NOC, NOC, Who's There
October 18, 2005 4:23 PM   Subscribe

Why outing Plame mattered. If you wonder what's really at stake behind all the media buzz around the Fitzgerald indictments, read this lengthy and cogent analysis by Stratfor's no-nonsense George Friedman. "Rove and Libby had top security clearances and were senior White House officials. It was their sworn duty, undertaken when they accepted their security clearance, to build a 'bodyguard of lies' -- in Churchill's phrase -- around the truth concerning U.S. intelligence capabilities... The minimal story -- that they talked about Plame with a reporter -- is the end of the matter."
posted by digaman (89 comments total)

 
Via kos.
posted by digaman at 4:25 PM on October 18, 2005


It matters to me because those bastards are going down for it.
posted by smackfu at 4:30 PM on October 18, 2005


Right. But if you want to know why even red-meat red-state hardline GOP gay-marriage-hatin' Roe-overturnin' DeLay-contributin' conservatives should want them to "go down" too, you'll read the link.
posted by digaman at 4:33 PM on October 18, 2005


If conservatives won't hold Bush to the same standard with respect to 9/11 intelligence failures, let alone WMDs and Iraq, then I don't see why conservatives would care that much about Cheney or Libby's actions. Plame is just another casualty in the war on liberals.
posted by Rothko at 4:44 PM on October 18, 2005


Might wanna add the JohnHannah tag to this post.
posted by basicchannel at 4:48 PM on October 18, 2005


If you dont want to read the whole thing, this is the most compelling part....

What we do know is this. In the course of events, reporters contacted two senior officials in the White House -- Rove and Libby. Under the least-damaging scenario we have heard, the reporters already knew that Plame had worked as a NOC. Rove and Libby, at this point, were obligated to say, at the very least, that they could neither confirm nor deny the report. In fact, their duty would have been quite a bit more: Their job was to lie like crazy to mislead the reporters. Rove and Libby had top security clearances and were senior White House officials. It was their sworn duty, undertaken when they accepted their security clearance, to build a "bodyguard of lies" -- in Churchill's phrase -- around the truth concerning U.S. intelligence capabilities.
posted by SirOmega at 4:50 PM on October 18, 2005


Done, BC.
posted by digaman at 4:51 PM on October 18, 2005


Don't forget Mary Matalin.

Had lunch today with a person who has a direct tie to one of the folks facing indictment in the Plame affair. There are 22 files that Fitzgerald is looking at for potential indictment . These include Stephen Hadley, Karl Rove, Lewis Libby, Dick Cheney, and Mary Matalin (there are others of course). Hadley has told friends he expects to be indicted. No wonder folks are nervous at the White House. from No Quarter via Americablog.
posted by VulcanMike at 5:05 PM on October 18, 2005


As usual the guys who actually committed the action weren't the ones who took the decision to act in the first place.

We're always lambasting Bush and Cheney for having chickened out of Vietnam; well, this is really no different from that established and acknowledged pattern of behaviour.
posted by clevershark at 5:05 PM on October 18, 2005


I used to subscribe to Stratfor a few years back, before they greatly upped their subscription cost. This article reminds me of why. You just don't see that kind of even-handed conservative(ish)/realpolitik analysis elsewhere.

Problem is they want to charge forty bucks a month for it. It's good, but not that good, personally.
posted by Drastic at 5:32 PM on October 18, 2005


Good article. It's a really good explanation of what NOCs are in general, too. Thanks, digaman.
posted by homunculus at 5:33 PM on October 18, 2005


I used to subscribe to Stratfor a few years back, before they greatly upped their subscription cost. This article reminds me of why. You just don't see that kind of even-handed conservative(ish)/realpolitik analysis elsewhere.

stratfor subs were all the rage before the interwebs bubble burst. i cancelled mine after one too many blatantly biased articles, and a whole slew of "predictions" that never amounted to anything. they were most amusing with puffed up hindsight after 9-11. they were mildly useful as a travel advisory service at best, but nothing special you couldn't find out from other travelers.
posted by 3.2.3 at 5:40 PM on October 18, 2005


Manipulation using religion is the only way these corrupt businessmen could ever have been voted in.

It is a trick of morality, a slight of hand, and the United States is in a bad way.

JFK forever.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 5:41 PM on October 18, 2005


JFK.

I wish. It doesn't seem that the U.S. is in the Great American Hero business anymore, at least in the sense of "a man of the people for the people."
posted by snsranch at 5:54 PM on October 18, 2005


Thanks for the link. I've only been half-heartedly following this. Can anyone expand on what exactly Valerie Plame was doing? I knew she was CIA, I didn't realize she was a NOC. How did her name come up with respect to the reporters (assuming, as the linked post says, that Rove or others didn't spell it out)? I thought that the accusation was that an administration official has actually outed her. Has anyone come across any reasonable justification/explanation/rebuttal for this story? I've looked around but can't find much straightforward info that doesn't presume knowledge of the backstory.
posted by loquax at 5:54 PM on October 18, 2005


"If a senior White House staffer had intentionally outed an American spy during World War II, he'd have been shot.

We're at war, George Bush keeps reminding us. We cannot continue with business as usual. A pre-9/11 mentality is deadly. Putting the lives of our troops at risk is treason.

Then why is the White House and the Republican party engaged in a concerted campaign to make treason acceptable during a time of war? That's exactly what they're doing. On numerous news shows today, Republican surrogates, their talking points ready, issued variations of the following concerning White House chief of staff Karl Rove's outing of a covert CIA agent as part of a political vendetta:
- It's the criminalization of politics
- Is this 'minor' leak really worth all this?
- Political payback is common and should not be criminalized
- Mis-speaking or mis-remembering is not a crime
Yes, the Republicans are now making light of an intentional effort to expose an undercover CIA agent, working on weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, no less, while we are at war in the Middle East on that very issue." [source]
posted by ericb at 6:12 PM on October 18, 2005


loquax -- these links might be of help in understanding the backstory:
A Timeline in Reporters' Contempt Case

Plame Leak Timeline (from dKosopedia)

NPR Timeline: The CIA Leak Case

Valerie Plame - Wikipedia
posted by ericb at 6:17 PM on October 18, 2005


I am hoping these guys go down like everyone else, but there is nothing that is going to make me feel all that some fucking spooks got outted. Is Metafilter all in love with the CIA these days?

