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Mon

02

Apr

2007

Toensing Doesn't Know Dick About Val
Monday, 02 April 2007 11:02
[NOTE from Larry C Johnson: I have been pressing Brent to write on this issue for several weeks and he has kindly obliged. The actual title of his article is: The CIA Leak Case And The Truth That Keeps Us Free.  Much more professional and high-minded, which is typical of Brent. Hopefully this will put to bed the canard that Victoria Toensing is some kind of qualified expert on the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. Bullocks.]

The CIA Leak Case And The Truth That Keeps Us Free

by Brent Budowsky

The CIA Leak case embodies all that has gone wrong with American national security policy, the war in Iraq, and America's role in the world during the Presidency of George W. Bush.

I began working on the Intelligence Identities Protection Act shortly after CIA station chief Richard Welch was murdered in Greece when his identity was disclosed. The orginal sponsor was my boss Senator Lloyd Bentsen, who I worked very closely with over many years on this matter, along with representatives of CIA management, legal counsel, public affairs and representatives of clandestine services in extensive meetings to develop legislation to best protect those who serve our country covertly. 

Senator Bentsen was also the original sponsor of related legislation, also enacted, to provide death benefits to families of CIA officers killed in the line of duty.

Many individuals worked on these bills that became laws. I was proud when Senator Bentsen received a letter from the Director of Central Intelligence thanking me, as well as him, for these efforts. No doubt many others received such commendations and all should be proud of having been a part of important work supporting heroic men and women.


I offer this brief summary to emphasize that the views expressed here resulted not from a day's work, or a year's work, but from work that has been, and remains, a part of my lifetime which began early and continues in various forms today. I did not come to these issues late, nor do I offer these thoughts lightly.

The CIA leak case is not about Joe Wilson, or Valerie Plame, or whether one supports or opposes the Iraq war. The CIA leak case is about integrity and truth in intelligence, which is essential in defeating terrorism, in winning wars when we must fight them, and avoiding wars when we should not fight them. The CIA leak case is about honor and patriotism, about protecting those who serve bravely and covertly, just as we should stand completely behind men and women in uniform.

The CIA leak case is about the need for strong human intelligence, a need that is urgent and has been urgent for more than three decades.

The CIA leak case is about the obsession and ideology that disrespects facts, and disrespects truth, and declares Mafia-like vendettas against those who make good faith and professional efforts to ascertain them. The CIA leak case is about using partisan and political pressure to distort and pervert the search for truth, which is what good intelligence is all about, and the CIA leak case is about what goes wrong when these cardinal principles, time honored for every intelligence service on earth, are violated.

Others worked on these laws and policies as I did and have the right to their opinion, but I would submit that my views represent the overwhelming majority of opinion among those who wrote these laws, those who devised these policies, and those who serve covertly in every clandestine service from the CIA to MI-6 and Mossad.

For anyone who offers the contrary I will debate them at any time, in any forum.

When the original Identities Law was drafted, we were sickened and disgusted that identities of American intelligence officers were revealed and at times led to their death, by some who were radical and extreme and serving the interests of America's enemies during the Cold War.

It never occurred to even one of us, working on those laws at that time, that the identity of a covert officer would ever be revealed by the highest officials in American government in leading newspapers and syndicated columns of high level Washington insiders. In those days the revealers of identities ended up taking refuge in Castro's Cuba, not Washington dinner parties or high level corridors of insider power.

It is immaterial whether the CIA Identities Act was technically violated. In my view it probably was; reasonable people can disagree; Patrick Fitzgerald said that lies threw sand in the gears of justice, so perhaps we will ultimately find out, perhaps not.

Understand the protestations of those who argue most aggresively for pardon, are those who argue most aggressively that the identity law was not broken, but support the pardon in large measure because they also fear the ultimate revelation of the truth, whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Countless people who I respect and admire have urged me to aggressively attack Victoria Toensing. I don't believe she is very important to this. She has the right to her views, though they are close to universally rejected by those who know the most of this matter, witness how few Republicans came to the Waxman hearing to offer their support.

I will make one brief point on this.

Lloyd Bentsen has left us, but I have no doubt for a second that he would have been outraged, sickened, nauseated and disgusted by this compromise of a covert officer. I have no doubt that virtually every Senator and every Member of Congress who worked on this law would be outraged, sickened, nauseated and disgusted by this compromise of a covert officer, and in my humble opinion that includes Senator Barry Goldwater, whose name Ms. Toensing invoked in making her case for her cause.

I knew Barry Goldwater. Barry Goldwater was a patriot. Ms. Toensing is no Barry Goldwater if she suggests he would not be sickened and disgusted by these leaks.

