Good Morning Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. My name is Valerie Plame Wilson and I am honored to have been invited to testify under oath before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on the critical issue of safeguarding classified information. I’m grateful for this opportunity to set the record straight.
I’ve served the United States loyally and to the best of my ability as a Covert Operations Officer for the Central Intelligence Agency. I worked on behalf of the National Security of our country, on behalf of the People of the United States until my name and true [emphasis Plame-Wilson] affiliation were exposed in the national media on July 14th 2003 after a leak by administration officials.
Today I can tell this committee even more. In the run up to Iraq, I worked in the Counterproliferation Division of the CIA, still as a covert officer whose affiliation with the CIA was classified. I raced to discover solid intelligence for senior policy makers on Iraq’s presumed Weapons of Mass Destruction programs. While I helped to manage and run secret worldwide operations against his WMD target from CIA headquarters in Washington, I also traveled to foreign countries on secret missions to find vital intelligence.
I loved my career because I love my country. I was proud of the serious responsibilities entrusted to me as a CIA Covert Operations Officer. And I was dedicated to this work. It was not common knowledge on the Georgetown cocktail circuit that everyone knew where I worked. But, all of my efforts on behalf of the National Security of the United States, all my training, all of the value of my years of service were abruptly ended when my name and identity were exposed irresponsibly.
In the course of the trial of Vice President Cheney’s former Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, I was shocked by the evidence that emerged. My name and identity were recklessly and carelessly abused by senior government officials in both the White House and the State Department. All of them understood that I worked for the CIA and having signed oaths to protect national security secrets, they should have been diligent in protecting me and every CIA officer. The CIA goes to great lengths to protect all of its employees. Providing – at significant taxpayer’s expense – painstakingly devised and creative covers for its most sensitive staffers. The harm that is done when a CIA cover is blown is grave. But I can’t provide details beyond that in this public hearing. But the concept is obvious.
Not only have breaches of national security endangered CIA officers, it has jeopardized, and even destroyed, entire networks of foreign agents. Who, in turn, risk their own lives, and those of their families, to provide the United States with needed intelligence. Lives are literally at stake.
Every single one of my former CIA colleagues, from my fellow covert officers to analysts, to technical operations officers to even the secretaries, understand the vulnerabilities of our officers and recognize that the travesty of what happened to me could happen to them. We in the CIA always know that we might be exposed and threatened by foreign [emphasis Plame-Wilson] enemies. It was a terrible irony that administration officials were the ones who destroyed my cover. Furthermore, testimony in the criminal trial of Vice President Cheney’s former Chief of Staff, who has now been convicted on, of serious crimes, indicates that my exposure arose from purely political motives.
Within the CIA it is essential that all intelligence be evaluated on the basis of its merits and actual credibility. National security depends upon it. The tradecraft of intelligence is not a product of speculation. I feel passionately, as an intelligence professional, about the creeping, insidious, politicizing of our intelligence process. All intelligence professionals are dedicated to the ideal that they would rather be fired on the spot than distort the facts to fit a political view. Any political view or any ideology.
As our intelligence agencies go through reorganizations and experience the painful aspects of change, and our country faces profound challenges injecting partisanship or ideology into the equation makes effective and accurate intelligence that much more difficult to develop.
Politics and ideology must be stripped completely from our intelligence services or the consequences will be even more severe than they have been and our country placed in even greater danger. It is imperative for any President to be able to make decisions based on intelligence that is unbiased. The Libby trial and the events leading to the Iraq war highlight the urgent need to restore the highest professional standards of intelligence collection and analysis and the protection of our officers and operations. The Congress has a Constitutional duty to defend our national security and that includes safeguarding our intelligence. That is why I am grateful for this opportunity to appear before this committee today and to assist in its important work.