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February 05, 2006

Comments

"I never could figure out why so many people were so eager to conclude that Valerie Plame was not, in fact, a covert operative."

Because it suited their agenda that the entire issue was a baseless attack on the administration, of course. I'm sure you know that.

I do like Cap'n Ed's phrasing, which many bloggers of his perspective shared or engaged in variants of: "...a rather obvious conclusion, given that she went to work rather openly at the Langley facility."

Presumably the good Captain believes either that Langley is accessible by miles-long Sekrit Tunnels for covert employees, or that they conceal themselves with Clever Plastic Disguises, as a matter of course.

Or something. Beats me. It's certainly not suggestive that he has the remotest clue about the CIA and covert endeavors, although that's obvious from the get-go with the basic lack of understanding of how being employed in the Directorate of Operations works. (Hint with this quote: "The Directorate of Operations is responsible for the clandestine collection of foreign intelligence. The current director is under cover and cannot be named at the present time." Ditto everyone under him (it could be a "her," but it isn't; nonetheless, the head of Operations does not, in fact, wear a disguise while driving to work).

"...nonetheless, the head of Operations does not, in fact, wear a disguise while driving to work...."

In case anyone needs help understanding why not, it's because there are thousands of people driving into the entrances at Langley, and while you might surveil them briefly by binoculars because security comes by and starts questioning you, how you could tell by face or car who is undercover or not and what their position is and which Directorate you work for is, ah, unclear. Genius, some of these "patriots" are.

Of course, in their view the CIA is nothing but an organization filled with traitorous left-wingers out to discredit Our Brave President, anyway.

I hope you're not expecting a mea culpa from that Usual Gang of Idiots, hil.

I don't go to RW sites anymore, except for TM's place, which is a good source of comedy gold. The latest post doesn't disappoint. Even though the post and the discussion is about the release of more-redacted versions of the court documents, and even though those documents contain gems like this --

As to the leaks’ harmfulness, although the record omits specifics about Plame’s work, it appears to confirm, as alleged in the public record and reported in the press, that she worked for the CIA in some unusual capacity relating to counterproliferation. Addressing deficiencies of proof regarding the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, the special counsel refers to Plame as “a person whose identity the CIA was making specific efforts to conceal and who had carried out covert work overseas within the last 5 years”—representations I trust the special counsel would not make without support. (8/27/04 Aff. at 28 n.15.) In addition, Libby said that Plame worked in the CIA’s counterproliferation division (I-53-55, 24546), * * * * * [REDACTED] * * * * * Most telling of all, Harlow, the CIA spokesperson, though confirming Plame’s employment, asked Novak to withhold her name, stating that “although it is very unlikely that she will ever be on another overseas mission . . . it might be embarrassing if she goes on foreign travel on her own” (II-168-69), a statement that strongly implies Plame was covert at least at some point. While another case might require more specific evidence that a leak harmed national security, this showing suffices here, given the information’s extremely slight news value and the lack of any serious dispute regarding Plame’s employment.

-- the commentors not only cling to their assertion that Plame wasn't covert (based on knowledge pulled directly from their nether regions), but, even better, are still clinging to their assertion that Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame will be indicted.

No, really. They're performing some amazing mental gymnastics to reassure themselves that the still-redacted portions contain evidence of Wilson-Plame treason.

They've also decided that, unless Fitzgerald does indict the Wilsons, he's a Democratic hack engaged in a partisan witchhunt.

They're long gone to Bizarro World, and nothing can bring them back.

CaseyL: I don't expect much of anything; I just find it amusing to note this every so often. Especially in this case, in which I was watching people convince themselves that they were in a position to declaim about someone's covert status, or lack thereof, on the basis of (as best I could tell) nothing but conjecture.

I kept wondering: do they expect this stuff to be public?

my bet is they'll put a lot of energy into building that last parenthetical into some kind of technical defense.

Hilzoy: I never could figure out why so many people were so eager to conclude that Valerie Plame was not, in fact, a covert operative.

I think sexism was also a factor. I saw many arguments that Plame couldn't be a covert operative which came down to: "She's a woman. And she's married. And she's got children."

Hilzoy, you "never could figure out"...?

Forgive my cynicism: water is wet, the sun rises in the east, partisans with an agenda lie shamelessly.

partisans with an agenda lie shamelessly

well, it's even worse than that. partisans lie shamelessly and derive pleasure from it

"...Plame couldn't be a covert operative...."

