June: (According to a 2002 conversation between Joseph C. Wilson and former Nigerien Prime Minister Ibrahim Assane Mayaki) An Iraqi businessman approached Mayaki and insisted that Mayaki meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss "expanding commercial relations" between the Iraqi government of Saddam Hussein and Niger. Mayaki interpreted the overture as an attempt to discuss uranium sales, but steered the conversation away from trade because of UN sanctions against Iraq. In a 2004 conversation with Wilson, Wilson's "Nigerien source" (presumably, Mayaki), told Wilson that the "Iraqi businessman" he had met in June 1999 was Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the former Iraqi Information Minster, sometimes referred to in the U.S. press as "Baghdad Bob."
New Years 2001: Over the holiday, a gang of burglars break into the Nigerian embassy in Rome and steal some letterhead and official stamps.
 Late 2001 - Early 2002
According to CIA Director George Tenet: "There was fragmentary intelligence gathered in late 2001 and early 2002 on the allegations of Saddam's efforts to obtain additional raw uranium from Africa, beyond the 550 metric tons already in Iraq. In an effort to inquire about certain reports involving Niger, CIA's counter-proliferation experts, on their own initiative, asked an individual with ties to the region to make a visit to see what he could learn. He reported back to us that one of the former Nigerien officials he met stated that he was unaware of any contract being signed between Niger and rogue states for the sale of uranium during his tenure in office."
 February 2002
12 February 2002: Valerie E. Wilson (aka Valerie Plame), a C.I.A. analyst working in its Counterproliferation Division, sends a memo to the deputy chief of the C.I.A.'s Directorate of Operations stating that her husband has good contact with the former Prime Minister and Director of Mines in Niger as well as other contacts who might prove useful in shedding light on the supposed Niger-Iraq uranium contract.
13 February 2002: An operations official cables an overseas officer seeking approval of Joe Wilson investigation.
26 February 2002: Joseph C. Wilson travels to Niger at the request of the CIA. Joe Wilson meets with the former minister of mines, Mai Manga, who said he knew of no sales of uranium between Niger and rogue states. He states the mines are closely monitored from mining to transport loading making it at least very difficult if not impossible for a rogue state to obtain uranium through this channel.
Joe Wilson indicates that in his conversation with former Niger Primer Minister, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, the pm indicated that he was not aware of any sales contract with Iraq but that in June of 1999 he was approached by a businessman, asking that he meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss expanding commercial relations. (Note: Niger's two largest exports are uranium and livestock ). Wilson indicated he thought the meeting took place but that Mayaki, who was aware of the illegality of such activities, let the matter drop due to the sanctions on Iraq.
According to the report of the U.S. Senate Select Intelligence Committee, (July 2004, pages 43-46), former Nigerien prime minister Mayaki told Wilson in Niger that Mayaki interpreted the June 1999 proposal of a businessman for "expanding commercial relations" as an offer to buy uranium yellowcake. However, this was only an interpretation. The Iraqi did not mention the word "uranium" or "yellowcake."
The Senate report's exact words on Mayaki's suspicions of Iraq's interest in uranium:
Mayaki said, however, that in June 1999, [A few words blacked out] businessman, approached him and insisted that Mayaki meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss "expanding commercial relations' between Niger and Iraq. The [CIA] intelligence report [on Wilson's trip] said that Mayaki interpreted 'expanding commercial relations" to mean that the delegation wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales. The intelligence report also said that "although the meeting took place, Mayaki let the matter drop due to the U.N. sanctions on Iraq."
The United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence faulted the C.I.A. for not fully investigating Iraqi efforts to obtain uranium from Niger, citing reports from both a foreign service and the United States Navy about uranium from Niger destined for Iraq and stored in a warehouse in Benin, a country located between Niger and Togo.
 March 2002
5 March 2002:Wilson is debriefed by two C.I.A. officials at his home. He never files a written report.
Wilson says he reported to the CIA that Iraqi attempts to purchase uranium from Niger are unlikely. Any deal about uranium could not possibly have taken place. Nobody at the State Department African Bureau had ever believed in the Niger story. Two other reports supported his views. Some CIA officials told the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that Wilson's information was neutral, others said Wilson's information lent support to the contention Iraqi sought uranium from Niger.
