Valerie Plame Wilson was not a covert agent (so says
Victoria Toensing), and furthermore the White House did not know that she was a
covert agent (so says Rep. Tom Davis). It�s all the fault of the CIA for not
telling the White House that she was covert.
That appears to be the essence of the Bush loyalist�s
rebuttal to Valerie Plame Wilson�s testimony to Henry Waxman�s House Committee
on Government Oversight and Reform hearing. That this account is a flat-out
contradiction is of concern only to elite nitpicking liberals and not to the
aforementioned loyalists whose elaborate excuses transcend mere logic.
Like mariners stranded on an iceberg adrift in the Gulf
Stream, the Bush apologists have less and less to cling to as, with time, the
refuting testimony and evidence accumulate.
It has now come to the point that pro-Bush apologists are so
pathetically lame and absurd that their defenses serve only to strengthen the
case against the Busheviks. Case in point: the testimony last Friday of
Victoria Toensing before the Waxman Committee.
The �not really a covert agent� dodge
This much can be stipulated: To the �outside world,� Valerie
Plame was employed as an �energy analyst� by �Brewster Jennings and Associates.�
(To distinguish husband and wife, I will use the names �Wilson� and �Plame�
respectively). However, �Brewster Jennings� was a �front� for the CIA, through
which essential information about weapons of mass destruction was gathered,
coordinated and assessed. Plame�s and Brewster Jennings� actual work,
intelligence gathering, was a closely held national security secret.
Accordingly, the director of Central Intelligence, General
Michael Hayden, stated for the public record: �During her employment at the
CIA, Ms. Wilson [Plame] was under cover. Her employment status with the CIA was
classified information prohibited from disclosure under Executive Order 12958.
At the time of the publication of Robert Novak�s column on July 14,2003, Ms.
Wilson�s CIA employment status was covert. [EP emphasis] This was
But no, says Victoria Toensing, Valerie Plame was not really
�covert.� Not according to The Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which,
Ms. Toensing wants us all to know, she helped draft a couple of decades ago.
Toensing contends that Plame qualified as �covert� according to all provisions
of the act save one, which stipulates that a covert agent is one � . . . who resides
and acts outside the United States as an agent [etc] . . .� This is Toensing�s �gotcha!�
Plame, she says, did not �reside� outside the US in the required past five
years, so she was not, says Toensing, �covert within the meaning of the
statute, which I am an expert on because I helped draft it.� Never mind that
Plame was employed by a CIA front organization, that she engaged in top secret
intelligence gathering, that the information so gathered was essential to the
national security of the United States, that her very life and that of her
operatives abroad depended on the non-disclosure of her CIA association. And
finally, no matter that the CIA director explicitly identified Plame�s activity
as �covert.� Never mind all that. Victoria Toensing points out that Plame did
not reside outside the United States, as the law requires.
Ergo, Valerie Plame was not �covert.�
Committee Chair, �Hammerin� Hank� Waxman would have none of
it, as he subjected Toensing to a withering interrogation. You
can see it here.
Quibbles such as Toensing�s are, no doubt, the reason that
Charles Dickens famously wrote, �the law is an ass,� and the reason that some
lawyers� three piece suits have Kevlar vests.
So what are we asked to make of this? That because Plame was
not �covert� according to the exact letter of the law, therefore no damage to
national security resulted from her �outing?� That it was perfectly okay for
Robert Novak to put an abrupt end to Plame�s enterprise and that of the fake
company, Brewster Jennings, thus shutting off the inflow of vital information,
and putting numerous courageous operatives at grave risk?
If that�s the best that the defenders of the Bushevik finks
can come up with, then their case is reduced to absurdity.
But it gets much worse. For Toensing is also defeated by the
�letter� of her precious Intelligence Identities Protection Act. An alternative
provision of the act allowed that a �covert agent� may have �served� outside
the U.S., as Plame clearly had done. Accordingly, we have the alternatives �reside�
or �serve.� Thus Toensing is undone by the simple word �or.� It therefore
follows (as if it really matters) that Plame qualified as �covert� according to
the exact letter of the law. (This point is brilliantly argued in �Daily Kos�
whose post includes quotations from the Intelligence Identities Protection
Exit the �not really covert� excuse.
