Saturday, November 10, 2007

Notes: Terry McAuliffe; Valerie Plame Wilson

Again, benefits of being in Washington, D.C. include being able to hear amazing people speak. Last week, I was able to go and hear from Terry McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and from Valerie Plame Wilson, the former CIA operative who was "outed" by senior Bush administration officials in July 2003.

Terry McAuliffe
Former DNC chairman; chairman of Hillary Clinton for President
7 November 2007
Sponsored by College Democrats

-The Clintons were "the most expensive friends I've ever had."
-Democrats "have got to win this election."
-Iowa's caucus on January 3rd is the earliest ever held in U.S. history.
--> very early primary season, going to go very fast (1st three: Iowa, NH, NV)
-"When I refer to the president, I'm never talking about George Bush." > maintains that Bush stole the election that Gore won.
-Hillary is in a very strong position but polls can change easily- motto is to campaign like they're 20 points behind in the polls
-"Anything can happen in Iowa."
-"You win Ohio, you win the election."
-When other candidates are attacking you- "If they don't talk about you, they don't care about you."
-Woman vote very important in this election
-Democrats are probably going to pick up at least two more Senate seats (NH and VA)-- hopefully!
-Lots of opportunity coming up, but lots of work left to do
-Going to be a very tough, very dirty campaign
-The GOP will tell people things enough that they'll believe it > "The big right-wing echo chamber"
-Mistakes from the 2004 election:
-not responding quickly to the Swift Boat ads
-not being allowed to go on the offensive and say Bush's name at the convention
-losing Ohio
-On being chairman of the DNC: "You get no credit when you win and you get blamed when you lose."
-Hillary won't be elected just because she's a woman BUT don't underestimate its added benefit
-What separates her, among other things, is her solid experience.

Valerie Plame Wilson
Former CIA operative
8 November 2007
Sponsored by Women's Initiative and the Women in Politics Institute

-Finally back to Washington to tell her story, 4 1/2 years later
-Promoting her new book, "Fair Game"
-Proud to serve country in CIA- had many diverse experiences- also served as wife (of former Ambassador Joseph Wilson) and mother (of twins)
-Administration betrayed her status to get back at her husband after his New York Times Op-Ed, "What I Didn't Find in Africa."
-Cannot acknowledge that she was in the CIA prior to January 2002
-Joined CIA because of theme of public service in her family and because it sounded exciting
-Went through exams, interviews, psychological profiles
-CIA- function is to provide solid intelligence to senior officials so they can make informed decisions
-Divided into the Directorate of Administration, Directorate of Intelligence (analysts), Directorate of Science and Technology (Q-branch), and Directorate of Operations, where she worked
-Went to "the farm" after passed exams-- boot camp- paramilitary training, hostile interrogation, escape and invasion, automatic weapons--best shot in her class with an AK-47
-Learned who you could trust, who would fold, who could deliver
-After that, went through Ops course in surveillance, counter-surveillance
-instructors had developed a fake foreign country- elaborate, detailed
-had to find people to spy for the U.S. government/pass information along
-to do that, had to figure out what would motivate them
-artificial but still real pressure
-On her first day, goes in to see her legendary boss, who says, "Twirl around," and then "You'll do." --> disconcerting but proved to be a great boss
-CIA known as an "old boys" network
-no overt sexism
-DO- 17% female, only 1% were in the senior ranks
-Looked for role model who retained her femininity but was well respected in the agency, and who even had a family--near impossible
-Worked in counterproliferation division- facing new kinds of threats- ops started to work with the analysts, bringing in all kinds of diverse experts- known as the "Island of Misfit Toys" but was a new and effective model that was largely responsible for bringing down the Libyan nuclear program
-former Ambassador Joseph Wilson- met at Turkish ambassador's residence, caught each other's eye across the room
-Working on the Iraq Taskforce- try to understand state of Iraqi scientists' research
-1998- UN inspectors left Iraq
9/11- state of WMD intelligence think inconclusive- needed to be sought out- not easy, required creative operations
-Feb. 2002- received phone call from VP Cheney about report on sale of yellowcake uranium from Niger to Iraq
-CIA officials arranged for Joe Wilson to go over to Niger and investigate- Plame did NOT recommend him but was asked to ask him by senior CIA officials- Wilson came back and reported (corroborating other reports) that the rumors were false
-Later in 2002-2003, heard administration's speeches leading to the war- knew they didn't match up with CIA intelligence
-"sinking feeling"- realized intelligence was too patchy- disappointed in the job they did, concerned for troops- CIA ran out of time
-Joe Wilson- told by NYT that the story about the Niger was about to break open, told to write something himself if he wanted to control the shape of the story- wrote op-ed, "What I Didn't Find in Africa"
-both prepared for backlash- gov't acknowledged mention of Africa in speech was a mistake (good)- a week later, Plame revealed as CIA operative
-the Bush administration "used treason as a means to get back at one of its critics"
-senior officials betrayed national security
-series of personal attacks on Plame and Wilson
-Senate Select Committee on Intelligence reports- took info. about Plame passing on the request that Wilson go to Africa out of context
-Jan. 2006- resigned from the CIA
-wrote her book- censored to "protect further vindictive attacks by the government"- denial of First Amendment rights- sued CIA- lost Round 1- appealing- lawyers created to raise awareness and support
-publisher of book left in black "censored" lines so the public is aware
-Filed civil suit against the VP, Scooter Libby, Karl Rove, and others -- hold them to account for the abuse of their positions
-moved to Santa Fe- get on with life- but telling the story is important- citizens are the ones responsible for keeping democracy strong.
-Thomas Jefferson- "When the citizens fear the government, that's tyranny. But when the government fears its citizens, that's democracy."

Answers to Questions:
-Impeachment- flows from investigation but can be distracting
-Betrayal has a ripple effect- make informants take their info elsewhere because if the CIA can't protect one of their own, how could they protect them?
-Politics needs to get out of the intelligence industry
-Doesn't want this incident to define her
-Director of the CIA needs the ear of the president but needs to stick to the facts and keep politics out of it

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