 September 2002
9 September 2002: According to Italian newspaper La Repubblica, the head of Italy's military intelligence agency (SISMI), Nicolo Pollari, meets secretly with Stephen Hadley, then Bush's Deputy National Security Adviser; the purpose of the meeting, as reported by La Repubblica, was to bypass a skeptical CIA and get documents purporting to detail an Iraqi attempt to purchase Niger uranium directly to the White House. Hadley and others who attended this meeting say they have little memory of the details of what was discussed, and in a press conference Hadley characterized the meeting as a "courtesy call" that lasted less than 15 minutes. According to the Italian Prime Minister's office, the meeting was between the then National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice, and Nicolo Pollari, in the presence of an Italian and US delegation that included Stephen Hadley.
 October 2002
6 October 2002: The National Security Council sent a sixth draft of a speech President Bush was to give in Cincinnati to the CIA. The draft contained the statement about Iraq "having been caught attempting to purchase up to 500 metric tons of uranium oxide. Tenet and other CIA officials directed the text be removed from the speech as the certainty regarding the accuracy of the claim was weak.
7 October 2002: George W. Bush gives a speech in Cincinnati in which he, for the first time, lays out in detail the case for disarming Iraq. In that speech he asserts, "If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy, or steal an amount of highly enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year." It is later revealed (in July 2003) that George Tenet had intervened to remove language from that speech referencing Iraq's alleged pursuit of Niger uranium. More specifically, Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley was reported to be a main target of Tenet's entreaties.
9 October 2002: Elisabetta Burba, an Italian journalist for Panorama magazine, part of the media empire of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, contacts the U.S. Embassy in Rome, requesting authentication of some documents of interest that she has. These documents allegedly represent a contract by Iraq to purchase uranium "yellowcake" from Niger. The owner, not Elisabetta Burba, reportedly wants 15,000 euros for them. Panorama refuses to pay that amount unless they are first verified as authentic.
15 October 2002: The embassy in Rome faxes the documents to the State Department's Bureau of Nonproliferation in Washington which in turn provided copies to the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR). The INR's nuclear analyst will later decide they are a hoax in January 2003.
During an inter-agency meeting the next day, analysts from the Defense Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Security Agency, and the CIA all obtain copies of the documents. None of the four CIA analysts in attendance remembers taking a copy which later would show up in a CIA vault during a postmortem search.
 December 2002
19 December 2002: By this date the uranium claim, which George Tenet had removed from Bush's speech in Cincinnati, Ohio, in October 2002, had found its way back into a State Department "fact sheet." Following that, the Pentagon requests an authoritative judgement from the National Intelligence Council as to whether or not Iraq had sought uranium from Niger.
 January 2003
January 2003: The National Intelligence Council, responding to the Pentagon's request, drafts a memo addressing the Niger uranium story in which they conclude the story is baseless. The memo arrives at the White House prior to the State of the Union address given later that month.
6 January 2003: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) asks the United States for any information related to the claim that Iraq had purchased yellowcake uranium from Niger.
13 January 2003: The INR's nuclear analyst sends email to colleagues providing rationale on why the Yellowcake document is a hoax. The CIA's nuclear analyst does not have the documents in question and requests a copy.
16 January 2003: CIA received copies of the original foreign language documents on the Niger-Iraq contract.
27 January 2003: During a National Security Council meeting at the White House, someone hands George Tenet a hardcopy of President Bush's State of the Union address. Tenet is too busy to read it and hands it to an aide who passes it to a top official in the CIA intelligence directorate who was also too busy to read it.
28 January 2003: President George W. Bush gives his State of the Union speech. Toward the end Bush states, "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." The sentence becomes known as the "16 words." In his State of the Union speech, Bush also declares, "The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb."
 February 2003
4 February 2003: The United States provides electronic copy of the Niger documents to Jacques Bute, then head of IAEA's Iraq Nuclear Verification Office, who was in New York, and sends a copy to the IAEA offices in Vienna as well.
 March 2003
3 March 2003: The IAEA tells the U.S. Mission in Vienna the Niger documents were obvious fakes. Among errors reportedly identified in the documents is a reference to a Nigerian constitution in 1965.
