Treasongate: Important Developments
I'm currently in the midst of studying the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) Report in the context of the uranium in Africa issue - so you'll probably not see a whole lot of posts from me on this matter until I'm done with that (hopefully later this week). In the meantime, there were three important stories that broke yesterday on Treasongate.
First, Murray Waas continues his fine reporting in The American Prospect, with this revelation:
White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove did not disclose that he had ever discussed CIA officer Valerie Plame with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper during Rove’s first interview with the FBI, according to legal sources with firsthand knowledge of the matter.
The omission by Rove created doubt for federal investigators, almost from the inception of their criminal probe into who leaked Plame's name to columnist Robert Novak, as to whether Rove was withholding crucial information from them, and perhaps even misleading or lying to them, the sources said.
Also leading to the early skepticism of Rove's accounts was the claim that although he first heard that Plame worked for the CIA from a journalist, he said could not recall the name of the journalist. Later, the sources said, Rove wavered even further, saying he was not sure at all where he first heard the information.
A classified State Department memo that may be pivotal to the CIA leak case made clear that information identifying an agent and her role in her husband's intelligence-gathering mission was sensitive and shouldn't be shared, according to a person familiar with the document.
The memo's details are significant because they will make it harder for officials who saw the document to claim that they didn't realize the identity of the CIA officer was a sensitive matter. Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor, may also be looking at whether other crimes -- such as perjury, obstruction of justice or leaking classified information -- were committed.
The paragraph in the memo discussing Ms. Wilson's involvement in her husband's trip is marked at the beginning with a letter designation in brackets to indicate the information shouldn't be shared, according to the person familiar with the memo. Such a designation would indicate to a reader that the information was sensitive. The memo, though, doesn't specifically describe Ms. Wilson as an undercover agent, the person familiar with the memo said.
Generally, the federal government has three levels of classified information -- top secret, secret and confidential -- all indicating various levels of "damage" to national security if disclosed. There also is an unclassified designation -- indicating information that wouldn't harm national security if shared with the public -- but that wasn't the case for the material on the Wilsons prepared by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. It isn't known what level of classification was assigned to the information in the memo.
A State Department memo that has caught the attention of prosecutors describes a CIA officer's role in sending her husband to Africa and disputes administration claims that Iraq was shopping for uranium, a retired department official said Tuesday.
The memo has become a key piece of evidence in the CIA leak investigation because it could have been the way someone in the White House learned — and then leaked — the information that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and played a role in sending him on the mission.
"It wasn't a Wilson-Wilson wife memo," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still under way. "It was a memo on uranium in Niger and focused principally on our disagreement" with the White House.