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January 07, 2007

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Link in the banner above is to last week's FDL book salon --

Marcy is on the air live over here, right now

stop by and say hello

so this is the "New and Improved" version ???

Updated with two extra paragraphs

shouldn't that also say "now with 20% more content" or something ???

seriously, I guess this ends the debate about whether Plame's identity was or is classified

don't you feel sorry for the poor freepi ???

first malkin was proven to be a flaming idiot, then the "Lonely Kerry" photo scam fell apart, and now their favorite defense of scooter libby has bit the dust

for the record, I have NO SYMPATHY for these pathetic fools

reality has a liberal bias

and Kharma is a bitch, and she knows where the freepi live

I think it all makes it pretty clear she was covert (and I think the serious attention from the judges in this case has kind of tipped that all along).

But I don't think this part necessarily follows:
it will become very easy to quantify damages if Plame loses her S&S book deal, as well as her income

The only reason she had the book deal was because of the outing - if anything, the book deal $$ would have been a mitigation of damages IMO.

You can't really say that her damages, flowing from the outing, were that she had an opportunity that she wouldn't have had without the outing, but she couldn't take that opportunity, so the outing lost her money (that she wouldn't have been able to make without the outing ...)

Fair point, Mary. I think I was trying to say her loss of income becomes more stark when she is still not released from the terms of her service.

Fair point, Mary. I think I was trying to say her loss of income becomes more stark when she is still not released from the terms of her service.

Her loss of income? Didn't she continue to work until she became eligible for pension, and then retired?

In other words, this fight does one thing, wrt the criminal trial--it underscores that she was a NOC (presumably within the 5 year time limit on the IIPA).

It is her spokesperson asserting she can't write because she was a NOC, so that is coming from her which makes it a bit circular. It says nothing about 5 years.

Because nothing seems to get to the issue of her classified identity as quickly as that--her inability to even mention her 20 year career because details of it remain so sensitive.

Not even mention her 20 year career? Where is that coming from?

her loss of income becomes more stark when she is still not released from the terms of her service.

hate to sound like a broken record, but prior disclosure doesn't extinguish classified status

rover should be prosecuted for his "Fair Game" statement

MayBee

Because nothing seems to get to the issue of her classified identity as quickly as that--her inability to even mention her 20 year career because details of it remain so sensitive.

Not even mention her 20 year career? Where is that coming from?

From this:

The panel refused Plame permission to even mention that she worked for the CIA because she served as a "nonofficial cover" officer (or NOC) posing as a private businesswoman, according to an adviser to Plame, who asked not to be identified discussing a sensitive issue.

Yes, Plame's spokesperson. Just as Drumheller's spokesperson made the same announcement. Though presumably if the spokesperson is talking crack, that facts will come out.

Though presumably if the spokesperson is talking crack, that facts will come out.

It seems to me plenty of self-serving crack talk stays uncorrected. One could almost write a book about it. ;-) Or fill books with it, depending on one's point of view.

I guess my point was that, if you're employing 4 high priced lawyers to make sure you launch the best possible defense and someone says something that can be disproved just before your trial that turns on precisely that issue, particularly if you've got the services of someone like Barbara Comstock at your disposal, you make sure things like this get corrected.

How can Libby's lawyers disprove that statement? They don't have access to Plame's employment history or status, and they don't have access to the CIA panel's deliberations about her book.

Actually, it seems to be a clever PR/jury influencing move by Plame's advisors. Make this announcement a week before the trial knowing the CIA can't comment on specifics, Fitzgerald won't comment on it, and Libby has no ability to comment on it. Note that there is no date given for this decision, and the CIA says talks are ongoing. But the spokesman tells Isikoff now. Good way to plant a seed.

Wonder also whether Plame's area of expertise and region of focus might not also play into the denial of permission to publish.

It has always bothered me that they didn't go after Wilson alone, that they went after Plame, as if there was more to her role than her marriage to him that concerned them enough to neutralize her. The fact that they didn't go after Wilson alone is what got them into hot water; it was not their M.O. to be so off-message and out of focus.

And perhaps there's a signal in this that might not otherwise emerge since the OVP has conveniently outed intelligence resources covering Iran...

Fair enough, MayBee

It might be brilliant gamemanship. Or it might be real.

And what say you if it is real?

(Also, Libby does have a summary of Valerie Wilson's status, plus other documents that address it. He just wasn't given her entire work history.)

If it is real and she was a NOC at the time she was outed, I say shame on all of them for not being more careful. And I hope IIPA and/or espionage violations will be appropriately punished.

But honestly? I don't think that first Vanity Fair article featuring them would have looked/read the way it did had she been NOC at the time Novak wrote about her. And I think the Wilsons would be suing Armitage, not just the WH/OVP. That's just my gut, and admittedly a bit OT.

MayBee - The Wilsons are suing Armitage as well.

It has always bothered me that they didn't go after Wilson alone, that they went after Plame, as if there was more to her role than her marriage to him that concerned them enough to neutralize her. The fact that they didn't go after Wilson alone is what got them into hot water; it was not their M.O. to be so off-message and out of focus.

Yes, exactly why I continue to be intrigued by the "fair game" comment. It still sounds to me as though the Wilson article gave a reason in some venue somewhere to do what certain of them had wanted to do—break up operations involving VPW—all along.

I wonder also whether these speculations might relate somehow to a little part of the thread over at FDL, concerning a common hunch that Ari Fleischer might be more than a mere bit player in the Libby trial drama. (Boy was I ever late to the FDL party, but congratulations to ew on a book that I'll be reading ASAP, and recommending sooner.)

According to his Wikipedia bio, Fleischer announced his forthcoming resignation on May 19, 2003; McClellan took over on July 15, the week after the infamous Africa trip. My dragon sense said at the time that Fleischer didn't see why he, a mere lt.jg as it were, should be the first to go down for the developing mistake. Maybe what we've got here are hints of something quite a bit wider, as well as higher-flying, than the immediate conspiracy around the Niger forgery.

Pete- you are right. I was remembering when the report was that they were pondering whether to add him or not. I forgot they had decided to add him to the lawsuit.

ew: It might be brilliant gamemanship. Or it might be real.

no reason it can't be both :-) Just because Republicans own the media doesn't mean they're the only ones who can write a press release. And as for gamesmanship, timing can be everything.

Has jury selection started yet? Or does the anticipated trial date refer to the first day of jury selection? I'm very interested in hearing about the voir dire...

I still suspect that there was more than just getting Wilson by leaking Plame's CIA employment. It was clear that there was real in-fighting going on between the CIA and Cheney/The Pentagon. A lot of news stories were rumored to be released by the CIA to shoot down Cheney and DoD activities.

I think the attack on Plame had two targets. First was Wilson, but second was a counterattack on CIA personnel who leaked material that damaged the White House spin. Clearly leaking the Plame story would have demonstrated to every employee of the CIA who might consider releasing material to the Press to counter Cheney's actions would have gotten the message that the cost of such leaks could well be their career. My bet remains that the OVP simply considered the Wilson OpEd as one very clear release of info by the CIA to counter Cheney, and assummed that Valery Plame was one of the leakers who were trying to stop Cheney from acting.

Even if there was no real intra-institutional battle between the CIA and Cheney/DoD, It is my opinion that Cheney is sufficiently paranoid to think there was.

I hope I have thrown in enough weasel words to show I have no proof (yet) that this was the case. But considering the level of paranoia I have observed in the White House and in right-wingers generally, I'd say that this is the way to bet.

I’M SO NEWBY HERE I CAN REMEMBER PRECISELY WHICH EW POST HOOKED ME – IT CHARACTERIZED CHENEY’S HANDWRITTEN COMMENTS ON WILSON’S OP-ED AS “TALKING POINTS”.

