Waxman Finds an Aluminum Bullet<br>What About the SF 312?

By Leon H Wolf Posted in Comments (68) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

The latest twist in the increasingly bizarre and complex Rove/Plame "scandal" is the emergence of a new supposed silver bullet that Henry Waxman (D-CA) has supposedly found, the SF 312 Non-Disclosure agreement, which has already made its first appearance here on RedState. After a cursory examination of the form, it appears that Rep. Waxman and his sycophants at Kos have once again made the mistake of spending too much time around folks who think exactly like they do - which often leads to the error in which one begins to believe that their fervent wishes are actually facts. Logically, it's called assuming what one is trying to prove. Sadly (not really), the Democrats are going to soon find out that the bullet they are firing is made of aluminum, not silver.

UPDATE: I've taken some time to read over this form and the attendant executive order, and basically what it says is that if anyone violates the order, then it is up to the President to discipline that person according to the President's discretion. This can be anything from a reprimand (Bad Karl! Bad!), to a dock in pay, to firing. Totally and completely up to the President.

In other words, even if Rove is found to have violated the terms of his NDA, it means precisely zilch to those who are looking for his scalp.

Specifically, the portions of the Agreement that the Democrats are leaning on are these:

One of the most basic rules of safeguarding classified information is that an official who has signed a nondisclosure agreement cannot confirm classified information obtained by a reporter.

It is important to know, first of all, that these are the words of Rep. Waxman, and are not actually from the form in question or the much referenced pamphlet that goes along with it. What the pamphlet does in fact say, is this:

Before … confirming the accuracy of what appears in the public source, the signer of the SF 312 must confirm through an authorized official that the information has, in fact, been declassified. If it has not, … confirmation of its accuracy is also an unauthorized disclosure.

This is the portion that Rove is said to have violated. Seems to me, it would be taken for granted that if Rove didn't know the information was classified in the first place, he wouldn't have checked to see if it was declassified. It further appears, as Cliff May examines, that Novak himself was ignorant that Plame was even a covert agent, and further took steps to ascertain whether the CIA would be fussed about what he was going to print. Their release doesn't do well for the consistency of this particular "silver bullet."

Undaunted, Waxman rolls on, making essentially the same point:

Mr. Rove was not at liberty to repeat classified information he may have learned from a reporter. Instead, he had an affirmative obligation to determine whether the information had been declassified before repeating it. The briefing booklet is explicit on this point: “before disseminating the information elsewhere … the signer of the SF 312 must confirm through an authorized official that the information has, in fact, been declassified.”

We'd feel stupid repeating the same point over and over, but since it isn't bothering Waxman, it won't bother us, either. How can one make sure that the information in question is declassified, if one never knew that it was classified in the first place? Keep in mind that the CIA has thousands of employees, very few of which are NOCs, and given Novak's characterization of Plame's employment, and Rove's description of her as an "analyst" to Cooper, it seems that he was frankly unaware that she was under any kind of cover at all. The CIA's release of Novak's column is a further nail in this coffin.

Waxman further attempts to make the case that Rove should be punished because he handled the information "negligently." To beat this dead horse absolutely to death, we are still operating under the very dubious assumption that Rove had any inkling whatsoever that the information that had been handed to him was classified whatsoever. Further, if the other administration source in question was in fact George Tenet or some other high ranking CIA official, how in the world is the case even being made that her identity was classified?

The final point that is often referenced comes from the information pamphlet that goes along with the SF-312

:

Question 19: If information that a signer of the SF 312 knows to have been classified appears in a public source, for example, in a newspaper article, may the signer assume that the information has been declassified and disseminate it elsewhere?

Answer: No. Information remains classified until it has been officially declassified. Its disclosure in a public source does not declassify the information. Of course, merely quoting the public source in the abstract is not a second unauthorized disclosure. However, before disseminating the information elsewhere or confirming the accuracy of what appears in the public source, the signer of the SF 312 must confirm through an authorized official that the information has, in fact, been declassified. If it has not, further dissemination of the information or confirmation of its accuracy is also an unauthorized disclosure.

Do we really need to go over this again???

