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Plame was Covert After All

Defenders of the Bush administration's outing of Valerie Plame in retaliation against her husband Ambassador Joe Wilson have repeatedly claimed that Plame was not undercover. Wrong again, according to an NBC report:

An unclassified summary of outed CIA officer Valerie Plame's employment history at the spy agency, disclosed for the first time today in a court filing by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, indicates that Plame was "covert" when her name became public in July 2003.

The unclassified summary of Plame's employment with the CIA at the time that syndicated columnist Robert Novak published her name on July 14, 2003 says, "Ms. Wilson was a covert CIA employee for who the CIA was taking affirmative measures to conceal her intelligence relationship to the United States."

The employment history indicates that while she was assigned to CPD, Plame, "engaged in temporary duty travel overseas on official business." The report says, "she traveled at least seven times to more than ten times." When overseas Plame traveled undercover, "sometimes in true name and sometimes in alias -- but always using cover -- whether official or non-official (NOC) -- with no ostensible relationship to the CIA."

Covert or not, dragging any member of the CIA into a political dispute is indefensible and contrary to our national security interests. We should look upon members of the CIA as we do members of the military; they are putting their lives on the line to protect our country. Consequently, they should be strictly off-limits when it comes to the political gamesmanship that goes on every day in Washington DC. The laws also need to be strengthened to protect people like Plame so this doesn't happen again.


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Comments (5)

ke_future:

larkin,

yeah, CIA employees should be off limits from partisan attacks. usually.

the problem i have with plame is that she was involved with selecting her husband to go to nigeria to investigate whether or not Iraq had tried to obtain uranium from Nigeria. (by the way the CIA determined, in part from his report, that Iraq was indeed trying to obtain yellowcake)

said husband then penned a political opinion piece in a major print publication. i would think at that point, the whole process of how he was chosen becomes relavent to the national dialog.

and just as the members of the CIA should be, in most cases, outside of political attacks, they, in turn, should not engage in it either. and i am talking about all of those "timely" leaks that have been coming out of the CIA since Bush entered office.

basically, it comes down to you can't have it both ways.

cirby:

So when someone inadvertantly leaks something like Plame's ID (which is what really happened in this case, not the "punish her" scenario that's been shown to be wrong by the court), the leaker should get his or her punishment, then the reporter should go to jail, since they knew it would be wrong to reveal that info.

...as far as "dragging" Plame into it, she dragged herself, in, by touting her husband for the politically high-profile mission, then rode it all the way to a book contract.

And, of course, you're all in favor of prosecuting newspapers and TV stations that leak actual, damaging, classified information. Right?

Thanks for clearing that up.

So, then, why was Richard Armitage not prosecuted?

HE was the one who first "leaked" her name to the media, and Fitzpatrick knew this upon taking the appointment. Yet he gives Armitage a walk, and indicts Libby for having a different memory of events than two reporters?

One of the statutory requirements for protection of "covert" status, by the way, is that the CIA actively protect that status. Plame drove to Langley every day in full public view, traveled abroad under her own name, and was listed under her husband's entry in "Who's Who" and on the corporate papers of at least one known CIA front company.

All of which is subject to judicial determination, not the leaked opinion of some CIA pencil pusher.

"So, then, why was Richard Armitage not prosecuted?"

Prosecutor Fitzgerald could not find evidence that Armitage knew of Plame's covert status when he disclosed her CIA status to Novak.

Rove knew, however, when he confirmed Plame's CIA status for Novak, and 5 days later gave the same information to Time Reporter Matt Cooper.

..and then there's the matter of motive -- an accident is one thing, but Rove outed Plame as part of a concerted, White House effort to discredit and quiet critics of our involvement in Iraq.

"And, of course, you're all in favor of prosecuting newspapers and TV stations that leak actual, damaging, classified information. Right?

Publishing leaks is one of the pains-in-the-arse that comes with a free press. The good far outweighs the bad. Just ask Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

For the media to turn a blind eye and not reveal classified information when leaked if (and it's an extremely important "if") -- if there is no compelling national security reason to keep the information unpublished, puts the media in the place of being an arbiter of what's right or wrong.

Bad. That's not their place. They're not "deciders", they're "reporters", and it's their place to report the information and let others decide if NSA snooping (for example) is a "good thing."

A free and autonomous press is one of the basic cornerstones of our free society, and it keeps our government in check. In my view, the right wing attacks on our free press are the closest thing to treason we have today.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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