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"A True Patriot Would Shut Up"


Published on Saturday, July 23, 2005 by David Corn
A CIA Vet's Messge for the Save-Rove Spinners:
"A True Patriot Would Shut Up"
by David Corn

I've wasted too many hours of my life going on talking head shoutfests with conservatives who pooh-pooh the Plame/CIA leak matter (now known as the Rove scandal), who claim there was little damage done, who say that Valerie Wilson was only a desk jockey and dismiss her undercover status as "light" or "flimsy," who argue that no crime was broken and no wrongdoing occurred, and who are lightning quick to depict the controversy as nothing but a game of politics. These folks are spinning to save Rove and to protect the White House, and they distort, disinform, and dissemble for the team.

Today, the Senate Democratic Policy Council and the Democratic side of the House Government Reform Committee held an unofficial hearing in the Senate Dirksen Office Building, in which former intelligence professionals discussed the Plame/CIA leak, especially its impact on the intelligence community, current officers, and Valerie Wilson. (The Democrats had no choice but to hold such a session because the Republicans in the House and Senate refuse to examine or investigate the leak.) The testimony was not expected to contain many surprises. And the media presence at the hearing was not heavy. But as I watched the proceedings on C-SPAN 3 and saw James Marcinkowski, a former CIA case office and a former prosecutor, testify, I realized his statement was perhaps the most powerful rebuttal of and rebuke to the rightwingers who have been pushing disinformation about the Valerie Wilson case. I wish they all could have been tied to a chair and forced to listen to him. (Ken Mehlman, Tucker Eskew, Clifford May, William Safire--this means you.) Referring to those who have derided Valerie Wilson and belittled the seriousness of this leak, an angry Marcinkowski said, "Before you shine up your American flag lapel pin and affix your patriotism to your sleeve, think about what the impact your actions will have on the security of the American people....Those who take pride in their political ability to divert the issue from the fundamental truth ought to be prepared to take their share of the responsibility for the continuing damage done to our national security." For the spinners engaged in "partisan obfuscation," he has this message: "a true patriot would shut up." As a public service, I am posting below the bulk of his testimony below.

Testimony of James Marcinkowski
July 22, 2005
What is important now is not who wins or loses the political battle or who may or may not be indicted; rather, it is a question of how we will go about protecting the citizens of this country in a very dangerous world. The undisputed fact is that we have irreparably damaged our capability to collect human intelligence and thereby significantly diminished our capability to protect the American people.

Understandable to all Americans is a simple, incontrovertible, but damning truth: the United States government exposed the identity of a clandestine officer working for the CIA. This is not just another partisan "dust-up" between political parties. This unprecedented act will have far-reaching consequences for covert operations around the world. Equally disastrous is that from the time of that first damning act, we have continued on a course of self-inflicted wounds by government officials who have refused to take any responsibility, have played hide-and-seek with the truth and engaged in semantic parlor games for more than two years, all at the expense of the safety of the American people. No government official has that right.

For an understanding of what is at stake it is important to understand some fundamental principles. No country or hostile group, from al Qaeda to any drug rings operating in our cities, likes to be infiltrated or spied upon. The CIA, much like any police department in any city, has undercover officers--spies, that use "cover."

To operate under "cover" means you use some ruse to cloak both your identity and your intentions. The degree of cover needed to carry out any operation varies depending on the target of the investigation. A police officer performing "street buys" uses a "light" cover, meaning he or she could pose as something as simple as a drug user, operate only at night and during the day and, believe it or not, have a desk job in the police station. On the other hand, if an attempt were made to infiltrate a crime syndicate, visiting the local police station or drinking with fellow FBI agents after work may be out of the question. In any scenario, your cover, no matter what the degree, provides personal protection and safety. But it does not end there. Cover is also used to protect collection methodology as well as any innocent persons a CIA officer may have regular contact with, such as overseas acquaintances, friends, and even other U.S. government officials.

While cover provides a degree of safety for the case officer, it also provides security for that officer's informants or agents. In most human intelligence operations, the confidentiality of the cover used by a CIA officer and the personal security of the agent or asset is mutually dependent. A case officer cannot be identified as working for the CIA, just as the informant/agent cannot be identified as working for the CIA through the case officer. If an informant or agent is exposed as working for the CIA, there is a good chance that the CIA officer has been identified as well. Similarly, if the CIA officer is exposed, his or her agents or informants are exposed. In all cases, the cover of a case officer ensures not only his or her own personal safety but that of the agents or assets as well.