 June 2003
12 June 2003: During a telephone call, Cheney told Libby that Wilson's wife worked in Counter Proliferation.
 July 2003
6 July 2003: Joe Wilson's Opinion Editorial "What I Didn't Find in Africa" is published in The New York Times.
7 July 2003: Colin Powell receives a copy of a 10 June memo naming Valerie Wilson as Joe Wilson's wife and as a CIA officer, taking it with him on a trip on Air Force One with President Bush. The paragraph identifying Mrs. Wilson is marked "(S-NF)," signfying its information is classified "Secret, Noforn." Noforn is a code word indicating that the information is not to be shared with foreign nationals. Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, Ari Fleischer, Walter H. Kansteiner, III, and Andrew Card are on the trip, among others.
Sometime before 8 July 2003 Robert Novak has a conversation with Richard Armitage (Deputy Assistant Secretary of State). In that conversation he is told for the first time that Wilson's wife works for the C.I.A. [Armitage didn't tell Novak her name; subsequently, after his August 2006 public disclosure that he was the "inadvertent" leak, Armitage has asserted that he did not know her name at the time.] Novak uses an edition of Joseph C. Wilson's biography in Who's Who to identify by her maiden name Valerie Plame. According to the reporters Isikoff and Corn, Armitage's leak was "inadvertent, and the Intelligence Identities Act hadn't been violated."
8 July 2003: Robert Novak has a phone conversation with Karl Rove in which C.I.A. agent Plame is discussed, according to an unnamed source who had been told not to talk about the case. Novak is reported to have told Rove the name of the agent as "Valerie Plame" and her role in Wilson's mission to Africa. Rove is reported to have told Novak something to the effect of, "I heard that, too." or "Oh, so you already know about it." Rove reportedly told the grand jury that at this time he had already heard about Wilson's wife working for the CIA from another journalist, but is unable to remember who that was.
8 July 2003: Lewis Libby meets with Judith Miller and tells her about Plame's work at the CIA. According to Libby's later grand jury testimony, he told Miller at this meeting that the Niger uranium claim had been a "key judgement" of the October 2002 NIE (still classified at that time), and that Cheney had instructed him to do so. This was false; the Niger claim was not in fact one of the "key judgements" headlined, bolded, and bulleted in the first pages of the intelligence estimate. Later, after testifying to a Federal grand jury in October 2005, Miller will write in the New York Times that on this date (and four days later, on 12 July 2003), Libby "played down the importance of Mr. Wilson's mission and questioned his performance."
circa 10 July 2003-11 July 2003: Novak called Bill Harlow, then CIA spokesman, to confirm information regarding Plame and Wilson. According to Novak, Harlow denied that Plame "suggested" that Wilson be selected for the trip, and Harlow stated instead that CIA "counter-proliferation officials selected Wilson and asked his wife to contact him." According to Harlow, he "warned Novak in the strongest terms he was permitted to use without revealing classified information," that Wilson's wife had not authorized the mission and that if Novak did write about it, her name should not be revealed. Harlow said that after Novak's call, he checked Plame's status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative. He said he called Novak back to repeat that the story Novak had related to him was wrong and that Plame's name should not be used. According to Harlow, however, he did not tell Novak directly that Plame was undercover because that information was classified. According to Novak, not only did Harlow not tell Novak that Plame was undercover, he actually told Novak that "she probably never again would be given a foreign assignment but that exposure of her name might cause 'difficulties.'" Novak states that if he had been told that disclosure of Plame's name would endanger her or anyone else, he would not have disclosed the name.
11 July 2003: According to one source, Novak's regular syndicated column was allegedly distributed by Creators Syndicate on the newswire AP on this date.
11 July 2003: Matt Cooper's internal Time e-mail message bearing the time 11:07 a.m. is sent to his bureau chief, stating: "Spoke to Rove on double super secret background for about two mins before he went on vacation. . . ." Cooper writes that Rove offered him a "big warning" not to "get too far out on Wilson." According to Cooper, Rove told Cooper that Wilson's trip had not been authorized by "DCI"—CIA Director George Tenet—or Vice President Dick Cheney. Rather, "it was, KR said, Wilson's wife, who apparently works at the agency on WMD issues who authorized the trip." Rove also told Cooper that, "there's still plenty to implicate Iraqi interest in acquiring uranium fro[m] Niger". Cooper would later tell the investigating grand jury that Rove concluded the conversation by saying "I've already said too much."
(1) The term “classified information” means information or material designated and clearly marked or clearly represented, pursuant to the provisions of a statute or Executive order (or a regulation or order issued pursuant to a statute or Executive order), as requiring a specific degree of protection against unauthorized disclosure for reasons of national security.
