Jul 052005

In an article in The Nation, David Corn explains how Rove the Toad’s attorney will try to keep him out of jail in Plamegate.

Rove’s lawyer stated that Rove did not "knowingly" disclose classified information. Does this mean he "unknowingly" revealed such information? The distinction is important because the Intelligence Identities Protection Act essentially says that for a crime to have been committed the offender must have realized that he or she was disclosing top-secret information. (Otherwise someone could be prosecuted for making an honest mistake.) True, Rove’s mouthpiece also said that Rove "did not tell any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA." But his use of the word "knowingly" can be read by those wishing to see Rove frog-marching as the start of a criminal defense strategy.

It is not too difficult to envision such a defense being concocted should any White House official come to be officially accused. The law only covers government officials with "authorized access to classified information" and who "intentionally" disclose information revealing the identity of "a covert agent…that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal." Consider this scenario. Rove–let’s just use him as an example–hears someone at a meeting say, "Wilson’s wife, Valerie Plame, does counterproliferation work at the CIA and we hear she was involved in sending him to Niger." Then he tells this information to Novak, not realizing that Plame is officially undercover (after all, CIA officials work undercover). He could then argue that he did not break the law.

But let’s put Rove’s legal troubles aside for a moment and look at the political ones. These don’t hinge on how "knowing" Karl Rove was (he’s a man who is not, by the way, known for not being very knowing or for not doing things very knowingly) or on how truthful he was in his dealings with Justice Department investigators. They hinge on how truthful he was to his pals in the White House.

Americablog found this gem from presidential mouthpiece Scottie McClellan, speaking at a White House press briefing in September of 2003, where he makes it clear that if anyone at the White House leaked Plame’s identity he or she should be fired and “pursued to the fullest extent by the Department of Justice”: “That is not the way this White House operates. The President expects everyone in his administration to adhere to the highest standards of conduct. No one would be authorized to do such a thing.” And later: “The President believes leaking classified information is a very serious matter.”

Hmm. Notice Scottie doesn’t split hairs a la Luskin and say the issue is whether someone "knowingly" leaked the information.

Indeed, when asked whether a White House leaker should “lose their job”, Scottie lays down the law — repeating it twice for emphasis: “At a minimum… At a minimum.”

We’ll see.

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Comments (1)
  1. So, has the White House stopped giving interviews to Robert Novak?

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