First, a look at the Intelligence Protection Act of 1982 (amending the National Security Act of 1947), the controlling statute in this situation. This act lays out several conditions which must all be met before a crime has been committed. These conditions are:
- That the 'leaker' has or had access to classified information that identifies a covert agent;
- That the US government is taking "affirmative measures" to protect the identity of the covert agent;
- That the 'leaker' knowingly leaks classified information with the intent to "out" the covert agent;
- That the recipient of the classified information is not authorized to receive classified information;
- And finally, that the US government had not "publicly acknowledged or revealed" the covert status of the agent.
Since Plame was evidently coming and going to CIA headquarters every day through the main entrance, it seems unlikely that condition 2 has been met. Moreover, Plame's husband admitted that his wife was not a clandestine officer when the Novak article ran. In addition, if Plame really was using the front entrance, and working under her own name, and the CIA allowed such open entry/exit, then it seems to me that such allowance qualifies as "publicly acknowledging" her relationship with the CIA, providing further exculpatory evidence for Mr. Rove, and satisfying condition 5.
Plame was also named at least as early as 2002 as the wife of Ambassador Wilson, and was known in the mid 1990's by Russian intelligence, as well as in Cuba through the mis-handling of secret documents by US officials at the Swiss embassy in Havana, both of which, by the way, occurred prior to Novak's article in July, 2003.
Based on what I have read and heard Mr. Rove's conversation with Michael Cooper, wherein the identity of Valerie Plame was discussed, Rove's intent was to dissuade Cooper from publishing a story that contained 'false statements'. He did not pass along her name at all, according to Rove's attorney. If this is true, then condition 3 (above) is also not met.
Condition 4 certainly is met, considering that Novak is hardly authorized to receive classified information.
This brings us to the amicus (PDF), or "friend of the court" brief filed by the consortium of news organizations that is a virtual "who's who" of the MSM. [Hat tip, Andrew McCarthy, NRO]
In this brief, which the MSM consortium filed in an effort to protect journalists from divulging confidential sources (a strange irony, I know!), they argue passionately and with compelling supporting facts that since she was so well known prior to this episode as an intelligence officer, that no crime could have been committed by her "outing" in the Novak article.
They cite these facts (among others):
- That Plame's husband, former Ambassador Wilson, was not a CIA officer;
- That he was not required to sign a confidentiality agreement;
- That he was not prevented from writing an op-ed piece about his trip;
- That when Novak called the CIA to confirm that Plame worked for the CIA, the CIA confirmed that she did, and that "the agency failed to give him a serious request not to publish her name". (They argue that usually in such cases (a covert officer's name potentially published) a senior-level officer contacts the journalist and ask that they NOT publish);
- And that the CIA did nothing to prevent Plame from making political contributions in her own name;
So if the MSM is so convinced that no crime has been committed, as their brief lays out so well, one must ask why they are not with equal vigor defending Karl Rove instead of attacking him. It is difficult to draw any conclusions other than media bias, and their obvious hatred of Bush, Rove, and Cheney.
The facts do not support further investigation, and unless some new and stunning information is unearthed by the Special Prosecutor, no indictments will be forthcoming.
This post also appears on Blogger News Network.
Edited last sentence of paragraph preceeding the cited facts from MSM amicus brief, and corrected punctuation in second-to-last paragraph.. -JZS 7.24.05