Outing CIA Agent -
Keep It Simple - Mr. Fitzgerald Investigation of Leaks in the Bush
April 21st 2006
For all intent and purposes, the special prosecutor’s duty in the CIA
leak case is straightforward. How the investigation ever got so
complicated is beyond me. Mr Fitzgerald needs to keep it simple.
Valerie Plame was a CIA agent in July 2003, and the fact that she was a
CIA officer was classified. The responsibilities of some CIA employees
require that their association with the agency be kept secret, because
disclosure has the potential to damage national security in ways that
range from preventing the future use of the agents, to compromising
intelligence-gathering methods, to endangering the safety of CIA
employees, and people who they may be associated with.
Valerie's status was not widely known. The special prosecutor verified
that her friends, neighbors, and college classmates had no idea she had
Her cover was blown in July 2003. The first public outing was when
Robert Novak published a story about Valerie and her husband Joe Wilson
on July 14, 2003, noting her status as a CIA agent, and quoting senior
administration officials as his sources.
The investigation really only required the answers to 3 basic questions:
(1) which senior officials knew about Valerie's employment with the
CIA? (2) did the officials know the CIA was protecting her identity?
And (3) who leaked her name and status to the press?
We now know that just as many people suspected, Karl Rove was one of the
sources for Novak. However, he may have published the first outing, but
Novak was not the first reporter to learn that Joe's wife worked at the
CIA. Several other reporters were told earlier.
Because, also just as was suspected, Scooter Libby was the other leaker,
and he was the first official to leak Valerie’s name and status to the
media when he told Judy Miller in June of 2003, after Dick Cheney leaked
the information to him, with Bush’s full approval and knowledge.
As a condition for working with classified information, on January 23,
2001, Libby signed a “Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement,”
which states in part: “I understand and accept that by being granted
access to classified information, special confidence and trust shall be
placed in me by the United States Government.”
In signing the Agreement Libby goes on to state: “I have been advised
that the unauthorized disclosure, unauthorized retention, or negligent
handling of classified information by me could cause damage or
irreparable injury to the United States or could be used to advantage by
a foreign nation.”
Scooter clearly violated this oath.
To begin with, it obvious that the White House did not follow the proper
procedures for safeguarding Valerie’s identity. Under EO 12958, the
White House should have ensured that only those with a "need to know"
had access to her covert identity.
It's a no-brainer, that as Bush’s political advisor, Rove, should not
have had access to the information. What compelling "need to know" would
justify revealing her identity to him?
This little problem is probably what led to Rove’s “promotion” a while
back, just as his up-coming arrest is probably what led to his
As far as responding to the leak itself, under EO 12958, the White House
should have taken prompt action to determine (1) whether nondisclosure
agreements were violated; (2) whether individuals without security
clearance obtained classified information; and (3) whether national
security information was compromised.
But then no investigation was necessary because the Bush White House
knew the answers to those questions before the first leak occurred.
By intentionally publicizing the fact that Valerie worked at the CIA,
the administration not only destroyed her career, they compromised
whatever operations she may have worked on, and whatever networks she
may have established over her lengthily career with the agency and the
tax dollars spent on the above went right down the sewer.
Early on in the investigation, the FBI interviewed Scooter. In addition
to being Cheney's Chief of Staff at the time, he was also an Assistant
to the President and Assistant to the Vice President for national
According to filings in the criminal case, the focus of the FBI
interview was on what Libby knew about Valerie, what he said to people
about her, why he said it, and how he learned of the information.
He told the FBI that he was at the end of a long chain of phone calls.
He spoke to reporter, Tim Russert, on July 10, 2003, and during the
call, Russert said, hey, do you know that all the reporters know that
Wilson's wife works at the CIA.
Scooter said that he learned this information as if it was new, and that
is why it “struck him.” Then, according to Scooter, he took the
information from Russert and passed it on to Matt Cooper of Time
Magazine, and New York Times reporter Judy Miller.
