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Best analysis I've read yet...

...of Plamegate.


It really isn't that complicated. Rove and others in the White House had access to classified information, including the ability to find out who is a covert operative working for the CIA. With that privilege comes responsibility. Just like Sandy Berger was wrong to abuse his privileges when sneaking out classified documents, it was wrong to out a covert CIA operative. (And she was covert prior to being outted.) Whomever did that broke the law. It isn't treason but there should be consequences.

Like Sandy Berger, Karl Rove and whomever else is involved may like for it to appear complicated, as well as argue that there was no harm done, but the law is the law and the law isn't that complicated in my view. When he received security clearance, he no doubt signed a paper that was available to read just as Sandy Berger no doubt could find out the rules regarding his ability to take documents home. Ignorance is no excuse.

What security clearances does Rove have?


Sory, PE, but even Wilson has now acknowledged that his wife wasn't covert at the Time of Novak's article.

Now, given that, what's your point?

Karl Rove has security clearances that gives him access to classified information. Whether or not he discovered that Plame was a CIA operative through his specific access or through another's access to classified information does not matter. What matters is that he has security clearances and as a result he should understand the laws regarding divulging classified information.

Your notion that Rove is somehow a "whistle blower" is a joke. The man is one of the most trusted advisors to the most powerful man in the world. There were many legitimate channels that could have been used to expose Wilson without exposing his wife's cover, including going to the Republican led Congress, especially since this was more than a year before the election.


Mal, his wife was covert prior to Novak's article. It was that article that blew her cover.

The push for this investigation reportedly came from George Tenet. Reportedly, not only Plame's cover was blown, but also the cover of all who worked with her in the corporation that the CIA set up as a cover.

From the AP on July 15:

But at the same time, Wilson acknowledged his wife was no longer in an undercover job at the time Novak's column first identified her. "My wife was not a clandestine officer the day that Bob Novak blew her identity," he said.

Wanna try again?

WASHINGTON, July 15 /U.S. Newswire/ -- In an Associated Press article originally issued the morning of July 15, 2005, a statement by former ambassador Joe Wilson was falsely taken to mean that his wife was not an undercover agent at the CIA at the time of Robert D. Novak's column in July 2003. During the early afternoon of July 15, 2005, the Associated Press issued a corrected version of the article noting Wilson's clarification that "his wife lost her ability to be a covert agent because of the leak, not that she had stopped working for the CIA beforehand."

"...lost her ability to be a covert agent" is different from being an undercover agent. Wilson's initial statement, though embarrassing, would seem to have been correct, and not incompatible with his "clarification."

Well, that's one possible interpretation. Another possibility is that she was a covert agent until Novak's column destroyed her ability to continue. Reportedly, her cover was that she was an energy consultant and that Wilson's and Plame's friends knew her as such.

Well that's an interpretation that seems difficult to square with much of what we know of the case, not to mention Wilson's own words. The amicus brief filed by 36 different news agencies, for example, pointed out that Plame's identity had been "blown" twice in the past -- once to the Russians and again to the Cubans. To me, it would seem that her "ability" to work undercover ended back then. Also remember that the CIA confirmed Plame's employment to Bob Novak in a phone call before he penned the column. How under cover could she have been?

I imagine that operatives' covers do get blown from time to time and that they get reassigned as a result. The question before us is not whether she was an effective operative, but whether the CIA had classified her as such and whether those leaking knew she was classified as such. Otherwise, you are justifying Sandy Berger's "no harm done" defense.

PE, I think you've pushed the Sandy Berger analogy just about far enough. They're very different cases. At the end of the day, if nothing else, Berger broke the law, whereas Karl Rove almost certainly did not.

PE, how can one read Cooper's notes, which, BTW, point out that he was originally seeking out Rove (not the other way around), and conclude this was premeditated?

In point of fact, Rove gave Cooper sound advice given that Tenet's undercutting of Wilson was due.

Given that Wilson, in his book, points out that Plame essentially went nowhere except Langley from 1997 (the year of her marriage) until Novak column in 2003 eliminates her from qualifying for outage under the law as she could not have been covert.

As to Wilson's correction, Barry is right: he is saying that she couldn't revert to being covert.

Why can't you accept what the 36 media groups did when they filed an amicus curiae earlier this year: that there was no crime committed?

From Andrew McCarthy today:

As the media alleged to the judges (in Footnote 7, page 8, of their brief), Plame's identity as an undercover CIA officer was first disclosed to Russia in the mid-1990s by a spy in Moscow. Of course, the press and its attorneys were smart enough not to argue that such a disclosure would trigger the defense prescribed in Section 422 because it was evidently made by a foreign-intelligence operative, not by a U.S. agency as the statute literally requires.

