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October 01, 2003

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J Adams

More bits about Plame:
USA Today 10/01/2003
A former intelligence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, says Plame worked under non-official cover in overseas assignments, meaning she claimed no affiliation to any government agency. The most common type of CIA undercover operative works in a foreign country for the State Department at the U.S. Embassy under what is known as diplomatic cover. Many of those operatives are known to the host government to be intelligence officials. That would not be the case with someone under non-official cover.
...
In Washington, Plame was assigned to the CIA's Non-Proliferation Center, an organization of analysts, technical experts and former field operatives who work on detecting and, if possible, preventing foreign proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

LA Times 9/30/03
Novak said the CIA asked him not to disclose Plame's name, "but never indicated it would endanger her or anybody else," and that he was led to believe that she was "an analyst, not a spy, not a covert operative, and not in charge of undercover operatives."

Novak was wrong on those accounts, according to the CIA. "We wouldn't file a crimes report" if the case didn't involve an agent undercover, a U.S. official said.

LA Times 10/01/03

Wilson's wife works with [Alan] Foley in the CIA's Nonproliferation Center.

WaPo 9/30/02

That article was written by Phelps and Royce, the other two journalists named in the White House order to preserve records. The article was the first to identify Plame as a clandestine operative, reporting: "Intelligence officials confirmed to Newsday yesterday that Valerie Plame, wife of retired Ambassador Joseph Wilson, works at the agency on weapons of mass destruction issues in an undercover capacity -- at least she was undercover until last week, when she was named by columnist Robert Novak."

Plame currently is an analyst at the CIA. But, intelligence officials said, she previously served overseas in a clandestine capacity, which means her name is kept classified to protect her previous contacts and operations, and her ability to work again undercover overseas.

Rollerball

If he left the agency in 1989 after working
there for four years, and she went through
training with him, then she started training
with him around 1985.
The three decades comment *is* misleading,
as 18 years would seem to be more accurate.

HH

If she was an analyst in July but previously worked undercover and the "leakers" only knew of her analyst status, it would be difficult to prosecute them as the law shows that the person doing the leaking must know of their undercover status for it to be a crime. Cliff May's comment could be very important in the long run...

William Ehart

Hey guys, I don't know enough to cast aspersions officially, but something about that Larry Johnson guy's appearances on TV made me seriously question his reliability or biases. I'm not sure what it was, but it was early this year or late last year.

As far as I'm concerned, it is highly relevant as to why Wilson, a known critic of Bush's policy, was sent to Africa, and why his account differed from Tenet's, and why it was originally, and apparently wrongly, reported that he was sent by Cheney.

I still say there is less to this than meets the eye, and that some type of bureaucratic or factional infighting is behind it. Perhaps Tenet trying to save his job?

TM

I have to put J Adams on my Christmas card list.

OK, the USA Today story - I L-U-V the mention of Cheny and Scooter meeting with this team. That is the second time he appears in a "hint, hint" context.

And do I believe the non-official cover report? The CalPundit has some ex-CIA chap who says something similar, but notes that he is anti-war, anti-Bush, and may have an agenda. Presumably, such agents (and ex-agents) exist.

And there is a five year rule (for legal purposes).

As to the CIA filing a crimes report and saying Novak was wrong, well, the guy who was wrong was the guy who talked to Novak, TIME, and (later) the WaPO. The bureaucrats have taken over, and can't find "Covert, but don't take it seriously" in the regulations. She was covert, so file a crime report, and what was Novak's source thinking about?


susanna

Tom, have I mentioned lately that you're The Man? Great stuff, well written. Thanks for doing the heavy lifting. I'm just going to send my readers over here for The Latest On Plame/Wilson.

Al

Could somebody explain why whether she is "undercover" makes a difference? There is nothing in the statute that turns on whether she is "undercover". The statute only requires that she be a "covert agent". But "covert" does NOT mean "undercover". It only asks about whether her identity was "classified" (and, for all I know, the identities of EVERYBODY who works in the operations directorate are classified), and whether she worked overseas in the past 5 years.