If we did not have a CIA, would we have a need for one?
posted by thirteen at 7:50 PM on October 18, 2005


The latest out today is while they may have identified her as CIA, in the reporter's notes they were quoted as saying that she was part of an overt intelligence gathering group. And this is critical, because unless they "outed" her as a covert operative, then they didn't break the law.

A legal nicety, perhaps, but if is the case then the whole issue is moot, and no one can be indicted.

Noteworthy in that she was well known as a CIA employee, on the Washington cocktail circuit, but not that she was a covert employee.
posted by kablam at 8:07 PM on October 18, 2005


Just want to mention that Josh Marshall has been all over this since the early days.
posted by maggieb at 8:15 PM on October 18, 2005


Yikes!
http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/

No wonder I have yet to do my first FPP...
posted by maggieb at 8:18 PM on October 18, 2005


Josh Marshall ? ......

He's OK.

'nough said.

________


kablam - covering whose backside you are ?
posted by troutfishing at 8:27 PM on October 18, 2005


unless they 'outed' her as a covert operative, then they didn't break the law

She was a covert agent. "She worked on the CIA's secret side, the directorate of operations, according to three people familiar with her work for the spy agency."
posted by kirkaracha at 8:31 PM on October 18, 2005


Thanks very much ericb. I'm an idiot for completely forgetting about the existence of wikipedia, at least.

One thing I don't understand, why would it have been advantageous to the administration to "out" Plame as retaliation for Wilson's op/ed? The implication I've read is that it was retribution, but how does it hurt Wilson, beyond, I suppose, putting his wife in danger (which I can't believe would be the ultimate motivation for Rove, or whoever)?

Also, has Plame said or done anything since being outed, or has she just gone undercover?

Sorry for being so behind the times if my questions are stupid.
posted by loquax at 8:40 PM on October 18, 2005


Noteworthy in that she was well known as a CIA employee, on the Washington cocktail circuit, but not that she was a covert employee.

Once Valerie Plame's (Wilson's) cover was blown (by way of a possible White House conspiracy to discredit her and her husband) ... everyone who ever worked with her was compromised ... as she was under the employ of a CIA front company -- Brewster Jennings & Associates.

Her exposure surely has compromised the identity and transactions of others -- likely other NOC's.

Foreign nationals -- some of them, our enemies -- may have taken/will take measures against those previously under covert status.

If there was no concern for exposure, there would never have been an investigation; there would never have been the possibility of indictments.
posted by ericb at 8:41 PM on October 18, 2005


"...red-meat red-state hardline GOP gay-marriage-hatin' Roe-overturnin' DeLay-contributin' conservatives...."

Nice line!
posted by donkelly at 8:43 PM on October 18, 2005


I'm with thirteen on this one: while I have no love for Karl Rove or Scooter Libby, and think most of the current administration deserves jail time*, I have a lot of trouble getting worked up over the outing of a CIA agent. These aren't the good guys - the CIA is one of the really ugly things about America. Defending it for political gain is sticking your foot in that ugliness.

*In general, on an objective basis and with full access to all records, I'd bet you could find grounds to indict and probably convict every single US president in the 20th century, plus W, and a good lot of their staff to boot.
posted by graymouser at 9:01 PM on October 18, 2005


why would it have been advantageous to the administration to "out" Plame as retaliation for Wilson's op/ed?

As I understand it, there was a coordinated effort by Bush/Cheney to intimidate and discredit Ambassador Wilson's findings after he returned from Africa -- findings in which he found no credible evidence for the claim that Saddam Hussein sought "yellow cake" from Niger.

Since such findings went against the Bush push for war (based on what we now know was a faulty claim of weapons of mass destruction and nuclear weapons) the administration adopted tactics intended to discredit Wilson. They suggested that his wife -- Valerie Plame Wilson -- suggested that he be the U.S. envoy to investigate the claims in Africa vis-a-vis "yellow cake."

As it turns out, Wilson's diplomatic background and access in Africa (as well as his former status as Ambassador to Iraq under George Walker Bush) turned out to show that the current administration's position was bogus. In an effort to discredit anyone who proposed a position contrary to a "march for war" all stops were pulled out. One of these was to suggest that Wilson -- by way of his wife -- had a "beef against the Administration."

We now know there were no WMD's and no nuclear programs. Hence, the investigation under Prosecutor Fitzgerald may be looking into a coordinated campaign intended to "besmeerch" any and all who (at the time) were seeking to reveal evidence contrary to their "marketing campaign" for going-to-war.
posted by ericb at 9:01 PM on October 18, 2005


Thanks ericb, but maybe I'm still missing something - why does it discredit Wislon to suggest that his wife was involved in his report? Was Plame accused of having a beef with the Administration? Wouldn't her CIA employment have lent credibility to his report? How does it besmeerch Wilson to disclose Plame as a CIA agent?

PS: I'm not intentionally being dense, and it seems as though this is fairly open and shut against anyone who mentioned her name, I just don't get the motivation for doing it at all.
posted by loquax at 9:12 PM on October 18, 2005


Nothing new in that piece, but it is a nice focused explanation for why the Plame leak matters so terribly much.

Bush is the first virtual reality President. The Neocon/Jesus freak minions are attempting to put forth that treason isn't treason anymore, because it's all a big game anyway. (Bush/Rove/Cheney basically needed to show all those "liberals" in the CIA who was in charge).

The reality based community is about to witness a second helping of whoop ass applied to these Neocon tyrants. Hopefully it's not as catastrophic to this nation as the first application by a very real hurricane named Katrina.
posted by Skygazer at 9:14 PM on October 18, 2005


why does it discredit Wislon [sic] to suggest that his wife was involved in his report?

As I understand it, Bush/Cheney officials sought to discredit Ambassador Wilson's findings that there was no credible evidence for a link between Saddam Hussein and Niger (for purchase of "yellow-cake" -- intended for nuclear intentions). In order to do so, they suggested that there was an effort undertaken by his wife, (CIA-covert agent), Valerie Plame to influence a position contrary to their "march-to-war (i.e. Iraq has WMD/nuclear weapons and must be wiped out now).
posted by ericb at 9:38 PM on October 18, 2005


I have a lot of trouble getting worked up over the outing of a CIA agent.

