CIA on Valerie Plame, the DOJ on Scooter Libby,
Tue May 29, 2007 15:22

The CIA on Valerie Plame, the DOJ on Scooter Libby, the NRO on Patrick Fitzgerald
by margieburns on Tue 29 May 2007 04:00 PM EDT
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Of course Valerie Plame Wilson was undercover. Of course her status was covert. Working in her division within something called the CIA, those were the odds. But try telling that to the rightwing noise machine.

Still, once more unto the breach, dear friends . . .

As part of the government’s sentencing recommendations in the I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby case, an appendix describes Valerie Plame’s job at CIA and explains Plame’s undercover position:

On January 1, 2002, Valerie Plame Wilson worked for CIA as an operations officer in the Directorate of Operations (DO). “She was assigned to the Counterproliferation Division (CPD) at CIA Headquarters, where she served as the chief of a CPD component with responsibility for weapons proliferation issues related to Iraq.”

In CPD, Valerie Plame Wilson traveled overseas at least 7 times, to more than 10 countries, on official business. “When traveling overseas, Ms. Wilson always traveled under a cover identity – sometimes in true name and sometimes in alias – but always using cover – whether official or non-official cover (NOC) – with no ostensible relationship to the CIA.”

* “At the time of the initial unauthorized disclosure in the media of Ms. Wilson’s employment relationship with the CIA on 14 July 2003, Ms. Wilson was a covert CIA employee for whom the CIA was taking affirmative measures to conceal her intelligence relationship to the United States.”

NOTE: THE REASON THAT THIS SECRETIVE POSITION AND UNDERCOVER WORK BY MRS. WILSON WERE NOT MADE MORE OF DURING THE LIBBY TRIAL WAS THAT THE DEFENSE HAD THEM EXCLUDED. This information about Mrs. Wilson’s classified status was deemed, by the Libby defense team, too prejudicial for the jury to hear much about.

Back to Exhibit A, the “Unclassified Summary of Valerie Wilson’s CIA Employment and Cover History”:

* “As a result of the leak and subsequent media reporting of Ms. Wilson’s relationship with the CIA, in December 2003 the CIA lifted Ms. Wilson’s cover effective 14 December 2003, and then in February 2004 the CIA rolled back her cover effective 14 July 2003, the date of the leak.”

TRANSLATION, IF ANY WERE NEEDED: If you are undercover classified in the CIA, getting your name and occupation printed in a syndicated column by Bob Novak is probably not a resume-brightener. This even though Novak has tended historically to treat the CIA as authoritative, on the numerous occasions when he has cited it as a source on foreign policy matters. Perhaps that in itself raises or answers the question as to why he brought up Ms. Plame in the first place, since it clearly was not to enhance her with the authoritative halo of the CIA.

Mrs. Wilson then requested and went on unpaid personal leave from September 2004 to August 2005, “when she became the chief of operations of a CPD component with responsibility for proliferation issues.” She then resigned from CIA in December 2005.

Meanwhile, the investigation in the CIA leak went forward, with two grand juries – the second grand jury sworn shortly after the first grand jury expired and the investigation was hit with new information from Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward.

* “In October 2005, the CIA determined, in its discretion, that the public interest in allowing the criminal prosecution to proceed outweighed the damage to national security that might reasonably be expected from the official disclosure of Ms. Wilson’s employment and cover status. Accordingly, the CIA lifted and rolled back Ms. Wilson’s cover effective 1 January 2002 and declassified the fact of her CIA employment and cover status from that date forward.”

"This determination means that the CIA declassified and now publicly acknowledges the previously classified fact that Ms. Wilson was a CIA employee from 1 January 2002 forward and the previously classified fact that she was a covert CIA employee during this period.”

It remains to be seen what the National Review, that well-funded ‘noise machine’ cog which seems to be an extension of the Libby defense web site, will make of this. Probably nothing, since it would be difficult to rebut. Or perhaps even now the NRO (Natl Review Online) will continue its charge that Valerie Plame Wilson was never undercover etc.

The NRO has already greeted prosecution sentencing recommendations with typical pseudo rebuttal:

“During the perjury and obstruction trial of Lewis Libby, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald never charged, and never presented evidence, that Libby illegally disclosed the name of a covert CIA agent. But now, Fitzgerald wants Libby to be sentenced as if he had been guilty of that crime.”

Byron York does not mention here that the Libby defense team wanted information about Valerie Plame Wilson’s covert status excluded from the trial as much as possible, because it would have been prejudicial. York also does not mention that the defense also kept out heavy emphasis on the disclosure of Plame’s covert status as much as possible, because too much of that would also have been prejudicial.

Instead, he basically makes light of the government’s position, as stated in today’s Memorandum of Law supporting the sentencing recommendations: that “the penalty for obstructing an investigation should be proportional to the seriousness of the crime that was the subject of the investigation that the defendant endeavored to obstruct.”

As the Memorandum further states, “the Guidelines gauge the punishment for obstruction according to the harm to the administration of justice intended by the defendant, and prevent a defendant from being rewarded with a lower sentence for successful efforts to obstruct justice.”
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