Nutty Little Pundit Turf Wars

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Christopher Hitchens calls the Intelligence Identities Protection Act a nutty little law. Ted Barlow calls Hitchens' piece a nutty little argument and asks

What kind of a man responds to the exposure of a CIA agent by attacking the law that makes it illegal to expose CIA agents?

Well, Reason's own Jesse Walker for one, although he was not so much responding to the exposure of a CIA agent as arguing against a bad law that happened to be getting a lot of attention because of the exposure of a CIA agent.

Civil liberties-minded folks should be wary of laws that make it difficult to expose the terrible things that the CIA has been known to do, and the IIPA ought to be junked even if there are any number of bad arguments for doing so. Hitchens, for example, can't help but indulge in some highly dubious score-settling over the Iraqi WMD issue:

This government [Niger], according to unrefuted intelligence-gathering from British and other European intelligence agencies, is covertly discussing sanctions-breaking sales of its uranium to a number of outlaw regimes, including that of Saddam Hussein.

And

The CIA in general is institutionally committed against the policy of regime change in Iraq.

Ted Barlow helpfully pointed out that the intelligence on Nigerien uranium sales to Iraq has been refuted, at least if you believe the Iraq Survey Group's claim that it

has not found evidence to show that Iraq sought uranium from abroad after 1991.

In any case, if Hitchens were purely concerned with arguing against a bad law, there would be no need for him to pre-emptively absolve Karl Rove of having violated that law:

And it appears that [Rove] did [observe the law], in that he did not, and did not intend to, expose Valerie Plame in any way [emphasis added].

The general claim is one that Hitchens can't possibly know, and the qualification, that Rove did not intend to expose Plame in any way, can't possibly be true. Provided 1) Rove was in full control of his mental faculties, and 2) "Plame" and "Wilson's wife" refer to the same person, Rove obviously intended to expose her in some way when he told reporters that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA. Unless, perhaps, when Rove said that Wilson's wife/Plame worked for the "agency," it's impossible to say which agency he meant to convey.

As Jesse Walker aptly put it, "Rove's apologists have been reduced to splitting semantic hairs to deny he violated the law."

NEXT: Nannygate

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  1. Its interesting how, everyone who is so concerned that Rove may have endangered national security by outing a Northern Virginia soccer mom, never seemed to care when CIA agents were leeking classified information in books like Imperial Hubris during the election cycle. I guess leaks that could damage the Bush Administration are not really threats to national security.

  2. You know, there are areas of the Espionage Act that you can more easily prosecute someone under. Which makes me wonder if Fitzgerald is laughing his ass off at all the speculation over an area of the law, especiall if he decided not to prosecute under it months ago?

  3. Its interesting how, everyone who … blah, blah, blah

    No, it’s not interesting at all. Which is why it’s depressing to see Hitchens using his undeniable talents to heap another shovelful of shit on to the pile.

  4. Hakluyt,

    I would not be surprised if the ultimate “leaker” of Plame was someone in the media. Apparently a lot of people knew in Washington she worked for the CIA. Further, listen to Joe Wilson for two minutes and its obvious he is one of those noxious name dropers you meet in Washington who would no doubt tell the right people, “you know my wife works for the agency.” The question seems to be who didn’t know that Plame worked for the CIA. What is funny of course is that this issue is sucking up so much air in the MSM and most people in America don’t even know who Karl Rove is. More importantly, he is a has been. George Bush can’t run for President again. Who cares if Karl Rove goes to jail, which of course he won’t. I will never quite understand the Democrats’ fixation with such a looser issue.

  5. MTM,

    Way to never respond to a substantive argument. You may have a future at the DNC or Moveon.org

  6. I’m waiting for Rove to insist that there is no controlling legal authority.

  7. John: Are you suggesting someone in the media just guessed she was CIA?

  8. John:
    She’s not a “soccer mom”, she’s an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency who was doing classified work in Africa, and exposing her identity may have blown the covers of her confidential sources, some of whom may now be in real danger.
    Her husband may well be a “noxious name-dropper”, but that doesn’t justify or excuse breaking the law.
    One more thing: trying to change the subject is not a “substantive argument”.

