Valerie Plame: CIA Station Chief Can Never Work Undercover Again

Image: Valerie Plame: CIA Station Chief Can Never Work Undercover Again

Wednesday, 28 May 2014 07:43 PM

By Greg Richter

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Former CIA agent Valerie Plame says that after her own cover was blown in 2003 she was never able to work as a covert agent again, and the same will be true of the CIA station chief in Afghanistan.

The CIA's top spy in Kabul's name was accidentally included in a press release sent out by the White House detailing President Barack Obama's surprise visit to U.S. troops in Afghanistan on Sunday.

The man's life could be in danger because of the accidental leak, and Plame told CNN she hopes he was on Air Force One with Obama when he returned to the United States.

"His covert career, as mine was, is finished," Plame said.

But the comparison to her situation ends there, she told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

The latest case was clearly accidental, she said, though she described the error as "colossally stupid." The error likely occurred because of the exuberance in Kabul that the president was visiting, she said.

Plame's name was leaked by Richard Armitage, deputy secretary of State for the Bush administration. It was published in a column by Robert Novak.

Plame says her name was leaked in retribution for her husband's criticism of the Bush administration in the Iraq War. Armitage has since said he was wrong, Plame told Blitzer.

Armitage has "been around Washington long enough to completely understand the implications of it – even if you don't know someone's cover status, if they are somehow affiliated with the CIA, it's best not to gossip about it with other journalists," Plame said.

Plame said she was unable to continue working for the CIA once she could no  longer work undercover.

"I thought I had the best job in the world," she said. "I loved what I did. And when I could no longer have that covert cover to travel around the world, I worked especially on … nuclear counter proliferation issues, I didn't want to stay."

With up to a million people having top-secret clearances in the United States, Plame said she is surprised even more covers haven't been blown.

Addressing NSA leaker Edward Snowden's claim that he was trained as a spy, Plame said he probably received some amount of basic training on keeping his cover secret, but his claims seem overblown.

"He was not an operations officer. He did not work in human intelligence, as I did," she said. "His claims, I think, are a little beyond what the reality is."

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