More on my latest obsession.
Joshua Marshall is keeping track of the Republican pushback on the Rove story. I found this item pretty interesting: Too much hilarity! He quotes RNC chairman Ken Mehlman’s version of the Republican talking points I linked to yesterday, and points out how Mehlman used selective quotation of an appearance on CNN by Joe Wilson to set up a strawman regarding who it was that actually authorized Wilson’s yelllowcake-debunking mission to Africa.
In the appearance, Wilson said this:
WILSON: Well, look, it’s absolutely true that neither the vice president nor Dr. Rice nor even George Tenet knew that I was traveling to Niger.
What they did, what the office of the vice president did, and, in fact, I believe now from Mr. Libby’s statement, it was probably the vice president himself…
BLITZER: Scooter Libby is the chief of staff for the vice president.
WILSON: Scooter Libby.
They asked essentially that we follow up on this report — that the agency follow up on the report. So it was a question that went to the CIA briefer from the Office of the Vice President. The CIA, at the operational level, made a determination that the best way to answer this serious question was to send somebody out there who knew something about both the uranium business and those Niger officials that were in office at the time these reported documents were executed.
In his talking points, Mehlman whittled that down to:
Joe Wilson: “What They Did, What The Office Of The Vice President Did, And, In Fact, I Believe Now From Mr. Libby’s Statement, It Was Probably The Vice President Himself …” (CNN’s “Late Edition,” 8/3/03)
Therefore, claims Mehlman, Wilson was guilty of lying, because he asserted that Cheney sent him to Africa. When of course, Wilson made it crystal clear that that wasn’t the case.
Bad Republican liars! Bad! No cookie for you!
More good stuff on the Rove story comes (as usual) from David Corn, who gets into detail in rebutting the “Rove didn’t use her name, so he didn’t break the law” and “Rove didn’t actually leak any classified information” defenses: Rove did leak classified information, and his named-no-name defense is bunk.
According to Cooper’s email, Rove told Cooper that “Wilson’s wife”–not “Valerie Plame,” or “Valerie Wilson”–worked at the CIA. But this distinction has absolutely no legal relevance. Under the relevant law–the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982–a crime is committed when a government official (not a journalist) “intentionally discloses any information identifying” an undercover intelligence officer. The act does not say a name must be disclosed. By telling a reporter that Joseph Wilson’s wife was a CIA officer, Rove was clearly disclosing “identifying” information. There was only one Mrs. Joseph Wilson. With such information in hand, Cooper or anyone else could easily have ascertained the name of this officer. (A Google search at the time would have yielded the name–and maiden name–of Wilson’s wife.) Revealing the name is not the crime; it’s disclosing information that IDs the officer.
The Intelligence Identities Protection Act makes it a crime to identify “a covert agent” of the United States. The law defines “covert agent,” in part, as “a present or retired officer or employee of an intelligence agency or a present or retired member of the Armed Forces assigned to duty with an intelligence agency whose identity as such an officer, employee, or member is classified information.” (My emphasis.)
This definition clearly recognizes that the identity of an undercover intelligence officer is “classified information.” The law also notes that a “covert agent” has a “classified relationship to the United States.” Since the CIA asked the Justice Department to investigate the Plame/CIA leak and the Justice Department affirmed the need for an investigation and special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, once handed the case, pursued the matter vigorously, it is reasonable to assume that Valerie Wilson fits the definition of a “covert agent.” That means she has a “classified relationship” with the government.
By disclosing Valerie Wilson’s relationship to the CIA, Rove was passing classified information to a reporter.
George W. Bush took an unambiguous stand on the leaking of classified information when he was asked on September 30, 2003, about Karl Rove’s possible role in the Plame/CIA leak. Bush noted,
I don’t know of anybody in my administration who leaked classified information. If somebody did leak classified information, I’d like to know it, and we’ll take the appropriate action.
Well, now Bush knows. Rove, according to the Cooper email, did not leak a name but he did leak classified information. Much of his defense is in tatters. And where is Bush’s “appropriate action”?
Just as a small point of confirmation, MediaMatters.org has the details on how easy it would have been in July 2003 (when the leak took place) to go from “Joseph Wilson’s wife works for the CIA” to “and her name is Valerie Plame”: ABC News, Wash. Post, Newsweek highlighted Rove claim that he did not actually disclose Valerie Plame’s name, but a quick Google search would have produced it:
Anyone with Google access could have instantly discovered that “Wilson’s wife” was Valerie Plame. At the time, a simple Google search of Wilson’s name would have turned up his biography on the Corporate & Public Strategy Advisory Group’s website. The biography, which referred to his wife as the “former Valerie Plame,” appeared on the site as far back as February 8, 2003, according to the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.
Finally, Robert Parry has an excellent piece in Consortium News that points out how deep the rabbit hole goes: Rove leak points to Bush conspiracy.