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George Friedman @ STRATFOR provides THE best explanation of why this is so damaging to Plame, any contacts, & the U.S. humint structure.

(Copyright police - Friedman gives explicit permission to distribute this content with attribution.  See bottom of text.  "This report may be distributed or republished with attribution to Strategic Forecasting, Inc. at www.stratfor.com."  Done.)

GEOPOLITICAL INTELLIGENCE REPORT10.17.2005
The Importance of the Plame Affair
By George Friedman

There are three rules concerning political scandal in the United States. First, every administration has scandals. Second, the party in opposition will always claim that there has never been an administration as corrupt as the one currently occupying the White House. Three, two is almost never true. It is going to be tough for any government to live up to the Grant or Harding administrations for financial corruption, or the Nixon and Lincoln administrations for political corruption -- for instance, was Lincoln's secretary of war really preparing a coup d'etat before the president's assassination? And sex scandals -- Clinton is not the gold standard. Harding was having sex with his mistress in the Oval Office -- and no discussion was possible over whether it was actually sex. Andrew Jackson's wife was unfairly accused of being a prostitute. Grover Cleveland had an illegitimate child. Let's not start on John F. Kennedy.

Political scandal is the national sport -- the only unchanging spectator activity where a fine time is had by all, save the turkey who got caught this time. That is the fourth rule: Americans love a good scandal, and politicians usually manage to give them one. Thus, the Tom DeLay story is the epitome of national delight. Whether DeLay broke the law or the Texas prosecutor who claims he did is a Democratic hack out to make a name for himself matters little. A good time will be had by all, and in a few years no one will remember it. Does anyone remember Bert Lance or Richard Secord?

As we discussed in previous weeks, scandals become geopolitically significant when they affect the ability of the president to conduct foreign policy. That has not yet happened to George W. Bush, but it might happen. There is, however, one maturing scandal that interests us in its own right: the Valerie Plame affair, in which Karl Rove, the most important adviser to the president, and I. Lewis Libby, the chief of staff to the vice president, apparently identified Plame as a CIA agent -- or at least did not vigorously deny that she was one when they were contacted by reporters. Given that this happened during a time of war, in which U.S. intelligence services are at the center of the war -- and are not as effective as the United States might wish -- the Plame affair needs to be examined and understood in its own right. Moreover, as an intelligence company, we have a particular interest in how intelligence matters are handled.

The CIA is divided between the Directorate of Intelligence, which houses the analysts, and the Directorate of Operations, which houses the spies and the paramilitary forces. The spies are, in general, divided into two groups. There are those with official cover and those with non-official cover. Official cover means that the agent is working at the U.S. embassy in some country, acting as a cultural, agricultural or some other type of attaché, and is protected by diplomatic immunity. They carry out a variety of espionage functions, limited by the fact that most foreign intelligence services know who the CIA agents at the embassy are and, frankly, assume that everyone at the embassy is an agent. They are therefore followed, their home phones are tapped, and their maids deliver scraps of paper to the host government. This obviously limits the utility of these agents. Being seen with one of them automatically blows the cover of any potential recruits.

Then there are those with non-official cover, the NOCs. These agents are the backbone of the American espionage system. A NOC does not have diplomatic cover. If captured, he has no protection. Indeed, as the saying goes, if something goes wrong, the CIA will deny it has ever heard of him. A NOC is under constant pressure when he is needed by the government and is on his own when things go wrong. That is understood going in by all NOCs.

NOCs come into the program in different ways. Typically, they are recruited at an early age and shaped for the role they are going to play. Some may be tracked to follow China, and trained to be bankers based in Hong Kong. Others might work for an American engineering firm doing work in the Andes. Sometimes companies work with the CIA, knowingly permitting an agent to become an employee. In other circumstances, agents apply for and get jobs in foreign companies and work their way up the ladder, switching jobs as they go, moving closer and closer to a position of knowing the people who know what there is to know. Sometimes they receive financing to open a business in some foreign country, where over the course of their lives, they come to know and be trusted by more and more people. Ideally, the connection of these people to the U.S. intelligence apparatus is invisible. Or, if they can't be invisible due to something in their past and they still have to be used as NOCs, they develop an explanation for what they are doing that is so plausible that the idea that they are working for the CIA is dismissed or regarded as completely unlikely because it is so obvious. The complexity of the game is endless.

These are the true covert operatives of the intelligence world. Embassy personnel might recruit a foreign agent through bribes or blackmail. But at some point, they must sit across from the recruit and show their cards: "I'm from the CIA and...." At that point, they are in the hands of the recruit. A NOC may never once need to do this. He may take decades building up trusting relationships with intelligence sources in which the source never once suspects that he is speaking to the CIA, and the NOC never once gives a hint as to who he actually is.

It is an extraordinary life. On the one hand, NOCs may live well. The Number Two at a Latin American bank cannot be effective living on a U.S. government salary. NOCs get to live the role and frequently, as they climb higher in the target society, they live the good life. On the other hand, their real lives are a mystery to everyone. Frequently, their parents don't know what they really do, nor do their own children -- for their safety and the safety of the mission. The NOC may marry someone who cannot know who they really are. Sometimes they themselves forget who they are: It is an occupational disease and a form of madness. Being the best friend of a man whom you despise, and doing it for 20 years, is not easy. Some NOCs are recruited in mid-life and in mid-career. They spend less time in the madness, but they are less prepared for it as well. NOCs enter and leave the program in different ways -- sometimes under their real names, sometimes under completely fabricated ones. They share one thing: They live a lie on behalf of their country.

The NOCs are the backbone of American intelligence and the ones who operate the best sources -- sources who don't know they are sources. When the CIA says that it needs five to 10 years to rebuild its network, what it is really saying is that it needs five to 10 years to recruit, deploy and begin to exploit its NOCs. The problem is not recruiting them -- the life sounds cool for many recent college graduates. The crisis of the NOC occurs when he approaches the most valuable years of service, in his late 30s or so. What sounded neat at 22 rapidly becomes a mind-shattering nightmare when their two lives collide at 40.

There is an explicit and implicit contract between the United States and its NOCs. It has many parts, but there is one fundamental part: A NOC will never reveal that he is or was a NOC without special permission. When he does reveal it, he never gives specifics. The government also makes a guarantee -- it will never reveal the identity of a NOC under any circumstances and, in fact, will do everything to protect it. If you have lied to your closest friends for 30 years about who you are and why you talk to them, no government bureaucrat has the right to reveal your identity for you. Imagine if you had never told your children -- and never planned to tell your children -- that you worked for the CIA, and they suddenly read in the New York Times that you were someone other than they thought you were.

There is more to this. When it is revealed that you were a NOC, foreign intelligence services begin combing back over your life, examining every relationship you had. Anyone you came into contact with becomes suspect. Sometimes, in some countries, becoming suspect can cost you your life. Revealing the identity of a NOC can be a matter of life and death -- frequently, of people no one has ever heard of or will ever hear of again.

In short, a NOC owes things to his country, and his country owes things to the NOC. We have no idea what Valerie Plame told her family or friends about her work. It may be that she herself broke the rules, revealing that she once worked as a NOC. We can't know that, because we don't know whether she received authorization from the CIA to say things after her own identity was blown by others. She might have been irresponsible, or she might have engaged in damage control. We just don't know.

