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Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Sunday | September 28, 2003

What, Rice Worry?


Condoleezza Rice on Fox News Sunday talking about the leak that exposed the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame:

"This has been referred to the Justice Department. I think that is the appropriate place for it."

Rice said the White House would cooperate should the department headed by Attorney General John Ashcroft decide to proceed with a criminal investigation of the matter, which centers on the alleged public disclosure of the wife of former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson…

Rice said, "I know nothing of any such White House effort to reveal any of this. And it certainly would not be the way the president would expect his White House to operate…"

Asked if the White House was not concerned that top officials might have done such a thing, Rice said she did not recall any discussions of the matter…

From these comments it’s hard not to conclude that Condeleezza Rice--whose responsibility is ensuring our national security--doesn’t really care about rooting out leaks emanating from the White House that break federal laws and compromise our national security.

The Washington Post reports that “a senior administration official said that before Novak's column [exposing Valerie Plame] ran, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife.” Even though the leakers surely don’t view themselves as such, it is clear that the White House has been penetrated by people acting like moles. It’s inconceivable that the leakers have secret ties to a foreign government or organization—their motivation was to cause harm to Wilson for exposing the lies behind the White House's claims that Saddam tried to buy uranium in Niger. The effect of the leakers’ actions, however, are not easily distinguished from those perpetrated by a U.S. Government employee providing secret information to a foreign counter-intelligence organization—the leakers exposed the hidden identity and intentions of one of our undercover intelligence agents.

When the leakers revealed to the press that Wilson’s wife Valerie Plame was a CIA agent, they imperiled the lives of Plame and anyone who helped her acquire intelligence about efforts to construct, disseminate or use weapons of mass destruction. If these leaks had caused the death of Plame or lead to the deaths of any of her contacts, the effect on the U.S. would be to make us more vulnerable to dangers arising out of our ignorance about WMD’s. Thus, it is incredibly damning that Rice expressed no concern about discovering who among her colleagues committed this crime and whether they continue to breach our national security.

But Rice’s reaction may shed light on an important difference between a government that knows, on one hand, that it has been penetrated by a mole it cannot identify, and a government that on the other hand exposes its secret agents itself. If a government cannot identify the moles, it has no way of knowing what other secret information has been or continues to be revealed to those who present a danger to the national security. But if the government knows the identity of the leakers, then it knows how to contain further breaches of national security and then takes action against the offenders, turning the case over to “the appropriate place for it,” the Dept. of Justice.

Which may be the explanation for Rice’s sanguine reaction to an act which compromised our national safety: Rice may know the identity of the leakers who exposed Valerie Plame—possibly because one of the leakers was Rice herself.

Of course there is no indication that Rice or anyone else has turned over the identities of the leakers to the Dept. of Justice, so there seem to be but two conclusions to be drawn from Rice’s comments on Fox: she is stunningly incapable of recognizing continuing threats to our national security, or she knows who exposed CIA agent Valerie Plame, and is therefore criminally complicit in perpetrating and/or covering up a threat to our nation’s security. Either way, George W. Bush shouldn’t be allowed to get through the week without taking action against the national security threat brought about by the actions and inactions of Condoleezza Rice.

Posted September 28, 2003 02:30 PM | Comments (153)


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