My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


Media Lies: Valeria Plame

You have, no doubt, seen the media coverage about Valerie Plame-Wilson's testimony today before the House Oversight and Governmental Reform Committee. And, OH MY GOD, could the coverage BE any more biased? [sorry--channelling Chandler Bing there]. For a sample:

WaPo: Plame, breaking her public silence about the case, contended that her name and job "were carelessly and recklessly abused" by the government. Although she and her colleagues knew that "we might be exposed and threatened by foreign enemies," she said, "it was a terrible irony that administration officials were the ones who destroyed my cover."

NYTimes: She spoke at first in a quiet but insistent voice that was nearly inaudible over the crackle of three dozen camera shutters. Fumbling with the base of her microphone, Ms. Wilson looked at once nervous and bored waiting out the photographers. As she talked more, her voice seemed to gain force, volume and velocity — a confident bearing to match her appearance.

She said the security breach might have endangered agency officials but also “jeopardized and even destroyed entire networks of foreign agents, who in turn risk their own lives and those of their families to provide the United States with needed intelligence. Lives are literally at stake.”

[ed: don't you love when the news division can double as fashion critic?]

The AP: Valerie Plame put a glamorous face and a personal story to Democrats' criticism of the Bush administration Friday, telling a House committee that White House and State Department officials "carelessly and recklessly" blew her CIA cover in a politically motivated smear of her husband.

Plame, the operative at the center of the leak scandal that resulted in last week's criminal conviction of a former top White House official, created more of a stir by her presence on Capitol Hill than by her testimony.

And, of course, coverage of her testimony was all over the evening news broadcasts, as well. Usually, though, it showed up in code ("The former covert agent whose outing by the Administration led to the conviction of the Vice President's former Chief of Staff .. . ") Also, notice how careful the media is to never show any of the questions asked of Ms. Plame by the Republicans on the committee, much less show any of her answers to those questions ("Well, my employer was not known by EVERYBODY on the Georgetown cocktail party circuit . . .")

But Ms. Plame was not the only person who testified before the Committee. Somehow--SOMEHOW--the entire media is finding a way to miss reporting on this crucial bit of testimony from today's hearings:

No White House can prudently safeguard classified or otherwise non-disclosable
intelligence information (such as covert status) unless its own intelligence agency follows
the proper procedures to inform it and its Executive branch clients of that classification or

If Plame was really covert in July 2003 (or within five years of covert), the CIA
was required under the statue to take “affirmative measures” to conceal her relationship
to the United States, particularly because the criminal law comes into play. If Plame was
really covered by the Act in July 2003, why did:

• The CIA briefer who said he discussed the fact of Wilson’s wife working
at the CIA with Libby and the Vice-president, not tell them Plame’s
identity was covert or classified;
• Richard Armitage, (who, having seen Plame’s name in a State Department
memo from which he gave the gossip to Robert Novak and later asserted,
“I had never seen a covered agent’s name in any memo…in 28 years of
government”) not know Plame’s identity was not to be revealed;
• State Department Undersecretary, Marc Grossman, not know Plame’s
identity was not to be revealed;
• CIA spokesman Bill Harlow tell Vice-president staffer, Cathie Martin, that
Wilson’s wife worked at the Agency but not warn her Plame’s identity
was not to be revealed;
• CIA spokesman Bill Harlow (who, according to Wilson’s autobiography,
had been “alerted” by Plame about Novak’s sniffing around, p. 346 [App.
B, p3] ) confirm for Novak that Plame worked at the CIA;
• The CIA not send its top personnel, like the Director, to Novak and ask
the identity of Plame not be published just as the government does any
time it really, really, really does not want something public, e.g. in
December 2005 when the New York Times was about to publish the top
secret NSA surveillance program;
• The CIA not ask Joe Wilson to sign a confidentiality agreement about his
mission to Niger (a document all the rest of us have to sign when
performing any task with the CIA) and then permit him to write an OpEd
in the NYT about the trip, an act certain to bring press attention, when his
Who’s Who biography includes his wife’s name;
• The CIA allow Plame to attend in May 2003 a Democratic breakfast
meeting where Wilson was talking to New York Times columnist
Nicholas Kristoff about his trip to Niger;
• The CIA allow Plame to contribute $1000 to Al Gore’s campaign and list
her CIA cover business, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, as her
• The CIA give Plame a job at its headquarters in Langley when it is
mandated by statute “to conceal [a] covert agent’s intelligence
relationship to the United States”;
• The CIA send to the Justice Department a boilerplate 11 questions
criminal referral for a classified information violation when its lawyers
had to know that merely being classified did not fulfill the required
elements for exposing a “covert agent”?

Such questions reveal slip-shod tradecraft, casting doubt on whether Plame’s
identity was even classified, much less covert.

In fact, in a curious twist, while the CIA was turning a blind eye to Wilson writing
about his mission to Niger (Did he go through the pre-publication review process like the
rest of us have to do?), it was sending to the Vice-president’s office documents about that
same trip and these documents were marked classified. So the very subject Wilson could
opine about in the New York Times was off-bounds for the Vice-president to discuss
unless the person had a clearance.

You will probably never see any of this testimony show up in the media. Surprise.

The problem I have with not revealing this testimony is that the 20% (?) of the public that gets all of its news from the first ten minutes of the nightly news, the first three or four pages of the newspaper, and the Daily Show now have no alternative to the story that the White House leaked a Classified CIA Agent's name for political purposes and that an Administration official has been convicted in the case.

It is not enough to mock the media bias. Somehow, Republicans have got to find a way to get the Whole Story out in the public.

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