  9. So there is a question as to if Suddam tried to get Uranium from Niger….isn’t it nice that we have all this attention on Karl Rove rather then actually finding out if Suddam did seek Uranium….I just watched some report about an attempt to buy nuke triggers from pakastan arms dealers…wouldn’t it be nice if the new york times or hell anyone actually went to niger and iraq to get to the bottom of all this.

  10. John,

    You forgot to point out that janitors work at the CIA too.

  11. Xboy,

    Valerie Plame was a soccer mom. She hadn’t been in the field for over five years. She was not a “covert agent” under the meaning of the law. Just because you work for the CIA doesn’t mean that your identity is necessarily secret. I will ask my first question again, if the left is so concerned about national security and the law, how come the didn’t seem to care about the writer of Imperial Hubris was committing a federal crime by leaking classified information? The Democrats don’t care national security or national security law anymore than they cared about the Privacy Act when a Clinton Administration official committed a felony by illegally releasing Linda Trip’s job application. It would be nice if someone anyone were honest enough to admit that this entire “alleged scandal” is nothing but a cheap political ploy and an ineffective one at that.

  12. “So there is a question as to if Suddam tried to get Uranium from Niger”

    No, there isn’t, except in Hitchens’ alcohol-rotted brain. As was pointed out in the original post, the Iraq Survey Group found no evidence for it. And to clarify, the Iraq Survey Group was a US government-established entity employing American, British, and Australian military personnel that answered directly to Donald Rumsfeld: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_Survey_Group

  13. SR,

    That is simply not true. Joe Wilson never did any decent investigating and basically stole the public’s money. The British have consistently stood by that conclusion. In September 2003, an independent British parliamentary committee looked into the matter and determined that the claim made by British intelligence was “reasonable” (the media forgot to cover that one too). Indeed, Britain’s spies stand by their claim to this day. Interestingly, French intelligence also reported an Iraqi attempt to procure uranium from Niger. God, I guess the French are part of the Neocon conspiracy too. Maybe they were the ones outed 007, I mean Valerie Plame before she could save the world from CHAOS.

    Yes, there were fake documents relating to Niger-Iraq sales. But no, those forgeries were not the evidence that convinced British intelligence that Saddam may have been shopping for “yellowcake” uranium. On the contrary, according to some intelligence sources, the forgery was planted in order to be discovered ? as a ruse to discredit the story of a Niger-Iraq link, to persuade people there were no grounds for the charge. If that was the plan, it worked like a charm.

  14. John,

    I realize the whole “covert agent” debates rages among the blogs, and I’m not really interested in pursuing that angle. But what is the classified information in Imperial Hubris? To my knowledge the outline of the situation given by Jason Vest in the Boston Phoenix was basically correct. All the information was culled from public sources, the agency had some polemical concerns and (broadly speaking) political concerns about Scheuer publishing with the CIA imprint, but the book went through the usual review and approval process. Is somebody going back on this? Were war plans revealed in acrostic form?

    Anon

  15. John:
    A full-time employee of the CIA is not what I would call a “soccer mom”. Maybe you’ve seen “Spy Kids” too often.

  16. Xboy,

    Call her what you want, but she was not a working agent and it was highly unlikely to ever be one again. Just because you work for the CIA, doesn’t mean you are some secret squirel. The CIA needs bureaucrats too.

  17. Anon,

    I point you to Bobby Inman, former director of the NSA and deputy director of the CIA. He is quoted on NRO today as saying there was a lot of classified information in that book and that it was a felony to have published it. Maybe he is wrong about that, not having access to classified information I can’t argue with him one way or another, but I think its a pretty good source and a better one than an alternative newspaper in Boston.