AND I’M SO NEWBY HERE I DON’T HAVE A TRACK ON RICK B. BUT HIS POST HERE HIT ME RIGHT IN THE SYNAPSES [SORRY FOR CORRECTING HIS TYPOS]:

“the OVP … considered the Wilson OpEd as … release of info by the CIA to counter Cheney, and assumed … Valerie Plame was one of the leakers…”

I REPEAT, I’M SO NEWBY, BUT I HAVE NOT SEEN, HERE, ANYWHERE, A MORE LUCID, SATISFYING EXPLANATION FOR WHY THE BUSH/CHENEY GANG WOULD RESORT TO SOMETHING THEY HAD TO KNOW WAS DRASTIC AND PERILOUS: OUTING AN UNDERCOVER CIA TO DETER A HAS BEEN STATE DEPARTMENT LIFER WHOSE STORY ALREADY WAS OUT THERE ANYWAY AND WHO THEY WOULD NORMALLY DISMISS JUST AS THEY DO ALL GOVERNMENT CAREERISTS, AS A SOFT-HEADED LEFTY WITH AT BEST A BIT OF FLASH AND NOTHING COMPARED TO THEIR OWN DEAD SERIOUS NEOCON SLASH.

EW, HER REGULARS, AND HER INTERBLOGGERS FROM FDL, NEEDLENOSE AND TALKLEFT – EVEN JOM I SUPPOSE – ALL ARE MORE STEEPED THAN I IN THE CONTEXT HERE. SO I LEAVE TO OTHERS IN PLAME-OZ TO FLESH THIS OUT - OR CRUSH IT, IF THAT'S ALL IT DESERVES.

LOOK, IF IT’S JUST THAT I’VE GONE CONSPIRAMAD, I'D RATHER THIS SHARE SADDAM'S FATE - ALTHOUGH MORE QUICKLY AND QUIETLY. BUT PLEASE, ONE OR THE OTHER, OKAY?

BECAUSE IF RICK B. IS IN FACT RICK RIGHT, IT WOULD GREATLY EASE THE ROUTE THROUGH LIBBY TO BUSH.

FWIMBW, THE WAY I SEE THINGS:

1-ISIKOFF/CORN’S HUBRIS HAS VALERIE WILSON NOT AS JUST SOME TYPIST IN THE DEEP END OF A CIA POOL, OR EVEN A ‘MERE’ TRANSLATER LIKE EDMUNDS – BUT THE, I REPEAT, THE PERSON IN CHARGE OF THE CIA’S “WHERE’S SADDAM GOT THOSE WMDS?” PROGRAM, THE NEOCON EQUIVALENT TO AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH.

2-BY EARLY ‘03, CHENEY AND LIBBY HAD EARNED THE CIA VERSION OF BARNES & NOBLES LIFEREADER DISCOUNT CARDS WITH THEIR FORAYS DEEP INTO THE CIA’S STACKS OF RAW INTEL, STARTING FROM NO LATER THAN JUST AFTER 9/11.

3-NONE OF US WOULD WISH TO ACCUSE EITHER CHENEY OR LIBBY OF SPENDING THEIR PRECIOUS, IMPORTANT TIME DOWN IN THE FLOWER BED OF CIA HQ FLITTING ABOUT. WE’D EXPECT THEY WENT THERE TO GET THEIR PROBISCI AS WET AS POSSIBLE FROM DIPPING IT EVERY AVAILABLE PETAL COVERING THE PROMISE OF RAW IRAQ WMD INTEL NECTAR, BUZZING IN DAILY ANTENNAE AND FEELERS SET TO VIBE AT THE MEREST SCENT OF THAT WHICH COMPELLED THEM THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE – POTENTIAL BUILDING BLOCKS FOR THE CASE FOR ARMING THE POTUS WITH AMPLE JUSTIFICATION TO SELL VOTERS AND CONGRESS ON INVASION OF IRAQ.

3-WHAT ODDS WOULD YOU GIVE THAT A COUPLE OF OVERFOCUS CAREER PARANERDS LIKE DICK AND SCOOTER WOULD MISS A CIA LOVELY LIKE VALERIE WILSON, YAY VERILY WITH LUCK THEIR VERY OWN ANSWER TO CONDI RICE, RUNNING THE SEARCH PARTY FOR THE EXACT FLORA THEY SOUGHT?

4-BONUS: LIBBY’S TWO I/C, WAS ERIC EDELMAN, WHO WAS WITH STATE BEFORE HE CAME TO OVP, RIGHT FROM POSTING AS AMBASSADOR TO … TURKEY! THE PLACE - WITH ALL DUE APOLOGIES – WHERE JOEY MET VAL.
MORE TO THE POINT, WHERE THEN-STATE HIGH MUCKY MUCK JOE WILSON, LATER APPOINTED AN AMBASSADOR AND LONGTIME CLINTON ADVISOR, STILL LATER A CONTRIBUTOR TO GORE’S 2000 CAMPAIGN (HE GAVE THEM MONEY, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD), MET HIS FUTURE WIFE, VALERIE …. LAST NAME PLAME.

5-BACK TO HUBRIS – I/CORN DO ENJOY THE SCOOP ON THIS PART – AND WE FIND IN 2003 VALERIE WILSON WAS REGARDED AS ABOUT TO BE EASED OUT OF NOC WORK - NOT THAT DICK OR SCOOTER WOULD BE INCLINED TO LOSE SLEEP OVER THE POSSIBILITY OF A FEW MUSLIMS BEING PUT TO THE TORCH ANYWAY.

6-BACK TO HUBRIS II – THIS TIME JUST FOR CONVENIENCE. I REFER TO THE PASSAGE WHERE I/CORN, WE'D ALL AGREE APTLY, DESCRIBE CHENEY AS INCLINED TO LOOK FOR “HIDDEN MEANING”, AND LOOKING THROUGH GLASSES SO TINTED AT THE FACTS OF EX-AMBASSADOR WILSON’S WIFE BEING NOT JUST A CIA OFFICER, BUT THE CIA OFFICER IN CHARGE OF SEARCHING FOR WMDS IN IRAQ, AND NOT JUST THAT, BUT WHO FAILED TO FIND ANY SIGN OF THEM, AND NOT JUST THAT BUT, ACCORDING TO WHAT HE’S BEEN TOLD BY GROSSMAN AND THE REST OF THE GUYS OVER AT STATE, THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR SENDING WILSON TO NIGER TO CHECK OUT THE IRAQ YELLOWCAKE INTEREST, AND ... THAT'S ENOUGH.

BINGO! WE HAVE A WINNER.

BACK TO CHENEY’S HANDWRITTEN COMMENTS ON WILSON’S OPED.

I’VE HAD TROUBLE WITH WHY IT SUDDENLY APPEARED, AS IF FORGOTTEN AND THEN REMEMBERED IF YOU WILL (THERE'S SO MUCH TEMPS RECHERCHE IN THIS SAGA, YOU'D THINK LIBBY WAS MORE A READER OF PROUST THAN A WRITER OF COMPOST.) SO LATE IN THE DAY.

THAT MAKES MORE SENSE IF ONE SEES IT MORE AS A KIND OF MISINFORMATION PROP.

(SO MUCH SO, I’D HAVE TO WONDER WHETHER THE HANDWRITING WAS PUT ON IT AT ANY TIME IN 2003.)