Maybe there is a moral difference between outing an "undercover" agent and a "not undercover" agent, but that law doesn't seem to care.

Swopa

TM,

Why do you give Novak's words so much weight when he's changed his story far more (and more often) than anyone else in this controversy?

Joey

Has anybody considered the idea that the CIA set this whole thing to get rid of a bad agent? Here's what I mean: If Plame was a crappy operative doing shoddy work (i.e., recommending that her virulently biased husband go to Niger), perhaps the best way to render her harmless would be to "out" her so-called "undercover" abilities. It could be a win-win for the CIA; they get rid of a bad agent who it might have been difficult to fire (she's hard-wired to the State Department through her husband), AND work in some political digs at the White House.

Just a theory, and a thin one at that.

HH

Haven't seen any convincing evidence that Novak has changed his story... I have seen several instances with Wilson and he's the guy the mainstream press is quoting without question over and over again. This morning (can't remember if it was ABC or CBS) the radio news said the focus had shifted in the investigation. Why? Because Wilson told them what he suspected (he said that it was the WH political office, which is not where Rove works).

Another problem is that Johnson says he's been out since '89... how does he know what she's been doing since '98, which is all that's relevant?

narciso

Well Larry Johnson, was the one, who wrote a 2000 NY Times op ed, saying terrorism was no
longer a major issue, in 1996, he was one of
the first to suggest, when he was identified as a former State Dept (ahem) official, that TWA 800, was brought down by terrorism, and he has been one of the talking heads, who have been rather critical of many of the war on terror's operations. So his judgement is somewhat spotty

HH

Perhaps it will come out he is a "Bush supporter" the same way Wilson and Clark were...

Justin

With every column he writes, Novak digs himself in a little deeper. Sorry, Bob, you broke the scandal that brought down the Bush machine. Live with it.

By the way, Wilson gave to Bush ($2000) as well as Gore ($1000) in the 2000 cycle. Where were your fact-checkers, Bob? Attempts to smear this patriot and hero of Baghdad will all fall flat.

Philip

Undercover for 3 decades. Valerie Palm graduated from her CIA training school in 1984/85. She has been a covert operative since that time. This would mean she has been undercover in three decades 80's 90's an 00's.

It is not unusual word usage or hard to unsderstand. The BeeGees had #1 hits for five decades.

This is so specious it makes your arguments look silly.

In fact any attempt to make this into something "not serious" is going to blow up in the face of those who try. It is serious stuff. The lap dog media just got a nice juicy bone and are not going to put this one down.

You have a senior administration figure confirming two others made phone calls to the press divulging classified information for petty politics.

Argue all you want the CIA thinks a crime was committed. An official investigation by the JD is underway, (a special prosecutor cannot be too far away) GW Bush and Rumsfeld have held forth on the sin of leaking and how they hate it and are not going to stand for it. Well it is time they lived up to their rhetoric.

Spin it anyway you want if it makes you feel better. Someone is going down on this piece of stupidity.

TM

It is not unusual word usage or hard to unsderstand. The BeeGees had #1 hits for five decades.

This is so specious it makes your arguments look silly.

Hmm, does that include the argument where I said "Well, "three decades" must mean 80s, 90s, and the Naughties. 1989 to 2003, she joined the CIA at age 26, no problem." Just wondering.

As to your larger point, there is no question that Dems are getting great headlines out of this. There is still some question as to whether a crime has occurred, or national security compromised.

And I see my man Swopa out there. I don't think you need to beleive much of what Novak says to believe that he talked to the CIA in July, and got a weak signal not to print. TIME talked to the CIA in July, and the WaPo talked to them later, and they do not come through loud and clear as waving him (or TIME) off.

And the other point is, Novak might end up being deposed in all this (OK, unlikely, but he is the only known "witness" so far). If this is the star witness, good luck.

Swopa

My man TM,

Novak won't be the star witness, nor will any other journalist.

The star witness, if there is one, will be whoever leaked the initial Washington Post story. He seems to have a clear stake (either a practical or moral one) in seeing this scandal brought to light. If the investigation stalls at some point, he'll have to go public.

