"Another Valerie Plame?"
Buried inside the Washington Post today is a story, following up on a New York Times article yesterday, about a former CIA analyst who has asked the FBI to investigate allegations that the spy agency dismissed him for refusing to falsify intelligence.
The identity of the former CIA analyst, a 22-year veteran in the counter-proliferation department, remains undisclosed (but for how long?). The analyst’s lawyer, Roy Krieger, said his client had previously asked the CIA to investigate charges that other CIA officials had pressured him to alter intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war. So far, the CIA has refused to investigate.
The analyst reports to have had information from credible sources prior to the Iraq war which suggested that Baghdad had dropped a major segment of its nuclear program years before 2001, but CIA officials refused to distribute that finding to other agencies, as is typically done. Of course, we now know the truth — this former official was right and the Bush administration was wrong:
President Bush: “The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof — the smoking gun — that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud.” [10/7/02]
Duelfer Report: “Saddam Husayn ended the nuclear program in 1991 following the Gulf war. [Iraq Survey Group] found no evidence to suggest concerted efforts to restart the program.” [Key Findings]
The CIA analyst was fired in 2004, and the analyst then filed a lawsuit in federal court in December alleging that the dismissal was punishment for his reports questioning the agency’s assumptions on a series of weapons-related matters. The complaint reads, “Plaintiff was subsequently approached by a senior desk officer who insisted that plaintiff falsify his reporting of this matter.” A few months later, the analyst was dismissed based on accusations that he had sex with one of his informants and stole funds that were meant for informants. Krieger says his client’s situation parallels that of Valerie Plame’s:
“In both cases, officials brought unwelcome information on W.M.D. in the period prior to the Iraq invasion [to the attention of the administration], and retribution followed,” said Mr. Krieger, referring to weapons of mass destruction.
This case has potentially huge implications. The allegations suggest the CIA was pressured to conform its pre-war Iraq intelligence reports to fit the assertions of President Bush and Vice President Cheney; that the CIA (and perhaps others) knew there was intelligence that undermined the case for attacking Iraq but ignored it; and that retribution was taken against anyone who failed to adhere to the Bush administration Iraq policy. Let’s keep our eyes on this case.