(4) The term “covert agent” means—
(A) a present or retired officer or employee of an intelligence agency or a present or retired member of the Armed Forces assigned to duty with an intelligence agency—
(i) whose identity as such an officer, employee, or member is classified information, and
(ii) who is serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States; or
(B) a United States citizen whose intelligence relationship to the United States is classified information, and—
(i) who resides and acts outside the United States as an agent of, or informant or source of operational assistance to, an intelligence agency, or
(ii) who is at the time of the disclosure acting as an agent of, or informant to, the foreign counterintelligence or foreign counterterrorism components of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; or
(C) an individual, other than a United States citizen, whose past or present intelligence relationship to the United States is classified information and who is a present or former agent of, or a present or former informant or source of operational assistance to, an intelligence agency. http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Intelligence_Identities_Protection_Act
Much of the media attention has focused on whether one or more senior officials violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 (50 USC 421-426). (See Intelligence Identities Protection Act for the full text of this act.) However, proving a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act involves several elements which may be difficult to establish in this case. Some legal pundits felt that Rove was unlikely to have been in violation of the narrowly-worded Intelligence Identities Protection Act &mdash.
In order to violate the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, one must expose the identity of a "covert agent." A covert agent is one who is "serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States" (§ 426[a][ii]). Whereas, prior to July 14, 2003, when Novak's column outing her as a "CIA operative" was published, Plame had not been posted or stationed overseas in the preceding five years, during that period, she had '"served" overseas.
Further information: Valerie Plame#Career
In his book The Politics of Truth, Joseph C. Wilson states that he and Valerie Plame, then his future wife, both returned from their respective overseas assignments in June 1997, and that, after June 1997, neither he nor Plame was stationed overseas. But this information still allows the possibility that Mrs. Wilson served overseas after June 1997, which she did when she traveled on behalf of the CIA to investigate matters relating to weapons of mass destruction. After the publication of Novak's column, neither Wilson nor his wife has commented on any details pertaining to her CIA service, but Wilson responded to a reporter's question that "the CIA obviously believes there was reason to believe a crime had been committed" because it referred the case to the Justice Department. That action implies that she may have traveled overseas undercover.
On July 14, 2005, in an interview with Wolf Blitzer, broadcast on CNN, Wilson stated:
“ My wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity.
When Blitzer asked, "But she hadn't been a clandestine officer for some time before that?", Wilson responded:
“ That's not anything that I can talk about. And, indeed, I'll go back to what I said earlier, the CIA believed that a possible crime had been committed, and that's why they referred it to the Justice Department.
Wilson later claimed to the Associated Press what he had meant was something different than the way the comment was later covered in the press:
“ In an interview Friday, Wilson said his comment was meant to reflect that his wife lost her ability to be a covert agent because of the leak, not that she had stopped working for the CIA beforehand. His wife's 'ability to do the job she's been doing for close to 20 years ceased from the minute Novak's article appeared; she ceased being a clandestine officer,' he said.
In December 2004, over a year after Novak blew her cover, pictures of Joe Wilson and his wife appeared in Vanity Fair.
Further information: Joseph C. Wilson
Further information: Valerie Plame
Many former CIA agents and other former government officials argue that regardless of whether she went overseas in the required time period, her "outing" as an intelligence official did harm national security by compromising her front company and every other CIA employee using that front.[citations needed] Moreover, the disclosure sends a message to potential CIA agents and assets around the globe that the CIA could not guarantee that their identity would be protected if they chose to work undercover for the Agency or in cooperation with it.[citations needed]
In order for one to be protected by the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, it must be a fact that the U.S. government "is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent’s intelligence relationship to the United States." In debating this issue, some spokespeople for the Republican Party argue that if Plame worked at CIA's headquarters it could show that the CIA was not taking the required "affirmative measures."[citations needed] Yet, in their letter presented to the U.S. Senate investigating the Plame affair, former CIA officer Larry C. Johnson, joined by ten other former CIA and DIA officers and analysts, strongly disagree:
“ These comments reveal an astonishing ignorance of the intelligence community and the role of cover. The fact is that there are thousands of U.S. intelligence officers who 'work at a desk' in the Washington, D.C. area every day who are undercover. Some have official cover, and some have non-official cover. Both classes of cover must and should be protected."
From their perspective, the fact that Plame worked for a CIA front corporation created and maintained at taxpayer's expense constitutes an affirmative measure to conceal her covert employment.
