Now the US is flying blind--just how Cheney wanted it.
Much more on the flip!
Edited to reflect DeTocqueville's post on making clear the difference between Brewster Jennings the person and his identity theft by the CIA to create a prestigious-sounding name plate for the cover operation.
Not only was Plame's cover blown, so was that of her cover company, Brewster, Jennings & Associates. With the public exposure of Plame, intelligence agencies all over the world started searching data bases for any references to her (TIME Magazine). Damage control was immediate, as the CIA asserted that her mission had been connected to weapons of mass destruction.
However, it was not long before stories from the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal tied Brewster, Jennings & Associates to energy, oil and the Saudi-owned Arabian American Oil Company, or ARAMCO. Brewster Jennings had been a founder of Mobil Oil company, one of Aramco's principal founders.
According to additional sources interviewed by Wayne Madsen, Brewster Jennings was, in fact, a well-established CIA proprietary company, linked for many years to ARAMCO. The demise of Brewster Jennings was also guaranteed the moment Plame was outed.
It takes years for Non-Official Covers or NOCs, as they are known, to become really effective. Over time, they become gradually more trusted; they work their way into deeper information access from more sensitive sources. NOCs are generally regarded in the community as among the best and most valuable of all CIA operations officers and the agency goes to great lengths to protect them in what are frequently very risky missions.
By definition, Valerie Plame was an NOC. Yet unlike all other NOCs who fear exposure and torture or death from hostile governments and individual targets who have been judged threats to the United States, she got done in by her own President, whom we also judge to be a domestic enemy of the United States.
Moreover, as we will see below, Valerie Plame may have been one of the most important NOCs the CIA had in the current climate. Let's look at just how valuable she was.
According to an April 29, 2002 report in Britain's Guardian, ARAMCO constitutes 12% of the world's total oil production; a figure which has certainly increased as other countries have progressed deeper into irreversible decline.
ARAMCO is the largest oil group in the world, a state-owned Saudi company in partnership with four major US oil companies. Another one of Aramco's partners is Chevron-Texaco which gave up one of its board members, Condoleezza Rice, when she became the National Security Advisor to George Bush. All of ARAMCO's key decisions are made by the Saudi royal family while US oil expertise, personnel and technology keeps the cash coming in and the oil going out. ARAMCO operates, manages, and maintains virtually all Saudi oil fields - 25% of all the oil on the planet.
It gets better.
According to a New York Times report on March 8th of this year, ARAMCO is planning to make a 25% investment in a new and badly needed refinery to produce gasoline. The remaining 75% ownership of the refinery will go to the only nation that is quickly becoming America's major world competitor for ever-diminishing supplies of oil: China.
Almost the entire Bush administration has an interest in ARAMCO.
The Boston Globe reported that in 2001 ARAMCO had signed a $140 million multi-year contract with Halliburton, then chaired by Dick Cheney, to develop a new oil field. Halliburton does a lot of business in Saudi Arabia. Current estimates of Halliburton contracts or joint ventures in the country run into the tens of billions of dollars.
So do the fortunes of some shady figures from the Bush family's past.
As recently as 1991 ARAMCO had Khalid bin Mahfouz sitting on its Supreme Council or board of directors. Mahfouz, Saudi Arabia's former treasurer and the nation's largest banker, has been reported in several places to be Osama bin Laden's brother in law. However, he has denied this and brought intense legal pressure to bear demanding retractions of these allegations. He has major partnership investments with the multi-billion dollar Binladin Group of companies and he is a former director of BCCI, the infamous criminal drug-money laundering bank which performed a number of very useful services for the CIA before its 1991 collapse under criminal investigation by a whole lot of countries.
As Saudi Arabia's largest banker he handles the accounts of the royal family and - no doubt - ARAMCO, while at the same time he is a named defendant in a $1 trillion lawsuit filed by 9/11 victim families against the Saudi government and prominent Saudi officials who, the suit alleges, were complicit in the 9/11 attacks.
