American Scandal

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Every scandal begins with a lie. But the truth will come out. And then comes the fallout and the outrage.

Scandals have shaped America since its founding. From business and politics to sports and society, we look on aghast as corruption, deceit and ambition bring down heroes and celebrities, politicians and moguls. And when the dust finally settles, we’re left to wonder: how did this happen? Where did they trip up, and who is to blame? From the creators of American History Tellers, Business Wars and Tides of History comes American Scandal, where we take you deep into the heart of America’s dark side to look at what drives someone to break the rules and what happens when they’re caught. Hosted by Lindsay Graham.

The Plame Affair - Exposed | 1

The Plame Affair - Exposed | 1

Tue, 17 Dec 2019 10:00

In 2003, America is at war with Iraq, as part of its global campaign on terror. Former diplomat Joe Wilson sharply criticizes the war, making him an enemy of the White House. Payback is swift, but the crosshairs are aimed at someone else: Wilson’s wife, covert CIA agent Valerie Plame.

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It's July 14th, 2003 at 6.29 in the morning, and Valerie Plame is sound asleep. But she's got about 25 seconds into her alarm clock rings, 25 seconds before she finds out her life is going to turn upside down. From this 39, she had blonde and trim and the mother of three year old twins. She also has a secret. She's an undercover operative for the CIA. It's something that few people know. Only her husband, parents and brother know the truth. But that is about to change. Plame reaches for her husband, Joe Wilson, but his side of the bed is empty and that's strange. She calls out. Then here's Joe comes stomping up the stairs. He hands her a cup of coffee and scowls bitterly. Well, that son of a bitch did. Joe's tone joltzer had a madrowsiness. What? What are you talking about? He throws down a newspaper. The year prior, the CIA sent Joe to Niger to investigate claims that the African country had sold uranium yellow cake to Iraq. Yellow cake is a precursor ingredient for nuclear bombs. Weapons of mass destruction President George W. Bush argues are justification for an invasion of Iraq. Joe Wilson disputed that claim, writing a sting op ed for the New York Times. Today, eight days after the Times printed that op ed, conservative journalist Robert Novak published a column refuting Wilson, painting him as a retired diplomat whose mission to Niger was made routinely at a low level and that he's not even a CIA employee. What his wife, Valerie, is. Plame drops a paper to the floor. She looks up at Joe. I would Novak out me. What does my work have to do with this story? Her head starts to spin. This is bigger than just her. Anyone she's associated with innocent people, they could get locked up, tortured, even killed. And what about her family? Plame tenses up. Now that she's exposed, what if someone retaliates? She looks at Joe and sees a seething darkness settling in on him. It's a hatched job. It's payback for my op ed. But this is bigger than just Novak, he's got sources. I'm damn welcome to find out who they are. With that, Wilson storms out of the bedroom. Plame is left alone to get ready for the day. She has to go to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia and report for work, assuming she still has a job. Her head swirls. She's thinking about what just happened. She knows the Bush administration sees Wilson as an enemy for questioning the war, but this, going after her? It's like a mafia hit job. A way to tell the world we don't like what you're doing, keep your mouth shut. But Valerie Plain isn't going to stay silent. She's ready to fight back, and it's a fight that'll reach the highest levels of government, exposing just how far the White House will go to silence its critics. American scandal is sponsored by the new ABC drama Alaska Daily, when an indigenous woman goes missing in Alaska. It sparks new questions about other missing and murdered indigenous women. And that's where the thrilling new ABC drama Alaska Daily begins, and where it's headed, will have you on the edge of your seat. Two time Academy Award winner Hillary Swank stars as Eileen, a veteran reporter who joins a team of local journalists working to bring the truth to light. From Academy Award winning screenwriter Tom McCarthy, Alaska Daily premieres Thursday, October 6th on ABC, and streams next day on Hulu. If you're into true crime, the Generation Y podcast is essential listening. We started this podcast over 10 years ago to dissect some of the craziest and most notable murders, crimes, and conspiracy theories together, and we'd love for you to join us. Follow the Generation Y podcast on Amazon