Nov 20 2005

Fitzmas Makes Its Mark!

Published by at 11:53 pm under All General Discussions,Plame Game

OK, that is one pun laden post title – as you will see in a second. Jack Kelly was discussing the Woodward Fitzmas bringing coal in the stockings, and mentioned a dear blog friend Mark Coffey!

But what really makes Mr. Woodward, in the delicious phrase of Web logger Mark Coffey, “the Grinch who stole Fitzmas,” is his admission that it might have been he who mentioned to Mr. Libby that Mr. Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA

Mark, you may go down in history!!

Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Cheers, AJStrata

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Fitzmas Makes Its Mark!”

  1. Decision '08 says:

    Decision ‘08 Turns One

    On November 21st, 2004, the online world changed forever. With only 127,835 options for online punditry, the public clamored for number 127,836 – and along came Decision ‘08. Here is an excerpt from that momentous first post, creatively titled…

  2. Seixon says:

    Libby’s explanation about hearing this buzz from journalists sounds more and more plausible. In fact, Woodward, Miller, and Novak all knew before Libby spoke with Russert. Not only that, but Libby knew that they knew. Which brings me to ask: if Libby has been telling the truth, what about Russert?

    People on the Left have been complaining that Woodward shouldn’t have been commenting on the case since he was involved in it, yet Russert was involved and has been talking about the case a lot, without even mentioning his involvement… Funny how that works.

    Would Russert be indicted for perjury if he told a fib? Now that would be funny.

  3. sbd says:

    Agencies Debate Value of Being Out in the Cold; Spies Under ‘Nonofficial Cover’ Are Among Most Sensitive Operations The Washington Post January 12, 1996, Friday, Final Edition


    LENGTH: 1099 words

    HEADLINE: Agencies Debate Value of Being Out in the Cold; Spies Under ‘Nonofficial Cover’ Are Among Most Sensitive Operations

    BYLINE: Walter Pincus, Washington Post Staff Writer

    She was a CIA case officer working in Europe covertly, holding herself out as the representative of a Texas foundation that was interested in world economics.

    Unlike most CIA case officers overseas who work out of U.S. embassies and purport to be diplomats, she was operating under what CIA calls “nonofficial cover” (NOC).

    When tradecraft errors led to her entrapment by French counterintelligence, she left the country and her case eventually became a public embarrassment for both Washington and Paris.

    “NOCs,” a former senior intelligence official said recently, “are the most difficult and costly clandestine operations to support, and the most dangerous. If you are caught,” he went on, “there is no diplomatic immunity. It’s frequently jail or, in some countries, even death.”

    Today, as the roles and missions of American spying are being reviewed, administration and congressional sources say, one of the most sensitive debates in the U.S. intelligence community is whether to step up the overseas use of NOCs, not only by the CIA but also by the Pentagon’s Defense Humint Service and the FBI, both of which also can work abroad under cover.

    Four years ago, faced with new post-Cold War targets such as terrorism and counter-proliferation, then-CIA Director Robert M. Gates “tried to significantly increase the number of these people [NOCs] in a way that would have changed the agency’s operations directorate,” a retired official said recently.

    Gates will not discuss his still-secret plan to expand use of NOCs, but the former director continues to believe the time has come to cut back on the practice of having CIA officers abroad primarily operating out of embassies. “When you were recruiting a Pole, Hungarian or Soviet,” he said in a telephone interview, “the easiest way was on the diplomatic circuit. . . . But as we try to deal with this new range of issues, you are not going to meet any people [involved in terrorism or proliferation] on that circuit. You need to be in other circles.”

    Gates said, for example, a NOC with technical background working as a physicist has a better chance of striking up a relationship with someone associated with nuclear proliferation targets than a CIA case officer working as a diplomat in a U.S. embassy.

    The CIA has always had some NOCs, but because of the sensitivity of their cover, almost no one wants to discuss them as they operate today, nor whether their numbers have increased. “The matter is under active discussion,” said a congressional source familiar with intelligence operations. CIA spokesman Dennis Boxx said he could not discuss the matter.