This is much bigger than just Valerie Plame or the CIA--at the heart of this story is the rationale for attacking Iraq. Ultimately, this is about the the way the White House fabricated lies to get the country into a pre-emptive war. I am hoping that Fitzgerald's indictments will reflect his.
posted by muckster at 9:40 PM on October 18, 2005


The Stratfor piece *did* seem even-handed. I'd forgotten what that looked like.
posted by mecran01 at 9:42 PM on October 18, 2005


Thanks for the link, digaman.

loquax: ... maybe I'm still missing something - why does it discredit Wilson to suggest that his wife was involved in his report?

It suggests that he wasn't qualified for the mission, that he was sent to Niger because of nepotism.

Rove is known for his extremely aggressive tactics. An Atlantic Monthly article:

When [Mark Kennedy's] term on the [Alabama supreme court] ended, he chose not to run for re-election. I later learned another reason why. Kennedy had spent years on the bench as a juvenile and family-court judge, during which time he had developed a strong interest in aiding abused children. In the early 1980s he had helped to start the Children's Trust Fund of Alabama, and he later established the Corporate Foundation for Children, a private, nonprofit organization. At the time of the race he had just served a term as president of the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect. One of Rove's signature tactics is to attack an opponent on the very front that seems unassailable. Kennedy was no exception.

Some of Kennedy's [1994] campaign commercials touted his volunteer work, including one that showed him holding hands with children. "We were trying to counter the positives from that ad," a former Rove staffer told me, explaining that some within the See camp initiated a whisper campaign that Kennedy was a pedophile. "It was our standard practice to use the University of Alabama Law School to disseminate whisper-campaign information," the staffer went on. "That was a major device we used for the transmission of this stuff. The students at the law school are from all over the state, and that's one of the ways that Karl got the information out—he knew the law students would take it back to their home towns and it would get out." This would create the impression that the lie was in fact common knowledge across the state. "What Rove does," says Joe Perkins, "is try to make something so bad for a family that the candidate will not subject the family to the hardship. Mark is not your typical Alabama macho, beer-drinkin', tobacco-chewin', pickup-drivin' kind of guy. He is a small, well-groomed, well-educated family man, and what they tried to do was make him look like a homosexual pedophile. That was really, really hard to take."

posted by russilwvong at 9:43 PM on October 18, 2005


Is Metafilter all in love with the CIA these days?
If we did not have a CIA, would we have a need for one?


Look, I used to be a hippie, but even *I* know that the CIA is necessary. If we have an effective intelligence arm, then we don't have to implement a bunch of ineffective security measures in an attempt to protect the targets. We can just find the attackers and be done with it.

I'm aware that the CIA does a bunch of things that I don't agree with. However, just because it is being run poorly and by the wrong people doesn't mean that we don't need it.
posted by afroblanca at 10:03 PM on October 18, 2005



Look, I used to be a hippie, but even *I* know that the CIA is necessary. If we have an effective intelligence arm, then we don't have to implement a bunch of ineffective security measures in an attempt to protect the targets. We can just find the attackers and be done with it.


Would there be anywhere near as many attackers if there was no CIA? If Kermit Roosevelt had not been messing around, would the Middle East look the way it does today? We do need a CIA if we are going to keep fucking people over, but it is not a wholistic need.
posted by thirteen at 10:09 PM on October 18, 2005


Would there be anywhere near as many attackers if there was no CIA?

If there was no CIA, there would probably be no country today.

(taking a breath)
(accepting the fact that I am actually defending the CIA)

Seriously. As a country, there's always going to be someone trying to take your shit. Even if you don't have any shit to take, people will still try to take it from you. Things get a lot worse if you're percieved as being "the one on top." You represent a nice, juicy target.

Intelligence is not a bad thing. However, if you mistreat your intelligence apparatus, or use it to mistreat others, you're going to have serious problems. In this case, the administration killed two birds with one stone.
posted by afroblanca at 10:16 PM on October 18, 2005



If there was no CIA, there would probably be no country today.

(taking a breath)
(accepting the fact that I am actually defending the CIA)


Yeah... I don't think we are going to make a lot of headway here.

I am going to bed. Good night all.
posted by thirteen at 10:21 PM on October 18, 2005


Thanks for the responses guys - I think I found the part that was confusing me in a later Novak column:

I was curious why a high-ranking official in President Bill Clinton's National Security Council (NSC) was given this assignment. Wilson had become a vocal opponent of President Bush's policies in Iraq after contributing to Al Gore in the last election cycle and John Kerry in this one...During a long conversation with a senior administration official, I asked why Wilson was assigned the mission to Niger. He said Wilson had been sent by the CIA's counterproliferation section at the suggestion of one of its employees, his wife.

I didn't get that Wilson was an "incredible" choice to go as he was a Clinton guy. Makes sense to then accuse him of using his wife to get the job. Thanks again.
posted by loquax at 10:33 PM on October 18, 2005


July 13, 2005 · NPR Senior News Analyst Daniel Schorr says that the real issue in the Karl Rove controversy is not a leak, but a war, and how America was misled into that war. Link.
posted by neuron at 10:46 PM on October 18, 2005


thirteen: i think that what afroblanca is saying is that if at some point you accept the concept of a 'necessary evil,' it's pretty hard to draw the line in such a way that completely excludes the CIA. it's much like the military -- while you might argue against most every single application of military force, it's hard (at least rhetorically) to argue against U.S. participating in WW2. you can complain about the specifics, but in the big picture... well. i'm a hawk, but whenever i happen upon this issue, i remember an article i read by an anti-war soldier who was deployed on d-day... what he said was, basically, "war is a horrible thing, and should never happen. but that didn't change the fact that hitler had to be stopped. so i went."

i'm not sure that it's applicable, and you're free to disagree, but my feeling is that while i think that the application of U.S. military force has been wrong in general (korea, vietnam, both gulf wars) and disputable the rest of the time (WW1, WW2, afghanistan, kosovo, etc), it's hard for me to say that vietnam, e.g., is a reason why we shouldn't have a military, period.

i think that the same logic applies to the CIA. while i disagree in the strongest possible terms with many of the things that the CIA has done recently, and especially during the cold war, it's hard for me to contest the argument alluded to above, which is that if you're trying to minimize the loss of life, and if war is inevitable (i.e. if you're being attacked or if it's an otherwise defensive action) then covert ops are potentially net beneficial.

but that's just me. not the final word or anything, not by any means, but that's just my top-of-the-head opinion.
posted by spiderwire at 10:55 PM on October 18, 2005


loquax, It prevents his wife from doing her job. It reduces the influence/livelyhood of a guy who would stand up to them. Its pure retribution.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:28 PM on October 18, 2005


Frankly, the Stratfor piece made me cry. What would Miles Copeland, Jr. -- who spent years in official cover positions managing NOCs, and a few as a NOC himself, arguably his whole retirement -- say if he were still alive? Sweet Jesus.