I’VE NEVER BEFORE BEEN ABLE TO RECONCILE WHY, GIVEN THAT WILSON’S STORY ALREADY WAS SO FAR OUT OF THE BAG THAT TENET ALREADY HAD DROPPED ON HIS SWORD, CHENEY WOULD EXPEND SO MUCH IN THE WAY OF RESOURCES, HIS OWN ENERGY AND TIME GOING TO ALL THE TROUBLE OF SHLEPPING DOWN TO NBC’S STUDIO JUST TO LIE RIGHT IN RUSSERT’S FACE, EXPENDING THE TIME AND ENERGY OF HIS AND BUSH’S PRIZE ASSETS SCOOTER AND KARL AND SO EXPOSING THEM, JUST TO ATTACK WILSON … UNLESS ... UNLESS... HIS GOAL WAS NOT WILSON AT ALL, BUT WILSON AS A MEANS TO THE END, THE END BEING THE CLEAREST POSSIBLE MESSAGE TO THAT HORNET’S NEST OF DISSENDENTS AND NON-BELIEVERS THAT COMPRISED THE CIA.

ADD TO ALL THID THE (I THINK) QUITE APT OBSERVATION BY CANUCK STUCK IN THE MUCK IN THE MOST RECENTLY PRECEDING EW STORY ON LIBBY, THAT LIBBY CHOSE “RUSSERT” OUT OF THE HAT BECAUSE IT NEVER OCCURRED TO HIM THAT THE “INVESTIGATION” WOULD GO ANYWHERE (I THINK THAT PLUS HIS OTHER OPTIONS LOOKED EVEN LESS HEALTHY), AND THE PICTURE IS COMPLETE … AND NEAR PERFECT.

TO ME WHAT MAKES IT PERFECT IS BUSH TELLING THE WORLD HE WANTS THE LEAKERS FOUND OUT AND PUNISHED. I THINK WHEN BUSH SAID THOSE WORDS, HE WASN’T THINKING ABOUT LEAKS IN HIS OWN HOUSE – HE WAS THINKING ABOUT LEAKS IN THE CIA - THAT GANG WHICH HELPED WILSON, INCLUDING WILSON’S MOLL, VALERIE WILSON … NE PLAME.

-LABDANCER

Marcy, when you are in town to cover the trial, would you also be available to apprear at a fundrasier for Fairfax County Democrats? We have elections this year that will determine the control of the General Assembly. If you are available please contact me at
prestovivace[@]worldnet[.]att[.]net

Hate to disagree with you EW, but this business of not letting her publish seems to be part of a pattern, not just CIA ex employees, but DOJ and other agancies. Just about everyone who signed an executive agreement is being gagged and their writing and speaking gigs, stonewalled.

It's is an attempt to stop the truth from coming out, about .....anything. Anything at all

Labdancer, you may be a newbie, but that's little excuse for being rude, so I'll clue you in. Your use of all caps is tantamount to shouting; maybe you weren't trying, but it's difficult to read your entire post when you are essentially shouting at the top of your lungs. Sorry, but didn't you notice others don't use all caps? Other than that, I liked most of your comments, except that you seem to think Joe Wilson was just a Democrat close to Clinton and Gore.

My understanding is that he worked in the foreign service since 1976, starting as a General Services Officer to (guess where! Wait for it--)Niger. He was an Administrative Officer in Lome, Togo, the US State Dept, and Pretoria, South Africa before he became a Deputy Chief of Mission in Burundi, all before he became Congressional Fellow to Gore and Tom Foley in 1985-1986. Before the end of 1986, he was again a DCM in Gabon, and then in Baghdad from 1988-1991. That is when he became the last American diplomat to deal directly with Saddam. There was no love lost between him and Saddam to say the least, and he has said that he started out for the war, although he didn't want the government to go into it under false pretenses.

I actually posted here for two other reasons: 1) I wanted to point out that Bob Baer was able to write about his exploits as a CIA operative first in his book See No Evil, which became the movie Syriana. Granted, like Dragnet, some of the names had been changed to protect the innocent (or guilty, depending on your point of view. Probably also some locations and other specific facts were changed) and he's been all over the TV talking. I also saw the movie Lord of War, where Nicholas Cage plays Yuri Orlov. The movie depicts how the government is involved in some of these weapons sales deals through their covert operation within the intelligence community. Tyler Drumheller has also given several interviews on TV, although they are also trying to muzzle him. It seems to me that Valerie has been singled out for restraint on what she can say by this vindictive bunch at the White House, and I really hope they end up having to pay. I'm sure they're pissed that they have not been able to put a muzzle on Joe, though. That trip to the White House Correspondent's Dinner did my heart good, especially when he said they didn't think they needed to hide. He's a real rebel, that guy.

2) I was wondering what the chances are that the Dems will change that stupid IIPA law that apparently cannot be broken no matter how hard one tries. All someone has to do is claim it was accidental and they had no intention of outing a spy, and how can you really prove otherwise. They need something that actually protects people, and that law doesn't fit the bill.

HEH LABDANCER: ENOUGH WITH THE CAPS, OK?

Having said that, I think the only part of the basic story you might be missing is what else Valerie was working on that made her a too tempting target for professional defenistration: to wit, Iran. Put that in your Caps Lock and stroke it.

Admittedly haven't read today's inside-the-firewall WSJ op-ed that bashes Fitzgerald. But on the heels of the op-ed comes the so-called 'RealClearPolitics' right-wing blog, giving props to the WSJ and demanding that the CIA declassify and release its referral to the DoJ on Plame's outing, even going so far as to insinuate that the CIA has made a false statement with its referral that is the only crime in l'affaire du Plame.

Makes me think we are in the middle of some manipulative campaigns, pulling in two directions:

1) CIA wants to reinforce that Plame was NOC when outed, even if she was in deceleration from NOC status;

2) Libby's team desperately wants to ensure that Plame does not look like an NOC, trying backchannels to seed the media with doubt about her status in order to attack materiality -- or head off what may be even more damaging information they expect to emerge by seeding doubt.

(Looks Maybee upthread might have gotten an advance copy of the talking points.)

I have always wondered about how much classified stuff there is which could shed additional light on the Plame leak - as an example http://www.theleftcoaster.com/archives/009569.php

And I wouldn't be surprised if Joe Wilson knows a lot more things, things that he cannot reveal because he knows them through his wife.

LabDancer -- Libby is, in fact, more strongly influenced by Chekhov than Proust. If you see a gun on the wall at the beginning of the short story, Libby explains, you should see it go off at the end of the story. (That's just one of many fascinating insights in this rare February 2002 interview with Diane Rehm. His statement about Chekhov is around the 16:30 mark.)

That's why his temps perdu defense is so flimsy. Details matter to Libby in a systematic, clockwork kind of way. Proust just isn't his style. And while I could be wrong, I don't think Libby's ever been a man to take things lying down.

Makes me think, Rayne, that this is war between the management of the Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones & Company, Incorporated (on behalf of Richard B. Cheney & Company) and justice. We've got to watch justice's back, and the in-person daily blogging of the Libby trial will play a vital role in doing just that.

From freepatriot:

seriously, I guess this ends the debate about whether Plame's identity was or is classified

Well, the debate has not been over whether her status was *classified* - most folks take Fitzgerald at his word on that point, as in the indictment.

The issue is whether she qualified for "covert" status under the IIPA - a definition:

(4) The term "covert agent" means—

(A) a present or retired officer or employee of an intelligence agency or a present or retired member of the Armed Forces assigned to duty with an intelligence agency—

(i) whose identity as such an officer, employee, or member is classified information, and

ii) who is serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States; or...

Now, Ms. EW has offered this in the post:

But such treatment underscores the classified nature of her employ. In other words, this fight does one thing, wrt the criminal trial--it underscores that she was a NOC (presumably within the 5 year time limit on the IIPA).

