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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Is There (Yet Another) Scandal Here? 

Something has been gnawing at us for the last day or so, and we couldn't quite figure out what it was until this morning when the penny finally dropped. Our perturbation began when we read a post at Firedoglake, in which our illustrious colleague Jane Hamsher, in the course of debunking various media apologists for the administration's outing of Valerie Plame, quoted former intelligence analyst Larry Johnson:
In a December 14, 2005, letter to Fitzgerald, Libby's lawyers asked for "Any assessment done of the damage (if any) caused by the disclosure of Valerie Wilson's status as a CIA employee" in a December 14, 2005 letter to Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald's response stated, "A formal assessment has not been done of the damage caused by the disclosure of Valerie Wilson's status as a CIA employee, and thus we possess no such document" . . . .

This much I do know. The CIA, as matter of standard operating procedure, conducted a preliminary damage assessment once Valerie's identity was publicly compromised. Human intelligence assets who had worked under Valerie's direction were damaged. Their lives were put at risk (I don't know if anyone died) and their ability to serve as clandestine assets reporting to the United States was destroyed. Remember, Valerie was working on projects to identify terrorists and criminals who were trying to procure weapons of mass destruction. Part of this information was the basis for the referral to the Justice Department in September 2003 to investigate this as a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. Although the CIA has not completed a formal written report that is available to outsiders, such as the House or Senate Intelligence Committees, it has done a damage assessment.
Question: what if the "formal written report" is never to be completed? Have the results of the assessment been spiked?

And Fitzgerald states quite bluntly that no formal assessment has been done. What if he's right? Although it beggars belief to imagine that the CIA would violate its own internal protocols in such a sensitive case, is it possible that the assessment itself was called off before it was completed?

If so, at whose behest?

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