Oct 13 2005

Plame & The Rogue CIA

Published by at 10:11 am under All General Discussions,Plame Game


If you have the time to wade through my monster post on this, you might want to also check in on Mac Ranger’s latest post as well.


I wanted to explore two angles on the Plame Game today: how the press processes a story like Wilson’s and delve more into Mac Ranger’s posts on Johnson and CIA rogues.

For the first one I will be speculating, but hopefully our readers can correct and refine the concept. To look at this entire mess we have to start with the process the media must go through to vet a story. In this case we have Joe Wilson feeding hints to a desperate-get-Bush media that the evidence against Iraq was either cooked or inaccurate. So what would the press do?

Well they would check their sources to understand (a) who is this Joe Wilson guy and (b) does his story check out. ‘Who Joe is’ becomes very problematic depending on who introduces him to the press. In the process of finding out who Wilson is it is highly likely information on Valerie could have been provided to give him credibility. And this could have come from folks associated with the CIA.

I touched on this briefly in this previous post, but surely their legal council would demand a good vetting of the facts of the story as well. You do not accuse the President and Vice President of falsifying information without some serious due diligence. Again, the best place to get this is from people in the CIA who could corroborate the essence of the claims.

One has to wonder why Fitzgerald has not had NY Times and Newsweek managers in to discuss their story vetting process. As I mentioned yesterday, Judith Miller could have been called on to use her sources to vet Joe Wilson’s infamous Op-Ed.

With this context in mind we can now explore the period prior to the Wilson Op-Ed with some more reasonable context other than the grasping idea the White House cared what Joe Wilson claimed about Saddam and Niger.

Mac Ranger believes, probably correctly, that Wilson had somehow come into contact with Larry Johnson – an ex-CIA analyst who is an anti-Bush fanatic. As Mac Ranger noted, and I quickly learned, Johnson is a member of one of the scariest nutfarms I have ever run across – Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). Check out this membership list and take some time to explore these people – they are scary. To think our national security was in the hands of these people.

For example, William and Kathleen Christison left VIPS because it was too radical. But see what they had to say when the left to get a feel for how radical this group must for them to leave:

Many readers of CounterPunch will have seen a statement by Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), published on July 14 as a Memorandum for the President, decrying the “melting” down and disintegration of the U.S. intelligence capability, placing the burden of responsibility for this on Vice President Richard Cheney, and calling for Cheney’s resignation. Many will also have noted that, although charter members of VIPS, we did not sign this memorandum. In fact, we resigned from VIPS, with some regret, as the only credible way to dissociate ourselves from the memo.

Our principal problem with the memo is its call for Cheney’s resignation. Not that this result would not in fact please us. But our very strong feeling is that an organization like VIPS, and any serious policy analysts, should be writing about policies and actions, not personalities. Harry Truman famously observed that “the buck stops here.” Calling for Cheney’s resignation, or the resignation of any single individual, is to us a cheap shot. Virtually everyone in this administration is implicated in some way, and Bush is ultimately entirely responsible; the buck stops there. Cheney shares responsibility at his level. Secretaries of Defense and State Rumsfeld and Powell share it at their level. And so on down through Condoleezza Rice and CIA Director George Tenet, and then through all the neo-conservatives starting with Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith, and Richard Perle.

These people left the group!

OK, so what was VIP doing? Well it is entirely made up of ex-CIA analysts who opposed the war. And in many of their early outbursts they sang a fairly common theme song. Veterans For Common Sense has the transcript of a March 6, 2003 interview with these folks on German TV under the title “MEMORANDUM FOR CONFUSED AMERICANS” (how quaint).

From the website introduction:

We would note that the interviews were taped before the latest indignities regarding US intelligence came to light—the forged letters earlier adduced as proof that Iraq was seeking to obtain uranium from Africa for its nuclear program, for example. Our embarrassment is actually too painful to dwell at any length on other recent indignities—UN inspector ElBaradei’s preliminary finding that Iraq has no nuclear weapons program, the gaffes made by Secretary of State Colin Powell in his debut as imagery analyst before the UN Security Council, and his praising as “exquisite” a graduate school paper masquerading as top secret intelligence from the UK—to name just a few.

Important to note the claims came before the divulgence of faked intel. Some of the actual words from VIPS members:

“The day after 9/11 Dick Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Rumsfeld were saying, ‘Now let’s go get Iraq.’ And so the push was on to find evidence that Iraq had some sort of connection with 9/11. And I am very sad to say that our president himself has in a subliminal way always made that connection. And that is why most Americans—pity them—tend to believe that Iraq did have something to do with 9/11, while the intelligence community is convinced it did not.”

“There is no imminent threat from Iraq, all right?! If he does have missiles, which he probably does, they are buried in the ground, and it is going to take months to dig them up. We’ve seen no evidence of VX gas, or Bubonic plague, or anthrax, or any of this stuff.”

“The logical conclusion is that the information has been doctored, that the information has been cooked to the recipe of policy and this—for an intelligence outfit—is anathema, beyond the pale. This is something that renders it superfluous to even have an intelligence agency.”

Interestingly, these folks are laying down the predicate of forged information by the US very early on. For reference please check out Tom Maguire’s timeline, but this claim comes out one day before the IAEA report which concludes the Niger intel docs were fakes. Was VIP connecting the fake docs with their claim?

