Mar 11 2006
I wrote a post back in June, the first month of the Strata-Sphere, which predicted the outcome of the Plame Game. I had expressed the same prediction for years on my favorite political forum, The Opinion Forum at Delphi (this should be a ‘guest’ link – if you get an ad skip through to the forum). Day one of the Wilson-Plame issue I had a good idea what was happening. The afore mentioned post had this prediction:
What I predict is going to come out of all this is based on a lifetime around CIA families. I grew up less than a mile from CIA headquarters. What we are going to learn is Plame had been out of the covert business for some time. That lots of people had learned over the years she was a CIA employee. Her husbandâ€™s role as an Ambassador meant they plied the elite circles of power (pols and media) and slowly, over the years, her position became an open secret. It happens all the time. All of us who grew up in this kind of environment knew who was in intelligence because of hints or leaks or whatever. Itâ€™s obvious from the first hesitation or diflection of discussing of details when a person is working on top secret programs.
Novak runs in these circles, and has for years. He would not need a source in the administration to know what she did. He only needed a source to tell him the role she played in getting her husband in a position to make things up about Niger plutonium so he [Wilson] could launch a PR campaign against Bush and the war in Iraq.
Now the last ‘he’ I believe I was talking about would be Wilson, not Novak, as I noted. Some new reporting is out today that looks to confirm my prediction. From the Duluth News Tribune we have this:
Federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald contends that Plame’s friends “had no idea she had another life.” But Plame’s secret life could be easily penetrated with the right computer sleuthing and an understanding of how the CIA’s covert employees work.
When the Chicago Tribune searched for Plame on an Internet service that sells public information about private individuals to its subscribers, it got a report of more than 7,600 words. Included was the fact that in the early 1990s her address was “AMERICAN EMBASSY ATHENS ST, APO NEW YORK NY 09255.”
A former senior American diplomat in Athens, who remembers Plame as “pleasant, very well-read, bright,” said he had been aware that Plame, who was posing as a junior consular officer, really worked for the CIA.
According to CIA veterans, U.S. intelligence officers working in American embassies under “diplomatic cover” are almost invariably known to friendly and opposition intelligence services alike.
Er, duh. When the CIA needs to get a message to their agents someone has to know who to deliver it to. How do people think Joe Wilson (state department, working in embassies) met Valerie?
Plame’s true function likely would have been known to friendly intelligence agencies as well. The former senior diplomat recalled, for example, that she served as one of the “control officers” coordinating the visit of President George H.W. Bush to Greece and Turkey in July 1991.
After the completion of her Athens tour, the CIA reportedly sent Plame to study in Europe. According to her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, Plame was living in Brussels when the couple first met in 1997.
Two years later, when Plame made a $1,000 contribution to Vice President Al Gore, she listed her employer as Brewster-Jennings & Associates, a Boston company apparently set up by the CIA to provide “commercial cover” for some of its operatives.
I think this part of the reporting is wrong. As I reported here earlier, Wilson initially made a $2,000 donation – which was twice the limit. Someone went back later and moved half of the donation into Valerie’s name. My guess is only Joe could have made the change to his original donation. I have firmly believed Joe, more than once, outed Valerie. Which is why Fitz was fit to be tied and could not indict anyone else for leaking her identity.
Apparently Brewster Jennings was a front for the Keystone Kops:
Brewster-Jennings was not a terribly convincing cover. According to Dun & Bradstreet, the company, created in 1994, is a “legal services office” grossing $60,000 a year and headed by a chief executive named Victor Brewster. Commercial databases accessible by the Tribune contain no indication that such a person exists.
Another sign of Brewster-Jennings’ link to the CIA came from the online resume of a Washington attorney, who until last week claimed to have been employed by Brewster-Jennings as an “engineering consultant” from 1985 to 1989 and to have served from 1989 to 1995 as a CIA “case officer,” the agency’s term for field operatives who collect information from paid informants.
On Wednesday the Tribune left a voice mail and two e-mail messages asking about the juxtaposition of the attorney’s career with Brewster-Jennings and the CIA. On Thursday, the Brewster-Jennings and CIA entries had disappeared from the online resume. The attorney never returned any of the messages left by the Tribune.
It still scares me some of these people protect this country from harm sometimes. Most are highly valued and courageous professionals. Then you get folks like Joe Wilson and Larry Johnson in the mix. But back to Plame and her game:
Genuine NOCs, a CIA veteran said, “never use an official address. If she had (a diplomatic) address, her whole cover’s completely phony. I used to run NOCs. I was in an embassy. I’d go out and meet them, clandestine meetings. I’d pay them cash to run assets or take trips. I’d give them a big bundle of cash. But they could never use an embassy address, ever.”
Another CIA veteran with 20 years of service agreed that “the key is the (embassy) address. That is completely unacceptable for an NOC. She wasn’t an NOC, period.”
This is so patently obvious no one should have this explained to them. People believe everyone in a US embassy in the intelligence community, so you would never deliberately associate yourself with something that is code for “CIA”. Let alone link yourself with the CIA itself, at its Headquarters in McLean, VA where anyone can be monitored driving in and out.
After Plame was transferred back to CIA headquarters in the mid-1990s, she continued to pass herself off as a private energy consultant. But the first CIA veteran noted: “You never let a true NOC go into an official facility. You don’t drive into headquarters with your car, ever.”
Being the wife of a flamboyant and outspoken Ambassador is not a good CIA cover. In fact, I am fairly certain, in the end, I will be proven right that the McLean and DC crowd no perfectly well who is ‘intelligence’ including the DC senior reporters.
Interestingly, the Chicago Tribune has discovered how darn easy it is for reporters to out CIA agents:
She is 52 years old, married, grew up in the Kansas City suburbs and now lives in Virginia, in a new three-bedroom house.
Anyone who can qualify for a subscription to one of the online services that compile public information also can learn that she is a CIA employee who, over the past decade, has been assigned to several American embassies in Europe.
The CIA asked the Tribune not to publish her name because she is a covert operative, and the newspaper agreed. But unbeknown to the CIA, her affiliation and those of hundreds of men and women like her have somehow become a matter of public record, thanks to the Internet.
When the Tribune searched a commercial online data service, the result was a virtual directory of more than 2,600 CIA employees, 50 internal agency telephone numbers and the locations of some two dozen secret CIA facilities around the United States.
Unbelievable! Possibly more on this later, but regarding Plame and Wilson one should note this little gem of policy:
The official noted, however, that the CIA’s credo has always been that “individuals are the first person responsible for their cover. If they can’t keep their cover, then it’s hard for anyone else to keep it. If someone filled out a credit report and put that down, that’s just stupid.”
Got that Joe?
Lots of discussion on these revelations, especially over at The Minuteman’s site. Tom reminds us of the total hypocrisy of investigating one government source, Scooter Libby, while the apparent true leaker remains hidden from public scrutiny and evaluation of their motives in all things Plame:
Nor, apparently, does Fitzgerald intend to charge the secret source who leaked to Woodward in mid-June, leaked to Bob Novak in July, and forgot to mention the Woodward conversation to investigators or in his testimony. Mightn’t one think that such a man obstructed the investigation and harmed national security with his repeated leaking? Presumably Fitzgerald knows best.
Tom has a link another story on the history of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act and how the CIA front companies work. I agree with Clarice Feldman’s comment below: this seems like a major counter punch by the CIA. Either that or Crewdson and the Chicago Tribune have been holding onto 5 real powerful stories for a long time as they all built up.
Definitely check out this bit of forensic work which leads one to conclude the covered Fitzgerald source is Richard Armitage. It also precludes the much shorter named Rand Beers from contention.