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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Plame Affair: Neo-Khan connection?

I've been thinking about something for a few days, and decided to blog about it -- just in case someone out there has any comments or information.

NY Times journalist Judith Miller is in jail because she refuses to talk to US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury investigating the leaking of Valerie Plame's former secret identity as a CIA operative.

It has been widely reported that Fitzgerald's legal brief about Miller includes something very secret (classified) about the case. Thus, lots of people following the case are really curious about
"those crucial redacted eight pages of court documents that persuaded one judge after another to hold her in contempt in the first place. What's in those pages is obviously key to the whole Miller case."
Circuit Court Judge David Tatel referenced these "classified filings" in his ruling and noted that he might have been tempted to keep Miller out of jail but for the harmful national security implications of the leak.

Note, the judge's comments in the ruling are also secret!

So what is this secret information available to the prosecutor and the judges? Do those pages identify the person or persons who leaked Plame's name? Do they divulge Miller's source?

Maybe, but why would those be matters of national security? After all, the judge talked about the security implications.

One interesting theory is that those pages discuss Plame's status at the CIA and perhaps her secret work. Remember, this is what Robert Novak originally wrote on July 14, 2003:
[Amb. Joseph] Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction.
So, I've been thinking about what we know -- and about what we'd like to know.

Valerie Plame had non-official cover as an employee of a CIA-front company called Brewster Jennings and Associates (apparently also known as Jennings, Brewster and Associates). After Novak's piece, the NY Times revealed that Plame had a nearly 20-year undercover career. The newspaper quoted Melissa Boyle Mahle, a former C.I.A. case officer and a friend of Plame-Wilson: Thanks to Novak's disclosure, "you removed from the playing field a very knowledgeable counterproliferation officer."

Anything else to know? Well, Joe Klein reported in Time, June 26, 2004 that Plame "may have been active in a sting operation involving the trafficking of WMD components."

A WMD sting? Really? Now, that's interesting.

In the field of counterproliferation, the big threats (ahem, after Iraq) are Iran and North Korea. Hmm. Oh, also in the recent past, the negotiations with Libya and the exposure of A.Q. Khan's network (Pakistan) have earned major headlines in this issue area.

Could Plame have worked on counterprolif toward any of these states? Wayne Madsen says yes: that Brewster Jennings was hot on the trail of A.Q. Khan's network!

Who then is Wayne Madsen and why isn't this story on the front pages? Well, according to Michael Froomkin (U of Miami Law Professor) at, he's not a wacko, but he's not always right either:
I don’t think Wayne Madsen is a nut. I’ve met Wayne a few times over the years at privacy-oriented events. He’s sometimes rumpled, often a little intense, has a spook-like love for conspiracy theory (forgivable since he is a sometime spook himself). He’s definitely out there on the fringe where left meets right, and we’re not always on the same page politically, but I have found him to be very well informed....I know this guy. Yes, he’s over-alarmist sometimes. But sometimes he’s right.
Madsen seems to link Brewster Jennings to this bust.

What do we think?

Was the leak of Valerie Plame's identity important because it ruined the Brewster Jennings CIA front that helped nail A.Q. Khan?

I'd like to know more, how about you?

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