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Ex-agents: CIA leak a serious betrayal

Jim Marcinkowski, left, and Larry Johnson
Jim Marcinkowski, left, and Larry Johnson

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The FBI is interviewing members of the Bush administration as part of its investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's identity. The officer's name was revealed after her husband, former U.S. ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, raised questions about the pre-war intelligence on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction.

Two former CIA operatives, Larry Johnson and Jim Marcinkowski, have asked the Senate to investigate the leak and discussed the situation with CNN's Bill Hemmer.

HEMMER: Where is this headed? Is there progress being made or not?

JOHNSON: I assume there's progress being made. I hope there's progress being made. But what I keep seeing in the newspaper is the spin and leak that this is no big deal. And that's got to stop.

HEMMER: Tell me why you think it is such a big deal.

JOHNSON: Was 9/11 a big deal? It's a big deal in part because we saw the planes crash into the buildings and we saw the images and horrible vision of people jumping from those towers. We saw it. If we didn't see it and didn't read about it, we wouldn't know it happened.

The problem with this is a lot of the damage that has occurred is not going to be seen. It can't be photographed. We can't bring the bodies out because in some cases it's going to involve protecting sources and methods. And it's important to keep this before the American people. This was a betrayal of national security.

HEMMER: Larry, tell me, what's the damage, though. Be specific, as best you can right now. Have lives been lost? Have people been sacrificed?

JOHNSON: I don't know if lives have been lost yet, but we have to start with the damage to Mrs. Wilson. Her life has been put at risk. The people that she was working with overseas who were spies, they are potentially at risk. You could potentially have people dead because of this. But the odds of finding that out as far as the CIA coming forth and detailing it, we are not likely to hear that because they have to protect the sources and methods.

HEMMER: Jim, you appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday. Can you tell us what happened.

MARCHINKOWSKI: First off, the hearing was held by Senator Rockefeller and Senator Roberts on 72-hour notice. They were receptive to our request to have a closed session of the Intelligence Committee. Obviously it was a closed session, but I can say this. I believe all the members were very concerned. They were very sincere in their concern and I have confidence that they are going to do the right thing.

HEMMER: After listening to Larry, it sounds like, essentially the sky is falling in terms of the CIA around the world. Do you see it that way and did you get that sense in the hearing?

MARCHINKOWSKI: Yes, I did. I think the message is out there. This is an unprecedented act. This has never been done by the United States government before. The exposure of an undercover intelligence officer by the U.S. government is unprecedented. It's not the usual leak from Washington. The leak a week scenario is not at play here. This is a very, very serious event.

HEMMER: You are both registered Republicans, right? How concerned are you about the political gain that one side or the other may seek in this?

JOHNSON: That's what we have to get out of this. I don't know, Bill if you have any kids, they've gone to school on "opposite day" where they wear their clothes inside out and wear their shoes on the wrong feet. I feel like we're seeing opposite day. If a Democrat had done this, we would see the Republicans up in arms.

As a Republican, I think we need to be consistent on this. It doesn't matter who did it, it didn't matter which party was involved. This isn't about partisan politics. This is about protecting national security and national security assets and in this case there has been a betrayal, not only of the CIA officers there, but really a betrayal of those of us who have kept the secrets over the years on this point.

HEMMER: Do you think the leaker will be caught?

JOHNSON: I'm doubtful.

MARCHINKOWSKI: I have a little more hope. I hope that they will find this person and maybe they'll be exposed.

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