“Just an analyst,” my flabby white ass.

Before the Novak column was published, at least six reporters were contacted by administration officials and allegedly told that Valerie Plame Wilson worked at the CIA. Whoever did so may have been trying to undermine the importance of Wilson’s trip by implying it had been set up by his wife — and therefore was not a serious effort by the agency to discover whether, in fact, Iraq had attempted to buy uranium in Niger.

The publication of her name left CIA officers aghast. “All the people who had innocent lunches with her overseas or went shopping or played tennis with her, I’m sure they are having heart attacks right now,” said one classmate of Plame’s who participated in covert operations. “I would be in hiding now if I were them.”

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Plame underwent training at “The Farm,” as the facility near Williamsburg, Va., is known to its graduates. As part of her courses, the new spy was taken hostage and taught how to reduce messages to microdots. She became expert at firing an AK-47. She learned to blow up cars and drive under fire — all to see if she could handle the rigors of being an undercover case officer in the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, or DO.

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Her activities during her years overseas remain classified, but she became the creme de la creme of spies: a “noc,” an officer with “nonofficial cover.” Nocs have cover jobs that have nothing to do with the U.S. government. They work in business, in social clubs, as scientists or secretaries (they are prohibited from posing as journalists), and if detected or arrested by a foreign government, they do not have diplomatic protection and rights. They are on their own. Even their fellow operatives don’t know who they are, and only the strongest and smartest are picked for these assignments.

Go read the rest.

Some intellectual midgets on the right have claimed that this story is just too darned complicated for their tiny little brains to grasp. So for the sake of our comprehension-challenged friends, here’s a rundown:

1. Valerie Plame was a highly specialized covert operative for the CIA.

2. Someone in the White House blew her cover for political reasons.

3. That’s a felony.

There. Wasn’t that easy?