Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Paul Vallely

Threatened with a lawsuit for “slander,” retired Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely is turning the tables on Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, calling on the man at the center of the CIA leak controversy to offer a public apology for accusing him of lying.

As WorldNetDaily reported, Vallely claimed Wilson revealed wife Valerie Plame’s employment with the CIA to him in a casual conversation the year before she allegedly was “outed” by columnist Robert Novak.

Vallely said he brought up Wilson’s disclosure last week because he saw Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation of the alleged leak as unfinished.

Wilson, he said, has made so many misstatements of fact, “but nobody has taken him to task.”

Why Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald did not question Wilson and Plame under oath, “is a mystery to me,” Vallely said.

Meanwhile, Wilson’s lawyer Christopher Wolf notified Vallely and WorldNetDaily that his office mailed an official demand letter yesterday threatening a lawsuit unless the general retracts his claim.

The letter follows an e-mail Saturday to both Vallely and WND warning of legal action.

Wolf warned Vallely “the claim that Ambassador Wilson revealed to you or anyone that his wife worked for the CIA is patently false, and subjects you and anyone publishing your statements to legal liability.”

But Vallely said Monday he still has no intention of backing down.

He first made the claim in an interview on the ABC radio network’s John Batchelor show Thursday night. Since speaking with WND late Friday, Vallely has clarified the number of occasions Wilson mentioned his wife’s status and when the conversation occurred.

After recalling further over the weekend his contacts with Wilson, Vallely says now it was on just one occasion – the first of several conversations – that the ambassador revealed his wife’s employment with the CIA and that it likely occurred some time in the late summer or early fall of 2002.

He is certain, he says, the conversation took place in 2002.

Wilson admits to two encounters with Vallely, the first in July 2002.

Fox News Channel would not provide information about Wilson’s and Vallely’s appearances, but WABC’s Batchelor told WND his staff has found that Wilson appeared on the network at least 25 times from Aug. 13 to Dec. 31 of 2002 and that Vallely appeared from 150 to 200 times during that year.

After two years of investigating the CIA leak allegations, Fitzgerald’s only indictment – of vice presidential Chief of Staff I. Lewis Libby Oct. 28 – pertained to the investigation itself, not the 1982 law that made it illegal to blow a covert U.S. agent’s cover, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. One of the key drafters of the law, Washington attorney Victoria Toensing, told WND earlier this year she believed it did not apply to Plame.

Fitzgerald has been probing whether Plame’s identity was leaked by the White House as retaliation against Wilson for his assertion that the Bush administration made false claims about Iraq’s efforts to buy nuclear material in Africa. Wilson traveled to Niger in February 2002 on a CIA-sponsored trip to check out the allegations about Iraq and wrote up his findings in a July 6, 2003, New York Times opinion piece titled, “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.”

White House defenders insist the White House aides simply were setting the record straight about Wilson, seeking to put his credibility in context by pointing out it was Plame who helped him get the CIA consulting job. Wilson denied his wife’s role initially, but a bipartisan report by the Senate panel documented it.

Wilson declared in the column that his trip revealed the Iraq-Niger connection was dubious, but his oral report to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence actually corroborated the controversial “16 words” in President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

Widely known?

At least two veteran reporters say Valerie Plame’s association with the CIA was widely known, and a prominent analyst on military and political affairs, Victor Davis Hanson, told WorldNetDaily his own green-room encounter with Wilson revealed a man who is unusually free with personal information to strangers.

Former Time magazine correspondent Hugh Sidey told the New York Sun in a story published Sunday. “[Plame’s] name was knocking around in the sub rosa world we live in for a long time.”

NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell, in an appearance on CNBC’s “Capitol Report,” Oct. 3, 2003, was asked how widely it was known in Washington that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA.

“It was widely known among those of us who cover the intelligence community and who were actively engaged in trying to track down who among the foreign service community was the envoy to Niger,” she said.

Hanson, a Hoover Institution fellow and National Review columnist, told WND that like Vallely, he had a casual but unusually frank conversation with Wilson in the Fox News green room before appearing on the air with the ambassador some time, he believes, in early 2003.

But contrary to a report, Hanson said Wilson did not disclose his wife’s CIA employment.

Nevertheless, Hanson found the first-time encounter to be revealing, describing Wilson as being very “indiscreet” and “unguarded” with personal information, rambling in a “stream of consciousness” manner.

“It was almost as if he were bored; he was non-stop talkative and sort of self-absorbed,” Hanson said.

“When I left, I seemed to know a lot about Joe Wilson that he had spontaneously offered to a stranger.”

While Wilson did not tell Hanson anything of his wife’s CIA connection, Hanson was a witness to an intense 30-minute conversation between the ambassador and The Nation magazine Editor David Corn, who apparently were meeting for the first time.

Corn’s July 16, 2003, column was the first published mention of Wilson’s claim that the White House intentionally had “outed” Plame as retaliation for the Niger report.

Entitled “A White House Smear,” Corn’s column said, “Soon after Wilson disclosed his trip in the media and made the White House look bad, the payback came. Novak’s July 14, 2003, column presented the back-story on Wilson’s mission and contained the following sentences: “Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson’s wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate” the allegation.

Corn claims Wilson never confirmed whether his wife was a covert agent, yet he writes:

Without acknowledging whether she is a deep-cover CIA employee, Wilson says, “Naming her this way would have compromised every operation, every relationship, every network with which she had been associated in her entire career. This is the stuff of Kim Philby and Aldrich Ames.”

Corn concluded: “The Wilson smear was a thuggish act. Bush and his crew abused and misused intelligence to make their case for war. Now there is evidence Bushies used classified information and put the nation’s counter-proliferation efforts at risk merely to settle a score. It is a sign that with this gang politics trumps national security.”

Previous stories:

Joe Wilson fumes over Vallely charges in WND

Analyst says Wilson ‘outed’ wife in 2002

Cheney top aide indicted, resigns

Sealed indictments coming this week

Drafter of intel statute: Rove accusers ignorant

Special offer:

WMDs have been found in Iraq. See list of major discoveries since U.S. invasion in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin

Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.