WASHINGTON -- Eleven former intelligence officers are speaking up on behalf of CIA officer Valerie Plame, saying the leaking of her identity threatens to hurt intelligence gathering.
In a three-page statement to congressional leaders, the former officers said some Republicans have asserted that Plame was not working undercover and deserved no protection.
Thousands of US intelligence officers in the Washington, D.C., area are undercover as Plame was when her identity was leaked, the statement said. ''Intelligence officers should not be used as political footballs," they said.
Reports have surfaced this week that top presidential aide Karl Rove was involved in leaking Plame's identity to columnist Robert Novak and Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper.
The leak followed public criticism leveled against the White House by Plame's husband.