Skip to comments.Who's Shallow Throat?
Posted on 10/05/2003 8:12:53 PM PDT by Pokey78
WASHINGTON To dig into the whodunit roiling the capital, we need a glossary:
leak, plain and simple, is the unauthorized passage of information from a source, an official in the know, to a media plantee. It can be deliberate or inadvertent.
leaker who is admired for putting his notion of the public interest ahead of his official obligation or oath is called a whistle-blower; the same individual, viewed from inside, is called a fink, and is pursued vainly by plumbers.
authorized leak is information passed on to a selected outlet with high-level approval by a designated persuader called a spinmeister.
counterleak (now we're getting sophisticated) is an anonymous source's passing of a charge of someone else's leaking to a reporter, who sees a conspiracy in the exposure of the original, possibly authorized, leak.
Now to the spookspeak, or intelligence-agency jargon: A noc, pronounced "knock," is a C.I.A. acronym for "non-official cover" that is, an informant or agent operating without the diplomatic protection, or cover, of employment by the U.S. government.
Ready? In July of this year, Robert Novak, a rare breed of columnist who is also a reporter, posed a question like this to a government official: Why did the C.I.A. dispatch an investigator to Africa to check out allegations about Iraqi uranium negotiation who had been a member of the Clinton National Security Council staff and opposed regime change in Iraq?
The columnist reported he was told by "two senior administration officials" (perhaps in an inadvertent leak, perhaps in an authorized leak) that the investigator, Joseph Wilson IV who had just surfaced as an on-the-record whistle-blower, blasting the Bush administration in The New York Times and on NBC's "Meet the Press" had been recommended by his wife, who works for the C.I.A.
Presuming Wilson's wife to be one of the hundreds of analysts at C.I.A. headquarters across the Potomac and possibly one of those disagreeing with the consensus judgment about the danger of Saddam the columnist called attention to the nepotistic genesis of the C.I.A.'s assignment.
Though asked not to use her name, which is listed in Wilson's entry in Who's Who in America, the journalist was not warned that Wilson's wife was or had been a noc.
Novak concedes he should not have called her an "operative."
As it does when something like this happens every week or so, the C.I.A. referred the leak to the Justice Department, because officials are prohibited from intentionally identifying a noc.
An F.B.I. inquiry proceeded quietly for two months until a counterleaker struck. The referral to Justice had been reported on MSNBC, but when it hit the front page of The Washington Post, that story had a sensational angle: "A senior administration official said that before Novak's column ran, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife."
That incendiary charge by an unnamed official was that two Bush spinmeisters had launched a campaign to intimidate a critic by endangering his wife.
When a Post reader asked why it took two months for the story to gain traction, Walter Pincus, a veteran Post journalist familiar with leakmanship, replied on the paper's Web site: "It is a difficult story to take further than a column sourced to `two senior administration officials' without some official steps taken unless some inside source stepped forward. And this weekend, one did."
Enter "Shallow Throat," perhaps an anti-Bush mole in the bitterly divided Company (C.I.A.) or at the Fudge Factory (State). Just as the Post reporters will never reveal who their "senior administration official" is, Novak will never reveal who his "two senior administration officials" are.
What about the "at least six other Washington journalists" that Shallow Throat told The Post had been plantees of the July story? They are either too embarrassed to speak up or are figments of a whistle-blower's imagination. (Don't look at me funny I'm not one of the "Leaked-Upon Six.")
Now Democrats want to prosecute the leakers of "Intimigate" as traitorous miscreants, while the White House wants Shallow Throat outed and ousted as a fink. The Kafka-esque danger: If plumbers are successful, the government will wake up as a giant clam.
I love it! Ping to everybody.
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I LOVE Safire's way with words! Gotta remember to use that to reference leakgate.
Rush picked up on that when a whacked out leftist caller kept repeating it every other word. He went on a LOOOOOONG rant, "dastardly" this, "dastardly" that. It was a good show.
I thought "Fudge Factory" was Bawney Fwank's house.
There's so much that can be done with this one ......