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July 15, 2005

Rovemania -- Not Genuine News Of Any Importance, But An Amazing Simulation

Off of Drudge, a CIA agent says that Plames neighbors knew she worked for the agency.

If true, game over.

On Brit Hume a lawyer said there's no possible breach of the law here. To be a "covert agent," one needs to take "affirmative action" to conceal the agent's identity, and he pointed out, quite rightly I think, that driving to the main gates of CIA headquarters at Langley every day for five years is simply not compatible with such concealment of identity.

Real covert agents almost never go to Langley. They work exclusively out of a front office.

She was also teaching a lot of other agents/analysts, thus revealing her identity to a lot more people. True, she was revealing her identity to CIA agents, but real covert agents don't expose themselves to a great number of even fellow CIA agents.

And also, the act requires the agent to have been deployed overseas within five years. According to Joe Wilson's own book, they had been living and working stateside for six years before this "outing."

There's wiggle room there. Just because Plame was based in DC doesn't mean, I guess, she didn't take one or two short missions overseas, which would satisfy that requirement of the law.

But the other stuff still makes this question moot. The lawyer on Brit Hume said: You can go from being a real clandestine operative to a Langley-based analyst or manager, but you can never go back.

Believe it or not, foreign intelligence services actually, get this, try to snap pictures of people making their way to Langley every day.

A lot of people like this story a lot, a CNN interview in which Wilson says his wife wasn't clandestine when "outed" by Novak, so I guess that's another blow to the theory that a law was broken. To be covert, again, one must be, well, covert, and maintaining that cover, and if even Wilson concedes she wasn't anymore, game over.

And Mickey Kaus is on f'n' fire on this story (read today's and yesterday's stuff). Both Rove and "Scooter" Libby have said now that they got their information from someone in the media, for example. Making the theory that Judith Miller started this all more plausible (although of course not close to proven!).

But more interesting is the rather obvious statement -- someonone has to say the obvious -- that if Joe Wilson really wanted to safeguard his wife's identity, he shouldn't have become involved in such a matter of high political interest (and he shouldn't have lied about it, gone on Meet the Press, etc.)

And even more interesting is the first Plame item from yesterday. The media continues to insinuate that there was no possible reason to link Wilson to Plame, except for political payback. Not so, of course-- Wilson lied and claimed that Dick Cheney's office sent him to Africa, so putting the actual facts of how he came to have this assignment both refutes that he was Cheney's personal emissary and discredits the rest of his tale of sipping sweet mint tea.

But what is usually unmentioned is what we all know-- there was a big, liberal-leaning, anti-war, "leave-Saddam-in-place" contingent in the CIA. The CIA was split, and parts of it were actively feuding with the Administration. Under those circumstances, it becomes quite important to note that this mission was not authorized or requested by Cheney or Tenet, but by a little clique of lower-level CIA agents. And if a group of anti-war, anti-Administration agents want to tank the case for war, who better to send than one of those agent's husband, a liberal Democratic operative who surely must have known which way the clique wanted the report to skew?

Interesting bits of the story, which actually add drama, context, nuance and details to it all.

The media claims to be interested in such things.

But here these little bits of interest are in conflict with the media's partisan and dumbed-down telling of the tale, so no one except the consevative press and blogosphere mentions them.

Correction! What the hell is this investigation even about?

I bloviated above that a few overseas missions of short duration might still satisfy the requirement that the covert op be assigned overseas.

Not so, says Hubris. He cites this
op-ed written by some of the drafters of the act in question stating that a few brief overseas jaunts will not satisfy the "based overseas" requirement:

Her status as undercover must be classified, and she must have been assigned to duty outside the United States currently or in the past five years. This requirement does not mean jetting to Berlin or Taipei for a week's work. It means permanent assignment in a foreign country.

As Hicks would say -- "No, I'm Hicks, he's Hudson" -- my apologies, as Hudson would say: "Game over, man! Game over!"

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posted by Ace at 12:23 PM

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