I mean, I know I've defended as legalisms other things this administration has done, but this is pure treason.

Look at the efforts that Britain and MI-6 went through to prevent Richard Tomlinson from publishing the names of their agents. Apparently, he published 9 names of agents he accused of criminal espionage activity, then the LaRouchies' EIR published a 117-name list that spread around the internet, and Tomlinson denies responsiblity for that. Jesus, Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen -- among other things -- outed spies and double agents to the KGB. I'm sure more than a few Gooper-allied columnists called for the death penalty for those guys. In fact, CIA director Tenet personally intervened with AG Ashcroft over this issue.

thirteen, I know you've gone to bed, but regardless of the dirty tricks side of espionage, intelligence increases transparency, which on balance makes the world safer. We didn't go to war against the USSR because we credibly believed they had a nuclear deterrent, and vice versa. One of the problems with Iraq was that we didn't have enough information to determine whether Hussein was lying about WMDs: we had plenty of people saying they weren't, but there were plenty who believed they were (and as I've said, I believed some of these people, to my regret). If we'd had better intelligence in the Mideast and Africa, the Wilson trip wouldn't have been necessary, and the CIA would have been more credible to certain pragmatics inside the Beltway, so the administration might not have "won" the internal battles about an invasion.

I see your idealism, but spying exists and we're not getting rid of it. I don't know whether Plame did anything wrong -- i.e. to shame the country -- in her career as a NOC, but it's possible. Regardless I consider her as much a volunteer for her country as any soldier; she could pay the same price.
posted by dhartung at 2:06 AM on October 19, 2005


> found no credible evidence for the claim that Saddam
> Hussein sought "yellow cake"

But even as we speak, Shatner's Bassoon is being decimated by fallout from Iraq's cake processing plant!

Yellow cake: it's a made-up threat.

(Ah, shit. I've turned into one of those nerds who can quote large stretches of Monty Python. Somebody put a bullet in my head right now.)
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:11 AM on October 19, 2005


words
posted by kablam at 8:07 PM PST on October 18


Do you have any response to the rebuttals in this thread or are you only capable of mindlessly parroting Republican talking points?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 5:01 AM on October 19, 2005


afroblanca: If there was no CIA, there would probably be no country today.

If there was no CIA, there are probably about 20 or so repressive regimes - including Pinochet in Chile as a particularly egregious example - that would never have been in power. Through the Cold War, the CIA was in the business of destroying popularly elected social democratic governments in the third world. In the case of Guatemala, it did so because of United Fruit.

The CIA is the worst of what people rightly despise about America, and deserves no defense.
posted by graymouser at 6:20 AM on October 19, 2005


graymouser writes "The CIA is the worst of what people rightly despise about America, and deserves no defense."

People like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney are "the worst of what people rightly despise about America" and surprise surprise! it was the administration they were part of that basically manipulated the CIA into rubber-stamping the folly that war in Iraq was justified.

If the CIA were treated as an intelligence agency instead of a political lickspittle of whatever administration happens to be in place at the moment, there wouldn't be anything wrong with it per se. Then again a country -- and its government -- is only as good and virtuous as the people who are running it.
posted by clevershark at 6:37 AM on October 19, 2005


clevershark: If the CIA were treated as an intelligence agency instead of a political lickspittle of whatever administration happens to be in place at the moment, there wouldn't be anything wrong with it per se.

But the CIA has never been a "neutral" intelligence agency. Its crimes are many and are all out in the public record to be found. It topples governments and installs dictators. Just because that's now a prerogative of the executive and not the spooks doesn't mean that they're suddenly saints or even worth defending. Getting rid of the CIA would be a significant step in setting right the wrongs America has done.

Seriously, I think most of the people in this indictment are guilty of that and of other things and should be in jail - but I don't like it being used to drum up sympathy for another devil.
posted by graymouser at 6:44 AM on October 19, 2005


If we did not have a CIA, would we have a need for one?

Sometimes I feel the same way. Do we need such a large apparatus for accurately gauging the threat from abroad, or is such a large apparatus necessary for us to convince ourselves to engage in actions we would otherwise feel are wrong?

That is, if "intelligence" (in a broad sense) did not have multi-billions invested in it, it would lack the ostensible credibility that it has, regardless of the quality of the intelligence.

Would I personally be more likely to attack someone after spending thousands on surveillance equipment, trying to catch them in the act, or if I just happened to come across some actionable act?

I don't know. After the Iraq debacle, it's harder to feel the "intelligence" is worth the expenditure... why even make the effort if the intelligence will be fixed around a predetermined policy?

Also, I simply can't get behind their policy of propping up evil men in "America's interest"... look how it keeps paying off. I guess Bush/Goss will keep chipping away at the CIA anyway, for good or for ill.
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:26 AM on October 19, 2005


The CIA's crimes are no excuse for jeopardizing the safety of its employees, their family members, associates, and friends. For shame.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 7:42 AM on October 19, 2005


My grandmother (bless her heart) thought the CIA was the greatest thing to ever exist. You see, she came from Germany, from the Dresden area, just before WW2, and heard from relatives about the horrible things happening under the Communists in East Germany. That's a piece of perspective I think is missing here. A large number of the evils the CIA did were based on what I once heard called the McCarthy Doctrine, which ruled most of the Cold War: Communism Is Bad, Anything That Stops Communism Is Good.

A lot of the African states, Pinochet, what-was-his-name from Panama, even the Shah of Iran and, yes, Saddam Hussain; all were supported by the US to stop Communism from spreading. History has looked at these and said, in general, "Bad decisions."

