Skip to comments.Six Reasons the Plame Episode is a Farce
Posted on 02/25/2007 11:51:02 AM PST by RussP
2007-02-03 -- In a syndicated newspaper column by Robert Novak on July 14, 2003, Valerie Plame (aka Valerie E. Wilson) was identified as a CIA "operative on weapons of mass destruction." Plame was married to former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, who had worked briefly for the CIA and had written a scathing editorial a week earlier in the New York Times accusing the Bush administration of "twisting," "manipulating," and "exaggerating" intelligence about Iraqi weapons programs "to justify an invasion."
Bush's adversaries quickly concluded that he or someone close to him had illegally "outed" Plame in retribution for her husband's editorial, and thus a "scandal" was born. Many of them demanded that Karl Rove, the President's close advisor and an early suspect in the case, be fired immediately. Many more speculated and hoped that the "leak" would ultimately bring Bush down in classic Watergate style.
President Bush appointed a Special Prosecutor to investigate the matter, and thus began one of the most ridiculous episodes in American history. The original conspiracy theory was absurd on its face and has been debunked, but the "mainstream" media has kept most of the American public ignorant of several absurdities that have permeated this case from start to finish. For at least six reasons, the Plame episode was and is a farce.
The "mainstream" media routinely refer to Plame as a former "covert" or "undercover" agent, but they almost always conveniently neglect to mention that she had not been one for several years prior to the so-called "leak." When the "leak" occurred, Plame was working openly at a desk job at CIA headquarters and had been for over five years.
Common sense suggests that once an agent works regularly at CIA headquarters, the agent is no longer useful for long-term, high-priority covert work. The law sets the threshold at five years, and Plame had exceeded that threshold for not working an extended undercover assignment. Hence, the law about "outing" a covert agent simply did not apply.
The law also requires that the leak be intentional, which is very difficult to prove under any circumstances. When the "outed" agent had been working openly at a desk job at CIA headquarters for several years prior to the "outing," malicious intent is almost impossible to prove. And when the agent is married to a high-visibility public figure, forget about it.
Victoria Toensing and Bruce W. Sanford wrote in the Washington Post:
As two people who drafted and negotiated the scope of the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act, we can tell you: The Novak column and the surrounding facts do not support evidence of criminal conduct.
For obvious reasons, nearly every person who works in any significant capacity for the CIA is required to sign a standard non-disclosure agreement (NDA). But for some reason Joe Wilson was apparently not required to sign one when he was hired to investigate the claim that Iraq had attempted to obtain uranium "yellowcake" from Niger.
Wilson had originally claimed that his wife, Valerie Plame, had no influence in his selection for the job, for which he was essentially unqualified. However, a memo later surfaced from his wife recommending him for the job. But the larger issue is not that Wilson benefited from nepotism and lied about it. The larger issue is that he apparently got special unrestricted status in not being required to sign a standard NDA.
The CIA is part of the executive branch of government and, as such, is supposed to work for the President -- not against him. So why was Wilson allowed to independently "go public" with information he obtained while working for the CIA? It just doesn't make sense unless the CIA was very careless -- or Wilson was specifically hired to do a political hatchet job on the President. The latter possibility is the real scandal that should have been investigated, but it completely eluded the "mainstream" media, which seems to be capable of finding only Republican scandals.
The irony is that Wilson's New York Times piece accusing the President of lying to start the Iraq war turned out to be a lie itself, as Norman Podhoretz has abundantly documented. According to a bi-partisan Senate Intelligence Committee report, Wilson's actual report on his brief eight-day trip to Niger did not support his sensational conclusion in the New York Times. From the official report:
The report on [Wilson's] trip to Niger ... did not change any analysts' assessments of the Iraq-Niger uranium deal. For most analysts, the information in the report lent more credibility to the original CIA reports on the uranium deal.
As if this whole episode were not absurd enough, Wilson wrote a book called The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity.
As mentioned above, Plame had worked openly at a desk job at CIA headquarters for over five years prior to the so-called "leak." That in itself made her non-viable for serious long-term covert work.
But she became even less viable, if that was possible, when her husband Joe Wilson became a high-profile public figure by writing a provocative piece in the New York Times accusing the President of lying to start a war. The notion that she was still viable and useful as a covert agent after that episode is simply ridiculous. Even if the Novak column had never been written, the CIA would have to be incompetent to have ever used her in a covert role again.
