Want relief for your Pre-Indictment Stress Syndrome? How about Mr. Anonymous? How about the head of the CIA’s Osama bin Laden unit in the late ’90s? How about the longtime CIA analyst who wrote “Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror, first as “anonymous” and then, coming out, as Michael Sheuer.
Just before BoomanTribune.com front-pager Larry Johnson appeared on CNN’s The Situation Room yesterday with Wolf Blitzer — and that transcript will be posted shortly — Blitzer first called on CNN’s national security correspondent, David Ensor.
Ensor assessed the impact of the outing of Valerie Plame to the war on terror and to the CIA. I was heartened by Ensor’s bare-knuckle condemnation of the outing of Valerie Plame, buttressed by his interview with Scheuer:
BLITZER: The Bush administration is feeling the fallout as top officials wait for possible indictments in the CIA leak investigation. But what about the fallout over at the CIA itself? Was the agency hurt by the outing of one of its operatives?
Let’s turn to our national security correspondent, David Ensor. He’s been looking into this story — David.
DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, just for starters, Wolf, the nation has lost the undercover services of a 20- year professional CIA officer.
ENSOR (voice over): Forty-two-year-old Valerie Plame Wilson, mother of 5-year-old twins, is now the most famous female spy in America. Exposing her as a CIA undercover officer did damage to U.S. intelligence, U.S. officials say. They refuse to be more specific.
MICHAEL SCHEUER, FORMER CIA ANALYST: To have someone exposed deliberately and, on top of that for political reason, I think, yes, it probably sent a chill throughout the clandestine service.
ENSOR: What made it worse is that she was not just an undercover officer. She spent part of her career as what’s known as a NOC, a spy with non-official cover. That is, without the protection of diplomatic status, working, officials say, to recruit foreigners who knew about murky international weapons deals involving weapons of mass destruction.
Continued below … all emphases mine)
SCHEUER: It’s usually a business of some kind, you know, whether it’s an import/export, a bank, some kind of business is exposed. And it takes a great deal of time to build cover facilities so you can operate overseas.
ENSOR: In Plame’s case, the cover was Brewster Jennings & Associates, an energy consulting firm, a front company that apparently had no real address. That fact is only public because she listed it with the Federal Election Commission when she contributed $1,000 to Al Gore’s presidential campaign.
NOCs are harder to train, can remain undercover longer than conventional spies, and can go places and meet people that other CIA officers cannot. But NOCs are also much more vulnerable than regular spies.
ENSOR: (AUDIO GAP) appeared in Robert Novak’s newspaper column. At least two foreign governments reportedly assigned their spy- catchers to figure out whether Plame had ever worked on their soil, if so, what she had done there.
That is where the damage was most likely done, other nations tracking down Valerie — Valerie Plame Wilson’s contacts and sources and shutting them down — Wolf.
BLITZER: David, thank you very much — David Ensor reporting.