Accuracy in Media

Did Joseph Wilson expose his own wife as a CIA employee months before columnist Robert Novak published that information? Fox News military analyst and retired Major General Paul E. Vallely is being threatened with a lawsuit for saying that the answer is yes, and that he was there when Wilson confirmed her CIA status.

What’s more, Vallely tells Accuracy in Media that he is prepared if necessary to go to court to prove it.

He may have to. Wilson’s attorney, Christopher Wolf, categorically rejects Vallely’s claim. He tells AIM, “It never happened I can assure you that. Vallely is making it up for whatever reason. It’s false. It’s libelous. It shouldn’t be said. And that should be the end of it.” Wolf, a partner at Proskauer Rose, is a specialist in the areas of the First Amendment, defamation and libel.

In an interview, Vallely said that Wilson told him this in 2002 when they were both in a Fox News Channel “green room,” where guests wait before going on network programs. As to why he waited until now to come forward with this explosive charge, he indicated that it was because of disappointment with Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation of the matter.

The growing controversy suggests that the Wilson affair, which has resulted in the indictment of former vice presidential chief of staff Lewis Libby, could take another important legal turn. Vallely, however, said he is not worried about being sued. “I have plenty of friends in Washington who will support my effort to have the truth brought out and get these people under oath,” he said.

A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Vallely retired in 1991 from the U.S. Army as deputy commanding general, U.S. Army, Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii. He served 32 years in the Army.

While Vallely’s charge was becoming a hot topic on the Internet, it was recalled by some writers that one popular site had reported a comment by historian Victor Davis Hanson that he, too, had heard Wilson identify his wife as a CIA employee, also in a Fox green room exchange. But Hanson tells Accuracy in Media that he never heard Wilson make such a claim and wants to set the record straight.

The disputed Hanson comments about Wilson and his wife were reported on Free A posting by “FReethesheeples” had a detailed account of Hanson supposedly saying that Wilson had identified his own wife as a CIA employee.

The post declared that “Based upon a personal conversation (we were in a small group eating; it was NOT an ‘off the record’) I had with eminent historian Victor Davis Hanson (we were at a luncheon table together during a trip to Europe), it appeared entirely possible that Joe Wilson himself was the (or one source, if not the original one) possible source in revealing his own wife’s status as a CIA agent or employee. Victor Davis Hanson?said he (VDH) & Joe Wilson were both in the same ‘Green Room’ before a televised debate-discussion on Iraq, etc. and Joe first warned the TV make-up person not to get powder on his $14,000 Rolex watch, then he bragged to Victor about several things (possessions and trips to Aspen, etc.), like his expensive car (I think it was a Mercedes), and then bragged about his beautiful wife who, Joe Wilson said (braggingly) was a CIA operative. I asked Victor Davis Hanson Why he didn’t write up this account.(?) He replied that Joe Wilson would probably simply deny it, since only he (VDH) & Joe Wilson were in the Green Room together before the broadcast.”

Hanson told AIM, “?I don’t know who that was at a table or where, but most everything he repeats about a supposed conversation is inaccurate. I did meet with Joe Wilson in the green room of Fox in 2003, and he did talk about himself and his wife ad nauseam, but he didn’t disclose she was a CIA agent, and for most of the time he was introducing himself to David Corn and discussing writing something for the Nation.”

AIM has expressed serious misgivings about aspects of Wilson’s account of his trip to Africa to investigate the Iraq-uranium link, whether his wife was in any real sense a clandestine CIA operative, and media coverage of the case. But the charge that Wilson had personally identified his wife’s CIA affiliation has taken the controversy to another level. 

If the sensational charge is true, then Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald’s investigation, which is based on the belief that Valerie Wilson’s CIA affiliation was first disclosed publicly by columnist Robert Novak in July of 2003, was flawed from the start. It would also mean that the investigation was based on a false declaration from the CIA that her identity was a carefully guarded secret.

Vallely first made his charge on the John Batchelor syndicated ABC radio show and later to WorldNetDaily (WND), a popular Internet news site. Vallely said he was attempting to challenge the thoroughness of the Fitzgerald investigation “because he had never brought in under oath Joe Wilson, Valerie Plame, anybody at the CIA that knew what her exact job was during that period of time. And we knew she was not a covert agent.”

Vallely said another purpose of his appearance on the show was to challenge various statements Wilson has made.

When Vallely was asked whether he had ever met Wilson, he said that he had done so in the Fox News green room, and that this is when his wife’s affiliation with the CIA had come up. “There are some other people at Fox that knew that she had worked for the agency,” he said.

The WND story quoted Vallely at length on the matter but did not indicate if a response had been sought from Wilson. A follow-up WND story, however, revealed that Wilson’s lawyer, Christopher Wolf, a partner at Proskauer Rose, had demanded a retraction of the charges from Vallely and WND and had threatened legal action. This follow-up WND story said that WND had “attempted to reach Wilson and Wolf for a phone interview,” but that Wolf had renewed his demand for retraction of the allegedly false and libelous statements.

Vallely, in a telephone interview with Accuracy in Media, said he is standing by his charge. “We were talking about our families,” Vallely said about his conversation with Wilson. He said he remembered that he discussed his own wife’s employment in Washington, D.C., and that Wilson then commented that his wife worked at the agency, another term for the CIA.

“It was a casual conversation,” Vallely said. He said that he did not remember the exact date of the alleged exchange with Wilson but that they were both at Fox News on the same day more than once in 2002 when they were guests on various shows. 

The Batchelor Show returned to the subject on Monday evening. But Wolf, Wilson’s attorney, indicated concern about the direction of the program. “Mr. Batchelor hasn’t contacted me or Mr. Wilson,” he said.

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