Indictment Supports Fact: Bush’s Inner Circle Blew US Spy’s Cover

Top Bush White House officials blew the cover of a CIA agent while smearing a critic. That core fact of the Plame Case has been further supported by Friday’s indictment of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the top advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney and an advisor to President Bush, for lying about his role in the case1. The White House gathered information on the critic, career US diplomat Joe Wilson, who had publicized the findings of his CIA-sponsored investigation that there was nothing to a report that Iraq had bought uranium from Niger2. Those findings undermined a major White House argument for invading Iraq – that the country was developing nuclear weapons3. Vice President Dick Cheney told Libby that Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, worked for the CIA in the Nonproliferation Division4. Cheney and Libby would have known that that division is clandestine and that Plame was likely an undercover agent8. The indictment shows that at least seven administration officials knew of Plame’s employment with the CIA5. Such a secret would not normally be discussed, even among individuals with top-secret clearance, without a specific need to know7. A memo giving Plame’s identity, marked as being secret, was circulated aboard Air Force One10. At least three officials, including Libby and Karl Rove, Bush’s top advisor, gave the information about Plame’s employment to reporters, including Robert Novak. Novak wrote in his syndicated column on July 14, 2003, that Plame was a CIA operative, who suggested Wilson for the Niger investigation job6. At the CIA‘s request, the Justice Department began an investigation11. Bush called for anyone with information to come forward, but he himself did not acknowledge that top officials in his administration were involved12. In December, under Congressional pressure, Ashcroft recused himself and a federal prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald was assigned to the case13. Fitzgerald was given full authority to investigate the exposure of Plame and any related crimes14x15. Plame was working under the risky status of “nonofficial cover” to thwart the spread of weapons of mass destruction17. Eleven former CIA agents wrote to Congress saying “The disclosure of Ms. Plame’s name … may have damaged U.S. national security and poses a threat to the ability of U.S. intelligence gathering using human sources16.” But the White House’s view of Plame may have been as expressed by Rove – that Wilson’s wife was “fair game18“.


1 Indictment of I. Lewis Libby, October 28, 2005

2 ‘What I Didn’t Find in Africa’ by Joseph C. Wilson 4th

3 Press Gaggle by Ari Fleischer – The White House, 2005-07-07 The President’s statement was based on the predicate of the yellow cake from Niger. The President made a broad statement. So given the fact that the report on the yellow cake did not turn out to be accurate, that is reflective of the President’s broader statement, David. So, yes, the President’ broader statement was based and predicated on the yellow cake from Niger.”

4 ‘WHITE HOUSE OFFICIAL I. LEWIS LIBBY INDICTED ON OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE, FALSE STATEMENT AND PERJURY CHARGES RELATING TO LEAK OF CLASSIFIED INFORMATION REVEALING CIA OFFICER‘S IDENTITY‘ – Office of Special Counsel press release, October 28, 2005 “… Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA in the Counterproliferation Division. Libby understood that the Vice President had learned this information from the CIA

5 ‘At Least 7 in Cabinet Knew of Plame’s ID’ – The Associated Press

6 ‘Mission to Niger’ by Robert Novak “Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson’s wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report.”

7 ‘Letting the White House Walk?’ By Robert Parry, October 30, 2005 “Under the rules of classification, however, to see such secrets an official must not only have a top-secret clearance but also special code-word clearance that grants access to a specific compartment governed by strict need-to-know requirements.”

8 Cheney’s link in the chain; BY J. JIONI PALMER, WASHINGTON BUREAU, Newsday, October 29, 2005 “It was Cheney who advised him “that Wilson’s wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Division,” according to the indictment. The division is a clandestine office that conducts secret operations regarding the stockpiling and manufacturing of weapons of mass destruction. It is not known if Cheney or Libby knew that the counterproliferation division was an undercover office under the Operations Directorate. However, former intelligence officials told Newsday that both Cheney and Libby were such avid consumers of intelligence that it is unlikely they didn’t know. “And he [Libby] made many trips to CIA“ headquarters in suburban Virginia, said Mel Goodman, a 21-year CIA intelligence official. Vincent Cannistraro, a former operations officer who also worked at the National Security Council during the Reagan administration, concurred, saying, “There’s no way they wouldn’t know.”“

10 ‘Plame’s Identity Marked As Secret’ By Walter Pincus and Jim VandeHei, Washington Post Staff Writers, Thursday, July 21, 2005 “A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked “(S)” for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified, according to current and former government officials.”
“The paragraph identifying [Plame] as the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV was clearly marked to show that it contained classified material at the ‘secret’ level, two sources said. The CIA classifies as ‘secret’ the names of officers whose identities are covert, according to former senior agency officials.” “The memo was delivered to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on July 7, 2003, as he headed to Africa for a trip with President Bush aboard Air Force One. Plame was unmasked in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak seven days later.”