Well, that is erroneous. She was not a "covert operative." She was a covert direct employee of the Directorate of Operations, Counter-Proliferation, and likely in the Clandestine Service, as it is now known.

"Operative" isn't a term with particular meaning, and she wasn't one. This is irrelevant to her being covert. As I just mentioned, the head of the Directorate of Operations (as it is called these days) is also covert, and yet also not an "operative." Nor an "agent," nor an "asset," nor any of the other terms of art in the intelligence field.

"CIA officer" is another valid description.

Here is a list of job descriptions in the Clandestine Service. You won't find "operative" in there.

As a copyeditor, I'm sure you appreciate terms of art and the fine use of words and distinctions.

(Just for the heck of it, and for general educational purposes, here is a list of positions in the Directorate of Analysis, and here other positions that can be held in the CIA. You can also work in languages, in the Directorate of Science And Technology. They used to break out support positions, but no longer. Here is an uberlist, and here an overview. Watch an idiotically cute Flash presentation, and take the "CIA Personality Quiz!" if you like! It's really stupid!)

Right wingers rely on made-up factual baloney for their opinions? Do tell.

Even worse, they will continue to do backflips once further evidence makes their initial nonsense even more untenable.

Other never-ending examples. The Republicans, not Clinton, balanced the budget in the 90s. Viet Nam fell in 1975 because Congress cut off aid (it did not, and it fell despite oddles of aid over a decade).

"oddles" of aid? I know it's an innocent typo - but I quite like the sound of it, and may start using it, as a new word:

Oddles: Paying a lot of money and getting the opposite result of what you thought you were paying for.

CaseyL: My first thought was more along the lines of: it had oddled his brain...

"Right wingers rely on made-up factual baloney for their opinions? Do tell."

Well, you know, there is no shortage of idiot left-wingers who do the same. The two neighbors in the two apartments to the right of me will be happy to explain to you all about the Trilateral Commission, Masons, Bilderbergers, how the Bush Administration brought down the WTC, how Hugo Chavez is the new savior, how Michael Moore was just a start on explaining the world, and so on, all from a strict left-wing perspective.

There's no ideological limitation to wilfully ignorant idiocy.

The Republicans, not Clinton, balanced the budget in the 90s. Viet Nam fell in 1975 because Congress cut off aid (it did not, and it fell despite oddles of aid over a decade).
The first has at least a grain of truth, insofar as it was a Republican-majority Congress that passed the budgets after the '94 elections, albeit with necessary Democratic votes, and based upon Clinton's submitted balanced budgets.

On the second, I'd point out "two decades of oodles of aid," from 1954 through 1974, is more accurate, next time you want to make that point.

One conspiracy-minded speculation I've heard about outing Plame was that the Bushies wanted to punish the Counterproliferation group, for its pushing back against the bad intel being used to sell the war. That is, Plame - and her branch of the CIA - were the real targets all along; smearing Joe Wilson was just a happy bonus.

I don't know if that could be true, since I don't know if Counterproliferation was in fact pushing back. But there does seem to be some nasty internacine warfare going on in the CIA, as Goss and his political/ideological appointees drive out the longtime careerists.

The Bush Admin's godrotting awfulness at governing is equalled only by its Borgia-like efficiency at sabotaging governmental functions. Gosh, you don't suppose that's, like, deliberate, do you?

"Right wingers rely on made-up factual baloney for their opinions? Do tell."

Well, you know, there is no shortage of idiot left-wingers who do the same.

Contrarian. A word in the dictionary for some, a passion and way of life for others.

Mark Kleiman is quibbly.

"Quibbly" in a way that reinforces rather than undermines the main point: Kleiman's saying that Tatel reasonably concluded Plame was covert based on information Fitzgerald presented, which is itself a strong inference, based on the fact that documents which would absolutely, positively, no-doubt-about-it state that Plame was covert are themselves classified.

It's that "walk like a duck, talk like a duck; it's a duck" deductive reasoning thing. Which wingers aren't too good at.

Kleiman's saying that Tatel reasonably concluded Plame was covert based on information Fitzgerald presented...

Fortunately, an earlier commenter has already reprinted what Tatel wrote - its gist was, Fitzgerald presented an affidavit saying she has certain covert attributes, and the judge took his word for it.

