Valerie Plame was a CIA agent in July 2003, and the fact that she was a CIA officer was classified. The responsibilities of some CIA employees require that their association with the agency be kept secret, because disclosure has the potential to damage national security in ways that range from preventing the future use of the agents, to compromising intelligence-gathering methods, to endangering the safety of CIA employees, and people who they may be associated with.
Valerie's status was not widely known. The special prosecutor verified that her friends, neighbors, and college classmates had no idea she had another life.
Her cover was blown in July 2003. The first public outing was when Robert Novak published a story about Valerie and her husband Joe Wilson on July 14, 2003, noting her status as a CIA agent, and quoting senior administration officials as his sources.
The investigation really only required the answers to 3 basic questions: (1) which senior officials knew about Valerie's employment with the CIA? (2) did the officials know the CIA was protecting her identity? And (3) who leaked her name and status to the press?
Because, also just as was suspected, Scooter Libby was the other leaker, and he was the first official to leak Valeries name and status to the media when he told Judy Miller in June of 2003, after Dick Cheney leaked the information to him, with Bushs full approval and knowledge.
As a condition for working with classified information, on January 23, 2001, Libby signed a Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement, which states in part: I understand and accept that by being granted access to classified information, special confidence and trust shall be placed in me by the United States Government.
Scooter clearly violated this oath.
To begin with, it obvious that the White House did not follow the proper procedures for safeguarding Valeries identity. Under EO 12958, the White House should have ensured that only those with a "need to know" had access to her covert identity.
It's a no-brainer, that as Bushs political advisor, Rove, should not have had access to the information. What compelling "need to know" would justify revealing her identity to him?
This little problem is probably what led to Roves promotion a while back, just as his up-coming arrest is probably what led to his demotion yesterday.
As far as responding to the leak itself, under EO 12958, the White House should have taken prompt action to determine (1) whether nondisclosure agreements were violated; (2) whether individuals without security clearance obtained classified information; and (3) whether national security information was compromised.
By intentionally publicizing the fact that Valerie worked at the CIA, the administration not only destroyed her career, they compromised whatever operations she may have worked on, and whatever networks she may have established over her lengthily career with the agency and the tax dollars spent on the above went right down the sewer.
Early on in the investigation, the FBI interviewed Scooter. In addition to being Cheney's Chief of Staff at the time, he was also an Assistant to the President and Assistant to the Vice President for national security affairs.