What we do know is this. In the course of events, reporters contacted two senior officials in the White House -- Rove and Libby. Under the least-damaging scenario we have heard, the reporters already knew that Plame had worked as a NOC. Rove and Libby, at this point, were obligated to say, at the very least, that they could neither confirm nor deny the report. In fact, their duty would have been quite a bit more: Their job was to lie like crazy to mislead the reporters. Rove and Libby had top security clearances and were senior White House officials. It was their sworn duty, undertaken when they accepted their security clearance, to build a "bodyguard of lies" -- in Churchill's phrase -- around the truth concerning U.S. intelligence capabilities.

Some would argue that if the reporters already knew her identity, the cat was out of the bag and Rove and Libby did nothing wrong. Others would argue that if Plame or her husband had publicly stated that she was a NOC, Rove and Libby were freed from their obligation. But the fact is that legally and ethically, nothing relieves them of the obligation to say nothing and attempt to deflect the inquiry. This is not about Valerie Plame, her husband or Time Magazine. The obligation exists for the uncounted number of NOCs still out in the field.

Americans stay safe because of NOCs. They are the first line of defense. If the system works, they will be friends with Saudi citizens who are financing al Qaeda. The NOC system was said to have been badly handled under the Clinton administration -- this is the lack of humint that has been discussed since the 9-11 attacks. The United States paid for that. And that is what makes the Rove-Libby leak so stunning. The obligation they had was not only to Plame, but to every other NOC leading a double life who is in potentially grave danger.

Imagine, if you will, working in Damascus as a NOC and reading that the president's chief adviser had confirmed the identity of a NOC. As you push into middle age, wondering what happened to your life, the sudden realization that your own government threatens your safety might convince you to resign and go home. That would cost the United States an agent it had spent decades developing. You don't just pop a new agent in his place. That NOC's resignation could leave the United States blind at a critical moment in a key place. Should it turn out that Rove and Libby not only failed to protect Plame's identity but deliberately leaked it, it would be a blow to the heart of U.S. intelligence. If just one critical NOC pulled out and the United States went blind in one location, the damage could be substantial. At the very least, it is a risk the United States should not have to incur.

The New York Times and Time Magazine have defended not only the decision to publish Plame's name, but also have defended hiding the identity of those who told them her name. Their justification is the First Amendment. We will grant that they had the right to publish statements concerning Plame's role in U.S. intelligence; we cannot grant that they had an obligation to publish it. There is a huge gap between the right to publish and a requirement to publish. The concept of the public's right to know is a shield that can be used by the press to hide irresponsibility. An article on the NOC program conceivably might have been in the public interest, but it is hard to imagine how identifying a particular person as part of that program can be deemed as essential to an informed public.

But even if we regard the press as unethical by our standards, their actions were not illegal. On the other hand, if Rove and Libby even mentioned the name of Valerie Plame in the context of being a CIA employee -- NOC or not -- on an unsecured line to a person without a security clearance or need to know, while the nation was waging war, that is the end of the story. It really doesn't matter why or whether there was a plan or anything. The minimal story -- that they talked about Plame with a reporter -- is the end of the matter.

We can think of only one possible justification for this action: That it was done on the order of the president. The president has the authority to suspend or change security regulations if required by the national interest. The Plame affair would be cleared up if it turns out Rove and Libby were ordered to act as they did by the president. Perhaps the president is prevented by circumstances from coming forward and lifting the burden from Rove and Libby. If that is the case, it could cost him his right-hand man. But absent that explanation, it is difficult to justify the actions that were taken.

Ultimately, the Plame affair points to a fundamental problem in intelligence. As those who have been in the field have told us, the biggest fear is that someone back in the home office will bring the operation down. Sometimes it will be a matter of state: sacrificing a knight for advantage on the chessboard. Sometimes it is a parochial political battle back home. Sometimes it is carelessness, stupidity or cruelty. This is when people die and lives are destroyed. But the real damage, if it happens often enough or no one seems to care, will be to the intelligence system. If the agent determines that his well-being is not a centerpiece of government policy, he won't remain an agent long.

On a personal note, let me say this: one of the criticisms conservatives have of liberals is that they do not understand that we live in a dangerous world and, therefore, that they underestimate the effort needed to ensure national security. Liberals have questioned the utility and morality of espionage. Conservatives have been champions of national security and of the United States' overt and covert capabilities. Conservatives have condemned the atrophy of American intelligence capabilities. Whether the special prosecutor indicts or exonerates Rove and Libby legally doesn't matter. Valerie Plame was a soldier in service to the United States, unprotected by uniform or diplomatic immunity. I have no idea whether she served well or poorly, or violated regulations later. But she did serve. And thus, she and all the other NOCs were owed far more -- especially by a conservative administration -- than they got.

Even if that debt wasn't owed to Plame, it remains in place for all the other spooks standing guard in dangerous places.

...Distribution and Reprints
This report may be distributed or republished with attribution to Strategic Forecasting, Inc. at www.stratfor.com. For media requests, partnership opportunities, or commercial distribution or republication, please contact pr@stratfor.com.

...© Copyright 2005 Strategic Forecasting Inc. All rights reserved.

Originally posted to SilverWings on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 02:14 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Evil, thy name is Rove. (none)
    So much for Karl Rove's "patriotism."
  •  Initial Reaction (4.00)
    While I find much of the material here to be quite insightful and to offer some important perspectives on the CIA and the craft of intelligence, I have a couple of criticisms:

    This post reads:

    __
    In the course of events, reporters contacted two senior officials in the White House -- Rove and Libby. Under the least-damaging scenario we have heard, the reporters already knew that Plame had worked as a NOC. Rove and Libby, at this point, were obligated to say, at the very least, that they could neither confirm nor deny the report.
    _
    _

    It is still my understanding that the outing of Valerie Plame worked in the other direction....that someone within the White House....and we await Prosecutor Fitzgerald's word on whether it was Karl Rove and /or Scooter Libby...pro-actively sought out at least six reporters.  Their contact with these reporters involved efforts to discredit Ambassador Joseph Wilson's then just released NY Times Op-Ed piece charging that the administration was twisting intelligence in an effort to sell the public on the need to go to war against Iraq.  

    These White House operatives made their assertions under cover of "anonymous sources."  They sought to sell the notion that Wilson's report to the CIA, questioning the likelihood of Nigeran sales of uranium to Iraq, was of no value and had been cooked up solely because Wilson's wife, working as a CIA agent, had managed to maneuver her husband into position to issue such a finding.

    (And as I have noted in numerous posts since then, these efforts to smear and undercut never directly questioned Mr. Wilson's findings based on his trip to Niger.....instead the spin doctors purposely set out to undermine the messenger rather than the message....a telling point when one tries to analyze the true purposes of the leakers in this story.)

    The strongest evidence for the idea that the administration was reaching OUT to pitch this story (as opposed to reacting to calls IN from reporters seeking to confirm Plame's identity and role in the matter) comes from Robert Novak whose column first broke the story of Plame's identity in the MSM after Wilson's Op Ed.

    Although he later changed his story, Novak's initial (and I believe correct) version of events was that "I didn't go out and get this information, it was given to me."  Other reporters confirmed that they had received similar calls.

