Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 30, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

"IT SICKENS ME TO BE A REPUBLICAN TO SEE THIS"....Thanks to zhermit in comments to this post, here are some excerpts from tonight's NewsHour about the Valerie Plame affair. The comments are from Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst and counterterrorism official at the State Department:

TERENCE SMITH: Larry Johnson, explain what the dangers are that are inherent in identifying an undercover operator. What is the worry here?

LARRY JOHNSON: Let's be very clear about what happened. This is not an alleged abuse. This is a confirmed abuse. I worked with this woman. She started training with me. She has been undercover for three decades, she is not as Bob Novak suggested a CIA analyst. But given that, I was a CIA analyst for four years. I was undercover. I could not divulge to my family outside of my wife that I worked for the Central Intelligence Agency until I left the agency on September 30, 1989. At that point I could admit it.

So the fact that she's been undercover for three decades and that has been divulged is outrageous because she was put undercover for certain reasons. One, she works in an area where people she meets with overseas could be compromised. When you start tracing back who she met with, even people who innocently met with her, who are not involved in CIA operations, could be compromised. For these journalists to argue that this is no big deal and if I hear another Republican operative suggesting that well, this was just an analyst fine, let them go undercover. Let's put them overseas and let's out them and then see how they like it. They won't be able to stand the heat.

....TERENCE SMITH: We should point out for the record that we invited Bob Novak to join this discussion. He told me this afternoon that he had said all he had to say on this. Your reaction, Larry?

LARRY JOHNSON: I say this as a registered Republican. I'm on record giving contributions to the George Bush campaign. This is not about partisan politics. This is about a betrayal, a political smear of an individual with no relevance to the story. Publishing her name in that story added nothing to it. His entire intent was correctly as Ambassador Wilson noted: to intimidate, to suggest that there was some impropriety that somehow his wife was in a decision making position to influence his ability to go over and savage a stupid policy, an erroneous policy and frankly, what was a false policy of suggesting that there were nuclear material in Iraq that required this war. This was about a political attack. To pretend that it's something else and to get into this parsing of words, I tell you, it sickens me to be a Republican to see this.

....TERENCE SMITH: Is there any evidence so far that any damage to national security or individuals has resulted from this?

LARRY JOHNSON: No, not to my knowledge but that's not the issue. It is the principle. You do not -- it is not up to the journalists to decide which officer they are going to out. We saw this in the 70s with Marchetti and others and Philip Agee who outed officers and they were killed. I don't want to wait until we get a body count. The principle's established: do not divulge the names of these people. In my own career trainee class I did not know Joe's wife last name; we went by our first initials.

TERENCE SMITH: You were in the same class with her?

LARRY JOHNSON: I was in the same class with her. I was Larry J. In fact, when I first saw her last name I didn't recognize her until one of other my classmates who's out now called me up and said, hey. To realize this is a terrific woman, she's a woman of great integrity and other people that don't know her were trying to suggest that she is the one that initiated that. That is such nonsense. This is a woman who is very solid, very low key and not about show boating.

Boy, do you think he's pissed or anything? I wish all the Republicans were acting this outraged.

UPDATE: Or you can watch the video clip here and see Larry Johnson get pissed off.

Kevin Drum 8:41 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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