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David Corn - What Valerie Plame Really Did at the CIA - She WAS a career UNDERCOVER OFFICER!!

 
Pollyannuh
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David Corn - What Valerie Plame Really Did at the CIA - She WAS a career UNDERCOVER OFFICER!!
One more post before we go out.

A good one, too, for those in denial about Plame's covert status.


[link to www.truthout.org]

What Valerie Plame Really Did at the CIA
By David Corn
The Nation

Tuesday 05 September 2006

In the spring of 2002 Dick Cheney made one of his periodic trips to CIA headquarters. Officers and analysts were summoned to brief him on Iraq. Paramilitary specialists updated the Vice President on an extensive covert action program in motion that was designed to pave the way to a US invasion. Cheney questioned analysts about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. How could they be used against US troops? Which Iraqi units had chemical and biological weapons? He was not seeking information on whether Saddam posed a threat because he possessed such weapons. His queries, according to a CIA officer at the briefing, were pegged to the assumptions that Iraq had these weapons and would be invaded-as if a decision had been made.

Though Cheney was already looking toward war, the officers of the agency's Joint Task Force on Iraq-part of the Counterproliferation Division of the agency's clandestine Directorate of Operations - were frantically toiling away in the basement, mounting espionage operations to gather information on the WMD programs Iraq might have. The JTFI was trying to find evidence that would back up the White House's assertion that Iraq was a WMD danger. Its chief of operations was a career undercover officer named Valerie Wilson.

Her specific position at the CIA is revealed for the first time in a new book, Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War, by the author of this article and Newsweek's Michael Isikoff. The book chronicles the inside battles within the CIA, the White House, the State Department and Congress during the run-up to the war. Its account of Wilson's CIA career is mainly based on interviews with confidential CIA sources.

In July 2003-four months after the invasion of Iraq-Wilson would be outed as a CIA "operative on weapons of mass destruction" in a column by conservative journalist Robert Novak, who would cite two "senior administration officials" as his sources. (As Hubris discloses, one was Richard Armitage, the number-two at the State Department; Karl Rove, Bush's chief strategist, was the other. I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, also talked to two reporters about her.) Novak revealed her CIA identity-using her maiden name, Valerie Plame-in the midst of the controversy ignited by former ambassador Joseph Wilson, her husband, who had written a New York Times op-ed accusing the Bush Administration of having "twisted" intelligence "to exaggerate the Iraqi threat."

The Novak column triggered a scandal and a criminal investigation. At issue was whether Novak's sources had violated a little-known law that makes it a federal crime for a government official to disclose identifying information about a covert US officer (if that official knew the officer was undercover). A key question was, what did Valerie Wilson do at the CIA? Was she truly undercover? In a subsequent column, Novak reported that she was "an analyst, not in covert operations." White House press secretary Scott McClellan suggested that her employment at the CIA was no secret. Jonah Goldberg of National Review claimed, "Wilson's wife is a desk jockey and much of the Washington cocktail circuit knew that already."

Valerie Wilson was no analyst or paper-pusher. She was an operations officer working on a top priority of the Bush Administration. Armitage, Rove and Libby had revealed information about a CIA officer who had searched for proof of the President's case. In doing so, they harmed her career and put at risk operations she had worked on and foreign agents and sources she had handled.

Another issue was whether Valerie Wilson had sent her husband to Niger to check out an intelligence report that Iraq had sought uranium there. Hubris contains new information undermining the charge that she arranged this trip. In an interview with the authors, Douglas Rohn, a State Department officer who wrote a crucial memo related to the trip, acknowledges he may have inadvertently created a misimpression that her involvement was more significant than it had been.

Valerie Plame was recruited into the CIA in 1985, straight out of Pennsylvania State University. After two years of training to be a covert case officer, she served a stint on the Greece desk, according to Fred Rustmann, a former CIA official who supervised her then. Next she was posted to Athens and posed as a State Department employee. Her job was to spot and recruit agents for the agency. In the early 1990s, she became what's known as a nonofficial cover officer. NOCs are the most clandestine of the CIA's frontline officers. They do not pretend to work for the US government; they do not have the protection of diplomatic immunity. They might claim to be a businessperson. She told people she was with an energy firm. Her main mission remained the same: to gather agents for the CIA.

In 1997 she returned to CIA headquarters and joined the Counterproliferation Division. (About this time, she moved in with Joseph Wilson; they later married.) She was eventually given a choice: North Korea or Iraq. She selected the latter. Come the spring of 2001, she was in the CPD's modest Iraq branch. But that summer-before 9/11-word came down from the brass: We're ramping up on Iraq. Her unit was expanded and renamed the Joint Task Force on Iraq. Within months of 9/11, the JTFI grew to fifty or so employees. Valerie Wilson was placed in charge of its operations group.

