Ex-Intel Officers Back Valerie Plame

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Eleven former intelligence officers are speaking up on behalf of CIA officer Valerie Plame (search), saying leaking her identity may have damaged national security and threatens the ability of U.S. intelligence gathering.

In a statement to congressional leaders, the former officers said the Republican National Committee (search) has circulated talking points focusing on the idea that Plame was not working undercover and deserved no protection.

There are thousands of U.S. intelligence officers who work at a desk in the Washington, D.C., area every day who are undercover as Plame was when her identity was leaked, the 11 former officers said in a three-page statement.

The former officers' statement comes amid revelations that top presidential aide Karl Rove (search) was involved in leaking Plame's identity to columnist Robert Novak (search) and Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper, and that Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis Libby (search), also was a source for Cooper on the Plame story.

The leaking of Plame's identity followed public criticism leveled against the Bush White House by Plame's husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson. He suggested the administration had manipulated intelligence to justify going to war in Iraq. A criminal investigation into the leaks is ongoing.

"Intelligence officers should not be used as political footballs," the 11 said. "In the case of Valerie Plame, she still works for the CIA and is not in a position to publicly defend her reputation and honor."