Plame Was Covert at Time of Leak

Another blow to rightwing storytelling:

An unclassified summary of outed CIA officer Valerie Plame’s employment history at the spy agency, disclosed for the first time today in a court filing by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, indicates that Plame was “covert” when her name became public in July 2003.

The summary is part of an attachment to Fitzgerald’s memorandum to the court supporting his recommendation that I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Cheney’s former top aide, spend 2-1/2 to 3 years in prison for obstructing the CIA leak investigation.

As Drum points out, this means the likely explanation for why Fitzy didn’t bring criminal charges for outing a covert agent is because he didn’t have the evidence to make the case that the leakers knew leaking her name could be damaging.  Naturally, that seems quite stupid, considering most people would deem it common fucking sense that outing a covert agent working on WMD proliferation would be damaging, but, legally, lack of common sense isn’t an argument that puts someone in jail.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Plame Was Covert at Time of Leak

  1. oddjob

    You always need to prove intent in crimes like this, and that’s usually difficult. Despite the frustration that leads to in this particular case, I’d rather it was difficult for the government to do that. I believe not having such standards sooner or later leads to arbitrary imprisonment based upon the whims of whoever is in charge.

  2. Melissa McEwan

    Despite the frustration that leads to in this particular case, I’d rather it was difficult for the government to do that.

    Agreed. For the same reasons.

  3. NonyNony

    I was under the impression that Fitzgerald couldn’t prosecute the leakers because he couldn’t find out clearly WHO to prosecute. And he couldn’t find out WHO to prosecute because there were people deliberately working to obstruct justice. Which is why Libby was indicted. But because of the obstruction, and because Libby wouldn’t cut a deal, he can’t get the evidence to track the actual leak back to the leaker such that it would be able to convince a judge to take the case, let alone live up to the “reasonable doubt” standard for a jury.

    Is this not the case?

  4. Melissa McEwan

    Is this not the case?

    That was presumed to be part of it, although by the end of Libby’s trial, it was fairly evident from whence the leak had come (Cheney), making Libby’s crimes all for nought. Oh, the irony!

  5. Pingback: BitsBlog » Democrats claim again Plame was covert. In other news, large light scheduled to appear in east.

  6. Constant Comment

    I STILL don’t understand how both Rove and Novakula were spared… just.don’t.get.it.

  7. It’s nice to have the added detail. Froomkin had a great recent column on this.

  8. Tom Maguire

    Naturally, that seems quite stupid, considering most people would deem it common fucking sense that outing a covert agent working on WMD proliferation would be damaging, but, legally, lack of common sense isn’t an argument that puts someone in jail.

    Well, commomn effing sense might have guided either Grenier or Harlow of the CIA to apprise themselves of Ms. Plame’s status before chatting freely about her with other Admin officials and the press.

    But the law does require the person outing an agent to know she has classified status, and no one seems to have told either the State Dept or the White House about that seemingly relevant portion of the Plame bio.

    FWIW, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act was shot down under Carter – we were only a few years past the Church Commission which had outlined CIA abuses, and the press was concerned that the IIPA would be used in “gotcha” prosecutions by an abusive government. Easy to imagine – the Times runs a story about a corrupt businessman or CIA abuse and finds out that someone in the story is “covert”, so now it is jail time for the reporter. Bit of a blow to the free press.

    However… Reagan got elected in 1980 along with six new Republican Senators, and the IIPA was passed in 1982. Free speech / free press concerns lingered, yet here we are – the Plame case is almost exactly the sort of “gotcha” prosecution the press feared (since no one seems to have known her status, and top CIA officials were telling people she was involved in the Wilson trip), but since it is a BushCo official who has been got, it is all good.

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