    The above analysis further states:
    __
    The New York Times and Time Magazine have defended not only the decision to publish Plame's name, but also have defended hiding the identity of those who told them her name. Their justification is the First Amendment. We will grant that they had the right to publish statements concerning Plame's role in U.S. intelligence; we cannot grant that they had an obligation to publish it.
    _
    _

    Whatever their other faults, the NY Times and TIme, certainly can be held faultless for publishing Plame's name, since the name and identity had already been unveiled by Novak's column.

    Their decisions to "(hide) the identity of those who told them her name" however is another matter, especially when it became clear that the leakers were pro-actively trying to use the press, through guarantees of "anonymous sourcing" to smear Wilson by outing his wife and her NOC status with the CIA.

    The author here hints at the possibilities that in doing so, the leakers recklessly handed foreign intelligence services a means to trace back along Valerie Plame's career list of contacts with foreign citizens in a search for possible spies within their midst. We may never know whether people died as a result of the White House spin campaign and Plame's outing.

    However, despite claims by Administration defenders that Plame's work didn't justify cover and therefore the White House hadn't done anything wrong, one element of the damage is clear.  Ms. Plame had long operated under the cover of working for a Boston firm with innocuous sounding overseas business ties.   In fact, that firm was a CIA front....one whose operations had been carefully built up over years to provide plausible cover for agent employees.   In a stroke, the major investment the intelligence service had made in that one structure, was completely blown....apparently because one former Ambassador had managed to piss off the administration by calling into question their justifications for launching a war they were bent on pursuing at any cost.

    In outing Plame AND the firm she worked for, the leakers also aparently blew the covers of any other agents who had or were now working under the guise of that firm, further widening the damage caused.

    The cost was an intelligence career....the cost was a cover organization....and the true and final cost may wind up bringing down some of the most powerful members of this Administration.

    Free markets would be a great idea, if markets were actually free.

    by dweb8231 on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 03:35:45 AM PDT

    •  I think you've misread one aspect of the story (4.00)
      I don't think the statement, "Under the least-damaging scenario we have heard, the reporters already knew that Plame had worked as a NOC," means that the authors think this IS what happened.  

      For a while, the Libby/Rove apologists were arguing that a reporter gave this information to Rove and Libby, and that all they did was cluelessly confirm it.  Even though subsequent revelations have demonstrated that this is, at a minimum, highly unlikely, their actions were STILL indefensible.  I think the author's only point was that there actions were inexcusable even under the supposedly "innocent" explanations that their defenders advanced.

      •  exactly (none)
        their duty was to deny Plame was a NOC. regardless of whatever Plame herself did.

        Even their excuse puts them in hot water.

        When I hear the phrase "culture of life" I want to reach for my gun.

        by PoliMorf on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 06:43:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  That Could Be Read That Way (4.00)
        The language I used there was to state that the EFFECT of what the "anonymous sources" did was to expose Plame, who by all accounts -- certainly the CIA's -- was operating NOC and thus blowing her cover and that it had the end results I spelled out which were destroying the cover built up for Plame over years and her work on WMD research and analysis, exposing a carefully crafted CIA cover business, and very likely exposing contacts she had made in other countries to sanctions from their own security forces which might have included death.

        The defense of the spinmeisters will most likely be that they did not believe Plame was NOC, but that doesn't change the fact that she was.

        A number of sources now are asserting that Fitzgerald appears to be heading toward charges which could involve Cheney as well as Libby and Rove as part of a large conspiracy to attack Wilson and his wife for having the termerity to challenge and question the Administration's rationale for war.  As has been noted by at least one commentator, Libby was known as "Cheney's Cheney" -- a man fiercely loyal to the VP and one who spent literally hours with him every day.  On that basis, it is hard to believe that all of this didn't develop as the result of an irate Vice President who lashed out and now may reap the consequences.  It is mightily to be hoped.

        Free markets would be a great idea, if markets were actually free.

        by dweb8231 on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 08:32:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The article simply answered every GOP (4.00)
          talking point (and lie) and basically came to the correct conclusion that in every instance Rove and Libby were completely in the wrong.

          It is that simple.  

          Furthermore, the point that a news organization has a responsibility that goes along with the right is completely legitimate.  Do reporters who travel with batallions in  armies have the right to report their exact location when they are moving into position to engage in battle?  Yes they do.  Would it be responsible for them to report that information?  Probably not except in very extreme circumstances.  It should not go without say either that news outlets also have a responsibility not to become propaganda outlets for government and expect to keep their reputations in tact with the public.  The Grey Lady has egg all over her face in this thing.  The Washington Post too has a lot to answer for.  There is a reason why they have managing editors and editorial boards - of course there isn't when they are not fully engaged in submissions by "super star" reporters.

          This article is great because it surveys all of the misinformation about the general rules that apply here.  Lots of people don't understand that there are indeed very clear rules about agents identities.  

          When was the last time in history that you recall that an elected official or one of their staffers peddled top secret information relating to national security to the media?  Um never. That is because there are rules that everyone up until now have followed.

          •  Except for one thing (none)
            W's administration is most likely the worst in history.

            i am working on a long piece comparing the scandals and depth o perfidy through US history

            almost nothing compares to the stench pf corruption from top to bottom of this administration

            •  Yes (none)
              I think they were focusing on this specific scandal for the moment. It was prudent for them not to go down the "Worst President Ever" rabbit trail for their purposes of explaining the rules that were broken in this case.

              As much as I think the "Worst President Ever" thing is very important to hammer home, I still think we need to really start focusing on what the "Best President Ever" might look like and sound like.  I think a lot of people are getting the feeling that running away might be a good idea, but I think a lot of people still don't see a place to run to.

              Don't get me wrong, I want these guys to go to jail for a very, very long time and I want a focus on that, but the country must go on and if we are distracted with punishment and not appropriately focused on repairing the dammage done we won't have won a thing in all this.

    •  not complicated (none)
      dweb
      things could simply be like this:

      The PNAC folks (Cheney&Co) are determined to control the globe.  Their first move after they got Bush in office was to help El Qaida a bit with their 9-11 plans.  (Even a cursory look at mechanical facts very strongly suggests an inside job: stopthelie.com)  With the population looking for revenge, invading Iraq was easy to justify politically.  However the PNAC folks have been at it for a long time and plan ahead. Iraq is not the world.  They have to find the next reason to go to war. Getting the nuclear material of the old USSR in the 'proper' hands might help creating an incident of 9-11 magnitude and consequences.  However our own CIA is monitoring that material.  That problem can be solved simply by outing one of the involved agents. Voila.  Here comes Wilson unwittingly with a good excuse to out somebody.  And so it goes.

      The goal is to create global instability to grease the wheels of the PNAC.

  •  The Plame-game is about the (4.00)
    non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq at the time of the invasion.  It was important for every nook and allegation to be explored so that, in the end, Iraq would get a clean bill of health and there would be no reason for the international inspectors to snoop around while the U.S. brought in its missiles set up on the permanent bases being constructed as we speak.
    Those bases are also the reason for insisting that Iraq be prepared to "secure" its territory from infiltration by snoopy neighbors keen on knowing what else the U.S. is building along the same lines as al Udeid.
    New bases for the missiles that are being taken out of Germany, and probably aren't very welcome in Turkey either, have been the goal for the last thirty years or longer--probably ever since JFK ordered the ones in Turkey taken out in 1961 and again in 1962.

