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October 01, 2003



Keep trying to spin that tale. Unfortunately the overwhelming evidence now in the public domain confirms she was a deep-cover operative. To wit:

LARRY JOHNSON: Let's be very clear about what happened. This is not an alleged abuse. This is a confirmed abuse. I worked with this woman. She started training with me. She has been undercover for three decades, she is not as Bob Novak suggested a CIA analyst. But given that, I was a CIA analyst for four years. I was undercover. I could not divulge to my family outside of my wife that I worked for the Central Intelligence Agency until I left the agency on September 30, 1989. At that point I could admit it.

So the fact that she's been undercover for three decades and that has been divulged is outrageous because she was put undercover for certain reasons. One, she works in an area where people she meets with overseas could be compromised. When you start tracing back who she met with, even people who innocently met with her, who are not involved in CIA operations, could be compromised. For these journalists to argue that this is no big deal and if I hear another Republican operative suggesting that well, this was just an analyst fine, let them go undercover. Let's put them overseas and let's out them and then see how they like it. They won't be able to stand the heat [...]

LARRY JOHNSON: I say this as a registered Republican. I'm on record giving contributions to the George Bush campaign. This is not about partisan politics. This is about a betrayal, a political smear of an individual with no relevance to the story. Publishing her name in that story added nothing to it. His entire intent was correctly as Ambassador Wilson noted: to intimidate, to suggest that there was some impropriety that somehow his wife was in a decision making position to influence his ability to go over and savage a stupid policy, an erroneous policy and frankly, what was a false policy of suggesting that there were nuclear material in Iraq that required this war. This was about a political attack. To pretend that it's something else and to get into this parsing of words, I tell you, it sickens me to be a Republican to see this."

Larry Johnson, ex-CIA Operative


This isn't "overwhelming evidence," this is a claim by someone who left the CIA in 1989... now if he can explain how he knows that she remained undercover at least until 1998, then he has a point... also if he can clarify the "three decades" stuff that would be nice.


So, we've got Bush-Hater Wilson, who's associated with these extremist anti-war groups like Truthout.

Ands we've got Ray McGovern, also associated with extremist Truthout.

Then we've got Larry Johnson, of "TWA 800 was shot down by terrorists" fame.

And we've got Kevin posting a WaPo chat with ANOTHER former CIA agent who is a Bush-Hater, Mel Goodman.

I'd like to know where the far left comes up with these characters... because if their aim is to make a serious matter into a garden-variety partisan foodfight, they're doing an awfully good job!

Jim Glass

"Novak published her maiden name, Plame, which she had used overseas and has not been using publicly."

Except by her husband in "Who's Who", apparently.

A whole lot of people seem to have known her deep cover, for a deep cover agent. Columnists at National Review, political party operatives ... I mean now we even have people going on PBS saying "I was deep cover and she trained me!"

Except as Slate recently pointed out, nobody who ever really was deep cover would ever say such a thing, because everybody such a person ever talked to would be tabbed by the guys on the "other side(s)" as a potential agent too.

Anyone want to start a betting line on whether this all is going turn out to be another "The invasion is bogged down, stymied, losing! ... What? we're in Bahgdad already?" or "I have in my hand the smoking e-mail that proves he's evil, EVIL ... Ooops, no I don't", type of thing?


"she would meet with James Bond at an embassy"

Umm, yes. I agree that is what it sounds like. And all over the world really bad people are combing through their surveillance records, checking which of their nuclear scientists and politicians met with Miss Plame (as she was). And then taking them down to the basement for a nice private chat...

She was posing as an energy consultant. Let us consider a hypothetical scenario. Assume that some years ago she was sent to some Middle Eastern country for her 'company', to do some 'consulting' on their 'civilian' nuclear energy program. Of course, to do that she would as a matter of course be meeting with the locals whose work is related to such facilities. In fact it would look suspicious if the secret police refused to allow her to talk to anyone, because hey, they've got nothing to hide, right?

Now, as we speak, the secret police there will be working overtime. They will be pulling the records that show when she entered and left the country, where she stayed, and to the greatest extent they can, where she went, what she did, and who she talked to. If they monitor the movements and contacts of their own people, they will be reviewing those records very carefully too. They will also be extremely interested in anyone else they might have files on from her 'company', or who she worked closely with.

If I were someone in such a country, involved in the construction of their nuclear facilities, who had met her for lunch 10 years ago to discuss the new civilian nuclear reactor, I would be absolutely terrified right now. If I actually knew that the new nuclear reactor could also be used to produce enriched Uranium, I would be beside myself. And if I had actually given her some of that sensitive information, knowing that the consequences could be death by torture for myself and my family, I would also feel very betrayed, and very angry. In either case, I would also be very reluctant to ever put my trust in someone like her again.

Now, maybe you don't think that this is a "blow to national scurity". I am not an American, but I believe it is a blow to my national security, and a much more serious one to yours.

Those who did this are scum. They might be stupid scum, who acted without thought to the potential consequences. They might be truly evil calculating scum, who did or should have known those consequences. At this point we don't know which of the two. It is irrelevent anyway. They are beneath contempt. They deserve to be uncovered, fired, jailed, and to be held in contempt by their fellow citizens, and all right thinking people. They should never be given a position of responsibility again. Anyone not doing their uttermost to find and punish these people are either willfully blind, or share their disgusting, debased excuse for a moral worldview.

I find the continuing excuses, evasions, and attempts to minimise the seriousness of this to be utterly contemptuous. Maybe it isn't as bad as I describe. I don't know. You don't know. So why are you not doing all in your powers to ensure we find out?



