[Congressional Record Volume 150, Number 93 (Thursday, July 8, 2004)]
[Senate]
[Pages S7779-S7780]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                           CIA AGENT REVEALED

  Mr. HARKIN. Madam President, yesterday I stood before the Senate and 
noted that it had been almost a full year since the identity of a 
covert CIA agent was revealed in print by the columnist Robert Novak. 
It has been 360 days and counting. Next Wednesday, it will be 1 full 
year. It is time to ask, Why hasn't the White House cleared this up?
  Madam President, 360 days have gone by since a CIA agent's name was 
revealed by top White House officials. We know how agent Valerie 
Plame's coverage was blown. Back in September, the Washington Post 
reported that two senior White House officials called at least six 
Washington journalists and disclosed the identity of a covert CIA 
agent.
  It has also become fairly clear why the agent's cover was blown. It 
was part of an ongoing effort to discredit and retaliate against 
critics of this administration, especially those who revealed that 
intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq was flawed or fabricated. 
Now Ms. Plame, as we know now, is married to former Ambassador Joseph 
Wilson. Ambassador Wilson was sent on a factfinding mission to Niger to 
examine claims that Saddam Hussein had sought to purchase uranium from 
that nation. He found no evidence to support the claim. But President 
Bush, nonetheless, made that claim in his State of the Union Address.
  How those famous 16 words read by the President to the listening 
Nation about the efforts by Saddam Hussein to purchase uranium from 
Niger made it into the State of the Union Address remains a great 
literary mystery. Who lied in President Bush's State of the Union 
speech? We still don't know. We do know that Ambassador Wilson 
published an article disputing the uranium claim in the New York Times. 
Apparently to discredit and punish Mr. Wilson, senior White House 
officials leaked the identity of Wilson's wife and the fact that she 
was a CIA operative.
  One day Ms. Plame was a valued human intelligence asset; the next day 
she was political cannon fodder. What we still don't know almost 1 year 
later is who the senior White House officials responsible for this 
destructive leak were. We still don't know who it was that gave this 
classified information to the White House, to the leakers. Was it 
someone at the NSC? Was it someone at the CIA? Was it the same person 
who made the decision to include the

[[Page S7780]]

false claims about uranium from Niger in the State of the Union 
Message?
  Madam President, 20 years of training and experience and millions of 
dollars were invested in this agent. Leaking her identity violated the 
law and constituted a betrayal of this country. Yet, for all we know, 
the person responsible for this betrayal could at this very moment 
still be exercising a senior decisionmaking role in this 
administration. This apparently is an administration where the buck 
never stops, an administration where abuses occur, but no one at the 
top is ever forced to accept responsibility.
  In her 20-year career, Valerie Plame operated with unofficial cover, 
which means she had no diplomatic immunity. Effectively, her only 
defense was a painstakingly created and maintained cover. She worked 
closely with undercover operatives and a network of contacts. All were 
potentially placed in jeopardy and exposed to danger by the disclosure 
of her status.
  Last November, we heard testimony from three former CIA experts. They 
all agreed on the far-reaching damage this disclosure represented for 
Ms. Plame's broader network of contacts and for the intelligence 
community as a whole. After all, what guarantee does any intelligence 
agent now have that they could not be the next victim of some 
administration's smear campaign?
  Vincent Cannistraro, former chief of operations and analysis at the 
CIA Counterterrorism Center, said of the Plame disclosure:

       The consequences are much greater than Valerie Plame's job 
     as a clandestine CIA employee--they include the damage to the 
     lives and livelihoods of many foreign nationals with whom she 
     was connected and it has destroyed a clandestine cover 
     mechanism that may have been used to protect other CIA 
     nonofficial cover officers.

  James Marcinkowski, a former CIA operations officer, seconded this by 
saying:

       The deliberate exposure and identification of Ambassador 
     Wilson's wife, by our government, was unprecedented, 
     unnecessary, harmful and dangerous.

  Larry Johnson, a former CIA analyst and State Department employee, 
said:

       For this administration to run on a security platform and 
     allow people in the administration to compromise the security 
     of intelligence assets, I think is unconscionable.

