Confirmation From Vincent Cannistraro

More confirmation and detail about Plame’s role: Vincent Cannistraro, who used to run counter-terrorism at the CIA, and who at least as recently as February was backing the Administration on the WMD issue [*], says in Thursday’s Daily News that she was an operational spook:

Plame “ran intelligence operations overseas,” said Vincent Cannistraro, former CIA counterterrorism operations chief.

Her specialty in the agency’s nonproliferation center was biological, chemical and nuclear weapons and “recruiting agents, sending them to areas where they could access information about proliferation matters, weapons of mass destruction,” Cannistraro said.


Cannistraro called Plame’s outing a “dirty trick.”

“Her assets may be at risk,” he said. “I think that’s what justified the probe.”


Note: “Asset” is spook-talk for a foreign national supplying information to our side.

I see that James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal on-line page is reduced to hoping that whoever exposed Plame, and thus threatened the lives of her assets and compromised our ability to learn about the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction by potential adversaries, will be able to escape ten-year prison terms under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act because Plame hasn’t served abroad recently enough to be covered by the statute. (He doesn’t note that other laws might have been broken, including the Espionage Act.)

Legally, Taranto might be right. But when did it become the official Republican position that it would be nice if “those who betray the trust by exposing the name of our sources,” the people the first President Bush calls “the most insidious of traitors” [*] were able to beat the rap on a technicality?

Or to put it more bluntly: Why is the Wall Street Journal rooting for the bad guys? Are they proud to be the mouthpiece for a criminal conspiracy?

Note to the slime-and-defend brigade: Time to bring out whatever you’ve got on Cannistraro.

Update UPI picks up the Cannistraro story, and the Washington Times runs it, without mentioning that Cannistraro makes a liar out of Novak, whose veracity the Times has been vouching for editorially, or that his account makes it clear that revealing her name was a very serious crime.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: