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The Questions Not Asked

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During the press conference this afternoon, US Prosecutor Fitzgerald emphasized that no one knew that Valerie Wilson/Plame worked for the CIA and that her cover had been blown. He said that she needed that cover and the blowing of that cover has harmed national security. After reading the indictment and listening to the press conference, Libby was charged with perjury, obstruction, and lying to investigators.

If Libby leaked the name of a covert operative why is he not charged as such? During the press conference, the prosecutor, Fitzgerald, said he was “the first person in the chain of phone calls” that released her name to the public. Why is he not charged with leaking the name? Fitzgerald is saying that’s essentially what he did. The first question asked why Fitzgerald didn’t charge Libby with leaking; the response was that he didn’t know the motives so he can’t charge with leaking. That position is absurd.

A second question not asked is about Valerie Plame’s cover. The assumption seems to be given that she had it, needed it, and she kept it secret. Let’s discuss non-official cover for a moment and its purpose. The entire point of any cover is so that the person covered can deal with foreign agents without them knowing they are dealing with an agent of the United States. That’s the point of espionage; it’s to deceive people into giving information that would not normally be given. If foreign people would give up the information to an FBI agent, there is no point to having a covered agent.

Valerie Plame had cover so she could talk to people in other countries without them knowing her affiliation with the United States, it’s that simple. If there was information that would otherwise compromise the fact that she was affiliated with the US government, her cover would be compromised.

Valerie Plame’s cover was blown the second she married Joseph Wilson (which is probably why she moved to Langley). How can I say this? Two things. The marriage ceremony was public and it creates a public record. In fact, Joseph Wilson made no attempt to hide the name or identity of his wife. Second, no one can seriously think that the known wife of a US ambassador would not have an affiliation with the United States government.

Some argue that her name was disclosed in a Who’s Who record, in talks given by Wilson, or other events. These are irrelevant distinctions because her name, in and of itself, does not link her to the government. What links her to the government publicly is her marriage to a US ambassador, even without mentioning she was CIA.

If I was engaging in espionage in Russia on behalf of the United States, I would not take seriously the trustworthiness of the wife of a Russian ambassador. No one would. Perhaps the reason Plame’s leaking was not charged is because her cover was already blown the day she got married.

Crossposted at Part-Time Pundit by John Bambenek

Ed:LisaM

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About John Bambenek

John Bambenek is a political activist and computer security expert. He has his own company Bambenek Consulting in Champaign, IL that specializes in digital forensics and computer security investigations.
  • http://www.billsaysthis.com/wp/ BillSaysThis

    Dude, first off she worked for the CIA. Second, what was the charge in Clinton’s impeachment in the House? Not that he did something illegal but that he lied about something embarassing–one could speculate about a potential sexual harassment charge, though I think that’s usually a civil matter. Third, its not like she was pretending to be, say, French or Russian since her ‘cover’ was that she was an energy analyst for an American consulting company. Anyone who dealt with her (in her unbeknownst to them capacity) as a spy at least knew they were dealing with an American and certainly knew she was married to an American diplomat. Apparently this didn’t prevent her from being an effective NOC so your assertion is both incorrect and absurd.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    Uh, the press conference is still ongoing as I write this. Questions are still being asked.

    Now. Here is what I have gotten so far: Libby lied, willfully and repeatedly. What Fitz can’t say is that, in essence, Libby’s lies may have obstructed things to the extent where it is impossible to figure out what happened vis a vis the leak beyond a reasonable doubt. He can’t say anything beyond Libby was charged. Doesn’t mean other guilty parties are or aren’t milling about the West Wing, only that the case apparently can’t be made.

    That said, innnocent ’til proven guilty…

  • http://jcb.pentex-net.com John Bambenek

    I’m still listening to the conference too… but that’s besides the point.

    1) I’m not saying perjury is good. Even if she wasn’t covered, if Libby committed perjury he should go to jail. That is not the point of this post.

    2) I’m fully aware that she worked for the CIA. Many people do. But NOCs do NOT work at Langley because there are foreign agents with cameras who take pictures of people who come in and out. If you show up there, your cover gets blown quickly.

    3) There is a difference between working with an American that works for some company than someone in the service of the United States. The distinction is irrelevant. Mark Rich is American, no one thinks he’s a stooge for the US.

    4) She got married in 1999, around that point she started worked at Langley. Her effectiveness (while presumed but nevertheless an assumption) before that point is irrelevant.

    5) I’m not buying that “motive” has to be proven in this case. He leaked the name, Fitz said as much (the first in the phone chain) but did not charge him. That says something, especially when he started equivocating about vindicating the interests.

    Maybe more will be charged, I don’t get that impression.