Thursday, November 03, 2005

"Plamegate" Update

Some very interesting developments in the "" situation. Of course you already know that the 2-year investigation into the "outing" of CIA agent Valerie Plame by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has concluded, with criminal indictments being returned against Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the vice president's Chief of Staff.

It is important to note, however, that the investigation did not turn up any evidence that any crime was committed in the leak of Valerie Plame's name as a CIA operative, only that Mr. Libby lied to the grand jury during the investigation. Even more important is the fact that Karl Rove, chief political strategist for president Bush (and hated even more by the Left than the president) was NOT and will not be indicted for anything related to this episode.

The lack of an indictment against Rove has sent the Left into a complete meltdown, as it is now clear that they anticipated that this would be the first of many pieces to fall which would bring down the Bush administration. In their zeal, they even came up with a name for it: (like Christmas). Reading that last link you will see how the Left was so excited about "Fitzmas" that they almost couldn't contain themselves; like a child waiting out those last few days before Christmas.

But with "Fitzmas" having come and gone without the present the Left so desperately but confidently 'just knew' they would receive, they have begun to once again spin off their already unsteady axis. They forced a in a crazy stunt to "force an investigation" into pre-war intelligence and how it may have been "manipulated" by the Bush administration. This was probably planned in the run up to "Fitzmas", intended as the first salvo in their post-"Fitzmas" assault on the Bush administration. The lack of an indictment against Rove, however, threw a huge and very inconvenient 'wrench in the works'.

And as alluded to in the opening line of this post, a completely different picture is beginning to emerge in this affair. Instead of Bush, Rove, and Cheney as the conspirators, Valerie Plame herself and those within the CIA who are ideologically opposed to the Bush administration are looking more and more like the real culprits. This picture is certainly not one of my making, but the blogosphere and even the MSM to some extent have formulated this new theory on these events.

, and quotes an article in today's Wall Street Journal by Victoria Toensing on this issue"

• First: The CIA sent her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, to Niger on a sensitive mission regarding WMD. He was to determine whether Iraq had attempted to purchase yellowcake, an essential ingredient for nonconventional weapons. However, it was Ms. Plame, not Mr. Wilson, who was the WMD expert. Moreover, Mr. Wilson had no intelligence background, was never a senior person in Niger when he was in the State Department, and was opposed to the administration's Iraq policy. The assignment was given, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee, at Ms. Plame's suggestion.

• Second: Mr. Wilson was not required to sign a confidentiality agreement, a mandatory act for the rest of us who either carry out any similar CIA assignment or who represent CIA clients.

• Third: When he returned from Niger, Mr. Wilson was not required to write a report, but rather merely to provide an oral briefing. That information was not sent to the White House. If this mission to Niger were so important, wouldn't a competent intelligence agency want a thoughtful written assessment from the "missionary," if for no other reason than to establish a record to refute any subsequent misrepresentation of that assessment? Because it was the vice president who initially inquired about Niger and the yellowcake (although he had nothing to do with Mr. Wilson being sent), it is curious that neither his office nor the president's were privy to the fruits of Mr. Wilson's oral report.

• Fourth: Although Mr. Wilson did not have to write even one word for the agency that sent him on the mission at taxpayer's expense, over a year later he was permitted to tell all about this sensitive assignment in the New York Times. For the rest of us, writing about such an assignment would mean we'd have to bring our proposed op-ed before the CIA's Prepublication Review Board and spend countless hours arguing over every word to be published. Congressional oversight committees should want to know who at the CIA permitted the publication of the article, which, it has been reported, did not jibe with the thrust of Mr. Wilson's oral briefing. For starters, if the piece had been properly vetted at the CIA, someone should have known that the agency never briefed the vice president on the trip, as claimed by Mr. Wilson in his op-ed.

• Fifth: More important than the inaccuracies is the fact that, if the CIA truly, truly, truly had wanted Ms. Plame's identity to be secret, it never would have permitted her spouse to write the op-ed. Did no one at Langley think that her identity could be compromised if her spouse wrote a piece discussing a foreign mission about a volatile political issue that focused on her expertise? The obvious question a sophisticated journalist such as Mr. Novak asked after "Why did the CIA send Wilson?" was "Who is Wilson?" After being told by a still-unnamed administration source that Mr. Wilson's "wife" suggested him for the assignment, Mr. Novak went to Who's Who, which reveals "Valerie Plame" as Mr. Wilson's spouse.

• Sixth: CIA incompetence did not end there. When Mr. Novak called the agency to verify Ms. Plame's employment, it not only did so, but failed to go beyond the perfunctory request not to publish. Every experienced Washington journalist knows that when the CIA really does not want something public, there are serious requests from the top, usually the director. Only the press office talked to Mr. Novak.

• Seventh: Although high-ranking Justice Department officials are prohibited from political activity, the CIA had no problem permitting its deep cover or classified employee from making political contributions under the name "Wilson, Valerie E.," information publicly available at the FEC.

Toensing concludes:

The CIA conduct in this matter is either a brilliant covert action against the White House or inept intelligence tradecraft. It is up to Congress to decide which.
on this new theory, and frankly the idea of a rogue CIA operation run specifically to undermine and potentially bring down the executive branch is very disturbingly treasonous.

Key words

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