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March 12, 2006

More Plame

Robert recalls the true-spy book Spycatcher (banned in Britain, I believe, for violating the Official Secrets Act or whatever it's called). A pretty good book, though monotonous at times, and one of the places I get my extremely-limited knowledge about how espionage works.

Anyway, he writes:

It is not just the CIA, all embassies, all countries, have a fair number of spies. As you point out, most host countries have teams of "watchers" who regularly follow these known "spies".

In "Spycatcher", author Wright notes the British MI-5 process with teams of watchers dispatched from observation posts overlooking foreign Embassy entry points. Each observation post had a book of known Embassy employees (worldwide) with pictures and bios. Often, when someone leaves an Embassy, someone from the host country follows.

The Soviets termed embassy spies "legal" and the real spies "illegal". No "legal" spy would ever meet with an even low-level agent. Real spies are run and contacted by other real "illegal" agents, dead drops, or radio.

Valerie Plame, as Embassy staff, would have been very well known to the ruskies and others. No self-respecting spy would be caught dead talking to her. Not only was she not a real spy, she was not in a position to even know one.

This law was passed because of actions by real spies like Philip Agee, Kim Philby and others who turned in our guys, resulting frequently, in their death.

Nothing in the Valerie Plame thing remotely resembles the actions of real spies, or the consequences thereof. All real spies are laughing.

Embassy "spies" are the spies everyone knows about. It's an open secret. There are few in an embassy not ID'd almost immediately as spies, and put on everyone's watch list.

It is just absurd to say that having spent most of her career as an open CIA agent, known to virtually everyone who cares about such things, Valerie Plame later in life became a deep-cover covert operative.

While driving every day to CIA headquarters.

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posted by Ace at 05:54 PM

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