The question in this case is not "is it worth defending the CIA?" or even "Is it worth defending the entire set of intelligence agencies?" It is "Who outed the front-head of a CIA front-company, exposing anyone who may have ever worked for that company as a suspected spy?" There are probably secretaries, janitors, and non-spies mixed in there, and all those people were put at risk by this act. That's more outrageous to me than the rest of it: for political gain, there are people out there being watched, maybe already arrested, because they had a job mopping a floor for this front company.
posted by mephron at 7:58 AM on October 19, 2005


Yeah, please don't misconstrue my above ramblings to in any way excuse the blatantly treasonous behavior on the part of members of this administration.

Someone needs to go to jail. Probably multiple someones. If there was an opposition party in power in Congress, this all might have been over already.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:01 AM on October 19, 2005


But the CIA has never been a "neutral" intelligence agency.

Maybe so. However, I would say the CIA needs to be reformed, not eliminated.

Intelligence is good. We need it for things. Good things. But it, like anything else, can be abused.
posted by afroblanca at 8:15 AM on October 19, 2005


Stop Gloating
posted by Heminator at 8:21 AM on October 19, 2005


Weisberg's article claims, Heminator, that because he has not seen the evidence yet, that no such evidence exists. That is dumb.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:30 AM on October 19, 2005


Also, a word about Wilson's findings; he found out that the yellowcake was closely managed by a consortium of countries, not by Nigeria itself. There was no way someone could smuggle a thimbleful of the stuff out of the country much less 300 tons. 'To be transfered from ship to ship at sea . . . ' Please imagine that scenario, transfering 300 tons of anything from ship to ship in a tossing sea. Those of you who served in the Navy and were aware of what ship to ship fuel transfers were like know how ludicrous that scenario is.
posted by mk1gti at 9:27 AM on October 19, 2005


What I find most entertaining about this, which I haven't seen anyone else discussing, is the central "bombshell" being pushed - what loquax was trying to get at: Wilson supposedly wasn't qualified to judge the truth of the Yellowcake rumor because he only got the assignment through his wife.

This is the most damning charge that could be fabricated... by the administration of a demonstrably incompetent president who would never have gotten his job had his own father not held it, and had not his brother been running the state that held the electoral balance, and had not his cousin manipulated the media storyline to make him the putative winner, and had not two of the Supreme Court justices whose family members were closely tied to Bush refused to recuse themselves from the final decision. And let's not even get started on his subsequent, ongoing history of unqualified appointments based solely on cronyism.

The gall here, the hypocrisy, must be in the running for some kind of world record, no?
posted by soyjoy at 9:47 AM on October 19, 2005


Report -- Bush knew all along that Rove was one of the White House leakers in the Valerie Plame affair.
posted by ericb at 10:22 AM on October 19, 2005


White House discussions are underway regarding who might replace Rove, if he is indicted:
"Given the political ramifications attached to Mr. Fitzgerald's decisions, officials at the White House have begun discussing what would happen if Mr. Rove was indicted.

Among the names being discussed to take some of Mr. Rove's responsibilities should he have to step aside, an outside adviser to the White House said, are Dan Bartlett, currently Mr. Bush's counselor; Ken Mehlman, the chairman of the Republican National Committee; and Robert M. Kimmitt, the deputy Treasury secretary." [New York Times | October 19, 2005]
posted by ericb at 10:28 AM on October 19, 2005


while you might argue against most every single application of military force, it's hard (at least rhetorically) to argue against U.S. participating in WW2.

You have not read my posting history. ^_^

I appreciate the good faith responses from those of you who are not horrified by the existence of that agency. Sadly, your assurances do not calm me at all.

Plame might not have done anything wrong, but from my perspective she certainly did not do anything right. Take down Rove, for the same reasons the Rosenbergs were executed. If Plame gets a bullet out of this, it won't be undeserved.
posted by thirteen at 10:28 AM on October 19, 2005


McClellan Offers Classic Non-Denial Denial to NY Daily News Story
"White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan was asked this morning about the New York Daily News story suggesting Bush admonished Rove two years ago for leaking Plame’s identity.

A reporter who attended the White House gaggle this morning reported that McClellan offered a shifty response:
In response to a question about a story in the 'New York Daily News' which reported that the president was angry with Karl Rove in 2003 over his role in the leaking of Valerie Plame’s name as a CIA operative, McClellan would only say that he would not comment on an ongoing investigation. McClellan went on to say that he challenges the overall accuracy of the story. When pressed on giving an answer to why he challenges the accuracy of the story, McClellan answered again that he would not comment on an ongoing investigation.
If the conversation between Rove and Bush never happened, why can’t McClellan just say so?

Press gaggle transcript here.
posted by ericb at 10:34 AM on October 19, 2005


Right-Wing Myths About The Leak Investigation Debunked.
posted by ericb at 10:36 AM on October 19, 2005


If Plame gets a bullet out of this, it won't be undeserved.
posted by thirteen at 10:28 AM PST on October 19


Classy.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 10:37 AM on October 19, 2005


That McLellan bit is classic - not just a non-denial denial, but a non-comment comment. Welcome to bizarro world.
posted by soyjoy at 10:46 AM on October 19, 2005


Classy.

Sorry. It will be a national crisis and I will never stop crying about it.
posted by thirteen at 10:47 AM on October 19, 2005


Sorry. It will be a national crisis and I will never stop crying about it.
posted by thirteen at 10:47 AM PST on October 19


Please. You have no evidence that Plame was involved in any torture or murder, nor evidence that she had governments overthrown or food stolen from children. In your attempt to paint all CIA employees - without exception - as legitimate targets of assassination, you out yourself as a nasty, irrational little turd more interested in smug self-satisfaction than in justice.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:02 AM on October 19, 2005


Please yourself. You act like the secretary at the slaughterhouse has nothing to do with the cows getting killed. She made herself a target when she took the immoral job. Whether or not you think she is a legitimate target, has nothing to do with the stone cold fact that she is one.

People like her make the rope that hangs us all in the minds of those that hate America.

I would take offense at being called a turd, but I don't see myself in your accusation.
posted by thirteen at 11:25 AM on October 19, 2005


My view of the CIA changed considerably as a result of reading Robert Gates' From the Shadows. Thomas Powers' articles in the New York Review of Books are also worth reading.

