Plame's Outing Damaged National Security, Dems Say

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:31 PM EDT

( - Following reports that former CIA operative Valerie Plame had been tracking Iran's nuclear proliferation efforts when her cover was blown, Democrats are demanding to know how much damage Plame's "outing" did to national security.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) on Tuesday asked CIA Director Porter Goss to send Congress a damage assessment.

In a letter sent to Goss -- and released to the national media -- Lautenberg mentioned reports that Plame had been tracking nuclear material sent to Iran at the time her identity was made public by columnist Robert Novak.

"If this report is true," Lautenberg wrote, "the disclosure of her identity has caused harm to our national security.

"Therefore, I seek a briefing of interested Senators on whether the CIA has in fact launched a damage assessment and what this assessment has revealed to date. We would also like to know whether the security clearances of any current Administration personnel has [sic] been suspended or revoked as a result of this matter."

In his syndicated column on July 14, 2003, Novak wrote that "two senior administration officials" had told him that "[Wilson's] wife, Valerie Plame, is an agency operative on weapons of mass destruction."

The website Raw Story first reported on Plame's covert Iran-related activities in February, but the report went nowhere until MSNBC correspondent David Shuster mentioned it Tuesday night on Chris Matthews' Hardball show.

Shuster, quoting intelligence sources, said on Hardball that Valerie Plame Wilson "was part of an operation three years ago tracking the proliferation of nuclear weapons material into Iran. And the sources allege that when Mrs. Wilson's cover was blown, the administration's ability to track Iran's nuclear ambitions was damaged as well."

Shuster also mentioned that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald "is weighing whether to indict top presidential adviser Karl Rove, otherwise known as Bush's brain."

Iran - and it's apparent pursuit of WMD -- has emerged as a major national security threat. And Democrats have accused the Bush White House of trying to protect the "two senior administration officials" who mentioned "Wilson's wife" to reporters.

Valerie Plame's identity was exposed after her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, returned from a fact-finding trip to Africa and downplayed the threat of Saddam Hussein's alleged nuclear weapons program.

Wilson says White House officials deliberately mentioned his wife's covert role as political revenge for Wilson's criticism of the invasion of Iraq.

A two-year investigation led to the indictment last October of Vice President Dick Cheney's aide, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who is charged with lying and obstructing justice.

Democrats have been clamoring for Karl Rove's indictment as well.

See Chronology of Valerie Plame Controversy (Oct. 28, 2005)

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