ann couter asked....
It was not a crime to reveal Valerie Plame's name because she was not a covert agent. If it had been a crime, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald could have wrapped up his investigation with an indictment of the State Department's Richard Armitage on the first day of his investigation since it was Armitage who revealed her name and Fitzgerald knew it.
yeah? why isn't Richard Armitage in trouble?
March 10th, 2007 10:34am
Valerie WAS a covert agent. Her exposure ruined a deep cover operation and possibly got some people killed when their cover was blown.
One ought to assume that anyone who works for the CIA should not be named.
"In her cover position as a consultant to Brewster-Jennings, Ms. Plame served overseas on clandestine missions. Just because she did not live overseas full time does not mean she did not work overseas using her status as a non-official cover officer.
Unfortunately, the organized plot by White House officials to expose Valerie Plame also permanently ended her ability to ever serve overseas in an official cover position. At a minimum, U.S. tax payers invested at least $250,000 (that is in 1985 dollars) in training Valerie as a case officer. Karl Rove, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, and others not yet revealed destroyed by their reckless acts her career, a CIA front company, and a network of intelligence assets."
March 10th, 2007 10:38am
OK, so given it is known that Richard Armitage was the primary source of all this. Why isn't he in jail?
March 10th, 2007 10:41am
The reason Fitzergerald didn't prosecute Armitage, et al, isn't because Plame wasn't an agent. The reason is because the covert agent revealing law is a bit . I think it says the indictee must reveal the information with *intent*. If Armitage, et al, revealed the information without realizing that they were outing a covert agent, then they are not guilty. Proving intent, as you may, is difficult. It really does seem there's a good chance they thought she was just a desk jockey, and not a field op, and that well, revealing her name would not reveal her undercover identity in any way. It's a weak law.
March 10th, 2007 10:50am
A bit weak, I meant to say.
March 10th, 2007 10:50am
March 10th, 2007 10:57am
"If Armitage, et al, revealed the information without realizing that they were outing a covert agent, then they are not guilty."
Shouldn't one assume that a CIA agent might have something to hide, and err on the side of not outing them? Ignorance doesn't get you off the hook for other crimes; why should it in this case?
March 10th, 2007 10:59am
I'm repeating the CW.
Yes, ignorance of the *law* doesn't clear anyone. However that's not the issue here. It's not the lack of knowledge in the law that's at stake. It's the lack of intent in making the revelation.
It's a little like that substitute teacher who had porn on her computer. She claims no knowledge. If the pornography law was about intent to distribute, or intent to display porn to minors, the prosecution would have had a harder time. But that particular law is more stringent and has less requirements. It simply says possession is enough. No intent needs to be shown.
March 10th, 2007 11:05am
Intent is irrelevant in the Plame case. You just can't go around revealing people's membership in the CIA. Armitage, et al should have known better, but they were up to no good (trying to discredit her husband) and didn't care.
March 10th, 2007 11:11am
>Shouldn't one assume that a CIA agent might have something to hide, and err on the side of not outing them?
Because revealing her was to punish her and her husband for exposing the administrations lies about the yellowcake forgeries. The purpose was to demonstrate that the administration was willing to burn *anyone* who would get in their way of the Iraq Wargasm.
Brewster Jennings, and in particular Plame, was tasked with counterproliferation for WMD in the middle east. Including Iraq and Iran.
Also, people who would have been willing or interested in being a spy/agent for the US will have second thoughts as the agents that Plame ran would have been rounded up and shot at the least. But the republican'ts don't care about that. Or maybe can't care.
Of course those chickens are coming home to roost as the US no longer knows where the Iranian nuclear facilities are, since many of them have been dismantled and moved since outing Plame. There are some PowerPointless presentations on the web showing before/after pictures of a "suspect" facility in Iran. The before photo shows a building surrounded by a fence. The after photo shows a vacant lot, and the notes point out that the building was demolished, and along with the top 8 inches of soil at the site, barrelled up and trucked off.
March 10th, 2007 11:11am
The law seems OK to me. I've known a few people that worked for the CIA. Sometimes I discuss them with others: "I went golfing with Bill Jones last weekend, you know, the guy who works for the CIA." If it was illegal to do that because Bill 'might' be a covert agent, everybody who knows CIA employees would be majorly fucked.
March 10th, 2007 11:24am
Plame didn't go around telling people she worked for the CIA. Neighbors and friends thought she worked for an energy company, Brewster Jennings.
March 10th, 2007 11:27am
If a democrat had made the leak how do you think it would have been handled? That's all you need to know...
son of parnas
March 10th, 2007 11:29am
I think the fact the Fitz went after Libby (and Rove) shows he was serious. I believe Armitage had no (provable) intent to reveal a covert agent and I believe strawberry when he says the law requires intent (in this case).
March 10th, 2007 11:39am
"If it was illegal to do that because Bill 'might' be a covert agent, everybody who knows CIA employees would be majorly fucked."