"Presumably"? Why? I have no trouble imagining all sorts of things Ms. Plame might have been doing overseas more than five years ago, or domestically within the last five years that the CIA would prefer to keep quiet, so I am having a lot of trouble seeing how this announcement confirms her covert status as to clause (ii). Sorry, but the debate as to her *covert* (as distinct from "classified") status continues - seeing as how Fitzgerald has refused to provide any supporting evidence, belief in her covert status remains a faith-based initiative. IMHO.

This squabble may also have ramifications for the civil trial...

Indeed. My first point raised in commenting on the prospects for a civil trial was this:

(1) In the Libby case Special Counsel Fitzgerald has not exactly been forthcoming with Ms. Plame's classified employment file, although he has been ordered to produce a summary. Is the CIA really going to go all Chatty Cathy with this sensitive (we are told) file in order to assist a Wilson civil suit? Or could the suit somehow proceed without it?

This should make for a heck of a civil trial, if Ms. Plame can't even get permission to say she was with the CIA. And how will she demonstrate that her outing led to a change in job status and forced her into retirement if she can't get any cooperation at all from the CIA? Washington is rife with folks who do the 20 and out, switch to the private sector, and end up with two pensions. For all we know, that is all that was beginning to unflod here.

If she can't prove she was with the CIA and can't prove damages, this will be a short civil trial.

Well, the debate has not been over whether her status was *classified* - most folks take Fitzgerald at his word on that point, as in the indictment.

That's funny, I guess "most folks" doesn't include - at least for a long time - Byron York and, oh, the avst majority of commenters at a certain rightwing blog.

I agree, basically, that it's perfectly possible Plame was a NOC more than five years before she was outed by the administration, although Isikoff and Corn's book, Hubris, does seem to indicate that she worked overseas within the previous five years - although I guess there's a question as to whether her work was covert, whatever that means.

I've offered my fairly nittygritty but to me entirely persuasive (how nice, right?) reading of the famous footnote in Fitzgerald's August 2004 affidavit as indicating that Fitzgerald himself believes Plame fit under the definition of covertness in IIPA - which is different from saying that she did, but we'll probably never know that since it would have to be litigated, I presume - which, I take it, is one of a couple of reasons why Fitzgerald is not going to touch that issue with a ten-foot pole, as he said at the press conference and as he has repeated, in so many words, at various court hearings.

Seems like some people here are being a bit irrational with grotesquely threaded logic and carryings on or maybe it is just a case of "being in heat" because the new book is published and the trial is soon.

But anyway, I have a new take (for me at least) on this Plame outing.

Look at it like this.

Knowing Washington and its workings if you wanted to get some sensitive information out there into the newspapers, etc., then without ever openly expressing your purpose, ask that on that subject (OR ON JUST A PART OF THAT SUBJECT), a lot of perfectly legitimate/legal memos, studies, papers be written and that a lot of legitimate/legal meetings be held, and then in the ordinary course of events, even though you never let the info out by direct action, or expressed the intent to do so, the Press or the Opposing Side would soon have the WHOLE story and it would be common knowledge soon. I could see clever Cheney doing that, and I could see his underlings perceiving his intent without direct discourse. I mean that in the ordinary course of events in Washington, any subject that is of intense interest or is a possible Press Scoop will be gotten in that manner. It is just a matter of time.
The essence of the corporate (or Federal) jock is to anticipate and perceive your boss's wishes and intents, so nothing ever had to be said directly.

I can't even say that that is legal, or illegal or anything else, or that one could prove anything, because it is not unordinary. Maybe someone here has a better handle on those kind of things. ("Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of man.")

I agree with a lot of you that Libby with his supposedly steel trap mind didn't forget, but then I say he fell into the common prosecutors trap where, instead of saying, "I am not sure about that," he made a definitive statement. With the prosecutors, even telling what you think is the truth can get you in trouble, because someone else may lie. just be confused, and/or is trying to cover themselves, and then you being in trouble is only a vote away.

I think Libby was skirting the legal edge, and fell over into that "vote" trap.

With the new Federal "keep that data" rules, everyone will have to be a little more circumspect, in general, in the future.

I agree with a lot of you that Libby with his supposedly steel trap mind didn't forget, but then I say he fell into the common prosecutors trap where, instead of saying, "I am not sure about that," he made a definitive statement.

This makes no sense. Could you explain what you're talking about? Libby didn't forget - so preumsably he had a solid memory of what transpired - and he made definitive statements. But somehow they're false definitive statements, but not lies, even though he remembered accurately. Huh?

And you're saying other people made false statements, but they all just seemed to line up in a pattern that made Libby's story look false in a very patterned way?

To Ann in AZ, to Semiot … hell, to anyone else I offended –

Acting the lout has a track record for getting noticed here, but I hope to avoid relegation to Leopoldville, so please accept my apology for the CAPS. I trust you all may accept I did not notice THEM, due in part to the hour, in part to Rick B. Right’s helping my penny drop, and otherwise to age and blog rookieness - Elvis shares my birthday, and today he’s either older or younger, depending… My few posts earlier were decorous, or at least less the overture to William Tell.

I add my thanks to flag throwers for their other comments:

Ann in AZ – Yes I am aware of Wilson’s background. I’ve read his book; I share his background. I’m afraid I imagined that bit on money-to-Gore resounded of Cheneyian snark.

Quicksilver – I caught Rehm’s interview when it aired, henceforth “the Pre-Plamian Era”. I recall not quite catching the guest’s name at first, and assuming onto the break he was Bill Kristol self-promoting a poorer man’s Grisham. I re-listened last spring for how it might capture Libby’s character. It does, thanks mostly to Ms. Rehm’s surpassing sailing skills, featuring deft longitudinal tacking, by subduing her sarcasm as Libby fought the helm to reframe political questions, alternating with robust (from the Wikipedian, meaning healthy, strong, durable, and often adaptable, innovative, flexible, as distinct from the Bushcheneyian, meaning pertaining to threats of violence, use of torture, and recasting intelligence as interrorgation [sic] - there is still hope for restoring this term into civilized discourse) latitudinal bearing away, by pandering to his author ego, to restrain him from ducking questions or hiding under platitudes.

If memory serves, Chekhov came up there – from Libby’s mouth, I very much hope. I would not wish to be seen accusing Ms. Rehm capable of stooping so low to comedy. The aforesaid Grisham, it goes without saying, of course; even Arthur Hailey. But Proust, I agree, is entirely inapt – too disparate a reality.

semiot – Sorry, I’m not into pipe tobacco. Bongs maybe, but you know how notoriously unreliable are old memories. Anywasser, your point on Iran 1) is accepted, 2) holds pretty much like Iraq (or Turkey, except slanted more away from production controls and toward marketing and sales), and, as I yet hope might be apparent from the overly exuberant tone of the post which got me all this attention (Thanks … I think.), 3) it fits.

I fear I risk overstaying what started out just as apology, so please also forgive me this one final point. My curiosity on Libby has several ancestors, not least among them being three decades in trials, many on serious subjects. I've found from this that defendants under cross revert to type. And so I forecast increased leakiness – but now mostly from the hull of Libby’s ‘defence’.

- LabDancer

"Presumably"? Why? I have no trouble imagining all sorts of things Ms. Plame might have been doing overseas more than five years ago, or domestically within the last five years that the CIA would prefer to keep quiet, so I am having a lot of trouble seeing how this announcement confirms her covert status as to clause (ii). Sorry, but the debate as to her *covert* (as distinct from "classified") status continues - seeing as how Fitzgerald has refused to provide any supporting evidence, belief in her covert status remains a faith-based initiative. IMHO.