There was great pressure on the JTFI to deliver. Its primary target was Iraqi scientists. JTFI officers, under Wilson's supervision, tracked down relatives, students and associates of Iraqi scientists-in America and abroad-looking for potential sources. They encouraged Iraqi émigrés to visit Iraq and put questions to relatives of interest to the CIA. The JTFI was also handling walk-ins around the world. Increasingly, Iraqi defectors were showing up at Western embassies claiming they had information on Saddam's WMDs. JTFI officers traveled throughout the world to debrief them. Often it would take a JTFI officer only a few minutes to conclude someone was pulling a con. Yet every lead had to be checked.

"We knew nothing about what was going on in Iraq," a CIA official recalled. "We were way behind the eight ball. We had to look under every rock." Wilson, too, occasionally flew overseas to monitor operations. She also went to Jordan to work with Jordanian intelligence officials who had intercepted a shipment of aluminum tubes heading to Iraq that CIA analysts were claiming-wrongly-were for a nuclear weapons program. (The analysts rolled over the government's top nuclear experts, who had concluded the tubes were not destined for a nuclear program.)

The JTFI found nothing. The few scientists it managed to reach insisted Saddam had no WMD programs. Task force officers sent reports detailing the denials into the CIA bureaucracy. The defectors were duds-fabricators and embellishers. (JTFI officials came to suspect that some had been sent their way by Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, an exile group that desired a US invasion of Iraq.) The results were frustrating for the officers. Were they not doing their job well enough-or did Saddam not have an arsenal of unconventional weapons? Valerie Wilson and other JTFI officers were almost too overwhelmed to consider the possibility that their small number of operations was, in a way, coming up with the correct answer: There was no intelligence to find on Saddam's WMDs because the weapons did not exist. Still, she and her colleagues kept looking. (She also assisted operations involving Iran and WMDs.)

When the war started in March 2003, JTFI officers were disappointed. "I felt like we ran out of time," one CIA officer recalled. "The war came so suddenly. We didn't have enough information to challenge the assumption that there were WMDs.... How do you know it's a dry well? That Saddam was constrained. Given more time, we could have worked through the issue.... From 9/11 to the war-eighteen months-that was not enough time to get a good answer to this important question."

When the Novak column ran, Valerie Wilson was in the process of changing her clandestine status from NOC to official cover, as she prepared for a new job in personnel management. Her aim, she told colleagues, was to put in time as an administrator-to rise up a notch or two-and then return to secret operations. But with her cover blown, she could never be undercover again. Moreover, she would now be pulled into the partisan warfare of Washington. As a CIA employee still sworn to secrecy, she wasn't able to explain publicly that she had spent nearly two years searching for evidence to support the Administration's justification for war and had come up empty.

Valerie Wilson left the CIA at the end of 2005. In July she and her husband filed a civil lawsuit against Cheney, Rove and Libby, alleging they had conspired to "discredit, punish and seek revenge against" the Wilsons. She is also writing her memoirs. Her next battle may be with the agency-over how much of her story the CIA will allow the outed spy to tell.

--------

For more information about Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War by Michael Isikoff and David Corn, go to Amazon.com and Corn's blog at www.davidcorn.com.

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SaFire27
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09/05/2006 05:22 PM
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Re: David Corn - What Valerie Plame Really Did at the CIA - She WAS a career UNDERCOVER OFFICER!!
I hope she stays alive long enough to write her memoirs.
Anonymous Coward
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09/05/2006 06:31 PM
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Re: David Corn - What Valerie Plame Really Did at the CIA - She WAS a career UNDERCOVER OFFICER!!
Incredible! Outing the operation that couldn't find any "evidence" supporting the lies of the administration. Sombody needs to hang for this!
Anonymous Coward
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09/05/2006 06:47 PM
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Re: David Corn - What Valerie Plame Really Did at the CIA - She WAS a career UNDERCOVER OFFICER!!
David Corn is just not the brightest bulb in the liberal media box of truly dim bulbs. From his direct sources of Valerie and Joe Wilson, he has been the one to actually leak the most classified details about Valerie Plame’s CIA role to the general public. Everytime Corn tries to frame the White House he exposes classified information. He did it when he first cried “Wolf” when claiming Novak outed a WMD expert in Plame, and that she had at one time been covert. While it is big deal to note someone works at the CIA, it is abhorent to expose their actual focus and history. Corn’s leaks have been 100 fold more damaging and risky than anything supposedly leaked to Novak and Woodward and other reporters.

