Testifies She Had Nothing to do With Sending Husband to Niger, Blows Out Every Claim by Republicans, Novak, Toensing, etc. That She Wasn't Covert
LIVE-BLOGGING HOUSE OVERSIGHT HEARINGS...
By Brad Friedman on 3/16/2007, 7:42am PT  

Absolutely riveting, historic, under-oath testimony by Valerie Plame-Wilson in the House Oversight Committee on-going right now. Recurring theme over and over again: She was covert, covert, covert when her identity was outed and her cover was blown --- for the first time in history by her own government.

Every wingnut argument to the contrary, and concerning her case has been utterly destroyed. The Republican questioning of Plame-Wilson has come up with absolutely nothing to counter and it's been confirmed that CIA Director Gen. Hayden has also confirmed her covert status and that she we worked overseas (as per the Intelligence Identity Protections Act) in the last five years.

Hearings were covered for first 15 minutes or so on all three cable news nets. Now only LIVE currently on C-SPAN.

AP just filed this short initial item:

WASHINGTON - Valerie Plame, the CIA operative at the heart of a political scandal, told Congress Friday that senior officials at the White House and State Department "carelessly and recklessly" blew her cover to discredit her diplomat-husband.

Plame, whose 2003 outing triggered a federal investigation, said she always knew her identity could be discovered by foreign governments.

"It was a terrible irony that administration officials were the ones who destroyed my cover," she told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

RAW STORY currently has details on her opening testimony.

Live blogging notes on the testimony below follow below...

(NOTE: Second and Third panels now live blogged here. Includes details on stunning admission from White House Security Director that no investigation was ever made into the leak by his office!)

UPDATE: Video of complete hearing and related documents now online at House Oversight Committee website right here...

Unformatted live-blogging notes taken during hearing...hope they'll make sense...

CHAIRMAN WAXMAN'S (D-CA) OPENING STATEMENT:
Discussed rules and facts that CIA Director Hayden briefed Congress on what they could and couldn't discuss for classified reasons.

Smartly opened by quoting George Bush Sr. this way:

"This was an extraordinarily serious breach of our national security. President George W. Bush's father, the former President Bush, said, and I quote, 'I have nothing but contempt and anger for those who expose the names of our sources. They are, in my view, the most insidious of traitors,' end quote."

Waxman made clear over and again that Plame's status was covert, confirmed by Hayden, that she served overseas in the previous five years before she was outed in Robert Novak's July 14, 2003 column. Said we routinely thank military troops for their service, but do not thank intelligence agents similarly for their service.

The outing of Plame was a "national security breach"

RANKING MEMBER TOM DAVIS' (R-VA) OPENING STATEMENT

Tries to suggest that "outing" was "unintentional". Wonders why we're having this hearing, "seems like a waste of time" given so many things that can't be discussed due to classified nature.

Says (incorrectly) the Libby Trial proves nobody at the WH knew about Plame-Wilson's covert status.

Clearly tries to blame CIA (not White House) for not protecting the identify of their agents well enough. Would like to review the rules of the CIA to improve their behavior.

VALERIE PLAME-WILSON'S OPENING STATEMENT

Will try to link to her full statement when I can get it.

I was covert when my identity was outed. Worked in counter-proliferation division of CIA where most agents were also covert. I was covert, the status of my position was classified, I was working on WMD issues in Iraq. I traveled overseas during the five years prior to my being outed at which time my cover was blown, network destroyed along with my career path.

It was "not common knowledge on the cocktail circuit" that I was a covert operative.

This was a grave breach, which jeopardized lives and national security.

Libby Trial exposed that the officials at both the White House and State Dept. "recklessly" exposed my identity. "My exposure arose for purely political motivations."

YARMUTH (D) QUESTIONS

P-W confirms that on July 13, day before Novak column was published, "I was covert." When asked how she felt when husband former Ambassador Joe Wilson came in and said "he did it" in reply to Novak's column, she says "I felt like I had been hit in the gut, it was over in an instant"

As of the outing "my chosen career path was terminated."

PAUL HODES (D) QUESTIONS

PAUL HODES (D-NH) QUESTIONS
Says P-W was victim of national security breach. Shows chart of 20 different disclosures of her identity by White House and State Dept. officials.

UPDATE: Actual chart now posted here...

AT THIS POINT FOX "NEWS" CHANNELS BREAKS AWAY FROM HEARINGS TO GET RESPONSES FROM NOVAK IN STUDIO...

Novak says "It's beyond comprehension that a covert operative was going to work at the CIA every day."

WE FLIP BACK TO LIVE COVERAGE ON C-SPAN...

TOM DAVIS (R-VA) RANKING MEMBER QUESTIONS

Asks if she knows if the WH knew she was covert. P-W "I worked at the counter-proliferation office at CIA where most agents were covert" implying that if WH didn't know, they should have.