In fact, that's the way it was for decades - just like "NSA" used to stand for "No Such Agency." It changed to how it is now (you can know people work for the agency, just not much more) because it was so difficult for thousands of people to constantly lie about their lives.
I don't think anyone wants to go back to that. So you do need a measure of intent in the law, and have to weigh what the person knew and what their goal was. Otherwise you'd be arresting everyone who was friends with or lived next to a CIA employee.
SoP - yes, Republicans are partisan. Shocker. The flip side to your assertion is "Now let's presume Armitage was a democrat and compare how he would've been treated by a Republican Congress vs. a Democratic Congress" - I would anticipate the same inequities.
March 10th, 2007 11:49am
> Armitage, et al should have known better, but they were up to no good (trying to discredit her husband) and didn't care.
'should have known better' is exactly what Fitzergerald was going to say in his prosecution. But is it beyond a reasonable doubt that they should have known better? To the minds of all 12 of the jurors?
'up to no good' is not a prosecutable offense in itself. There is little legal framework for 'discrediting' except for libel. I don't think any lawyer would recommend a libel suit here (the Senate Committee which investigated the matter did say she gave input into the decision to send her husband).
> Brewster Jennings, and in particular Plame, was tasked with counterproliferation for WMD in the middle east.
There are three things here ... Armitage, et al, would need to know this (prolly) and this information would need to be covert and they would need to know this information is covert.
There are people in the CIA who are tasked with stuff. That doesn't mean their identities are private. The director of the CIA's identity is public. I don't think it's difficult to gather up names of other high-level people as well. Was Plame -- who was the director of the Joint Task Force on Iraq ops group -- high enough?
Again, I'm presenting the argument Fitzergald must have used to make a decision on who to prosecute and for what. His goal was convictions not mere indictments - he may have thought one conviction and innuendo on the rest was better than one conviction and half a dozen acquittals (because, as presented above, the defense had a decent chance at reasonable doubt).
I'm not saying it's the right decision, I'm not sure it's the one I would have made in Fitzergerald's place, but it's not without its merits.
Michael Isikoff's/David Corn's well written counterpoint ...
They did screw up her career though. It would be just deserts if a Dem administration gave her a high-level (and overt) job at the CIA in 2009.
March 10th, 2007 11:54am
> I would anticipate the same inequities.
I think you are wrong about that. The republicans are far more territorial and royalistic. They punish disloyalty with a vengeance. They have no stomach for a market place of ideas.
son of parnas
March 10th, 2007 11:56am
"Neighbors and friends thought she worked for an energy company, Brewster Jennings"
But Brewster Jennings is part of the CIA, so it's the same difference.
Plenty of people knew Valerie had a desk job at the CIA. It was no secret.
March 10th, 2007 12:15pm
> what's your source that plenty of people knew?
You know, people who worked in the CIA. Doesn't that count? And people know people work for the CIA, so could she. So you see, it's OK.
son of parnas
March 10th, 2007 12:22pm
and you know people who have psychic powers and anyone who called the psychic hotline and asked about her job.....
March 10th, 2007 12:26pm
The article linked to in the article you link to:
A former CIA covert agent who supervised Mrs. Plame early in her career yesterday took issue with her identification as an "undercover agent," saying that she worked for more than five years at the agency's headquarters in Langley and that most of her neighbors and friends knew that she was a CIA employee.
"She made no bones about the fact that she was an agency employee and her husband was a diplomat," Fred Rustmann, a covert agent from 1966 to 1990, told The Washington Times.
March 10th, 2007 12:44pm
pg 2 of article:
"Her neighbors knew this, her friends knew this, his friends knew this. A lot of blame could be put on to central cover staff and the agency because they weren't minding the store here. ... The agency never changed her cover status."
Mr. Rustmann, who spent 20 of his 24 years in the agency under "nonofficial cover" -- also known as a NOC, the same status as the wife of Mr. Wilson -- also said that she worked under extremely light cover.
In addition, Mrs. Plame hadn't been out as an NOC since 1997, when she returned from her last assignment, married Mr. Wilson and had twins, USA Today reported yesterday.
The distinction matters because a law that forbids disclosing the name of undercover CIA operatives applies to agents that had been on overseas assignment "within the last five years."
"She was home for such a long time, she went to work every day at Langley, she was in an analytical type job, she was married to a high-profile diplomat with two kids," Mr. Rustmann said. "Most people who knew Valerie and her husband, I think, would have thought that she was an overt CIA employee."
Asked whether his wife had been compromised before the press leak, Mr. Wilson said, "I have no idea," though he said that her work has had to change since the leaks.
"My wife's status is that she is back at work, obviously in a different capacity, and she no longer has the cover that she once held," he said.
One neighbor of the Wilsons, who live in the affluent Palisades community in Northwest, said that he "absolutely didn't know" that Mrs. Plame was in the CIA.
