NOVAKGATE VIII: MORE ON PLAME
Richard Leiby and Dana Priest continue WaPo’s coverage of the Plame scandal in today’s edition. This particular piece does a good job of explaining the nature of her covert role.
Plame was recruited by the agency shortly after graduation from Pennsylvania State University, sources said. She later earned two master’s degrees, one from the London School of Economics and one from the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium.
Plame underwent training at “The Farm,” as the facility near Williamsburg, Va., is known to its graduates. As part of her courses, the new spy was taken hostage and taught how to reduce messages to microdots. She became expert at firing an AK-47. She learned to blow up cars and drive under fire — all to see if she could handle the rigors of being an undercover case officer in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, or DO. Fellow graduates recall that off-hours included a trip to the movies to watch the Dan Aykroyd parody “Spies Like Us.”
Plame also learned how to recruit foreign nationals to serve as spies, and how to hunt others and evade those who would hunt her — some who might look as harmless as she herself does now as a mom with a model’s poise and shoulder-length blond hair.
Her activities during her years overseas remain classified, but she became the creme de la creme of spies: a “noc,” an officer with “nonofficial cover.” Nocs have cover jobs that have nothing to do with the U.S. government. They work in business, in social clubs, as scientists or secretaries (they are prohibited from posing as journalists), and if detected or arrested by a foreign government, they do not have diplomatic protection and rights. They are on their own. Even their fellow operatives don’t know who they are, and only the strongest and smartest are picked for these assignments.
For the past several years, she has served as an operations officer working as a weapons proliferation analyst. She told neighbors, friends and even some of her CIA colleagues that she was an “energy consultant.” She lived behind a facade even after she returned from abroad. It included a Boston front company named Brewster-Jennings & Associates, which she listed as her employer on a 1999 form in Federal Election Commission records for her $1,000 contribution to Al Gore’s presidential primary campaign.