in Iraq to raise money was over the top. Here's some back and forth between John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), OHIO: It's disgraceful that Rahm Emmanuel and the Democrats would use images of caskets of dead American soldiers to raise money.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: As far as the Republicans are concerned, politicizing the war, if it weren't so tragic, it would almost be funny with Karl Rove going around the country talking about politicizing the Iraq war.


BARNES: Well, that's not what the Republicans were complaining about, actually that they politicized the war.

Now look, I didn't think that thing was so bad. I think Republicans are making a mountain out of a molehill, but I think they're making a smart move on this thing, attacking them and then associating Democrats with exploiting the dead in Iraq and so on.

The charge they make is a little over the top, but it was the ad –- it’s not really an ad. It goes to fundraisers. And it was tasteless.

KONDRACKE: Well, I don't think it was all that tasteless. If Iraq was going well, the Republicans would be touting the success there. The Democrats are entitled to tout what they perceive as failure.

I think the big mistake in the ad was to make a lot out of the leadership of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, actually.

BARNES: All right.

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