The Repugnican talking point on Valerie Plame that I find most disgusting is the assertion that she was “just a desk jockey“, which I suppose is supposed to mean revealing her CIA identity is no big deal. I guess when people hear “covert agent” they think of some sort of James Bond character and “desk jockey” is supposed to make them think, “oh, well, it’s not like she was dodging bullets, infiltrating terror cells, or escaping a pool full of sharks with frickin’ lasers on their heads.”
Folks, intelligence work is done by lots of so-called “desk jockeys”. Valerie Plame was no “desk jockey”, but even if she were, so what? It is against the law to knowingly reveal the identity of a CIA agent, whether he or she is manning a desk, translating Arabic, sniffing web sites, analyzing satellite reconnaissance, or escaping laser-equipped sharks.
Sherlock Google has a great diary up at Kos that explains how the Rove Leak doesn’t just endanger Plame and ruin her career, it endangers and ruins the careers of many agents and destroys many years and millions of dollars spent by the CIA in setting up her front company and back story:
(Washington Post) The leak of a CIA operative’s name has also exposed the identity of a CIA front company [Brewster-Jennings & Associates], potentially expanding the damage caused by the original disclosure, Bush administration officials said yesterday.
The inadvertent disclosure of the name of a business affiliated with the CIA underscores the potential damage to the agency and its operatives caused by the leak of Plame’s identity. Intelligence officials have said that once Plame’s job as an undercover operative was revealed, other agency secrets could be unraveled and her sources might be compromised or endangered.
A former diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity said yesterday that every foreign intelligence service would run Plame’s name through its databases within hours of its publication to determine if she had visited their country and to reconstruct her activities.
OK, so Brewster, Jennings & Associates is now outed as well. How bad could that be?
(Knight-Ridder) Plame, the wife of former ambassador and Bush critic Joseph Wilson, was a member of a small elite-within-an-elite, a CIA employee operating under “nonofficial cover,” in her case as an energy analyst, with little or no protection from the U.S. government if she got caught.
Training agents such as Plame, 40, costs millions of dollars and requires the time-consuming establishment of elaborate fictions, called “legends,” including in this case the creation of a CIA front company that helped lend plausibility to her trips overseas.
Larry Johnson – a former CIA and State Department official who was a 1985 classmate of Plame’s in the CIA’s case officer-training program at Camp Peary, Va., known as “the Farm” – predicted that when the CIA’s internal damage assessment is finished, “at the end of the day, (the harm) will be huge and some people potentially may have lost their lives.“
“This is not just another leak. This is an unprecedented exposing of an agent’s identity,” said former CIA officer Jim Marcinkowski, who’s now a prosecutor in Royal Oak, Mich., and who also did CIA training with Plame.
It appears that the Brewster-Jennings front was more than what is called “nominal cover,” and was used as part of Plame’s espionage, Johnson said.
That means anyone she met with could be in danger now, said Johnson, who described himself as “furious, absolutely furious” at the security breach.
Oh. Well, gosh, now that does sound pretty important.
So there’s two possibilities here: Karl Rove knowingly leaked the identity of a covert CIA operative as political payback, thus committing TREASON, outing many agents, ruining a CIA front, costing millions, endangering the lives of dozens, and hindering our intelligence gathering activities during a time of war.
Or: Karl Rove didn’t knowingly out an agent, didn’t realize she was “covert”, and wasn’t pursuing political payback, in which case he was too incompetent to check her agency status and just made an “oops” that outed many agents, ruined a CIA front, cost millions, endangered the lives of dozens, and hindered our intelligence gathering activities during a time of war. (Not much of a defense, is it?)