Actual evidence? Re-read this:

Addressing deficiencies of proof regarding the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, the special counsel refers to Plame as “a person whose identity the CIA was making specific efforts to conceal and who had carried out covert work overseas within the last 5 years”—representations I trust the special counsel would not make without support.

Let the faith based community resume their chanting, but Fitzgerald really just asked the judges to take his word for it. And he may in fact have evidence, but no one has seen it, and he is resisting handing it over in discovery.

And remember - Floyd Abrams, for Judy Miller and the Times, was opposing this motion on First Amendment grounds, so there was no real opposition to the notion of her covertness (covertitude?)

From elsewhere in Tatel's opinion:

While another case might require more specific evidence that a leak harmed national security, this showing suffices here, given the information's extremely slight news value and the lack of any serious dispute regarding Plame's employment.

FWIW, I have always assumed that her status was classified, but I seriously doubt she was qualified for protection under the IIPA.
And as everyone knows, the crminal referral was for disclosure of classified info, and did not mention covert agents or the IIPA.

"And as everyone knows, the crminal referral was for disclosure of classified info, and did not mention covert agents or the IIPA."

This is interesting, why?

No need to be shy about linking to your related speculative post here, by the way, which I read earlier today. You wound up with no conclusions, but it was mildly interesting speculation, nonetheless (on the topic of who the still-redacted reporter was, I mention for the benefit of those who don't click).

But now I've linked for you. I am so helpful!

(And, incidentally I previously noted above, "agent" would not be an appropriate choice of word under any circumstances, save colloquial, to refer to Plame. People are only "CIA agents" in novels, or movies, or on tv.)

"Fitzgerald really just asked the judges to take his word for it. And he may in fact have evidence, but no one has seen it, and he is resisting handing it over in discovery."

Three things:

Fitzgerald has been accused of overzealousness, of finding new and interesting ways to apply very old laws, and of riding roughshod over lower-echelon people in order to nail their higher-ups. But one thing no one, not even the lawyers who oppose him, has ever done is accuse him of dishonesty. Quite the opposite.

The charges against Libby are perjury and obstruction of justice- for lying, BTW, to the FBI and to investigators, and not (as wingers in general and your site's commenters in particular persist in thinking) to reporters. There's no statute of any kind that says one can't lie to reporters. The charges against Libby are not IIPA charges. Whether Plame was covert is irrelevant to whether Libby lied to the FBI and investigators - though one has to wonder, if she wasn't covert, whyinhell Libby lied in the first place. "The guilty flee where no man pursueth," and so on.

Finally, whatever official information Fitzgerald has about Plame's status is apparently (since parts of Tatel's opinion which are still redacted might contain such information) still itself classified. There's a procedure for declassifying documents for the purposes of discovery. Let Libby's attorneys try that, and see what the WH says.

And as everyone knows, the crminal referral was for disclosure of classified info, and did not mention covert agents or the IIPA.

And, as everyone else knows, Fitzgerald said, in plain English, why he did not go after an IIPA conviction.

Don't be stupid. If she did have that status, he would not have, could not have and should not have mentioned it. And I suspect it would be the same way, if she WASN'T under that protection. His statements were purposely ambiguous in order not to reveal internal working of the CIA beyond what he had to in order to get a slamdunk conviction. If there was any doubt of getting a conviction, I doubt very much that he would have revealed information on Plame's status, nor would he have been allowed to.

"Don't be stupid."

Kinda getting near the borders of violating the posting rules there, I think.

"If there was any doubt of getting a conviction...."

Were. Subjunctive. But there's always doubt until something happens, if it doesn't violate physical laws of the universe.

You wound up with no conclusions...

Actually, I concluded that DayQuil plus sudafed ought to be illegal, but that finding may remain unpublished.

...incidentally I previously noted above, "agent" would not be an appropriate choice of word under any circumstances, save colloquial, to refer to Plame. People are only "CIA agents" in novels, or movies, or on tv.

Troubling - I have a new post specifically rehashing this question, and I happen to cite the IIPA, which includes this in the definitions (Sec 426):

(4) The term ''covert agent'' means -

As to this:

But one thing no one, not even the lawyers who oppose him, has ever done is accuse him of dishonesty. Quite the opposite.

Well, let the swift-boating begin:

A federal judge in Chicago accused Leakgate Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald of prosecutorial misconduct earlier this year and launched an investigation into what he said a misuse of grand jury materials - before Fitzgerald had the probe shut down by a higher court.