Both BCCI and Mahfouz have historical connections to the Bush family dating back to the 1980s. Another bank (one of many) connected to Mahfouz - the InterMaritime Bank - bailed out a cash-starved Harken Energy in 1987 with $25 million. After the rejuvenated Harken got a no-bid oil lease in 1991, CEO George W. Bush promptly sold his shares in a pump-and-dump scheme and made a whole lot of money.
Knowing all of this, there's really no good reason why the CIA should be too upset, is there? It was only a long-term proprietary and deep-cover NOC - well established and consistently producing "take" from ARAMCO (and who knows what else in Saudi Arabia). It was destroyed with a motive of personal vengeance (there may have been other motives) by someone inside the White House.
From the CIA's point of view, at a time when Saudi Arabia is one of the three or four countries of highest interest to the US, the Plame operation was irreplaceable.
Third clue: Tenet's resignation, which occurred at night, was the first "evening resignation" of a Cabinet-level official since October 1973 when Attorney General Elliott Richardson and his deputy, William Ruckelshaus, resigned in protest of Richard Nixon's firing of Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Many regard this as the watershed moment when the Nixon administration was doomed.
Here's Madsen on Brewster Jennings, so take with a grain of salt, but very informative and seems to be true.
U.S. intelligence sources have also said that Fitzgerald's investigation has gone far beyond the mere leaking of Plame's name, itself a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, but has expanded to look into the exposure of Plame's colleagues who worked under the cover of a CIA firm called Brewster, Jennings & Associates. The "brass plate" CIA proprietary had offices in Boston and Washington, DC. Active since 1994, Brewster-Jennings was instrumental in tracking the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) and had agents or correspondents in a number of countries including Iraq, North Korea, Belarus, Russia, South Africa, Iran, Israel, China, Pakistan, Congo (Kinshasa), India, Taiwan, Libya, Syria, Serbia, and Malaysia. By releasing Valerie Plame’s name, other agents' non-official covers were blown and the lives of U.S. operatives within foreign governments and businesses may have been placed in danger.
Therefore, Fitzgerald's investigation has reportedly been expanded to include the issue of whether members of the staffs of President Bush and Vice President Cheney, Cheney and Bush themselves, the National Security Council, and the Departments of Defense and State, may have violated more serious espionage laws.
In July 2003, the covert operations of Plame and her Brewster-Jennings colleagues were rolled up as a result of the White House leak to columnist Robert Novak and other journalists. Observers believe the White House was retaliating for the report by Wilson that the administration was incorrect when it stated that Iraq was shopping for "yellow cake" uranium in Niger. On behalf of the CIA, Wilson visited Niger prior to the Iraq war and determined that the administration's evidence was based on erroneous information and falsified documents.
The special prosecutor has been focusing on Bush, Cheney, presidential counselor Karl Rove, Cheney's chief of staff Lewis I. ("Scooter") Libby, Cheney assistants David Wurmser and John Hannah, and National Security Council officials Elliott Abrams and Stephen Hadley.
Recently, CIA Director George Tenet and Plame's ultimate boss, Deputy Director of Operations James Pavitt, suddenly resigned within hours of one another. Intelligence sources have said the two have been cooperating with Fitzgerald's investigation of the Plame/Brewster-Jennings leak and the damage to U.S. clandestine operations which globally track the flow of WMDs.
Sensitive CIA operations that were compromised by the leak included companies, government officials, and individuals associated with the nuclear smuggling network of Pakistan's chief nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan. In addition, the identities of U.S. national and foreign agents working within the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, North Korea's nuclear laboratory in Yongbyon, Pakistan's Kahuta uranium enrichment plant, banks and export companies in Dubai, Islamabad, Moscow, Cape Town, Tel Aviv, Liechtenstein, Cyprus, and Kiev, and Kuala Lumpur, and government agencies in Libya, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Iran were severely compromised. The CIA has reportedly given Fitzgerald highly classified details on the damage done to the CIA's WMD tracking network.