Saturday, February 9, 2008

VIII. PLAME LEAK PUT INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS & THE SPIES THEY RECRUIT IN HARM'S WAY

The Subversive nature of the Valerie Plame (Wilson) leak stems from the backbreaking efforts our intelligence services employ to place Non-Official Cover- NOC- agents abroad, not to mention the dangers they face in shielding America from weapons of mass destruction.

Most overseas agents use State Department official cover -OC- and play the James Bond role, commonly seen wearing tuxedos at gambling tables and mingling with foreigners at cocktail and dinner parties.

NOC's do not enjoy the protection of diplomatic immunity; if caught by foreign intelligence, tey have no protection from prosecution under that country's laws. Valerie Plame didn't pretend to be a "fake" diplomat; she assumed deep cover and distanced herself from the luxurious State Department life that is complete with rich foods and top-flight martinis.

Using her cover, a vast mosaic of lies and props, she penetrated foreign organizations to detect and prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons from harming America. Neither personal friends, family members nor her fiance knew she worked for the CIA's enigmatic Non-Proliferation Center in Langley, Va., a cadre of analysts, technicical experts and former field operatives.

In case a suspicious foreign intelligence service conducted a background check, she masqueraded as an "analyst" for a fake legal services company called Brewster~Jennings & Associates. This CIA front company was listed on her Federal Election Commission forms when she made political contributions. To add credibility to the deception, the business was registered on the Dun & Bradstreet database and her 1999 W-2 tax forms listed B~J & Associates as her employer. The workplace appeared above board, housed in a plush, 21-story office building in downtown Boston, complete with trendy restaurants.

The setting allowed her to blend in with everyday life or, if the need arose, to exit quickly into the swarms of commuters who passed by as they exited the Downtown Crossing subway station. Business cards, a phone number and post office box number complemented the subterfuge.

Roughly 15 years ago, gambling on her NOC deep cover protection, Plame ventured overseas, aiming to infiltrate groups involved in smuggling nuclear weapons and the material used to create them. She attended trade shows and business conferences abroad where she interviewed and attempted to recruit foreign scientists and developed informal networks with engineers, secretaries, salespersons and suppliers.

Plame used her NOC cover to "by coincidence" bump into honest and sleazy characters alike, whom her CIA handlers targeted. She hoodwinked, sweet-talked, bribed and recruited "assets" (spys) in order to gain information about raw materials and hardware even remotely associated with the process of building weapons-grade nuclear material that could someday wreak devastation on America's shores.

Recently, I talked with Harry Mason, who retired from the CIA in 1997. he is an expert in foreign and domestic intelligence, earning both the prestigious CIA Intelligence medal of Merit and National Intelligence Medal Of Achievement awards. Mason believes that, although the leak of Plame's name may not rise to a technical violation of the 1982 Intelligence Identities Act, CIA operatives must know they will be protected frmo traitors or political leakers...even if a key presidential aide has to resign.

It's mind-boggling that the leak to columnist Robert Novak came from senior White House officials who signed form SF-312, an affirmative obligation not to reveal classified information. Thousands of hours of undercover work and Plame's network of connections were shattered. Mason also hinted that foreign intelligence services would pour through passport databases to determine if Plame ever set foot on their soil. They'll find out when she entered and locate those she had contact with, placing the lives of many foreign citizens in jeopardy.

America can't afford Washington leaders donning pin-striped suits and wrapping themselves around the flag...while exposing CIA covert operations.

Mason believes stronger criminal prosecuation laws are needed for the news media and for columnists like Robert Novak when they disclose covert identities that harm America's national security and put the lives of intelligence agents at risk.

I agree wholeheartedly and pray that all CIA NOC's who assumed Plame's Bresster~Jennings & Associates cover and who have no diplomatic immunity...retreat back home quickly, alive and well.

If you're interested in researching the Valerie Wilson (Plame) leak further, visit the DECLASSIFIED SECRETS Spy Store.

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