Even more ridiculous is the notion that her employment status with the CIA could have somehow been kept secret even though she was driving openly to her job at CIA headquarters every day amidst the glaring publicity surrounding her husband and his controversial investigation for the CIA. Yet that is what you must believe if you believe that Plame's "outing" somehow "damaged" national security.
Ironically, many who believed such nonsense praised the New York Times when it published top-secret information from an anonymous CIA mole regarding the tracking of terrorist financial operations.
The CIA is part of the executive branch of government, and as such it answers to the President. The President can fire the CIA Director at any time for any or no reason. He cannot have a Civil Service government employee fired without cause, but he can easily have an agent's covert status terminated if he so desires.
The notion that the President of the United States or someone close to him had to "leak" the name of a covert CIA agent to the press to "blow" her covert status is ridiculous. Underlying the notion that the President lacks the legal authority to terminate a CIA agent's covert status is the ridiculous notion that the job of a covert agent is some kind of "union-protected" job. Yet that is what you must believe if you believe that Bush or someone close to him illegally "outed" Plame to "punish" her husband.
In many parts of the world, getting caught attempting to undermine a national leader that you are supposed to be working for will get you killed, of course. In this case, even if the President had illegally "outed" Plame, consider the significance of it. Not only did she not lose her life -- she didn't even lose her job! All she lost was her supposed "covert" status -- which she hadn't used for several years anyway!
Many of the same people who believe that Bush is leading the nation into fascism also think that "outing" Plame was a horrendous crime against humanity. To put this whole ridiculous episode into perspective, try to imagine Hitler getting retribution on a Nazi secret agent by leaking the agent's identity to the press to blow her covert status! Then, to compound the absurdity, try to imagine the matter being investigated for over two years!
The original "leaker," State Dept. official Richard Armitage, is in no legal jeopardy, nor should he be. Plame was not a covert agent at the time, and the so-called "leak" was a completely innocuous statement of fact made in passing. But the Vice President's Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, who was not involved in the original non-crime, is now being prosecuted for perjury by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald.
What is the point of prosecuting someone for perjury regarding a non-crime that was "committed" by someone else? Libby's testimony certainly did not mislead the prosecutor into believing erroneously that a crime had been committed, nor was it needed to determine that no crime had been committed.
Novak identified Armitage to Fitzgerald as the "leaker" very early in the investigation, and Armitage didn't deny it. But Armitage was told to "keep it to himself" while Fitzgerald continued an unnecessary investigation as a politically motivated perjury trap. Fitzgerald is now prosecuting a peripheral figure for failing to recall in detail conversations from months earlier. Like the original prosecutor in the infamous Duke rape case, the prosecutor in this case should be prosecuted himself.
Much has been made of the fact that Libby and others in the Bush administration were very focused on this matter initially, implying that they should have good recall of the details, but that is essentially more media distortion. What they were "focused" on was the inaccuracy of the Wilson editorial and how he got hired by the CIA. The supposed "covert" status of his wife did not even occur to them initially, nor should it have. Hence, fuzzy memories about when they first mentioned or heard her name are completely understandable.
As for the purists who believe that Libby deserves to be prosecuted, many of them are suspiciously selective in their outrage. Where were they when Bill Clinton perjured himself by claiming under oath he had never been alone in the Oval Office with Monica Lewinsky? Unlike Libby's misstatements, that was clearly an intentional lie, and it was also relevant to the case being tried. But Clinton was never prosecuted for perjury, of course.
The so-called "mainstream" media has been diligent in perpetuating public ignorance regarding the many absurdities of the Plame episode. And now that the original conspiracy theory has been debunked, that same media is now keeping the public ignorant about that fact too. Hence, a large percentage of the public is still under the impression that the Plame episode exposed "dirty tricks" used by the White House rather than against the White House.
For example, a recent ABC News story on the Libby trial rehashed the original conspiracy theory that the Bush administration had deliberately leaked Plame's identity to "get back at" her husband -- but they conveniently forgot to mention that the original theory is now discredited. In that story, ABC is clearly perpetuating public ignorance and using it to continue the smear campaign against the Bush administration.
In that same story, the reporter said that the Libby trial "will remind the American public just how dirty politics can get," underhandedly implying that the Bush administration was the perpetrator rather than the victim of such "dirty politics."
