Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I guess that Settles It!

Kevin Drum is now convinced that Valerie Plame was in fact covert at the time her name was made public in 2003. All because Patrick Fitzgerald says so:

In a court filing today, Patrick Fitzgerald provides a summary of Valerie Plame Wilson's status with the CIA's Counterproliferation Division at the time she was outed to the press by members of the Bush administration. Guess what? She was covert:

While assigned to CPD, Ms. Wilson engaged in temporary duty (TDY) travel overseas on official business. She traveled at least seven times to more than ten countries. 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 employee for whom the CIA was taking affirmative measures to conceal her intelligence relationship to the United States.

So that settles that. I hope the wingosphere can finally stop bleating about how she wasn't "really" covert and there was no harm in what Libby et. al. did.

Right wingosphere Plameologist Tom Maguire begs to differ. He writes, actually in response to the typically snarky Glenn Greenwald, that:

1. As to "Plame's covert status is based upon the CIA's own internal documents which make clear she was covert", I have labored at length to point out that the CIA, in its own vernacular, uses "covert" and "classified" interchangeably without regard to the IIPA. This was emphasized in my discussion of the Waxman hearing (linked above under "noted at the time") and is not a new point. However, I did allude to it in the original post above by saying "Waxman quite clearly danced around the question of whether Ms. Plame was "covert" as defined by the IIPA rather than by the less exacting in-house CIA standard". This semantic point - "covert" is used interchangeably with "classifed" by the CIA but is not consistent with "covert" a sper the relavant [sic] statute - is simply not controversial, subtle, or new.

Perhaps irrelevant in the short-term. Val may very well have been covert as defined under the IIPA and I remain open to the possibility, but seems to me the source for that conclusion ought to be the CIA, not Fitz.

Don't ignore Maguire's point that the CIA still has, presumably, not done the leg-work necessary to clearly, concisely and once-and-for-all put the question to rest: So what was the opinion of CIA Counsel on Ms. Plame's status under the statute? That would not be fully dispositive either, but it would certainly carry some weight. Bob Novak followed up on this with various annoyed Republican Congressman, and wrote this on April 12:

On March 21, Hoekstra [Ranking Republican on the House Intel Committee] again requested the CIA to define Mrs. Wilson's status. A written reply April 5 from Christopher J. Walker, the CIA's director of congressional affairs, said only that "it is taking longer than expected" to reply because of "the considerable legal complexity required for this tasking."

So as of April 2007 the CIA had not yet done the homework to form an opinion.

This of course is all irrevelant in the bigger picture. Sim rightly pointed out in another venue that the narrative on this has already been written. We'll sooner see it fossilized than changed at this point.

What of course is only slightly humorous is that neither Kevin nor Glenn nor any of the usual suspects triumphant over today's revelations have anything to say about the Changing stories of Valerie Plame.

Like I'm surprised.

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