Monday :: Jul 4, 2005

Treasongate and Karl Rove (Part II)


by eriposte

In my previous post, I argued that there is no evidence yet that Karl Rove leaked Valerie Plame's CIA identity to Time magazine's Matt Cooper. I also mentioned that "This clearly says nothing about how Rove was indeed part of the Bush White House's coordinated efforts to discredit Wilson and knowingly or "unknowingly" or 'incidentally' expose Plame in a traitorous manner" (See Dkosopedia's Plame Leak Timeline for historical information).

In between my continued review of the recent articles about Rove and Matt Cooper, I wanted to take a minute to highlight an aspect of Treasongate that does not seem to have gotten as much discussion in the blogosphere or in the media - namely, the fact that the issue is not merely the exposure of Plame's identity to Bob Novak (or other journalists), the issue is the exposure of Plame's identity, period.

Put another way, Bob Novak was not the first person to be leaked Plame's undercover identity; he was, in one sense, the last. (Once Bob "Traitor" Novak widely publicized Plame's identity, her identity was no longer secret to the public; of course, some journalists may have been the recipient of a leak of Plame's real identity between the time of the leak to Novak and the time Novak's column appeared). So, the focus on Novak and Cooper, while highly important, should not come at the expense of taking focus off the fact that additional people (not just journalists) who were not allowed legally to know about Plame's real identity, were told about it.

I suggest that as we evaluate any information that comes in on Treasongate, we keep the broader issue in mind, as exemplified by the following two questions:

1. How and when did senior officials in the Bush administration get to know that Valerie Plame was the wife of Joseph Wilson?

2. How and when did senior officials in the Bush administration get to know that Valerie Plame was a clandestine CIA operative?

These seem like silly questions, but they should be kept in mind because it is not clear how many of Bush's direct and second-level staff had CIA clearances to know about Valerie Plame's classified status. Needless to say, the answers to these questions will help reveal the path of the leak --- not just to journalists but also to others inside and outside the Bush administration who were not authorized to know about's Valerie Plame's covert status (the term "covert agent" is defined here).

APPENDIX: To make the reason for this post clearer, let me reproduce the relevant portions of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982.

Let's start with the basic law (bold text is my emphasis):

Sec. 421. Protection of identities of certain United States undercover intelligence officers, agents, informants, and sources

(a) Disclosure of information by persons having or having had access to classified information that identifies covert agent

Whoever, having or having had authorized access to classified information that identifies a covert agent, intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined not more than $50,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

(b) Disclosure of information by persons who learn identity of covert agents as result of having access to classified information

Whoever, as a result of having authorized access to classified information, learns the identify of a covert agent and intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined not more than $25,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

(c) Disclosure of information by persons in course of pattern of activities intended to identify and expose covert agents

Whoever, in the course of a pattern of activities intended to identify and expose covert agents and with reason to believe that such activities would impair or impede the foreign intelligence activities of the United States, discloses any information that identifies an individual as a covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such individual and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such individual's classified intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined not more than $15,000 or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

If you read the entire act, you will also see a section (422) "Defenses and exceptions". I will reproduce here two of the four allowed defenses, since they are pertinent to the discussion (bold text is my emphasis):

Sec. 422. Defenses and exceptions

(a) Disclosure by United States of identity of covert agent

It is a defense to a prosecution under section 421 of this title that before the commission of the offense with which the defendant is charged, the United States had publicly acknowledged or revealed the intelligence relationship to the United States of the individual the disclosure of whose intelligence relationship to the United States is the basis for the prosecution.

(b) Conspiracy, misprision of felony, aiding and abetting, etc.

(1) Subject to paragraph (2), no person other than a person committing an offense under section 421 of this title shall be subject to prosecution under such section by virtue of section 2 or 4 of title 18 or shall be subject to prosecution for conspiracy to commit an offense under such section.
(2) Paragraph (1) shall not apply (A) in the case of a person who acted in the course of a pattern of activities intended to identify and expose covert agents and with reason to believe that such activities would impair or impede the foreign intelligence activities of the United States, or (B) in the case of a person who has authorized access to classified information.

Thus, those who spread already disclosed information may escape prosecution. That's one of the defenses some Bushies have been trying take.

[NOTE: The Espionage Act is another one that may be pertinent to this case].

eriposte :: 3:53 PM :: Comments (19) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!