Operative or analyst, what's the difference?
OK, the CIA has several branches, but the two relevant ones are the Directorate of Operations (DO) and the Directorate of Intelligence (DI).
DO is the smaller of the two and they run around leading guerrilla armies, blowing things up, actually running and contacting agents. DI analyzes the data DO collects as well as from other sources and then they guess what the enemy may or may not do. Operative
implies that the person goes in the field and handles agents on a regular basis. An analyst usually does not.
Where does Valerie Plame fit in?
My best guess is that her role was less to cultivate agents than to analyze what the situation was in her area. To do that, she would have to travel to the region undercover. It is unlikely she recruited agents, acting instead as a contact person. The CIA station chief would, more than likely, use her as sounding board. Whenever the conversation was too technical for the local crew, she'd go to make an assessment. After all, 10 years in Special Forces doesn't really train you to know which general controls which depot of chemical weapons.
So using her cover as an oil executive, she could travel the region, meet with people, bribe them and make her assessments without drawing undo attention. But I doubt if she was a fulltime DO officer, that her name would have popped up, ever. Her sources were more than likely oil ministry officials who she bribed to mention any AQ contacts, little different than a reporter would do, except for the bribery. But the fact that she was exposed as a CIA officer means anyone who dealt with her is in trouble. There will be a lot of melodramatic talk of operations and agents, but in reality, she had contacts, and if they heard anything of use, they got back to her by e-mail or to the station chief. It would be impossible to run a network of spies and two small kids from thousands of miles away. But she was no minor functionary.
Because she was doing analytical work, her name would have come up repeatedly when talk of the Stans (central Asia) came up. When Cheney started to lean on the Agency for data to confirm Saddam had an AQ alliance, anyone who covered central Asia would have been in the mix. Considering that the agency had not come up with the right answers, someone had a grudge.
The difference isn't critical, because the Agency did develop a legend, or cover story, for her. But considering she became pregnant with twins in the last three years, and lived in Washington, it wasn't like she was in the field. However, she wasn't tied to the Agency so she could work in the industry and gather intel without the stars and stripes waving over her head.
Words and titles are about to become very important as people figure out which one of Cheney's goons ratted her out. You could see the sweat rolling off Bob Novak's chin today.
posted by Steve @ 8:46:00 PM