The Bush administration doesn’t fire many people. There is very little turnover. The Bushies demand loyalty and they give loyalty in return.

Most administrations would have fired Wolfowitz over his cost projections on the war, Rumsfeld for his post-war planning, Hadley for his (ostensible) failure to prevent the ’16 words’ from appearing in the State of the Union address, Rice for her failure to act on intelligence that 9/11 was in the works, Tenet for (ostensibly) saying the case for WMD was a ‘slam dunk’, Bremer for his job performance in Iraq, Bolton for his interpersonal skills, and Rove for (ostensibly) lying to the President about his role in outing Valerie Plame.

Instead, all of these people (except Rumsfeld) have been promoted or they have been awarded Medals of Freedom.

We should keep this in mind while pondering the potential role of David Shedd in the Plame affair.

David Shedd is reportedly a long time covert operative of the Central Intelligence Agency. Predictably, there is almost no available information about him. David Corn says, about Shedd:

This person was then working on the National Security Council staff on nonproliferation matters. What made him special was that prior to that assignment, he had worked with Valerie Wilson at the CIA.

Why is this relevant? After Wilson’s column appeared in the New York Times, the White House went into damage control. It was very quickly determined that the CIA had informed the National Security Council that the Niger story was dubious and that references to uranium from Niger should be taken out of a speech the President made in the fall of 2002. This put a spotlight on Condoleezza Rice. Why did this debunked claim resurface in the State of the Union speech in January of 2003?

A decision was made to insulate Rice from blame:

Deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley said two CIA memos and a call from CIA Director George Tenet had persuaded him to take a similar passage out of a presidential speech in October — and that he should have done likewise when it turned up again in State of the Union drafts.

“Had I done so, this would have avoided the whole current controversy,” Hadley said on Tuesday. “It is now clear to me that I failed in that responsibility.”
CBS News 7/28/03

This could have led to a resignation by Hadley, but this is the Bush administration and Hadley was rewarded for his loyalty by getting the top job at the NSC when Rice left for State.

But, as we know, there was a lot more going on than Hadley falling on his sword. Hadley and Rove were involved in crafting a statement by George Tenet, where Tenet took some of the responsibility for the ’16 words’. Libby and Rove were leaking the identity of Wilson’s wife.

David Shedd was working with Hadley at the NSC, while simultaneously maintaining his employment at the CIA. Shedd knew Valerie Wilson from his work on nonproliferation issues at the Agency. However, he may have known her by her maiden name, Valerie Plame. It’s possible that Shedd informed Hadley about Plame’s position, and that she was married to Joe Wilson.

Shedd’s identity as a long-time covert operative was revealed when he was promoted to a position on John Negroponte’s staff as the Director of National Intelligence. Journalist, Siobhan Gorman, had the following to say about Shedd’s appointment:

Negroponte’s new chief of staff, David Shedd, Shedd was most recently at the NSC and spent much of his career in the clandestine service but also has management experience. And he is trusted by both Natl Sec. Adviser Steve Hadley and his predecessor Condoleezza Rice, which is good from a White House relations standpoint.

Given the Bush administration’s history of promoting people that have demonstrated more loyalty than competence, it’s not inconceiveable that Shedd has been rewarded with a plum job for either performing some dirty work, or to assure his silence.

Now, let’s look at a comment that Novak made:

“During a long conversation with a senior administration official,” he wrote, “I asked why Wilson was assigned the mission to Niger. He said Wilson had been sent by the CIA’s counterproliferation section at the suggestion of one of its employees, his wife. It was an offhand revelation from this official, who is no partisan gunslinger.”

Very few people knew who David Shedd was. He has no record of talking to the press. So, he definitely could not be described as a ‘partisan gunslinger’. He was in a unique position to know inside information about the CIA’s counterproliferation center.

Did Shedd talk to Novak? Or did Shedd talk to Hadley, who then talked to Novak? Or did Shedd talk to Hadley, who talked to Libby, who talked to Rove?

In any case, the first step appears to have been to contact the bigfoot reporters Judith Miller of the New York Times, and Walter Pincus of the Washington Post. Miller agreed to meet with Libby on July 8th, 2003. This was the same day that Rove first spoke to Novak.

Pincus declined to run the story because, he says, he didn’t believe that Plame was responsible for sending her husband on the trip. We don’t know what Miller believed, but she never ran a story. Novak was probably contacted after both Miller and Pincus (and Russert, Andrea Mitchell, and others) passed on the story.

In any case, the prosecutor is keenly interested in Miller’s meeting with Libby on the eighth. Is he also interested in David Shedd?

Update [2005-8-7 13:16:18 by BooMan]: I forgot to mention one more clue that Shedd might have been a source for Novak. In Wilson’s book, The Politics of Truth, he talks about two conversations he had with Novak. In the first, before his article was written, Novak said his source was from the CIA. But, in the second conversation, after the article was printed, he changed his story:

He cited not a CIA source, as he had indicated on the phone four days earlier, but rather two senior administration sources; I called him for a clarification. He asked if I was very displeased with the article, and I replied that I did not see what the mention of my wife had added to it but that the reason for my call was to question his sources. When we first spoke, he had cited to me a CIA source, yet his published story cited two senior administration sources. He replied: “I misspoke the first time we talked.”

A possible explanation for this is that Shedd was simultaneously a member of the CIA and a member of the NSC.

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