The exposure of Valerie Plame's cover by the White House is the same as the local chief of police announcing to the media the identity of its undercover drug officers. In both cases, the ability of the officer to operate is destroyed, but there is also an added dimension. An informant in a major sophisticated crime network, or a CIA asset working in a foreign government, if exposed, has a rather good chance of losing more than just their ability to operate.

Any undercover officer, whether in the police department or the CIA, will tell you that the major concern of their informant or agent is their personal safety and that of their family. Cover is safety. If you cannot guarantee that safety in some form or other, the person will not work for you and the source of important information will be lost.

So how is the Valerie Plame incident perceived by any current or potential agent of the CIA? I will guarantee you that if the local police chief identified the names of the department's undercover officers, any half-way sophisticated undercover operation would come to a halt and if he survived that accidental discharge of a weapon in police headquarters, would be asked to retire.

And so the real issues before this Congress and this country today is not partisan politics, not even the loss of secrets. The secrets of Valerie Plame's cover are long gone. What has suffered perhaps irreversible damage is the credibility of our case officers when they try to convince our overseas contact that their safety is of primary importance to us. How are our case officers supposed to build and maintain that confidence when their own government cannot even guarantee the personal protection of the home team? While the loss of secrets in the world of espionage may be damaging, the stealing of the credibility of our CIA officers is unforgivable....

And so we are left with only one fundamental truth, the U.S. government exposed the identity of a covert operative. I am not convinced that the toothpaste can be put back into the tube. Great damage has been done and that damage has been increasing every single day for more than two years. The problem of the refusal to accept responsibility by senior government officials is ongoing and causing greater damage to our national security and our ability to collect human intelligence. But the problem lies not only with government officials but also with the media, commentators and other apologists who have no clue as to the workings of the intelligence community. Think about what we are doing from the perspective of our overseas human intelligence assets or potential assets.

I believe Bob Novak when he credited senior administration officials for the initial leak, or the simple, but not insignificant confirmation of that secret information, as I believe a CIA officer in some far away country will lose an opportunity to recruit an asset that may be of invaluable service to our covert war on terror because "promises of protection" will no longer carry the level of trust they once had.

Each time the leader of a political party opens his mouth in public to deflect responsibility, the word overseas is loud and clear--politics in this country does in fact trump national security.

Each time a distinguished ambassador is ruthlessly attacked for the information he provided, a foreign asset will contemplate why he should risk his life when his information will not be taken seriously.

Each time there is a perceived political "success" in deflecting responsibility by debating or re-debating some minutia, such actions are equally effective in undermining the ability of this country to protect itself against its enemies, because the two are indeed related. Each time the political machine made up of prime-time patriots and partisan ninnies display their ignorance by deriding Valerie Plame as a mere "paper-pusher," or belittling the varying degrees of cover used to protect our officers, or continuing to play partisan politics with our national security, it is a disservice to this country. By ridiculing, for example, the "degree" of cover or the use of post office boxes, you lessen the level of confidence that foreign nationals place in our covert capabilities.

Those who would advocate the "I'm ok, you're ok" politics of non-responsibility, should probably think about the impact of those actions on our foreign agents. Non-responsibility means we don't care. Not caring means a loss of security. A loss of security means a loss of an agent. The loss of an agent means the loss of information. The loss of information means an increase in the risk to the people of the United States.

There is a very serious message here. Before you shine up your American flag lapel pin and affix your patriotism to your sleeve, think about what the impact your actions will have on the security of the American people. Think about whether your partisan obfuscation is creating confidence in the United States in general and the CIA in particular. If not, a true patriot would shut up.

Those who take pride in their political ability to divert the issue from the fundamental truth ought to be prepared to take their share of the responsibility for the continuing damage done to our national security.

When this unprecedented act first occurred, the president could have immediately demanded the resignation of all persons even tangentially involved. Or, at a minimum, he could have suspended the security clearances of these persons and placed them on administrative leave. Such methods are routine with police forces throughout the country. That would have at least sent the right message around the globe, that we take the security of those risking their lives on behalf of the United States seriously. Instead, we have flooded the foreign airwaves with two years of inaction, political rhetoric, ignorance, and partisan bickering. That's the wrong message. In doing so we have not lessened, but increased the threat to the security and safety of the people of the United States.