As Jeff mentions, read "Hubris". I'll even go one step further than Jeff and state that the statute mentions that the agent must have served outside the United States during the past five years, which Corn and Isikoff mention that Plame most certainly did.

Here is the relevant excerpt:
"We knew nothing about what was going on in Iraq," a CIA official recalled. "We were way behind the eight ball. We had to look under every rock." Wilson, too, occasionally flew overseas to monitor operations. She also went to Jordan to work with Jordanian intelligence officials who had intercepted a shipment of aluminum tubes heading to Iraq that CIA analysts were claiming--wrongly--were for a nuclear weapons program.

So if the book is accurate, then there should be no doubt that Plame satisfied the legal definition of covert.

And furthermore Jeff mentions the footnotes from Fitzgerald. I seem to recall that the judge looked at what Fitzgerald wrote and wrote his opinion:
Addressing deficiencies of proof regarding the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, the special counsel refers to Plame as “a person whose identity the CIA was making specific efforts to conceal and who had carried out covert work overseas within the last 5 years”—representations I trust the special counsel would not make without support.

http://pacer.cadc.uscourts.gov/docs/common/opinions/200502/04-3138a.pdf

Jodi - How do you know that the "common knowledge" technique that you mention was not employed? I've seen several variants of this technique mentioned in several Plame related forums. For example asking reporters to find out why Wilson was sent, so that when they dig around they could uncover some information.

Maguire

In addition to the points made here, I'll remind you that we know--thanks to two AOs who leaked this in Fall 2003--that Plame's recorded IRS employer in 1999 was Brewster and Jennings. 2003-1999=4. Seems to me her NOC cover was active no more than 4 years before 2003.

Which gets us back to the definition of "serving overseas," I know. But in the absence of any information how CIA defines that wrt NOCs, and in the presence of evidence that suggests she's was covert, I think the pro-covert side has slightly more information than the anti-covert side. It's not definitive, certainly. But if the summary Libby got said anything less, I'm sure we'd know about it.

Btw

Bob Woodward just spoke at an event in Michigan. In response to a general question, "why is Fitz still prosecuting," Woodward interjected among the other comments and said, "I may have to testify."

If Woodward is saying he may have to testify at this late date, I think it reasonably safe to assume he has been subpoenaed by one side or another.

That Plame's recorded IRS employer in 1999 was Brewster and Jennings. 2003-1999=4. Seems to me her NOC cover was active no more than 4 years before 2003.

Joe's Vanity Fair profile said: "In 1997, Plame moved back to the Washington area, partly because (as was recently reported in The New York Times) the C.I.A. suspected that her name may have been on a list given to the Russians by the double agent Aldrich Ames in 1994."

Brewster Jennings could easily be a transitional cover, not her NOC cover. It's hard to imagine the CIA thought she had been outed yet would still risk using her as a NOC. Who knows?

f Woodward is saying he may have to testify at this late date, I think it reasonably safe to assume he has been subpoenaed by one side or another.

Yes.

"Two unidentified reporters may resist testifying, Libby's attorneys said, but they expect to resolve that issue before trial.

Libby also has sought a subpoena for the tape of Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward's interview with former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Armitage has admitted he discussed Plame's job with Woodward in 2003 but said it was a passing, inadvertent comment.

If admitted into evidence, the tape could be played at trial. The tape has been turned over to prosecutors, and Libby's attorneys said they expect no objection to their subpoena."
---
It was also reported (in April, I believe) that the WaPo had been subpoened and was cooperating. I can't find a link for that now.

Yup, I know all that MayBee. As I said to Jeff offline--it's one of those, "something we pretty much already knew, but now have recent reconfirmation of that."

I think the point is that B&J is a NOC cover, in any case. Not a government agency, ergo, not official cover.

Yup, I know all that MayBee. As I said to Jeff offline--it's one of those, "something we pretty much already knew, but now have recent reconfirmation of that."

Yes, more recent than the Dec 14 court filing, that's true.

Washington Post Subpoena

In a related development, The Post yesterday was subpoenaed by Libby's defense team to produce records related to the case that the newspaper had not turned over to Fitzgerald. Eric Lieberman, a counsel at The Post, said the newspaper would comply by providing Libby with a complete copy of a memorandum by Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward from his interview with Libby on June 27, 2003

Woodward has said Libby spoke in the interview about the same intelligence report he discussed with other journalists. "This action does not pose legal or journalistic concerns to The Post or Mr. Woodward," Lieberman said.

WAPO 4/14/06

I'll remind you that we know--thanks to two AOs who leaked this in Fall 2003--that Plame's recorded IRS employer in 1999 was Brewster and Jennings.

Let's see - Novak's original theme was that Wilson was a political hack operating for the Dems. Although he does not say so, Novak cited Ms. Plame's FEC filing as evidence that she and Joe were contributing to Gore; he found her as a contributor, with "Brewster-Jennings" as her employer.

Possible explanations:

(a) Novak checked the Wilson's FEC filings as a follow-up to his original story.

(b) Two AOs leaked this to Novak, who would have been incapable of doing this independently. Should we presume that Armitage was *not* one of the AOs for this tidbit, since the INR report made no mention of Ms. Plame's employer?

Occam's razor will never grow dull from over-use.

If Woodward is saying he may have to testify at this late date, I think it reasonably safe to assume he has been subpoenaed by one side or another.

I thought you had blogged on this court filing from last December, which includes (p 3):

Finally, the defense has issued to Robert Woodward a subpoena which includes a request for an excerpt of the tape recording of an interview Mr. Woodward conducted of Richard Armitage...

They have reached an accomadation with Woodward, who has already surrendered (a copy of?) the tape to the government.

...if the summary Libby got said anything less, I'm sure we'd know about it.

Oddly, I think that Fitzgerald's failure to put this to rest through over two years of court filings is even more indicative.

That's funny, I guess "most folks" doesn't include - at least for a long time - Byron York and, oh, the avst majority of commenters at a certain rightwing blog.

I'm not familiar with the arc of York's intellectual progression, but (IIRC) James Taranto noted the problem with overseas service back in October 2003. However, it is also true that folks do misuse classified, and say "she wasn't classified" when the thrust of their argument seems to be, "she didn't have covert status".

Sorry Maguire

The AOs cite Plame's tax documents specifically. Your explanation simply doesn't explain two AOs simultaneous with Novak's FEC filing having Plame's tax filings conveniently on hand. Nice try, though. I admire the monofocus on Armitage, who if he was outing Plame's tax documents he had no access to (unless he did it through Bolton, who seems to have made a career of intrusive searches into citizens' lives), would likely have been charged.

I'm speaking only of Libby's summary. Are you suggesting that, if he got a summary that said anything but, "she was covert," he wouldn't make a stink of it? He cherry picks details but never once comes out and says, "I've got proof this whole thing is a witch hunt."

Oh, and one more point.

On at least one occasion, Novak has said his original theme was "Wilson never worked for the CIA," material that a journalist wouldn't know verifiably without classified leaks from someone.

Have you found any more about the conversation with Libby that Novak hasn't admitted to, but apparently testified about without a waiver?

Jeff, sorry it doesn't read better. I was/am in a hurry.

What I am saying is that none of us believe that Libby forgot or was mistaken (at least not more than once) on the events he testified on.
He could have done several things different, in hindsight with what we know about others testifying on the same events.
1) He could had confirmed every reporters story, assuming that they were correct.
2) He could have said "I am not sure about that."

[[If he had taken those actions, there would be no prosecution, assuming we have a good idea what others involved as much or more did.]]

3) He could have gone further, and said I am confused, because I now see my own notes contradict my statement.
4) Further if he had done anything wrong (besides the testifying errors) he could have taken the Fifth.

