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In Hubris, David Corn and Michael Isikoff talk a bit about what sources told them about Valerie Plame Wilson's role in the CIA's counterproliferation division of the DO.  From Hubris, page 285:

She [Valerie Plame Wilson] picked weapons and requested an assignment in the DO's new Counterproliferation Division, a unit Congress had pushed the CIA to create to address concerns about the spread of weapons of mass destruction….

After maternity leave, Valerie Wilson returned to the CIA's Counterproliferation Division in the spring of 2001. She was given a choice: she could work on North Korea or Iraq. She selected Iraq and became one of the two operations officers working for the CPD's rather modest Iraq branch. But within months, it would expand into the Joint Task Force on Iraq and assume one of the agency's most important missions: the search for intelligence on Iraq's WMD's. (She also assisted on operations related to Iran.) (emphasis mine)

Corn further elaborated in a story for The Nation thusly:

Valerie Wilson was no analyst or paper-pusher. She was an operations officer working on a top priority of the Bush Administration. Armitage, Rove and Libby had revealed information about a CIA officer who had searched for proof of the President's case. In doing so, they harmed her career and put at risk operations she had worked on and foreign agents and sources she had handled….

Come the spring of 2001, she was in the CPD's modest Iraq branch. But that summer–before 9/11–word came down from the brass: We're ramping up on Iraq. Her unit was expanded and renamed the Joint Task Force on Iraq. Within months of 9/11, the JTFI grew to fifty or so employees. Valerie Wilson was placed in charge of its operations group.

There was great pressure on the JTFI to deliver. Its primary target was Iraqi scientists. JTFI officers, under Wilson's supervision, tracked down relatives, students and associates of Iraqi scientists–in America and abroad–looking for potential sources. They encouraged Iraqi émigrés to visit Iraq and put questions to relatives of interest to the CIA. The JTFI was also handling walk-ins around the world. Increasingly, Iraqi defectors were showing up at Western embassies claiming they had information on Saddam's WMDs. JTFI officers traveled throughout the world to debrief them. Often it would take a JTFI officer only a few minutes to conclude someone was pulling a con. Yet every lead had to be checked.

"We knew nothing about what was going on in Iraq," a CIA official recalled. "We were way behind the eight ball. We had to look under every rock." Wilson, too, occasionally flew overseas to monitor operations. She also went to Jordan to work with Jordanian intelligence officials who had intercepted a shipment of aluminum tubes heading to Iraq that CIA analysts were claiming–wrongly–were for a nuclear weapons program. (The analysts rolled over the government's top nuclear experts, who had concluded the tubes were not destined for a nuclear program.)

The JTFI found nothing. The few scientists it managed to reach insisted Saddam had no WMD programs. Task force officers sent reports detailing the denials into the CIA bureaucracy. The defectors were duds–fabricators and embellishers. (JTFI officials came to suspect that some had been sent their way by Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, an exile group that desired a US invasion of Iraq.) The results were frustrating for the officers. Were they not doing their job well enough–or did Saddam not have an arsenal of unconventional weapons? Valerie Wilson and other JTFI officers were almost too overwhelmed to consider the possibility that their small number of operations was, in a way, coming up with the correct answer: There was no intelligence to find on Saddam's WMDs because the weapons did not exist. Still, she and her colleagues kept looking. (She also assisted operations involving Iran and WMDs.)  (emphasis mine)

With everything that we know about the Bush Administration's proclivity for overlooking the truth in favor of false inferences that could get them closer to their ultimate goal of invasion and occupation of Iraq (Condi's mushroom cloud, anyone? WHIG sales jobs to the media?), how is it that we are to now trust the intelligence that the Cheney cabal within the Bush Administration is pimping to the media about Iran?

Especially given that they had no compunction whatsoever about outing a CIA agent — and her entire network of CIA agents with whom she had worked abroad and at home in the US, and in the State Department through the years, as well as her role as a private citizen going about her "energy business" cover and every single foreign asset that she and her agents had so carefully recruited and tried to protect through the years — for political payback without so much as a second thought to the long term consequences to the security of this nation?

Were I a big name journalist with access to all the right people in Washington, here's the question I'd be asking myself and a number of them: just how, exactly, am I to trust your word on this, when you blithely put the lives of our national security agents and all of their hard-won allies who risked their own lives and the lives of their families to get information to the US about Iran's WMD programs, only to have that service thrown back in their faces at your convenience?

And another question:  was this payback for Joe Wilson alone, a message to others who might speak out against the Bush Administration's false public claims, or was this something beyond that — a message to those within the CIA who would find information contrary to what those in the Vice President's office so desperately wanted to make their case publicly…on Iran?

Before we all tra la down the road to war again with the neocon-men, oughtn't we ask ourselves just how little we know about what is honestly going on within the Administration with regard to facts versus the fictions that they tell themselves in order to face the day?  Because, honestly, there has been far too much fiction flung around the power circles (h/t SusanG) without requests for documentation and proof — and without any fear of accountability being demanded (until the elections in November 2006, one hopes, at least, since the rubber stamp Republican Congress is no longer a functioning parliamentary "yes man" to the Cheney cabal and the more-than-willing King George).

I was talking with TRex earlier, and he made an analogy that is particularly apt regarding the CIA leak investigation.  Scientists can drill through the arctic ice and pull a core sample that shows the history for thousands and thousands of years in one, long block of frozen time.  This leak investigation does the same for the Bush Administration:  the focused wrath of Dick Cheney, the marching orders to his chief deputy and enforcer Scooter Libby for payback to Joe Wilson — something that Murray Waas captures so well in his most recent article.

For the Bush Administration, the message and the reality that they have created for themselves is everything — outside criticism is ignored or squashed as needed.  Over and over again.  Critics are silenced by any means necessary, and the consequences be damned.  That Valerie Plame Wilson's network of agents and assets working on Iraqi and Iranian WMD matters was collateral damage?  Well, that's the price to pay for political vengeance, now isn't it?

This is who is running our nation.  This petty, vengeful, nasty cabal of neocon-men headed by Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, David Addington, Karl Rove, the rest of the WHIG, and George Bush.  Take a good, long, hard look at them square in the face of who they truly are through the lens of this single case — and then sit back and wait for the testimony to put an even more dismal picture into play.

This is about to be one helluva trial.  But before we even get to it, shouldn't we all start asking all of the questions that we failed to ask in the run-up to Iraq before we get started on a war without end with Iran?  Here, I'll start:  is this a good idea for the long-term interests of the United States?  If not, then why are we even thinking about it? 

Answer?  Well, I'll fall back on what Scooter Libby said about Dick Cheney's thought process in the Plame outing:

"OK," the prosecutor said, before asking, "And can you tell us why it would be that the Vice President read the Novak column and had questions, some of which apparently seem to be answered by the Novak column, would go back and pull out an original July 6th op-ed piece and write on that?"

"I'm not sure…," Libby answered, "He often kept these columns for awhile and keeps columns and will think on them. And I think what may have happened here is what he may have — I don't know if he wrote, he wrote the points down. He might have pulled out the column to think about the problem and written on it, but I don't know."

Libby then added: "You'll have to ask him."

Isn't it about time that Dick Cheney was asked a whole lot of those questions, along with every other member of the White House Iraq Group and the neocon cabal? They are supposed to be working for us, not themselves and their cronies — and it is about damn time that someone reminded them of that fact.

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com