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Colleague of outed agent seeks to 'set the record straight'
Copy of my testimony to be presented on Friday, 22 July 2005 before a joint session of Congressional Democrats. / CORRECTING THE RECORD ON VALERIE PLAME / Larry C. Johnson
I submit this statement to the Congress in an effort to correct a malicious and disingenuous smear campaign that has been executed against a friend and former colleague, Valerie (Plame) Wilson. Neither Valerie, nor her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson has asked me to do anything on their behalf. I am speaking up because I was raised to stop bullies. In the case of Valerie Plame she is facing a gang of bullies that is being directed by the Republican National Committee.
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