  18. John- you might want to take a peek at today’s Washington Post.

  19. Happy Jack,

    Do you mean this earth shattering revelation?

    “It remains unclear whether Fitzgerald uncovered any wrongdoing in this or any other portion of his nearly 18-month investigation. All that is known at this point are the names of some people he has interviewed, what questions he has asked and whom he has focused on.”

  20. Sorry for the threadjack, but some of us regular posters from the Connecticut-New York-New Jersey area are talking about meeting somewhere in Manhattan on some weekend, to drink, talk about how much better the world would be if we ran it, and see how TOTALLY wrong we were when we imagined what the others looked like. I’ve got a few regulars signed up already.

    So drop me an e-mail if you’re interested, and after a couple of days, when I know who all’s going, we can work out the when and where.

  21. No, the statement by Bill Harlow

  22. Happy jack,

    “John- you might want to take a peek at today’s Washington Post.”

    what article?

  23. John,

    All you need to know about the Niger non-incident is that the ISG said it could find no evidence for it. If Rumsfeld’s “US government-established entity employing American, British, and Australian military personnel” could bring back no evidence of this whatsoever, you can bet your signed 8×10 of W that it never happened. The people with the most stake in the outcome of this investigation didn’t even equivocate; they just came flat out and said it: No evidence.

    Now on to the Imperial Hubris begging for a felony conviction: Don’t you understand that if Alberto Gonzales had any evidence that Scheuer had compromised state secrets that he would have alread filed charges?

    Why you would believe a “British parliamentary committee” over the Iraq Survey group or some guy on NRO over Attorney General Gonzales is beyond my power to understand.

  24. Joshua- probably have to register

    here

  25. John,

    Yeah i need more stuff…like links to articles…I don’t know what is true on this one…but i really would like to know more on Niger Uranium then about Plame and Rove, which seems like a waste of time.

  26. Bobby Inman is not some guy, he is a former director of the NSC. As far as the Brits versus the Iraq survey group, I think that is a fair point and I will be honest, I think there is reason to believe either one and its not clear either way. What is clear is that Joe Wilson doesn’t know a damn thing about it either way.

  27. hmm Just read the Butler report and let me tell you it is juicey…not only did the forged reports become available to the British intellegance AFTER it made its assesment that Iraq was seeking Uranium from africa but apparently British intellegance made the assesment that Iraq tried to get “Yellow cake” from Congo as well….so even if the survay report and good ol Mr Plame is correct it still does not make Bush’s statement that “The British Government has learned that Suddam Hussain recently sought significant quantities of Uranium from Africa” incorrect.

    And still puts the finger on Suddam for seeking WMD.

    You know this shit of telling the truth but leaving out important bits is beginning to piss me off.

    Anyway the important parts of the Butler report can be found here:

    http://www.archive2.official-documents.co.uk/document/deps/hc/hc898/898.pdf

    look at pages 121 to 125

  28. Why hasn’t Gonzales filed charges against Scheuer?

  29. John,

    Yes, I am well aware that Inman is
    astonished that _Imperial Hubris_ was published. But as the Inman clearly acknowledges in the interview, “[the book] clearly went through a review process at Langley and they approved it., In other words, Inman’s criticism, as of December 2004, was that Langley had messed up in letting the book be published, but only because it was critical of current US policy. I believe Inman has been downbeat on Langley for awhile — I believe it is consistent with his views expressed in the Brown Commission, though I’m too lazy to look it up at the moment. If he is now claiming that there was actual classified information, this would be a) a surprising new development for a book that’s been on the shelves for a while b) an incredible condemnation of _Langley_’s review procedures. But I can’t see how it could be a criticism of _Michael Scheuer_, unless Inman is claiming the messages are somehow “hidden” in the book.

    I will wander over to NRO to look for his piece there, but since I find their search capacities inadequate any link you can provide would be appreciated.

    For what it is worth, too, if Langley has been lax I would take all the more seriously their request for this investigation of the Plame affair. This isn’t a controvery created by blogs (though they’re generating much heat off of it) — the investigation was jump-started by Langley’s request.