    3-D Republicans=deception, disservice and debt

    by hannah on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 04:00:31 AM PDT

    •  But It's Also About... (4.00)
      ...the total destruction of Brewster-Jennings, probably the most effective tool we had worldwide to monitor, track, and prevent proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  Instead of engaging in all of this long-winded pontification salted w/a few interesting insights (do you guys get paid by the word???), Stratfor would have better spent their time doing a bit of research into the grave and specific damage done in this case, not only to Valerie Plame and her contacts, but also into the worldwide network that was Brewster-Jennings, and had been carefully built over decades!!!
      •  Ever Hear of Google? (none)
        Btw, they could have learned quite a bit about Brewster-Jennings through a simple Google Search.  I wonder who actually pays them??
      •  Bush Targeted... (none)
        other countries besides Iraq!

        The reason I mention this here is because one country supposedly on the target list was Saudi Arabia!

        "George Bush told Tony Blair shortly before the invasion of Iraq that he intended to target other countries, including Saudi Arabia, which, he implied, planned to acquire weapons of mass destruction." Guardian
        http://tinyurl.com/cvb38

        Now I'm putting my "hat" on. Plame was a WMD expert NOC at Brewster-Jennings dealing heavily with/in Saudia Arabia. Add Posner/"Secrets of the Kingdom: The Inside Story of the Saudi-US Connection", with this "These RDDs that the Saudis have integrated into their oil infrastructure are far less lethal than traditional nuclear weapons. The risk is not mass fatal casualties as with a nuclear explosive, but rather increased cancer rates over many years. In the short run, the psychological fear that an area is contaminated by radiation might be so great as to make it commercially unproductive."

        WTF?

        My head hurts!

        •  Too Close for Comfort??? (none)
          Good catch on the Posner quote.  I'm aware that one, perhaps conspiratorial,  theory for the outing is that Brewster-Jennings, closely connected for years to Aramco, simply knew way too much about the goings on in the Bus/Saudi Connection, and had to be stopped before it discovered the Holy Grail...
  •  Her reporting for work at Langley (none)
    isn't entirely consistent with Stratfor's argument that either the connection to the agency must be invisible, or every effort must be made to explain away any glimmer or suggestion that such a connection.

    I still think it's insightful.  But I don't think she was working as an NOC anymore.  I don't think that changes the issue very much.  I think she was more likely handling NOC's and working to direct information-gathering and synthesize reports.  I think she may have been at the heart of the effort by a brave group at CIA to debunk the WMD stories, as I explain at length in another diary here.

    •  NOC (4.00)
      What is the basis of believing she wasn't an active NOC?

      There is no way for us to know this. The entire point of being a NOC is to evade being identified as such. That would include feeding misinformation to the public and foreign intelligence agencies, especially after a security breach.

      The one thing the CIA would do after this kind of leak would be to minimize the damage and try to cast Plame as non-active. The description of her as having already had her cover blown in the 90s, and thus brought home--it may be true, but it could also be the only cover story that the CIA thought might ameliorate the damage at all: acknowledge her employment, but obfuscate her importance and status. Hope that foreign intelligence would buy the story and not hunt down her contacts because the trail was cold and old.

      From what I've read, there is absolutley no reason to believe that she wasn't actually a very active operative. Indeed, I think if there was strong evidence that she had been "retired" into management--that would have been released. It would be to the CIA's benefit to be able to publicly prove that Plame wasn't active and was only a manager.

       Instead, I think we've gotten a cover story. I'd bet money on it.

      •  The fact that (none)
        she was living in the US and working at Langley suggests she was not an NOC according to Stratfor's description of one. However, the fact that the CIA called for an investigation of the leak of her identity suggests the opposite. I don't think we have a definitive answer yet.
        •  Do we know that she worked at Langley? (none)
          Or is that part of the CIA cover-up story as well?

          Restore Democracy! Denounce the GOP (George Orwell's Party)!

          by high5 on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 07:21:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Ex-NOCs (4.00)
          There's a problem with this theory:  a person may stop actively working as a NOC, but the fact they were a NOC never stops being a secret.

          When a person stops being an active NOC, that cover remains with them until their death, or even past it. That's why the Wall of Honor at CIA HQ has so many stars without names.

          A NOC will never reveal that he is or was a NOC without special permission. When he does reveal it, he never gives specifics. The government also makes a guarantee -- it will never reveal the identity of a NOC under any circumstances and, in fact, will do everything to protect it. If you have lied to your closest friends for 30 years about who you are and why you talk to them, no government bureaucrat has the right to reveal your identity for you. Imagine if you had never told your children -- and never planned to tell your children -- that you worked for the CIA, and they suddenly read in the New York Times that you were someone other than they thought you were.

          There is more to this. When it is revealed that you were a NOC, foreign intelligence services begin combing back over your life, examining every relationship you had. Anyone you came into contact with becomes suspect. Sometimes, in some countries, becoming suspect can cost you your life. Revealing the identity of a NOC can be a matter of life and death -- frequently, of people no one has ever heard of or will ever hear of again.  

          Plame/Wilson may have been working at Langley at some point.  She may not have been an active NOC on the date Novakula published.  Or she might have been an active NOC who just wasn't abroad at the time: even legitimate employees of non-front American companies come home sometimes.  The problem is that we don't and can't know.  The liars can tell whatever tall tales they want; those who know the truth are not permitted to rebut them.

          Any way you slice it, the fact that she was or had ever been a NOC, and the extent to which, the assignments in which, the dates on which, she was or had been a NOC should have remained secret for her entire life.  In that sense, there's really no such thing as an ex-NOC.

        •  Past tense. (none)
          As the author states a number of times, her days as a NOC could have been in the past but the obligations our government had to protect her identity as a (once) covert agent never cease.  I don't think it's inconsistent at all that she would have taken a desk job at Langley following her days as an active NOC.

          But just think about the damage... all foreign intelligence services need to do is follow her thread in the web.  Anything and anyone she touched is now suspect.

        •  Her days as an active NOC (none)
          were basically over when she married Wilson.  There is no way the wife of an ambassador wouldn't be followed and such as a matter of course by foreign intelligence services, if for nothing else than to see if she let some secret slip (assuming she was just a wife and didn't have another role).

          What I've been hearing is that the CIA was easing her into an official cover role.  That would have been easy.  Intelligence services hire or contract experts in their specific fields all the time.  Who better to ask about foreign policies regarding energy and get advice than from someone who has worked in the energy industry?

          That way she can overtly "consult" to the CIA, even let everyone know she works for the CIA--as a professional who was recruited later in her career  Her earlier work goes unsuspected.  After all, since everyone knows revealing a NOC agent would expose their network, why would you suspect an overt employee of being one if she had a sufficiently believeable story created for her?

    •  40% of CIA employees who work at Langley (4.00)
      are under some kind of cover.  They work in the building, but they do not acknowledge their association with the agency.  This includes hundreds, if not thousands, of persons who never go into the field as active officers.
      Whether or not Plame was an active NOC, she was still covert.  Her parents didn't know, and neither did her neighbors.  The mere confirmation that she was a CIA employee violated the law about disclosing classified information.