In January 2005, U.S. District Judge James F. Holderman accused Fitzgerald's U.S. Attorney's office in Chicago of turning grand jury materials over to a plaintiff's lawyer in a hospital-fraud case, the Associated Press reported at the time.

...The federal judge asked that Fitzgerald be investigated for "misstating the law and other offenses" by the OPR, the arm of the Justice Department that investigates allegations of wrongdoing by prosecutors.

... Fitzgerald took the case to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and argued that his office had done nothing illegal.

A three judge panel agreed, ruling that Judge Holderman didn't have jurisdiction to launch a probe of a U.S. attorney.

According to the AP, however, Fitzgerald did acknowledged that his prosecutor should have notified defense attorneys before turning over confidential grand jury materials to the plaintiff's side in the hospital fraud case.

It's not clear whether the Justice Department took any action against Fitzgerald based on Judge Holderman's complaint.

And its not clear that this wasn't just brutal Chicago politics, and I don't have the time (or inclination) to check this out. I happen to think Fitzgerald is pretty admirable and honest - also competitive, determined to win, and, well, a prosecutor.

On the specific point about her covert status, I assume he would not lie, but he might not have pressed real hard to see if the CIA was, uhh, exaggerating a bit. Especially since his goal was to get a subpoena, and he was unlikely to prosecute under that statute.

gwangung,
Though I agree with your point, I don't think you need to have that first sentence in your last paragraph. Thanks.

Also, next open thread, if you would care to, I'd love to know more about your handle and anything else you'd care to divulge, as I think there may be only 1 or 2 degrees of separation between us (as well as from Gary, as he lived in Seattle for some years)

"Actually, I concluded that DayQuil plus sudafed ought to be illegal, but that finding may remain unpublished."

I concluded earlier this evening that I really should remember not to take a shower during dinner hours while still living in an apartment building, myself.

"...I happen to cite the IIPA, which includes this in the definitions (Sec 426)...."

IANAL, and I wasn't speaking of a legal definition or usage, which I am not qualified to speak to, but to my understanding of intelligence community jargon and usage, and CIA employment categories, which I'm also nothing but a complete amateur guy-in-an-office-chair-at-home in terms of qualifications, but which I have some moderate amateur familiarity with, purely from reading nonfiction studies and open sources for many years. Thanks for the cite to Section 426. (For whatever reason, my iteration of Firefox is showing your quote of it in your blog entry as only partial, incidentally, but I've now read the linked version.) (I'll keep Section 426 in mind in the future when speaking to the topic; thank you muchly for pointing it out.)

"Well, let the swift-boating begin...."

Newsmax, on the other hand, I would suggest is not the most reliable source in the world; a left equivalent might be, very roughly, Counterpunch. Both sites can get things right, both sites often get a lot dreadfully wrong, both sites I would regard as having a considerable agenda, and not being reliable sources. Just my opinion, of course.

I'd find the Newsmax story more reliable and easily verifiable if it linked to the AP story it cited, and/or provided other checkable links.

A three judge panel agreed, ruling that Judge Holderman didn't have jurisdiction to launch a probe of a U.S. attorney.

According to the AP, however, Fitzgerald did acknowledged that his prosecutor should have notified defense attorneys before turning over confidential grand jury materials to the plaintiff's side in the hospital fraud case.

I'll add that, assuming arguendo Newsmax got it completely right, this still doesn't strike me as significant, I'm afraid. Perhaps my interest in preferring to think well of Fitzgerald is biasing me, of course.

With apologies for three replies to Tom Maguire's single comment, this was what I had in mind regarding usage of "agent":

... i) whose identity as such an officer, employee, or member is classified information....

[...]

(7) The terms ''officer'' and ''employee'' have the meanings given such terms by section 2104 and 2105, respectively, of title
5.

The whole of (4) The term ''covert agent'' means...." is fairly sweeping, and encompasses many categories; the above I cited are the only categories related to actual currently-employed U.S. intelligence agency officers.

Section 426, now that I've read it more carefully, obviously and clearly includes many other categories of persons.

So I'm comfortable with what I previously said, though I may footnote a reference to Section 426 in future when speaking to the subject. Again, thanks, Tom.

