This past weekend during President Obama’s trip to Afghanistan the name of the US Central Intelligence Agency’s Station Chief in Afghanistan was released by the White House to some 6,000 members of the press.
The astonishing incompetence of the Obama White House in releasing the name of the CIA Station Chief in Kabul reminds us that eleven years ago the late conservative columnist Robert Novak published an article revealing that Valerie Plame, the wife of Democratic diplomatic appointee and Iraq war critic Joseph C. Wilson, was a covert CIA employee. In the subsequent investigation much of official Washington and the George W. Bush White House became paralyzed by what came to be known as the “Valerie Plame affair.”
A Special Counsel was appointed to investigate the leak. Charges of political retribution by the Bush White House for Wilson’s criticism of the Iraq War were front page news for months. Bush administration appointees, and White House staffers great and small were interviewed and investigated.
Democrats made it clear they were gunning for President Bush’s trusted advisor Karl Rove, however, it was I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s Chief of Staff who was eventually indicted on five counts relating to the Plame affair: Two counts of perjury, two counts of making false statements to federal investigators, and one count of obstruction of justice.
Libby was convicted and sentenced to 30 months in federal prison, a fine of $250,000, and two years of supervised release, including 400 hours of community service; he was spared prison, but not a felony record, when President Bush commuted only his 30-month prison sentence leaving his conviction and the rest of his punishment intact.
The person who gave Novak the information about Plame, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, readily admitted that he was the source, claimed he didn’t know Plame was covert and was never punished.
We recite this largely forgotten scandal only to give context to the latest example of the incredible incompetence of President Obama and his White House staff in releasing the name of the CIA’s station chief in Kabul, Afghanistan.
The White House, although it initially tried to “un-ring the bell” and figure out if there was a way to undo the obvious damage, has subsequently declined to comment on the disclosure. It is at present unclear whether or how the disclosure would affect US intelligence operations in Afghanistan.
But releasing the name of a covert employee of the CIA isn’t mere incompetence – it is a felony. The Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 makes revealing the name of a covert CIA agent a crime, and losing the CIA Station Chief in Afghanistan because his cover has been blown deprives the US of one our most experienced and valuable assets in the still hot war in one of the major centers of radical Islam.
Conservatives have long complained that Obama’s incompetence has been routinely covered-up or ignored by the establishment media and given what might be charitably called ineffective oversight by Congress.
But a White House so incompetent that blows the cover of a senior CIA operative is doing damage much worse than wasting the vast sums of taxpayer dollars that Obama’s incompetent handling of the implementation of Obamacare and the rollout of the healthcare.gov website has cost us. This is about winning a war and in war incompetence of this magnitude verges on treason.
When Valerie Plame’s identity was blown the establishment media were all over the story demanding that heads at the Bush White House should roll. We’re watching and waiting to see if Members of Congress and the establishment media will pursue this example of Obama White House incompetence verging on treason with the same vigor.