    In the past, some NOCs were employed by CIA proprietaries, which are companies founded and operated secretly by the agency. Others worked alone as consultants or representatives of American companies, and a few were attached to overseas offices of U.S. corporations with only one or two people in the company knowing their CIA connection. In one case more than a decade ago, a CIA NOC worked as the paid public relations adviser to a country’s president.

    “I can remember one case where a NOC functioned in a capital abroad because he was close to a senior government official there and got feedback on visiting leaders,” said one retired CIA official. “Another [NOC], an Arab American, spoke to Arabs as they passed through the country in which he held down a nonrelated job,” he added.

    Using NOCs, said one former top CIA official familiar with the practice, “sounds better than in fact it is.” Although the technique “has value in highly selective situations where a person gains access to special information,” he said, “the risk has to be commensurate with the gain, and it often isn’t.”

    Because they operate alone and outside embassies, NOCs need their own secure communications and a safe way to keep their highly classified files.

    “They are very expensive,” the former top official said, “and very difficult to manage or control since they have to be isolated and insulated from other U.S. government employees.”

    In addition, they have to carry on their cover employment along with spying and the “two jobs become very stressful,” the official said.

    They also often have to be paid more than their colleagues because “they have to act as high fliers on GS-14 salaries, spending on things that give [government] auditors heart attacks,” one official said. “Even their insurance program has to be different because of the dangers they face,” he added.

    A second CIA official said, “The backup inside the agency is much greater than normal operations.” Beyond the usual three or four officers that serve each embassy-based case officer abroad, additional personnel at CIA headquarters work to support each NOC so that those agents have direct coverage 24 hours a day, other sources said.

    The type of person recruited to be a NOC usually is different from a newly hired case officer. “The best [NOCs] are normally older people, experienced in the business they use as cover and often already fluent in several languages,” one former senior CIA official said. But they can produce difficult personnel problems.

    State Department officials are uncomfortable with NOCs, a senior department official said recently. Ambassadors, who as heads of the country team are supposed to be aware of all clandestine CIA activities within their borders, are not informed about NOCs.

    The recent flap over the CIA’s female NOC who was operating in Europe illustrates the problem.

    Several years ago, she approached a French government official and offered him money to write some reports on economic activity in that country that she said her foundation would distribute to American businessmen as her work.

    The Frenchman was impressed by her and wanted the money so he supplied her with several papers using inside government information to which he had access. He did not know she was an American spying on France. “It was good cover, and, for a time, it worked,” said an intelligence expert familiar with her activities.

    When the woman’s spying role became apparent to a male friend, however, he turned her in to French counterintelligence, which began a surveillance that exposed her activities.

    The French government brought the matter to the attention of the U.S. Embassy in Paris; Ambassador Pamela Harriman had not been aware of the woman’s activities.

    The former CIA official said the French situation is a case where the intelligence gained through the economic information the woman obtained was not worth the risk.

    LOAD-DATE: January 12, 1996

    Doesn’t this story sound familar? It sure sounds like the story I posted here last week where formerCIA Russman, Plames’ former boss hints that this NOC was Valerie with similar language to the above story.

    NOC NOC. Who’s There? A Special Kind of Agent
    Time Magazine
    Michael Duffy and Timothy J. Burger
    October 27th, 2003

    Some Bush partisans have suggested that the outing of Plame is no big deal, that she was “just an analyst” or maybe, as a G.O.P. Congressman told CNN, “a glorified secretary.” But the facts tell otherwise. Plame was, for starters, a former NOC — that is, a spy with nonofficial cover who worked overseas as a private individual with no apparent connection to the U.S. government. NOCs are among the government’s most closely guarded secrets, because they often work for real or fictive private companies overseas and are set loose to spy solo. NOCs are harder to train, more expensive to place and can remain undercover longer than conventional spooks. They can also go places and see people whom those under official cover cannot. They are in some ways the most vulnerable of all clandestine officers, since they have no claim to diplomatic immunity if they get caught.

    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.”