Music, or wherever you listen to podcasts. From Wondry, I'm Lindsey Graham, and this is American Scandal. On September 11th, 2001, the US faced an unprecedented attack, as planes crashed into the world's trade center towers in the Pentagon. President Bush responded swiftly. Nine days after the attacks, he declared a war on terror. The goal was to find and defeat terrorist groups around the world. One prime target was a Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, a ruthless leader known for torturing and terrorizing his own citizens. The White House claimed that Hussein had a cache of biological and chemical weapons, but the administration took it a step further, they claimed to have evidence that Iraq was seeking weapons of mass destruction. These claims had profound effects. In 2003, America plunged into a year's long war in Iraq, costing countless lives and trillions of dollars, and it sparked controversy back at home, as the Bush administration confronted those who objected to the war. In this three part series, we'll explore the fallout after Valerie Plain was outed as a CIA agent. Bush administration would face intense scrutiny, and even a formal investigation after the leak. This investigation would reach the highest levels of the executive branch, but it would also raise a profound question. In America, are citizens free to criticize their government? Or will they face payback? This is episode one, exposed. It's February 2002, almost a year and a half before Valerie Plain's identity as a CIA operative is leaked. She strides through the doors at the CIA's headquarters in Langley, Virginia. It's a massive, expansive, connected buildings that echo with the footsteps of hundreds of employees. She smiles at the familiar guards and grabs an elevator just before the door shut. A few floors down and the doors open and Plain enters the agency's counter proliferation division known as the CPD. She makes her way through the busy hive of underground rooms, about 300 people working as CPD, it's a mix of operation officers and intelligence analysts. They're all crowded together and shoulder high cubicles bathed in stark fluorescent light. It's an austere setting, but Plain is happy to be here. She works hard and has an important mission. She and her colleagues gather intelligence about weapons of mass destruction. They look at programs all over the world. Plain is chief of operations and has a long history with the agency. She served as a covert operative in Athens and Brussels, and for the last five years, she's been stationed at Langley. She's risen within the ranks. Now she heads the Joint Task Force on Iraq, investigating whether that country is manufacturing nuclear weapons. But before she can even take her coat off, there's a knock at the door. A young CPD officer steps in looking flustered and excited. She informs Plain she got a call that morning from someone at the Vice President's office on the green line. This gets Plain's attention. The green line is a secure connection. The officer says Vice President Dick Cheney is curious about a report sourced to the Italian government that says that in 1999, Iraq may have purchased yellow cake from Niger. Plain furrows are brown, stares at the one. The whole story is news to her and is trained on many levels. Yellow cake is uranium and when enriched can be made to make nuclear weapons. If this is true, it would mean Iraq's nuclear program is moving forward. But also, this is a strange kind of request. Plain has never seen the Vice President's office come to a junior CIA officer. There are protocols in place for delivering raw, unbedded information to policymakers. Plain is unnerved. Why would anyone in Cheney's office try and skirt the rules? This intelligence could be misinterpreted. It was dangerous business. So she hurries down the long gray corridor to her boss's office and explains the situation. He shoots her a thought to look. The normal course of action would be to call their office in Niger, but they no longer have one due to budget cuts. So Plain's boss suggests they send her husband, Joe. He knows that part of Africa well and he's got connections. Why don't you bring him in? Plain's boss suggests. She considers what this might mean. Her first thought is, with Joe potentially gone for, who knows how long, she'd be all alone with a barely controllable twins. She has no idea that being a single parent would be the least of her concerns. Because the seemingly innocuous trip will tear apart the fabric of her and her husband's lives. It's a week later on a cold February morning. Joe Wilson is driving his 96 Jaguar through northern Virginia. Soon he arrives at CIA headquarters at Langley. It's a 258 acre campus that's carved into the woods, a bucolic setting for a massive spy agency. Wilson feels good. He considers