On his March 23 broadcast, Newsradio 850 KOA host Mike Rosen once again repeated the falsehood that Valerie Plame was not covered by the law that protects the identities of covert agents. In making his claim, Rosen ignored reporting on the case, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's public comments, Plame's sworn congressional testimony, and an authoritative statement from CIA Director Gen. Michael V. Hayden.
On the March 23 broadcast of his Newsradio 850 KOA show, host Mike Rosen repeated the falsehood that outed CIA agent Valerie Plame “wasn't protected by the Intelligence Identities Act” because “she hadn't been covert” for the requisite number of years. In fact, as Colorado Media Matters has noted, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) definition of “covert agent” applied to Plame. Plame's covert status also was affirmed in her sworn congressional testimony and an authoritative statement from CIA Director Gen. Michael V. Hayden.
Rosen asserted the falsehood in an exchange with a caller who labeled Rosen's misrepresentation “a lie.” From the March 23 broadcast of Newsradio 850 KOA's The Mike Rosen Show:
CALLER: She testified under oath, Mike, that she was a covert agent. You're saying she wasn't?
ROSEN: She wasn't protected by the Intelligence Identities Act. No. She hadn't been covert for about seven or eight years.
CALLER: Another lie, Mike. That is another lie.
ROSEN: No, it -- it wasn't a lie, and if she hadn't been covered then Fitzgerald would have pursued a prosecution for a violation of that law. But he didn't because there was no violation of that law.
CALLER: That's a lie, Mike.
ROSEN: It's not a lie. If she had once been a covert agent, that's arguable. But she certainly wasn't a covert agent in a contemporary sense that she was covered by that intelligence act. There's no question about that.
CALLER: No, the Intelligence Act states that within five years she had to be on secret missions to be considered covert and she was. That was her testimony.
ROSEN: No, she wasn't, and that's why [prosecutor Patrick] Fitzgerald didn't pursue a prosecution. That's the bottom line, [caller]. If Fitzgerald, who was originally chartered to go ahead and find out if there were a violation of the law -- he was looking for that; that was his commission. Had he found one, he would have -- he would have advanced the prosecution. He didn't find one. There was no prosecution for that.
CALLER: That's your lie, Mike Rosen.
ROSEN: Why do you always come back with the bumper sticker “Lie, Lie, Lie”? I'm giving you a factual rebuttal, and all you can do is say, “Lie, lie, lie.” You know, get a life, for God's sake.
In stating that Plame “certainly wasn't a covert agent in a contemporary sense” and claiming that Fitzgerald would have pursued a violation of the Intelligence Identities Act had she been, Rosen ignored reporting on the case, Fitzgerald's public pronouncements, Plame's sworn congressional testimony, and Hayden's statement.
Rosen's comment that Plame “hadn't been covert for about seven or eight years” echoed previous broadcasts in which he falsely stated that Plame “hadn't been a covert agent for at least five years" or “hadn't been covert for at least nine years" prior to the public disclosure of her CIA employment in Robert D. Novak's July 14, 2003, syndicated column. However, as Colorado Media Matters has noted, the IIPA definition of “covert agent” applies to Plame:
(4) The term “covert agent” means --
(A) a present or retired officer or employee of an intelligence agency or a present or retired member of the Armed Forces assigned to duty with an intelligence agency --
(i) whose identity as such an officer, employee, or member is classified information, and
(ii) who is serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States
As journalist David Corn reported in a September 6, 2006, online article for The Nation, Plame was appointed head of the operations group for the CIA Counterproliferation Division's Joint Task Force on Iraq (JTFI) in the summer of 2001 and in that capacity she traveled abroad:
In 1997 she returned to CIA headquarters and joined the Counterproliferation Division. (About this time, she moved in with Joseph Wilson; they later married.) She was eventually given a choice: North Korea or Iraq. She selected the latter. 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.
[Plame] 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.
When the Novak column ran, Valerie Wilson was in the process of changing her clandestine status from NOC to official cover, as she prepared for a new job in personnel management. Her aim, she told colleagues, was to put in time as an administrator -- to rise up a notch or two -- and then return to secret operations. But with her cover blown, she could never be undercover again.
Furthermore, as Media Matters for America has noted, Plame affirmed that she had been a covert agent during her sworn testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. In answering a question from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), she specifically affirmed she had “conduct[ed] secret missions overseas ... [d]uring the past five years.” Additionally, in commencing the hearing, the committee chairman, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), read into the record a statement in which Hayden affirmed that Plame had been covert at the time of Novak's column that outed Plame:
During her employment at the CIA, Ms. Wilson was undercover. Her employment status with the CIA was classified information, prohibited from disclosure under Executive Order 12958. At the time of the publication of Robert Novak's column on July 14, 2003, Ms. Wilson's CIA employment status was covert. This was classified information. Ms. Wilson served in senior management positions at the CIA in which she oversaw the work for other CIA employees and she attained the level of GS-14 -- Step Six under the federal pay scale. Ms. Wilson worked on some of the most sensitive and highly secretive matters handled by the CIA. Ms. Wilson served at various times overseas for the CIA.
Rosen's explanation as to why Fitzgerald did not charge anyone with a violation of the IIPA ignored Fitzgerald's public statements at an October 28, 2005, press conference announcing the grand jury's indictment of Libby. During the question-and-answer session with reporters, Fitzgerald used a baseball analogy to explain that Libby's obstruction of justice had prevented the investigation from determining whether the revelation of Plame's identity had violated the IIPA, even though her covert status was never in question:
Let me then ask your next question: Well, why is this a leak investigation that doesn't result in a charge? I've been trying to think about how to explain this, so let me try. I know baseball analogies are the fad these days. Let me try something.
If you saw a baseball game and you saw a pitcher wind up and throw a fastball and hit a batter right smack in the head, and it really, really hurt them, you'd want to know why the pitcher did that. And you'd wonder whether or not the person just reared back and decided, I've got bad blood with this batter. He hit two home runs off me. I'm just going to hit him in the head as hard as I can.
You also might wonder whether or not the pitcher just let go of the ball or his foot slipped, and he had no idea to throw the ball anywhere near the batter's head. And there's lots of shades of gray in between.
You might learn that you wanted to hit the batter in the back and it hit him in the head because he moved. You might want to throw it under his chin, but it ended up hitting him on the head.
And what you'd want to do is have as much information as you could. You'd want to know: What happened in the dugout? Was this guy complaining about the person he threw at? Did he talk to anyone else? What was he thinking? How does he react? All those things you'd want to know.
And then you'd make a decision as to whether this person should be banned from baseball, whether they should be suspended, whether you should do nothing at all and just say, Hey, the person threw a bad pitch. Get over it.
In this case, it's a lot more serious than baseball. And the damage wasn't to one person. It wasn't just Valerie Wilson. It was done to all of us.
And as you sit back, you want to learn: Why was this information going out? Why were people taking this information about Valerie Wilson and giving it to reporters? Why did Mr. Libby say what he did? Why did he tell Judith Miller three times? Why did he tell the press secretary on Monday? Why did he tell Mr. Cooper? And was this something where he intended to cause whatever damage was caused?
Or did they intend to do something else and where are the shades of gray?
And what we have when someone charges obstruction of justice, the umpire gets sand thrown in his eyes. He's trying to figure what happened and somebody blocked their view.
As you sit here now, if you're asking me what his motives were, I can't tell you; we haven't charged it.
So what you were saying is the harm in an obstruction investigation is it prevents us from making the fine judgments we want to make.