The Waterman Paper
July 24, 2004
By H2O Man
This paper examines the possibility that Vice President Dick Cheney
orchestrated the "leaking" of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity
to the news media in the summer of 2003, in order to accomplish
These include (1) to punish Joseph Wilson for challenging "16
words" in President Bush's 1-28-03 State of the Union address; and
(2) to intimidate other sources from publicly challenging the White
House's version of events involving the "war on terrorism" and the
US invasion of Iraq. Both of these goals are well-known from numerous
reports on this White House scandal.
The other, (3) is that VP Cheney was attempting to derail an investigation
that Plame may have been involved in at the time that her identity
was exposed. This third potential goal has not been the subject
of any major media attention.
The author of this paper put it forward on an internet forum,
the Democratic Underground, in early July, 2004. The resulting eleven
DU "threads," which consist of over 3,000 posts from interested
citizens across the country, is the only known forum debating this
Besides the eleven DU "Plame Indictment" threads, the information
in this paper comes from the following four sources: The Politics
of Truth, by Joseph Wilson; Worse Than Watergate, by
John Dean; Don't Tread on Joseph Wilson, NYT book review
by John Dean on 5-23-04; and Plenty to Swear About, by Joe Klein,
While the case involving Wilson's investigation in Niger, and
the White House's efforts to expose Plame is long and complicated,
this paper will focus on a "time line" established by Wilson in
1. Jan '02: The first reports of a Niger-Iraq uranium connection
surface in the White House.
2. Feb '02: Wilson is asked to investigate by the CIA.
3. March '02: Wilson returns from Niger and briefs the
CIA on the investigation. His conclusion supports those of two others
that there was no Niger-Iraq connection.
4. Jan '03: Bush includes the "16 words" in his State of
the Union address.
5. On or about March 5, '03: the CIA gives VP Cheney an
oral report, informing him of Wilson's conclusions.
6. March 7, '03: the IAEA announces the US's documents
on Niger-Iraq are forgeries.
7. March 8, '03: (a) a State Department spokesperson admits,
"We fell for it" in regard to the forged document; (b) Wilson tells
CNN that the State Department has more information on the subject;
and (c) a workshop meeting is held in VP Cheney's office. It is
attended by top republican officials, possibly including Cheney,
Scooter Libby, and Newt Gingrich. The group discusses ways to discredit
8. June 8, '03: Condoleeza Rice denies knowledge of the
weakness of the Niger uranium claim on Meet The Press. She states,
"Maybe someone down in the bowels of the Agency knew about this,
but nobody in my circles."
9. July 6, '03: Wilson's NYT op-ed is published.
By the following day, two senior White House officials began contacting
at least six reporters, informing them of Valerie Plame's identity
as a CIA operative.
10. July 8, '03: Reporter Robert Novak tells a complete
stranger on a Washington street: "Wilson's an asshole. The CIA sent
him. His wife, Valerie, works for the CIA. She's a weapons of mass
destruction specialist. She sent him." In the following days, Novak
would ask the CIA for confirmation of Plame's identity. He was asked
not to print her name or identity in any article regarding Wilson.
11. July 14, '03: Novak's article exposes Plame.
12. July 20, '03: NBC's Andrea Mitchell tells Wilson that
senior White House officials told her that the "real story" was
not the 16 words, but was Wilson and his wife.
13. July 21, '03: NBC's Chris Matthews tells Wilson that
Karl Rove called him and said," Wilson's wife is fair game." Matthews
said he would confirm that if asked.
This time line indicates that while the exposing of Plame's identity
was a result of Wilson's op-ed, it was also part of a larger strategy
that had been planned in VP Cheney's office since March 8. It clearly
confirms goal #1: by exposing Plame, and putting her safety at risk,
the White House had severely punished Joseph Wilson.
It also supports goal #2: the White House had a strategy to intimidate
any other potential intelligence operatives from exposing the administration
for distorting information regarding Iraq.
Likewise, the exposing of Plame supports goal #3: exposing Plame
put an immediate end to any activities that Plame was participating
in at the time. This is supported by Wilson (pg 345): "She immediately
began to prepare a checklist of things she needed to do to minimize
the fall-out to the projects she was working on."
Also, Wilson notes: "Compromising the officer means compromising
a career, a network, and every person with who the officer might
have ever worked. Slips of the tongue cost people their lives."
The Leakers' Identities
Robert Novak sourced his story to two senior White House officials.
Other reporters, including Andrea Mitchell, made mention of the
two unidentified senior White House officials. These two are among
the at least six reporters contacted by these two officials.
Chris Matthew's call identifies Karl Rove as being involved in
the efforts to make "Wilson's wife ... fair game." This call took
place after the calls from the senior officials to the six reporters.
Wilson's book indicates a belief that the two senior officials
were Lewis "Scooter" Libby and Eliot Abrams. Abrams is no stranger
to White House disgrace, having been convicted on two charges during
the Iran-Contra scandal.
There is evidence the three were operating with the knowledge
of, and perhaps under the direction of VP Cheney. The March 8 "workshop"
in VP Cheney's office indicates that this was a long-standing, well-organized
effort to discredit Wilson. As Wilson notes (pg 387) : "... a plan
to attack me had been formed before the moment. It was cocked and
ready to fire .... an organized smear campaign directed from the
highest reaches of the White House."
Cheney and Pre-War Intelligence
Those involved in the "workshop" to discredit Wilson were also
active in efforts to influence pre-war intelligence reports. On
page 6, Wilson discusses "leaks" that Cheney, Libby, and Newt Gingrich
pressured the intelligence community "to skew intelligence analysists"
to fit their own needs.