    By the way, for gratuitously slagging off the Phoenix article (which was the first, as far as I know, to report on the conditions of Scheuer’s anonymity — not a huge scoop, but minorly notable nonetheless), you are kind of a dick. I’d direct you to the WaPo article that makes the same point, _that the agency reviewed and approved release of the book_, but I assume you think they’re an alternative magazine, too.

    Anon

  30. Incidentally, none of my comments should be taken to suggest that Scheuer’s opinions aren’t batshit insane. I just want to know if he leaked classified information.

    Anon

  31. John’s funny.

    It’s interesting how PLEASE FOR GOD’S SAKE LOOK OVER THERE! OVER THERE! THERE!

    John, you don’t get to decide which CIA personnel are important enough to warrant covert protection. Neither does Christopher Hitchens. Neither do I.

    The CIA gets to do that – the same CIA that sent not one, not two, but three requests to the Department of Justice to open a criminal investigation into the blowing of Plame’s cover. This compares to the zero requests sent over after the release of Scheuer’s book.

    Why is anyone still arguing about whether Iraq was importing uranium? Iraq didn’t have a nuclear program since the end of the first Gulf War. Unless someone shows me that one of Saddam’s palaces was constructed of yellow cake bricks, I’m going with Joe Wilson on this one.

  32. What kind of a man responds to the exposure of a CIA agent by attacking the law that makes it illegal to expose CIA agents?

    What kind of man makes this criticism? It’s perfectly normal to attack a law when faced with a human example of the law in action. Drug laws are the most obvious. Someone’s going to jail, and not everyone, but many people, who are not “unmanly,” will point out that drugs shouldn’t be illegal to begin with. There are numerous other examples. The guy is an idiot.

  33. John- I take it that Harlow’s grand jury testimony has put the kabosh on the “soccer mom” talk.

    I see that since I’ve cut the grass that the subject has moved to Niger. A few questions.

    1) Since Iraq had 550 tons of ore, why did they need more?

    2) The Butler Report shows the Brits never contacted the man at the center of the storm, Iraqi Ambassador Wissam al-Zahawi. He retired to Jordan in 2001, and subsequently visited England. Why wasn’t he questioned?

    3) Butler also doesn’t mention the testimony (pg.65-66)of a CIA Deputy who urged the Brits to remove references to uranium in their document. An oversight?

    It seems the question that needs to be asked in the whole affair is, who forged the documents, and why?

  34. “Unless someone shows me that one of Saddam’s palaces was constructed of yellow cake bricks, I’m going with Joe Wilson on this one.”

    Just so long as your measure of proof is reasonable 🙂

  35. I’m still chuckling that, of everything that came out in today’s blockbuster WaPo story, John felt that the pinnacle, the heart, of the piece was the throat clearing, “to be sure” line, “It remains unclear whether Fitzgerald uncovered any wrongdoing in this or any other portion of his nearly 18-month investigation. All that is known at this point are the names of some people he has interviewed, what questions he has asked and whom he has focused on.”

    Yes, the most important fact that came out in today’s story is that we can’t be certain who will be indicted for what until Fitzgerald unseals his indictments.

    Retired CIA officials? What retired CIA officials?

  36. I would think that a law against revealing the identity of CIA agents is counterproductive – wouldn’t the agents have incentive to protect their identities more carefully and be better spies without it?

  37. apologists have been reduced to splitting semantic hairs to deny he violated the law.

    It seems to me the law itself is based on semantic hair splitting.

  38. Is Rovie the Monster of Loch Plame?

  39. I do not give a crap for ROVE but come on he said “Wilson’s wife”. Most people would think her last name is Wilson then. NO? Of course it’s Plame!

    How much is Gas these days?

  40. I am fascinated by joe’s position that when the CIA says it is illegal to mention one of its people in press, that is holy writ and we should all sit down and shut up, regardless of the pesky facts that may call this writ into question.