himself a patriot and he's happy to help out the agency, however he can. And he's well familiar with Niger and its uranium industry. In the 70s, he was a junior diplomatic officer in the country's capital, Niamay. And since then he's traveled there often, maintaining relationships with Niger's power brokers. Wilson maneuvers his Jag through the high security gate in parks. He meets Valerie outside the main lobby. The air is chilly and refreshing. Valerie then leads him inside to a small conference room where she introduces him to a group of officials from the CIA and State Department and then heads back to her office. Quickly the group launches into the business at hand, the report of a yellow cake sale from Niger to Iraq. Vice President Dick Cheney is keenly interested in it. As the officers describe the report, becomes apparent to Wilson that it's lacking in detail. For one thing, apparently no one in the room has actually seen the report and the amount of yellow cake described could be anywhere from 50 to 500 tons, a wildly considerable difference. Wilson becomes increasingly skeptical about the report. It smells a lot like rumor and he says so. But the young officer in the room speaks up, saying at this point, they're taking it seriously. Despite his gut feeling, Wilson knows that even if there's a slight chance this report is true, the stakes are incredibly high. Saddam is unhinged and ruthless. He has no regard for human life, so there's no telling what he'd do with a nuclear weapon. And if the dictator needs to be dealt with, Wilson isn't anti war. As he's fond of saying, he's anti stupid war. His thoughts are broken when another officer speaks up, asking if he'd be willing to help out and make a trip to Niger. Wilson feels the need to remind the group of something. But though it might be obvious, he's not a spy. He's a diplomat. Klandestin maneuvers are not his field. The officer nods and smiles. All he's asking is for Wilson to have a look, to talk to his sources and gather whatever information he can. Wilson looks around the table and he makes up his mind. It's February 26, 2002. Wilson's plane makes his final approach over Niemhmeh. Wilson looks out the airplane window, gazing across the country's capital. The Niger River looks like a winding snake of brown mud. Camels cross a bridge over the river, carrying bundles of firewood, and thick haze lenders of the city. On the ground, Wilson catches a rickety old taxi. He passes straight dogs, rooting through piles of garbage. All homes made of raw earth. But soon, Wilson sees the U.S. Embassy, a strikingly modern structure, somewhere between an office complex and a fortress. He's greeted by Ambassador Barbara Owens Kirkpatrick. She's tough, smart, and an experienced diplomat. Joe, welcome back to the chair. It's like I never left, Ambassador. Good to see you. The shake hands and sit in a sleek, comfortable chair is by a broad window. The ambassador briefs him on the current economic and military situation at Niger. After a few minutes, she pauses for a sippity and then leans forward to him. So Joe, I know the CIA sent you, but I'm curious as to exactly why you're here. The agency came across some documents. They indicated a rack tried to buy or did buy yellow cake from Niger. Back in 1999, so they asked me to take a look into it. Owens Kirkpatrick frowns. She's puzzled by this. Wow, Northwood, they do that. I already filed my report. To report? Yeah, I have it from Niger's president that no such sale ever took place. Iraq never even tried to broker a deal like that. Owens Kirkpatrick isn't the only one to think so. A marine general, one who oversees forces in Europe and Africa, reached the same conclusion and both reported their findings. Their reports went to the State Department, the Pentagon, and even the CIA. Hearing this, Wilson is puzzled. Well, we damn. No one mentioned that anyone had looked into this thing. As far as I'm concerned, it's a closed issue. The rumors of a sale were false. We wrote up a report and sent them up the chain. Ambassador pauses and shakes her head. Sounds to me like someone in T.C. wants you to find something, Joe. Beyond that, it doesn't make sense. No, sure doesn't. Ambassador stands up and extends her hand. Well, goodbye, Joe. And good luck finding what doesn't exist, I guess. Over the next eight days, Wilson will meet with a number of authorities and officials. They convince him that no yellow cake ever left Niger, even in an off the book's deal. Saddam never even attempted to make a deal. Wilson flies back to the States to report his findings. He assumes that that's the last sale here of it. He's done his job, fulfilled his duty. Now he can go back to his comfortable DC consulting business, back to his nice life with his wife and kids, and his beloved Jaguar convertible. He'll be a year