After much prodding by other bloggers, I set this up for my own writings. The name is in honour of the two women that mentored me throughout my life on politics and intelligence issues, as well as being wonderful family members, now alas deceased. I hope to live up to their standards at this site.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The outing of a covert asset for political purposes

For two years now there has been a major perversion of not just American national security but global security that has gone unanswered, specifically who in the Bush WH outed Valerie Plame, and why did they do so. To understand why this is a big deal, it is important to understand that Mrs. Wilson's job at the CIA was as an operative involved in the monitoring of WMD proliferation, including nuclear proliferation. She worked for a cover business, which is also a major covert asset and one in some ways even more difficult and costly to create than a covert agent. Worse, it is extremely unlikely that Mrs. Wilson was the only CIA operative who had that business as their cover. This cover business was directly involved in the global monitoring of dangerous weapons technology proliferation, which in these times of stateless terrorist actors is arguably the single most important security issue of our times.

Imagine for a moment how dangerous suicide attackers would be if instead of explosives they had nerve gas to use in a subway bombing. Or some form of virulent bioweapon that some State had cooked up and then lost control over (control as in ownership that is) and started using those weapons instead of conventional explosives. These types of attacks would be frightening enough as it is, seeing as these are weapons of mass death as well as not to put too fine a point on it also perfect weapons to instill terror as well. This would make acquisition of such capabilities a top priority for many of these terrorist groups. Now that would be bad enough. Consider though the effect a nuclear terrorist attack would likely have on the country that suffered it. The terror generated would be extreme, the damage both immediate and long term to the targeted area would remind everyone of the horror/terror for years thereby being a very useful long term terror weapon all by itself. For a society that is governed by rule of law and civil rights though it would also almost certainly cause an immediate outcry by the public to make sure such never happens again, and no matter the extreme means needed to do so. So for a terrorist group that wants to destroy the rule of law and freedoms most representative democracies have as core values a nuclear terrorist attack would be ideal. After all, the only people that can change a society's laws and customs are those within that society, and one of the main points of terrorism is to make the population so fearful that they will embrace changes they would otherwise never tolerate.

So coming back to Mrs Wilson we see someone whose career and indeed her very life is devoted to preventing such an occurrence from ever happening. One would have thought this would be regarded non-partisanly as something to be respected, and the outing of such an asset to be a heinous crime, regardless of your political leanings. Sadly, that has not been the case.

What really galls me though about this case is that to protect a dubious and already shaky argument regarding Saddam's nuclear capabilities (indeed so shaky that within Days of Wilson's op-ed in the NYT the now infamous sixteen words were repudiated from the 2003 SOTU) a real long term valuable asset in protecting America and the world generally from nuclear threats was destroyed. The irony in this is as profound as it is sickening.

Understand something. When Plame was outed and Brewster Jennings and associates was also outed it did not just place Mrs. Wilson and her own family in jeopardy. Every person that worked for BJ&a came under suspicion of being CIA, as well as identifying all the CIA assets that did work with this business. Every person that ever did business with BJ&a becomes suspected of either being CIA or being a CIA source, and that means every foreign national that falls into that category suddenly came under suspicion by their own governments of either being CIA or CIA sources. That this could easily have led to their imprisonment, torture, and even deaths depending on which country we are talking about is clear. That this ripple effect would be widespread and profound is also brutally clear, even if we do not know at this time what the damage assessment of this act is.

However, one of the byproducts of this event is to make it harder for covert agents to develop sources, because if they cannot feel they can trust that their identities will be protected at all costs then why take the chance? Another of the byproducts is that it gives foreign agencies a means to examine the ways covert businesses are established by the CIA, revealing potentially methods as well as the sources. This is something NO intelligence agency ever wants to have happen. As well, we need to remember that one of the most fundamental criticisms of the American intelligence services in the post 9/11/01 world is the need for human assets. This action has made the recruitment and placement of such assets ever so much harder. That is yet another way in which this one outing has done fundamental and long term damage to the security interests of America.

So this establishes that there was significant damage done by the Plame outing, whether we know the specifics or not. Indeed, this is the worst espionage outing I have seen in at least two decades that was not the result of a mole operating within the American intelligence establishment. However, this outing was the direct result of someone(s) in the Bush WH feeding information to friendly reporters to attack the credibility of Joe Wilson by any means possible, including the suggestion that he went on this trip for his wife and not the CIA in response to an inquiry by the office of the VP. For one thing how ethical and moral is it to attack a critic by doing so through his spouse/family? That is something you see mobsters do, and not something governments are supposed to be embracing/endorsing. For another, did it matter who initiated the trip more than what the results of that trip were? Of course not. For whatever reasons, this was a smear job pure and simple, and the fact it has dragged on this long without actions taken within the Bush WH make it clear that security issues are secondary to political issues for this WH. That is a dangerous mentality for any government, it is especially frightening to see in the sole superpower.

At this point we know that Rove violated his nondisclosure agreement, yet instead of having clearances revoked he is now deputy WH Chief of Staff. He is responsible for coordinating the Homeland Security and NSA committees. In that position the amount of truly sensitive information he routinely sees is staggering. Worse, he is clearly involved in the leak, if not necessarily the originating source, yet despite that involvement President Bush refuses to take action against a known leaker despite his many pledges to do just that. Not to mention that either Rove broke a Presidential order when he did not come forward and identify his role in this matter to President Bush, he did come forward and Bush chose to continue to claim he did not know, or Bush was in on this outing from its outset. No matter which explanation turns out to be the case, they all are proof of fundamental deception within this WH on vital national security issues. That is not something that is supposed to be excusable no matter who does so and what party they belong to. This is supposed to be a non-partisan applies to everyone environment, yet clearly this is not the case in this Administration and GOP Congress.

Bottom line? We see an Administration that places it's own political survival/health over the national security interests of the USA, indeed the world. We see an Administration that came to office declaring a higher standard than it's predecessor for itself and its employees. Yet now they will only take action if someone is charged/convicted of a criminal offence??? For one thing no WH could keep an employee that is charged/convicted of any serious crime regardless of preference, it simply is not allowed. So to say that this is the point one will act is to say that so long as no laws are broken and proven so in a criminal indictment and/or trial then anything goes. If anything that is a worse standard than the Clinton one that the GOP and GWB constantly decry and vilified. Yet this is the President that says what he means and means what he says???

It is to laugh!!! At least it would be if the consequences of this were not as serious as they are, not just for Americans but all of us on planet Earth.


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