  No one in this Chamber, after listening to these three men, could 
have any doubts about the damage this act has done to the relationship 
between the intelligence community and the administration. From all 
reports, the special prosecutor, finally appointed the day before New 
Year's, Mr. Fitzgerald, has been conducting a very aggressive 
investigation. He has issued subpoenas, called witnesses before a grand 
jury, and interviewed the President and Vice President.
  I inquired as to whether the President or Vice President were put 
under oath. I am informed they were not. Now I find this more than 
passing strange that the previous President of the United States, 
President Clinton, when he was being questioned about his relationship 
with a White House intern, was put under oath and filmed, and yet this 
President and this Vice President, the head of an administration where 
people leaked the identity in clear violation of the law of a CIA 
operative, are interviewed; they are not put under oath; they are not 
filmed. Would someone please explain the priorities?
  In fact, the President has been kind of cavalier and dismissive of 
this entire situation. In his only public statement about the leak, he 
told reporters, and this is a direct quote from President Bush:

       . . . I don't know if we are going to find out the senior 
     administration official. Now, this is a large administration, 
     and there's a lot of senior officials. I don't have any idea.

  That is what George Bush said on October 7, 2003.
  What I would like to know is, where is the President's outrage? Where 
is the recognition that this is not the same as leaking promising 
numbers on the economy? Where is the President's fury that one of his 
own valuable intelligence assets has been destroyed? And what about the 
Vice President? We know he can be relentless when he is on a quest for 
information to justify the case for the war in Iraq. Where is his 
determination to find the people who have destroyed the confidence of 
the intelligence community in this administration?
  All we hear from the President and the Vice President is silence on 
this issue, as if they do not want to know who leaked this information, 
or they know and they do not want to be held accountable. In either 
case, it is inexcusable for the President or Vice President.
  The disclosure of Ms. Plame's identity represents an extremely 
damaging breach of national security. She worked gathering human 
intelligence, exactly the type of intelligence we have heard over and 
over again since September 11, 2001 that is so critical to our fighting 
terrorism.
  Only 2 days ago, National Public Radio reported on the fact that 
there is a growing consensus on the need to improve our human 
intelligence capacity. There is a recognition that after years of 
increasing reliance on intercepts and satellite imagery, only solid 
human intelligence can help us deal with the type of insurgency we face 
in Iraq in effectively fighting al-Qaida.
  The other critical point that was made is that sending troops to a 
training course on intelligence gathering is not enough. According to 
one CIA agent, he said it takes 10 years to season somebody as a case 
officer in order to judge the information and the people they are 
dealing with, check on bona fides. That is the kind of asset Valerie 
Plame used to be, and, as Mr. Cannistraro pointed out, the damage that 
was done was not only to her but to her network and potentially to all 
CIA human intelligence operatives.
  One publication reported after reading of her own blown cover, Ms. 
Plame immediately sat down to make a list of all of her contacts and 
associates who could be in jeopardy. I can only hope when we find out 
the identity of this leaker or leakers, that person is forced to see 
this list and be confronted with the full extent of their betrayal of 
this country and our citizens.
  Usually when the cover of agents like Valerie Plame is blown and 
their contacts placed in jeopardy, it is a result of espionage. The 
perpetrators, when convicted, face life in prison or even death. In 
many ways, it is almost worse that this was done as an act of political 
revenge. The disclosure of Ms. Plame's identity was unquestionably a 
vicious act of political intimidation and retribution, but it is much 
more than that. It is part of a clear pattern of coverup, concealment, 
and contempt for the truth. That is why so much rests on the outcome of 
Mr. Fitzgerald's investigation.
  We need to identify and prosecute those responsible for this damaging 
episode, and in so doing we need to send a clear message to the 
President and the Vice President that sacrificing intelligence assets 
and breaching national security is too high a price to pay for 
maintaining the issue of deceit that was used to justify the war in 
Iraq to the American people.
  I yield the floor.
  The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Washington.

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