      Professor David Edger at the University of Oklahoma spent 33 years in the directorate of operations at CIA.  He was a NOC officer whose cover was blown by Philip Agee.
      After he returned to the US, he spent time in the field as an OC officer working out of various US embassies.  He also spent time as an instructor at 'the farm,' CIA's spy school.  Plame was a student of his.  He later became head of the Covert Service, the division of the Directorate of Operations that oversees the NOCs, and some of the OCs.  He said in class once that Plame was an "excellent field officer, one of the best," and if her cover was blown before he retired in 2000, that he didn't know that (and he would have known that as head of her service.)  That means that she was still active in 2000, and blowing her cover in 2003 was almost certainly a black and white violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act in addition to the crime of releasing classified information to people not cleared or entitled to know it.

      In prison, Tom Delay will no doubt be called 'the Hummer' by his fellow convicts.

      by soonergrunt on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 07:27:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  CIA feels otherwise (4.00)
      It was CIA that approached the Justice Dept. about this to get the investigation rolling. That's all that matters.

      No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism. – Winston Churchill

      by subtropolis on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 08:06:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  WAS she reporting to Langley every day? (none)
      It's become conventional wisdom that she was commuting to CIA headquarters every morning, but my initial understanding was that she was doing her work from the headquarters of the front company, Brewster-Jennings.

      In other words, since Brewster-Jennings was serving as a satellite office of the CIA for just that purpose -- deflecting suspicion -- why wasn't she going THERE instead of to Langley?

      I think she probably was, and the CW that she was driving up a certain VA driveway every morning, bold as brass, was manufactured by the Noise Machine and picked up as gospel by the blogs.

      Is there anyone who can look into this?

      •  Listenb to the wingnuts (none)
        and you would think she wore no pants to attract attention and had a tee-shirt that read, "I WORK AT LANGLEY AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY T-SHIRT"...and drove to work every day in a hot piok cadillac whose llicence plate  read "IMA NOC..SHHH!"

        Most information from this post I knew re: this Plame sitution, but what I was not aware of was the fact that even if she outed herself at any point, Rove/libby were still beholden to not out her..They should fry.  They won't... but they should..

  •  Never forget (4.00)
    Stratfor's chief objective is to provide conservatives with actionable intelligence.

    The objective here is to articulate as cogently as possible that perhaps Plame dropped a dime on herself --- but we'll never reaally know.

    It's a naked attempt to establish reasonable doubt.

    It's only Nero-esque if the city is burning. :)

    by cskendrick on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 04:50:59 AM PDT

    •  IMHO, STRATFOR's info comes from many (none)
      different sources, & frequently makes a lot of sense. Don't know that the entire purpose is to provide CONSERVATIVES (whatever that means) w/ actionable intel - I read their primary purpose as gathering & selling info that many of us don't have.  Semantics...I just get a different take.

      Former soldier. Fighting every day for my country.

      by SilverWings on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 05:18:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Perhaps their sources are sound (4.00)
        But I have found their analysis to be highly suspect. They completely missed the boat in their interpretation of Al-Qaida as acting out some sort of Battle of the Bulge/Tet Offensive decision, since the choices are both inferior.

        That, and they misread the significance of both events

        And they continue to parrot the Iraq=9/11 connection...albeit cogently.

        I. do. not. trust. them.

        It's only Nero-esque if the city is burning. :)

        by cskendrick on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 06:24:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Concur (4.00)
          Having done a bit of work with Ken Allard in the past (one of Stratfor's founders), I have to agree.  Frequently, their "intel for hire" is about as accurate as a broken clock.  

          On the other hand, that's the case with most intel.  The gold comes in being able to sort through the 98% bullshit contained in intel streams to get to the 2% that's worth a followup.  Outfits like Stratfor don't have the resources to thoroughly vet and filter the intel stream, so they tend to error on the side of throwing it all out there, and seeing what sticks.

          All Spin Zone : Factor This, Falafel Man. Oh, and, SCI.

          by Richard Cranium on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 06:41:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I agree (4.00)
          They are good at selling themselves as having the best inside scoop and analysis on security issues, but I remain skeptical. This article had an awfully long and not terribly relevant preamble that just couldn't help but toss in a smear of the Clinton admin. Then there is the cliche that liberals don't care much about intelligence matters while conservatives are very supportive of it. This is analysis? Bill O'Reilly could give the same analysis. And the suggestion that Plame may have burned herself by revealing her CIA status to friends and family is pure negative speculation that is hardly fitting of a company that supposedly produces intelligence.
          •  Yup, and it's a shame that STRAFOR had to (none)
            bow to that wingnut impulse, because there are several golden nuggets of fact in there:

            Brewster-Jennings was a priceless security asset that got burned (probably by Bu$hco).

            Intelligence agents are service people deserving of respect (although I have to pint out that they can be and have been applied to some evil ends by powermongers, as in Iran-Contra).

            NOC agents have a lot of cojones and are risking their lives being our first line of defense.

            etc...

            However, you can actually learn most of this and more from a John LeCarre novel, without having to endure gratuitous right-wing rhetoric.

            "It is no longer possible to ignore the strangeness of our public discourse." - Al Gore

            by klevenstein on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 11:55:46 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  If that's the case (none)
      If that's the case, they do a pretty successful job of making the people they're supposedly defending look like absolute pieces of human excrement who have seriously damaged our national security.

      I don't know where you got your information about Stratfor's "chief objective," but I've generally found them to be quite objective in their information and analyses.

      •  They are objective (none)
        In the same sense that Rasmussenreports.com is an objective pollster.

        It's only Nero-esque if the city is burning. :)

        by cskendrick on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 06:24:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Here. I'll fortify my concerns about the Strats (4.00)

        It's only Nero-esque if the city is burning. :)

        by cskendrick on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 06:27:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Justifying official treason. (4.00)
        The point of the Stratfor article is that, going forward, "we" cannot be compromising our non-official-cover spies. Plame was just an exception.

        The lesson of the Plame outing apparently needs to be taught once every generation: the American intelligence network exists for the benefit of "conservative" agendas, and any straying from that mission voids the bonded promise to protect you and your acquaintances from the hell of unmasking.

        Here is the center of their proposed acquittal:We can think of only one possible justification for this action: That it was done on the order of the president.

        And here is the electric kool-aid acid blotter: Ultimately, the Plame affair points to a fundamental problem in intelligence. As those who have been in the field have told us, the biggest fear is that someone back in the home office will bring the operation down.

        From these sentiments are born sovereign intelligence services with inordinate power over the U.S. executive.

        With Negroponte Contra-sizing the intelligence services, their allegiances have now once again been aligned toward one-party legitimacy.

        •  On Bush's orders? (none)
          Do you seriously think that anybody in the Bush administration is going to say that Plame was outed on Bush's orders?  That might be the one thing that could make some of the predictions around here about an impeachment seem prophetic.

          My impression that this was essentially a throw-away possibility, put in the article in order to demonstrate just how ridiculous was any suggestion that this leak was in some way justified.

        •  I tihnk youre reading it wrong (none)
          They're saying the only way this is legal is if the President ordered it.

          Becuase the president (ALL Presidents) has that power.

          He's not saying its justified.

