Saturday, July 23, 2005



I don't spend a lot of time in front of the boob-tube. I try to catch SOUTH PARK on weekday nights and sometimes I wind up watching RENO 911 if it's on before or after SOUTH PARK and I flip on the tv. Once in a while I'll see what's cooking on the History Channel and when I wake up in the mornings I turn on CNN and see what damage Bush has caused to the world overnight. Sometimes I'll have CNN on when I'm getting dressed and sometimes someone else, usually Roland, will crank up the set in the living room adjacent to my office and I'll hear snatches of something on CNN or, if he's looking for a fight with me, he'll have put on Fox "News." Once in a while Roland will shout, "hey look at this C-Span thing" and I'll walk over and take a look. But one execrable creature I have managed to catch more and more frequently is some ubiquitous Republican talking head. I'm not exactly clear what he is exactly although he seems to be a right-wing propagandist embedded with the CNN operation. His name is Clifford May and I've never heard him say anything remotely true. They just have him come on CNN and spin out some blatant lies and then they move on to talk about the missing Alabama girl in Aruba and her family or maybe update America on what's new with the Runaway Bride from Georgia or any of the Infotainment-manufactured fake "news" stories created to titillate and excite and take up time between the advertisements. But this May guy has been on a lot lately, just spewing all kinds of trash about "Treasongate." Someone listening to him give out the Rove-authored Far Right's party line would probably think that Valerie Plame and her former ambassador husband were traitors to our country and that stalwart, heroic Karl Rove had unmasked them after catching them red handed trying to undermine the Cucumber-in-Chief and turn the country over to Saddam Hussein. At the very least you would be convinced that Valerie Plame was an inconsequential CIA desk jockey with no undercover status and that certainly no crimes or even misdeeds ever occurred in relation to the tempest in a teapot the unpatriotic Democrats have brewed up to undermine America and turn it over to Saddam Hussein and colored people. Clifford May makes me ill. He's a lying sack of shit with a smug, ugly, well-fed Republican face. Americans passing him on the street should be allowed to spit on him for his desecration of our national honor.

For people who may have missed former CIA officer (and former prosecutor) James Marcinkowski's testimony on C-Span yesterday, I'm posting most of what he had to say. Next time you hear Clifford May (or any of the other professional liars employed by the Republicans to deceive, confuse or obfuscate (think Ken Mehlman, William Safire, Bill O'Reilly, the amen chorus of phony "send-in-your-checks-today" so-called "preachers," Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Tucker Eskew...), just remember what a real on-the-line patriot like Marcinkowski had to say about this.

July 22, 2005

What is important now is not who wins or loses the political battle or who may or may not be indicted; rather, it is a question of how we will go about protecting the citizens of this country in a very dangerous world. The undisputed fact is that we have irreparably damaged our capability to collect human intelligence and thereby significantly diminished our capability to protect the American people.

Understandable to all Americans is a simple, incontrovertible, but damning truth: the United States government exposed the identity of a clandestine officer working for the CIA. This is not just another partisan "dust-up" between political parties. This unprecedented act will have far-reaching consequences for covert operations around the world. Equally disastrous is that from the time of that first damning act, we have continued on a course of self-inflicted wounds by government officials who have refused to take any responsibility, have played hide-and-seek with the truth and engaged in semantic parlor games for more than two years, all at the expense of the safety of the American people. No government official has that right.

For an understanding of what is at stake it is important to understand some fundamental principles. No country or hostile group, from al Qaeda to any drug rings operating in our cities, likes to be infiltrated or spied upon. The CIA, much like any police department in any city, has undercover officers--spies, that use "cover."

To operate under "cover" means you use some ruse to cloak both your identity and your intentions. The degree of cover needed to carry out any operation varies depending on the target of the investigation. A police officer performing "street buys" uses a "light" cover, meaning he or she could pose as something as simple as a drug user, operate only at night and during the day and, believe it or not, have a desk job in the police station. On the other hand, if an attempt were made to infiltrate a crime syndicate, visiting the local police station or drinking with fellow FBI agents after work may be out of the question. In any scenario, your cover, no matter what the degree, provides personal protection and safety. But it does not end there. Cover is also used to protect collection methodology as well as any innocent persons a CIA officer may have regular contact with, such as overseas acquaintances, friends, and even other U.S. government officials.

While cover provides a degree of safety for the case officer, it also provides security for that officer's informants or agents. In most human intelligence operations, the confidentiality of the cover used by a CIA officer and the personal security of the agent or asset is mutually dependent. A case officer cannot be identified as working for the CIA, just as the informant/agent cannot be identified as working for the CIA through the case officer. If an informant or agent is exposed as working for the CIA, there is a good chance that the CIA officer has been identified as well. Similarly, if the CIA officer is exposed, his or her agents or informants are exposed. In all cases, the cover of a case officer ensures not only his or her own personal safety but that of the agents or assets as well.

