One of our correspondents in the Comments section, who signs himself “Charles Peirce” (clearly a pragmatist), cites a CNN article, dated 11 Feb 2004, in which it is reported that:
Sources told CNN that Plame works in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations — the part of the agency in charge of spying — and worked in the field for many years as an undercover officer.
“If she were only an analyst, not an operative, we would not have filed a crimes report” with the Justice Department, a senior intelligence official said.
Thanks to “Charles Peirce” for bringing this to our attention, but the question remains: is it actually true that Valerie Plame was in the Directorate of Operations? The Counterproliferation Center was clearly an analytic, rather an operational, entity.
A bit of web searching discloses an earlier Valerie Plame career as an CIA officer working with Non-Official Cover, what is called an NOC:
Plame worked as a spy internationally in more than one role. Fred Rustmann, a former CIA official who put in 24 years as a spymaster and was Plame’s boss for a few years, says Plame worked under official cover in Europe in the early 1990s — say, as a U.S. embassy attache — before switching to nonofficial cover a few years later. Mostly Plame posed as a business analyst or a student in what Rustmann describes as a “nice European city.” Plame was never a so-called deep-cover NOC, he said, meaning the agency did not create a complex cover story about her education, background, job, personal life and even hobbies and habits that would stand up to intense scrutiny by foreign governments. “[NOCs] are on corporate rolls, and if anybody calls the corporation, the secretary says, ‘Yeah, he works for us,'” says Rustmann. “The degree of backstopping to a NOC’s cover is a very good indication of how deep that cover really is.”
We find also some speculation on her earlier career:
France to expel US ’spy’ diplomats Evening Standard (London) February 22, 1995
FRANCE has accused four American diplomats and a fifth US citizen of political and economic spying and has ordered them to leave the country, Le Monde newspaper has reported.
Interior Minister Charles Pasqua wrote to President Francois Mitterrand that the five worked for the CIA and were guilty of “acts of interference”, including attempts to recruit aides to Cabinet ministers, the newspaper said. The letter reportedly said the five were uncovered in a “long, detailed investigation” by France’s counter-intelligence service. It was not immediately clear whether France had set a deadline for them to leave. The State Department would not comment today on the expulsion but former deputy assistant Secretary of State Ernest Preeg, who ran the White House Economic Policy Group, said the action seems unnecessarily dramatic and may have an ulterior motive. “It looks as if this may be just a little hanky-panky around the edges,” he said.
‘Every country has people trying to get intelligence one way or another. It’s standard practice, even among allies. You don’t do anything as sensational as expelling five Americans unless there is something else going on.” Mr Preeg added: “It is well known that the French are doing a lot of espionage in America, most of it commercial.”
Other sources suggest the motive for CIA recruitment of French officials may be political. France’s recent relations with Iran and Iraq have been worrying to Washington, which has focused a great deal of intelligence activity on the two governments.
One of the five, a woman, worked with “clandestine cover” outside the embassy, said Le Monde. One is considered the head of the CIA’s Paris operations and a second his deputy. The other two, a man and a woman, also have diplomatic status, said the paper.
Exaggeration on the part of the pouting spooks of the hazardous character of Valerie Plame’s CIA activities is not unknown:
Former CIA official Larry C. Johnson, who left the CIA in 2004, indicated Plame had been a ‘non-official cover operative’ (NOC). He explained: ‘…that meant she agreed to operate overseas without the protection of a diplomatic passport. If caught in that status she would have been executed.’
Valerie Plame graduated from the College of Europe, an international-relations school in Bruges, in 1995. One tends to doubt that even the bloodthirsty Belgians would really have executed the poor girl, no matter how mad the frogs had gotten at US attempts to suborn ministerial assistants or to steal recipes.
Valerie Plame is next known to have met Joe Wilson at a Washington party in early 1997. If she is, in fact, working in Washington in “early 1997,” then she is not stationed overseas five years before July of 2003, and no one has violated the Covert Agent Identity Protection Act.