          When I hear the phrase "culture of life" I want to reach for my gun.

          by PoliMorf on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 06:47:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Notice how the tone is set (none)
            with this "everybody does it" trivialization:

            There are three rules concerning political scandal in the United States. First, every administration has scandals. Second, the party in opposition will always claim that there has never been an administration as corrupt as the one currently occupying the White House. Three, two is almost never true.

            and builds to this declaration of moral monopoly:

            one of the criticisms conservatives have of liberals is that they do not understand that we live in a dangerous world and, therefore, that they underestimate the effort needed to ensure national security. Liberals have questioned the utility and morality of espionage. Conservatives have been champions of national security and of the United States' overt and covert capabilities. Conservatives have condemned the atrophy of American intelligence capabilities....Valerie Plame was a soldier in service to the United States, unprotected by uniform or diplomatic immunity. I have no idea whether she served well or poorly, or violated regulations later. But she did serve. And thus, she and all the other NOCs were owed far more -- especially by a conservative administration -- than they got.

            Even if that debt wasn't owed to Plame, it remains in place for all the other spooks standing guard in dangerous places.

            Even if that debt wasn't owed to Plame ...

            ... because the intelligence services serve the exclusive conservative franchise to define national security.

            •  disagree (none)
              "And thus, she and all the other NOCs were owed far more -- especially by a conservative administration -- than they got.

              Even if that debt wasn't owed to Plame, it remains in place for all the other spooks standing guard in dangerous places."

              remember this earlier part

              ""Imagine, if you will, working in Damascus as a NOC and reading that the president's chief adviser had confirmed the identity of a NOC. As you push into middle age, wondering what happened to your life, the sudden realization that your own government threatens your safety might convince you to resign and go home. That would cost the United States an agent it had spent decades developing. You don't just pop a new agent in his place. That NOC's resignation could leave the United States blind at a critical moment in a key place. Should it turn out that Rove and Libby not only failed to protect Plame's identity but deliberately leaked it, it would be a blow to the heart of U.S. intelligence. If just one critical NOC pulled out and the United States went blind in one location, the damage could be substantial. At the very least, it is a risk the United States should not have to incur."""

              Hardly reads like praise of this administrations actions.

              When I hear the phrase "culture of life" I want to reach for my gun.

              by PoliMorf on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 07:09:05 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  No you don't disagree. (none)
                ;)

                They are not praising the administration's actions, I agree.

                It's part damage control, but mostly a sales job reminding conservatives that the intelligence community can be a conservative asset that gives their cause an edge over constitutional distribution of power.

                They are rallying conservatives in general and the now-realigned intelligence community to renew the sacred oath to protect spies.

                They also leave room to debate whether it was treason in the case of Plame, which for conservatives means leaving room to believe whatever one wants to believe.

    •  *And*, never forget this: (none)
      Bush and his minions are NOT true conservatives.

      So, if you are right about Stratfor, then it would make sense to conclude that they are trying to bring down the Bush administration or at least tell the truth about its role in the Plame affair.

    •  he was simply being fair (none)
      He suggested that that may have been the case, true. But he quickly discourages any idea that  that would exonnerate Rove or Libby. It doesn't matter if she fucked up (and most of us can agree that probably didn't happen). What matters is that Rove & Libby fucked up. Period.

      No folly is more costly than the folly of intolerant idealism. – Winston Churchill

      by subtropolis on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 08:09:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I submit the Pubs aren't going to care (none)
        They're going to pick up the line that "we don't know who Plame told about her NOC status", and run, run (did I mention?) run with it.

        Preparing a quick counterattack would be prudent, because rest assured -- the attack is already underway, and Stratfor is chipping in...

        ...albeit perhaps this is being done inadvertently, as some say they have a knack for chucking everything they hear at the listener, leaving it to the customers to sort out what they want to hear.

        Same difference. Lazy analysis. You can pay one-tenth their fees -- or none at all -- for a perfectly good Google Monkey to do the same thing.

        It's only Nero-esque if the city is burning. :)

        by cskendrick on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 08:20:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  nice read (none)
      always have to remember who's talking.
  •  An excellent analysis (4.00)
    The key point which I had not considered is that this was actually an authorized leak of classified info. That piece of the puzzle clicks perfectly. Perfectly.

    I have previously been assuming that this was a haphazard, fubar, kneejerk attempt at vengeance and intimidation. That explains the motive and describes the execution; but I hadn't truly considered the authorization issue.

    It makes perfect sense that those involved wouldn't have executed this plan without permission and the cover of a legal authority. They had to know the liability of their actions. They had to measure the legality of what they were doing and seek permission. To have not sought permission would have been profoundly reckless and self-endangering.

    The key question I have is whether Cheney had the authority to declassify a NOC, or if it had to come from Bush.

    I have had a lot of doubt that this would ever be connected directly to Bush--but this explains a very plausible, even likely, explanation that Bush had to be personally aware and involved with the plot.

    Wow.

    --

    As an outraged Leftist, I have imagined Bush being impeached for a long time. But as a realist, I never seriously thought it could possibly happen. Too mich insulation and deniability.

    That calculus has changed after reading this article. It's still highly unlikely, but the road is now illuminated.

    The GOP is about to enter a whole new world of hurt if these questions become the common wisdom.

    •  This reminds me (4.00)
      of Rove telling the journalist (Tweety or Russert, I forget which) that Plame is "fair game".  It makes me think (and this should have been obvious, but I'm slow) that Rove was not, of course, speaking on his own behalf.  He was indicating that the word had come down.  It was now safe to talk about Plame.

      Interesting indeed.

      "In the beginning the universe was created. This has been widely criticized and generally regarded as a bad move." -- Douglas Adams

      by LithiumCola on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 05:59:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Wilson's Wife is Fair Game" (4.00)
        Karl Rove said that to Chris Matthews on July 21, 2003.  Joe Wilson's book begins with that quote.  Matthews told him "I just got off the phone with Karl Rove.  He says, and I quote, 'Wilson's wife is fair game.'"

             That, to me, crystallizes this whole sordid affair in a sentence.  By the end of the day tomorrow I hope that Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, and several others (Stephen Hadley would be nice, and maybe John Bolton, too) have been indicted and have resigned in disgrace.

      •  no conspiration theory (none)
        but "fair game" is Scientology code for May be deprived of property or injured by any means.  May be tricked, sued or lied to or destroyed.

        I dont think any of the involved is a scientologist at all .. but somehow the used vocabulary fits

        Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen. -- Albert Einstein

        by TheGerman on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 07:15:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Unfortunately, a lot of people (none)
      were led to believe this, that they didn't realize that it was authorized. We know this because of the security oath that must be taken by people at a certain level in the government. When Plame's name was revealed in the memo on Air Force One, and it was flagged with her status as a NOC, they KNEW that they were not alowed to reveal it. But they made her "fair Game" because she was just a woman, as well as because the MSM is so damn stupid they can't report their way out of a paper bag. The MSM doesn't not only ask questions (except for Helen Thomas) but they mostly don't ask the right questions.
      The Administration has been getting away with what they have done becuase there is nobody there to call them on it except for the blogs which, IMO, I'll bet the regular MSM doesn't even read for the most part.
      They should fry. I keep wondering how many people have been killed because of their wanton carelessness - make that criminality.
  •  This cleared up a few things... (none)
    The article cleared up what a NOC is and why it is such a BIG deal that they remain covert.

    The one new piece of information is the theory that someone ordered the exposure of Plame's identity as a NOC (or former NOC--we will never know this).

    Who has the authority to order the release Plame's identity?

    The article specifically mentions the president, but does Cheney or the CIA director have that authority also?

