Skip to main content

View Diary: Plame Leaked by Fake News Source? Overview: Part IV (354 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  why the administration would leak the memo (none)
    first, profuse/profound apologies if i'm 'cutting in line' here by posting this closer to the top. it's just that the thread is so long and i was hoping what i'm about to suggest might be food for thought. and so far, i haven't seen this idea posted. if it was, and i missed it... again, apologies.

    when i read the question....

    What was the timing on it exactly, in terms of when Novak published? Why would the administration leak it to its own planted reporter? reminded me of something i'd heard when the questions about the criminality of this leak were being raised. doesn't the issue of whether or not a crime was committed here depend on the fact that Plame was not known at the time to be a deep cover agent to anyone outside the 'classified' loop? but if others knew she was an agent, she would no longer meet the criteria... and therefore Novak and whoever leaked to him would be off the criminal hook.

    could gannon [or whoever he really is] have been directed to mention the memo to provide grounds to say that the fact that Plame was a CIA agent was already out there, circulating, and therefore criminal penalties don't apply? it might have been a strategy by the administration to keep their people out of jail.

    does this seem like a plausible explanation... or should i be out buying tinfoil?

    susan, thanks so much for these diaries. i'm grateful to you for all you're doing. and thanks, too, to all who have contributed so much time in research and explanations for the rest of us.

    •  ignorance is no excuse... (none)
      Whoever knew Plame was with the CIA may or may not have known that she was deep undercover.  It doesn't matter if they did know the context of her job.  

      If you use bad judgement and kill someone in an accident, you're still liable for that accident and resulting death.  If you out an undercover CIA operative to make a critic's work seem like nothing more than a case of neopotism, then you're still criminally liable.

      It's the CIA for goodness sake!  They are infested with secrets.  It's not like Plame worked for the IAEA and might have nuclear contacts and Oh why don't you send my husband to check on that for you.  She's with the CIA!  In the CIA even secretaries have secrets. Janitors have secrets.  You just don't mess with that unless you either don't care that hornets nest you might stir up or are incredibly stupid. (and in novak's case I vote for the latter)

      Sorry, I have nothing else to add to this conversation.

      by DawnG on Sun Jan 30, 2005 at 01:28:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not exactly (none)
        If I remember correctly, the statute says that the person leaking must be aware that divulging the information would be illegal, or it's not illegal.  I know it goes against most other laws, but that's what I remember from when the issue first came up.  So Novak would probably be able to skate, but the person that leaked it to him probably won't.  That is, if they ever decide to figure out whodunnit.
        •  yes, that was my point... (none)
          not what is honorable, but what the law says. and asking if "gannon's" mentioning the memo was an attempt to help someone in the white house get around the law.

          i found the original john dean article. here are the specifics:

          "The [Intelligence Identities] Act reaches outsiders who engage in "a pattern of activities" intended to reveal the identities of covert operatives (assuming such identities are not public information, which is virtually always the case).


          The Act primarily reaches insiders with classified intelligence, those privy to the identity of covert agents. It addresses two kinds of insiders.

          First, there are those with direct access to the classified information about the "covert agents." who leak it. These insiders - including persons in the CIA - may serve up to ten years in jail for leaking this information.

          Second, there are those who are authorized to have classified information and learn it, and then leak it. These insiders - including persons in, say, the White House or Defense Department - can be sentenced to up to five years in jail for such leaks.

          The statute also has additional requirements before the leak of the identity of a "covert agent" is deemed criminal. But it appears they are all satisfied here.

          First, the leak must be to a person "not authorized to receive classified information." Any journalist - including Novak and Time - plainly fits.

          Second, the insider must know that the information being disclosed identifies a "covert agent." In this case, that's obvious, since Novak was told this fact.

          Third, the insider must know that the U.S. government is "taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the United States." For persons with Top Secret security clearances, that's a no-brainer: They have been briefed, and have signed pledges of secrecy, and it is widely known by senior officials that the CIA goes to great effort to keep the names of its agents secret.

          A final requirement relates to the "covert agent" herself. She must either be serving outside the United States, or have served outside the United States in the last five years. It seems very likely that Mrs. Wilson fulfills the latter condition - but the specific facts on this point have not yet been reported."

          the question i was raising in my comment was whether the fact that "gannon'" was discussing the memo he was in possession of could be used to nullify the second and/or third criteria. the leaker[s] could argue that "memos were floating around so i assumed she was no longer classified." or "they weren't trying to keep her name secret."

          immediately after Plame's name became public, quotes were being floated... saying that it was 'common knowledge that she was an agent. an attempt, i thought, to mitigate damage. i was wondering if the "gannon" thing was more of the same.

        •  what the statute actually says (none)

          Whoever, having or having had authorized access to classified
          information that identifies a covert agent, intentionally discloses any          
          information identifying such covert agent to any individual not
          authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the
          information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the
          United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert
          agent's intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined          
          not more than $50,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

          Whoever leaked the info to Gannon or Novak violated that statute.  The journalists themselves are not liable under the act because they don't have authorized access to information.  What journalists are being charged with is contempt of court for refusing to reveal their source, not violation of the federal statute.

    •  I think your explanation is reasonable (none)
      I was wondering the same thing myself.  Quite clearly Gannon (and whoever is supporting him) wanted the story about Plame on the street.  In fact, even though he has taken down several of the web sites, that story on the GOPUSA website is still there.  

      Congregamus ergo sumus.

      by biotecchie on Sun Jan 30, 2005 at 07:07:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  thank you for that link! (none)
        in the article on the gopusa website, gannon makes statements that lend some credence to that theory. here it is, right out of his own mouth:

        Jeff Gannon, the White House correspondent and Washington Bureau Chief for Talon News declined to reveal whether he had seen the memo or had its contents described to him.

        While he would not disclose his source, Gannon said, "I will tell you that the information did not come from inside the administration."

        "For something that is supposed to be classified, it seems that this document is easily accessible," Gannon added. "Washington is leaking like a cheap umbrella. Just look at what's happening over on Capitol Hill."

        Gannon was referring to private Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committee memos that have been leaked to various media outlets in the last few months.

        If it can be shown that he was 'directed' to go public about the memo in order to weaken the criminal case... it could be huge. in john dean's findlaw article that i referred to above, he discusses the strong case for conspiracy charges in addition to violating the law regarding outing Plame.

        •  Certainly this suggests thatthere was a conspiracy (none)
          The odd thing about this story in GOPUSA is that Gannon would not disclose his source, but was very quick to say that it "did not come from inside the administration".  Then he goes on to discredit his own source.

          I mean, really who would say "For something that is supposed to be classified, it seems that this document is easily accessible." - accessible by whom? Either he had access to classified information or someone gave it to him.

          Congregamus ergo sumus.

          by biotecchie on Sun Jan 30, 2005 at 08:53:54 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site