He told the FBI that on July 12, 2003, two days before Novak's column
appeared in the press, that he passed the information on with the
understanding that this was information he had received from a reporter,
and that he didn't even know if it was true.
However, six months later in March 2004, when he testified before the
grand jury on two occasions, Scooter added a new twist to his original
To the grand jury, Libby said that he had learned about Valerie from
Cheney earlier in June 2003, but he had forgotten all about it; and so
when he had learned the information from Russert, he'd learned it as if
it were new.
Then Scooter said, he passed the information on to Cooper and Miller,
later in the week.
However, we now know that Scooter discussed the fact that Valerie worked
for the CIA, at least 6 times before the call with Russert ever took
place, not to mention the fact that according to Tim, they never
discussed Valerie at all during that call.
The bottom line is that Scooter did not learn about Valerie from Tim
In the Libby indictment, Fitzgerald says that on June 12, 2003, Cheney
informed Libby that Valerie worked at the CIA's Counter-proliferation
Division. The CPD is part of the operations directorate, the CIA's
In fact, the indictment says that Scooter learned of the information
about Valeria from other administration officials as well in June of
2003. On June 11, he learned about her from an Under Secretary of State
and sometime prior to July 8, Scooter learned the information from
someone else in Cheney's office.
On June 14, 2003, he discussed the matter with a CIA briefer and was
complaining that the CIA was leaking information or making critical
comments about the administration and brought up Joe and Valerie to the
He also discussed the her at lunch with White House Press Secretary, Ari
Fleischer, on Monday, July 7, 2003, which means that we have Scooter
telling Ari something on Monday that he claims to not have learned from
Russert until Thursday.
There was also a discussion the next day on July 8, in which Scooter
asked the Counsel for the Vice President what paperwork the CIA would
have if an employee had a spouse going on a trip.
In the end, Scooter had 7 discussions with government officials prior to
the day when he claims he learned the information as if it were new from
In addition, the story he gave to the FBI and grand jury was that he
told reporters Cooper and Miller on July 12. However, according to
filings in the case, Scooter discussed Valerie at least 4 times with
these reporters prior to July 14, 2003; three times with Miller, and
once with Cooper.
The first discussion with Miller was on June 23; within days after an
article was published online by The New Republic, quoting some critical
comments from Wilson.
He spoke about Valerie with Miller again on July 8, in a discussion that
was in background as a “senior administration official,” after which he
instructed Miller to change the attribution to a “former Hill staffer.”
During that conversation, Scooter said that Valerie was working for the
CIA, and he discussed her employment status again with Miller on July
In his conversations with Miller, Scooter never said this is what other
reporters told me. He never said I don't know if it's true, or I don't
even know if Wilson has a wife, according to Miller.
So, Rove and Scooter were the 2 administration officials who leaked the
information to the press and the top officials in the Bush
administration knew it from day one and allowed a charade of an
investigation to stretch on for years on the tax payer‘s dime.
However, another cat is said to be ready to leap out of the bag and
Rove’s “demotion“ yesterday is probably the least of his worries.
According to an article published today by investigative reporter, Jason
Leopold, for Truthout.org, Fitzgerald is said to have presented more
evidence alleging Rove lied to FBI investigators and the grand jury when
he was asked about how he found out that Valerie worked for the CIA and
whether he gave that information to the media.
“Fitzgerald told the grand jury,” Leopold said, “that Rove lied to
investigators and the prosecutor eight out of the nine times he was
questioned about the leak and also tried to cover-up his role in
disseminating Plame Wilson's CIA status to at least two reporters.”
Mr Fitzgerald needs to keep it simple, wrap up the investigation, and
reserve a row of prison cells in Cuba.
By Evelyn Pringle
Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for Independent Media TV and an
investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government.
Keywords and misspellings: politics poletics
democrat demoncrat republican repub comentary commentary