This is maybe the fourth post I’ve done on the Plame thing. In the first I pointed out that being less than candid about something like this was stupid on the part of the White House.
In the second, I made basically the same point.In the third one, I expressed puzzlement at Ambassador Wilson’s claim that his report debunked the claim that Iraq had sought (rather than acquired) uranium ore in Niger, given that the Senate report on the subject reported him as having said that they did.
In this one, I’ll express befuddlement at former-spook Larry Johnson(who admittedly has said and done some darn odd things)’s claim that the Washington Post was flatly lying when it challenged Special Prosecutor Fitzpatrick’s prosecution on the basis that no crime actually was committed.
The basis for this befuddlement, to my legal-document reading, law-writing, but-not-lawyer eyes looks like this:
The subject code – Title 5026 of the US Code – says:
(4) The term “covert agent” means:
(A) a present or retired officer or employee of an intelligence agency or a present or retired member of the Armed Forces assigned to duty with an intelligence agency;
(i) whose identity as such an officer, employee, or member is classified information, and
(ii) who is serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States; or
(B) a United States citizen whose intelligence relationship to the United States is classified information, and;
(i) who resides and acts outside the United States as an agent of, or informant or source of operational assistance to, an intelligence agency, or
(ii) who is at the time of the disclosure acting as an agent of, or informant to, the foreign counterintelligence or foreign counterterrorism components of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; or
(C) an individual, other than a United States citizen, whose past or present intelligence relationship to the United States is classified information and who is a present or former agent of, or a present or former informant or source of operational assistance to, an intelligence agency.
OK, Valerie Plame clearly fits into (A), which means that for her to be a covert agent – as defined in law – she had to meet two tests – that her “identity as such an officer, employee, or member [was] classified information” AND (note the logical AND required) that she “is serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States” at the time of her disclosure.
No one has disputed (i),and no one has asserted (ii) – and unless both are true, under the definition of the specific code, she’s not a ‘covert agent’ – and so no crime was committed.
Now Johnson finesses this nicely, by leaping from
She offers up two special gems:
– Valerie Plame was not covert.
– Ambassador Joseph Wilson (Valerie’s husband) misled the public about how he was sent to Niger, about the thrust of his March 2003 oral report of that trip, and about his wife’s CIA status.
Valerie Plame was undercover until the day she was identified in Robert Novak’s column. I entered on duty with Valerie in September of 1985. Every single member of our class–which was comprised of Case Officers, Analysts, Scientists, and Admin folks–were undercover. I was an analyst and Valerie was a case officer.
Note the distinction between the two words – ‘covert’ (which is a defined term under the law) and ‘undercover’ (which may mean similar things, but isn’t the same thing). So either Johnson is finessing neatly, or he’s clueless (which I doubt).
So sharp-minded folks out there – what exactly am I missing?