I heard two snatches of rantings by Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity today who were worked into a froth over the lack of progress in setting up a proper investigation into the national security leaks from senior Obama staffers. Both men made the same idiotic point:

CALLER: Mega dittos, Mr. Limbaugh. Hey, it is an interesting contrast between the way the Obama administration is handling these leaks as opposed to how the Bush administration handled the outing of Valerie Plame.

RUSH: That is interesting, isn’t it? Valerie Plame, which was not a leak, everybody knew where it came from. It was Richard Armitage over at Colin Powell’s office, titular head of the Republican Party. Richard Armitage leaked Valerie Plame’s name to Bob Novak, and somehow Scooter Libby went to prison for it. They demanded a special prosecutor get to the bottom of this, oh, this was a profound security leak. Poor Valerie Plame, yes, she was a CIA agent and an operative, and it was horrible, and they leaked her name. It was Armitage. He never paid a price. They wanted Bush for this. They wanted Karl Rove. I’m glad you reminded me of that. Valerie Plame. And there wasn’t even a leak. Everybody knew who had done it and yet we needed a special prosecutor.

Rush and Sean cannot be this damn ignorant. Can they?

Valerie was an undercover officer from the day she walked into the CIA back in September 1985. She, along with every other member of our Career Trainee Class, were undercover.

But don’t take my word for it. Read what Stephen Kappes, the CIA’s Deputy Director, provided in a sworn affadavit:

5. On 1 January 2002, Valerie Wilson was working for the CIA as an operations officer in the Directorate of Operations (DO). She was assigned to the Counterproliferation Division (CPD) at CIA Headquarters, where she served as the chief of a CPD component with responsibility for weapons proliferation issues related to Iraq.

6. While assigned to CPD, Ms. Wilson engaged in temporary duty (TDY) travel overseas on official business. She traveled at least seven times to more than ten countries. When traveling overseas, Ms. Wilson always traveled under a cover identity–sometimes in true name and sometimes in alias–BUT ALWAYS USING COVER–whether official or non-official cover (NOC)–with no ostensible relationship to the CIA.

7. At the time of the initial unauthorized disclosure in the media of Ms. Wilson’s employment relationship with the CIA on 14 July 2003, Ms. Wilson WAS A COVERT CIA EMPLOYEE for whom the CIA was taking affirmative measures to conceal her intelligence relationship to the United States. . . .

11. In October 2005, the CIA, exercising its discretion under section 3.1(b) of the Executive Order, determined that the public interest in the disclosure of Ms. Wilson’s employment and cover status for a specified period of time outweighed the damage to national security that might reasonably be expected from disclosure. Accordingly, the CIA lifted and rolled back Ms. Wilson’s cover effective 1 January 2002 and declassified the fact of her CIA employment and cover status from that date forward.

12. This determination means that the CIA declassified and now publicly acknowledges the previously classified fact that Ms. Wilson was a CIA employee from 1 January 2002 forward and the previously classifid fact that she was a covert CIA employee during this period. This determination does not mean that the CIA acknowledges any other period of employment, if any, nor does it declassify the nature and details of Ms. Wilson’s cover, the cover methods employed by the CIA to protect Ms. Wilson or other covert CIA employee, or the fact, nature, and details of Ms. Wilson’s classified intelligence activities as a CIA employee at any time during her employment.

Rush is not as bad as Hannity. He at least concedes that she was “an operator.” Hannity is either insane or willfully ignorant. He insisted on the air today that she was not undercover and that the leak of her identity caused no harm.

Wrong asshole. Sean, you are a moron.

What Sean Hannity fails to understand is that both George W. Bush and Barack Obama have played politics with intelligence. I do, however, give George W. Bush some credit. Once he realized that he had been gamed by Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby, he refused to grant a pardon. What Cheney and Libby caused serious damage to our intelligence assets. There were several Non Official Cover officers affected by what they did. But I can’t tell you the story because, if I did, I would be divulging classified info.

I am not sure the different motive of Bush and Obama makes any difference. In the Bush Administration, the motive was an effort to try to discredit Joe Wilson for daring to tell the truth. Under Libby’s direction, acting on the guidance of Dick Cheney, Administration officials like Karl Rove and Ari Fleischer spread out across town and spread the lie that Valerie had sent Joe to Niger. Not true.

Obama’s team had a different, more craven motive–these clowns wanted to feed the meme that Obama is the John Wayne of the 21st Century and is kicking ass around the globe. The level of detail in recent pieces can come from no other source but John Brennan or one of his deputies.

What next? Republicans are right to demand an independent counsel. These leaks and the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity are egregious acts of treason by men entrusted with the job of protecting secrets.

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Larry C. Johnson is a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, who moved subsequently in 1989 to the U.S. Department of State, where he served four years as the deputy director for transportation security, antiterrorism assistance training, and special operations in the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism. He left government service in October 1993 and set up a consulting business. He currently is the co-owner and CEO of BERG Associates, LLC (Business Exposure Reduction Group) and is an expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, and crisis and risk management, and money laundering investigations. Johnson is the founder and main author of No Quarter, a weblog that addresses issues of terrorism and intelligence and politics. NoQuarterUSA was nominated as Best Political Blog of 2008.