    Oh Louisiana, oh Louisiana They're trying to wash us away, oh Lord, they're trying to wash us away

    by lalo456987 on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 06:38:29 AM PDT

    •  asdf (none)
      I think only the Commander in Chief can suspend an agent's covert status.

      He would have to have a pretty serious reason to do so though as this diary so eloquently points out. Regardless of the outcome of this whole thing, they broke the law and, more importantly, the confidence of EVERY agent we have in the field. This heinous event has made our nation MUCH less safe by compromising Brewster Jennings and Associates, a long-standing and valuable source of information regarding many matters including a significant portion of our Nation's intelligence on the Saudi oil company (ARAMCO) and a good deal of our intelligence regarding the proliferation of WMD. Although I am not generally a supporter of capitol punishment, these bastards should hang as the traitors they are.

      "There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action." Johann Von Goethe

      by green917 on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 07:43:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Bottom Line (4.00)
    what this guy is saying is even if Plame shouted it on National Tv that she was an NOC, the govt had  every obligation and duty to deny, deny, deny that she was.

    The Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your action.

    Even if you out yourself, we will disavow any knowledge of your actions.

    This thorows every single wingnut arguement out the door.

    When I hear the phrase "culture of life" I want to reach for my gun.

    by PoliMorf on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 06:40:35 AM PDT

  •  dancobmd (4.00)
    Your comments are being rated with "0" and are consequently becoming "hidden", which means they're still there for certain users to see.

    You're being rated low because your post is in all caps.  All caps is considered yelling; it's rude and distracting. Additionally, you're being rated low because you are posting the same comment, over and over and over again.  I'm not sure if this is because your comments are being hidden, and thus, you think you didn't post it or because you're just * really * excited about getting your point across.

    Either way, please refrain from posting in all caps.   People are more likely to read your comment w/o the caps.  Also, no need to post your comment again. Trust me, we've seen it enough times.

    We're trying to give you the benefit of the doubt here....

    on topic, that is a thoroughly interesting article.  Thanks for posting it, SilverWings.

  •  Minor historical nit (none)
    Andrew Jackson's wife was not accused of being a prostitute. She was accused of being a bigamist.

    "Lash those conservatives and traitors with the pen of gall and wormwood -- let them feel -- no temporising!" -- Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1837

    by Ivan on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 07:11:15 AM PDT

  •  "On a personal note: ..." (4.00)
    Sorry, but this author lives in a FOX News world, and can only think in their store-bought stereotypes.  


    Conservatives have been champions of national security and of the United States' overt and covert capabilities.


    No.  Proxies of a parasite aristocracy have posed as "champions of national security" in order to insert themselves into federal revenue streams, providing stuff the guys in uniform often don't want, or which doesn't work.  

    Their lickspittles ape the language of the military, but do not themselves enlist.  

    Fantasists and parasites, yes.  Conservatives?  No such animal.  

    Conservatives have condemned the atrophy of American intelligence capabilities.


    But only when they need to piss on the peace and prosperity of the Clinton administration, in order to hide the almost comical disaster that is the Bush II administration, yes.  They will not mention the intelligence successes of the Clinton administration, or how Clinton's successor dropped the ball several times and left thousands to die on 9/11.  

    Therefore, they aren't serious on this topic, either.  

    Whether the special prosecutor indicts or exonerates Rove and Libby legally doesn't matter. Valerie Plame was a soldier in service to the United States, unprotected by uniform or diplomatic immunity.


    And we have seen how "conservatives" treat our men and women in uniform.  They are election props, they are political hostages (oppose the war = wanting them to die in said war), and they are ultimately disposable.  

    People who actually work for a living are just there to get fucked by "conservatives," uniform or no.  

    I have no idea whether she served well or poorly, or violated regulations later. But she did serve. And thus, she and all the other NOCs were owed far more -- especially by a conservative administration -- than they got.


    This is not a conservative administration, dumbass.  Not a conservative principle in sight.  It was only ever a marketing ploy.  

    Stratfor hasn't been the same since their founder was shot and killed.
    .

    "Freedom Isn't Free ... but Osama Is"

    MOMENT OF TRIUMPH

    by Grand Moff Texan on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 07:27:42 AM PDT

  •  The loophole has been drawn (none)
    We can think of only one possible justification for this action: That it was done on the order of the president. The president has the authority to suspend or change security regulations if required by the national interest.

    Not that I'm suggesting STRATFOR is giving him an out, oh no. But it's true what they say -- Bush is in charge, and if he decided to have Plame burned, there is no second-guessing him on it. He can say it was in the interest of the United States, and there's no valid comeback. And, I'm afraid to say, rightly so -- I can imagine a scenario, however unlikely, where burning Plame -did- serve a national interest and we -couldn't- know about why.

    If I were a Bush-defender, I'd start using that talking point immediately. In fact, the fact that they haven't started using it yet is a good sign, I think, because it's the only get-out-of-jail-free card they've got. But maybe it will be played as soon as indictments come down? Who knows? At any rate, I'm afraid that when and if that day comes, the Plame game is over.

    •  Bush isnt responsible. Its Clinton's fault! (none)
      you're right. Bush taking full responsiblity and saying he authorized the leak is the only "get out of jail" card they really have.

      OTOH can you imagine THIS Pres. Bush going on TV and saying that ?

      nope they'll lie and try to muddy the water.

      When I hear the phrase "culture of life" I want to reach for my gun.

      by PoliMorf on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 07:37:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  hm (none)
      As loopholes go it's a doozy.  Nonetheless I wonder whether they would try that angle.  First, they would have had to have been thinking about that before they started leaking in the first place.  You would think they would need a written dierctive for that sort of order, which Fitz would have found by now, and which would probably be enough to convince him to pack up and go home.  

      A second though.  If it turns out that Bush issued that directive, does that help him?  It seems like a poor political move and I imagine the Directorate of Operations would resign en masse.  

      Tom DeLay's GOP: cheating America in a time of war.

      by Tom Frank on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 08:32:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Get out of jail" Card????? (none)
      I'm not sure that the president can out a NOC but assuming that he could and actually authorized it, under these circumstances, it would be political suicide for BushCo and his cronies to make that public, even to save Turd Blossom.

      IMHO, the real "Get out of jail card" will be a Presidential pardon. I would imagine the political damage from issuing a pardon would be considerably less that acknowledging that the POTUS authorized the outing of a covert operative to smear an Iraq war critic.

    •  the time for this is past (none)
      They would be crazy to use this argument now, because if it were true, Bush would have explained the situation to Ashcroft way back when, or Fitz shortly after he started the investigation. The dumbest thing of all for Bush to do if this were the case would be to let Fitz go through this whole process and then say "dude, it's o.k., they did it on my orders, so let it go." The political damage would have been minimal compared to what he's looking at now.

      -7.75,-7.54; The road to hell is paved with Republicans!

      by erik in grayslake on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 10:05:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks so much for posting this... (none)
    I have excerpted and credited this elsewhere. Very excellent diary and public service.

    I reserve the right to revise and extend my remarks in Sozadee CA.

    by The Messenger on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 07:46:10 AM PDT

  •  This means exactly what? (none)
    We can think of only one possible justification for this action: That it was done on the order of the president. The president has the authority to suspend or change security regulations if required by the national interest. The Plame affair would be cleared up if it turns out Rove and Libby were ordered to act as they did by the president.