Corn does some more leaking today (from the logical sources Joe and Val) and further violates the law - while actually making the case that Valerie Plame herself was concerned with Saddam Hussein obtaining yellow cake from Niger! Just like Joe Wilson’s report actually reinforced concerns about Saddam, so too does Corn’s leaks now. Here is the leak - with classified details about Valerie Wilson’s job and efforts:

the officers of the agency’s Joint Task Force on Iraq–part of the Counterproliferation Division of the agency’s clandestine Directorate of Operations–were frantically toiling away in the basement, mounting espionage operations to gather information on the WMD programs Iraq might have. The JTFI was trying to find evidence that would back up the White House’s assertion that Iraq was a WMD danger. Its chief of operations was a career undercover officer named Valerie Wilson.



Valerie Wilson was no analyst or paper-pusher. She was an operations officer working on a top priority of the Bush Administration.



After two years of training to be a covert case officer, she served a stint on the Greece desk, according to Fred Rustmann, a former CIA official who supervised her then. Next she was posted to Athens and posed as a State Department employee. … In the early 1990s, she became what’s known as a nonofficial cover officer.



In 1997 she returned to CIA headquarters and joined the Counterproliferation Division. (About this time, she moved in with Joseph Wilson; they later married.) She was eventually given a choice: North Korea or Iraq. She selected the latter.



Come the spring of 2001, she was in the CPD’s modest Iraq branch. But that summer–before 9/11–word came down from the brass: We’re ramping up on Iraq. Her unit was expanded and renamed the Joint Task Force on Iraq. Within months of 9/11, the JTFI grew to fifty or so employees. Valerie Wilson was placed in charge of its operations group.

While much of this is in conflict with testimony under oath which resulted in the Senate Iraq report, what Corn is doing is highly illegal. You NEVER expose sources, methods, locations and results of intelligence efforts. Corn, and his sources, should never have confirmed her status as a NOC - never. They should never had exposed her use of a State Department job in Greece as cover to recruit sources in Europe (now all her contacts are in serious trouble). They should never have exposed results of intelligence investigations. Corn just did in spades what he and the left said was illegal and claimed Libby did - something Libby has never been charged with.

But what is interesting is Corn puts Valerie Plame at the center of a lot of huge questions marks. Why Plame, Joe and Corn decided to gamble all on this round of exposure and more wild claims is a mystery. They may find they have made a serious mistake. The fact is Plame was in the Iraqi group at the CIA when she sent her husband to Niger in 1999. My guess is she was the lead for the CIA group since she took the lead in the Joint Iraqi Group in 2001 - which for those who do not know about government “groups” implies she led a group composed of representatives from across the intelligence community. To lead the joint task force meant she in all likilihood led the precursor CIA team.

What does that mean? Simple. In 1999 Plame’s CIA group was so concerned about two Iraq visits to Niger, as well as a visit by nuke Black Market leader AQ Khan, that she sent her husband to help work things out. It also means, if there was a CIA staged coup d’etat in Niger, she was involved if not the orchestrator of it. It also means the CIA safe that held the Niger forgeries for months from Oct 2002 to January 2003 was probably in Val’s division and maybe in a safe under her supervision! So Valerie, head of the Joint Iraq Task Force, twice sent her husband to Niger within a span of 3 years because of Iraq contacts with Niger. BTW, being a Joint Task Force Lead meant she had the clout to send her husband. It also means when she introduced Joe to another joint intel team as a candidate to go to Niger, it was a given he would go. That is why the Senate report notes everyone except the CIA (Val?) opposed sending Joe to Niger - so he went anyway!

Clearly there were warning signs about Iraq and WMDs. Corn can claim the defectors coming out were unbelievable, but that does not equate to meaning ALL intelligence sources were invalid!

This is were Corn is playing outside his league and is being fed misinformation because he is the useful idiot he is. This is another classic diversionary story. Say the defectors were useless, imply all intel was useless. But it is a truly weak one. Corn says the defectors were not believable, and then assumes, or never bothers to admit, Iraqi defectors are not the only source of intel. AQ Khan, the Pakistani nuke expert, and a top Hussein emissary made their way to Niger in 1999, and you don’t need Iraqi defectors to give you that information. So why did Plame send Joe to Niger twice if there were minimal concerns????

