Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 19, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

THE PLAME AFFAIR: HOW MUCH DAMAGE?....Time magazine keeps us up to date on the potential damage from the exposure of Valerie Plame:

Officials with two foreign governments told Time that their spy catchers are quietly checking on whether Plame had worked on their soil and, if so, what she had done there. Which means if one theme of the Administration leak scandal concerns political vengeance did the White House reveal Plame's identity in order to punish Wilson for his public criticism of the case for war with Iraq? another theme is about damage. What has been lost, and who has been compromised because of the leak of one spy's name? And who, if anyone, will pay for that disclosure?

And how secret was Plame's CIA role? Apparently she was an undercover NOC (non-official cover), but not a deep undercover NOC:

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.

....Though Plame's cover is now blown, it probably began to unravel years ago when Wilson first asked her out. Rustmann describes Plame as an "exceptional officer" but says her ability to remain under cover was jeopardized by her marriage in 1998 to the higher-profile American diplomat.

It's hard to know where the truth lies. If her cover began to unravel years ago, why are foreign governments only now checking to see if Plame ever visited them? As usual, stay tuned.

Kevin Drum 9:55 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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