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The mere act of "outing" Valerie Plame has revealed the character and make up of the Bush Administration. Any person in Rove's position who didn't understand the implications of their actions should not have been allowed to have security documents. Anyone in Rove's position who breached the security should have been fired before the end of the day. The fact that he's still working at the White House tells me the entire administration is lacking in the skills to undestand the true calling of leadership. As President there are things you never do. There are things you never say. There are things you never allow to be done. There are lines you never cross.
A real administration would have recognized the error immediately. Would have fired those involved and would have moved from that day forward to repair the damage as best they could. This administration has chosen instead to lie, cover its tracks, and smear anyone who came near the story. It has done nothing, as far as I know, to do damage control on anything other than its own administration. It is frightening how incredibly self absorbed and self centered this White House is.

Inquiring mind wants to know...............

Did you ever wonder whether these people actually signed these papers? Or would this administration "over-look" this step in order to avoid prosecution.

This is a devious, manipulative, dishonest whitehouse.

We have to hold this administration acountable!!! The bottom line is to be strong. Democrats, independents, and republicans are all working toward finding the truth. It is not about parties, it is about the truth!

I loaned my Dad the documentary DVD "Hijacking Catastrophe" tonite and he was stunned to see that Cheney, Wolfy, Bush, and even Rummy ALL got deferments to get out of Vietnam... none of the four big wheels has served one day of wartime during the Vietnam era. Talk about their lack of skills! Yet they all are big on developing invasion plans for years, especially Wolfy and his Wolfowitz Doctrine, later turned into a war "blueprint" by PNAC (even before 9/11). Then they use their plots in real life war. I know you cannot exclude people from candidacy who have not chosen to enlist in military service as a lifestyle. But there oughtta be a law that excludes candidates and appointees from the White House Administration if they have gotten deferments during war-time. It's not right that deferees should be allowed to declare war.

Just so everyone gets the story right.
These are just all very important points I think are true...if they are not please E-mail me to clear it up.
Remember what Bush said during his address was "kinda" true...let me explain: Iraq did "seek" uranium, but it was proven they never actually aquired it. The big problem in Bush's statement is that he said Iraq "recently" "sought" uranium. The "Recently part is extremely important because Iraq "sought" uranium way back in 1998. When someone says "recently" it's supposed to mean a week, month or maybe a few months....not years.
Also, even before Wilson took the trip to Niger...CIA and other officials basically knew the Yellow Cake document was false and still Cheney was making a case that the Niger thing proved Iraq had WMD's...I think Cheney was making some sort of dramatic case for Nuclear weapons too but I have to do more research on the specifics.
Also, it's interesting to note that Cheney and Powell clashed heavily over the whole Niger thing...remember how there were so many stories about them at the beginning of the War in Iraq not gettin along.
Added to that, when Wilson reported back from Niger...he said that Iraq was rumored to be looking to get Uranium but officials there said it never happened, which was backed up by so many other investigators even before his "pro bono" trip.
Also, if it can be totally verified, people should be talking about how President Bush Sr sent a letter to wilson apoligizing for the outing of his wife.
Everybody should also stop using the name of wilson's wife...just seems icky to keep repeating it over and over again.
also, despite the fact that Wilson is kind of ego-maniac in some ways, he's a real deal American hero who helped save the lives of I think 800 people during Desert Storm I think...compare that to a guy like Rove who basically the Mike Tyson of politics. Rove doesn't just want to win...he wants to bite your ear off, eat your children and pummel you into submission...To tell you the truth winning like that just isn't worth it.
On another note, I sure hope that Pres Bush and Powell are not somehow implicated in this because for one it would be bad for our country right now to have a president impeached (not that I like Bush at all). On powell...I just like the guy and feel he was pushed into that United Nations wmb hype.
I think if Rove and cheney are taken out, Bush would be cut off their evil influence.

Powell was still playing the role of the "good little soldier" taking orders from his commander-in-chief. (bush as commander-in-chief makes me want to barf.)

If Powell ever becomes a man and starts talking you can look for impeachment to begin. Wish he'd write a book.

This year l learned a new word:

To ''bloviate''. What ''bloviate'' means l believe is to pontificate self-righteously about how evil and stupid the other side is, and how exasperated you are that they don't follow the good, solid example set by who else? Your side. All the while the truth is, you don't know a damn thing about what you're ranting. Of course my stalwart examples are Michelle Malkin and Bill O'Reilly. They think they are showing me how the Left ''bloviates'', but they are the best examples of what they think they teach.