    I suspect that joe will stick by this position precisely as long as it is useful for beating on Karl Rove, and not an instant longer.

  41. My motivations are irrelevant here. A CIA agent’s cover was blown by a White House official to win a political fight. That’s illegal. These facts don’t change because a Democrat pointed them out.

  42. A CIA agent’s cover was blown by a White House official to win a political fight.

    Assumes facts not in evidence. There are plenty of media folks saying they knew she was CIA before the whole Novak/Scooter/Rove kerfuffle, and we have heard that the press already knew about the Wilson’s wife thing when they talked to the White House folks. There is a perfectly rational explanation for all this, indeed it might be the one supported by the preponderance of the evidence, where no one’s cover was blown by anyone at the White House.

    That’s illegal.

    Even if someone did leak her name and CIA status to the press, its not illegal unless all the elements, including the intent requirements, are met.

    joe, I’m just waiting for the CIA to shut down some press inquiry that you support by stating that any further reporting on it will blow the cover of some Langley desk jockey. We’ll see then if you still take CIA designation of covert status as holy writ.

  43. “There are plenty of media folks saying they knew she was CIA…where no one’s cover was blown by anyone at the White House.” The people who actually are in a position to know this one way or the other – the CIA itself – demanded a criminal investigation from the Department of Justice three separate times after the Novak piece ran.

    The desk jockey spent years working undercover, without the protection of a diplomatic passport.

    Support the troops. Don’t betray them.

  44. Congressional tesimony from Larry Johnson, former CIA operative and classmate of Valerie Plame:

    I entered on duty at the CIA in September 1985 as a member of the Career Trainee Program. Senator Orin Hatch had written a letter of recommendation on my behalf and I believe that helped open the doors to me at the CIA. From the first day all members of my training class were undercover. In other words, we had to lie to our family and friends about where we worked. We could only tell those who had an absolute need to know where we worked. In my case, I told my wife. Most of us were given official cover, which means that on paper we worked for some other U.S. Government Agency. People with official cover enjoy the benefits of an official passport, usually a black passport–i.e., a diplomatic passport. If we were caught overseas engaged in espionage activity the black passport was a get out of jail free card. It accords the bearer the protections of the Geneva Convention.

    Valerie Plame was a classmate of mine from the day she started with the CIA. At the time I only knew her as Valerie P. Even though all of us in the training class held Top Secret Clearances, we were asked to limit our knowledge of our other classmates to the first initial of their last name. So, Larry J. knew Val P. rather than Valerie Plame. Her name did not become a part of my consciousness until her cover was betrayed by the Government officials who gave columnist Robert Novak her true name.

    Although Val started off with official cover, she later joined a select group of intelligence officers a few years later when she became a NOC, i.e. a Non-Official Cover officer. That meant she agreed to operate overseas without the protection of a diplomatic passport. She was using cover, which we now know because of the leak to Robert Novak, of the consulting firm Brewster-Jennings. When she traveled overseas she did not use or have an official passport. If she had been caught engaged in espionage activities while traveling overseas without the black passport she could have been executed.

    We must put to bed the lie that she was not undercover. For starters, if she had not been undercover then the CIA would not have referred the matter to the Justice Department. Some reports, such as one in the Washington Times that Valerie Plame’s supervisor at the CIA, Fred Rustman, said she told friends and family she worked at the CIA and that her cover was light. These claims are not true. Rustman, who supervised Val in one of her earliest assignments, left the CIA in 1990 and did not stay in social contact with Valerie. His knowledge of Val’s cover is dated. He does not know what she has done during the past 15 years.

    Val only told those with a need to know about her status in order to safeguard her cover, not compromise it. Val has never been a flamboyant, insecure person who felt the need to tell people what her “real” job was. She was content with being known as an energy consultant married to Joe Wilson and the mother of twins. Despite the repeated claims of representatives for the Republican National Committee, the Wilson’s neighbors did not know where Valerie really worked until Novak’s op-ed appeared.

