What a sad state we've come to.
I've told you many times how Sen. Pat Roberts (R) of Kansas, Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence is a shame to the office, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the White House political operation if there ever was one.
The July 2004 report on Iraqi WMD should be enough to make the point.
But now there's more.
Note that there are no congressional investigations into the origin of the Niger forgeries, the outing of Valerie Plame, and countless other scandals and mysteries large and small. (Remember, after the 2004 election, Roberts announced that there's now not enough time for the investigation into possible political manipulation of Iraqi WMD intel, which he promised prior to the election.)
But now there will be congressional hearings into whether the CIA does a good enough job at protecting the 'cover' of its agents in its Directorate of Operations.
It's necessary to unpack this one to see just what a lickspittle the Senator from Kansas really is.
For two years now defenders of the White House have been arguing that Valerie Wilson (nee Plame) wasn't 'outed' or damaged in any way because she wasn't really covert in the first place. The arguments have been various: she was a glorified secretary, she hadn't kept her status a secret, she hadn't been abroad recently enough, she worked at Agency headquarters, etc. etc. etc.
There's always been a ready answer to the toadies peddling these excuses. No one on the outside really knows the details of Plame's service. By definition, her superiors at the CIA do. And they wouldn't have made a criminal referral if the law didn't even apply to the person in question.
In other words, either this whole debate about her status is rendered moot by the original CIA referral to DOJ, or you must believe that the referral was knowingly fraudulent.
Those who are so Bush-true as to hypothesize that the CIA made a knowingly fraudulent referral would have to contend with the fact that the Bush Justice Department and then later Patrick Fitzgerald both concluded that the referral was a valid one.
The only other possibility -- one which I've referred to jokingly in the past -- is to argue that she wasn't covert enough. That is to say, maybe she was covert to the CIA. But she really wasn't covert up to the standards of say, Bill Safire or Tucker Carlson or Bill O'Reilly.
And this, understand, is the premise of the new Roberts' hearings. Was she really covert enough? And does the CIA really know how to define 'covert'. Asked about a bankrobber caught red-handed outside the bank, Sen. Roberts response would be to say, "But how much real claim did the bank have to that money? Did they really earn it? And what did they do to protect it?"
Now, there's a separate debate about whether the CIA, over the decades, became so bureaucratic that it came to rely too much on operatives whose cover was insufficiently deep. So, for instance, working non-proliferation with too many American 'energy industry consultants' like Plame rather than assets embedded deep within the A.Q. Khan nuke network. Presumably, the latter are rather more difficult to place than the former group. But this charge may well be a valid one. Given the nature of the question, it is difficult for those of us outside the intelligence community or without high level clearance to evaluate.
But one probably needn't advance all the way through elementary school to grasp that that policy debate is separate from a criminal investigation into whether someone broke the rules as they exist today.
The only reason Chairman Roberts now wants hearings into this question is that it might generate more fodder for excuse-making for those who will climb any mountain and ford any stream to avoid holding any of the president's lieutenants to account.
Sen. Roberts has turned the Intel Committee into an arm of Karl Rove's political operation. In the truest sense of the word, Sen. Roberts is a hack, a shame to his office.
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