‘Hardball’ Declares Plamegate Has Worsened Iranian Nuclear Standoff

On Monday’s 5PM EST version of “Hardball,” host Chris Matthews and MSNBC correspondent David Shuster made a number of factual misrepresentations and suppositions involving Valerie Plame/Wilson and the Bush administration (video link to follow). The most absurd part of this segment was Shuster’s suggestion that the current stalemate with Iran over its nuclear ambitions was exacerbated by the release of Wilson’s name to the press: “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.”

Of course, neither the names nor the positions of such sources were revealed by Shuster in this report. Also, there were absolutely no details given to support this wild assertion as to specifically what Plame was working on at the time, or what information concerning Iran ended up being missed by the Administration as a result of her departure from the CIA.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only problem with this report. In his preview of the segment, Matthews said: “When we return outed CIA officer Valerie Wilson made her first public appearance since her undercover status was revealed and her career ruined, Saturday night at the White House Correspondents Dinner.” For some reason, Matthews and most drive by media members continue to refer to Plame/Wilson’s “undercover” status even though this has been repeatedly brought into question, and was not confirmed by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. In fact, since no one has yet been charged by Fitzgerald with outing an undercover CIA agent – even though Fitzgerald has been working on proving it since December 30, 2003!!! – it is presumptuous for any media outlet to continue to refer to Plame as such.

Regardless, as Shuster began his segment, he made the same scurrilous and unsupportable statement: “For the first time since Bush administration officials revealed her undercover identity and ruined her career…”

The innuendo continued when Shuster stated: “Early in the case, Rove admitted to investigators that he outed Valerie Wilson`s identity to columnist Robert Novak. Novak was the first journalist to publish Wilson`s identity and the first to talk about it to investigators.” Once again, the word “outed” here is misleading. Furthermore, Novak has yet to admit to anybody that Rove was his source. Regardless, it makes for a better report to imply this, doesn’t it?

Finally, Shuster interviewed former secretary of state Madeliene Albright who claimed: “The world is in total turmoil right now. Worst I`ve ever seen it.” As Albright was born in 1937, it might have been reasonable for Shuster to ask her to qualify her “Worst I’ve ever seen” remark. After all, she was born during the Depression, and has lived through World War II, the Korean War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, the Iranian Hostage Crisis, and 9/11. Is the situation in the world today worse than during all those periods?

It seems Shuster must think so as well, for instead of questioning Albright about that, he instead asked her, “And how do we get out of it?” Great reporting, David.

What follows is a full transcript of this report, along with a video link courtesy of Crooks and Liars. 

DAVID SHUSTER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT (voice over): For the first time since Bush administration officials revealed her undercover identity and ruined her career, former CIA operative Valerie Wilson, accompanied by her husband, Joe Wilson, stepped in front of the television cameras, and the red carpet appearance Saturday night at the White House Correspondence Dinner could not have come at a more dramatic moment in the CIA leak investigation itself.

Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is weighing whether to indict top presidential adviser Karl Rove, otherwise known as Bush`s brain. And White House supporters are stepping up their argument that unveiling Wilson`s identity was not a crime. Joe Wilson`s response...

JOE WILSON, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR: Well, the CIA, I think, has responded, first, by asking the Justice Department to open an investigation. In and in my judgment, the leak of national security information is a betrayal, at a minimum of one security clearance, certainly of the public trust. And, I for one, can`t understand how Mr. Rove remains the payroll of the U.S. government.

SHUSTER: Early in the case, Rove admitted to investigators that he outed Valerie Wilson`s identity to columnist Robert Novak. Novak was the first journalist to publish Wilson`s identity and the first to talk about it to investigators.

And last week Karl Rove testified again he may have spoken about the Wilsons with "Time Magazine`s" Matt Cooper. Rove said he denied that under oath for the first year of the investigation because of memory problems. A case of bad memory is Scooter Libby`s defense.

But in regards to Karl Rove, lawyers in the case say prosecutor Fitzgerald is still troubled by the timing of Rove`s rolling disclosures. It seems that Rove`s memory perks up with every new indication someone else will expose him.

When Rove finally began to update his testimony in October 2004, it was just days after Cooper was first held in contempt for refusing to disclose confidential sources. And Rove did not give Cooper a clear waiver to testify until after Cooper`s appeals had been exhausted nine months later.

In any case, as prosecutor Fitzgerald considers whether to charge Karl Rove with perjury, obstruction of justice or worse, MSNBC has learned new information about the damage caused by the White House leaks. Intelligence sources says 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.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Iranians should not have a nuclear weapon, the capacity to make a nuclear weapon or the knowledge as to how to make a nuclear weapon. And now,that we`ve got the goal in mind, we`re working on the tactics.

SHUSTER: But the tactics are not as clear in the midst of record-low approval ratings and the diplomatic and military playing field limited by the U.S. war in Iraq.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: The world is in total turmoil right now. Worst I`ve ever seen it.

SHUSTER (on-camera): And how do we get out of it? What is the No. 1 issue as far as that, that is related to that turmoil?

ALBRIGHT: Iraq.

SHUSTER: And what do we do about it?

(voice over): The Iraq war is the backdrop to the CIA leak case. Joe Wilson had criticized the administration`s case for war, and the White House tried to undercut him by leaking, among other things, information about his CIA wife.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SHUSTER: The Wilsons say they`ve spoken with prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald twice since the investigation began. And the last time was several months so, so the Wilsons, like everybody else, they are waiting to see what Fitzgerald decides to do regarding Karl Rove.

Karl Rove`s attorneys say that they`ve been told by prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that no decision will be made, Chris, for at least a week.

Video Link

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.