Now he is in trouble because he contradicted the reporters, his own notes, etc., and he has never come back and just said, when challenged. ~Damn, I was totally confused about that!~ Or ~I just mispoke.~ (But that is a part of 3))

I never meant to say that others necessarily made deliberate false statements, though anyone may hedge a bit on the side of helping themselves in an investigation. I am just saying that sometimes if you say something definite, that others might not have understood the situation, and describe a "different" situation, and that can make you look the fool, the criminal, or just dumb. Of course it is also possible that these people knowing the way things were going, really helped themselves a lot with the prosecutor, by saying, ~I can help you nail someone.~
I don't claim that happened though.

\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\


Pete,
yes it could have been, but then it could have been in the "ordinary" line of work. My point is that it is difficult to prove that there is an intentional misdeed. Surely a smart person like Cheney wouldn't put it down in writing, nor would he give specific instructions for same.

example. If I suspect that one of the partners of a company we have just funded is skimming, because of his very recent change to a lavish life style, and the bastard made a nasty comment that I resent very much, I might just ask for an audit to check on some deliveries and fund payouts, etc., etc., without ever saying that I hope to catch him in a misdeed. Then if he is clean, and using a recent inheritance, I am untarnished.

Tom Maguire said: "but (IIRC) James Taranto noted the problem with overseas service back in October 2003."

Is that the best you can offer? The statute says "served outside the country", while Taranto deliberately ignores the word "served", and substitutes it with "stationed".

I think everyone misses the point on what the problem with an IIPA prosecution would be. It's not whether or not Valerie Wilson worked for the CIA (we know that), it's not whether or not her employment status was classified (we know that), it's not whether or not she served overseas in the five years prior to her outing (we can be almost certain of that and it would be very easy to demonstrate without the CIA's help), the problem is that the Act specifies that the U.S. Government has to be taking active steps to protect the identity of the person who was outed. Given what we know occurred in June and July of 2003, when did the USG stop taking active steps to protect Wilson's identity?

I think everyone misses the point on what the problem with an IIPA prosecution would be. It's not whether or not Valerie Wilson worked for the CIA (we know that), it's not whether or not her employment status was classified (we know that), it's not whether or not she served overseas in the five years prior to her outing (we can be almost certain of that and it would be very easy to demonstrate without the CIA's help), the problem is that the Act specifies that the U.S. Government has to be taking active steps to protect the identity of the person who was outed. Given what we know occurred in June and July of 2003, when did the USG stop taking active steps to protect Wilson's identity?

Posted by: William Ockham | January 09, 2007 at 12:23

Actually, I believe the problem with enforcement of IIPA prosecutions is that divulging the identity of an NOC must be proven to be deliberate. If it was an accidental "slip of the tongue" or a drunken disclosure, apparently it's okay and all is forgiven. I think it's just a very badly written law that doesn't adequately protect covert agents. Even the President's own Executive Order 13292 and the SF 312, the non-disclosure statement that is signed by all employees of the government or contractors that are subject to the EO 13292 as a condition of their access to classified information, goes farther than the IIPA. Of course, who will enforce those if the President won't.

By the way, the main authority on someone's NOC status should certainly be the agency that she works for, in this case, the CIA, which forwarded this case to the Justice Dept. to begin with due to her NOC status. Then the Prosecutor looked at it and he's convinced of her NOC status, and the Judges have indicated that they concur. So anyone who is still in doubt (the idea that one must provide public proof is ludicrous, since providing proof would be tantamount to divulging classified information) is just hardheaded and refuses to face facts or admit they may be wrong. This type of personality will not believe her status as an NOC no matter what, so I suggest we quit expending our energy on arguing this point because it's beating a dead horse.

I completely agree with all the points you make Ann.

Had Plame not beeen covert, Ashcroft (who insisted on being briefed on all details of the investigation) would have killed the investigation in a second.

Jodi at 21:58 says:
"Pete,
yes it could have been, but then it could have been in the "ordinary" line of work. My point is that it is difficult to prove that there is an intentional misdeed. Surely a smart person like Cheney wouldn't put it down in writing, nor would he give specific instructions for same."

Ah, Jodi, but Cheney did put something in writing that implies that he expected his chief of staff to use the info about Wilson's wife's employment to discredit Wilson. According to a Washington Post article written by R. Jeffrey Smith on Sunday, May 14, 2006, Cheney wrote the following on a copy of Wilson's op-ed in the NYT in July, 2003:

"Have they done this sort of thing before?" Cheney wrote. "Send an amb[assador] to answer a question? Do we ordinarily send people out pro bono to work for us? Or did his wife send him on a junket?"

Not only is Cheney’s whole attitude toward the CIA in general and toward Joe Wilson specifically derisive, but he implied that Wilson's wife had the authority to send him on a junket. Although it does not seem to be illegal for Cheney to discuss her employment with Libby, since they both had security clearances, Libby would have had no "need to know" about her employment or her authority level unless Cheney wanted him to use it to discredit Wilson. The WaPo went on to infer:

"Fitzgerald's filing states that Libby learned of Plame's name from Cheney, in the course of discussions by the vice president's office about how to respond to a June 2003 inquiry from Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus about Wilson's trip to Niger. Fitzgerald asserts that those conversations -- and earlier ones sparked by a May 2003 column about the trip in the Times -- help demonstrate that Libby's "disclosures to the press concerning Mr. Wilson's wife were not casual disclosures."

I believe these guys deliberately outed one of our own “secret agents” in an effort to discredit her husband, and also to put all other government employees on notice that they are ruthless enough to go after their spouses or families or whatever it takes if they don’t do exactly as their told, nothing more and nothing less. But my believing that is one thing, getting a jury to believe it, what with reasonable doubt, and with long prison terms at stake is quite another. Therefore I’m not sure that these guys will ever get what’s coming to them.

I must say, though, that for a smart, supposedly sophisticated lawyer like Libby, to leave himself so exposed, not to provide himself with any “wiggle room,” I gotta wonder if he bought his law degree at Sears! Otherwise, what the hell is going on?!! Hmm…might they have wanted to make this into such an unavoidably big case that it would trash Valerie Plame Wilson’s career once and for all? Did they want to discredit her too? Did they want people to think that if she ever utters a word about what she knows of Iran and/or nuclear weapons, she would simply be viewed as trying to get back at her attackers? Hmm…only the shadow knows. Tune in tomorrow, same time, same channel.

Sorry Maguire

The AOs cite Plame's tax documents specifically.

I actually have no idea what leak or tax documents you are referring to, and would welcome any sort of a cite. As best I know, the first discussion of Brewster-Jennings was triggered by this Novak follow-up in October 2003, which quite clearly refers to her FEC filing (which is still readily available at the FEC site):

On the same day in 1999 that retired diplomat Joseph Wilson was returned $1,000 of $2,000 he contributed to Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore a month earlier because it exceeded the federal limit, his CIA-employee wife gave $1,000 to Gore using a fictitious identification for herself.

In making her April 22, 1999, contribution, Valerie E. Wilson identified herself as an "analyst" with "Brewster-Jennings & Associates." No such firm is listed anywhere, but the late Brewster Jennings was president of Socony-Vacuum oil company a half-century ago. Any CIA employee working under "non-official cover" always is listed with a real firm, but never an imaginary one.

Folks who want to play investigator can do an "Individual" search on "Wilson, Valerie", then click through on the highlighted, numbered link on the right for the April 22 date, the reattribution, the matching home addresses with Joe, etc.

If someone's leak included any discussion of her tax returns or Brewster-Jennings, it hasn't been mentioned by Russert, Cooper, Miller, Pincus, Novak, or Woodward. Again, to the best of my recollection.

