Question of your perception.. outing of CIA Agent

Oddly enough, I’m not asking about facts here (I’ve read most of the Pit and GQ threads on this topic, wading thrugh Great Debates next.)

What I would like to know, and why I’m placing this thread here…

Prior to Rove being seriously considered or even proven to have relayed information about Valerie Plame’s working for the CIA, my perception of the story was…

[li]There was no doubt that revealing her being an agent was a violation of law.[/li][li]Republicans, including the President and Democrats all wanted criminal punishment of those that did so.[/li][/ul]

Now that the reporters are saying that Rove was a source and Rove’s lawyer confirms he was a source of some information, my perception of the current story seems to be.

[li]Valerie Plame may not have been “covert” and thus not covered under this law.[/li][li]Republicans are decrying Liberal cries for justice as premature as the investigation is still under way.[/li][li]Democrats and the media are accusing Administration of stone walling.[/li][li]The President has stated he still has full confidence in Mr. Rove.[/li][/ul]

I’m not asking of any of these perceptions are acurate or factual, all I would like to know is if I am alone in the impression that the story has changed.

Darn it… I’ve been away to long… composed the post in the wrong window.

Mod, shuffle me off to IMHO please?

Moderator’s Note: Moved from MPSIMS to IMHO.

Of course the story has changed; more information has come out. That changes the story by definition.

The main reason that your impression has changed is that it comes mostly from the Republican spin, and that has changed drastically since reality caught up with them. For instance, from your old impression:

Yes, that’s what they said, but Bush clearly made no effort to find and get rid of the leaker–or if he did make an effort, it was a lousy one, since the guilty party was his closest advisor.

These are both from the current GOP spin points, which are obviously different from the earlier ones. The first may be true in a technical sense, but it is still clear that Plame’s employment for the CIA was based in some sort of secrecy, and that Rove’s leak blew her cover. The second is just an excuse to not answer tough questions or make judgements on what is known.

The facts of the case have not changed–someone in the Bush administration revealed that the wife of one of their political enemies worked undercover for the CIA, in an effort to either discredit the (true) things he had to say or to retaliate against him for saying them (or, most likely, both). The only things that have changed are that certain facts have become undeniable and new spin from the right has become necessary.

DoctorJ, I think you need to read the OP a lot closer.

dublos, I had/have the same impression as you.

Thank you both.

I’m going to suspect that DoctorJ read my OP just fine, but like myself, needs to give some rationale and not just a bare yes/no. :smiley: So for anyone else thinking of chiming in, either form of answer is fine by me.

The only impression that I do not share is your third bullet point “Valerie Plame may not have been “covert” and thus not covered under this law.”

I heard her husband on the radio (Mitch Albom show on WJR) discuss the case. What he said that I haven’t heard elsewhere:

  • Her name is Valerie Wilson- it is on her drivers license, voter registration, etc. Thus hiding behin “She’s Wilson’s wife” as if that didn’t name her (he isn’t a polygamist) is a flimsy excuse indeed.

  • Secrecy was indeed crucial to what she was doing and that blowing her cover jeopardized the whole operation.

Isn’t this normally said right before you fire them?

I hadn’t heard that. I’d heard other folks saying similar things about the information still damaging covert operations (i.e. just because she wasn’t involved anymore, doesn’t mean that the folks there now don’t remember her)

Yet the “fact” she was no longer covert at the point her identity was revealed keeps getting brought out. (I put fact in quotes simply because I haven’t read/heard a clear authoritative statement one way or the other on that point)

Only if saying that doesn’t put out the fire. If it is ignored or the fire is too hot to be put out by the speakers voice expressing confidence, then they are out the door.

I thought the “I didn’t say her name” excuse the lamest possible… especially since he did everything else to ID her.

I agree with the OP… that lawyering themselves out of this predicament means changing the story considerably. An act of public exposure of an agent is “becoming” something else through spin.

How is the right wing media reporting this ?

At the time this story first came out I heard two or three reports that it was well known on the Washington cocktail circuit that she was a CIA agent. That fact alone should have killed this story, but of course it did not. Many new facts have come to light since then, but none that change the fact that she was compromised way before this story got started.

