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Plame CIA Colleague Points Out GOP Spin

Reported by Judy - July 22, 2005

While George Bush and Fox News are using the Supreme Court nomination to try to distract attention from Karl Rove's treasonous leak of a CIA agent's identity, former colleagues of the outed agent will testify Friday (July 22, 2005) at a Democratic hearing on the scandal.

In an advance copy of his testimony to be given before a Democratic Policy Committee hearing, Larry C. Johnson said Republicans who are trying to claim Plame was only a "glorified desk jockey" are wrong.

"To those such as Victoria Toensing, Representative Peter
King, P. J. O'Rourke, and Representative Roy Blunt I can only say one
thing-you are wrong. I am stunned that some political leaders have such ignorance about a matter so basic to the national security structure of this nation," he says.

Johnson offered several rebuttals to the GOP talking point. "For starters, if she had not been undercover then the CIA would not have referred the matter to the Justice Department. Some reports, such as one in the Washington Times that Valerie Plame's supervisor at the CIA, Fred Rustman, said she told friends and family she worked at the CIA and that her cover was light. These claims are not true. Rustman, who supervised Val in one of her earliest assignments, left the CIA in 1990 and did not stay in social contact with Valerie. His knowledge of Val's cover is dated. He does not know what she has done during the past 15 years," Johnson says.

He says Plame kept her occupation so secret that even her neighbors
did not know that she worked for the CIA until Novak's column appeared. Johnson says although he went through CIA training with Plame starting in September 1985, even he only knew her as Valeria P, in keeping with CIA policy. "Her name did not become a part of my consciousness until her cover was betrayed by the Government officials who gave columnist Robert Novak her true name," Johnson says.

Besides blowing Plame's cover, Johnson says, "Robert Novak's compromise of Valerie caused even more damage. It subsequently led to scrutiny of her cover company. This not only compromised her "cover" company but potentially every individual overseas who had been in contact with that company or with her."

The rest of Johnson's testimony follows:

"Another false claim is that Valerie sent her husband on the mission to Niger. According to the Senate Intelligence Committee Report issued in July 2004, it is clear that the Vice President himself requested that the CIA provide its views on a Defense Intelligence Agency report that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium from Niger. The Vice President's request was relayed through the CIA bureaucracy to the Director of the Counter Proliferation Division at the CIA. Valerie worked for a branch in that Division.

"The Senate Intelligence Report is frequently cited by Republican
partisans as 'proof' that Valerie sent her husband to Niger because she sent a memo describing her husband's qualifications to the Deputy
Division Chief. Several news personalities, such as Chris Matthews and
Bill O'Reilly continue to repeat this nonsense as proof. What the Senate Intelligence Committee does not include in the report is the fact that Valerie's boss had asked her to write a memo outlining her husband's qualifications for the job. She did what any good employee does; she gave her boss what he asked for.

"The decision to send Joe Wilson on the mission to Niger was made by
Valerie's bosses. She did not have the authority to sign travel
vouchers, issue travel orders, or expend one dime of U.S. taxpayer
dollars on her own. Yet, she has been singled out by the Republican
National Committee and its partisans as a legitimate target of attack.
It was Karl Rove who told Chris Matthews, 'Wilson's wife is fair game.'

"What makes the unjustified and inappropriate attacks on Valerie Plame
and her reputation so unfair is that there was no Administration policy position stipulating that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium in February 2002. That issue was still up in the air and, as noted by SSCI, Vice President Cheney himself asked for more information.

"At the end of the day we are left with these facts. We went to war in
Iraq on the premise that Saddam was reacquiring weapons of mass
destruction. Joe Wilson was sent on a mission to Niger in response to a request initiated by the Vice President. Joe Wilson supplied information to the CIA that supported other reports debunking the claim that Saddam was trying to buy yellow cake uranium from Niger. When Joe went public with his information, which had been corroborated by the CIA in April 2003, the response from the White House was to call him a liar and spread the name of his wife around.

"We sit here more than two years later and the storm of invective and
smear against Ambassador Wilson and his wife, Valerie, continues. I
voted for George Bush in November of 2000 because I wanted a President
who knew what the meaning of 'is' was. I was tired of political
operatives who spent endless hours on cable news channels parsing words. I was promised a President who would bring a new tone and new ethical standards to Washington.

"So where are we? The President has flip flopped and backed away from his promise to fire anyone at the White House implicated in a leak. We now know from press reports that at least Karl Rove and Scooter Libby are implicated in these leaks. Instead of a President concerned first and foremost with protecting this country and the intelligence officers who serve it, we are confronted with a President who is willing to sit by while political operatives savage the reputations of good Americans like Valerie and Joe Wilson. This is wrong.

"Without firm action by President Bush to return to those principles he promised to follow when he came to Washington, I fear our political
debate in this country will degenerate into an argument about what the
meaning of 'leak' is. We deserve people who work in the White House who are committed to protecting classified information, telling the truth to the American people, and living by example the idea that a country at war with Islamic extremists cannot expend its efforts attacking other American citizens who simply tried to tell the truth."

Johnson used to appear on Fox as a military analyst until he refused to follow orders to refer to "suicide bombers" as "homicide bombers." After that, he was kept on the payroll but never used until his contract expired.

Don't imagine his testimony will carry much weight with Bill O'Reilly, who probably will continue to spout the lies about Valerie Plame's cover.

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