30 May 2007

No, Patrick Fitzgerald Merely Says Valerie Plame Was Covert

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The MSM is reporting that Valerie Plame’s status as a covert CIA agent has been confirmed (and the left blogosphere is howling in triumph), but all that has really happened is that Patrick Fitzgerald reiterated in his sentencing brief the same leap of logic he has been using all along to justify his meritless prosecution.

The relevant law is the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, which makes it a crime intentionally to reveal the identity of a US covert Intelligence agent.

US CODE TITLE 50 > CHAPTER 15 > SUBCHAPTER IV > § 426 defines the term “covert agent:”

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.

Fitzgerald’s summary says:

While assigned to CPD [Counterproliferation Division], Ms. Wilson engaged in Temporary Duty (TDY) travel overseas on official business. She traveled at least seven times to more than ten countries. When traveling overseas, Ms. Wilson always traveled under a cover identity–sometimes in true name and sometimes in alias–but always using cover–whether official or non-official cover (NOC)–with no ostensible relationship to the CIA.

Fitzgerald is attempting to conflate a business trip abroad with “serving outside the United States,” and conventional casual procedure with “affirmative measures to conceal her intelligence relationship to the United States.”

Victoria Toensing, who as Deputy Assistant Attorney General at the time helped draft the 1982 Act, has testified before Congress that Valerie Plame was not covert under the definition of the Act.

Pouting Spook Larry Johnson inadvertently reveals the pretext being employed by Fitzgerald:

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.

Everybody employed by the CIA above the rank of janitor is supposed to make modest pro forma efforts to avoid disclosing the identity of his employer and the nature of his employment. That does not make every CIA-employed “Analyst, Scientist, or Administrator” a “covert agent” under the definition of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. Nor should routine non-disclosure or pro forma use of cover, on the level of James Bond’s supposed employment at “Universal Export,” be considered to rise to the level of the “affirmative measures” meantioned in the Act.

Patrick Fitzgerald is employing a crucial leap of interpretation to get to where he wants to go, and he wants to go there for partisan political advantage, not for reasons having anything to do with National Security or Justice.


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