The assertion--supported by three anonymous people--that Plame didn't work for WINPAC is getting both right and left blogosphere in a tizzy.
Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, never worked for WINPAC, an analysis unit in the overt side of the CIA, and instead worked in a position in the CIA's secret side, known as the directorate of operations, according to three people familiar with her work for the spy agency.
The right believes they've got evidence now that Libby didn't know Plame was covert, since he believed she worked on the Director of Intelligence (analysis) side of the agency. The left believes Fitzgerald is going to have an easier time of nailing the original source, since it is faulty.
Me, I'm not so sure this assertion is correct. I say that for two reasons. There is evidence (including from one named source) saying she was in WINPAC. And this story apparently first appeared on GOPUSA, an almost surefire sign it's disinformation.
I laid out the evidence for and against Plame's involvement with WINPAC in a post on Fleitz (it's a critical issue in the question of whether Fred Fleitz was the original source of her NOC status). Here's a quick overview of that evidence:
- Vincent Cannistraro, Plame's former boss in Counter-terrorism, says she works in WINPAC
Contrary to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s reporting, former CIA official Vincent Cannistraro said that Plame worked undercover for the Center for Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control, or WINPAC. (Wilson xl)
- This Carnegie Endowment piece appears to imply that the CIA officer currently suing for wrongful discpline was kicked out of WINPAC; we know this guy ran assets (making him DO). If it's true the way they retaliated was by reassiging him, it means at least one DO person was associated WINPAC (this is a little associative--I'm not 100% confident in this).
- This all-important September 2003 WaPo article sourced to the SAO who is likely Fitz' best witness implies she wears two hats, analysis and operations.
She is a case officer in the CIA's clandestine service and works as an analyst on weapons of mass destruction.
Now like I said, I think the Carnegie Endowment connection is sketchy. And the CIA site doesn't really help--it clearly shows WINPAC is on the Directorate of Intelligence (analysis) side of the agency. But it doesn't say how it's organized. Alan Foley (head of WINPAC) made an offhand reference in his Bolton testimony to its formation, which makes it sound like it's one big umbrella organization that includes everyone having to do with non-proliferation.
But, you remember, WINPAC was put together early in the Administration, and I think Fred was with the Nonproliferation Center, one of the -- John Lauder's old organization -- and we were all, sort of, reorganized into one group then. That's what I remember. (7)
Basically, though, there's not much on WINPAC's organization. No big surprise there.
The other two bits of evidence I find more compelling. Vincent Cannistraro is a damn good source on CIA. He used to work with Plame when he was the head of counter-terrorism. Compare that to the quality of the sources in the AP story: anonymous and not even identified as having any affiliation with CIA (and even if they're in the CIA, the Porter Goss CIA has been stripped of many, if not most, of its independent thinkers). Hell, AP's sources could include the omnipresent Luskin! It strikes me that Cannistraro is a more credible source, at least until we learn more about the AP sources.
And I find the formulation in the WaPo piece quite intriguing. Plame was working in both clandestine services and working as an analyst, it says. If I had to guess, I'd say this is accurate. Plame has been back from overseas assignment for a few years (although still within the time limit stipulated by IIPA). But the Brewster-Jennings front company was clearly still active. Which suggests Plame likely still played a role in it, an operative role. But she may have been used in an analytical role, as well, since she was located at Langley.
In any case, I doubt this is the big news either the right or the left blogosphere thinks it is. Fitz clearly already knows where Plame worked. Sure, Libby may claim to be ignorant of her specific role. But it seems like Fitz has a good idea of the chain of the leak. Which means he is likely to be able to refute this defense, if that's what Libby is planning on using.