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Was Valerie Plame Really A Covert Agent?

This is a partial transcript from "Hannity & Colmes," July 15, 2005, that has been edited for clarity.

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SEAN HANNITY, CO-HOST: Despite all of Joe Wilson's huffing and puffing and media appearances, was Valerie Plame, his wife, that one there in the picture in "Vanity Fair," really a covert agent at the CIA whose identity was a closely guarded matter of national security?

Joining us now in a “Hannity & Colmes” exclusive is Valerie Plame's one-time supervisor at Langley, former CIA Senior Intelligence Officer Fred Rustmann.

Fred, thank you for joining us. We really appreciate you being here.

FRED RUSTMANN, FORMER CIA OPERATIONS OFFICER: Pleasure to be here, Sean.

HANNITY: How long have you known her, and for how many years were you her supervisor/colleague?

RUSTMANN: Well, Valerie went through the — came in as a career trainee into the agency and then went through the training program down at the Farm. And I was her first supervisor when she actually had a real job at headquarters. And she worked for me there for about a year. She was super. She was great.

HANNITY: Was she an undercover agent, sir?

RUSTMANN: Well, she came in and she was undercover, yes, as all of the new CTs do when they come into the agency. And it was probably — well, it was definitely an official cover status which she retained and then worked at the headquarters under that official cover status. And then went overseas with that same status.

HANNITY: You were an agent from 1966 to 1990, and you said that in the Washington Times today she made no bones about the fact that she was an agency employee. Her husband was a diplomat. Quote: "Her friends knew this. Her friends knew this. They told them." In other words, this was not a secret of anybody that they knew.

I mean, actually he describes in his book how, after a make-out session on like the third or fourth date, that she told him. But putting that aside, everybody knew?

RUSTMANN: Well, I don't know that everybody knew. I do know that her cover began to erode the moment she started dating Joe Wilson. The thing that I said was that, you know, when you walk like a duck, and quack like a duck, and look like a duck, you're probably a duck.

And at the point in time that this all broke, Valerie Plame had been working at headquarters for a long time, several years. She went to work every day to headquarters. She was married to a high-profile former ambassador. She had a couple of kids, she was living around the beltway.

HANNITY: Well let me ask you this...

RUSTMANN: She looked like an overt employee.

HANNITY: That would be what I would understand. And you even said in this article — you said that she made no bones about the fact she was an agency employee. Her neighbors knew his, her friends knew this, his friends knew this. This is the quote that you gave them.

I want to ask you a two-part question. Number one, did she ever give you any overt political leanings, number one? And why would she be urging others at the agency, for example, to send her husband, who was clearly opposed to the war that the president was engaged in, to Niger if there wasn't some political motivation?

RUSTMANN: I don't think that there was a political motivation. I think it was more of a family motivation. I think that the decision to send Joe Wilson to Niger was stupid. It shouldn't have been — that decision shouldn't have been taken. You don't send a diplomat to a sensitive place to obtain sensitive information. You send a spook. They could have found...

(CROSSTALK)

RUSTMANN: Hey, Fred, it's Alan Colmes.

ALAN COLMES, CO-HOST: Thank you for coming. It wasn't Valerie's decision to send him, though, was it? Wasn't that decision made by somebody...

RUSTMANN: No, it was not. No, apparently she recommended him. She said, "Well, he knows a lot of people down there and he should go." The decision, I say, was a stupid one because you don't send a diplomat to do a spook's job.

COLMES: Also, the fact that her cover was blown — doesn't this expose every asset? Doesn't it expose other people, every operation that she might have been involved with, and possibly put lives at risk?

RUSTMANN: No, I don't think so. I think she had official cover for the first part of her career, when she was overseas in an official capacity. She came back to headquarters for a while, and then they sent her out on a light non-official cover.

She was out there. She was collecting information under that cover. She came back to headquarters. They probably then reverted her back to her official cover. In other words, so she wouldn't — her W-2's would not say...

(CROSSTALK)

COLMES: So she went back into cover. But for example, didn't they expose a front operation that she helped run, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, this made-up company. And wasn't that exposed as a result of all this, and can't this damage intelligence operations and our security?

RUSTMANN: Well, actually, no, because it isn't a big deal. It was a light non-official cover. There was, you know, a phone. There was very little backstopping to that company. It wasn't like she was working for a major multi-national American company or foreign company where there could be some severe blowback if that were to come to...

COLMES: Are you saying there are no repercussions of this? There's no repercussions of her having been exposed as a covert CIA agent, even though she was non-covert at one point?

RUSTMANN: There are no major repercussions to the cover mechanism, no. To her — the question again gets down to whether somebody did this with malice or forethought. Then it's a crime, and that person goes to jail.

COLMES: But isn't the question whether any damage was done because of the revelation? Whether lives were harmed, whether anyone was harmed, or security was harmed?

RUSTMANN: Yes, I don't think so. I think, if she were out there in that capacity, in that non-official capacity, and if she was handling agents — she was handling agents in another alias — we have different layers of cover that work.

HANNITY: Mr. Rustmann, thank you for coming on our program tonight and shedding some light on this story. We appreciate it, and all of the best to you.

HANNITY: Thank you.

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