Regarding the various players on the Libby side of this case, certain neoconservatives who think its OK to reveal the identity of a covert officer, editorial pages such as the Washington Post that often misstate both facts and law and publish mug shot photos of prosecutors as the case goes to jury, and the partisans who argue that putting one's hand on the bible and lying to God Almighty about American national security is really OK, well.....

Valerie Plame was covert. Valerie Plame had served our country covertly within the last five year prior to the disclosure of her identity. To suggest otherwise today, when the facts are now beyond dispute, is that extraordinary combination of delusion and dishonesty that will be seen by history as the darkest side of national security disasters of the Bush years.

Valerie Plame worked with networks of people abroad helping her, and our country, in the battle against terrorism, including terrorism and WMD. Valerie Plame undoubtedly had various associations with sensitive people, companies and organizations that were almost certainly compromised by acts that lacked honor and patriotism, and hurt our country, and hurt our security, and hurt our troops, and increased dangers for our community no matter what the juridical status of those acts.

When these dastardly deeds are done though leaks that Lloyd Bentsen and Barry Goldwater had equal contempt for and disgust towards:

* real people can die.

* real foreign sources fail to trust our honor and withdraw their cooperation.

* real intelligence networks are compromised and real intelligence is lost or corrupted.

* real front companies are exposed which only heightens the damage, danger and death for others who serve covertly or cooperate with our clandestine services.

* real damage is done to our security and real services are performed for those seeking WMD to attack us, by violating and endangering those who work covertly to kill them, before they attack us.

* real American troops are killed our wounded on the battlefield because delusion, dishonesty and deadly obsessions corrupt decision making in Washington.

Make no mistake, those compromsing identities of clandestine officers act as the enemy of brave men and women who serve our country, and act as the friend of terrorists and enemies who dream of flying more planes to bomb our buildings, and dream of exploding WMD in our great cities to kill hundreds of thousands of our people.

If someone pointed to an American Marine in Baghdad and helped a sniper kill a hero, would the ideolgogues and apologists be standing by his body smiling and waving statute books and calling for pardons of those who pointed to our troops and aided the snipers who killed them?

If an American city is attacked by terrorists using WMD, would the proud leakers of a covert identity of those who tried to stop them be waving their statute books and calling for pardons?

The sound you hear, is the fist of Lloyd Bentsen and Barry Goldwater, in heaven, pounding the table that these acts are sickening, nauseating, despicable and their names should never be used to justify, excuse or condone these acts.

What is most appalling and scandalous is that some of those who wave our flag the highest when it suits them politically, are willing to justify a betrayal of those who serve covertly, are willing to justify acts that endanger our country with sophistries and legalisms, and do not show even the slightest outrage and disgust of acts so unworthy of anyone who holds high office.

I personally believe the Identities Law was violated, but that is beside the point.

This case is about obsessions, delusions, lies, misrepresentations, breaches of security, and the deliberate and aggressive distortions of the collection, analysis and public use of intelligence.

This case is about those so hungry to frighten out country to war that they endanger the very lives of those who serve us.

This case about those who wage vendettas against the search for truth itself.

This case is about the contempt and disresepct for human intelligence itself, when those who provide it have their lives treated as the petty cash of partisan politics and the delusions of ideology that will justify anything, no matter what the harm to our country, to get what they want.

They got what they wanted in Iraq and the world now knows the result, but the delusions, the vendettas, the dishonesties, the half truths, falsehoods, deceptions and lies continue even today by those who dare to falsely claim, even today, that Valerie Plame was not covert, and those who dare to falsely state, even today, that real damage was not done by these sick and despicable leaks of classified information and covert identity.

I propose the Waxman Committee take thebroadest view with a long overdue investigation and examine the pressures on intelligence, the attacks on the intelligence community, the distortions of intelligence information, the selective and deceptive leaking of classified information, the damage to human intelligence, the petty and large corruptions of the truth and honor that lie at the heart of good intelligence, which themselves protect the heart of our national security and defend the safety of our communities, and the lives of our troops.

I expect shocking revelations to come when the Senate Intelligence Committee releases its next report on pre-war Iraq intelligence, shamefully withheld for partisan reasons, in the hope that the last election would have kept in power the party that withheld it. And I hope the Waxman Committee leads the fight for truth and honor in the collection and use of intelligence, in the broadest sense.

Lets understand, this case is not about the people involved, or the technicalities of law.

This is case is about principles and values far larger than the moment, it is about the declaration of war against truth, against honor, against facts, against our security itself by those who endangered the brave, and now seek pardon for the guilty.

In the world of intelligence it is the truth that sets us free, and the truth that keeps us safe.

It is the truth, as much as the identities, that we must always protect, at all times, at all costs, even at the risk of our lives, as those who seek the truth, to serve our country, risk theirs.

Brent Budowsky is a contributing editor to Fighting Democrats News Service. He is a former aide to ex-Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and to the House Democratic Leadership with then-Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.) as chief deputy whip.
 
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