Should the CIA have done more to protect her identity? He continues this line of questions/statements.

P-W repeats again: "I was covert, I did work overseas in the the last 5 years."

Davis asks about the article in Vanity Fair long after outing, says they "are not always know for their great accuracy." Asks whether she should have had her picture taken in the mag, she says it was long after she had already been outed, cover blown.

Davis tried and tried and tried, but got nothing to back up the wingnut disinfo line they've been selling on this case for years.

CUMMINGS (D) QUESTIONS

Asks again about Victoria Toensing's repeated charges, in Washington Post etc. that "Plame was not covert"

P-W: "I was covert, just as a general who comes back from overseas duty is still a general when he comes home, I was still covert upon returning home from my duty overseas."

Cummins asks if it's "possible that Toensing had more info than you did about your covert status?" (laughs from audience, P-W) "No, I don't think so, Congressman"

Cummins repeats for clarity that CIA Dir. Gen. Hayden said this morning: "Yes, she was covert"

Asks "Did you hold covert status at time of leak?" ANSWER: "Yes"
"Did you serve overseas during the five years prior to the leak?" ANSWER: "Yes"
"So repeating you were both covert and served overseas in the last five years when identify was leaked?" ANSWER: "Yes"

WESTMORELAND (R-GA) QUESTIONS

Is there a diff. between "covert" "undercover" or "classified"? P-W: "Covert and undercover used interchangeably, we don't refer to the classification specifically"

Was her covert status widely known as charged by Republicans? P-W: "I could count on one hand the number of people who knew my true employment when I was exposed"

Including your husband? "Yes."

P-W: At the time of Vanity Fair photo, my status was already known. The picture was taken in late 2003 after my status had already been blown.

KUCINICH (D-OH) QUESTIONS

When you look at this chart (of 20 different disclosures by WH and State of her identity) were you dismayed? She answers that the chart shows conspiracy was "reckless and wide-reaching".

Asks has their been similar leaks of covert operative identies in the past? P-W: "None that I'm aware of by their very own Government"

Kucinich says U.S. Attorney purge, trashing by Admin of former Treas. Sec. Paul O'Neal, Gen. Shinsecki, Treas. Secretary who leaked details of medicare bill shows clear pattern by WH.

P-W confirms that Cheney's unprecedented visits to VIA in lead up to war and looking over should of agents was "intimidating to agents".

DIANE WATSON (D-CA) QUESTIONS

Watson "infuriated" by claims that "Oh, she just had a desk job" at CIA. Thanks P-W very much for her service to this country.

STEPHEN LYNCH (D-MA) QUESTIONS

This hearing has been a long time in coming, has been requesting one for a very long time.

Re: Joe Wilson's assignment to go to Niger, P-W: "I did not recommend him, I did not suggest him, I did not have the authority to do so."

CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD) QUESTIONS

Do you think failure to fire those responsible for leaks undermines credibility and ability to keep National Security? P-W: "Yes, I believe it undermines the President."

Asks whether there is a CIA memo in existence that counters the inaccuracies from the Senate Intelligence Committee report which has been used to try and discredit Amb. Wilson

P-W: "Says she believes there is"

UPDATE: Josh Marshall explains the discredited report again today, which he describes as "simply a tissue of lies" --- right here...

Congressman requests they try and get that report declassified and made available to Congress.

WESTMORELAND QUESTIONS (R-GA)

Hates it that "we don't have time for more questions, since there's so many conflicting issues"

Asks, "Would you say your husband was a Democrat or Republican"? W-P says "though he comes from a Republican family, I believe he'd say he's now a Democrat"

Asks, ,"Are you a Democrat or Republican?" P-W uncomfortable, doesn't feel she should have to answer, but then says directly "Yes, Congressman, I am a Democrat."

TOM DAVIS (R-VA) QUESTIONS

Repeats that "there is no evidence that anybody who outed her knew she was covert"

ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON (D-D.C.)

She's outraged. P-W confirms, "Outing was devastating, in my case I was working on finding the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq" confirms that "previous outings have resulted in agents deaths."

P-W states clearly: "I had no political agenda, Joe had no political agenda, we were both trying to serve our country."

TOM DAVIS (R-VA) AGAIN

You said your husband came in and said "he did it", who was he referring to?

P-W: "Novak. We had word earlier in the week that he had the information. I had been informed by CIA superiors that they would take care of it." Says Novak was told "don't do this" by her superiors.

END OF PANEL...

TESTIMONY BY WHITE HOUSE SECURITY OFFICE DIRECTOR IN NEXT PANEL IS AMAZING! ADMITS WHITE HOUSE NEVER DID INVESTIGATION INTO LEAK!!!

LIVE BLOGGING THAT STUNNING 2ND PANEL HERE!...

Text transcript of hearing, Plame testimony now available here...