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CIA Veterans Write to RNC of Their Concern Over Republican Threat to Rule of Law
13 June 2007
The Honorable Mel Martinez
The Republican National Committee
310 First Street, SE
Washington, D.C. 20003
As former intelligence officers—most of us have served the United States in undercover positions—we are saddened and appalled by the recent public comments of former Senator Fred Thompson, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and former Governor Mitt Romney—one a potential candidate and the other two declared candidates for the Republican nomination for President--with respect to the perjury and obstruction of justice conviction of Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff, Lewis “Scooter” Libby. These men misrepresent the case against Mr. Libby and call into question the integrity of a respected Federal Judge and U.S. attorney. Their positions with respect to the just and fair punishment meted out to Mr. Libby raise serious questions about their commitment to the rule of law free of partisan bias.
We are particularly concerned by the recent speech by Fred Thompson, who declared:
As you may recall, for some inexplicable reason, the CIA sent the husband of one of its employees to Niger on a sensitive mission. She had suggested it. He came back to the U.S. and proceeded to publicly blast the administration. Naturally, everyone wanted to know “who is this guy?” and “why was he sent to Niger?” Just as naturally, the fact that he was married to Valerie Plame at the CIA was leaked.
Having virtually guaranteed that Ms. Plame’s identity would be ultimately disclosed by using her, shall we say, “politically active” husband, the CIA then demanded that this leak of her name be investigated by the Justice Department for a possible violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. The Justice Department, bowing to political and media pressure, appointed a Special Counsel to investigate the leak and promised that the Justice Department would exercise no supervision over him whatsoever — a status even the Attorney General does not have.
The only problem with this little scenario was that there was no violation of the law, by anyone, and everybody — the CIA, the Justice Department and the Special Counsel knew it. Ms. Plame was not a “covered person” under the statute and it was obvious from the outset.
Furthermore, Justice and the Special Counsel knew who leaked Plames’s name and it wasn’t Scooter Libby. But the Beltway machinery was well oiled and geared up so the Special
Counsel spent the next two years moving heaven and earth to come up with something, anything. Finally he came up with some inconsistent recollections by Scooter Libby, who had been up to his ears studying National Intelligence Estimates. But he worked for Dick Cheney, so that apparently was enough for the special counsel.
The factual errors in Mr. Thompson’s statement are almost as egregious as his partisan view that perjury and obstruction of justice are not serious crimes. For example, Thompson states that there is something implausible about sending Ambassador Joseph Wilson to Niger to investigate reports that Iraq was trying to buy yellow cake uranium. In fact, Ambassador Wilson was uniquely qualified for the mission. Having served as the acting Ambassador in Iraq and faced down Saddam Hussein, Ambassador Wilson also was the Director of Africa in the National Security Council and had served as an Ambassador in west Africa and monitored the uranium mining activity of the country where he was stationed.
Former Senator Thompson persists with the lie that there was no “violation” of the intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA). But his claim is debunked by Federal Judge Reginald Walton and Federal Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who, after reviewing the classified personnel file of Valerie Plame Wilson, stated that she was in fact covered by the IIPA when Robert Novak printed her name in July of 2003.
It also is important to correct the record that Valerie Wilson did not suggest sending her husband to Niger. She responded to an inquiry from her supervisor and provided a memo laying out his capabilities. The decision to send Ambassador Wilson to Niger was made by a senior official in the Counter Proliferation Division of the CIA. Fred Thompson also is factually wrong by claiming that Joe Wilson returned from the trip, “and proceeded to publicly blast the administration”.
This is not true. Ambassador Wilson made no public statements critical of the Administration’s claims about the alleged purchase of yellowcake uranium until May of 2003—more than 15 months after returning from the trip and only after the President made the specious claim in the State of the Union address.
Our concern about Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney is narrower but important—are these men committed to a rule of law free of partisan influence? During the last Republican debate Rudy Giuliani said that:
he'd have to wait for the appeals process to play out to see if Libby met the criteria for a pardon. However, the former federal prosecutor said he believes the sentence imposed on Libby was "way out of line."
Mr. Giuliani had a different standard for charges of perjury and obstruction of justice on September 11, 1987:
The United States Attorney in Manhattan, Rudolph W. Giuliani, declared yesterday that the one-year prison sentence that a Queens judge received for perjury was "somewhat
"A sentence of one year seemed to me to be very lenient," Mr. Giuliani said, when asked to comment on the sentence imposed Wednesday on Justice Francis X. Smith, the former Queens administrative judge. . . .
Justice Smith was convicted of committing perjury before a grand jury investigating corruption in the city, Mr. Giuliani said later, adding that "he could have helped root out corruption" by
cooperating with the grand jury.
Mr. Romney’s statement is more outrageous. He accused Patrick Fitzgerald of abusing "prosecutorial discretion."
The case against Mr. Libby is straightforward. He blocked the efforts of Federal agents to investigate the leak of the identity of an undercover CIA officer who was covered by the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. Mr. Libby lied to Federal law enforcement officials
investigating the leak. Most importantly, Mr. Libby was convicted in a fair trial of perjury and obstruction of justice.
This is not an issue of Republican versus Democrat. The signatories of this letter include registered Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. We believe that Republicans and Democrats alike must commit themselves to upholding the rule of law and refusing to use clandestine CIA officers as a political football. In this regard we find that the recent comments by Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney sadly wanting and unworthy of the highest elected office in the United States.
We are pleased, however, that the Republican Party is offering candidates who do believe in the rule of law. Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore and U.S. Congressman Ron Paul spoke boldly and reaffirmed the commitment of Republicans to uphold the rule of law. Both emphasized that the law must be applied to Mr. Libby, regardless of his social standing or wealth. We believe that Governor Gilmore and Congressman Paul reflect the values espoused by Ronald Reagan.
Good intelligence should not be a partisan issue. It is a professional obligation of intelligence officers to provide politicians with the best information and their best judgment. And it is the professional obligation of politicians to uphold the rule of law and ensure that the Constitution of the United States is upheld and enforced. On this critical issue we believe that the statements by Fred Thompson, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney do damage to the reputation of the Republican Party and undermine public respect for the judicial system.
Ray Close, Directorate of Operations
James Marcinkowski, Directorate of Operations
Philip Giraldi, Directorate of Operations
Michael Grimaldi, Directorate of Intelligence
Ray McGovern, Directorate of Intelligence
Melvin Goodman, Directorate of Intelligence
Larry Johnson, Directorate of Intelligence
David MacMichael, National Intelligence Council