Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Plame was "undercover"? Letter to "The Hill"


Your article as noted above says:

"Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, had been an undercover CIA agent working on issues involving weapons of mass destruction until columnist Bob Novak printed her name in a column in July 2003."

"A federal law makes it a crime to disclose the name of a CIA undercover agent." [My emphasis].

How "undercover" could she have been if it was common knowledge in DC that she worked for the CIA? As Captain Ed Morrissey [actually it was Dafydd on Captain'sQuarters - sorry!] has noted, as follows:

"So we are thrown back to the question I discussed in Dafydd: If It's Rove... Part Deux: is there any evidence at all that Karl Rove was aware that Plame's employment was classified information? The answer to that question is no, there is not. If there were, I trust that it would have been a banner headline, above the fold, on every newspaper in the country. Rather, as Andrea Mitchell and others have admitted (and as I mentioned before), Plame's employment was commonly known around the D.C. cocktail circuit, and that is almost certainly where Rove found out about it -- not from classified sources that he would have had no access to in the first place.
There is thus every reason to suppose not only that Rove did not believe that information to be classified, but further that he was under the impression that reporters already knew it... as indeed they may well have. After all, the focus of Rove's comment was not that she was in the CIA but rather that she, not Cheney or Tenet, was the one who suggested her husband, Joe Wilson, for the trip."

Secondly, the article alleges that "Bush had said that he would fire any administration official involved in leaking the name of an undercover agent." Captain Ed [umm... Dafydd again] takes that one apart as follows:

"I probably should not assume that everyone is on the same page of the dictionary. But one of the commenters to a previous post of mine, Dafydd: Bride of "If It's Rove"..., raised a definitional point that deserves response.

Attempting to prove that Bush indeed made some sort of "firing pledge," he notes a press conference on June 10, 2004 in Savannah, GA, in which the following exchange occurred:

Q: Given -- given recent developments in the CIA leak case, particularly Vice President Cheney's discussions with the investigators, do you still stand by what you said several months ago, a suggestion that it might be difficult to identify anybody who leaked the agent's name?
THE PRESIDENT: That's up to --
Q: And, and, do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have done so?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. And that's up to the U.S. Attorney to find the facts.

The first point that leaps out at me is that the last sentence indicates that Bush's "yes" was in fact answering the first question -- whether it would be difficult to find the source -- not the second about some "pledge" that in fact cannot seem to be located. The referrant of the word "that" in Bush's response cannot possibly be the pledge, unless Bush is suggesting that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald should be trying to discover whether any such "firing promise" was made.

The second point is one that also went unnoticed by the commenter: the rather wide divergence between the "pledge" that Bush is said to have made, to "fire anyone found to have" "leaked the agent's name," and what Sen. Reid claimed yesterday that Bush had pledged: "The White House promised that if anyone was involved in the Valerie Plame affair, they would no longer be in this administration, his administration."

Even if such a pledge were made, Reid's statement was still a wild-eyed exaggeration of it."

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