03. November 2005 · Comments Off on Libby And The CIA: Two Views · Categories: General

Spencer Ackerman at TNR claims the CIA doesn’t care about Libby:

Indeed, despite a fervent belief on the right that the CIA is determined to sabotage the Bush administration by any means necessary, Langley denizens are preoccupied with the more pressing matter of Bush’s installation of loyalist Porter Goss as CIA director; his rearrangement of the intelligence community, which has left the CIA in a nebulous and insecure position; and America’s unraveling fortunes in the Iraq war. While Plame still has advocates among her colleagues, even allies like Johnson see that the CIA has much bigger fish to fry at the moment. “I just had drinks with another classmate of mine and Valerie,” he notes. The leak investigation took a quick backseat in their conversation: “He says, ‘You know, if we had set out as our purpose to create an Iraq possessed by an insurgency that won’t stop, we couldn’t have done a better job.'” The administration might view Libby’s indictment as a victory for Langley in an ongoing war with the intelligence community–a bunker mentality that, as Fitzgerald’s indictment suggests, in no small measure triggered the Plame leak itself. But rather than considering itself triumphant, the CIA is far more concerned with mitigating the damage from having lost far more battles with this White House than it has won.


A potent mixture of contempt for, and fear of, the intelligence community has been characteristic of neoconservatives for decades before Plame ever joined the CIA. When after September 11 the agency failed to come up with evidence of Iraqi complicity with Al Qaeda or an advanced Iraqi nuclear-weapons program, that hostility reached a fever pitch. As a former colleague of Libby’s told me and Franklin Foer in 2003, “They so believed that the CIA were wrong, they were like, ‘We want to show these fuckers that they are wrong.'” Furthermore, it’s not as if the CIA didn’t hit back: Both before and after the invasion, dubious official statements about Iraq were rebutted by anonymous CIA quotes in the press attempting to reacquaint President Bush with reality. According to Fitzgerald’s indictment, following publication of a TNR story about administration deception on Iraq in June 2003, Libby conferred with aide Eric Edelman to discuss a counterattack and bemoaned “selective leaks” by the CIA in a conversation with Judith Miller of The New York Times; shortly thereafter, columnist Robert Novak, citing two senior administration officials, revealed Plame’s identity.

But Glenn Reynolds says they SHOULD care – very much:

THE BIG LOSER in the Libby affair, it would seem to me, is the CIA. At least it will be if anyone pays attention.

Consider: Assuming that Valerie Plame was some sort of genuinely covert operative — something that’s not actually quite clear from the indictment — the chain of events looks pretty damning: Wilson was sent to Africa on an investigative mission regarding nuclear weapons, but never asked to sign any sort of secrecy agreement(!). Wilson returns, reports, then publishes an oped in the New York Times (!!) about his mission. This pretty much ensures that people will start asking why he was sent, which leads to the fact that his wife arranged it. Once Wilson’s oped appeared, Plame’s covert status was in serious danger. Yet nobody seemed to care.

This leaves two possibilities. One is that the mission was intended to result in the New York Times oped all along, meaning that the CIA didn’t care much about Plame’s status, and was trying to meddle in domestic politics. This reflects very badly on the CIA.

The other possibility is that they’re so clueless that they did this without any nefarious plan, because they’re so inept, and so prone to cronyism and nepotism, that this is just business as usual. If so, the popular theory that the CIA couldn’t find its own weenie with both hands and a flashlight would appear to have found some pretty strong support.

Either way, it seems to me that everyone involved with planning the Wilson mission should be fired. And it’s obvious that the CIA, one way or another, needs a lot of work.

UPDATE: More thoughts here.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ed Morrissey is correcting Wolf Blitzer, who seems to have a poor grasp of the facts.

MORE: Don’t miss this must-read post from Tom Maguire, either.

And Brian Dunn has more questions about why Wilson was sent.

I believe that the CIA’s problem with Porter Goss is directly related to their history of incompetence – which well predates the Bush Administration. Finally, someone has been put in place to roust them from their cushy berths, and they don’t like it.

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