    For decades, a varying number of NOCs (the exact figure is classified) have been installed abroad in big multinational corporations, small companies or bogus academic posts. The more genteel rules of traditional espionage do not apply to NOCs. When the Soviets caught a diplomat doing spy work during the cold war, they roughed him up a little and sent him home. Unmasked NOCs, on the other hand, have met with much harsher fates: CIA officer Hugh Redmond was caught in Shanghai in 1951 posing as an employee of a British import-export company and spent 19 years in a Chinese prison before dying there. In early 1995 the French rolled up five CIA officers, including a woman who had been working as a NOC under business cover for about five years. Although the NOC caught in Paris in 1995 was simply sent home, “it might not have been so easy in an Arab country,” says a former CIA official familiar with the matter. “[NOCs] have no diplomatic status, so they can end up in slammers.”

    So, if I am correct, then Pincus knew Valerie back in 1996 when he wrote that story. In 1996, she would still be Valerie Plame since she didn’t marry Joe until 1998. This explains why her maiden name was used because it probably took some of them a while to put 2 and 2 together to conclude Valerie Wilson is Valerie Plame from 1996 Paris flap!!



  4. Seixon says:

    If Pincus was writing about Plame back in 1996, then he has a lot of explaining to do! I’d say that the special prosecutor should subpoena him and ask just when in the hell he knew that Mrs. Wilson had NOC…

    Pincus has been awfully defensive about this whole thing…

    Makes you also wonder if the French made Plame take a deal to do counterintelligence on their behalf…

  5. sbd says:

    Makes you also wonder if the French made Plame take a deal to do counterintelligence on their behalf…

    Now that you mention it, this whole 1996 Paris flap looks almost as if it was done on purpose. The incident was leaked to the press and did benefit the soon to be President of France Chirac!! Chirac’s opponent was accused of leaking the story to divert attention from a questionable charge of wire tapping an office.

    CIA agents in France were ‘more Clouseau than Bond’ The Times March 7, 1995, Tuesday

    SECTION: Overseas news

    LENGTH: 425 words

    HEADLINE: CIA agents in France were ‘more Clouseau than Bond’

    BYLINE: Adam Sage in Paris

    THE CIA emerges as ham-fisted and ill-informed from a leaked French account of its vain attempts to spy in Paris.

    American agents asked the most basic questions, fell into the most obvious traps and committed a series of gaffes as they sought access to the workings of the French Government, according to the newspaper, Le Figaro.

    The disclosures come a fortnight after Paris confirmed that five alleged US spies had been asked to leave France, sparking a diplomatic crisis between the two countries. According to the DST, the French counter-espionage agency, the CIA wanted information on the agricultural and cultural issues that dominated arguments between France and the US during the 1993 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade negotiations.

    But the American operation appears to have owed more to Inspector Clouseau than James Bond. One of the CIA agents, named as Mary-Ann Baumgartner, thought she had a direct line to the French state when she made friends with ‘’Henri’’, an adviser to Edouard Balladur, the Prime Minister, according to Le Figaro. In fact, Henri had been alerted to Mrs Baumgartner’s undercover role by the French Interior Ministry and told to act as bait.

    Resigning as M Balladur’s adviser just 12 days after his appointment in April 1993, Henri explained to Mrs Baumgartner that he had decided to concentrate on his own political career. She, apparently, believed his story and asked him to meet the ‘’head of the Minnesota cereal lobby’’ in a hotel near Charles de Gaulle airport. Henri obliged, answered the ‘’lobbyist’s’’ questions and was given 5,000 francs (about Pounds 600).

    There were four more interviews between Henri and the man from Minnesota, named as Pastor, who took to arriving with a questionnaire. Each time, Henri filled in the answers which he gleaned from the French press or made up, Le Figaro says. In January last year, Pastor introduced Henri to a woman described as ‘’the big boss’’. She, at least, earned a measure of respect from her French counterparts, making it difficult for them to photograph her and revealing little about herself.

    Nevertheless, she was identified as a ‘’high-ranking’’ CIA analyst. Among other things, she asked Henri why France was so worked up about cultural issues when ‘’a majority of films on French television are American’’ a curious question from a Minnesotan agricultural lobbyist.

    Henri was pulled out of his counter-espionage role at that stage; however, Le Figaro says, it is not clear why this should be made public 13 months later.