You are herecontent / PlameGate Update
By Larry Johnson
The investigation into who in the Bush Administration leaked the name of CIA non-official cover case officer, Valerie Plame aka Mrs. Joseph Wilson, is winding down. Unfortunately the media is primed to paint the outing of Valerie as a non-issue if no indictments are forthcoming. Regardless of whether anyone in the Bush Administration is indicted, what was done to Valerie Plame Wilson was wrong and morally reprehensible. Rather than hold members of his Administration to the highest ethical and moral standards, President George W. Bush has not only lowered lowered the standard of acceptable conduct by members of his Administration, his actions and inactions have weakened the CIA and its ability to accomplish its various national security missions.
Based on recent discussions with a variety of friends who do not have experience with the intel community and have not followed this case closely, I believe it useful to get some key facts on the record. Again, whether there is or is not an indictment, the Republican spin machine will be out in force spreading lies and it is critical that the citizens of this country have clear facts to judge the truth of the matter.
Here is the timeline with sources:
Oct 05, 2005 -- 10:05:09 PM EST
FACT 1--Vice President Cheney asked the CIA on 13 February 2002 to find out the truth about intel reports that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium from Niger.
According to the Senate Intelligence report on pages 38 and 39:
After reading the report, the Vice President asked his morning briefer for the CIA 's analysis of the issue. In response, the Director of Central Intelligence's (DCI) Center for Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control (WINPAC) published a Senior Publish When Ready (SPWR021402-OS),an intelligence assessment with limited distribution, which said, "information on the alleged uranium contract between Iraq and Niger comes exclusively from a foreign government service report that lacks crucial details, and we are working to clarify the information and to determine whether it can be corroborated. The piece discussed the details of the DO intelligence report and indicated that "some of the information in the report contradicts reporting from the U.S. Embassy in Niamey. US diplomats say the French Government-led consortium that operates Niger 's two uranium mines maintains complete control over uranium mining and yellowcake production." The CIA sent a separate version of the assessment to the Vice President which differed only in that it named the foreign government service-.
Officials from the CIA 's DO Counter Proliferation Division (CPD) told Senate Intelligence Committee staff that, in response toquestions from the Vice President's Office and the Departments of State and Defense on the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium deal, CPD officials discussed ways to obtain additional information. Who could make immediate inquiries into the reporting, CPD decided to contact a former ambassador to Gabon who had a posting early in his career in Niger.
FACT 2--Valerie Wilson did not hire her husband to go on the mission.
According to the CIA, Valerie Wilson did not make the decision to send her husband to Niger. Valerie Plame Wilson was a non-official cover officer (aka NOC) in the Directorate of Operations Counter Proliferation Division (CPD). She worked in a branch with other undercover officers. She reported to a Chief, who in turn reported to the Chief of the CPD. The Office Chief, the Division Chief, and the Branch Chief are the only decision makers at the CIA outside of the DCI himself who can make a decision to send someone on a trip overseas. CPD convened a meeting of intelligence community analysts on 19 February to meet with Ambassador Joe Wilson. Ambassador Wilson's wife introduced her husband and left the meeting. She had neither the authority or the means to hire her husband. This was a decision made by her supervisors.
FACT 3--Ambassador Wilson arrived in Niger on 26 February and determined during the course of his visit that there was no substance to the allegation that Iraq was trying to procure uranium in Niger. According to the July 2004 Senate Intelligence Committee report, U.S. Ambassador to Niger told the Senate Committee staff that Ambassador Wilson had reached the same conclusion as the Embassy--i.e., nothing was going on.
FACT 4--During early March 2002, Vice President Cheney asks his CIA briefer for an update on the Niger issue.
According to the Senate Intelligence Committee report, Cheney had not forgotten his original request. Flowing from this request, CIA officers debriefed Ambassador Wilson on the results of his trip, wrote up the report, and disseminated the report on 8 March (p. 42 of the Senate report).
FACT 5--In the fall of 2002, CIA officials repeatedly warned Administration and Congressional officials not to accept as fact the claim that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium.
According to p. 54 of the Senate report, the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency told Senator Kyl that the CIA did not agree with the British view that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium. On October 6, 2002 CIA Director Tenet called Deputy National Security Advisor Hadley and warned him not to use the information in a Presidential speech alleging that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium. Hadley had the passage removed from the speech (p. 56).
FACT 6--In his State of the Union Address in January 28, 2003, the President included information the CIA previously had refused to clear..
The President, attributing information to the British Government, said, "Iraq sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." This was included despite the fact that the CIA had previously warned the Administration and the Congress that the info was not credible.
FACT 7--Instigated by Vice President Cheney, the White House pressed the the CIA for information about a claim in a NY Times column that the Vice President had instigated Wilson's trip.
According to the Washington Post, after a May 23rd piece by NYT columnist Nick Kristof,
former senior CIA officials said the vice president's office pressed the CIA to find out how the trip was arranged, because Cheney did not know that a query he made much earlier to a CIA briefer about a report alleging Iraq was seeking Niger uranium had triggered Wilson's trip. "They were very uptight about the vice president being tagged that way," a former senior CIA official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation. "They asked questions that set [off] a chain of inquiries."
FACT 8--Sometime in June 2003 the White House, with the participation of Karl Rove and Lewis Libby, conceived and executed a plan to discredit Joe Wilson.
A variety of press reports show that as early as the end of May, White House officials were engaged in trying to find out about the particulars of Joe Wilson. According to press reports, the State Department drafted a Top Secret memo in June of 2003 that identified Valerie Plame by her maiden name.
FACT 9--Rober Novak, citing two Administration sources, identified Valerie Plame by name as a CIA officier on July 13, 2003.
FACT 10--Valerie Plame was still undercover when Bob Novak published her name.
Although Valerie had been based in the United States for several years, her cover was intact until compromised by White House officials. She had conducted several overseas missions as part of her cover job. Although she was in the process of moving from non-official cover to official cover status, she was still undercover.
Apart from the cowardly and tawdry effort of the Bush Administration to smear Ambassador Wilson for the simple fact of telling them they had their facts wrong, the outing of Valerie Plame marks the first time in the post-World War Two era that government officials with security clearances participated in the deliberate outing of a CIA officer. It does not matter whether she was under official or non-official cover. It does not matter whether she was sitting at a desk or working overseas. What does matter is that elected officials entrusted with the responsibility to protect national security secrets chose to break this trust for petty political reasons.
I don't know if Karl Rove or Lewis Libby or others will be indicted. But this much is certain: What was done to Valerie Plame was an outrageous betrayal. If the President cannot recognize or acknowledge that simple fact, he does not deserve to be the Commander in Chief of the United States. It does not have to be illegal to be wrong. Mr. President, people under your command have done wrong and you sit idly by doing nothing to hold them accountable. Sadly, this is the common theme of your Administration.