The Valerie Plame Scandal, Or: I’m a Secret Agent, Damnit

by hulk

Ok, here’s how I understand the Valerie Plame thing. Oh wait, no. I’m gonna diverge for a while.

So about three years ago, I was an intern with a German chemical company. I worked in a small lab with some trailer trash and my Chinese boss. I call this woman trailer trash because she literally was trash. Ragged clothes and hair and way too much makeup, and all she could do is tell stories all day, either about how her third truck (literally) had broken down, or how her husband can’t get a job. Then she’d make up stuff once in a while. She spent most of the day talking, even when I tried to show her I was more interested in getting work done. I was a freaking intern and I got through a hell of a lot more work than she did, even though she was a slightly higher position than me.

She was also horrible with instructions, and screwed up constantly. Now, some screw-ups are expected on a regular basis in a chemical job. But not on the same machine every time you go to use it. And not huge screw-ups either, like running a ton of samples and not labeling anything so the data is all useless. Anyway. Finally one day she decides to make it worse by getting political. We all know politics should be mentioned sparingly in the office. Especially, never say “Those damn Asians keep moving into my neighborhood and ruining it with their high-pitched jabbering” when your boss is Chinese and standing right there. Now my boss had too much class to say anything. She just failed to renew her temp contract when it came up. Then she told me (almost conspiratorially) later, and I told her how thankful I was that she got rid of the trailer trash.

My point is, a few times trailer trash felt it necessary to bring up her “FBI friend” who went from being a girl she knew to her best friend. This friend also went from being a desk worker to a super-secret spy. Last time I checked the FBI certainly does intense investigations but not a whole lot of super-secret international espionage involving guns and BMWs with rocket launchers. This is how bad the stories got.

This brings me to Joe Wilson and his super-secret international woman of mystery, Valerie Plame. The fact is that Valerie Plame is a desk worker. Her name was leaked by Karl Rove and an assistant to Vice President Cheney. I don’t know the guy’s real name but the media calls him “Libby”. Of course when I hear the name Libby I think of Libby Hoeler, who my stupid freshman residents would not shut up about. They made a website for the hall with her picture on the front page, snapped from one of that poor girl’s ill-conceived videos. Anyway, getting away from terrible memories of an Asian resident who bragged about fifty gigabytes worth of porn and mysteriously had a bottle of Lubriderm by his bed.

Sorry. Anyway. Back to the story. So Libby talks to Judith Miller (I don’t know who called who, I don’t care) and lets out that this guy Joe Wilson is married to a Valerie Plame at the CIA. Now, according to Libby’s information, this Valerie Plame is a simple desk worker analyst type. Turns out she was part of a covert analyst group working on unconventional weapons. Libby had no knowledge of this. He’s got Valerie Plame on his information as a simple ho-hum look-it-up-in-the-directory desk worker. Matt Cooper talks to Karl Rove and says, ok, I got this story about Joe Wilson and his report on the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Karl Rove says ok, hold on because this report is probably crap, this trip of Joe Wilson’s was not authorized by the Director of the CIA and he was sent by his wife. Who’s his wife? Rove didn’t say. But Wilson, being the idiot he is, writes a piece in the New York Times about how Iraq doesn’t have WMDs and he has proof and he was asked by the Bush administration to go to Niger to find out if Iraq had tried to buy yellowcake, something that can be used to construct a bomb.

In summary: Karl Rove said Wilson’s wife sent him. Wife. Not Valerie Plame. This Libby guy who works for Cheney gave Judith Miller Valerie Plame’s name, but according to his information, she was not covert. And even if that turns out to be a lie, there’s no violation of the law here. Victoria Toensing, who wrote the damn law on protecting the names of CIA agents, has already said that you have to be covert and international and if you haven’t been out there any time in the past five years the law doesn’t say anything about anyone in the government giving out your name.

So what the heck happened in the first place? Who is Joe Wilson, and who is Valerie Plame? Well Valerie Plame is a CIA analyst working on tracking unconventional weapons. Her job and her group are all under cover. They want someone to go investigate a British report that Iraq tried to buy yellowcake in Niger, presumably to build a bomb. Valerie Plame finagles it so that her husband is sent to investigate the matter. Granted, he had credentials as a diplomat, but to me it looks damn sketchy. So he goes there and drinks a lot of tea and meets with some Nigerians and asks them, “Hey, did you try to sell yellowcake to Iraq?” So he comes back and says, yeah, I think the Iraqis tried to buy some yellowcake. Then Bush uses that as one of his reasons to go to war with Iraq. Wilson, being a liberal, rushes to write an op-ed piece in the New York Times saying it’s all a lie and he can’t believe they didn’t listen to him. Reporters start snooping around, a little too much talking happens, and all of a sudden we have Valerie Plame “outed” (remember: no crime committed, and no crime intended). All Rove did was set Matt Cooper straight on his story about Joe Wilson. Joe Wilson was an idiot who botched a job that neither Cheney nor the Director of the CIA authorized in the first place. Then Wilson lied about the job he botched. Now it’s a scandal.

And how many more parallels to Watergate will be drawn before it’s all over? I’ll tell you what. You start drawing all the tangential lines you possibly can on a circle, and it’ll be over sometime before you get done. If you’re not a math geek, that’s sometime before infinity. Damnit, lemme say it straight: there will be infinite parallels drawn to Watergate. Why? They’re hungry for a scandal. I cracked up laughing, though, when a Clintonite went into a rant about how you can’t lie to a grand jury and how horribly criminal it is for Rove to lie to a grand jury, and I almost crashed my car I was laughing so hard. I guess now it is a crime to know what the definition of “is” is.

Here’s the least you need to know: No crime was intended, and even if it turns out this Libby guy meant to do harm, no crime was committed.