Is that the best you can offer? The statute says "served outside the country", while Taranto deliberately ignores the word "served", and substitutes it with "stationed".

I can offer a lot more, but the basis of the dispute is well-known - the point has never been litigated in an IIPA context, but in other government-related contexts, "service" is a closer synonym to "stationed" than Ms. Plame's supporters would care to acknowledge. Victoria Toensing wrote the best known piece making this point.

Folks with access to the NY Times archives should check out their coverage in 1981-1983 regarding the "Intelligence Identities Protection Act". Proper progressives were concerned about the possible encroachment on free speech and a free press, and wanted a very narrow act (or none at all).

The eventual act claimed to balance these concerns by tackling both the effectivness of our intel agencies and the safety of our agents. Agents *stationed* abroad were, one might worry, at additional risk from a hostile local population and an indifferent police force.

Furthermore, the act was inspired by Agee, who was outing agents. Based on the court summary of his misdeeds (we lifted his passport), his adventures were overseas, and related to agents stationed overseas (roughly, they were comparing State department rosters with embassy listings of State Dept personnel - folks on the embassy list but not the State Dept list were presumed to be CIA. That would not apply in domestically, or, if it did, no one seemed to highlight it.)

I'll say this - if the NY Times had understood that, in reporting on a CIA agent who had been in the States for the previous six years, they could get caught up and charged with a crime if the agent had flown overseas four and a half years ago, they would have been apoplectic.

However, times have changed, the political winds have shifted, and now progressives insist on an expansive reading of the statute. That's progress.

Just for laughs, and to demonstrate that it is not jusy Cheney who can cherry-pick data, here is the AP coverage of the Act's passage:

AP Published: June 11, 1982

The Senate today approved and sent to President Reagan a bill making it a crime to disclose the names of covert United States intelligence agents. The vote was 81 to 4.

The Intelligence Identities Protection Act was cleared by the House on a vote of 315 to 32 last week. Mr. Reagan is expected to sign it into law.

The measure provides prison terms of up to 10 years and fines of $50,000 for Government employees who expose American spies living under cover in foreign countries.

Obviously, that is just one story, and they could be confused. But given the history of the act, they might not be.

And FWIW, the Christian Science Monitor has free archives going back that far (I am on a low budget here). More contemporaneous confusion:

The Reagan administration and the media are trading punches in yet another ring over the proposed Intelligence Identities Protection Act. A tough, and unprecedented, ''spy'' law, this legislation would make it a crime for anyone - including journalists - to reveal the identity of American agents operating undercover abroad. Once again, the citizens' right to know is pitted against the government's need to maintain secrecy.

Well, OK, after checking the invaluable NextHurrah archives I have found the WaPo story citing tax returns and admin officials. I guess the rest of the operating theory is that this story was inspired by something other than Novak's column of the same date. From the Wapo:

Leak of Agent's Name Causes Exposure of CIA Front Firm

By Walter Pincus and Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, October 4, 2003; Page A03

The leak of a CIA operative's name has also exposed the identity of a CIA front company, potentially expanding the damage caused by the original disclosure, Bush administration officials said yesterday.

The company's identity, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, became public because it appeared in Federal Election Commission records on a form filled out in 1999 by Valerie Plame, the case officer at the center of the controversy, when she contributed $1,000 to Al Gore's presidential primary campaign.

After the name of the company was broadcast yesterday, administration officials confirmed that it was a CIA front. They said the obscure and possibly defunct firm was listed as Plame's employer on her W-2 tax forms in 1999 when she was working undercover for the CIA.

So per the WaPo, the FEC filing led to the outing of Brewster-Jennings, which was then confirmed to the WaPo by Admin officials referencing tax records.

As to who "broadcast" the name of the company "yesterday", what are the odds that it was not Novak? Every lefty blogger alive blasted Novak for compounding the leak damage in Oct 2003.

HINT: Don't bet against me on this - here is Josh Marshall from Oct 2003:

People are noting that the company's name made the rounds yesterday after Bob Novak mentioned it on TV, in apparent attempt to discredit Plame as a Democratic partisan.

I've avoided the rush of Novak-bashing that's swirled around this story. But his stance as a journalist simply trying to report out a story is being rapidly and severely diminished by his desperate effort to advance the agenda of those who leaked to him in the first place, i.e., to smear and discredit the Wilsons. (It's also being diminished by his far from credible efforts to exonerate the leakers by again and again revising what he's said on the subject.)

The truth, however, is that Novak's televised mention of Plame's 'employer' is a non-issue -- at least in terms of doing further damage.

The damage was done on July 14th when he first mentioned her name.

The point here is what foreign intelligence agencies (and to a lesser extent transnational corporations and perhaps terrorist groups) are able to find out. And you can rest assured that from the moment she was fingered as a CIA agent in a prominent nationally-syndicated newspaper column, all of them ran her name to map out her lists of associations and activities.

Why bloggers did *not* make that connection is a source of ongoing mortification to me personally.

Or, more from the WaPo itself:

The name of the CIA front company was broadcast yesterday by Novak, the syndicated journalist who originally identified Plame. Novak, highlighting Wilson's ties to Democrats, said on CNN that Wilson's "wife, the CIA employee, gave $1,000 to Gore and she listed herself as an employee of Brewster-Jennings & Associates."

"There is no such firm, I'm convinced," he continued. "CIA people are not supposed to list themselves with fictitious firms if they're under a deep cover -- they're supposed to be real firms, or so I'm told. Sort of adds to the little mystery."

I do want to hear more about the theory that two AOs leaked this to Novak based on her tax records, after which he broadcast it but claimed to have been inspired by the FEC public database - any documentation for that other than this WaPo story (which of course makes no such claim)?

And how was this theory covered in the book? Curious readers are eager to know.

Tom Maguire - Thanks for the response.

My personal opinion is that trusting Victoria Toensing on this issue is like trusting the fox to be guarding the henhouse.

Here is what she wrote on the issue: Her status as undercover must be classified, and she must have been assigned to duty outside the United States currently or in the past five years. This requirement does not mean jetting to Berlin or Taipei for a week's work. It means permanent assignment in a foreign country.

Does she have a legal basis for saying so? Could some legal experts shed some light here.

Newspapers often get it completely wrong when reporting things (as you Tom has pointed out countless times on your own blog). I am less interested in what some newspaper wrote about IIPA than what the legal opinion is.

From a practical perspective I fail to see what the difference is between someone who was periodically making weekend trips overseas and someone who was stationed overseas within the past five years. In both cases you need protection from foreign elements you may have come in contact with.

I am less interested in what some newspaper wrote about IIPA than what the legal opinion is.

In roughly three years, no one has produced one, other than two lawyers (Toensing and, hmm, Sanford), both of whom are lawyers who worked on the original statute. Folks don't like their answer, however.

This specific point has never been litigated in an IIPA context (the law was only used once, on a CIA clerk in Ghana who ratted out some local CIAs to her boyfriend, IIRC.

I have suggested that someone enlist a compensation expert - the CIA does provide a supplement to the base pension for "service abroad", but I have never found that term defined in the online resources.

That said, if Plame were a geologist, this point would be settled:

D. Service abroad means service on or after September 6, 1960, by an employee at a post of duty outside the United States and outside the employee's place of residence if that place of residence is a territory or possession of the United States.

Other governmental agencies may have similar rules, or not.

From a practical perspective I fail to see what the difference is between someone who was periodically making weekend trips overseas and someone who was stationed overseas within the past five years. In both cases you need protection from foreign elements you may have come in contact with.

Well - Plame, living in Washington, has DC's Finest on the job. Someone living in Rangoon, not so much.