I thought the “he didn’t actually say her name” thing being bandied about was a joke. Is that actually being seriously put forward as a possible defense?

The spin merchants started bending the story right away; that’s why you heard those early “cocktail circuit” stories. In fact, nearly everbody at the CIA is very cagey about where they work. At the time, she was working for a phony cover company, which had to be abandoned when she was exposed. Her exposure also meant that everybody she worked with when she was undercover was also, by association, exposed. Her career was permanently damaged by the story.

Now, was this done because she did something wrong? No. Was it because her husband did something wrong? No. He went to Niger, found out what he was sent to find out, and he turned in his report. He kept his mouth shut until the president, in the State of the Union Address, lied about the alleged Iraqi attempt to buy uranium from Niger. That was exactly what Wilson’s report had debunked. That’s when he wrote the newspaper piece What I Didn’t See In Niger.

After that, “white house sources,” apparently including Mr. Rove, tried to discredit Wilson. Part of that was the ill-fated outing of Mrs. Wilson. It all started when Joe Wilson told the truth.

The Washington “cocktail party circuit” is not a declassifying authority. There is a world of difference between a cocktail party rumor and a fact that has been confirmed by a government official with security clearance.

Even so, I’ve never heard anyone other than the usual mouthpieces say that this was widely known, and I’ve heard many people reasonably close to her say they had no idea. Then there’s the fact that Plame was still doing work that depended on her covert status, and others were working under the same cover, all of which was rendered impossible by the leak.

Most of the false perceptions of this story that I’ve heard about don’t stand up to much scrutiny in the light of the known facts. It’s a triumph of the GOP spin machine, and it would be fascinating if it weren’t being used to cover such a despicable act by such a despicable individual.

I think perception has changed drastically in the case. For one, it appears as if Rove learned about Plame’s status from Novak, not the other way around. So if Novak told Rove and then Novak published it, that means that Rove was not the leak in this case. It appears that Novak at some point confirmed what was fairly common knowledge in D.C. – that Plame was a CIA agent – and that when discussing this case with Rove he told him that. Rove then tried to discourage a news story or two based on this information.

This is dramatically different from the original version of the case – Karl Rove was telling numerous reporters that Plame was a covert CIA agent in order to discredit Wilson and Novak then ran with it.

I’ve heard this too. It really startles me that it’s being used as a defense by administration supporters because even if it is accurate it doesn’t do anything to help Rove’s case. If anything it would seem to condem him further. Rove is way to savy not to know that even if it’s “known” by the cocktail circuit they cannot use it until it’s confirmed by someone in the administration.

If a reporter were to say “it is widely rumored that Mr. Wilson’s wife is a CIA agent”, then that reporter is the one that breaks the law regarding “outing” a CIA agent. If the reporter can say “according to unnamed White House sources” the reporter is able to shift the culpability to those White House sources who confirmed that rumor.

There is no way I’m believing Rove doing so was a mistake or that he was tricked into doing so. Mr. Rove is not a dumb man, especially on the topic of Washington dirty tricks, so I cannot believe he was played for the fool here.

Not to let this stray too far into GD territory, but just to give the lie to the assertion that Plame’s CIA job was an “open secret:”

Their neighbors of many years had no clue. Not to say that some Washington insiders who are more familiar with CIA activities, personnel, and their covers may have suspected her status, but it was far from widespread knowledge. Frankly, if we’re going on that basis, then there is probably not an undercover agent alive whose status is not an “open secret.” People suspect things, but they don’t talk about it. Just like when the Air Force and their contractors are developing new aircraft, people on the periphery of the project are likely to see and hear things that can lead them to suspect what is being built and tested – but they don’t tell the public at large.

Yes it is. It is part of the spin.

I always felt that the GOP wasn’t taking the leak seriously to start with. I kind of got the same sort of “well, that’s terrible” vibe you get when tell your neighbor your dog died, the dog that barked all hours of the night and kept them awake. Or the “oh, I’m so sorry” you get when you tell friends you are divorcing the husband they never liked anyway.