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Here is the crime in outing of CIA agent

Here is the crime in outing of CIA agent
By Gary Hart
Denver Post Guest Commentary

It is now fashionable among columnists supporting the Bush administration, New York Times journalist Judith Miller, Robert Novak and the increasing network of senior administration officials implicated in the Valerie Plame Wilson outing to say, "So what? Where's the crime?"

The federal statute making it a criminal penalty to knowingly divulge the identity of anyone working undercover for the Central Intelligence Agency was not enacted in a vacuum. In the early 1970s, in part as a result of the radicalization of individuals and groups over the Vietnam War, a former CIA employee named Philip Agee wrote a book revealing the identities of several dozen CIA employees, many under deep cover and some including agency station chiefs in foreign capitals.

Many of the countries in which those CIA employees were working themselves had extremely radical and violent elements stirred to hatred over their opposition to America's conduct in the Vietnam War. So, by revealing their identities, Agee had knowingly and willingly placed these American citizens at risk. Violent consequences were predictable.

Richard Welch, a brilliant Harvard-educated classicist, had been stationed in Greece as CIA station chief only a few months before he was murdered, by a radical Greek terrorist organization called the 17th of November, in the doorway of his house in Athens on Dec. 23, 1975. Had Agee not divulged his name, there is every reason to believe that Welch would be alive today after decades of loyal service to his country.

Largely as a result of Agee's perfidy and Welch's unnecessary death, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) of 1982 was enacted, making it a felony to knowingly divulge the identity of a covert CIA operative. It carries penalties of 10 years in prison and a $50,000 fine for each offense. There are those who dismiss the crime by saying, "Oh, Wilson only had a desk job." That is not a defense under this felony statute. It is for the CIA, not Karl Rove or Robert Novak, to determine who requires identity protection and who does not.

The political irony of all this is that conservative elements in America have always proclaimed themselves more concerned than anyone else with national security, the sanctity of classified information, protection of sources, support for our intelligence and military services, and so on. At radical times in our past, irresponsible leftist groups thought it was their duty to try to reveal the names of CIA agents. Now, under a conservative administration, it is these conservative national security champions who are saying, with regard to the "outing" of a CIA undercover

officer, "Where's the crime?"
There is further irony in the fact that now the premier intelligence agency of the United States, the CIA, is in utter disarray. Morale is desperately low. Many of the best career officers are leaving. As the source of unbiased professional intelligence, the CIA has been diminished and pushed aside by the Department of Defense. This at a time when it is critical to national security to have the best possible intelligence to protect us from terrorism.

I served on the first Senate Intelligence Oversight Committee in the late 1970s and have continued to be a strong believer in and supporter of the CIA. I deplore those who want to diminish it, politicize it, or require it to produce bogus intelligence it would not otherwise produce simply to fit some preconceived political or ideological agenda. In almost every case where the CIA has malfunctioned, it did so under pressure from one political administration or another.

So, there's the crime. To casually and willfully endanger the life of an undercover CIA agent is a felony. You either believe in taking the laws of the United States seriously or you do not. Citizens - even highly placed ones - do not get to pick and choose which laws they will obey and which they will not. Miller and her publisher may think she's a hero, but I don't. It is well established that there is no First Amendment protection for a journalist or anyone else to withhold evidence of a crime.

There is one final irony to this story. On Christmas Eve in 1975, I got a call at my home from the director of the CIA, William Colby. He asked if I would intervene with the White House to obtain presidential approval to have Welch buried at Arlington National Cemetery, a hero fallen in service to his country. I quickly called President Ford's chief of staff on Colby's behalf and made the request. Within two hours, the president had agreed to sign the order permitting Welch to be buried at Arlington.

The chief of staff's name was Richard Cheney.


