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

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  •  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).

      <snip>

      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.

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