Monday, July 25, 2005

It's Piling Up Fast

Republican Senator Pat Roberts, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, thinks exposing the identities of covert CIA agents is bad, generally, except when his party does it, and except in those cases in which the agent in question isn't on super duper double secret background covert status:

"You cannot be in the business of outing somebody" working under cover, Mr. Roberts said. He said, however, there were questions about the depth of Ms. Wilson's cover, because she had been based at the Virginia headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency at least since 1997.

"I must say from a common-sense standpoint, driving back and forth to work to the C.I.A. headquarters, I don't know if that really qualifies as being, you know, covert," Mr. Roberts said. "But generically speaking, it is a very serious matter."

Good God.

But have no fear, ye concerned about the Plame-Rove leak. There will be an official, approved, sanctioned investigation by the government--of how the CIA protects or doesn't protect its agents that are super duper double secret background probation covert operators:

The Senate Intelligence Committee will conduct hearings on American spy agencies' use of cover to protect the identities of intelligence officers, the committee chairman said on Sunday.


Ms. Wilson's C.I.A. job was first revealed in a column by Robert D. Novak on July 14, 2003, eight days after her husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, publicly accused the White House of twisting intelligence to exaggerate the threat from Iraq and justify war. Mr. Novak used Ms. Wilson's maiden name, Valerie Plame, and attributed his information to "two senior administration officials." A special prosecutor is investigating whether anyone illegally leaked Ms. Wilson's status or lied to cover up the leak.

Two top White House officials - Karl Rove, President Bush's top political adviser, and I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff - spoke to reporters about the Wilsons in the week before the publication of Mr. Novak's column. Both men have denied being the original source of the leak.

Some Republicans have minimized the significance of the disclosure of Ms. Wilson's identity, noting not only her working at C.I.A. headquarters but also the fact that she did not have an in-depth cover story: her purported employer, a shell company created by the agency, was little more than a Boston post office box. They have also questioned whether the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act applied to her, because the law applies only to officers who have served overseas under cover in the previous five years.

But agency officials apparently believe that the law does apply to Ms. Wilson, possibly because she took overseas business trips in the five years before 2003. The C.I.A. sought an investigation, and the Justice Department and Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, concurred in choosing to pursue the case.

A number of Ms. Wilson's former colleagues have spoken out in recent days, saying the exposure of her cover was a serious offense.

In a letter to Congressional leaders last week, 11 former intelligence officers said that even if the law was not violated, "we believe it is appropriate for the president to move proactively to dismiss from office or administratively punish any official who participated in any way in revealing Valerie Plame's status." The letter added, "Such an act by the president would send an unambiguous message that leaks of this nature will not be tolerated."

Larry C. Johnson, a former C.I.A. analyst who organized the letter, said in an interview that "there are lives on the line" in the leak of an operative's identity, because foreigners known to have met with the operative may come under suspicion.

But another former C.I.A. officer, Reuel Marc Gerecht, called Ms. Wilson's cover "very, very soft" and said cover "is the Achilles' heel of the agency." He said cover is too often easily penetrated by foreign intelligence agencies.

Michael from AmericaBlog says, "No duh!"

It hardly needs to be penetrated by foreign intelligence when Rove leaks the info to the press.

No comments: