KOA radio host Mike Rosen baselessly asserted that former CIA operative Valerie Plame's neighbors "knew that she worked for the CIA" before her identity as a CIA operative was publicly disclosed. Moreover, Rosen claimed that "no crime was committed" in the revelation of Plame's CIA identity. In fact, the special counsel investigating the Plame matter has contradicted the claim that her neighbors knew of Plame's employment and has also stated that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's alleged perjury and obstruction of justice prevented him from determining whether an underlying crime was committed.
In his July 25 broadcast, KOA radio host Mike Rosen baselessly asserted that former CIA operative Valerie Plame's neighbors "knew that she worked for the CIA" before syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak disclosed her CIA identity in a column on July 14, 2003. Moreover, Rosen claimed that "no crime was committed" in the revelation of Plame's CIA identity. In fact, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel named to lead a grand-jury investigation of the Plame leak, has contradicted the claim that her neighbors knew of Plame's employment. Fitzgerald has further stated that former vice-presidential chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby's alleged perjury and obstruction of justice prevented him "from making the fine judgments we want to make" about whether an underlying crime was committed. Rosen also repeatedly read from a misleading July 17 editorial regarding the Plame case in Investor's Business Daily (subscription required).
On his show, Rosen claimed that Libby "hasn't been charged with a crime regarding the revelation of Valerie Plame's name because no crime was committed and revealing her name would not have been against the law because she hadn't been a covert agent for at least five years prior to that." As Media Matters for America has noted, Fitzgerald explained in a press release on October 28, 2005, that Libby's alleged perjury and obstruction had prevented Fitzgerald from reaching a conclusion about whether a crime had been committed in the leak of Plame's identity (in his public statements, Fitzgerald has referred to Plame by her married name, Valerie Wilson):
Without the truth, our criminal justice system cannot serve our nation or its citizens. The requirement to tell the truth applies equally to all citizens, including persons who hold high positions in government. In an investigation concerning the compromise of a CIA officer's identity, it is especially important that grand jurors learn what really happened. The indictment returned today alleges that the efforts of the grand jury to investigate such a leak were obstructed when Mr. Libby lied about how and when he learned and subsequently disclosed classified information about Valerie Wilson.
At a press conference the same day, a reporter specifically asked Fitzgerald whether the probe would fail to "lead to a charge of leaking." In response, Fitzgerald compared himself to an umpire who, while attempting to determine whether a pitcher intentionally hit a batter, had sand thrown in his eyes:
FITZGERALD: Well, why is this a leak investigation that doesn't result in a charge? I've been trying to think about how to explain this, so let me try. I know baseball analogies are the fad these days. Let me try something.
If you saw a baseball game and you saw a pitcher wind up and throw a fastball and hit a batter right smack in the head, and it really, really hurt them, you'd want to know why the pitcher did that.
In this case, it's a lot more serious than baseball. And the damage wasn't to one person. It wasn't just Valerie Wilson. It was done to all of us.
And as you sit back, you want to learn: Why was this information going out? Why were people taking this information about Valerie Wilson and giving it to reporters? Why did Mr. Libby say what he did? Why did he tell [New York Times reporter] Judith Miller three times? Why did he tell the press secretary on Monday? Why did he tell Mr. [Matthew] Cooper [of Time magazine]? And was this something where he intended to cause whatever damage was caused?
Or did they intend to do something else, and where are the shades of gray?
And what we have when someone charges obstruction of justice, the umpire gets sand thrown in his eyes. He's trying to figure what happened, and somebody blocked their view.
As you sit here now, if you're asking me what his motives were, I can't tell you; we haven't charged it.
So what you were saying is the harm in an obstruction investigation is it prevents us from making the fine judgments we want to make.
Rosen cited no support for his claim that Plame "hadn't been a covert agent for at least five years prior to [the revelation of Plame's CIA identity in July 2003]." Fitzgerald has not publicly spoken about that issue. However, Judge David Tatel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit addressed the issue in a February 3 concurring opinion on a subpoena sought by Fitzgerald. Tatel wrote: "[T]he special counsel refers to Plame as 'a person whose identity the CIA was making specific efforts to conceal and who had carried out covert work overseas within the last 5 years' -- representations I trust the special counsel would not make without support." Newsweek reported on Tatel's opinion in its February 16 issue in an article titled "The CIA Leak: Plame Was Still Covert."
Later on his show, Rosen asserted that "Valerie Plame's neighbors knew that she worked for the CIA and ... the inside-the-Beltway crowd -- people like [NBC chief foreign affairs correspondent] Andrea Mitchell -- knew that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA." Apparently to support this assertion, Rosen stated that when he lived in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., he "had at least two neighbors who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency. ... [A]ll of their friends and neighbors knew they worked for the Central Intelligence Agency."
However, during the press conference on October 28, 2005, Fitzgerald stated:
FITZGERALD: Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer. In July 2003, the fact that Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer was classified. Not only was it classified, but it was not widely known outside the intelligence community.
Valerie Wilson's friends, neighbors, college classmates had no idea she had another life.
The fact that she was a CIA officer was not well-known, for her protection or for the benefit of all us. It's important that a CIA officer's identity be protected, that it be protected not just for the officer, but for the nation's security.
Valerie Wilson's cover was blown in July 2003. The first sign of that cover being blown was when Mr. Novak published a column on July 14th, 2003.
In addition, as Media Matters for America has noted, Plame's neighbors have reportedly told the FBI that that they did not even know that she worked for the CIA, much less that she was a classified officer.
Reading from the Investor's Business Daily editorial, Rosen repeated the claim that Plame had revealed her CIA identity when she filed a disclosure of a campaign contribution that listed as her employer Brewster-Jennings & Associates, which he said was known as a CIA front company:
ROSEN: It could be argued that Valerie Plame blew her own cover when she made a $1,000 contribution to the Al Gore for President campaign and listed her CIA cover company as her employer in the FEC -- the Federal Election Commission -- filing. In 1999, when she made the contributions to Al Gore, she listed her employer as Brewster-Jennings & Associates. This is a fictitious Boston-based company designed to provide cover for some CIA operatives and employees.
As Media Matters for America has noted, there is considerable faulty logic in this argument. As the editorial itself notes, the CIA's very purpose in establishing a front company like Brewster-Jennings is to shield certain CIA operatives' employment by the CIA, and Plame's listing of Brewster-Jennings on her FEC filing was therefore consistent with keeping her cover intact.
Rosen also repeated from the Investor's Business Daily editorial the claim made by retired Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely that former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, Plame's husband, had disclosed Plame's CIA identity to Vallely before Novak published his column:
ROSEN: Retired Major General Paul Vallely, who regularly appears on the Fox News Channel as a military and foreign-affairs commentator, has said that he once sat in Fox's green room with Joe Wilson, who volunteered that his wife worked for the CIA. That was more than a year before Robert Novak's column.
Media Matters for America has noted that Vallely has given numerous conflicting accounts as to the timing and frequency of instances in which Wilson allegedly disclosed his wife's CIA identity, a disclosure that Wilson categorically denies.
Rosen also repeated the editorial's reference to reporter Andrea Mitchell's appearance on CNBC's Capital Report on October 3, 2003, in which she apparently suggested that Plame's CIA identity "was widely known among those of us who cover the intelligence community and who were actively engaged in trying to track down who among the foreign service community was the envoy to Niger."
As Media Matters for America has noted, Mitchell subsequently explained on the November 10, 2005, edition of MSNBC's Imus in the Morning that she "may have misspoken in October of '03 in that interview." She also explained that she "did not know [of Plame's employment] before the Novak column." On Imus, Mitchell stated:
MITCHELL: The fact is that I did not know -- did not know before, did not know before the Novak column. And it was very clear, because I had interviewed Joe Wilson several times, including on Meet the Press. And in none of those interviews did any of this come up, on or off camera, I have to tell you.
From the July 25 broadcast of KOA's The Mike Rosen Show:
ROSEN: You might wonder why Valerie Plame was sitting at a desk at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Keeping in mind that once upon a time she was a covert agent. Now, don't get confused when you hear "covert agent." It doesn't mean she was "Valerie Plame 009." It doesn't mean she was a spy, it doesn't mean she was carrying a Beretta and -- or a Walther PPK or driving an Aston Martin DB5, it didn't mean she had a license to kill. It didn't mean she was ever involved in the kind of on-the-ground, personal intelligence and espionage. But the CIA has a number of front companies. You probably heard of "Air America," ironically -- not Air America the left-wing radio network. Air America was a CIA front airline that people on the know were familiar with during the Vietnam era. In any event, she had an analyst job of a covert nature, which is not the same thing as Valerie Plame being James Bond. That was some time ago -- not in the last six or seven years, to be sure. Most recently, she was sitting at a desk at CIA headquarters in Langley and was no longer a covert agent. Let me stop there, and I'll pick up on that when we come back after this.
So why was Plame behind a desk at Langley, not doing what she had done earlier in a covert capacity? According to Washington Times reporter Bill Gertz, "U.S. officials said Plame's identity was first disclosed to Russia by a Moscow spy in the mid-1990s. The Cubans learned her identity when they read supposedly sealed documents sent by the CIA to the U.S. Interests Section at the Swiss Embassy in Havana."
Her value as a covert asset vanished long ago. One of the reasons Plame had a desk job at Langley, having been brought back to the U.S. in 1994, was that the CIA suspected her identity had been compromised by turncoat spy Aldrich Ames.
In fact, when 36 news organizations filed a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the New York Times' Judith Miller and Time magazine's Matthew Cooper -- both of whom faced criminal charges for refusing to name their sources -- these 36 news organizations, for the most part liberal, made the argument, citing Bill Gertz's story and his reporting in The Washington Times, that Plame's identity was already known worldwide.
Some of these news organizations were the very same ones who were at the same time, out of the other side of their mouth cluck-clucking about Valerie Plame's identity being compromised by Scooter Libby or Karl Rove or somebody in the White House, when her identity was compromised long before the Bush administration -- George W. Bush -- even took office after the 2000 election. Talk about hypocrisy.
It could be argued that Valerie Plame blew her own cover when she made a $1,000 contribution to the Al Gore for President campaign and listed her CIA cover company as her employer in the FEC -- the Federal Election Commission -- filing. In 1999, when she made the contributions to Al Gore, she listed her employer as Brewster-Jennings & Associates. This is a fictitious Boston-based company designed to provide cover for some CIA operatives and employees.
And people in the intelligence business, including our enemies in the intelligence business, know the names of these front employers. So when Valerie Plame listed her employment status as with Brewster-Jennings, of course, on these FEC documents, she revealed voluntarily her CIA connection.
Retired Major General Paul Vallely, who regularly appears on the Fox News Channel as a military and foreign affairs commentator, has said that he once sat in Fox's green room with Joe Wilson, who volunteered that his wife worked for the CIA. That was more than a year before Robert Novak's column.
Reporter Andrea Mitchell, when asked in an October 2003 appearance on CNBC who knew Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, she said: "It was widely known among those of us who cover the intelligence community and who were actively engaged in trying to track down who among the foreign-service community was in Niger."
ROSEN: What we have in the predicament of Lewis Libby is that he hasn't been charged with a crime regarding the revelation of Valerie Plame's name because no crime was committed --
ROSEN: -- and revealing her name would not have been against the law because she hadn't been a covert agent for at least five years prior to that.
ROSEN: He's been charged with obstruction of justice --
CALLER: And perjury.
ROSEN: -- and perjury, and that's associated with his account of a few phone calls out of hundreds of calls that he makes every day. His account, which disagrees with reporters' notes of those phone calls. And he was asked to recall those conversations years after he had conducted those conversations over the telephone.
CALLER: Exactly right. And I guess he did make some contradictory answers to the same questions -- or very similar questions -- to the grand jury, which got blown up to perjury. I don't know how. But it depends on who the judge is and how narrow he wants the issues to be framed.
ROSEN: Yes, and also, Fitzgerald after this long, tedious, expensive investigation no doubt felt obliged to come up with something. He couldn't get [White House senior adviser] Karl Rove. He couldn't get [Vice President] Dick Cheney. He couldn't get George W. Bush. So, the fall guy is Lewis Libby.
CALLER: If the judge is like John Sirica was during the hearings 30 years ago -- you know, the -- what am I trying to think of?
ROSEN: You're talking about Watergate?
CALLER: Watergate, yeah. If he's going to be a judge like that, this guy's in trouble.
ROSEN: Well, we'll see. And, of course, then Libby gets an appeal as well.
CALLER: Yeah, sure he does. But appeals don't often work.
ROSEN: That's true. When I lived in the Washington area, worked in Washington, D.C., I was living -- my family and I were living in Great Falls, Virginia, which is a wonderful suburb just on the other side of McLean, where a lot of Beltway types live. And [former] Senator Bill Armstrong [R-CO] lived nearby. [Former Rep.] Guy Vander Jagt [R-MI] -- another member of Congress -- he lived nearby. It was a very nice neighborhood. We rented a house -- a house we couldn't have afforded to buy, by the way, but we rented it. And I had at least two neighbors who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency. Now they didn't have a sign on their house saying, "I work for the CIA." And their jobs were the kind of jobs that they wouldn't want to put on the front page of The Washington Post. But all of their friends and neighbors knew they worked for the Central Intelligence Agency. Just as Valerie Plame's neighbors knew that she worked for the CIA and just as, as I explained earlier, the inside-the-Beltway crowd -- people like Andrea Mitchell -- knew that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA. Bob Novak was revealing nothing that wasn't well known in Beltway circles.