Political Name Games
About January 2003, a highly placed Government Official made a speech detailing the existence of evidence of an illegal smuggling operation that could have had serious national security repercussions. It’s effects could have made some of our latest foreign policy problems look tame by comparison. On this and other pieces of information, our administration and congress authorized action. But the evidence in question was known at the time of this speech by many within the executive branch to be forged. When the time came to make the push for war, one of the investigators told America this, and the official’s Political Advisor retaliated.
Assuming he had control over what those handling his public relations were saying, it is safe to say he had the man labelled politically motivated, a label that seems to carry greater weight and importance among his supporters than actual evidence contradicting charges made.
If it had gone only as far as such name calling, then nobody's you-know-what would be in the wringer. Unfortunately, somebody got the bright idea of playing a game of politics with the process. Unfortunately, it has worked among many who support this official.
A CIA agent was involved, a person known to the public only as a private individual. This person, spouse of the whistleblower, had appeared with him in public, but not as a CIA agent. She was known to to be an expert in a certain field, working for a private company.
She was NOC- Non-Official Cover. She was home when her cover was blown, thank God. NOC agents who get their cover blown overseas can face imprisonment, torture, and sometimes execution. There is nothing that can be done, as with agents who have embassy cover, protected by diplomatic immunity. Additionally, when their cover is blown, other agents and sources associated with them can become contaminated by suspicion that at the least gets them cut off from sensitive information, and at the most can see them dead and/or tortured. The outing of a Non-Official Cover CIA operative is never a matter to be taken lightly.
The Operative was outed by a Columnist with strong ties to the political faction involved. That Columnist calmly dropped that fact during an article intended to discredit the Whistleblower. The information that she was more than a private individual was not widely known. It was knowledge restricted to levels of security that only the associates of the Government Official would have access to.
The Whistleblower had been asked by his Operative spouse to go back and turn on his charm and touch on his connections to verify the information in a certain document. It was already known at the the time that it was questionable. The Operative reported back basically what they already knew to be true, though he would say later that he had discovered the document was forged. He hadn't, but somebody else had. And it was. Names were wrong, officials were signed who had been out of office more than a decade. Information in it was true, but much of that was gleaned from other documents known to be stolen in a previous break-in. It was a patchwork lie.
This Political Advisor has been identified as having leaked this information, before the Columnist had ever set a word to paper. The facts are as follows:
1)A Reporter got word that this Advisor wanted a very hush-hush meeting. 2)The Advisor told the Reporter not to put too much stock in the Whistleblower's story, as he knew that the Whistleblower's Operative wife had brought him in on it. 3)He never named her, but the information that she was an Operative was together with the information that she was the Whistleblower's Wife, implying directly who she was, as the Whistleblower had only one Wife:
Valerie Plame. Karl Rove had just outed a NOC agent, one with a public profile as a private citizen, but who was not known to the public as a CIA agent. He had talked to Matt Cooper before Robert Novak broke the story, and Novak, of all people had called Plame an Operative. Novak did not use that word lightly in his past columns and publications: he used it to indicate covert agents. Plame, as a NOC agent, qualified.
Joseph Wilson perhaps took more credit than was justified for revealing the falsity of the Niger Yellowcake document, but that aside, the documents were false, and so was the notion of the threat built up on it. When a government official like George W. Bush tells us this information, they should make damn sure that it's true. People knew. The Vice President should have known, because he's the one who sent Joseph Wilson to evaluate the information in the document in the first place. If the President didn't know by the time of the speech that he was about to make a factual faux pas of that extent, what kind of speaking relationship does he have with Cheney? If these are the facts, then they paint a disturbing picture about what the president knew and when he knew it, regardless of whether the president knew at the time of the speech what kind of forgery those documents were.
Additionally, the CIA front company of Brewster Jennings was also compromised, taking it out of commission as a means of helping to gather the Human Intelligence we are already short of at the moment. The leak of Plame's status as an agent, regardless of any question of the legality of Karl Rove's behavior, constitutes a blow to national security. Worse yet, it is a collosal error in intelligence tradecraft committed to muddy the water on a smaller error.
I know I'll reap my share of rationalization from this, making this that or the other argument as to why the bad behavior of these officials doesn't come under the heading of illegality or harmful behavior, but the fact is, even if nobody goes to jail for this, even if all ends well, this leak constitutes a risk taken with our nation's security for the sake of damage control on a political problem. Can anybody here tell me why this administration or anybody should be allowed to put the interests of political damage control above those of our nation's security?
The least that can be done is the firing of Karl Rove. Either he knew something he hadn't been cleared for, and used it, or he was cleared for enough information to know Plame's status and leaked anyways. Do either of these sound like things you want an administration official doing?Posted by Stephen Daugherty at July 10, 2005 8:28 PM