The liberals in the media were not alarmed when pro-communist activists were naming CIA agents for the purpose of destroying secret operations against the Soviet empire. In fact, journalists relied on people such as CIA defector Philip Agee, who specialized in naming the names of CIA operatives, for stories. The federal law that prohibits the naming of agents under cover was passed in response to Agee’s activities.
Today, however, it has become a major “scandal” that one or two Bush administration officials named Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s wife as a CIA employee to Robert Novak, a conservative columnist. Novak may have made a mistake in publishing the name, but the information those officials provided was far different than anything that Agee and his collaborators ever did. The officials were trying to explain why Wilson was picked by the CIA to conduct a mission to investigate the Iraq/uranium matter. Internet writer Darren Kaplan points out that Wilson’s selection might violate the federal anti-nepotism statute, which prohibits federal employees from even recommending the appointment of family members for jobs.
It is significant that Agee, who is now living in Havana under the protection of the Castro regime, has come to the CIA’s defense, calling the naming of Wilson’s wife “dirty politics.” As Novak says, the affair smells of Bush-bashing.
Another bizarre development is that Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, a group of mostly former CIA employees, has taken sides against the administration. Its spokesman, Ray McGovern, had a 27-year career in the CIA and his articles critical of the administration on various foreign policy issues have appeared in Executive Intelligence Review (EIR), a publication associated with Lyndon LaRouche. McGovern told me that he gave EIR permission to reprint his articles because researchers for LaRouche “do some fairly good work” and he sees “no downside” to them using his material. He claims to know nothing about LaRouche.
LaRouche, now running for the Democratic presidential nomination, began his political career as a Marxist and served time in prison on financial fraud charges. Back in 1976, he called for bringing into being “a new Marxist International throughout the capitalist sector” and issued a statement of support for Iraq before the first Persian Gulf War. LaRouche recently asked the U.N. to declare President Bush and Vice President Cheney insane.
If a former high-level official like McGovern is in the dark about LaRouche, the CIA may be in far worse shape than anyone suspected.
The CIA had also kept Joseph Wilson’s name a secret. But he went public with a column in the New York Times because he wanted to bash the administration without the public knowing that his wife may have played a covert role in getting him that mission. As a Wall Street journal editorial put it, the real story is whether a faction in the CIA is “hoping to defeat” Bush by undermining his foreign policy and whether the Wilson mission was part of that effort.
Director George Tenet said that “CIA’s counter-proliferation experts, on their own initiative, asked” Wilson to make that trip. But these “experts” are also in the dark if they thought that Wilson’s quick trip to Niger would settle the matter. It looks like another CIA failure in pre-war intelligence. Disclosing her identity, which was not a highly protected secret anyway, probably caused no demonstrable damage. A simple Internet search could have revealed that her CIA-front company was bogus.
In fairness, Tenet had reported that Wilson confirmed Bush’s charge that Iraq sought uranium from Africa. Discussing Wilson’s report, Tenet said, “The same former official [of Niger] also said that in June 1999 a businessman approached him and insisted that the former official meet with an Iraqi delegation to discuss ‘expanding commercial relations’ between Iraq and Niger. The former official interpreted the overture as an attempt to discuss uranium sales.”Similarly, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said that, “?Ambassador Wilson’s report also noted that in 1999 an Iraqi delegation sought the expansion of trade links with Niger?and that former Niger government officials believed that this was in connection with the procurement of yellowcake. Uranium is Niger’s main export. In other words, this element of Ambassador Wilson’s report supports the statement in the government’s dossier.”But in his Times column about investigating the Iraq/uranium story, Wilson did not discuss this. Instead, he focused on information that a deal was never completed so he could bash the administration. The media took the bait.
The investigation of the “leak” to Novak should be expanded to include those in the CIA behind Wilson’s trip to Africa. That’s the story the liberal media want to avoid.