"We understood her to work as an economist," said David Tillotson, a 62-year old lawyer. He said he didn't know that Mrs. Plame commuted to CIA headquarters, but added that "they wouldn't be conducting an investigation if she hadn't been covert."
So, wow, they were able to find ONE of her neighbor's that didn't know where she worked. Big whoop dee doo.
Let me ask you this - do all YOUR neighbors know where you work and what you do? Not all of mine do.
March 10th, 2007 12:46pm
"I think you are wrong about that. The republicans are far more territorial and royalistic. They punish disloyalty with a vengeance. They have no stomach for a market place of ideas."
Like "what if men really are better at math"?
Or "black people are just as racist as whites"?
Or a critical evaluation of the Clinton Death List?
Bah. Democrats are amazingly capable of shouting down ideas they don't like and casually dismissing things they don't agree with. IMHO, anyone who tries to suggest that Democrats and Republicans (esp. those in Congress) are somehow fundamentally different *people* removes themselves from the conversation because they're obviously biased.
March 10th, 2007 2:57pm
I'm sympathetic to the power corrupts and both parties are part of the corporate capitalist elite argument, but I think you overstep.
To use Clinton's phrase, "the politics of personal destruction" really did begin with the Republicans. Think back to Lee Atwater and the attacks on Dukakis and Ferraro. The nearly two million dollars spent by Richard Mellon Scaife to investigate Bill Clinton. The wild stories surrounding Vince Foster's tragic suicide. The push-poll in South Carolina about John McCain's brown baby. The Swift Boat Vets. James Tobin and the New Hampshire phone jamming.
The dems have done less of it or perhaps just been bad at it. Very little was ever made of Rehnquist's Placidyl addiction. Gingrich's affairs were hardly news in the 1990s.
I think of the guys running the democratic campaigns James Carville, Dick Morris, and George Stephanopoulos. They just aren't associated with the kind of dirty politics you see from the republicans.
March 10th, 2007 3:14pm
> Democrats are amazingly capable of shouting down ideas they don't like and casually dismissing things they don't agree with.
If that's all it was I would unhappy, but I wouldn't be disturbed. The systematic punishment of the dissenters and the constant pressure to agree with the King, makes it far worse.
son of parnas
March 10th, 2007 4:55pm
"Or a critical evaluation of the Clinton Death List?"
Has someone asked for a critical evaluation of the Clinton Death List? Can you show me the Clinton Death List?
The first list I get in google begins with "BARBARA OLSON - Author of "Hell to Pay" - a book critical of Hillary Clinton, killed in the Pentagon bombing." Are you joking?
Is the suggestion that Clinton arranged the pentagon bombing (as far as crashing a plane into the pentagon can be called a bombing) in order to kill the author of a book about his wife?
Yeah, it's a shocking that the dems have resisted the call to make this critical evaluation. Even more shocking that responsible republicans didn't seize the chance when they controlled the government.
The second one is a lady with information about drugs and Vice President George Bush and his son, Jeb Bush. Some how this is on Clinton's list. Maybe he offed her as a favor to the Bush family?
Hi, Philo, one last question: DO YOU GET A BULK RATE DISCOUNT ON TIN FOIL?
March 10th, 2007 5:15pm
"The dems have done less of it or perhaps just been bad at it."
My impression (admittedly biased) has been that they're just not very good at it. The Republicans have shown that in *every* arena they have a talent for capturing public attention in a big way - every issue, every platform. I think a lot of the Democratic leadership had problems understanding how to relate to the average American.
Heh. I'm trying to abstract this, which is probably pretty inaccurate, but if you look at where the stereotypical "power centers" of each party end up - Republicans are CEO's, Democrats are scientists and academicians - the same holds true. Business people tend to have more charisma and are better at selling people on ideas. Empathy and charisma are not two traits you generally hear about when discussing Nobel Prize winners or PhD's.
And this isn't a "smarter" thing - most CEO's are fucking brilliant in their own right.
So the net/net is - the Democrats need to recognize their own weaknesses and seek out liberals who *can* schmooze the people and get their point across without spending twenty-five minutes talking about some nebulous "plan" [g]
March 10th, 2007 5:18pm
Connect with the people? I don't doubt that the republicans have been better the past few seasons at shaping a message that sold well with the american people. The democrats can do it. We just look over the wooden years of Gore and Kerry back to Clinton.
I'm talking about something much different. I'm talking about mendacious republican political techniques. Do you consider calling people up and asking if McCain had a black baby how might that influence their vote charismatic?
That rumor was especially hard to shake because McCain and his wife had adopted a child from an orphanage in Bangladesh. She was 11 at the time.
The republicans have certainly show a talent for capturing public attention. They have been manipulative, dishonest and mean. Taking political advantage of racism at the expense of a 11-year old girl. Turning McCain's act of charity against him. It's a sewer that I hope the democrats don't follow them into.