Johnson argues further that the debate over the legality of the leak functions as a red herring, distracting the public from the direct harms to national security caused by the leak:
“ What is so despicable about all of this is that the conservative movement is now serving as apologists for political operatives who have destroyed an intelligence network and at least one case officer's distinguished career. The new standard for the Republican National Committee--Karl Rove didn't commit a crime. Boy, there's a slogan to run on, "At Least I Wasn't Indicted."
There are some major legal issues surrounding the allegations of illegality by administration officials in the Plame affair, including the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, the Espionage Act, Title 18 Section 641, conspiracy to impede or injure officers, the Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement, other laws and precedents, perjury, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and compelling the media to testify.
Possible consequences of the public disclosure of Plame's CIA identity
There has been debate over what kinds of damage may have resulted from the public disclosure of Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA operative in Novak's column and its fallout, how far and into what areas of national security and foreign intelligence that damage might extend, particularly vis-à-vis Plame's work with her cover company, Brewster Jennings & Associates, and also how the Plame affair and Plamegate may have affected the power, privileges, and functioning of the press media in America.
On October 3, 2004 The Washington Post quotes a former diplomat predicting immediate damage:
“ . . . [E]very foreign intelligence service would run Plame's name through its databases within hours of its publication to determine if she had visited their country and to reconstruct her activities. . . . That's why the agency is so sensitive about just publishing her name.
In contrast, in an October 27, 2005 appearance on Larry King Live, Bob Woodward commented:
“ They did a damage assessment within the CIA, looking at what this did that [former ambassador] Joe Wilson's wife [Plame] was outed. And turned out it was quite minimal damage. They did not have to pull anyone out undercover abroad. They didn't have to resettle anyone. There was no physical danger to anyone, and there was just some embarrassment.
In an appearance the next night, October 28, 2005, on Hardball, Andrea Mitchell was quoted as saying:
“ I happen to have been told that the actual damage assessment as to whether people were put in jeopardy on this case did not indicate that there was real damage in this specific instance.
Following Mitchell's appearance on Hardball, on October 29, 2006, The Washington Post's Dafna Linzer reported that no formal damage assessment had yet been conducted by the CIA "as is routinely done in cases of espionage and after any legal proceedings have been exhausted." Linzer writes:
“ There is no indication, according to current and former intelligence officials, that the most dire of consequences –– the risk of anyone's life –– resulted from her outing. But after Plame's name appeared in Robert D. Novak's column, the CIA informed the Justice Department in a simple questionnaire that the damage was serious enough to warrant an investigation, officials said.
Mark Lowenthal, who retired from a senior management position at the CIA in March 2005 reportedly told Linzer:
“ You can only speculate that if she had foreign contacts, those contacts might be nervous and their relationships with her put them at risk. It also makes it harder for other CIA officers to recruit sources.
Another intelligence official who spoke anonymously to Linzer cited the CIA's interest in protecting the agency and its work:
“ You'll never get a straight answer [from the Agency] about how valuable she was or how valuable her sources were.
In August 2005, Newsweek journalist Michael Isikoff reported that a "former government official who requested anonymity because of the confidential material involved" told him that the CIA's initial "crimes report" to the Justice Department requesting the leak probe never mentioned the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.
On October 28, 2005, the Office of Special Counsel issued a press release regarding Libby's indictment. The following is stated regarding Plame:
“ Prior to July 14, 2003, Valerie Wilson’s employment status was classified. Prior to that date, her affiliation with the CIA was not common knowledge outside the intelligence community. Disclosure of classified information about an individual’s employment by the CIA has the potential to damage the national security in ways that range from preventing that individual’s future use in a covert capacity, to compromising intelligence-gathering methods and operations, and endangering the safety of CIA employees and those who deal with them, the indictment states.
In a November 3, 2005 online live discussion, in response to a question about the Fitzgerald investigation, The Washington Post's Dana Priest, a Pulitzer Prize- winning journalist specializing in matters of national security, opined:
“ I don't actually think the Plame leak compromised national security, from what I've been able to learn about her position."
In a January 9, 2006 letter addressed to "Scooter" Libby's defense team, Patrick Fitzgerald responded to a discovery request by Libby's lawyers for both classified and unclassified documents. In the letter, Fitzgerald writes:
“ A formal assessment has not been done of the damage caused by the disclosure of Valerie Wilson’s status as a CIA employee, and thus we possess no such document. (Italics added).