Well - Plame, living in Washington, has DC's Finest on the job. Someone living in Rangoon, not so much.

Does not have to be living in Rangoon. Could be stationed in Rangoon 4.5 years ago and currently living in DC.

Re Rangoon 4.5 years ago - yes, if the only issue was agent safety. The other issue is the effectiveness of the intel agency, non-compromise of sources, etc. For that, the longer the time period, the better.

I'll guess that the five year rule was a balancing act.

The point was not 4.5 years but rather than the person stationed abroad could now be living in the US, just like the person making trips abroad.

It should be "that" (not "than"). Wish I could edit my posts.

And effectiveness of the intel agency, non-compromise of sources, etc hold irrespective of whether or not the agent is making overseas trip or is stationed abroad.

...rather than the person stationed abroad could now be living in the US, just like the person making trips abroad.

Well, that is how I took it. If effectiveness of the intel agencies were the only factor, the protection would extend to all agents at home and abroad. If agent safety were the only issue, the Act would not cover anyone in the US.

So, as a balancing act, they set a threshold - five years.

Why not protect agents in the US? The press would argue that we have free speech rights to criticize government officials and should not lose them just because the person flies overseas from time to time. Valerie Plame would actually be exactly the sort of case the free-speech, free-pressers worried about, except that we are talking about BushCo here - Ms. Plame didn't look covert, she was based in the States and had been for years, yet criticizing her involvement in a decision to hire her husband exposed someone to jail time - troubling. Or would be, in a different ascenario.

Put it this way - if the facts pattern were essentially unchanged but it was a Dem staffer who had accidentally outed a CIA author of the "phony intel", who thinks that the various lefties would be lined up insisting that the IIPA applied?

BTW< my official view is not that this five year rule clearly must exclude Plame; I happen to think we just don't know, given the language of the statute. (And other obstacles to a successful prosecution were noted above.)

I also don't think Fitzgerald should have shut down his investigation just becuase of IIPA problems and the fact that Armitage had already come forward - Ashcroft could have made that decision before appointing a special counsel (and other acts, such as the Espionage Act, were arguably in play).

However - I would like very much to know how Fitzgerald represented this case to the judges when he had Ms. Miller jailed. I suspect that if they realized that there was almost no chance of any charges other than perjury/obstructon, they may have concluded that the balance between national security and press freedom did not favor jailing her.

Ancient history.

Tom

I'm not arguing the AOs leaked it to Novak. THough I do note in the book that it is the second thing in a week taht the WH (presuming that's where the AOs worked) was working off the same pasge as Novak. I'm saying it's pretty remarkable that two AOs had Plame's tax forms all ready to leak to the WaPo in the first place. That's the kind of thing Nixon did--use private tax info against his enemies. Add in the coordination with Novak, and it suggests a coordinated effort to get BJs name out there. Frankly, it's possible Plame had another cover, and by raising BJ, the White House/Novak were trying to detract attention from her new cover. But it's the coordination that is remarkable.

In any case, the reason I raised it is because tax documents suggest a level of cover further than what you say--if Plame worked at BJ, a cover, for the IRS, chances are good that she was undercover during the year in question (1999, therefore within the span of the statute).

One more point--we keep talking about damage to Plame. But that's not the (primary) point. The primary point is that if you out a spy, you out her network, one that someone may have gone in after her and kept up. By outing Plame, executive at BJ, did Novak/BushCo ruin a network of assets who were helping us combat proliferation?

if Plame worked at BJ, a cover, for the IRS, chances are good that she was undercover during the year in question (1999, therefore within the span of the statute).

I'm not sure that follows. What do we know about transitioning a former NOC-- I thought the idea was they needed 5 years to clean up connections, etc. You can't just go from NOC to CIA job on your first day out of cover- it would be obvious you'd been undercover. Therefore, you need a transition- a less careful cover that still doesn't tie you to the CIA but for whom you aren't actually doing undercover work. It's just a neutral name on paycheck while you drive into Langley every day and wait until you are fully transitioned.

By your logic, you would still need to wait five years after the five year transition to be out of the span of the statute.

I'm saying it's pretty remarkable that two AOs had Plame's tax forms all ready to leak to the WaPo in the first place.

I am somewhat shocked myself, but... I find the idea that the two AOs were, for example, Libby and Addington to be unlikely in the extreme (and the WaPo does not give a number, just "administration officials"). Just for starters, how has no mention of this ever come out in any of the court documents?

My guess is that someone at the WaPo got ahold of a senior official or someone in Human Resources somewhere, presumably CIA, to confirm the FEC filing. In any case, a tax form would not normally include a (non-deductible) political contribution, nor would it be itemized to include the date of the contribution (I would not think.) Beyond that, the WaPo says "W-2", not her 1040 - the CIA is responsible for preparing her W-2 if they are her employer, so they ought to have access to it.

In which case, the whole idea of a coordinated outing with Novak and the Nixonian use of tax forms sort of melts away.

Obviously, I can't prove who the WaPo called. But no enemy of Plame needed to confirm anything - the FEC document was there and publicly available, just as Novak said.

Of course, both Novak and OVP had a joint interest in pushing back against Wilson that week, but so what? If everyone with a joint interest is a conspirator, we have lots of conspiracies.

BONUS BAFFLEMENT: The WaPo story is Saturday, and refers to a broadcast from Friday - who were they calling on Friday night/Saturday morning in Washington to open personnel files and look at W-2s? What the WaPo says does sound like CIA:

After the name of the company was broadcast yesterday, administration officials confirmed that it was a CIA front. They said the obscure and possibly defunct firm was listed as Plame's employer on her W-2 tax forms in 1999 when she was working undercover for the CIA.

Who, other than the CIA, would know it was a CIA front? Well, OK, in the grand conspiracy, everyone out to undermine Valerie and her heroic efforts to rein in BushCo. But also, the top guys at CIA, who might have been wiling to help out Pincus or Allen on this.

I will be going dark shortly, but let me pile on with this:

(1) I agree with Josh Marshall (excerpted above) that no foreign intel agency worth worrying about as far as rolling up networks and the like needed Robert Novak to recite an FEC database to them and then get supplementary confirmation from the Administration by way of the waPo.

(2) As an alternative to the notion that the Administration coordinated the Brewster-Jennings outing with Novak, one might argue (and I think I will!) that the WaPo got ahold of some senior CIA officials delivering their own "Look how Novak screwed the pooch" leak in an attempt to justify their own criminal referral. That is perfectly plausible in the context of the well-documented CIA-WH tussle.

(3) As to the actual damage done by the leak - yes, the *original*, July 14 column effectively outed Brewster-Jennings. Somewhere (I don't have time for a cite) someone in the WaPo (Dana Priest) gave the whole outing thing an eyeroll and quoted a CIA type as saying that an agent like Ms. Wilson would be Valerie Plame of Brewster Jennings in the States and someone else with a different company when operating abroad,.

More from Pulitzer prize winner Ms. Priest:

From what you hear, was Ms. Plame working on Iran, how important was she to the tracking efforts, and how much has her "outing" really set us back?

Dana Priest: It was reported before that she worked on proliferation issues for the CIA. The leap in this new round of information is that her outing significantly impacted our current intel on Iran. I don't buy it. First, no one person who quit clandestine work four years ago is going to make that big of a dent in current knowledge. But also, nothing like this came up at the time of her outing and I believe it would have. Think we need some actual details. At present it just doesn't smell right.

Or this:

Dana Priest: I don't actually think the Plame leak compromised national security, from what I've been able to learn about her position. As for my article, we tried to minimize that by not naming the countries involved and, otherwise, no, I don't believe it compromised national security at all.

Links.

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