and a half before he has any further contact with the CNA. But when he does, they won't be asking any friendly favors. It's January 28, 2003. It's an important night on Capitol Hill. President Bush is about to make his much anticipated state of the Union address. Just three months ago, Congress authorized Bush to attack Iraq if Saddam Hussein refused to turn over his alleged weapons of mass destruction. The war is in the air, and tonight's address may be important or shocking. Valerie Plame is at home in Georgetown, feeding her high energy twins. But come what may, flailing cries or flunks spaghetti, she's not going to miss the President's speech. She grabs the remote and switches on the TV, just as the President begins. He talks about his plans for the environment and tax cuts, and then Bush drops the bomb show. He says that an international agency confirmed that Saddam Hussein has an advanced nuclear weapons program, and he adds something that stops her cold. The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. That fateful sentence will become known as the 16 words, and they leave Plame dumbfounded because she's an expert on nuclear weapons and Iraq. As she knows what President Bush just said is not true. Later, Joe walks in the front door, and he's equally mystified. He wants to know how the hell this happened. Maybe he thinks Bush wasn't referring to Niger, maybe another African country. But soon he learns that no, Bush was claiming that Saddam Hussein sought uranium from Niger, claimed that Joe and others have already proven unfounded. But Wilson can see it. The administration is hungry for war, and it won't stop even if it has to lie to the American public. Wilson can't just sit by and watch this happen. He knows he needs to take action to call out this lie, even if he earns some powerful enemies. The problem is, he has no idea yet that Valerie will be in the crosshairs with him, and that his enemies will also become hers. But if your family was the victim of a home invasion, or you woke up in the morgue, or you were seriously injured, miles from help, what would you do? This is actually happening. Ask our listeners this very question, while we bring you captivating real life stories of trauma and perseverance. This is actually happening, brings listeners extraordinary true stories from the people who lived them. You'll hear stories about conflict, turmoil, or threats that dramatically alter the course of someone's life. Each episode is an exploration of the human spirit, and how survivors manage to overcome hardship and move on with their lives, even thriving afterward. The new season of this is actually happening, is available ad free only with Wondry Plus, and if this new season isn't enough, you can listen to more than 120 exclusive episodes available only to Wondry Plus subscribers. Join Wondry Plus on Apple Podcasts or on the Wondry app. It's June 8th, 2003, and on this Sunday morning, Joe Wilson is on his living room couch eating a bowl of cereal and watching meat the press. This week's guest is George Bush's National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice. Wilson is curious what she's going to say about the war in Iraq, which began about two and a half months ago. Host Tim Russell asks Rice about allegations that Iraq was purchasing yellow cake. Rice shrugs it off. Maybe somebody in the bowels of the agency knew something about this, she says, but nobody in my circles. Wilson knows that's a flat out lie, everyone in her circles knew. It was their job to know. By now Wilson has talked off the record with two journalists, one from the Washington Post and one from the New York Times. He's told them about Bush's misrepresentation of the facts. But he hasn't publicly identified himself. So far he's simply an unnamed diplomat who went on a fact finding mission in Niger. But now Wilson feels, now it's time to speak out and to use his own name. He grabs his cell phone and punches in the number of David Shipley, the editor of the New York Times op ed page. His adrenaline is pumping. Wilson spits out his pitch and Shipley doesn't hesitate to say yes. On July 6, 2003, Wilson's piece runs with a headline, what I didn't find in Africa. His opening paragraphs pull no punches. Wilson writes, Did the Bush administration manipulate intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons program to justify an invasion of Iraq? Based on my experience with the administration and the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat. Then as his closer, Wilson takes aim at the president himself, writing, America's foreign policy depends on the sanctity of its information. For this reason, questioning the selective use of intelligence to justify the war in Iraq is neither idle sniping nor revisionist history as Mr. Bush has suggested. The act of war