A few weeks ago, I offered regular commenter Bob T. a column on this website so that he could spout off his right wing diatribes to an enormous audience. Well, a midsized audience. Ok, ok, so an audience consisting of you and Palestra Jon. Whatever. Bob T. has decided to start his column by tackling the Valerie Plame (That’s Valerie above, not Bob) affair. It’s a damn impressive column, I think. Bob might have even been sober when he wrote it. And it seems fitting that he started with a story about an undercover agent: Bob sent me this column thru an intermediary to protect his anonymity. I am not kidding. Enjoy.
In his State of the Union Address in January of 2003, George W. Bush had asserted that the Hussein regime attempted to procure uranium yellow cake from Niger — an assertion that would become known as “the sixteen words.” In July of 2003, shortly after the invasion of Iraq, former ambassador Joseph Wilson published an op-ed piece in the New York Times entitled “What I Didn’t Find in Africa.” This essay was highly critical of the Bush administration and asserted that during his fact-finding mission to Niger prior to the start of the war, Wilson had found no evidence that the Hussein regime had sought to procure uranium yellow cake. Shortly after publication of this article, Robert Novak published a piece in which he identified Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, as an employee of the CIA. Wilson then charged that the Bush administration had “outed” his wife, revealing her employment as a covert CIA agent, in a deliberate attempt to punish him for his criticism.
Well, here we had a “scandal” custom made for the mainstream media and their continuing obsession with the evil machinations of the Bush administration. Congressional hearings were held, the New York Times piously editorialized. Wilson announced at one point that he looked forward to seeing “Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs.” Ultimately, a U.S. Attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, was chosen as a Special Counsel to investigate this assumed violation of federal law — the statute in question being The Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982.
Unfortunately, some problems soon cropped up that began to subvert this pleasing anti-Bush-administration narrative with all its anticipated delights such as felony indictments, convictions, impeachment proceedings, etc. For one thing, Valerie Plame’s then current status with the CIA failed to meet the criteria for what constitutes “covert status.” While Plame had been employed years previously in covert status, her position at that time was as a CIA analyst. Anyone interested in Valerie Plame’s employment could have followed her to work and watched her drive into CIA headquarters in Langley, VA. (This is what’s known in intelligence lingo as “deep cover.”) Plame’s covert status had actually been exposed years previously by the notorious traitor and spy, Aldrich Ames. Her ability to serve as a covert agent hopelessly and permanently compromised, Valerie’s cloak and dagger days were long past by the time her husband published his article in the Times. There was no chance she could ever again be given a covert assignment.
Another problem was caused by the “inconsistencies” (read “lies”) in Wilson’s statements. The story kept changing. To give just one example, he claimed to have reviewed various documents months before they were even written. The Washington Post, that rabidly pro-Bush and pro-administration newspaper, was forced to concede that Wilson had proven himself not to be a credible source.
And what of the Fitzgerald investigation? I have several points to make about this legal travesty. First of all, the source of the “leak” about Plame’s CIA employment was known to Fitzgerald at the very start of his investigation — then Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Armitage was a frequent critic of the administration and could never have been described as a neo-con or ardent Bushie. Secondly, Fitzgerald and his investigators decided very early on that the relevant statute concerning “covert agents” had not been violated.
So then what exactly was Fitzgerald investigating? He knew the source of the leak and had decided not to prosecute Armitage. And what would he have prosecuted him for in any case, since he had determined that no crime had been committed? But investigate Fitzgerald proceeded to do, for months and months, dragging on into years, and eventually he succeeded in prosecuting and convicting “Scooter” Libby for lying under oath during the investigation. Despite Fitzgerald’s frequent hints that his investigation would eventually lead to Rove, Rove was never charged. Fitzgerald’s inability to find any evidence of criminal conduct on Rove’s part no doubt heavily influenced this decision not to prosecute him. So after several years of investigation of this non-crime, Fitzgerald managed to get one scalp, that of the hapless Libby, whose sentence was later to be commuted by George W. Bush. The mainstream media and the Democrats played the Libby conviction for all it was worth, and mourned that Rove and Cheney had escaped unscathed once again. The fact remains that Fitzgerald’s investigation uncovered no evidence to support Wilson’s fantasy. No evidence of any criminality on the parts of Rove or Cheney.
Of course, when the targets of this sort of nonsense are Republicans, the mainstream media approvingly call it an “investigation.” When the targets are Democrats, the correct terminology is a “fishing expedition” or a “witch hunt.”
Anyway, Ms. Plame is back in the news these days with the publication of her self-serving autobiography “Fair Game.” (Do any normal people with actual lives to lead really read these sorts of books?) The mainstream media have predictably trotted out all the old nonsense about malevolent Bushies “outing” a heroic CIA deep cover covert agent to punish her and her husband for “speaking truth to power,” (and, by the way, what a nauseating expression that is.) The fact that no evidence was uncovered, either by the media itself or by the Fitzgerald investigation, to support such a slander doesn’t seem to matter. The fact that Valerie Plame was not a covert CIA agent during the time in question is simply ignored. It’s such a great story. Sort of like a George Clooney movie.
I would also like to note that Valerie Plame herself committed perjury in her testimony to Congress. She stated unequivocally that she did not recommend her husband to her superiors for the fateful junket to Niger. Unfortunately for Val, various internal CIA emails released during the investigation indicated that she had very definitely done just that. This is not a minor or irrelevant detail, but goes right to the heart of the matter — who sent Joseph Wilson to Niger and why? Fitzgerald did not seem to notice this particular instance of lying under oath. If the New York Times issued one of its trademark sanctimonious editorials concerning Plame’s perjury, I must have missed it.
The mainstream media and Democrats also like to pretend that Wilson’s adventure in Niger definitely refuted the intelligence about Hussein’s attempts to secure yellow cake from Niger. It did no such thing. The CIA found his report to be “inconclusive.” British intelligence, one of the original sources of the yellow cake information, stands by the veracity of its intelligence to this day.
And, finally, a federal judge recently dismissed a civil suit brought by the Wilsons against Libby, Cheney, Rove, and Armitage. So, no criminal charges except those against Libby and no civil damages for Joe and Val. Life can be so damn unfair.