Richard Armitage appeared on CNN to discuss his leaking Valerie Plame’s role in arranging Joe Wilson’s Niger junket.
First of all, it’s good to recall that Bob Novak revealed in September of 2006:
I want to set the record straight based on firsthand knowledge.
First, Armitage did not, as he now indicates, merely pass on something he had heard and that he â€˜â€˜thoughtâ€™â€™ might be so. Rather, he identified to me the CIA division where Mrs. Wilson worked, and said flatly that she recommended the mission to Niger by her husband, former Amb. Joseph Wilson.
Second, Armitage did not slip me this information as idle chitchat, as he now suggests. He made clear he considered it especially suited for my column.
CNN’s Wolf Blitzer confronted Armitage with a clip of Valerie Plame commenting on Armitage’s disclosure, and Armitage explains why he did not regard Valerie as covert:
VALERIE PLAME WILSON: Mr. Armitage did a very foolish thing. He has been around Washington for decades. He should know better. He’s a senior government official. Whether he knew where exactly I worked in the CIA, he had no rights to go talking to a reporter about where I worked. That was strictly off-limits.
BLITZER: Those are strong words from Valerie Plame Wilson.
ARMITAGE: They’re not words on which I disagree. I think it was extraordinarily foolish of me. There was no ill-intent on my part and I had never seen ever, in 43 years of having a security clearance, a covert operative’s name in a memo. The only reason I knew a “Mrs. Wilson,” not “Mrs. Plame,” worked at the agency was because I saw it in a memo. But I don’t disagree with her words to a large measure.
BLITZER: Normally in memos they don’t name covert operatives?
ARMITAGE: I have never seen one named.
BLITZER: And so you assumed she was, what, just an analyst over at the CIA?
ARMITAGE: Not only assumed it, that’s what the message said, that she was publicly chairing a meeting.