MSNBC: Plame was working on Iran

Earlier this year, in a story largely ignored by the mainstream media, Raw Story's Larisa Alexandrovna reported that CIA operative Valerie Plame, whose covert status was compromised by a White House leak in retribution against her husband, Joseph Wilson, for concerns raised about the use of pre-war intelligence, was monitoring weapons proliferation in Iran. At the time, officials to whom Alexandrovna spoke confirmed that Plame's "outing resulted in 'severe' damage to her team and significantly hampered the CIA's ability to monitor nuclear proliferation."

On last night's Hardball, MSNBC correspondent David Shuster confirmed that report.

MSNBC has learned new information about the damage caused by the white house 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.
Video of the report is available at BradBlog and Crooks and Liars.

For a very long time, an essential part of the GOP spin on this issue has been that Plame was not covert, so leaking her name "didn't matter." If Raw Story's and MSNBC's sources are correct, this report wholly undermines that assertion--in addition to casting the gravity of the outing in a whole new light.

It also necessarily raises (at least in the mind of this cynic) the possibility that the assumptions about the White House's motive for the leak was not exclusively about political payback. The administration's rhetoric on Iran is eerily similar to that we saw during the run-up to the war with Iraq, as illustrated by this post at The Belgravia Dispatch. Knowing as we now do that the administration was bent on war with Iraq and the lengths to which they went to make that war happen, it would be foolish to think they would not endeavor to do to same if they are similarly bent on a confrontation (more here) with Iran. If Plame could have provided information that disputed Iran's nuclear readiness, which is serving as the key justification for escalating alarmism about Iran, it's very useful indeed from the administration's perspective to have her out of the picture. Just a thought...

(Crossposted at AlterNet PEEK.)

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