    I would note that not a single member of our training class has come forward to denounce Valerie or question her bona fides. To the contrary, those we have talked to have endorsed what those of us who have left the CIA are doing to defend her reputation and honor.

    As noted in the joint letter submitted to Congressional leaders earlier this week, the RNC is repeating the lie that Valerie was nothing more than a glorified desk jockey and could not possibly have any cover worth protecting. To those such as Victoria Toensing, Representative Peter King, P. J. O’Rourke, and Representative Roy Blunt I can only say one thing–you are wrong. I am stunned that some political leaders have such ignorance about a matter so basic to the national security structure of this nation.

    Robert Novak’s compromise of Valerie caused even more damage. It subsequently led to scrutiny of her cover company. This not only compromised her “cover” company but potentially every individual overseas who had been in contact with that company or with her.

    Another false claim is that Valerie sent her husband on the mission to Niger. According to the Senate Intelligence Committee Report issued in July 2004, it is clear that the Vice President himself requested that the CIA provide its views on a Defense Intelligence Agency report that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium from Niger. The Vice President’s request was relayed through the CIA bureaucracy to the Director of the Counter Proliferation Division at the CIA. Valerie worked for a branch in that Division.

    The Senate Intelligence Report is frequently cited by Republican partisans as “proof” that Valerie sent her husband to Niger because she sent a memo describing her husband’s qualifications to the Deputy Division Chief. Several news personalities, such as Chris Matthews and Bill O’Reilly continue to repeat this nonsense as proof. What the Senate Intelligence Committee does not include in the report is the fact that Valerie’s boss had asked her to write a memo outlining her husband’s qualifications for the job. She did what any good employee does; she gave her boss what he asked for.

    The decision to send Joe Wilson on the mission to Niger was made by Valerie’s bosses. She did not have the authority to sign travel vouchers, issue travel orders, or expend one dime of U.S. taxpayer dollars on her own. Yet, she has been singled out by the Republican National Committee and its partisans as a legitimate target of attack. It was Karl Rove who told Chris Matthews, “Wilson’s wife is fair game”.

    What makes the unjustified and inappropriate attacks on Valerie Plame and her reputation so unfair is that there was no Administration policy position stipulating that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium in February 2002. That issue was still up in the air and, as noted by SSCI, Vice President Cheney himself asked for more information.

    At the end of the day we are left with these facts. We went to war in Iraq on the premise that Saddam was reacquiring weapons of mass destruction. Joe Wilson was sent on a mission to Niger in response to a request initiated by the Vice President. Joe Wilson supplied information to the CIA that supported other reports debunking the claim that Saddam was trying to buy yellow cake uranium from Niger. When Joe went public with his information, which had been corroborated by the CIA in April 2003, the response from the White House was to call him a liar and spread the name of his wife around.

    We sit here more than two years later and the storm of invective and smear against Ambassador Wilson and his wife, Valerie, continues. I voted for George Bush in November of 2000 because I wanted a President who knew what the meaning of “is” was. I was tired of political operatives who spent endless hours on cable news channels parsing words. I was promised a President who would bring a new tone and new ethical standards to Washington.

    So where are we? The President has flip flopped and backed away from his promise to fire anyone at the White House implicated in a leak. We now know from press reports that at least Karl Rove and Scooter Libby are implicated in these leaks. Instead of a President concerned first and foremost with protecting this country and the intelligence officers who serve it, we are confronted with a President who is willing to sit by while political operatives savage the reputations of good Americans like Valerie and Joe Wilson. This is wrong.

    Without firm action by President Bush to return to those principles he promised to follow when he came to Washington, I fear our political debate in this country will degenerate into an argument about what the meaning of “leak” is. We deserve people who work in the White House who are committed to protecting classified information, telling the truth to the American people, and living by example the idea that a country at war with Islamic extremists cannot expend its efforts attacking other American citizens who simply tried to tell the truth.