is the last option of democracy, taken when there is a grave threat to our national security. More than 200 American soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq already. We have a duty to ensure that their sacrifice came for the right reasons. Just two minutes after Wilson's story hits the Times website at 10.30 pm, he gets a call from the New York Post looking for a quote, he's happy to oblige. Anything he can hit the hay, he climbs into bed with his wife's family. He's about to turn off the light and then there's another call. A producer from Meet the Press can Wilson come in next Sunday? Wilson agrees. He turns off his phone and he lies back staring at the ceiling in the dark. It's been a long day but something tells him there are many more to come. Because not everyone will think he's a hero. Wilson is expecting a backlash especially from the White House and soon he gets it. The White House press secretary Ari Fleischer immediately brings up Wilson's op bed during press briefings but downplays its significance. Former Secretary of Defense, Kastur Weinberger writes an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal taking swipes at Wilson's career while arguing that the investigation in Niger was too informal. Despite all this, Wilson figures the story will burn out within the next few news cycles. Surely the press will be drawn into other angles of the developing war and once again he thinks his life will return to normal. But Wilson has deeply offended the Bush administration. They want to strike back. It's July 8th, 2003 late in the afternoon. Columnus Robert Novak is walking up 19th Street in Washington. The sun is going down but it's still hot and muggy outside, typical for a DC summer. As usual, Novak wears a wool pinstriped suit and he's sweating as he walks. He's weaving through the throngs of downtown workers heading for the buses and trains that'll take them back to the suburbs. A man approaches him, begins walking in step. Novak has no idea who he is. He looks him up and down, he's short, wearing a dresser, no jacket or tie though. Then he pipes up. Mr. Novak, I saw you on Meet the Press on Sunday. Ah, is that right? Yeah, do you mind if I walk with you for a few blocks? Just like we're headed the same way, I just want to ask you a couple of things if that's okay. Novak is a bit puzzled, but he doesn't slow down. Sure, that's fine. What's on your mind? Do you think Bush is in trouble like big trouble? What do you mean exactly? I mean, since he's taken the country into war based on information that just isn't true, you know, the 16 words, I don't think the administration handled the situation very well, no. But I also don't think he's in big trouble. Novak is starting to regret engaging with this guy. He seems like yet another liberal DC newsound. And he's persistent. Oh, come on, I think you're being soft on the president. Do you see Joe Wilson on Meet the Press? I mean, don't you think he really nailed Bush? I mean, what do you think of Wilson? Novak is now tired of the conversation. An annoying beat of sweat drips down his forehead and lands on his lapel. Honestly, I think he's an asshole. But Wilson went to Africa and came back with information that Bush ignored. But listen, Wilson is no expert on intelligence, okay? He was sent in the chair by his wife who was at the CIA to encounter proliferation work. Anyway, this is my stop. I hope you have a nice evening. Novak's tried to wait for the stranger and then his face turns to a mask of frustration. He's kicking himself. He had just learned about Valerie Plame and the CIA and now he's just sharing it with a random man on the street. Why would he do that? Maybe he's just getting old or maybe he's tired. It was a hectic day. But whatever, it's not groundbreaking news. Still, he's going to write about it in his column next Monday. That's that. The man who spoke to Novak, the one on the street, turns out to be a good friend of Joe Wilson. And after the encounter with Novak, he had straight to Wilson's office, only a few blocks away and explains what just happened. Wilson immediately asks him to write it all down. He shocked that Novak has top secret information about his wife and that he's spilling it to a perfect stranger on the street, even by DC standards, to now rage his leak. Wilson also knows that if this information were made public, it would be a disaster for his wife and anyone she's connected to. He reaches Novak on the phone. Novak apologizes, but asks Wilson to confirm what he'd learned from his source. Wilson refuses to answer any questions about his wife and Novak won't name his source. They're at an impasse and then they hang up. To Novak, it doesn't matter. He's going to write his column. It's syndicated, so it's going to reach a national audience. Everyone will know the truth. Everyone