But neither did they mention the incident idly. For if, as he has famously suggested, President Bush has peered into the soul of Vladimir Putin, what he has no doubt seen is the thriving spirit of the KGB, of which the Russian president was a hardcore agent. The Kremlin still spies on the United States. It remains in the business of compromising U.S. intelligence operations.

Thus, the media's purpose in highlighting this incident is blatant: If Plame was outed to the former Soviet Union a decade ago, there can have been little, if anything, left of actual intelligence value in her "every operation, every relationship, every network" by the time anyone spoke with Novak (or, of course, Corn).

BTW, it seems the spy was that piece of crap, Aldrich Ames.

As reported in Time..

"I'm beyond disgusted," a CIA official said last week. I am especially angry about the b_______ explanations that she is not a covert agent. That is an official status, and there are lots of people in this building who are on that status. It's not up to the Republican Party to determine when that status will end for an agent."

Of course, your fave Glenn Reynolds wants to ferret out CIA operatives like the one quoted above. He quotes Mark Steyn who says the real story here is rogue elements within the CIA seeking to destablilize the elected government.

Yes, we will be so much better off one party control and no civil servants thinking outside that party box. I wonder if Bush the elder, a man who ran the CIA, would agree with Steyn's and Reynolds' sentiments.

Dude, you've been schooled. Time to hang up the ol' debate boots for this round.

Yeah, right. The only reason that I've been "schooled" is that I'm among a bunch of people who view this as a purely partisan game.

The fact of the matter is that it isn't up to Barry, Glenn Reynolds, Mal, or me whether Valerie Plame was officially a covert agent at the time of the Novak column. Frankly, I have heard her status questioned on blogs, but Representative Blunt (R) didn't question whether she had official status, just whether her status should have been official -- which leads to the agent's question.. is it up to the Republican party (or this blog for that matter) to decide when an agent's status ends or are there proceses and laws that apply here?

This isn't some stupid debating game. This is the law. Like Joe Scarborough said, if an aide of his had revealed the identity of a covert operative when he was in Congress, that aide would've been fired immediately.

I am willing to wait until the report comes out, but I will repeat what I said in the beginning. If you want access to classified information, you must be willing to accept the responsibility, which includes acting responsibly, which includes finding out whether her identity was officialy protected before giving her identity to a reporter.

This isn't some damn debate. Either she had official status or she didn't. If she had official status, then her name should not have been leaked. Whether it was a crime or not, it would've been wrong. Everything else is bullshit.

Fair enough, PE.

Just promise me that if the GJ determines no crime was committed, you will not join the cacaphony from the left that it was a big coverup and farce, OK?

Because, as we both know, that is what will happen.

If the GJ determines that Rove or someone else violated the law, I am all for throwing him/her out on their ass and punishing them according to the extent of the law.

Just so I am on the record here.

Mal, it seems that Fitzgerald is pursuing this matter aggressively and independently. Special prosecutors, as a rule, don't involve themselves in coverups. If anything, the complaints usually come from the party being investigated. We all will be waiting for the results of this investigation, whether it be criminal charges or something less than that, whether it be focused on Rove or someone else, but I'll be satisfied with the law being properly applied.

"Karl Rove has security clearances that gives him access to classified information."

PE, I know that security clearances give access to classified information. Duh. But there are different clearances for different information.

What I was asking for is proof that Rove has a security clearance that gives him access to the CIA, specifically the identity of covered agents.

I understand, CRB, that different people in the White House have different levels/areas of access. Still, even if Rove did not have this specific access, he was around people that did and who could have told him whether it was proper or improper to pass on this information.

Furthermore, I have read that the Wall Street Journal describes a document that may have alerted administration officials to the Plame angle.

From that article..

"A classified State Department memo that may be pivotal to the CIA leak case made clear that information identifying an agent and her role in her husband's intelligence-gathering mission was sensitive and shouldn't be shared, according to a person familiar with the document. . . .

"The memo's details are significant because they will make it harder for officials who saw the document to claim that they didn't realize the identity of the CIA officer was a sensitive matter."

Again, this is bits and pieces of information when we perhaps will be better served by waiting for the complete findings of the Special Prosecutor. Still, Rove, by having access and by having access to people who have access, is responsible in how he spreads classified information, whether or not he himself had direct access to Plame's status.

Rove wasn't a reporter. He was working for the government. Daniel Ellsberg may have gotten away with leaking the Pentagon Papers, but he didn't continue to work for the Pentagon after doing so.

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