Friday, March 16, 2007

The Valerie Plame Law

When Francine and I got married at the Plaza Hotel in February 2002 (see previous post), I invited a small group of friends. Among them were two guests from my days in Washington: Ambassador Joseph Wilson, and his wife, Valerie Plame.

I first met Joe and Valerie Wilson in DC, just after they were themselves married. At the time, Joe had been back from Iraq for several years and was working on several international telecom projects, focused mainly on solving communications issues in Africa. We first met through some mutual friends at WorldSpace, then again as I was shopping a wireless technology that would later be renamed WiMax.

Joe is a pretty easy guy to like. After a few meetings, he invited me to his house, in suburban Washington, where I met Valerie. I vaguely remember asking what she did when we first met and found she was working in a similar field to Helmuth's wife - consulting. Not at that time, nor any other time that I visited their house, or talked with Joe, was Valerie's true occupation ever mentioned, or discussed. At our wedding in New York, we enjoyed Joe and Valerie's company, without any of us being aware of Valerie's covert status.

Fast forward several months - you can't imagine our surprise when the news about Valerie's real occupation broke. I was sitting at home, watching TV, and they mentioned her name, and Joe's, and then broke the story - the story that would later break Scooter Libby. We had no idea beforehand, and it is still hard to believe now.

When I heard Valerie's testimony this morning before the US Congress House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, the same feeling I got when I first heard the news came over me again. Nothing about this action bothers me more than the knowledge that Valerie's life - and the lives of the folks recruited into Valerie's international network - were placed permanently at risk because of the reckless actions of a government official.

These networks are incredibly expensive and time-consuming to build, and vital to maintain - and the human intelligence produced is irreplaceable. The US intelligence community - and the CIA in particular - is poorer as a result of this compromise, and I imagine current covert field operatives are feeling none too secure about their own networks these days.

Hopefully, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will create a better law with clearer definitions and powerful penalties that will dissuade US officials from destroying these valuable assets in the future. Democrats should call this new law "The Valerie Plame Law", pass it, and get Bush to sign it while he's still in office.

1 comment:

Solomon's words for the wise said...

Great blog, John. Your article about Valerie Plame is very interesting. Shows how little we know about the spys among us. I posted your article on my blog, for my readers to enjoy. Jim