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Washington Post Enables Toensing's Delusions
Monday, 19 February 2007 10:03
by Larry C. Johnson

Congratulations to Victoria Toensing, former Reagan Administration Justice Department official, for plumbing new depths of delusion and crazed fantasies in her latest Washington Post op-ed. Ms. Toensing's piece — Trial in Error — should have been titled, "I Am Ignorant of Basic Facts". She offers up two special gems:

    • Valerie Plame was not covert.
    • Ambassador Joseph Wilson (Valerie's husband) misled the public about how he was sent to Niger, about the thrust of his March 2003 oral report of that trip, and about his wife's CIA status
Valerie Plame was undercover until the day she was identified in Robert Novak's column. I entered on duty with Valerie in September of 1985. Every single member of our class — which was comprised of Case Officers, Analysts, Scientists, and Admin folks — were undercover. I was an analyst and Valerie was a case officer. Case officers work in the Directorate of Operations and work overseas recruiting spies and running clandestine operations. Although Valerie started out working under "official cover" — i.e., she declared she worked for the U.S. Government but in something innocuous, like the State Department — she later became a NOC aka non official cover officer. A NOC has no declared relationship with the United States Government. These simple facts apparently are too complicated for someone of Ms. Toensing's limited intellectual abilities.

She also is ignoring the facts introduced at the Libby trial. We have learned that Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, Ari Fleischer, and Richard Armitage told various members of the press that Valerie worked for the CIA. In fact Scooter Libby was the one who told Bush press flack, Ari Fleischer, about Valerie's covert status. Richard Armitage told Novak (who confirmed the story with Karl Rove) and Novak ultimately exposed not just Valerie but her NOC cover company, Brewster Jennings. That leak by the Bush Administration ruined Valerie's ability to continue working as a case officer and destroyed an international intelligence network. 

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You do not have to take my word alone that Valerie was under cover. Other members of our training class also came forward in 2003 and vouched for Valerie's covert status - Jim Marcinkowski, Brent Cavan, and Mike Grimaldi. We appeared on Nightline three years ago, accompanied by another classmate who remains anonymous, and testified about our personal knowledge of Valerie's status as a covert CIA officer.

Toensing's bill of particulars about Joe Wilson and his mission to Niger is equally bizarre. She recites the usual lies:
  • Joe Wilson said he was sent by Cheney
  • Valerie Plame sent Joe on the boondoggle
  • Joe misrepresented the findings from his trip
Let's take up a collection and get Victoria some help with her obvious reading disability. The whole sordid affair got started in early February 2002. Vice President Cheney asked his briefer about the claim on 12 February 2002 and the CIA convened an interagency meeting with Ambassador Joseph Wilson one week later, February 19, 2002. Joe was a natural choice for the job. He had headed up the Africa desk at the National Security Council, he had served as an Ambassador in West Africa, and had saved American lives from Saddam during the first Gulf War. He was not chosen by his wife, Valerie Plame. She only wrote a memo, at the behest of her boss in the Counter Proliferation Divison of the Directorate of Operations, identifying Joe's qualifications. And she was asked to inform her husband about the CIA's interest in him going to Niger to help answer a request from Vice President Cheney, who wanted to know if there was any truth to reports that Iraq was seeking uranium in Niger.

We now know, thanks to the INR memo, that Joe did not want to go to Niger and supported the position of INR analysts who thought the US Ambassador in Niger was quite capable of investigating the matter. Ultimately the CIA prevailed and Joe was sent. Valerie was not in the room when the decision was made nor was she in an administrative position with the clout to send her husband on such a mission.

The INR memo introduced in the Libby trial confirms Joe's account as well about what he told the CIA debriefing team. Too bad Ms. Toensing did not take time to read the CIA report produced from Mr. Wilson's trip. He made it very clear in that report that Iraq had not purchased or negotiated the purchase of uranium.

Fair minded, reasonable people now understand that Vice President Cheney and his bag carriers embarked on a deliberate, organized campaign to smear and discredit Joe Wilson. In the process they ignored their obligation to protect our nation's secrets and told reporters about Valerie's ties to the CIA. It is time for all thinking Americans to ask why the Washington Post editorial page has decided to give a partisan hack like Toensing a platform for jury tampering? Just days before the Libby Jury retires to consider a verdict, why was Toensing allowed to publish an article rife with lies and misstated facts? Why does the paper that played a key role in exposing the tyranny of Richard Nixon now allow this shallow woman to smear prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald?

Thanks to the work of Patrick Fitzgerald and his team of prosecutors, we now know beyond any doubt that the Vice President of the United States and members of his staff ignored intelligence and tried to spin the press away from the truth that Joe Wilson found in Africa--Iraq had not sought uranium. Cheney and Libby feared what the American people might do if they discovered they had been lied to about the case for war in Iraq. Now there is no doubt. They did lie and these lies have been exposed. Unfortunately, the Victoria Toensings of the world seem hell bent on perpetuating the lies and living in the delusional world that it is okay to out an under cover CIA officer during a time of war. While Toensing has the right to be wrong, we ought to ask why a paper with the reputation of the Washington Post is lowering its journalistic standards, ignoring ethics, and enabling the spread of lies. I think the owner of the Washington Post has some "splaining" to do.
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