... Melissa Mahle, a former CIA agent who knows Plame, said her friend's exact status at the time of the outing isn't the issue. She stressed that Plame was an expert in weapons of mass destruction, which is no light intelligence matter.
"Valerie was an undercover officer ... the reality is, Valerie has no cover anymore," said Mahle, the author of "Denial and Deception." "When you're an undercover officer, you nurture that undercover" status and the contacts you make during the job, she added.
"It's not so important what she was doing that moment in time because your career is linked by all of your activities and if you were exposed by beig a CIA officer, bad guys are going to start looking at what you were doing before and backtracking."
On the issue of allegations that Plame was actually the one who sent Wilson to Niger — and not someone within the Bush administration, Mahle said that isn't possible given the rigid chain of command in the CIA.
"You don't send somebody oversees as an officer ... we have a chain of command ... those kind of decisions go up your chain so Valerie wasn't in the position of making that decision," she added. ...