Here is Vernon Loeb, WaPo reporter, on a WaPo chat going on right now: "Plame was not an overseas operative, but a Washington-based analyst who maybe would have worked overseas in the future."


Dana Priest was also on the chat and declined to chime in on that...


Here's more Loeb:

"Houston, Tex.: "I don't think the national security has been compromised at all by this leak. Plame was not an overseas operative, but a Washington-based analyst who maybe would have worked overseas in the future."

Is the Post planning any reporting to this effect? The implication in every media story I have seen or heard on this is that Plame was an overseas officer in the clandestine service who had one or more networks. If that's not the case, then someone needs to point it out.

Vernon Loeb: I could be wrong, but I think she was basically an analyst. I know she is not now based overseas. And if the CIA is going to be sending people like her overseas to build clandestine networks of agents, we're all in trouble, because a lot of people in Washington know she works for the CIA, and I doubt it would have been very hard for people overseas to figure it out."

nick foresta

The outing of this woman is a crime and all the tap dancing about her CIA status is irrelevant. She was outed to harm her and her husband. If any of you Bush apologists have a better theory, backed up by anything other than Novak spin then let's hear it. Regardless of who said what, the CIA referred this to the Justice Department because it fit the definition of a crime. I would think the CIA knows what's a crime and what isn't. Wasn't it the right that used to say the President cannot choose which laws he wants to obey? They all took an oath to uphold the law. The CIA seems to think a law was broken. The Justice Department has an inherit conflict of interest whenever they are put into the position of investigating a criminal matter involving the White House. These are the arguments the right used to use quite frequently during the last administration. What changed? There should be an independent prosecuter appointed by the federal courts to oversee this investigation. That's what all of you would demand if it was 1999 instead of 2003. But consistency of principles has never been the right's long suit has it?

Nick Foresta


Oh cut the crap, Nick. We didn't hear this harrumphing over the FBI files and the travel office from the left... it's been well-established that the CIA has an inquiry at the slightest hint of a crime and now they want an investigation. The facts in this case are murky (and in some cases, getting murkier) and wanting to know the facts is not being an "apologist," despite what Kevin Drum says. If there was a crime they should be fired and prosecuted... but (repeat after me) that has not been established yet. Innocent until proven guilty. Remember that? Talk about consistency...

The CR

I'm still sticking to my original theory that she was a CMO -- an information collecting position inside the directorate of operations. The Ensor/CNN job description is essentially that of a CMO. Because the position is in the DO, the CMO has cover, but they do not run agents. Most of the other info I have seen seems to confirm this.

More troubling, if true, is the USA Today report that she had unofficial cover. That would mean that she was an "illegal" -- operating without the protection of diplomatic cover. This is the most dangerous assignment in the DO. I don't think that it's true however, because I don't think that anyone at the CIA would acknowledge her existance to the media or otehrwise. Very few people at CIA would even know that she worked at the CIA -- certainly not an analyst (someone who works for the directorate of intelligence) like Larry Johnson.

So, I'm still sticking with the CMO theory.



So, for instance, if I call the CIA and ask is James Bond a Secret Agent(ok MI5, whatever), are they going to say, yes James Bond is an agent but please dont print that, it might make his life inconvenient, or are they going to say James who ?

I find it pretty incredible to beleive that she was under deep cover at all, at any time, if the CIA would non-chalantly confirm this on the phone to a reporter.

If her postion was really classified, the CIA would have an obligation to protect it, which they didnt bother to do.


The chat with Vernon Loeb again, from further down:

New York, NY: In today's earlier chat, "Intelligence Leak", ex-CIA analyst Mel Goodman stated quite clearly that Plame was an undercover operative, not an analyst. Yet Mr. Loeb stated earlier in this chat that she was an analyst. Who's correct?

Vernon Loeb: I've already acknowledged my mistake. Goodman is right, Plame is in the clandestine service.

I'm not sure what Loeb means when he says he'd already acknowledged his mistake, because I don't see any previous remarks from him along those lines; maybe he means the "I could be wrong" comment that Al provided above. Anyhow, I don't think he was bringing anything new to the table here. He seems simply to have been assuming that since she's Washington-based now, she'd never worked overseas; but he's backed off from that now.


Some updates on her status....
From 10-2 NYTimes: Covert, unofficial cover, occasionally working abroad.
From Salon: Analyst and undercover officer who went overseas until July


Sorry, one more..
10-2 NYDailyNews: "ran intelligence operations overseas"


Plame "ran intelligence operations overseas," said Vincent Cannistraro, former CIA counterterrorism operations chief.

Galois, you make my day. If I ever get a papercut, you come running with the salt-shaker, OK? KIDDING!

Hmm. There are just too many of these people piling up with the same story. However, I am still comfortable with "What Happened That Week", which emphasizes confusion about her role caused by a CIA spokesman.

I want to wait a bit before I throw in the towel on her status - I have been drifting inexorably to the notion that mistakes were made, but right now, I have dinner plans.


Actually Nick, you have it wrong. Her vertness is relavant to whether a crime was committed by the person who talked to Novak, as well as those who are now saying she was covert.

Read the statutes. If the leaker learned of her covert status while looking at classified material they were authorized to look at, and leaked her covert status, then you have a crime.

But, if he learned that she worked at CIA, in the WMD department, via the cocktail party circuit or through other means, it ain't a crime.

Novak was trying to explain why a guy whose investigation into Iraq'attempts at getting uranium, did such an obviously poor job. By Wilson's own admission, all he did was sit around and drink tea with some officals in Niger.

The head of Niger's largest uranium mining concern is saying he never met Wilson. That makes it look even worse for him, and makes the CIA, which sent him, incompetent in the extreme.


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