Next, the �African Junket� excuse
We hear that �Joe Wilson�s trip to Africa was of no
importance -- it was just a �junket� arranged by his wife, who worked for the
I suppose by this we are asked to imagine the following
conversation, chez Wilson:
Val: �Honey, how would you like to get away from the
house for a few days -- take a little vacation on the CIA�s tab? I�ll just stay
home and take care of the twin babies all by myself.�
Joe: �Great! Where shall I go? Rio for the Carnivale?
Paris for the Opera? The Riviera? Moscow to see the Bolshoi Ballet?�
Val: �No, this will be really special: an all
expense paid luxurious �junket� to Niamey, Niger, the world-renowned �garden-spot
Joe: �Oh, Wow! When do I leave?�
Don�t know about you, but I�d just as soon stay at home.
More so, if my wife were Valerie Plame.
Then we are told that Joe Wilson wasn�t really qualified for
the job. No matter that he spoke fluent French, the official language of Niger,
that he served as the U.S. ambassador to the neighboring country of Gabon, that
he had spent 23 distinguished years in government service for which he was
awarded citations from, among others, President George Herbert Walker Bush.
Finally, the �Who knew?� complaint
Tom Davis, ranking Republican member of the Waxman
committee, expects us to believe that none of the many individuals who passed
word of Plame�s CIA employment around the White House, the State Department and
the Washington Press corps, knew, or thought to ask the CIA, whether or not she
was a covert agent, and further, whether any harm might come from disclosing
her name to the public. When word circulated among that select group that �Wilson�s
wife works for the CIA,� did it occur to no one that it might be best to assume
covert status, until and unless assured otherwise by the CIA? Hadn�t they heard
that �loose lips sink ships�? Karl Rove apparently had, when he told Time�s
Matt Cooper that �I�ve already said too much.� And when, in his infamous column
of July 14, 2003, Robert Novak identified Plame as �an agency [CIA] operative
on weapons of mass destruction,� and when the CIA begged him not to publish
this information, could he have possibly believed that Plame was just a �desk
jockey?� What on earth was he thinking?
And why is Robert Novak still at large?
With the official cover story on Plamegate reduced to ruins,
what lies ahead? Full White House disclosure? Appropriate firings? Apologies to
Don�t be silly!
There will be a frantic Bushevik search for new defenses.
Here are some possibilities:
out that as an experienced CIA operative, Valerie Plame is a skillful
liar. And so, she lied to the Waxman committee, start to finish. Perjury?
Not to worry, we�ll be told. The committee is controlled by the Democrats.
attention away from the crimes and misdemeanors of the Busheviks and the
negligence of the mainstream media, to the personal shortcomings of the
Wilsons, real or invented. Here�s one: Valerie Plame is a narcissistic cry-baby.
That ploy just might be in the works. At Google News Tuesday morning (10
AM EDT), I found these, and only these, headlines about Plame�s testimony:
�Wilson: Leak cut off path to career.� (New York Times). �Former CIA spy
says betrayed by Bush Administration. (Xinhua). �Ex Spy says what leak did
to career.� (SF Chronicle). We�ve already been told by the Washington Post
editorialists that Joseph Wilson is a �blowhard.� Expect more of the same.
take a lesson from the master, Josef Goebbels, and concoct a �big lie,�
the more outrageous and fantastic, the better. Then repeat, and repeat,
John Gibson of (what else?) FOX News is leading the way. On March 7,
Gibson served up this astonishing hypothesis: �There was a cabal inside
the CIA working against the president�s policy and they wanted to hide
behind their secret status while they did what was essentially an antiwar
political hit-job.� (This is such a perfect example of pure, unadulterated
malarkey, that I have subjected Gibson�s three-minute fantasy to a
scrupulous analysis and running commentary. You will find it
in my personal blog. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed
Face it: the exposure of Valerie Plame and Brewster
Jennings, was a crime against the state, that has caused enormous, if
unknowable, harm to the security of the United States. Some dare call it �treason.�
Quite frankly, I don�t see why not.
The Bush administration is frantically trying to avoid just
retaliation by the law, the Congress, the media, and the public for this crime.
As one defense after another is stripped away with new
evidence and plain common sense, and as the public becomes ever more aware of
the enormity of this crime, the Busheviks become both more vulnerable and more
We must all, therefore, be resolute, wise, and cautious. But
no American worthy of his or her political heritage has any excuse to sit this
For if this crime goes unpunished, what defenses remain
against the oncoming dictatorship?
Copyright � 2007 Ernest Partridge
Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of
Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He has taught Philosophy
at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He
publishes the website, The Online Gadfly
and co-edits the progressive website, The