The runner-up star witness will be Wilson, naming the specific reporters who called him and repeating what they said about the leakers.

Eric Stahlfeld

Why isn't this an in-house CIA fight? Here's what Tenet said in July:

"In an effort to inquire about certain reports involving Niger, CIA's counter-proliferation experts, on their own initiative, asked an individual with ties to the region to make a visit to see what he could learn."

What appears likely now is that Plame was part of the "counter-proliferation experts" as an analyst. Wilson was the "individual with ties to the region," who happened to be her husband.

Tenet said this group "on their own initiative" came up with the scheme to send Wilson to Africa. Wilson doesn't find anything (with open questions as to how hard he tried, whether he had the necessary official tools to succeed, and whether the powers-that-be would ever believe him) and so reports. His report more or less is ignored.

Wilson opens fire by going public, in part to pay back those who ignored him and the analysts in his wife's group, and in part for ideological reasons.

Others in the CIA bring in the counter-artillery fire, suggesting Wilson should be ignored because he was sent solely because of his wife, part of the opposing force.

Opposing force brings in the counter-counter-artillery fire, that disclosure of Plame is a felony because she has served outside the US within the last five years and her identity as an employee is classified, bringing her within the definition of a covert agent under 50 U.S.C. Sec. 426(4)(a).

Someone in the NSC, part of the White House, gets clobbered for stupidly taking sides in the CIA bureaucratic fight.

HH

"The runner-up star witness will be Wilson, naming the specific reporters who called him and repeating what they said about the leakers," which is why the "his credibility doesn't matter" meme doesn't wash...

You can say "Novak digs himself deeper" all you want but without pointing out why, it gets you nowhere.

Swopa

HH,

I agree that Wilson's credibility does matter. But I also think it's held up just fine so far. (See the end of this thread for a bit more on this.)

For the problems with Novak's recent conversion to WH spin points, you can start with http://talkingpointsmemo.com/sept0304.html#0929031014pm and http://talkingpointsmemo.com/sept0304.html#092903728pm.

TimothyL

Valerie's 40 and has been undercover for 3 decades...and just this weekend I watched Spy Kids II with my kids and told 'em "aww...it's just a movie!"

Maybe the new DVD will add Based on the Life of...

I do understand the point about "Three decades" meaning the 80's 90's and a wittle bit of the 00's, but it's extremely disingenious. I've been working at my job since 1987. 3 decades or 16 years? Big difference, I think.

Of course she could be lying about her age... :)

Oh, and one more point...is using your maiden name as your cover name really the smartest thing to do? Maybe it is, maybe not, just wondering.

Julia Grey

Because Wilson told them what he suspected (he said that it was the WH political office, which is not where Rove works).

Yeah, he's only the HEAD of the White House political office.

Sheesh.

HH

Yeah I saw the rather desperate, poorly reasoned Marshall posts... not his best work, to be kind. There is no real contradiction with what Novak said to Newsday, all he's claiming is that he didn't seek out the story... he claims that now. He said the name was given to him... he claims that now. Wilson's word isn't worth going by plus I can't make heads or tails of how Marshall gets that conclusion from what he said in the first place.

HH

Er Julia, CBS reported that this morning, that Rove works right near the Oval Office... they clearly took Wilson's claim (which, again, isn't worth much) to mean he wasn't talking about Rove. Chalk it up to sloppy reporting if you wish but neither of us have the exact quote.

Deanna

I have been trying to find a news story From Foxnews because they were at the airport to meet Joe Wilson
when he returned from Africa. At that time they stated that he was met by his wife Valerie Plame who worked as an analyst for the CIA. It could of been when he was leaving but I do know that I was very surprised to here that Plame had been outed by Novak because I already knew it from watching the meeting at the airport. I live in Seattle, Wa. and do not read either the Times or the Post but I do watch the news for hours and I have an excellent memory for facts and I am still trying to get Foxnews to admit to the story and rebroadcast it but so far no luck. Maybe if you are willing to help with enough e-mails we can make them come clean.

Digger

..Anyone seen the July 12 press gaggle from africa? Mr. Fleischer's statement is " Interesting "

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