Sunday, July 17, 2005

Editorial: What did Hadley know and what did he do?

Karl Rove's latest defense (as pointed out by The Common Ills) is that after speaking with Matt Cooper when Valerie Plame's name came up he immediately e-mailed then deputy national security advisor Stephen J. Hadley. And then what?

And then what?

Did the e-mail confuse Hadley? Was their a follow up conversation of "Karl, what's this e-mail about?" Did Hadley immediately notify his boss (Condi Rice) what was going on? Did she follow up by notifying the Bully Boy?

For those who forget, before she moved over to the State Department, Condi Rice was in charge of national security issues. It's easy to forget that because 9-11 happened while she was in charge and there was no accountability for her.

There needs to be accountability on this.

Did Hadley do his job?

If so, did others do their job?

We're not foolish enough to think the White House wasn't orchestrating the outing of Plame. But if that's going to be the spin point ("I prove I'm not guilty with my e-mail to Hadley!") then let's examine that spin point.

The spin argues Rove passed the news on up. Did it stop there? If so Hadley didn't do his job.
Did it go higher? How much higher?

A CIA agent was a national security issue. The outing of an agent was a national security issue.

No one's attempting to say Rove's absolved and innocent. We think he's neither. But if he's going to push this latest point, then we say let's explore it.

Once someone in charge of national security was notified, it was incumbent upon them (due to their position) to immediately determine the nature of Valerie Plame's work. It was also incumbent upon them to notify then CIA director George Tenet. If they themselves did not alert Plame, the reason should be because they were given assurance from within the CIA that someone in the agency would alert Plame.

Plame doesn't appear to have been alerted. Nothing in the public record suggests that she was anything but surprised when Robert Novak outed her in a July 14, 2003 column.

Cooper spoke to Rove on the 11th of July. Rove's spin is that he e-mailed Hadley immediately upon getting off the phone with Cooper. What was being done by the administration in those three days?

Rove's conversation with Cooper, by Rove's account, made it obvious that the press knew Valerie Plame was CIA. What did Hadley do? If he didn't know who Plame was or what her position was, he should have checked with the CIA (or maybe read the memo that the State Department prepared). That was Hadley job.

Unless Condi relieved him of the responsibility. Then it became her job. (And regardless, his actions reflect upon her because she was his boss.)

Did anyone contact the CIA to alert them?

If Plame had been a translator for the CIA, we'd argue a notification would be required. If she'd been an office assistant, we'd argue a notification would be required. If Hadley and/or Rice had done any work on the issue, they'd know that she had been an undercover agent.

And as such, regardless of when she was last undercover, it was their job to ensure that she and those she worked with while undercover knew what was coming.

This goes beyond the quibbling by Republicans of whether a law was broken due to some five year rule on when you were last undercover. Plame appears to have been undercover as late as 1999 so the rule is in place and outing her was a violation of the law.

But in terms of procedures and responsibilities, it didn't matter if Plame had retired from the CIA ten years prior. It terms of procedures and responsibilities, the administration should have been working overtime to ensure that all working with Plame and Plame herself knew what was about to come out.

Whether you personally favor the use of undercover CIA agents or not, it should be obvious that having gone undercover for their government, when their cover is about to be blown, it's the government's responsibility to alert them.

That was the administration's responsibility. Did they carry it out? If not, why not?

Were any agents currently undercover and in the field, agents who had worked with Plame, alerted that someone who'd taken part in missions with them was about to be outed and that, therefore, their own cover was in danger?

It doesn't appear that they were.

The latest spin is "Rove's not guilty! He alerted Hadley!" The spin doesn't prove that. But the spin argues that the administration knew (Hadley) and that they did nothing.

The spin suggests that Plame was outed with the administration's knowledge while the administration (with at least a three days heads up) sat around and waited for the explosion.

The spin's imploding. This talking point is cratering. Not only does it not clear Rove, it suggest incompetence (at best) on the part of the administration. It's time to know what Hadley did after he received the e-mail from Rove. If he did nothing, he needs to explain why. If he passed it up, we need to hear what those above him did.

It's time for Congressional hearings on this matter. We're no longer dealing with only the outing of a CIA agent. We're now dealing with, by Rove's talking point, the impression that the administration sat by and waited for a CIA agent to be outed. There need to be some answers and there needs to be some accountability.

[This editorial was written by the following: The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ty, Jess, Dona, Jim and Ava, C.I. of The Common Ills, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Kat of Kat's Korner and Mike of Mikey Likes It!]

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