Friday, March 23, 2007

Novak and Toensing

Bob Novak can't get it right. In his column about Valerie Wilson's recent congressional testimony, he challenged the notion (or fact) that she was a "covert CIA operative when he identity was revealed" (in one of his own columns, that is). And he wrote:

[GOP lawyer Victoria] Toensing testified that Plame was not a covert operative as defined by the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which she had helped draft as a Senate staffer in 1982, if only because she was not stationed overseas for the CIA the past five years. Waxman hectored Toensing, menacingly warning that her sworn testimony would be scrutinized for misstatements.

This paragraph shows how the spin machine works: Toensing testifies, Novak cites. But Toensing's testimony was inaccurate. As I wrote:

During her testimony on Friday, [Toensing] pointed to the [Intelligence Identity Protection Act's] definition of a "covert agent" and said, "The person is supposed to reside outside of the United States." That is not what the law says--and one can presume Toensing knows the actual details of the legislation [because she helped to draft the law in the early 1980s]. In defining a "covert agent" (whose identity cannot be disclosed under the act), the law cites two criteria for a current officer or employee of an intelligence agency: that person's "identity as such an officer, employee, or member is classified information" and that officer has to be "serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States." Pay attention to Toensing's sleight of hand. Under oath, she told the committee the law applied to clandestine officers residing abroad. Not so.

In her recent Washington Post piece, Toensing wrote of Valerie Wilson, "She worked at CIA headquarters and had not been stationed abroad within five years of the date of Novak's column." This means, Toensing has argued, that Valerie Wilson could not be covered by the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. But Valerie Wilson testified that she had been dispatched on overseas missions under cover in the five years prior to the Novak column [that outed her]--an indication she had "served" abroad. (Hubris reported that as well.) Toensing is free to maintain that the law ought to cover only those officers residing overseas as part of a long-term foreign assignment. But that is not what the act says. By stating that the act defines a "covert agent" as an officer residing abroad (as opposed to an officer who had "served" overseas), Toensing misrepresented the law to members of the committee. (By the way, both [special prosecutor Patrick] Fitzgerald and the CIA have said that Valerie Wilson's employment relationship with the CIA was classified.)

So Novak misled his readers because Toensing misled the committee. Perhaps he ought to get a different lawyer.

Posted by David Corn at March 23, 2007 11:53 AM


{ò,ó}arol said...

Saladin said, Capt, that is not the point at all! It isn't whether he's believable or not or whether what he says is true or not, the question is, does HE really believe it? You are so ridiculous sometimes I don't even know why I'm speaking to you! You sure will go to great lengths to attack global warming and any of the science and the messengers.

I don't understand your beef with Gore, one of the messengers, but if you had his money you'd be living as high off the hog as he supposedly is.

capt said...

New Thread!