The CIA does what the President tells them to do. Any covert operations carried out by the CIA must be authorized by a Presidential directive (called a "finding" for some reason). Thus it's more appropriate to put the responsibility for the overthrow of Arbenz and Mossadegh, for example, on Eisenhower, rather than the CIA.

Also, the CIA can't overthrow a government without considerable support from within the country. The CIA could overthrow Mossadegh, but they couldn't overthrow Khomeini.

We tend to think of CIA covert operations as being more treacherous and immoral than a war, but it might be better to think of them as measures short of war. In other words, if you don't have the CIA, your choices are limited to either doing nothing, or a full-scale war. And with the weapons technology we have today, full-scale war is usually a very bad idea. Especially when trying to combat a covert, substate organization like al-Qaeda; you really do need the CIA. Which is why the Plame affair is so damaging to national security.
posted by russilwvong at 11:56 AM on October 19, 2005


Second Cheney aide cooperating in leak probe, those close to case say.
posted by ericb at 12:11 PM on October 19, 2005


"why does it discredit Wilson [sic] to suggest that his wife was involved in his report?"

As I understand it, Bush/Cheney officials sought to discredit Ambassador Wilson's findings that there was no credible evidence for a link between Saddam Hussein and Niger (for purchase of "yellow-cake" -- intended for nuclear intentions). In order to do so, they suggested that there was an effort undertaken by his wife, (CIA-covert agent), Valerie Plame to influence a position contrary to their "march-to-war (i.e. Iraq has WMD/nuclear weapons and must be wiped out now).


My understanding was that it was part of an effort to claim that the White House had never seen Wilson's findings, especially not before the State of the Union address. Their "his wife sent him" smear was partially in response to Wilson/The.Cia/Articles explaining that he was sent at the behest of the Vice President's office. They were nit-picking to create confusion. Cheney's office had requested that the CIA look into the Niger/Uranium info, but indeed did not send Wilson directly. Cheney's fear at the time of the outing, I had thought (and do tell me if I'm way off base), was to make it seem plausible that they hadn't received Wilson's report; any suggestion, then, that they had requested the report in the first place was obviously damaging. So I don't think the outing was actually "political payback" -- that's a current lie. They were frightened that their prior knowledge of Wilson's report would reveal their run-up to war to be the huge web of deception we always knew it to be.
posted by nobody at 12:59 PM on October 19, 2005


not just a non-denial denial, but a non-comment comment
SCOTT McCLELLAN: Are you referring to, what, a New York Daily News report? Two things: One, we're not commenting on an ongoing investigation; two, and I would challenge the overall accuracy of that news account.

QUESTION: That's a comment.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:09 PM on October 19, 2005


Slate has an article today about this:

But Joseph Wilson's accusation that administration officials outed his wife to punish him for speaking up was never really credible. And by now, a small mountain of evidence points toward a more plausible, nondiabolical motivation for the accidental blowing of Plame's cover. In her first-person account in the Times, Judith Miller indicates that Libby's motive in talking to her about Wilson and his wife was the fight between the White House and CIA over whose fault it was that Bush had included faulty intelligence about Saddam's pursuit of African uranium in his 2003 State of the Union address. That blame game was morphing into a larger public dispute about the administration's claims that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. Bush officials were in the middle of an argument in which they were largely wrong, and which they lost, but in which they thought they were right and were trying to win.

In that context, Libby's comments don't look anything like retaliation against Joe Wilson—especially now that we know that Libby first mentioned Wilson and his wife to Judith Miller three weeks before Wilson went public with his op-ed piece. As for Rove, so far as we know, he spoke to only a single journalist—Matthew Cooper of Time. According to Cooper, Rove didn't even know Plame's name. If that's a White House smear campaign, Rove's skills are getting pretty rusty.


I get from that that the White House was looking to blame the CIA for the faulty info, and vice versa. So according to Rove, Plame (representing the CIA) was trying to make the administration look bad when really she was just covering the CIA's backside for including faulty information, and that's why she wanted her husband to go to Nigeria and come up with a report damning the administration. Ergo the White House wasn't to blame for any poor intelligence, it was all the CIA's fault (as opposed to the theories of personal or political retributions discussed earlier). Of course, this all goes towards motivation, not mitigation of what happened.
posted by loquax at 1:31 PM on October 19, 2005


“but there is nothing that is going to make me feel all... that some fucking spooks got outted”
posted by thirteen at 7:50 PM PST on October 18 [!]

“If Plame gets a bullet out of this, it won't be undeserved.”
posted by thirteen at 10:28 AM PST on October 19 [!]

Hey, I got an idea. Shoot some servicemen in the back. I mean they’re off trying to kill people!

I’m being hyperbolic there, but you clearly have no clue what the “fucking spooks” do for you.
Yeah, all that safeguarding your liberty. How dare they! Piss on ‘em!

I’ve used ‘I can neither confirm nor deny’ so many times that at one point I felt like it was a mantra.

This case is a glaring example of what is, and has always been the problem. The county asks people to lie and decieve in it’s name. To gather information, overtly or covertly. To risk life and limb and do the filthy jobs. When it’s over people spit on them for being dirty and sacrifice them for political expediancy - sabotaging the very security and freedom those who serve worked for.

Hell, who cares, this post is probably way too late anyway.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:41 PM on October 19, 2005


nobody -- on recollection, you are right. Good summary. Thanks. Also, russilwvong's comment regarding the administration's charge of nepotism is spot-on.
posted by ericb at 1:49 PM on October 19, 2005


Diclosing Valerie Plame's identity was also a strike against the CIA for not playing ball before the invasion by producing intelligence reports saying that Iraq had WMDs.

Seymour Hersh's October 2003 New Yorker article The Stovepipe has a detailed background.
In interviews with present and former intelligence officials, I was told that some senior Administration people, soon after coming to power, had bypassed the government's customary procedures for vetting intelligence.
...
Kenneth Pollack, a former National Security Council expert on Iraq...told me that what the Bush people did was "dismantle the existing filtering process that for fifty years had been preventing the policymakers from getting bad information. They created stovepipes to get the information they wanted directly to the top leadership. Their position is that the professional bureaucracy is deliberately and maliciously keeping information from them."

