In the kerfuffle below about the Plame case, Kevin has a quote that I think is largely true:
But how did that combination “out” a covert agent? It turns out the the Valerie Plame name (remember, according to many commenters her name’s no big deal) was her cover. If her cover name was Valerie Jones how exactly would Novak’s column as it was written have “outed” her?
OK let me make thing clear… For all the jaw yammering in the comments down there, 99% of it is bullshit because all we know is what has been leaked from various sources — all of whom have a dog in the fight. The truth is we’ll probably know who shot JFK and what’s in Area 51 before we learn the whole story on who told what to who.. or to whom.
But having said that, to the best of our knowledge what Kevin said is accurate… The CIA (apparently) had a covert operative who -quite creatively indeed- took her real name as her code name. That’s a little like Joe Smith logging into a secure website with a username of “Joe” and a password of “Smith.”
It’s been widely known the CIA is/was in desperate need of reform. But if the above is true it is worse that anyone has imagined. For starters, what if they googled that name? They’d be a pretty strong chance the cover will be blown some kind of way… It’s so stupid it strains credulity that it can be true but apparently it is. (Hey, Joe Wilson said it, so it must be true, right?) But at least we can all take a lesson from other people’s suffering.
Pick a decent password.
It might not seem important today but it sure will be when it gets out.
(And by the way… If your password is your last name, then yeah, I’m looking at you.)