There is also this FoxNews story out on March 17, 2003:

Invoking the name of a Pentagon whistle-blower, a small group of retired, anti-war CIA officers are accusing the Bush administration of manipulating evidence against Iraq in order to push war while burying evidence that could show Iraq’s compliance with U.N demands for disarmament.

The 25-member group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, composed mostly of former CIA analysts along with a few operational agents, is urging employees inside the intelligence agency to break the law and leak any information they have that could show the Bush administration is engineering the release of evidence to match its penchant for war.

This open call to defect, basically, is a lame attempt to rally support for VIPS’ rogue cause against Bush – (the war was inevitable at this point). Interestingly, McGovern makes some claims of current knowledge even though he has been outside for 10 years at this stage

VIPS member Ray McGovern, a 27-year CIA veteran who gave intelligence briefings to top Reagan officials before retiring in 1990, said the administration has not made the case that Iraq has ties to Al Qaeda and is providing information that does not meet an intelligence professional’s standard of proof.

“It’s been cooked to a recipe, and the recipe is high policy,” McGovern said. “That’s why a lot of my former colleagues are holding their noses these days.”

But the CIA said McGovern doesn’t have any authority to speak of the quality of intelligence policy-makers are reviewing.

“He left the agency over a decade ago,” spokesman Mark Mansfield said. “He’s hardly in a position to comment knowledgeably on that subject.”

Well, at least he should not have known, unless someone was passing him classified information. Read the whole thing, it highlights the internal battle in the CIA.

By September of 2003 the Wilson Op-Ed was out and calls for an investigation had resulted in what would be the Fitzgerald Grand Jury. But recall at this time very little was known about all the players. So this September 30, 2003 PBS interview with Larry Johnson has one interesting snippet in it:

LARRY JOHNSON: The reporters who did not file a story and promised, or given assurance to these individuals that they would be protected, they need to come forward. To hear Bob Novak parsing words like a Clinton lawyer defining sex is outrageous. Sure, they didn’t call him, he called them but they volunteered the information. They took the initiative to divulge the CIA officer’s name. And that is outrageous.

This exchange discussing ‘reporters’ who ‘need to come forward’ appears to be discussing Judith Miller – the only person I am aware of who did not file a story but did give assurances to her sources. In fact it is a barely coherent statement. But it does expose a very keen knowledge of the events between Wilson, reporters and events some distant person couldn’t possibly know. I think this is evidence to back up Mac Ranger’s claim that Johnson might have been aligned with Wilson – and could be that mystery ‘friend’ who met Novak on the street and supposedly got him to spill Valerie’s CIA position.

It is not that far fetched since Johnson and Plame joined the CIA at the same time and were in the same early training program. And Larry tips his hand some more in this October 2, 2003 interview:

AMY GOODMAN: What is your sense of where this leak came from, Larry Johnson?

LARRY JOHNSON: I’ve been told by someone who I believe has direct knowledge that it came out of the old executive office building.

OK, so he is admitting he is in contact with people with direct knowledge. And he was talking to insiders still at the CIA:

What I am told by people who were inside working on intelligence issues at the time, is that there was direct pressure being brought by variety of people who were — they had a world-view of what they wanted to see. And they were insistent upon trying to get evidence to corroborate that world-view.

Nothing damning, just clear indications Larry Johnson was inserting himself into this story quite heavily. How heavily will be interesting to see. And it would be interesting to see if the other VIP members participated as well.

To give folks one last glimpse at the fanaticism in this group I end with this post by a student reporting in a McGovern speech at his school – quite enlightening. I hope Wilson and Plame were not working with these folks, answering their call to rise up against Bush. These are not stable people to be playing games with on our national security:

For starters, Mr. McGovern asserted that the United States is today a one-party state because Republicans control the White House, Senate, and Congress. The speaker declared that we in this country are moving toward a fascist state and, on more than one occasion, compared the Bush administration to Hitler and the Nazi machine. He used quotes from Goering and compared the Holocaust to the arrests of Arab-Americans in the present. Mr. McGovern suggested that President Bush should be impeached because he lied to the nation about Iraq and claimed that the President usurped the power of the Congress. He called President Bush a war criminal that should be arrested and tried before the World Court of Justice.

Most outrageous of all his lunatic claims was that the President would create a terrorist attack in order to win the election. Yes, you read it correctly. Mr. McGovern stated that one month from today if President Bush is behind in the polls he will “create” a terrorist attack on American soil in order to postpone the election and find a way to win. McGovern charged the President with conspiring to kill Americans for political reasons.

Can you believe this guy was in a position to protect this country from harm?

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Plame & The Rogue CIA”

  1. Rove Was On The Grassy Knoll, Update VIII

    I have a feeling the left is not going to like the result of the Fitzgerald Grand Jury.

  2. […] This is just a distinction without a purpose. People should be aware there was no need to send anyone to Niger – they had people and sources there. My guess is Plame, Wilson and Johnson cooked up the idea of the trip as a way to establish a platform against the war. As I pointed out previously, Johnson runs with a truly bizarre anti-war, ex-CIA crowd straight out of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Check out this interesting summation by Johnson: At the end of the day, Joe Wilson was right. There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. It was the Bush Administration that pushed that lie and because of that lie Americans are dying. Shame on those who continue to slander Joe Wilson while giving Bush and his pack of liars a pass. That’s the true outrage. […]