"They always had information to back up their public claims, but it was often very bad information," Pollack continued. "They were forcing the intelligence community to defend its good information and good analysis so aggressively that the intelligence analysts didn't have the time or the energy to go after the bad information."

The Administration eventually got its way, a former C.I.A. official said. "The analysts at the C.I.A. were beaten down defending their assessments. And they blame George Tenet"--the C.I.A. director--"for not protecting them. I've never seen a government like this."
...
"The Vice-President saw a piece of intelligence reporting that Niger was attempting to buy uranium," Cathie Martin, the spokeswoman for Cheney, told me. Sometime after he first saw it, Cheney brought it up at his regularly scheduled daily briefing from the C.I.A., Martin said. "He asked the briefer a question. The briefer came back a day or two later and said, 'We do have a report, but there's a lack of details.'" The Vice-President was further told that it was known that Iraq had acquired uranium ore from Niger in the early nineteen-eighties but that that material had been placed in secure storage by the I.A.E.A., which was monitoring it. "End of story," Martin added. "That's all we know." According to a former high-level C.I.A. official, however, Cheney was dissatisfied with the initial response, and asked the agency to review the matter once again. It was the beginning of what turned out to be a year-long tug-of-war between the C.I.A. and the Vice-President's office.
...
Senior C.I.A. analysts dealing with Iraq were constantly being urged by the Vice-President's office to provide worst-case assessments on Iraqi weapons issues.
Washington Post, June 2003, Some Iraq Analysts Felt Pressure From Cheney Visits
Vice President Cheney and his most senior aide made multiple trips to the CIA over the past year to question analysts studying Iraq's weapons programs and alleged links to al Qaeda, creating an environment in which some analysts felt they were being pressured to make their assessments fit with the Bush administration's policy objectives, according to senior intelligence officials.
Chicago Tribune, August 2003, Prewar statements by Cheney under scrutiny:
Officials at the CIA and the vice president's office have explained Cheney's personal visits to CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., as a healthy indication of his attention to their work, and not an attempt to skew conclusions to fit a policy goal of toppling Saddam Hussein.

The vice president was accompanied by his chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on the visits, which supplemented the daily intelligence briefings for Cheney and those he attends with Bush.

"He's got a deep interest in intelligence and engages actively with our folks on it," one CIA official said. "That is something which we welcome."

But Greg Thielmann, who retired in September as director of strategic, proliferation and military affairs in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, said he saw no similar curiosity from Cheney about the State Department's intelligence shop, known as INR.

That agency was far more skeptical than the CIA about claims that Iraq possessed threatening weaponry.

"One would think if Cheney was on some sort of noble pursuit of the truth and really wanted to get into details, he would have noticed that INR had very loud and lengthy dissents on some critical pieces of Iraq intelligence," Thielmann said.
The Senate Intelligence Committee was sharply divided along partisan lines on whether or not the administration applied pressure in their U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq report, but the section of the report that deals with the question is incredibly shady:
Conclusion 83. The Committee did not find any evidence that administration officials attempted to coerce, influence or presssure analysts to change their judgments related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction capabilities.

[Redacted paragraph]

[Redacted paragraph]

[Redacted paragraph]

[Page break]

[Redacted paragraph]

[Redacted paragraph]

Conclusion 84. The Committee found no evidence that the Vice President's visits to the Central Intelligence Agency were attempts to pressure analysts, were perceived as intended to pressure analysts by those who participated in the briefings on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs, or did pressure analysts to change their assessments.

[Redacted paragraph]

[Redacted paragraph]

[End of pressure discussion]
(I downloaded the report and that's an accurate description.)
posted by kirkaracha at 1:59 PM on October 19, 2005


When Was the President Told?

Did Bush lie to Fitzgerald in June 2004?
posted by ericb at 2:38 PM on October 19, 2005



I’m being hyperbolic there, but you clearly have no clue what the “fucking spooks” do for you.
Yeah, all that safeguarding your liberty. How dare they! Piss on ‘em!


Like the School of the Americas? The CIA are a symptom of the problem that has gotten us into this war. The OSS aside, what good has the CIA done the US that was not at the expense of someone else? Their methods of protecting America's interests have had far to high a price. The intelligence they provide would probably not be needed so badly if they were not actively operating around the world. I have no use for Communism, but soverign nations have the right to choose their own way, and it is not heroic for people in the service of the US interfering.


This case is a glaring example of what is, and has always been the problem. The county asks people to lie and decieve in it’s name. To gather information, overtly or covertly. To risk life and limb and do the filthy jobs. When it’s over people spit on them for being dirty and sacrifice them for political expediancy - sabotaging the very security and freedom those who serve worked for.


I think this is an instance where it is two different groups of people reacting to them. The people telling them to get their hands dirty are probably not the people who are judging them.

Are you one of those "They hate our freedom" sorts? You bit about the servicemen makes no sense to me.
posted by thirteen at 2:55 PM on October 19, 2005


thirteen: [The CIA's] methods of protecting America's interests have had far too high a price. The intelligence they provide would probably not be needed so badly if they were not actively operating around the world. I have no use for Communism, but soverign nations have the right to choose their own way, and it is not heroic for people in the service of the US to be interfering.

Again, the issue is not the CIA, but US foreign policy. The President determines what the CIA does. That includes the School of the Americas, and the various assassination attempts on foreign leaders uncovered by the Church Report.

The question of whether the US should stop meddling in other countries' affairs goes beyond the CIA. Hans Morgenthau discusses this question in an April 1967 Foreign Affairs article, To Intervene or Not To Intervene?
posted by russilwvong at 3:13 PM on October 19, 2005


Screenshots of page 284 and page 285 of the U.S. Intelligence Community's Prewar Intelligence Assessments on Iraq, the section with conclusions on the administration's pressuring the CIA on WMD.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:35 PM on October 19, 2005


Wait a minute... 2 years ago, Scottie McClellan told the public that the very idea that Rove could have leaked this info was "ridiculous", and that if anyone in the Administration was found to have leaked it, they would be fired "at minimum". Then 1 year LATER, Bush tells the public that there was no evidence to suggest that anyone in his Administration had leaked the Plame info, and that if anyone was found to have done so, he would be fired. Now we read that 2 years ago, Bush expresses anger to Rove over his role in leaking the info on Plame.

