The Intelligence Challenge: Can We Trust Our President?
by : BCavan, J Marcinkowski, L Johnson, J Doe
Monday July 18, 2005 - 14:27
We trained and worked at the CIA with Valerie Plame. We presented the following statement at a hearing on Capitol Hill in October 2003. In light of the latest White House sanctioned assault on Valerie Plame and her character, our testimony remains relevant and accurate. All of us were undercover. Brent Cavan and Larry Johnson worked as analysts in the Directorate of Intelligence. Jim Marcinkowski and Jane Doe were case officers and served overseas. Jane Doe’s real name is not being used because she was involved in counter terrorism operations and could be at risk if her identity were divulged. We’ve got each other’s back.
We slogged through the same swamps on patrols, passed clandestine messages to each other, survived a simulated terrorist kidnapping and interrogation, kicked pallets from cargo planes, completed parachute jumps, and literally helped picked ticks off each other after weeks in the woods at a CIA training facility. We knew each other’s secrets. We shared our fears, failures, and successes. We came to rely on each other in a way you do not find in normal civilian life. We understood that a slip of the tongue could end in death for those close to us or for people we didn’t even know. We were trained by the best, to be the best. We were trained by the Central Intelligence Agency. They may not appreciate what they have created.
Our joint training experience forged a bond of trust and a sense of duty that continues some eighteen years later. It is because of this bond of trust that the authors of this piece and two other colleagues, all former intelligence officers, appeared on ABC’s Nightline to speakout on behalf of the wife Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a sensitive undercover operative outted by columnist Robert Novak. The Ambassador’s wife (we decline to use her name) is a friend who went through the same training with us. We acknowledge our obligation to protect each other and the intelligence community and the information we used to do our jobs.
We are speaking out because someone in the Bush Administration seemingly does not understand this, although they signed the same oaths of allegiance and confidentiality that we did. Many of us have moved on into the private sector, where this Agency aspect of our lives means little, but we have not forgotten our initial oaths to support the Constitution, our government, and to protect the secrets we learned and to protect each other. We still have friends who serve. We protect them literally by keeping our mouths shut unless we are speaking amongst ourselves. We understand what this bond or the lack of it means.
Clearly some in the Bush Administration do not understand the requirement to protect and shield national security assets. Based on published information we can only conclude that partisan politics by people in the Bush Administration overrode the moral and legal obligations to protect clandestine officers and security assets. Beyond supporting Mrs. Wilson with our moral support and prayers we want to send a clear message to the political operatives responsible for this. You are a traitor and you are our enemy. You should lose your job and probably should go to jail for blowing the cover of a clandestine intelligence officer. You have set a sickening precedent. You have warned all U.S. intelligence officers that you may be compromised if you are providing information the White House does not like. A precedent, as one colleague pointed out during our brief appearances, allows you to build out a case based on previous legal actions and court decisions. It’s a slippery slope if it lowers the bar.
Ambassador Wilson’s political affiliations are irrelevant. Political differences serve as the basis for the give and take of representative government. What is relevant is the damage caused by the exposure that Ambassador Wilson’s wife as a political act intended to undermine Wilson’s view.
It is shameful on one level that the White House uses the news media, its own leaks, and junior Congressmen from Georgia, among others, to levy attacks on Ambassador Wilson. Moreover they discount what he has to say, his value in the Niger investigation, and suggest his wife’s cover is of little value because she was “a low-level CIA employee”. If Wilson’s comments or analysis have no merit, why does the White House feel the need to launch such a coordinated attack? Why drag his wife into it?
Not only have the Bush Administration leakers damaged the career of our friend but they have put many other people potentially in harm’s way. If left unpunished this outing has lowered the bar for official behavior. Further, who in their right mind would ever agree to become a spy for the United States? If we won’t protect our own officers how can we reassure foreigners that we will safeguard them? Better human intelligence could prevent any number of terror incidents in the future, but we are unlikely to get foreign recruits to supply it if their safety cannot be somewhat assured. If more cases like Mrs. Wilson’s occur, assurances of CIA protection will mean nothing to potential spies.
Politicians must not politicize the intelligence community. President Bush has been a decisive leader in the war on terrorism, at least initially. What about decisiveness now? Where is the accountability he promised us in the wake of Clinton Administration scandals? We find it hard to believe the President lacks the wherewithal to get to bottom of this travesty. It is up to the President to restore the bonds of trust with the intelligence community that have been shattered by this tawdry incident.
We joined the CIA to fight against foreign tyrants who used the threat of incarceration, torture, and murder to achieve their ends. They followed the rule of force, not the rule of law. We now find ourselves with an administration in the United States where some of its members have chosen to act like foreign tyrants. As loyal Americans and registered Republicans we implore President Bush to move quickly and decisively against those who, if not apprehended, will leave his Administration with the legacy of being the first to allow political operatives to out clandestine officers.
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