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This is very interesting. I think the American public is so shamefully ignorant of history, they can't even remember which president had the most people in his adminstration indicted (Reagan) or which president has the longest criminal record (George W. Bush). To conservatives, it's as if history began with Bill Clinton, not even remembering that it was Dubya's father who armed Saddam Hussein to the teeth to begin with (not to mention giving him Bell helicopters outfitted with crop sprayers that Saddam easily adapted to spray his own people with poison gas). Reagan, to conservatives, is some sort of saintly patriarch like Moses, who set in place the foundations of civilized democracy, when in reality, he was a befuddled old fool who sat in the Oval Office in soiled diapers, staring out the window for the last two years of his presidency.

This historical context about the law against outing CIA agents if very instructive and the connection to Cheney makes it all the more poignant and thought-provoking. Thank you, Gary Hart!!!

Yes, there is great irony in this entire story, and not just the points made by Mr. Hart here. In fact, much of the current crop of so-called CONservatives have become an advanced lesson in irony, from their recent abandonment of the fiscal responsibility and smaller government mantle to their supposed "pro life" stance, which, of course, only pertains to unborn fetuses, and not to convicted felons or young adults who made the egregious error of entering military service at the wrong time.

I have two great fears with regard to this tragic story of treason and anti-Americanism. One, is that, regardless of the outcome of the investigation, few people will recognize the larger story here. That is, that this white house felt the need to out the name of this critical CIA operative specifically because her husband posed a great threat to them, by exposing the blatant falsehoods that this administration employed to mislead this nation into an illegal, unnecessary, dreadful war.

Secondly, I fear that somehow, as has been the case with every other mention of scandal in this unimaginably corrupt white house, from the theft of democracy on 12/12/2000 to male prostitutes posing as reporters and gaining access to the white house, and everything in between and since, these sleazy creatures of darkness will somehow find a way to slither away unscathed yet again.

Every crime that they commit and get away with diminishes our nation's soul and democracy a bit more. Every lie that they tell and don't get questioned about tears a bit of the moral fiber of our collective being. Every person in this country and beyond, who is, has been, or will be harmed, either directly or indirectly, by their inhumane, insane, murderous policies creates a festering wound upon the very core of this nation.

Unless there is a full accounting forced upon those who've orchestrated the terrible mismanagement of this nation over the past several years, I fear we are doomed as a society. I do not believe that we can carry on as a united nation, while more than half the population remains convinced that high crimes in high office have been committed, yet no action is taken to hold those responsible to account for those crimes.

I wait with cautious optimism that the office of Mr. Fitzgerald will have rendered sufficient evidence to the grand jury that significant indictments can be levied, and that a further, more widespread, more widely encompassing investigation of independent nature will follow, that will uncover such seedy, murky truths as the ugly truth about the 2000, 2002, and 2004 elections, the frightening details of 9/11, and the entire story of the lies told to mislead this nation to war, along with the many other unseemly scandals that this twisted, filthy administration has been immersed in.

At the same time that I wait with cautious optimism for significant indictments against this adminstration, a part of me fears what will unfold if this accounting does not take place. I feel very strongly now that I live in a badly fracture nation, where the vast majority of citizens do not trust their government, and feel that they are being routinely misled and misguided, on top of being ripped off continuously by the powers that be. I believe it is paramount at this time, for drastic legal ramifications to befall those leaders who orchestrated the misdeeds of this white house, regardless of whom those leaders may be. Anything short will cause irreparable harm to this country, as no other misdeed in office has done.

Philip Agee did not name that particular agent Richard Welch. Agee won a law suit against Barbara Bush who as a consequence had to remove this claim from her book.

The errors made in this Denver Post piece (THANK YOU Julia for sharing the truth here) expose a tendency in our debates (Hart is not the only ‘culprit’ here, by a long shot) to focus on the pedestrian element while forgetting the higher principles that drive our particular laws. And this issue with “outing spies

Philip Agee did not name that particular agent Richard Welch. Agee won a law suit aganist Barbara Bush who as a consequence had to remove this claim from her book.

Hey, Senator!

Please start looking into the OTHER intelligence leak, that of Muhammad Naeem Noor Khan:

That was a crime too!

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