On page 338, Wilson notes that these three reportedly intimidated
analysts by implying, "if you do a 'Wilson' on us, we will do worse
Wilson notes (pg 434) that VP Cheney runs a "parallel national
security office," which has no congressional oversight, and hence
can "circumvent long-standing and accepted reporting structures
and to skew decision-making practices."
As a result, as reported by Joe Klein in Time (7-5-04)
"the intelligence community is at war with the White House." Klein
notes that "multiple intelligence sources" indicated to him their
belief that Cheny strong-armed out-going CIA Director George Tenet,
to make him support Cheney and Rumsfeld's positions on Iraq.
Cheney, Niger, and Wilson's Trip
Wilson notes a report on a possible Niger-Iraq yellow cake uranium
transaction had "aroused the interests of Vice President Dick Cheney."
(pg 14) Cheney's office "had tasked the CIA to determine if there
was any truth to the report." (pg 14)
It is clear that Cheney was aware of the Niger report, and had
directed his office to have the CIA do an investigation of it. There
is evidence that on March 5, the CIA gave VP Cheney an oral report
on Wilson's findings. This was three days before the State Department
spokesperson told the media, "We fell for it," and that Wilson told
CNN that the State Department had more information on that subject.
March 8 was also the day that the "workshop" to discredit Wilson
was held in Cheney's office.
"What I Didn't Find" vs "16 Words"
The White House retracted President Bush's infamous 16 words immediately
after Wilson's op-ed appeared in the New York Times.
On 7-13-03, Condi Rice told Fox News Sunday that, "It is ludicrous
to suggest that the president of the United States went to war on
the question of whether Saddam Hussein sought uranium from Africa."
On 7-14-03, Robert Novak exposed Valerie Plame's identity. It
is important to recognize that Novak was aware that Plame was an
operative who specialized in WMDs, and that he had been asked by
the CIA not to reveal her identity, or even print her name, in an
article on Wilson.
The White House continued to engage in efforts to discredit Wilson,
including sending three identical e-mails of "talking points" to
Keith Olbermann when Wilson was appearing on MSNBC's Countdown.
1982 Intelligence Identity Protection Act
Wilson notes that the administration had already acknowledged
the Niger-Iraq link was unsubstantiated, and that logically, they
should have focused attention on how the 16 words made their way
into the president's State of the Union address. The effort to expose
Plame's identity made little sense. (pg 7)
Later, he continues with, "The White House gained nothing by publicizing
Valerie's name..." (pg 7)
"Then it struck me that the attack by Rove and the administration
on my wife had little to do with her, but a lot to do with others
who might be tempted to speak out." (pgs 5-6)
"The decision of the president's people to come after me ....
arose from no concerns over the emergence of secrets from my mission
-- there weren't any." (pg 339)
"However offensive, there was a certain logic to it. If you have
something to hide, one way to keep it secret is to threaten anyone
who might expose it. But it was too late to silence me." (pg 338)
Goal #3: Why Cheney Exposed Plame
Wilson notes that Sandy Berger, President Clinton's national security
advisor, pointed out that since the Bush people had never backed
down before, the fact that they had been "so quick to admit their
error this time meant they must have something more important to
protect." (pg 4)
In Worse Than Watergate, John Dean calls the exposing of
Plame the "Dirtiest of Dirty Tricks." He writes that "revealing
her identity damaged the national security and her career, and resulted
in the loss of a valuable government asset." He called this action
"literally life-threatening." (pgs 170-171)
What could have possibly been so important to VP Cheney that he
oversaw the violating of the 1982 IIPA, and risked a White House
scandal? The answer clearly can not be found in goals #1 or #2.
The answer, which supports goal #3, appears in Klein's article:
"Furthermore, there is intense anger over the White House's revealing
the identity of Plame, who may have been active in a sting operation
involving the trafficking of WMD components. ..... 'Only a very
high-ranking official could have had access to the knowledge that
Plame was on the payroll' of the CIA, an intelligence source told
And that very high-ranking official may have known through his
parallel national security office about the activities that Plame
was involved with at that time. The answer to goal #3 likely is
to be found in the checklist of things Valerie Plame did to mitigate
the damage done by Novak's article immediately after she read it.
This paper presents direct evidence that the intelligence group
that operates out of VP Cheney's office orchestrated the exposure
of Valerie Plame as a CIA operative, in order to realize goal #1,
the "punishing" of Joseph Wilson for publicly challenging President
It includes both direct and circumstantial evidence from sources
including Wilson, Dean, Klein, and others, that indicates they also
had goal #2 in mind: to intimidate any other potential sources that
could challenge their reasons for invading Iraq, as well as other
measures in their "war on terorism."
Yet these two goals alone do not explain why VP Cheney would (1)
take part in a measure that would violate a federal law against
exposing a CIA operative, or (2) risk a serious scandal for the
The possibility that VP Cheney was hoping to derail a sting operation
involving Valerie Plame, which is our identified goal #3, does explain
why VP Cheney would condone the breaking of the federal law, and
risk the most serious scandal that this administration faces.
Further research by an ad hoc DU "think tank" has identified possible
connections between businesses connected to VP Cheney that may be
associated with the sale of WMD components to countries in the Middle
East. It is our belief that this theory and the evidence that supports
it needs a more in-depth investigation.
At the time of publishing, the most recent message board thread
on this subject can be found here.