Awright! Awright! So O'Reilly is honestly shocked at why the "Liberals" aren't for his ''red blooded'' response to the situation in Iraq, or how the London bombings "prove" how Bush was right in fighting the enemy there, so we won't be doing so "over here''. But maybe that's because O'Reilly, and others of his ilk don't understand that terrorism and guerilla warfare are types of battle that are as much political as they are military. And so, our response should be as much political as it is military. O'Reilly always misses that point. For heaven's sake, even something as pathetic as Marines handing out toys in Saigon was far more effective than anything we've heard from Iraq. Hence O'Reilly always consistently demonstrates top-notch "bloviating".

Others are Michelle Malkin, David Limbaugh, and of course his brother Rush.

Now Rush takes bloviating to a fine art. In the matter of the Supreme Court, he would rather that the Democrats meekly ''shut up" while their wise President makes all of their choices for them. Rush should get a look something called the CONSTITUTlON! From the phrase: "Advise and Consent of the Senate", it is in the word "Consent" that democracy is manifest. To say that Democrats don't have a say in choosing a Supreme Court, just because they lost the election, is saying that half the country hasn't got that right. That right is hardwired into the Constitution! How Rush could've missed that little detail is beyond me, and anyone else who has ever watched 25 years of CNN! .

Of course the most recent example of ''bloviating" is in the Bush gang's response to the Valerie Plame affair.

The Republicans consistently attempt to mischaracterize Ambassador Wilson and Mrs. Plame. Him they call a partisan hack and a liar, only because he sent in a report from Niger that contradicted the stance of the Bus gang. No Iragi deal for Niger yellowcake.

They keep accusing him of lying about an imagined direct between him and Dick Cheney. Nowhere, in any publication has anyone implied that Cheney contacted Wilson for the Niger mission. Robert Novak himself states in the article that is the very source of the scandal:

"The CIA says its counter-proliferation officials selected Wilson and asked his wife to contact him."

lt was always agreed that the CIA contacted him on Cheneys behalf, but nobody ever said that either Cheney, or his office had EVER contacted Wilson.

Rush's little brother David Limbaugh is undaunted though, and remains hot on the trail with full blinders on:

"One such snippet was Joe Wilson's supposed revelation that President Bush lied when stating these notorious 16 words in his 2003 SOTU address: 'The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.'

Now, let's be clear here. President Bush's statement was true when he made it, and it remains true today. The Brits made such a claim and reiterated it emphatically (with the Butler inquiry expressly validating President Bush's SOTU claim) even after the Bush-scavenging American Left falsely accused him of inventing the story."

Ok Mr. Limbaugh, then where is that yellowcake? Such a smart man as you can find the Iraqi WMD's just by using your Frist-cam! Oh, and while you're down there, could you maybe, sniff out some of that missing 480 tons of live ordinance that we left - just lying around for anyone to pick up? And what about that missing $ 8 billion ?

According to the Wojtowycz Dictionary this is "bloviation" on steroids! Not only does Limbaugh "state a position and staunchly never budge" to quote that master bloviator, Shaw's Henry Higgins, he doesn't know a damn thing he's talking about!

And one more thing about "bloviation", you can take it to unparalleled heights! - Or depths as the case may be.

Now the Riqht Wingnuts wish us to think that Valerie Plame had no cover to blow!

First they wished us to think that all she did was be a desk jockey. But then we found out that she overqualified for that position by having expertise in WMD's and being a dead shot with an AK 47! No little secretary she!

In fact as I remember it, and I may be wrong, she spent many years with official cover in Europe. The secretary excuse got blown out of the water. This is beginning to look like an episode of "The Road Runner!"

Next they trot their ACME all-purpose demolition excuse: Her cover was already blown to the Russians and Castro 6 years ago!

Awrigh, awright, AWRIGHT! But let's listen CAREFULLY to the "bloviations" of one Andrew C. McCarthy of the National Review:

"As the media alleged to the judges (in Footnote 7, page 8, of their brief), Plame's identity as an undercover CIA officer was first disclosed to Russia in the mid-1990s by a spy in Moscow. Of course, the press and its attorneys were smart enough not to argue that such a disclosure would trigger the defense prescribed in Section 422 because it was evidently made by a foreign-intelligence operative, not by a U.S. agency as the statute literally requires.

But neither did they mention the incident idly. For if, as he has famously suggested, President Bush has peered into the soul of Vladimir Putin, what he has no doubt seen is the thriving spirit of the KGB, of which the Russian president was a hardcore agent. The Kremlin still spies on the United States. It remains in the business of compromising U.S. intelligence operations.