Mac Ranger has been saying a roque CIA element may have been playing games in Niger. I will go so far as to say a CIA group may have been playing politics in Niger , putting in place a government they could trust and shape more than the old regime. What the real answer is evidentally is going to come out - since Val and Joe cannot seem to keep national secrets anymore. Their greed is getting the best of them. Now they will say anything for book royalties and a civil suite case. Wonder if the get a take of the Issikoff-Corn book sales?

Tom Maguire’s take on this here.

Addendum: BTW, if Val was the head of the Joint Iraq Task Force for the Intel Community (IC), then she would be the one who would know all about forged Niger documents that purported to indicate a yellow cake sale to Iraq sometime during the previous five years (since dates on the documents span many years and governments). So now we have a clear and obvious source for Joe Wilsons unambiguous knowledge regarding details related to those same forgeries. Recall Wilson’s premise in his Op-Ed and his anonymous leaks prior was the claim the Bush administration used those forged documents, knowingly, to take the country to war. He was highly knowledgeable about classified details on those documents until the Senate declassified WHEN those documents supposedly fell into the CIA’s (read Valerie’s) hands. Wilson went to Niger during the period indicated on some of the documents, which where handed to Val’s group in the CIA in Oct (6 months after Joe’s visit) and then disappeared until they magically ended up in the hands of the IAEA. Coincidence? Nope.

Update: More Corn fudging and Clintonesque misdirections:

Her aim, she told colleagues, was to put in time as an administrator–to rise up a notch or two–and then return to secret operations. But with her cover blown, she could never be undercover again.

To the casual reader it seems Val is saying she wanted to go back undercover. Actually it says no such thing, It says she wanted to go into administration (where Mary McCarthy worked) not handling any classified information but managing people, money, etc. She wanted to rise a few pay grades because the SES levels were probably only open to management and not operators. SES’s could go ‘back’ to handling intelligence data and conclusions. But note how Corn conflates the cover being blown with not being able to go back to OPERATIONS! She of course could go back to operations. Once she worked at Langley she was all but done on the undercover NOC stuff. Is Corn being stupid or clever here?
Anonymous Coward
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09/05/2006 06:51 PM
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Re: David Corn - What Valerie Plame Really Did at the CIA - She WAS a career UNDERCOVER OFFICER!!
Is this just another hoax thread?
Anonymous Coward
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09/05/2006 06:57 PM
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Re: David Corn - What Valerie Plame Really Did at the CIA - She WAS a career UNDERCOVER OFFICER!!
Incredible! Outing the operation that couldn't find any "evidence" supporting the lies of the administration. Sombody needs to hang for this!
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 68854

How true.
Anonymous Coward
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09/05/2006 07:06 PM
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Re: David Corn - What Valerie Plame Really Did at the CIA - She WAS a career UNDERCOVER OFFICER!!
Incredible! Outing the operation that couldn't find any "evidence" supporting the lies of the administration. Sombody needs to hang for this!

How true.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 14849



then they need to look cuz bush ain't the man
no matter how much you hope he is

[link to godlikeproductions.com]

sfan

but then again nothin happened to sandy burglar
and he was guilty
Anonymous Coward
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09/05/2006 07:17 PM
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Re: David Corn - What Valerie Plame Really Did at the CIA - She WAS a career UNDERCOVER OFFICER!!
Is this another game thread?
Dil
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09/05/2006 07:26 PM
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Re: David Corn - What Valerie Plame Really Did at the CIA - She WAS a career UNDERCOVER OFFICER!!
Hoax Alert!
Pollyannuh (OP)

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09/12/2006 08:46 PM
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Re: David Corn - What Valerie Plame Really Did at the CIA - She WAS a career UNDERCOVER OFFICER!!
Go to the LINK and read it.

thwak
nli
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09/15/2006 09:33 PM
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Re: David Corn - What Valerie Plame Really Did at the CIA - She WAS a career UNDERCOVER OFFICER!!
Anonymous Coward
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9/5/2006 6:47 PM

She had no such authority to "send" her husband ANYwhere.

Whome ever might have the kNOCk kNOCk list must either destroy it or face off planet retirement, cappich?
Anonymous Coward
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09/15/2006 09:40 PM
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Re: David Corn - What Valerie Plame Really Did at the CIA - She WAS a career UNDERCOVER OFFICER!!
Richard Armitage said this was a mistake and he did not intend to to out her in this manner.

In defense of David Corn it does not matter about Valerie Plame so much now as the cat is already out of the bag but I still think he should go easy on all the secrets. In fact Valerie Plame could still have had a career but simply could not have been undercover. By making a bigger deal and seeing a conspiracy in everything she made herself more public and looked like an even bigger fool.

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