  45. One issue the White House defenders here seem to be ducking is where Rove, Libby, et al got the information that Plame was a CIA agent. Rove says the reporters told him, or, I suppose that he heard it on the cocktail circuit. The credibility of this claim is substantially undermined by the “coincidental” arrival of a State Department memo containing the relevant information seven days before the leak. Now, all partisanship aside, what is the reasonable conclusion here? It seems clear what conclusion the CIA drew. I agree it is still not established whether what Rove did was a crime, but I doubt if he has many friends in the intelligence community right now, and I fail to see how any culpable behavior on Joe Wilson’s part excuses it.

  46. By the way, I understand the argument of the
    Rove, et al, defenders–the White House was attacked, and they had the right to defend themselves, as long as national security wasn’t compromised. The problem with that argument is that it essentially means you are placing political considerations over the secrecy rules. Only Congressmen are allowed to do that.

  47. when the CIA says it is illegal to mention one of its people in press, that is holy writ and we should all sit down and shut up

    congress and the president, actually, said that was illegal, mr dean.

    There are plenty of media folks saying they knew she was CIA before the whole Novak/Scooter/Rove kerfuffle, and we have heard that the press already knew about the Wilson’s wife thing when they talked to the White House folks.

    but never popped it into the press, did they? and with reason — because they never had someone like karl rove confirm it for them on the record, thereby giving them quite a leg to stand on.

    the press know all sorts of things about washington that they can’t put in the papers because they don’t have sufficient sourcing to make it defensible. rove gave them that, wittingly or not. and that’s illegal, if that’s what he did.

    its not illegal unless all the elements, including the intent requirements, are met.

    which is why mr hakluyt spculation on prosecution under espionage may be more probable than iipa.

    what is incontrovertible is that something (the drink?) has ruined hitch’s brain. except that he’s almost worse than a simple hack now — it looks for all the world to me like he’s been bought. anyone looked into his finances?

  48. Gaius: The Rove defenders appear to have left the building. I would give anything to know what is going through the President’s mind on all this. Has he rationalized doing nothing on the grounds that no national security interests were harmed, even though there is strong evidence of a leak of information marked “secret”? If so, does he understand what a disagreeable signal this sends to the intelligence community he is responsible for? Does he really think he is putting his country first here? I disagree with Joe that the harm to intelligence-gathering is apparent–I would have to see the evidence first. Joe is willing to trust the CIA on this, but there does appear to be some kind of “turf battle” going on, and I am cautious about drawing conclusions right now.

  49. If the CIA were making some controversial factual assertion, I’d be less inclined to trust them. But cripes, they know who, among their employees, needs to have her (and her front company, and her contacts) cover protected.

  50. Joe: Yes, but they might just be p-o’d at the White House about a whole laundry list of things and the security breach might have been the final straw. The damage we don’t have to speculate about would be to morale. One person I have spoken to with a tangential connection to the intelligence community says morale isn’t too good right now, which doesn’t surprise me one bit.

  51. Of course, Jason Vest, burned at least two top CIA
    officials, (who are not listed under the CIA web
    sites, because they are undercover, it was in the
    Boston Phoenix and the Nation, so no one cared. However, this is still a prima facie example of
    such a violation. Just like Allan Nairn’s unveiling every station chief in Guatemala over
    a 17 year period; the revelation of the Milan
    station chief (in the Hassan Omar affair; the
    NY Times, revealing names and tailnumbers of
    the rendition contractors. Now Agee, the reason
    for this law, was only using his fellow KGB/Stasi
    propagandist; Herr Mader, backstopped by some
    research into the State Department Register, to
    make it legitimate. Agee, gave not only names
    but addresses, former postings, et al. In this,
    sites like John Young’s Cryptome; which has done
    things like link satellite photos of Air Force
    One, and give the telephone numbers of Valerie
    Plame, and reveal the family of that same former
    Milan station chief

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