The New York Daily Times article Bush whacked Rove on CIA leak had this to say:

"He made his displeasure known to Karl," a presidential counselor told The News. "He made his life miserable about this."

Bush has nevertheless remained doggedly loyal to Rove, who friends and even political adversaries acknowledge is the architect of the President's rise from baseball owner to leader of the free world. "


So it's really just another typical Bushie blankie (read: cover up). Riddle: How many lies does a president need to be caught in before impeachment proceedings begin?
posted by shiska at 10:20 AM on October 20, 2005


Oops... the link to "impeachment proceedings" doesn't go to precisely where I wanted it to, and the link to the page I did want it to go to can't be captured. So, when you get there, click on the "Articles of Impeachment" link located at the right side of the page.

...sorry 'bout that.
posted by shiska at 10:30 AM on October 20, 2005


The LA Times has more on Cheney's pressuring the CIA:
Cheney traveled from the White House to CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., a dozen times, most often to discuss Iraq's possible links to nuclear weapons and terrorism. Agency veterans have said that Cheney's visits were more frequent than those of any other president or vice president, including the first president Bush, a former director of the agency.
posted by kirkaracha at 11:47 AM on October 20, 2005


Pat Buchanan’s take on Plamegate:
“…my guess is that there are multiple indictments coming, for lying to investigators, perjury, obstruction of justice, and disclosure of national security secrets for political purposes. And maybe conspiracy.…

My own sense, from hearing and reading about Fitzgerald is that he may be going after much larger game, that he may have what Bob Bennett calls a ‘big case,’ that he may be going after the White House and WHIG for fabricating the case for war, that he is roaming afield, looking into who forged the Niger documents and passed them on to U.S. intelligence and whether the case for war was shot through with deceit and lies….

What the White House has to fear is a trial, six months or a year down the road, where all the secrets of what was done to stampede us into war come spilling out….

There is simply no good news here for Bush & Co., unless Patrick Fitzgerald declines to indict anyone….”
posted by ericb at 1:14 PM on October 20, 2005


How many lies does a president need to be caught in before impeachment proceedings begin?

One, if the majority party in the House is different from that of the president.

No number is sufficient if the majority party is the same as the president's party.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:26 PM on October 20, 2005


Rove Told Jury Libby May Have Been His Source In Leak Case
posted by ericb at 1:54 PM on October 20, 2005


“ ‘You have no clue what the “fucking spooks” do for you.’
Like the School of the Americas?”
posted by thirteen at 2:55 PM PST on October 19 [!]

Yes. That’s exactly what I meant. The School of the Americas.
(Why do I bother with cogency?)


“What good has the CIA done the US that was not at the expense of someone else?”
posted by thirteen at 2:55 PM PST on October 19 [!]

Hey, remember WWIII? Oh, wait, that’s right. That didn’t happen. Well, it certainly couldn’t have been due to the CIA’s machinations. It’s not like covert intelligence is the single most important factor in cold war nuclear brinkmanship.

We should not do anything at the expense of someone else. (I bet your great in business). But since you’re up on Operation RYAN and such, clearly you can judge the whole company from the 40’s until now.
Feel free to expand on how the CIA should have reacted to the shooting down of a South Korean airplane (obviously you already know this happened in 1983, but please be clear on how ceding our advantage to the KGB's foreign intelligence directorate would have helped the United States in light of the Marxist gains in the 1970s in such places as Indochina, Angola, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Nicaragua.)
Clearly, during RYAN we should have rolled over and let the Soviets consolidate their power by scaring their populace into thinking the U.S. would nuke them and invade instead of actually muscle flexing behind the scenes on covert ops.
Or am I making presuppositions?


Are you one of those "They hate our freedom" sorts? You bit about the servicemen makes no sense to me.
posted by thirteen at 2:55 PM PST on October 19 [!]

Yes. I am one of those “They hate our freedom” sorts. I am of very low intelligence. Also my dick is short. Indeed, because you do not understand what I wrote it must be I who is less intelligent than you.
Yeah, that’s how it works. Me bit about the servicemen must be stupid.

But let’s see if my poor reasoning can reach you:

When spooks get outed while on assignment they can die. They are ostensibly serving the United States of America. It’s people.
The current administration - like others - sets policy. Ostensibly to serve the people.

In the same way - American soldiers serve the country. The government of the country can send them on unpopular errands.
Because these errands (fighting wars, what have you) are unpopular, many people equate them - the warfighters - with the current administration - the warmakers, when in fact their job - the warfighters - is just to follow the de-facto will of the people.

You made a similar equivalency.


To not care whether a spook is outed or to think they deserve a bullet is the moral equivalent of asserting that because what a servicemember is doing (killing, fighting an unpopular war) is wrong, they deserve to be killed.


Perhaps Plame had some ulterior motive. Perhaps not. It should be investigated and the truth should come out.
Of course, I’m only saying that because unlike you I don’t know everything already.

That and I want to kill all them ay-rabs because they hate our freedoms.


I probably just wasted a bunch of my time there.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:29 AM on October 21, 2005


One thing I forgot to mention thirteen - industrial espionage.
See some countries, who for some bizzarre reason also do things at the expense of someone else - in this case - the USA - like to send agents to the USA and steal trade secrets and the like. Then they take them to their sometimes government subsidized companies overseas and copy them.
I was hired by a large company to prevent just such a thing from occuring and had many folks in a certain government company who were - strangely - interested in protecting the competative edge of companies in the USA.
I know it’s weird, but some people - if they pay a lot of money to do R&D (that’d be research and development in case I’m being stupid again and you don’t understand what I’m saying) - when they pay money to do this research and development, like to keep it to themselves.
For strange reasons they don’t want to share it with everyone else. They want to have a technological advantage despite the fact that if they marketed such a thing it might be at others’ expense. Those others might lose money.


Or perhaps I’m merely hallucinating.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:36 AM on October 21, 2005


Yup. Waste of time.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:39 AM on October 22, 2005


We are not going to see eye to eye here Smedlyman. Obviously I am not reading you right, and I am sure you are not getting me, so we can discuss this another time.

Sorry about your dick. ^_^
posted by thirteen at 11:56 PM on October 22, 2005


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