Earlier this afternoon, I had a very unpleasant conversation with Mr. Larry Johnson, a former CIA officer who is now out and about defending Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame. Johnson, in my interview with him, confirmed some things, left some open, but revealed something startling: the defense of Joe Wilson is apparently being run from inside the CIA.
Johnson came up on the scope when he accused Gens. Paul Vallely and Tom McInerny of falsely attacking Wilson. Vallely, you may recall, said last week on John Batchelor's ABC radio show that Wilson -- husband of CIA employee Valerie Plame -- had told Vallely (a year before Robert Novak outed Plame) that Plame was a CIA employee. I asked Johnson about several points regarding his defense of Wilson and attack on Vallely. Johnson was very specific about certain things.
First, he said that since Vallely had made his statements, he -- Johnson -- has been in contact with both Wilson and Plame, and that Wilson denied to him making the statement to Vallely. But there is a lot more. I asked Johnson about a statement he made to congressional Democrats in July.
In particular, I asked him about the statement attacking Fred Rustman -- one of Plame's former CIA supervisors who left the agency in 1990 -- who had said she was under "light cover." Johnson's statement said Rustman's claims are not true. When I asked if he had talked to Rustman or Plame about it, Johnson became agitated. He said, "I talked to several people, I've talked to multiple people…" When I pressed him on who, he said:
"Hey, I'm not getting into specifically which individuals I've talked to, some are still active duty.
"I've not talked to Rustman. I've talked to people that know and it's absolutely certain that Rustman has not been in contact with her, has not stayed in contact with her and did not know her subsequent status when she turned, when she became a NOC."
When I told him I would have to conclude that his statement was not supported because he wouldn't cite sources, instead of accepting this as just one man's conclusion, Johnson continued to be agitated and argued,"Your conclusion is wrong...I have had contact with other individuals, [tape garbled] other CIA officers who had contact with Fred." (emphasis added)
Johnson insisted on giving me what he called, the direct quote: "I have spoken with people who are knowledgeable, who have direct knowledge of the situation. I have spoken to multiple sources on this and they -- to a person -- indicate that Rustman was not in social contact with her after 1992 and had no knowledge of her new status as non-official cover officer."
The conversation ended a moment or two later when Mr. Johnson suggested I should place the entire matter inside a bodily orifice, which I declined to do. At that point, I hung up on him.
What does all that mean? When Johnson says that he has been in contact with other CIA officers, some still on active duty, about Rustman it can mean only one thing: someone -- or some group -- still on active service inside the CIA is managing and directing the people such as Johnson who are attacking Wilson's critics and doubters. (Correction: there is one alternative possibility, that Mr. Johnson's story and defense of Wilson/Plame is baloney. Either is equally possible.) This story gets worse and worse. Stay tuned.
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