Friday, March 16, 2007

Valerie Plame goes to Washington!

And makes little sense. The Cornerites offered some play-by-play earlier in the day and several have more thorough reflections.

First, Byron York on the issue of the mysterious recommendation of Joe Wilson:

At her appearance before the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform, Valerie Plame Wilson flatly denied playing a role in the choice of her husband for a CIA mission to Niger. "I did not recommend him. I did not suggest him," she said. She also testified that a Senate Intelligence Committee report which concluded she did suggest her husband was wrong.

In particular, Mrs. Wilson said a CIA reports officer who, according to the Senate report, told Senate investigators that she had suggested her husband, "came to me almost with tears in his eyes. He said his words have been twisted and distorted."

Tonight a key senator is disputing Mrs. Wilson's testimony. In response to an inquiry from National Review, Senator Christopher Bond, vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, released the following statement:

I stand by the findings of the Committee’s report on the Niger-Iraq uranium information, including the information regarding Mr. and Mrs. Wilson.

We have checked the transcript of the comments made to the Committee by the former reports officer and I stand by the Committee’s description of his comments. If the reports officer would like to clarify or change his remarks, I’m certain that the Committee would welcome his testimony.

We have also checked the memorandum written by Ms. Wilson suggesting her husband to look into the Niger reporting. I also stand by the Committee’s finding that this memorandum indicates Ms. Wilson did suggest her husband for a Niger inquiry. Because the quote [the portion of the memo quoted in the Senate report] obviously does not represent the entirety of the memorandum, I suggest that the House Government Reform Committee request and examine this memorandum themselves. I am confident that they will come to the same conclusion as our bipartisan membership did.

Having not seen or heard any of the hearing I have no concept if any members of the committee were quick enough to ask the obvious questions about the difference in testimonies and recollections, but they should have.

Moving forward, Former U.S. attorney and NRO contributor Andy McCarthy notes our gal Val's conflation of Rank with Status:

Valerie Plame Wilson said in her testimony that she continued to be "covert" while working at Langley — long after her assignment overseas — because she had been covert while working overseas. Her analogy was to a general in the army. A general, she said, remains a general even if he is rotated from combat overseas to a post in the U.S.

This seems pretty silly to me. It conflates RANK with STATUS. The better analogy, I think, would be to a DEA or FBI undercover agent. When the agent is on the undercover assignment, he/she is "covert"; when the agency ends the U/C assignment and transfers the agent (often to a supervisory position), the agent is no longer covert, even though aspects of the former assignment remain closely guarded.

Obviously, when an undercover agent moves onto new, non-undercover responsibilities, that does not mean all entanglements of the covert assignment are over. If, for example, there were classified aspects of the assignment (e.g., the agent's cover was a sham corporation that the agency is still using for undercover purposes), or if the agent, while covert, reported information that is still regarded as sensitive or classified intelligence, all that remains closely guarded (perhaps even classified). So, to that extent, it can still be said that the agent has "covert" responsibilities.

BUT, that doesn't mean his or her day-to-day responsibilities are any longer covert. The agent, for example, walks in and out of headquarters everyday, like hundreds of other people, because there is no longer any imperative to conceal his/her connection to the agency.

We don't know all the facts necessary to render a definitive judgment, but it sure seems like Mrs. Wilson is using the continuing sensitivity of facts about her formerly covert STATUS to suggest, misleadingly, that she continued to have a covert RANK once she returned back home and was assigned to headquarters — where a zillion people a day saw her walk in and out of CIA and the Agency was obviously not trying to conceal the fact that she worked there.

Friends of Joe and Val have continued to equate the meanings of covert and classified, it seems attempting to use them interchangeably while in the highly sensitive world in which she operated each has a specific meaning and application. All, seemingly, to the end of so confusing the two that CW ossified and it is now somehow beyond questioning that Valerie Plame, super-double-secret agent was ruthlessly outed for political purposes.

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