11 Timeline: DOJ, CIA call for Plame investigation, investigation starts “September 16 * The CIA notifies the DOJ that its investigation is complete and recommends that the FBI undertake a full criminal investigation. “

12 President Discusses Job Creation With Business Leaders at the University of Chicago, September 30, 2003 THE PRESIDENT: “… I have told our administration, people in my administration to be fully cooperative. I want to know the truth. If anybody has got any information inside our administration or outside our administration, it would be helpful if they came forward with the information so we can find out whether or not these allegations are true and get on about the business.” … “Q Yesterday we were told that Karl Rove had no role in it –” “THE PRESIDENT: Yes.” “Q — have you talked to Karl and do you have confidence in him –” THE PRESIDENT: Listen, I know of nobody — I don’t know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information.”

13 ‘Ashcroft Recuses Self From Leak Case’ By Dan Eggen and Mike Allen, Washington Post Staff Writers, Wednesday, December 31, 2003 “Ashcroft’s decision came abruptly after months of complaints from Democrats that the former Missouri senator’s close ties to senior White House aides should disqualify him from overseeing the investigation, which has included FBI interviews of presidential adviser Karl Rove and other senior White House aides.” “Republican legal sources who have discussed the case with the White House and the Justice Department said the announcement will have the effect of providing political cover for the administration if no indictment is issued. One of these sources added that administration officials had expressed a desire to “depoliticize” the issue before the presidential campaign begins in earnest.”

14 December 30, 2003 Letter of Deputy Attorney General to Patrick J. Fitzgerald “By the authority vested in the Attorney General by law, … I hereby delegate to you all the authority of the Attorney General with respect to the Department’s investigation into the alleged unauthorized disclosure of a CIA employee’s identity, and I direct you to exercise that authority as Special Counsel independent of the supervision or control of any officer of the Department.”

15 February 6, 2004 Letter of Deputy Attorney General to Patrick J. Fitzgerald “my … delegation to you of … [authority] … includes the authority to investigate and prosecute violations of any federal criminal laws related to the underlying alleged unauthorized disclosure, as well as federal crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with, your investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses”

16 CIA Agents Letter to US Senate and House, 18 July 2005 “The disclosure of Ms. Plame’s name was a shameful event in American history and, in our professional judgment, may have damaged U.S. national security and poses a threat to the ability of U.S. intelligence gathering using human sources. Any breach of the code of confidentiality and cover weakens the overall fabric of intelligence, and, directly or indirectly, jeopardizes the work and safety of intelligence workers and their sources.”

17 ‘The Spy Who Was Thrown Into the Cold’ by Julian Borger, the Guardian/UK, October 22, 2003 ‘Ironically, the agent in question was a leading player in the monitoring and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction around the world. Her outing has undoubtedly hamstrung that pursuit.’ ‘Novak’s defense is that he was assured by his CIA contacts that Plame was a desk-driving agency bureaucrat. But it has since emerged that she is anything but. She has a job in the directorate of operations, the agency’s sharp end, where she is an officer with “non-official cover”: a Noc, CIA parlance for spy. Plame was recruited into her role 18 years ago. “Everyone there was a pretty impressive person with different skills,” says Jim Marcinkowski, a former CIA case officer who was in Plame’s class, and went to the range with her where they practiced firing Soviet-made AK-47s. “But if I recall right, she had never fired a gun before, and she pretty much beat the rest of us.” The Noc operates under deep cover, as a business executive, tourist, journalist or, in Plame’s case, an energy consultant. If the Noc is caught, he or she has no diplomatic protection. “It was the most dangerous assignment you could take. It takes a special sort of person,” says Marcinkowski, now a prosecutor in Michigan. A Noc’s identity, in the words of Kenneth Pollack, another former CIA man, is the “holiest of holies”. And yet there it was, published in the morning press. Plame’s fellow agents and former colleagues were infuriated. It is said that the groundswell of anger was such that the CIA director, George Tenet, had little choice but to take the case to the justice department.’

18 ‘The Politics of Truth’ by Joe Wilson “That afternoon I received the call from Chris Matthews tersely informing me that Karl Rove had entered the fray with the comment that my wife was “fair game.” To make a political point, to defend a political agenda, to blur the truth that one of the president’s own staffers had scripted a lie into the president’s mouth, one of the administration’s most senior officials found it perfectly acceptable to push a story that exposed a national security asset. It was appalling.”

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By Quinn Hungeski – Posted at G.N.N. &

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Jerry Ritcey
17 years ago

Nice summary – good to find newsy blogs for my blogroll…