If anyone is interested in sources other than NewsMax, here's a reference in the Post:

"U.S. District Judge James F. Holderman demanded an investigation of Fitzgerald and several prosecutors. Fitzgerald blazed back, charging in an unusually pointed brief that the judge had "displayed a disturbing lack of objectivity." He accused him of "petty harassment" of prosecutors and asked an appeals court to remove the judge from the case because of a conflict of interest involving his wife."

And the Google cache of an article from the Chicago Sun-Times. and another about Holderman's response.

And a story on the ruling on the complaint is here:

"Urging both sides to cool off, a U.S. appeals court tried extinguishing an inflamed battle between a federal judge and U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald Tuesday, calling off the judge's unusual inquiry into Fitzgerald's office.

Handing Fitzgerald a victory, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals said it was "inappropriate" for U.S. District Judge James Holderman to try investigating a federal prosecutor after she released grand jury material to a civil plaintiff with another judge's permission."

Geez, the things Google turns up. This link is from a Chicago area attorneys association (go to the top domain) From a 1991 report

The Council has received several reports, however, that Judge Holderman has exhibited very poor temperament over the past few years. There have been periods where he has been reported to exhibit extreme and inappropriate anger towards attorneys. Although Judge Holderman appeared to have brought his temper under control for a period of time, attorneys report that the problem appears to be re-emerging. Judge Holderman's temper does not appear to affect the disposition of the cases before him.

At any rate, the story highlights something that I like about Fitzgerald, which is a fierce loyalty and protectiveness towards those who work under him. Perhaps it's just my jaundiced perspective, but this is not a trait I associate with the current administration.

And I see that the quote was in a sidebar of one of the articles that Hilzoy cited. Honestly, I thought it was an advertisement

"Right wingers rely on made-up factual baloney for their opinions? Do tell."

Well, you know, there is no shortage of idiot left-wingers who do the same.

I agree -- do you agree that the Plame episode involves copious amounts of the idiot right-winger version? That is the point at the moment.

On the second, I'd point out "two decades of oodles of aid," from 1954 through 1974, is more accurate, next time you want to make that point.

What, do tell, is your point? It's not about "accuracy."

"Right wingers rely on made-up factual baloney for their opinions? Do tell."

Well, you know, there is no shortage of idiot left-wingers who do the same.

I agree -- do you agree that the Plame episode involves copious amounts of the idiot right-winger version?

There have been endlessly amounts of idiotic right-winger by-commentary and nonsensical apologetics, none of which affect the facts of the case whatsoever.
That is the point at the moment.
It doesn't work like that. You get to declare what your point is. I get to declare what my point is. You do not get to declare what my point is, and I do not get to declare what your point is.

Attempts to palm that card, and declare that there is only one "point" and it's yours, don't fly. No matter what the topic, or circumstance, it's a dishonest rhetorical technique, or, more charitably, a mistaken notion of how discussion works.

On the second, I'd point out "two decades of oodles of aid," from 1954 through 1974, is more accurate, next time you want to make that point.

What, do tell, is your point? It's not about "accuracy."

Yeah, it is. And also an attempt to help you strengthen your case by pointing out that it's twice as good as you stated it. You're welcome.

Attempts to palm that card, and declare that there is only one "point" and it's yours, don't fly.

No such attempt was made. I was questioning you regarding the relevance of a generalized counter-point about left-wing nonsense when the post and my comment to it was about right wing Plame nonsense. I am still interested in a reply to this, rather than a deflection.

No matter what the topic, or circumstance, it's a dishonest rhetorical technique, or, more charitably, a mistaken notion of how discussion works.

Uh, just maybe this applies more to your responses than anything I have said?

...do you agree that the Plame episode involves copious amounts of the idiot right-winger version?

I'll admit that we are more than half the stew in the Plame case, but we aren't all of it.

Newsmax, on the other hand, I would suggest is not the most reliable source in the world...

The phrase that is eluding you is "clown show". I use Newsmax for transcripts not available elsewhere and leads - on a better night, I would have had a chance to dig into the AP story they cited, and spared myself some mortification (but in an abundance of caution, I have never cited that Newsmax story at my blog, and now I never will).

As to the point of the Isikoff story, Mark Kleiman and Byron York make the same point - if you follow the citations and footnotes in Judge Tatel's opinion (which Isikoff did not do, apparently), it turns out that Fitzgerald does not flatly state that Plame was covered by the statute; instead, he simply repeats the elements of the statute as points that are relevant to the Miller-Libby testimony.

York has the detailed excerpts.

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