Thus, the media's purpose in highlighting this incident is blatant: If Plame was outed to the former Soviet Union a decade ago, there can have been little, if anything, left of actual intelligence value in her "every operation, every relationship, every network" by the time anyone spoke with Novak (or, of course, Corn)."

But listen to what he says:

'' Plame's identity as an undercover CIA officer was first disclosed to Russia in the mid-1990s by a spy in Moscow.''

"a SPY in Moscow"! That meant that a COVERT Russian counterintell was in progress at the time, and they'd be just as interested in keeping things secret as we would!

She would NOT be automatically outed to a REPORTER! If l had a dollar for every spy who was uncovered by our side or Russia, Soviet or otherwise, that got the front-page treatment, l'd be - living in a cardboard box! In all the history of the CIA, KGB, MI6, or the Mossad, no counterespionage agent would have EVER revealed to the enemy that their agents were compromised on the home soil! To do so would have compromised the counterintelligence effort to uncover the whole network of spies, and any effort to run them as unknowing disinformation conduits, or double agents. In the humintel biz, it's "Better the devil you know, than the one you don't know". If Putin knew about Plame, the ex-KGB man would've still kept her secret.

But now to continue with my new star witness Mr. McCarthy:

"THE CIA OUTS PLAME TO FIDEL CASTRO

Of greater moment to the criminal investigation is the second disclosure urged by the media organizations on the court. They don't place a precise date on this one, but inform the judges that it was "more recent" than the Russian outing but "prior to Novak's publication."

And it is priceless. The press informs the judges that the CIA itself "inadvertently" compromised Plame by not taking appropriate measures to safeguard classified documents that the Agency routed to the Swiss embassy in Havana. In the Washington Times article ó you remember, the one the press hypes when it reports to the federal court but not when it reports to consumers of its news coverage ó Gertz elaborates that "[t]he documents were supposed to be sealed from the Cuban government, but [unidentified U.S.] intelligence officials said the Cubans read the classified material and learned the secrets contained in them."

Thus, the same media now stampeding on Rove has told a federal court that, to the contrary, they believe the CIA itself blew Plame's cover before Rove or anyone else in the Bush administration ever spoke to Novak about her. Of course, they don't contend the CIA did it on purpose or with malice. But neither did Rove ó who, unlike the CIA, appears neither to have known about nor disclosed Plame's classified status. Yet, although the Times and its cohort have a bull's eye on Rove's back, they are breathtakingly silent about an apparent CIA embarrassment ó one that seems to be just the type of juicy story they routinely covet."

And here comes some more "bloviating"!

"Gertz elaborates that '[t]he documents WERE SUPPOSED TO BE SEALED from the Cuban government, but [unidentified U.S.] intelligence officials said the Cubans read the classified material and learned the secrets contained in them."'

Again the CIA still operated Plame as a covert agent this time as a NOC. And we may presume that this was so because her official cover was blown in Moscow.

But let us allow Mr. McCarthy to stick his foot further down his esophagus:

"Of course, they don't contend the CIA did it on purpose or with malice. But neither did Rove ó who, unlike the CIA, appears neither to have known about nor disclosed Plame's classified status."

First of all, l don't believe a guy like Rove wouldn't have a complete dossier on Joe Wilson and his wife on his desk after the Niger business. And certainly not after Bush had to eat the16 most embarrassing words ever spoken in a State Of The Union address.

"appears neither to have known about nor disclosed Plame's classified status."

Hmmm! Not only is it more plausible that Rove DID KNOW, it is no less plausible that a man of Rove's intelligence would not only know that Bob Novak would print what Rove said, but he'd probably have a full profile on Novak that would tell him so.

This leak reminds me of a scene from the movie "Absence of Malice":

An overzealous prosecutor in an attempt to trick Paul Newman to do some investigating for him, purposefully leaves Newman's file unattended on a desk beside reporter Sally Field's seat. This prosecutor knows Sally Fields is a reporter, yet he leaves the file on the desk and OPEN! She takes a peek, the prosecutor checks on her surreptitiously, and presto, changio, a Rovian leak is born!

How’s that for bloviatin’?

All Andrew C. McCarthy's quotes are taken from the Benador.com site.
All David Limbaugh's quotes from David Limbaugh's site to my best recollection.
All Rushn Limbaugh's quotes are taken from Rush Limbaugh's site to my best recollection.

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