Monday, July 25, 2005

NYT: "Senate Panel to Examine Use of Cover by U.S. Spies" (Scott Shane)

Remember The Third Estate Sunday Review editorial posted here yesterday? How the public was putting on the pressure?

In this morning's New York Times, Scott Shane's "Senate Panel to Examine Use of Cover by U.S. Spies" tells us that Pat Roberts now makes noise about holding Senate hearings on covert operatives. While the hearings are nothing to get excited about, Roberts will most likely play Republican bag man and attempt to use them to obscure the issues re: the outing of Valerie Plame, the reality is that pressure forced this.

Pressure includes the Friday hearing held by Democrats in the House and Senate -- something the Times still hasn't found the time to cover. Though Larry C. Johnson testified Friday, his mentions in Shane's article come from the mid-week news of the letter he and other former covert operatives for the CIA signed.

From the article:

Some Republicans have minimized the significance of the disclosure of Ms. Wilson's identity, noting not only her working at C.I.A. headquarters but also the fact that she did not have an in-depth cover story: her purported employer, a shell company created by the agency, was little more than a Boston post office box. They have also questioned whether the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act applied to her, because the law applies only to officers who have served overseas under cover in the previous five years.
But agency officials apparently believe that the law does apply to Ms. Wilson, possibly because she took overseas business trips in the five years before 2003. The C.I.A. sought an investigation, and the Justice Department and Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, concurred in choosing to pursue the case.
A number of Ms. Wilson's former colleagues have spoken out in recent days, saying the exposure of her cover was a serious offense.

We also learn from the article that Reuel Marc Gerecht that he thinks that Valerie Plame's cover was "very, very soft." Who is Reuel Marc Gerecht? The article tells us that he's "another former C.I.A. officer."

That's certainly one thing he is, yes. (Apologies for the links that are coming.) He's also an AEI fellow. He's also "the Director of the Middle East Initiative at the Project for the New American Century." PNAC?


Might he not have an interest in advancing his "very, very soft" angle?

Might readers not need to know who he is? "Former CIA agent" doesn't cover it.

From Right Web: Exposing the archietectur of power that's changing our world:

Gerecht, a former CIA analyst and recruiter, has led the neoconservative fight to discredit the spy agency by arguing that it is soft when it comes to interpreting intelligence (an argument which was used to justify the work of the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans, led by Abram Shulsky). According to the Washington Post’s Vernon Loeb: "The Directorate of Operations, [Gerecht] wrote, using the pen name Edward G. Shirley, had grown intellectually dishonest and become an institution where case officers played a cynical 'numbers game' to get promoted by recruiting large numbers of paid foreign agents, regardless of quality. The 'secrets' these agents produced were often nearly worthless [he wrote] and typical case officers either didn't care or didn't know better, lacking language skills and much grounding in the culture in which they operated. 'America's national security would not be compromised by temporarily shutting down the DO,' Gerecht wrote. 'A Directorate of Operations that produces mostly mediocre intelligence and egregiously stupid coup d'etat schemes against, for example, [Iraqi President] Saddam Hussein harms the United States abroad.'" (4)
Regarding the then-impending war in Iraq, Gerecht said: "If President Bush follows his own logic and compels his administration to follow him against Iraq and Iran, then he will sow the seeds for a new, safer, more liberal order in the Middle East." (5)

So besides learning that he sometimes goes by the name of "Shirley," we also know he's no psychic.

Reuel Marc Gerecht, associated with architects of the invasion/occupation, wants to argue that the outing of Valerie Plame was no big deal. As a "former CIA agent" his word may carry some weight with readers. Would it carry the same weight if readers were aware of the above, or aware that he's been dismissing the outing for some time?

I don't think so. And I don't think the "resume" (slug line) provided in the article this morning cuts it. Maybe others will. But just a Vicky Toejam was never identified as a long time pal of Robert Novak's, today we have someone with ties to PNAC, ties to Cheney, ties to the architects of the invasion/occupation and he gets billed as just "a former CIA agent." That doesn't cut it.

At best, readers can hope for a "correction" buried on A2 in the next few days. That doesn't cut it. We've heard Vicky Toejam describe the law (a law that David Corn's suggested she strongly needs to read before offering more interpretation) and she was just an objective observer to read the Times. Today Reuel Marc Gerecht's allowed to push a line he's been pushing for some time (hard to believe the Times isn't aware of that) and we're told he's a "former CIA agent" and nothing else. Doesn't cut it.

Brent e-mails to request that we note Lambert of Corrente because the delay is becoming news (Gonzales delay in notifying White House staff re: Plame outing).

Glad to and we'll note it again later today. Problems on this end re: routing again this morning. So this will be the only morning post (my apologies). (If it posts.)

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