will know about Joe Wilson and CIA agent Valerie Plame. But that won't be the end of it because what starts with a column will grow into something much, much bigger, something that will change lives, including Novak's. It's July 14, 2003. The sun is just beginning to rise when Valerie Plame's life changes. She's still in bed and has just turned off the alarm clock when Joe walks into the room, handing her the Washington Post. Plame sees the anger on his face. She sits up, scans Robert Novak's column, a few paragraphs in, her heart races. He's out of her as a covert agent for the CIA, writing that she's an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. This blows a cover she's maintained for almost two decades. As far as almost anyone knows, she's an energy analyst for a company called Brewster Jennings and Associates, which happens to be a CIA front company. To friends, neighbors, and even the mailman, she's just another generic, well paid drone in the vast Washington, D.C. hive. Plame was aware that Novak had to low down on her. He and Joe spoke by phone just a few days ago and asked Joe to verify her CIA position. So she alerted her bosses about Novak's insider knowledge, assuming someone would pick up a phone, make sure the information was buried, that they'd keep it from appearing in print. Journalists don't just reveal such things about high level agency personnel, but she realizes maybe that was a foolish assumption. She's designated as an officer under non official cover, or NOC and CIA parlance. That means she has no official link to the agency, and when NOCs have their cover revealed, they're left swinging the wind, so worse situation and NOC can be in. She's never forgotten something a former NOC operative shared with her in class when she was training with the agency. He'd been stationed overseas with a cover as an American business executive. One night he came home to discover that his apartment had been searched. He immediately left the premises with only his briefcase. He drove at top speed to the border and caught the next flight back to the States because he feared for his life. This is not a life for someone with a family, he said. But that's exactly what Valerie Plame has. And now, her career is likely over, and anyone she'd worked with or met with outside of the agency, they could now be linked to her quite possibly putting them in jeopardy. Down the hall, her three year old twins are still fast asleep. Could they be at risk? She pushes herself off the bed and quickly slips into her room, rushing into their room. The kids lie on their cribs peacefully, clutching their favorite stuffed toys. They're going to want breakfast soon. So she walks unsteady downstairs to the kitchen, her mind a ball of confusion. Why on earth would Novak do this? And who revealed her position to him? And another thing, Novak used her maiden name. She'd been using Wilson since her marriage five years ago. What the hell did that mean? It all smells like payback, she thinks. A revenge move sparked by Joe's op ed in the New York Times. But what was the point of targeting her? Then again, it's certainly an age old war tactic. If you want a devastate your enemy, go for the loved ones. Somehow, amidst her thoughts, she manages to get the kids fussing and fighting to the breakfast table, just as the nanny shows up. Joe, deep in his own world of next move decisions, says little and rushes to his office in downtown Washington. She grabbed her car keys and is out the door by 8 a.m., stepping into the stifling summer humidity that already blankets DC. Later that day, David Corn picks up his phone and puts in a call to Joe Wilson. Corn is the Washington editor of the nation, an influential publication that serves up progressive political views and analysis. He's 53 and respected journalist inside and outside the beltway. He's a contributor at Fox News, where Wilson is a frequent guest. They sometimes come across each other in the green room, and they work together on a piece that Wilson authored for the nation in which he attacked the Bush administration's neo conservative agenda. They're friendly. Wilson is in his office just blocked from the White House. He's plotting how to address the ripple effect from Novak's column. The phone rings, and Wilson glances at the collar ID. This is a call he's happy to take. No doubt Corn has read the column. David, how are you? I'm good, Joe, but I'll cut to the chase. You never told me your wife worked for the CIA. Wilson frowns and instantly drops the joviality. He instinctively glances at a frame photo on his desk, a Valerie balancing their son on her hip. That's right, and I can't tell you now. Well, what can you say? I'm not going to answer questions about my wife. This is not about me and less so about her. What it is about are the so