    Does it meant that the only way for Rove and Libby to be cleared would be for them to testify that they were ordered by Bush to "engage in a work-up for Mr. Wilson"? Could Bush claim that he could change security regulations (and allow the NOC status of Mrs. Wilson to get uncovered and leaked), because national interests made it necessary? Could the President argue that the threat of the Iraqi's WMD to the US was so grave that he had the right to "get rid of a critic like Mr. Wilson", who challenged him on his judgement about this threat and therefore challenged the President's position to protect the American poeple from the Iraqi WMD threat?

    Is it possible that Bush believed soo much in this threat to be "real" (I actually believe he did - he has had almost a pathological fixation to that threat) that he was in the blind about the Niger paper's forgery, whereas may be the VP's office and Cheney (and the DoD?) were knowledgable about the forgery and did hide it on purpose to be able to use those forgeries to give the (naive) President some proper justifications to engage in his pet idea, the war against Saddam, whereas the neo-con gang around in the VP's office and the Pentagon wanted their bigger dream come through, to "liberate the whole middle eastern region including their oil"?

    Wouldn't that be an option for the President to argue that he had the right to allow the contract obligations existing between an NOC and the government to be loosened as a matter of national interest to protect the American people from the threat of Iraqi WMDs, and endeavour of his that was severely jeopardized by Mr. Wilson criticism?

    I think all points to Cheney and the DoD in the end. Bush could have been used like a marionette by Cheney's and Rumsfeld's "aspens".
     

    •  Bush's actions sort of prove he didn't order (none)
      Plame outing.

      As I noted above, if Bush really did order Plame burned on National Security grounds, he would have to be nuts and dumber than dumb to let this process unfold the way it has.

      Ummm, now that I put it that way, I guess it is plausible.

      -7.75,-7.54; The road to hell is paved with Republicans!

      by erik in grayslake on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 10:08:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Lest we forget why this all matters (none)
    3 more soliders killed in Iraq...Total now is 1979.

    http://icasualties.org/oif/

    I did not receive $ from Ketchum, U.S. Department of Ed or HHS to write this---though I wish I had.

    by Volvo Liberal on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 08:53:17 AM PDT

  •  Gracias! (none)
    Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!  What a great diary.  The wing nuts should read this for sure!
  •  Wow. (none)
    Thanks, Susan.

    An elightening, interesting and powerful read.

    Says it all.

  •  Somebody PLEASE (none)
    Out the neocon propaganda network already. Judy is part of larger propaganda network. Not just some reporter gone bad. She and her WMD propaganda needs to be exposed.

    It's the only true justice.

  •  Could someone explain (none)
    What the bad rap that Clinton got on "humint" is all about.  In the context of this article, it looks like another "Clinton was responsible for 9/11" piece of garbage.

    This guy is not apolitical.  He's trying to save his business.  He is defending the CIA from the slanderers, not defending Wilson and Plame.  One wonders whether his "world's leading private intelligence firm specializing in providing critical intelligence and insights on political, economic, military, and security events around the world to give you the perspective you need to navigate today's complex and competitive global environment." is a front organization for the CIA.  Hidden in plain sight.

    The revolution starts now--in your own back yard, in your own home town

    by TarheelDem on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 10:11:17 AM PDT

  •  How many Valerie Plames have they burned? (none)
    How many other covert agents have decided to quit, rather than risk being exposed (and possibly killed) by the criminals in the Bush Administration?

    We'll never know, but it's easy to imagine that it would happen. If I was one, I'd sure think about it.

    Anyone who continues to defend the scumbags who destroyed this agent and her network must really hate America.

    Every [weapon] signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed. - Dwight D. Eisenhower

    by racerx on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 10:14:16 AM PDT

  •  The Wilsons have young twins (none)
    Ms. Wilson was likely working in the US while her kids were small. That's something nobody mentions. I'm sure that when you do what she did for the CIA that you can have an assignment for a time that allows you to have a family. Her job, according to neighbors and friends, was Energy Analyst, which I expect she could do from D.C.
  •  I have said this before... (none)
    States intelligence community?:

    • The President's schedule? - Dubya would like to think so, but negative
    • Nuclear technology? - not even close.
    • Weapons systems specifications? - sexy, but no
    • Battle plans? - a little closer, but no
    • Human Intelligence? - DING DING DING - we have a winner.

    Why is the most classified?  Well it is not just the altruistic humanist reasons of somebody undercover may get killed.  I is because of the reasons mentioned in the article.  A well placed spy in the right organization in a certain part of the world is invaluable.

    What BushCo did was not just 'release classified information'.  They released the most classified secrets of the US government.  Think about that for a second.  That is like Coke releasing its secret formula in order to spite Pepsi.

    Oedipus has poked out our eyes...

    "[A] 'Sharecropper's Society' [is] precisely where our trade policies, supported by Republicans and Democrats alike, are taking us." - Warren Buffet

    by RichM on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 10:39:54 AM PDT

  •  Genius (none)
    That was really compelling reading. Thank you.
  •  Thanks! (none)
    This whole thing makes more sense to me now.  This clears up a lot of my confusion.  

    Is Miller a NOC for the neocons?  That wouldn't surprise me.  

    "Its when murder is justice that martyrs are made..." Lamb of God

    by Darth Codis on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 02:02:44 PM PDT

  •  Wow (none)
    As this post makes clear, this is even worse than we thought. The damage may be immense.

    I harken back to the judges decisions re: Miller where they stated that the seriousness of the crime compels her testimony. The one thing we are missing in all of this is th CIA's own damage assessment. That may be a humdinger.

    A liberal is a man so broadminded he wouldn't take his own side in an argument........Robert Frost

    by mjshep on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 02:10:43 PM PDT

  •  Nice Job - should be required reading for all (none)
    Republican Patriots

    "Bin Laden determined to strike in US" Presidential Daily Briefing - August 6, 2001

    by What were you thinking on Tue Oct 18, 2005 at 02:55:47 PM PDT

  •  Folks, Understand What is Happening Here (none)
    Yes, Stratfor and George Friedman are on the conservative side of the political spectrum.

    But far from providing some sort of cover, as has been alluded to in the comments above, what we are seeing here is a significant attack from the intelligence community (through Friedman) against the office of the VP.

    A man in Friedman's position doesn't make this sort of attack idly.  The potential consequences are simply too great.  So, he must think that the VP is weak enough that his attack has a reasonable chance of success...success being defined as purging the executive branch of the cadre of people who were responsible for using the CIA so cruelly.

    In short, the knives are beginning to be drawn against Cheney et al.  I think we can look at Rove's testimony in the same light...Karl AIN'T taking a bullet for the Dark Prince of Wyoming.

    I believe that many, many debts are about to be repaid against Cheney and his team.

  •  Recommended even if not 'the best' (none)
    This publication has a large conservative readership.  The article appears to be trying hard to bring its readers up to speed on why Rove and Libby and the WHIGs should be indicted even under the GOP talking points.

    As may liberals have said from the beginning the only defense of this matter is purely partisan.  Rove, Libby, etc. committed treason by every argument the right has used for this mismanaged war.

  •  I found the comment about Clinton downsize (none)
    the spying as somewhat snide given Condi's post 9-11 recitation of the August 2001 PDB .... etc...

    but I have not read this author before and if this reaches a large conservative audience - this is way-ass damaging to W.

    Worst president in history.

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