“ In any event, we would not view an assessment of the damage caused by the disclosure as relevant to the issue of whether or not Mr. Libby intentionally lied when he made the statements and gave the grand jury testimony which the grand jury alleged was false.
During Libby's trial, Judge Reggie Walton told the jury "No evidence will be presented to you with regard to Valerie Plame Wilson’s status. That is because what her actual status was, or whether any damage would result from disclosure of her status, are totally irrelevant to your decision of guilt or innocence. You must not consider these matters in your deliberations or speculate or guess about them." During court proceedings, when the jury wasn't present, Walton told the court "I don’t know, based on what has been presented to me in this case, what her status was...It’s totally irrelevant to this case...I to this day don’t know what her actual status was."
Larisa Alexandrovna of The Raw Story reports that three intelligence officials, who spoke under condition of anonymity, told her that
“ While Director of Central Intelligence Porter Goss has not submitted a formal damage assessment to Congressional oversight committees, the CIA's Directorate of Operations did conduct a serious and aggressive investigation. ”
According to her sources,
“ the damage assessment . . . called a "counter intelligence assessment to agency operations" was conducted on the orders of the CIA's then-Deputy Director of the Directorate of Operations, James Pavitt. . . . [and showed] "significant damage to operational equities."
Alexandrovna also reports that while Plame was undercover she was involved in an operation identifying and tracking weapons of mass destruction technology to and from Iran, suggesting that her outing "significantly hampered the CIA's ability to monitor nuclear proliferation." Her sources also stated that the outing of Plame also compromised the identity of other covert operatives who had been working, like Plame, under non-official cover status. These anonymous officials said that in their judgement, the CIA's work on WMDs has been set back "ten years" as a result of the compromise.
MSNBC correspondent David Shuster reported on Hardball later, on May 1, 2006, that MSNBC had learned "new information" about the potential consequences of the leaks:
“ Intelligence sources say Valerie Wilson was part of an operation three years ago tracking the proliferation of nuclear weapons material into Iran. And the sources allege that when Mrs. Wilson's cover was blown, the Administration's ability to track Iran's nuclear ambitions was damaged as well. The White House considers Iran to be one of America's biggest threats.
On September 6, 2006, David Corn published an article for The Nation entitled "What Valerie Plame Really Did at the CIA" in which Corn reports that Plame was placed in charge of the operations group within the Joint Task Force on Iraq in the spring of 2001 and that, "when the Novak column ran," in July 2003:
“ Valerie Wilson was in the process of changing her clandestine status from NOC to official cover, as she prepared for a new job in personnel management. Her aim, she told colleagues, was to put in time as an administrator--to rise up a notch or two--and then return to secret operations. But with her cover blown, she could never be undercover again.
According to Vanity Fair:
“ In fact, in the spring [of 2003], Plame was in the process of moving from NOC status to State Department cover. [Joe] Wilson speculates that "if more people knew than should have, then somebody over at the White House talked earlier than they should have been talking."
In July 2006, according to CNN, Valerie E. Wilson and Joseph C. Wilson
“ filed a civil lawsuit alleging a conspiracy that "was motivated by an invidiously discriminatory animus towards those who had publicly criticized the administration's stated justifications for going to war with Iraq" and culminated with the disclosure that Plame worked at the CIA. This revelation destroyed Plame's career with the agency, according to the suit.
The scenario described by the sources familiar with Armitage's role, however, appears to contradict those arguments.
But the Wilsons' attorney, Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said the revelation that Armitage was the original source for the leak did not undercut the charge that Vice President Dick Cheney, Cheney's former chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and White House adviser Karl Rove acted to retaliate against Wilson by engaging in a "whispering campaign" about his wife.
The couple plans to proceed with the lawsuit, Sloan said.
"Mr. Armitage's conduct does not change the facts of what Libby, Cheney and Rove did," Sloan told CNN. "The case is about the abuse of government power." ”
On September 13, 2006, Joseph and Valerie Wilson amended their original lawsuit, adding Armitage as a fourth defendant. Unlike their charges against Rove, Cheney, and Libby, "claiming that they had violated her constitutional rights and discredited her by disclosing that she was an undercover CIA operative," the Wilsons are suing Armitage "for violating the 'Wilsons' constitutional right to privacy, Mrs. Wilson's constitutional right to property, and for committing the tort of publication of private facts.'"