The exposure of Valerie Plame's cover by the White House is the same as the local chief of police announcing to the media the identity of its undercover drug officers. In both cases, the ability of the officer to operate is destroyed, but there is also an added dimension. An informant in a major sophisticated crime network, or a CIA asset working in a foreign government, if exposed, has a rather good chance of losing more than just their ability to operate.

Any undercover officer, whether in the police department or the CIA, will tell you that the major concern of their informant or agent is their personal safety and that of their family. Cover is safety. If you cannot guarantee that safety in some form or other, the person will not work for you and the source of important information will be lost.

So how is the Valerie Plame incident perceived by any current or potential agent of the CIA? I will guarantee you that if the local police chief identified the names of the department's undercover officers, any half-way sophisticated undercover operation would come to a halt and if he survived that accidental discharge of a weapon in police headquarters, would be asked to retire.

And so the real issues before this Congress and this country today is not partisan politics, not even the loss of secrets. The secrets of Valerie Plame's cover are long gone. What has suffered perhaps irreversible damage is the credibility of our case officers when they try to convince our overseas contact that their safety is of primary importance to us. How are our case officers supposed to build and maintain that confidence when their own government cannot even guarantee the personal protection of the home team? While the loss of secrets in the world of espionage may be damaging, the stealing of the credibility of our CIA officers is unforgivable....

And so we are left with only one fundamental truth, the U.S. government exposed the identity of a covert operative. I am not convinced that the toothpaste can be put back into the tube. Great damage has been done and that damage has been increasing every single day for more than two years. The problem of the refusal to accept responsibility by senior government officials is ongoing and causing greater damage to our national security and our ability to collect human intelligence. But the problem lies not only with government officials but also with the media, commentators and other apologists who have no clue as to the workings of the intelligence community. Think about what we are doing from the perspective of our overseas human intelligence assets or potential assets.

I believe Bob Novak when he credited senior administration officials for the initial leak, or the simple, but not insignificant confirmation of that secret information, as I believe a CIA officer in some far away country will lose an opportunity to recruit an asset that may be of invaluable service to our covert war on terror because "promises of protection" will no longer carry the level of trust they once had.

Each time the leader of a political party opens his mouth in public to deflect responsibility, the word overseas is loud and clear--politics in this country does in fact trump national security.

Each time a distinguished ambassador is ruthlessly attacked for the information he provided, a foreign asset will contemplate why he should risk his life when his information will not be taken seriously.

Each time there is a perceived political "success" in deflecting responsibility by debating or re-debating some minutia, such actions are equally effective in undermining the ability of this country to protect itself against its enemies, because the two are indeed related. Each time the political machine made up of prime-time patriots and partisan ninnies display their ignorance by deriding Valerie Plame as a mere "paper-pusher," or belittling the varying degrees of cover used to protect our officers, or continuing to play partisan politics with our national security, it is a disservice to this country. By ridiculing, for example, the "degree" of cover or the use of post office boxes, you lessen the level of confidence that foreign nationals place in our covert capabilities.

Those who would advocate the "I'm ok, you're ok" politics of non-responsibility, should probably think about the impact of those actions on our foreign agents. Non-responsibility means we don't care. Not caring means a loss of security. A loss of security means a loss of an agent. The loss of an agent means the loss of information. The loss of information means an increase in the risk to the people of the United States.

There is a very serious message here. Before you shine up your American flag lapel pin and affix your patriotism to your sleeve, think about what the impact your actions will have on the security of the American people. Think about whether your partisan obfuscation is creating confidence in the United States in general and the CIA in particular. If not, a true patriot would shut up.

Those who take pride in their political ability to divert the issue from the fundamental truth ought to be prepared to take their share of the responsibility for the continuing damage done to our national security.

When this unprecedented act first occurred, the president could have immediately demanded the resignation of all persons even tangentially involved. Or, at a minimum, he could have suspended the security clearances of these persons and placed them on administrative leave. Such methods are routine with police forces throughout the country. That would have at least sent the right message around the globe, that we take the security of those risking their lives on behalf of the United States seriously. Instead, we have flooded the foreign airwaves with two years of inaction, political rhetoric, ignorance, and partisan bickering. That's the wrong message. In doing so we have not lessened, but increased the threat to the security and safety of the people of the United States.

Let me add one more thing. Can anyone read what this man has to say and NOT think
about impeaching Bush and cleaning up the myriad of stains on the honor of our country by getting rid of the corrupt and vicious gang of criminals he has running the government? Citizens MUST demand the voting process is fair and clean and that Republicans can never again thwart the will of the majority and seize power the way they did in 2000 and 2004. The midterm elections of 2006 will give patriotic Americans an opportunity to elect a Congress that will investigate the Bush Regime's crimes, impeach him and start the long hard process back to normalcy.


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