called facts underpinning the president's statement in the state of union speech. Yeah, okay. I understand. But in the grand scheme, what are the revocations of what Novak wrote? Well, David, Jesus, exposing her could compromise everything she's worked on. And all the people she's associated with, it's huge. And let's face it, if she wasn't with the CIA, Novak and whomever gave him his leak, are still marking her as a spy. This is a woman who is known only as an energy analyst. Think what that could do to someone's career. Wilson gazes out the window. You can see people on the sidewalk driving down the avenue. People with lives that don't include such bizarre nightmares. He continues. Yeah, look, stories like this are not intended to intimidate me. I've already told my story. This is a warning shot directed at others, others who might have something else to tell. I think it's a goddamn fear tactic. Well, I think it could be more than that. What do you mean? You ever heard of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act? Not until right this minute. Corn shoulders his phone and quickly does a search for the lawn as computer. Pops up and he gives Wilson the details. The act was passed in 1982. It's rarely invoked, but it's message is key. It is a crime for a government official to intentionally reveal information that could expose a covert agent. The toll for doing so is steep with fines of up to $50,000 and maybe up to 10 years behind bars. Corn continues. The law only applies to whomever leaked to Novak, but the implications are huge. No one's mentioned this to you. No. I think this could be worth an article. Wilson winces. The last thing he wants is more attention to Novak's peace, which hasn't been picked up by the broader media. Hmm. I'm not going to tell you how to do your job, so it's up to you. Two days later, David Corn publishes his article, A White House Smear. It frames the situation in a potentially catastrophic way for the White House and for the two unnamed senior administration officials that Novak claimed his sources. He lays the issue out directly, writing in his opening, Did senior Bush officials blow the cover of the US intelligence officer working covertly in a field of vital importance to national security and break the law in order to strike at a Bush administration critic and intimidate others? It sure looks that way, if conserved, the journalist Bob Novak can be trusted. Corn quotes Novak, who says, I figured if they gave it to me, they'd give it to others. I'm a reporter. Someone gives me information and it's accurate. I generally use it. On July 21, 2003, just days after Novak's column in Corn's explosive peace in the nation, Wilson is again driving his Jaguar home, coming back from his downtown DC office. He wins his way through the glut of traffic on M Street, the main artery in Georgetown, when his cell phone rings. Wilson answers, and here's a clip voice familiar to him and anyone else who watches MSNBC's popular news show, Heartball. It's the host, Chris Matthews, a long time connected Washington insider who worked on Capitol Hill before stepping into the TV spotlight. The two men know each other, as most DC political veterans do. Wilson answers, and Matthews doesn't mince words. I just got off the phone with Carl Rove. He told me, and I quote, Wilson's wife is fair game. Carl Rove. Wilson is momentarily speechless. Stunned. Rove is George Bush's senior advisor. He's a strict right winger and a ruthless tactician. He also attends the same Episcopal Church as Valerie. Wilson continues, in case you're interested, I will confirm that if asked. And then he hangs up. Wilson ponders the tip, maybe Rove leaked Valerie's name, or maybe not. But either way, this means that Rove is spreading the leak. He's putting his stamp of approval on it, and Rove answers to the president. As he drives away, Wilson's head begins to spin. He knows it now without a doubt. It is payback, and from the White House. The question now is, can he and Valerie turn the tables? Can they help expose the most powerful people in America? Next on American Scan, journalist face repercussions for outing Valerie Plame's secret identity as a CIA officer. And soon, the leak will begin to backfire on the White House, leading to an investigation in a controversy that will embroil the highest leaders in the country. I'm wondering, this is American Scandal. Just a quick note about our reenactments. We can't always know exactly what was said, but everything in our show is based on historical research. American Scandal is hosted, edited, and executed produced by me Lindsey Graham for airship. Sound Design by Derek Ferrance. This episode is written by Peter Kielstrap. Our senior editor is Karen Lowe, produced by Gabe Ribbon. Our staff, Jenny Lauer Beckman, and her nonlopez for wandering.