Aside from Fox News, the coverage of this entire episode by the major news sources has had the effect if not the intent of maintaining public ignorance and casting aspersion whenever possible on the Bush administration. At the same time, Joe Wilson's egregious lies have been ignored, and he has been held up as a paragon of truth.
The Plame Game: Was This a Crime? --lawyers who wrote law to protect agents say Plame charge doesn't meet standard
Who Is Lying About Iraq? --mandatory reading by Norman Podhoretz
Who Exposed Secret Agent Plame? --a must-read article by Clifford D. May
Our Man in Niger --another must-read article by Clifford D. May
Trial of the Absurd --don't miss this article by John Podhoretz
As I said the first time, this synopsis will come as no great revelation to informed Freepers, but I think it could be useful for educating your less-informed friends and relatives about the Plame affair.
The "big picture" of the Plame thing has never been properly presented, hance most of the general public is ignorant of the ridiculousness of the whole thing. This article is an attempt to fight such ignorance. If you like it, please forward it to your friends and relatives. Thanks.
Very good. Hope you don't mind if I pass this on.
Bookmarked it. Thanks.
"educating your less-informed friends and relatives about the Plame affair."
Like my son who believed about a year ago that Rove had already left the WH over this and Cheney was next. Sigh... he reads the left wing blogs and believes them, but then, he lives in California so even though it's probably a losing battle I'll send this to him.
Thanks...it's hard to make sense of something so senseless but I think you did a good job.
"Hope you don't mind if I pass this on."
Of course not. Please do!
to be read later.
Deserves to be posted again. I actually think Wilson and Plame should be brought up on charges of fraud and misuse of public funds.
The level of ignorance out there never ceases to amaze me. The Plame thing itself is not particularly significant, but the way it distorted and blown out of proportion by the Left is just incredible.
I figure that putting the Plame thing into perspective should help people to see through the media bias against the Bush administration in particular and Republicans in general. If this doesn't do it for them, they are probably beyond the reach of rational discourse.
If Bush were a Democrat, that is probably what would have happened.
Bookmarked. Thank you for sharing your hard work!
Well done! :)
Fitzgerald is a moron.
Gotta feel sorry for Libby. Bet his legal fees are daunting.
Excellent summary. Too bad the newspapers can't find a way to present the facts in the case succintly like this.
Hey, how are you, DalcoTX?
It is possible that Plame had been out of the country on a nominally "covert" mission within the five years preceding the so-called "leak." Since I am not the Director of the CIA, I have no way of knowing for sure.
What I do know is this: if she was going back and forth between working a "covert" job and working openly at CIA headquarters, then the "covert" job couldn't have been very important.
In case you are unaware, the CIA headquarters is routinely monitored by foreign intelligence agencies. They photograph every person who enters and leaves the building. They may not catch every person every time, but they definitely catch people who work there routinely.
If the CIA assigned to an important covert job under those circumstances, they are truly incompetent. I don't think even *they* are *that* incompetent.
Good points and makes sense. Unfortunatatly Fitz doesn't.
Pray for W and Our Troops
Thanks. I've forwarded to non-freepers for their information.
Since there is no evidence that Plame was covert, and there is no evidence even hinting that President Bush terminated Plame's non-existant covert status, the entire discussion in this item is hypothetical and moot. In fact, this stated "reason" is completely immaterial to the Plame case, and might even mislead uninformed readers.
Yes, I know that it is tempting to rebut arguments from the left, no matter how unfounded and idiotic those arguments may be, but IMHO #4 is a non-sequitur that does little, if anything, to add to the already strong and relevant arguments in the rest of the piece.
It is amazing when you compare the media reaction to a real national security threat-- like Sandy Burglar's destruction of vital national security documents-- to this non-event.
Great job debunking the Plame Shame.
Don't forget Fitz-e-Baby. He definitely needs to be brought up on charges.
"Since there is no evidence that Plame was covert, and there is no evidence even hinting that President Bush terminated Plame's non-existant covert status, the entire discussion in this item is hypothetical and moot. In fact, this stated "reason" is completely immaterial to the Plame case, and might even mislead uninformed readers."
Well, I think the fact that the President has the legal authority to terminate an agent's covert status is very significant here. When the story first broke, I remember how the Left tried to make it out as if Bush had no more authority here than any private citizen. And the media parroted the same nonsense, of course. What I am saying is that, even if Plame *had* been covert at the time, the whole thing is nonsensical. The fact that Plame wasn't covert just compounds the absurdity.
