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Former Plame Colleague Criticizes President Bush and His Aides
July 23, 2005

July 23 (Bloomberg) -- A former CIA colleague of Valerie Plame and professed Republican gave the Democrats' weekly radio address, saying President George W. Bush broke his promise to fire whoever disclosed her identity as a covert agent.

Larry C. Johnson, who described himself as a former Bush supporter, suggested that Bush put politics ahead of security when he ``flip-flopped'' on his pledge. Johnson was given a forum typically reserved for lawmakers or figures such as former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.

Johnson spoke after Bush gave his weekly radio address urging swift confirmation of John G. Roberts Jr. to the Supreme Court. Bush's appointment of Roberts this week shifted at least some public attention to that choice from the issue of White House adviser Karl Rove's part in revealing Plame's identity.

``This is wrong and this is shameful,'' Johnson, a Washington- based security consultant, said. ``Instead of a president concerned first and foremost with protecting this country and the intelligence officers who serve it, we are confronted with a president who is willing to sit by while political operatives savage the reputations of good Americans like Valerie and Joe Wilson.''

Wilson is Plame's husband and a former acting ambassador to Iraq. He was picked, on her recommendation, to investigate reports in 2002 that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger.

Plame's name was published by columnist Robert Novak in July 2003, one week after the New York Times published a story in which Wilson said the Bush administration twisted weapons intelligence to justify invading Iraq.

GOP Response

Last week, as the investigation by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald focused on Rove and Lewis ``Scooter'' Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Bush said only those who committed a crime by revealing Plame's identity would be fired. It's illegal to knowingly reveal the name of a covert intelligence agent.

Previously, Bush and White House spokesman Scott McClellan suggested the mere disclosure of the name of the agent would warrant dismissal. On June 10, 2004, Bush answered ``Yes'' when asked whether he would fire anyone who leaked Plame's name.

Danny Diaz, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said ``it's unfortunate that Democrats would rather launch partisan attacks than let the investigatory process take its course,'' Diaz said today.

``There is no doubt that Democrats are attempting to draw attention away from their lack of a positive agenda for our nation,'' Diaz said.

No Last Names

Novak said he received the information from two administration officials. Libby and Rove have suggested the reporters they spoke to already knew Plame was a CIA official.

Johnson painted a picture of a Central Intelligence Agency in which members of the career trainee program were not told colleagues' last names for security purposes. They still didn't know them years later, he said, even though they possessed top- secret clearances.

Johnson said he knew Plame only as ``Valerie P.'' at the time Rove's column appeared in 2003, even though they both entered the CIA in September 1985.

Johnson also said the suggestion that Plame wasn't undercover at the time her identity was disclosed was a ``lie.''

Johnson is chief executive of BERG Associates LLC, a Washington-based consulting firm that specializes in counter- terrorism. His biography says he worked for the CIA from 1985 through 1989. He also worked for the State Department and has been quoted on the Plame matter in news stories and television appearances.

To contact the reporter on this story:
Victor Epstein in Washington at  vepstein@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: July 23, 2005 15:40 EDT