It's the same trick the Left pulls on other national security issues too. Bush authorizes surevillence of terrorist cell phone calls from outside the US, and the Left accuses him of "breaking the law," as if the President has no authority unless granted to him by Congress. They just don't seem to understand the concept of separation of powers.
"The number one reason is the persecutor knew when he questioned and not just Libby but all the wittiness that no crime had been committed."
Yes, that's the kicker here. Novak told Fitzgerald very early that Armitage was the "leaker," and any reasonable person should have known then that no crime had been committed. So why did the investigation continue?
This goes to the heart of the Independent Counsel law itself. Fitzgerald or any IC is essentially given some sort of extra-Constitutional authority that seems to preclude any semblance of accountability.
I'd like to see the guy brought up on charges too if it is possible. But who would do it? Can you imagine the media circus that would ensue if the AG tried to prosecute him?
"One could go as far as to say that this was the scam of the century."
I think the most interesting question here is to what extent the scam was pre-meditated. In other words, when Wilson was sent on his baloney "investigation," did the people who sent him anticipate that his wife's supposed "outing" would become a major political and legal "scandal"? Or did that little gem just fall into their laps thanks to the pathetic media coverage?
I think the issue here is that if President Bush wanted Plame to be covert, he would have demonstrated some major annoyance at having her exposed. If he didn't want her to be covert, her exposure would not be a crime.
There is even a bigger picture.
This wasn't the first time Joe went to Niger to 'spy' for the CIA.
He was asked to do the same during the Clinton adminstration.
The situation was almost exactly the same.
He was going to Libya on 'company business'.
The CIA was trying to find out if Niger was selling yellowcake ore to Saddam.
Since Joe was going, and had plenty of contacts there (he was a close friend and business partner of the President of Niger), he was asked to 'spy' for the CIA.
All expenses paid, no non-disclosure agreements to sign.
Makes sense. Who would think he was a spy? In Niger?
Here's the BIG PICTURE.
That 'company business' that Joe was on. JC Wilson Ventures, Intl.
The reason he was going to Niger in the first place.
Guess what his company does, and why he had to be there.
They are brokers for foreign nationals. They specifically were the broker (and Joe was the primary handler on these deals) for the sales of yellowcake ore for the President of Niger.
Each time, Saddam somehow purchased large quantities of yellowcake ore. (likely through Libya)
A few weeks ago I was shouting at the radio while at work. An ABC news blurb mentioned something about the Plame story to the effect that Joe Wilson had "discredited" the White House's version of the Iraq's yellowcake dealings in Niger. Count on Big Media to keep repeating lies EVEN after they've been really discredited. The truth doesn't have a chance with Big Media.
That's interesting. I was not aware of that. Do you have any corroborating links?
Yes, the way they shamelessly repeat that lie is amazing, isn't it. But if you repeat a lie often enough...
She never worked "in Boston", particularly around time period you're looking at - She was introduced to Joe Wilson in 1997 in Washington, DC, at ATC meeting, and married Joe Wilson in 1998.
You probably refer to her supposed "cover" story of Brewster-Jennings, which was a mailbox and a phone number "virtual company", i.e. she didn't have "office" or cubicle in Boston, and had no reason to "work" or live there while being just married to ex-Ambassador and attending political parties in DC.
Here are some references to Brewster-Jennings, which was a well-known CIA front and couldn't possibly be used for real undercover work, but looked good enough to fill a resume or minor applications (while driving to Langley to work) or for any place else where "CIA" just wouldn't look good, like political donations.
( supporting info to above : http://cryptome.org/robert-ellmann.htm )
Here, we just "outed" a couple of more "spies" using Google :~)
If you revise your "big picture" essay again, you may want to add the Wilson's former RestoreHonesty.com site that was paid for and linked to by John Kerry's '04 campaign and taken out some time in 2004, when Joe Wilson has been proven to be a liar. it may go somewhere in your points #2 or #3.
Here's a good initial reference:
And here I thought Indymedia was nothing but fringe leftist stuff...
That may well be, but I don't see a lot of happiness even from moonbats about this case, ever since Armitage story came out and it became painfully obvious that there was no "conspiracy" and that Fitzerald's game was from the beginning an attempt to entrap WH officials for political purposes and that he had to justify his witchhunt by indicting someone he personally had a grudge against from previous legal defeat...
If you told them from the get-go that Plamegate would end in Libby "perjury" trial and that lies of Joe and Valerie Wilson about mission to Niger would be exposed, that except for few in media (MSNBC, AP, Reuters) who still keep perpetuating the myth of Cheney "conspiracy" and "outing" by repeating misleading statements about the nature of the Plamegate using "allegedly" and "accused of" and "investigated", they certainly hoped for a lot more... and most may have conscience pangs about sending unquestionably innocent man to jail for a "crime" that was not there... especially, not one of the dreaded "neocons", just a lawyer, really.
In other words, many on that side, who are not hopelessly brain-dead, feel betrayed and by now just as enraged by breathless hype in the media and left-wing DU types and by Fitz's unadulterated partisanship that fueled this stupid thing into a "crisis", that they feel backfired on them instead of delivering some tangible political benefits.
They got far more political "wind" from Katrina in far less time than they got from plamegate and Fitzgerald.
Marked for later read.
Well, first it is recorded history that J. Wilson went twice to Niger as a spy for the CIA.
Second, it is on record that he owns a company under his name.
It is his own statement that he was going there on company business.
It is on record that his company was a broker for commodities sales from Niger. And Joe personally handled the big deals involving the President of Niger. That is why he was going to Niger in the first place, each time.
The only large export Niger has is yellowcake ore.
It is fact that Saddam's stock of yellowcake ore went up significantly each time Joe Wilson went to Niger to 'spy'.
Google the name of his company, The President of Niger, yellowcake ore. It's all there.
Ask yourself, or anyone else. Why was Joe going to Niger in the first place? Remember that his wife suggested him to the head of her department to be used as a spy because he had contacts there, some from his diplomatic ties, and he was going anyway.
Why? It wasn't to go fishing.
Find out who Joe's first wife was, and who she worked for.
Then think back about the forged document that was supposed to fool this administration. It was supposed to prove that Niger did sell ore to Saddam, and get the President to use it as proof. Then embarrass him when it's veracity was overturned.
But, the Prez didn't bite.
Guess who was part of arranging that 'fake'???
Guess who was mad that the big fish didn't bite?
Guess who wanted to protect the info that the sales did go on, but not directly to Saddam. (The ore rebounded through Libya)
So, when you are guilty, what do you do??? You attack those who are not guilty. That way they are on the defense, instead of the offense.
DEMO TACTIC A#1
You mean his second wife, Jacqueline, a French "diplomat" (another word for "spy" in France)?
Because if there is evidence of this, I'd like to see it. I've seen it claimed a lot, but not backed up.
Thank you for the correction.
His second wife.
You are absolutely correct.
"Quick question, Russ - with regard to Plame's job (desk job for 'several years') and the assertion that she drove to Langley every day to her job, can you point to any evidence of this or are you merely relying on the unsourced assertions of commentators?"
OK, I'll be honest. I can't remember where I got that particular information. And I just tried a quick Google search, and I can't find much on it right now.
As far as I know, it is widely known that Plame had worked at CIA headquarters for some time. Perhaps I shouldn't have written that she drove there "every day," but I am pretty sure that she drove there "routinely." I'll correct my article to reflect that distinction.
According to Wikipedia, I believe it was Joe Wilson's own book that said Plame had not worked overseas since 1997, at least not on an extended basis.
And she had certainly not been "deep undercover" for at least that long if ever.
If you find more specific information, please keep me posted.
I agree that the Plame thing turned out to be a big disappointment for Bush haters, but remember that Leftist myths never die. They just go into perpetual syndicated reruns on ABC and MSNBC.
RussP, there are a lot of references on the Web about this (not just somebody saying it), but here's a short one from those who should know :
Also, if she were a NOC, Fitz wouldn't go to the lengths he went to hide that, even from the judge, apparently, to justify his "investigation". He always referred to her as "classified", not "covert" which is specific to the statute, and we know that she had a desk job as "analyst" at CPD in CIA, she also married Joe Wilson in 1998 and had twins - hardly leading a life of jet-setter. There were also no other "covers" disclosed, other than "non-cover" at Brewster-Jennings, which I posted about in #37.
That's all very interesting. I'll look into it.
Since you know so much about this thing, do you know when Plame started working openly at CIA headquarters? I did a quick Google search, but I can't seem to find that particular information.