Now all of this assumes the fact that saying "I heard that, too" is confirmation of classified information, and not merely confirmation that the rumor in question is going around - or that saying "Wilson's wife apparently works as an analyst at the CIA" constitutes divulgence of anything that is even an actual fact (it isn't), much less "classified information". If, in fact, Plame's identity was covert, and her identity a classified secret, then she was not an "analyst", and what Rove fed Cooper was actually disinformation about her identity.

Remember that the first person to specifically note that Plame was, in fact, a covert agent was lefty David Corn. Now, should we really believe that Rove would have gien this information to someone like Corn? Or is it more reasonable to believe that some other person (whose last name might or might not be Wilson) who was admittedly shopping his story around with the Democrats and left-friendly media sources might have given this information to Corn?

The most hilarious portion of this whole story, of course, is when Waxman outlines what Bush is required to punish Rove with:

The sanctions for such a breach include “reprimand, suspension without pay, removal, termination of classification authority, loss or denial of access to classified information, or other sanctions.

Allow us, in the spirit of bipartisan comity, to join Waxman's call that Bush punish rove under the executive order and say, "Bad Rove! Bad!"

Just plain silliness.

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Waxman Finds an Aluminum Bullet<br>What About the SF 312? 68 Comments (0 topical, 68 editorial, 0 hidden) Post a comment »

Tim Russert asked Mehlman about this last Sunday.  Mehlman didn't address the point.  

I mean, spooky good, at what he does. He's not perfect, and probably didn't have the benefit of the internet right in front of him, like I do.

if he wasn't familiar with the law, then answering would have put a talking point into the hands of the left.

the problem is that it isn't clear whether or not Rove reasonably thought the information was classified.

Was it Rove that also told a reporter (Cooper?) that something would be declassified soon? Anyone know what that is about?

Cooper Rove told him (this is a paraphrase) not to get to far out on Wilson, it was his wife who apparantly works with the CIA who got him the job, also there is some information about to come out that is going to refute some of Wilson's claims.

I don't think Rove said specifically that informatoin was about to be declassified, only that some informatoin was about to come out that would refute some of Wilson's claims.

In fact Tenet was about to come out with a statement that did somewhat do that, and it came from things that they had declassified.

I wonder if any of that stuff was documents that wilson was yaking about.  We sometimes forget in our quest to get Rove that Wilson was out there spouting classified information all over the place.

"How can one make sure that the information in question is declassified, if one never knew that it was classified in the first place?"

Again, the regulations state, Rove had "an affirmative obligation to determine whether the information had been declassified before repeating it."

Now obviously this doesn't cover anything-- but the identity of a CIA agent?  Wouldn't Rove think that this was at least possibly classified?  I think it's more of a stretch to buy the head in the sand explanation-- at this point, it seems to me that it's easier to explain that Rove did or should have known this information was classified.  It's not like this guy just showed up in Washington yesterday.

Why didn't Rove just set the record straight with Novak and Cooper about the origins of the trip to Africa? Or better still, why didn't Libby tell Cooper (and any other reporter he discussed this with) the true facts ON THE RECORD? As the Chief of Staff in the Office of the Vice President, his statement would have had much more credibility than a leak from an anonymous source.

If the only objective was to prevent Time from running an incorrect story, the "get Wilson" strategy was totally unnecessary and ill-advised. It may excite political partisans, but is not resonating with the public. Not even with a majority of Republicans. Whether the information was classified or not, one would think that Rove and Libby would know better than to dish it out.

to expect him to automatically think classified given that the majority of people who work for the CIA are not in classified positions.

Also, remember he had talked with Novak, and Novak had talked to contacts in the CIA, and the CIA had no problems confirming her employment (The who NOvak talked to at the CIA may have made a difference too-for instance if Tenet was Novak's source, and Novak told Rove this, do you really think Rove felt obligated to call the CIA to ask if Plame's employment was classified?).

His failure to answer is an adverse admission of facts, leading only to an admission of guilt. I don't think any further discussion is necessary.

But - did Rove sign this form?

a standard form for anyone who works for the government that has access to classified materials.

I even bet Wilson signed one.  Can we revoke his clearance while we are revoking Rove's?

Now we're getting somewhere. Did congressman Waxman sign such a form? If so why? Are members of congress subject to executive branch restrictions such as this? Any concern about separation of powers? Could congress have exempted themselves from such onerous burdens? What about their staff?

If Waxman and ilk can start throwing out everything except the kitchen sink, why can't we?

Where's the copy of Rove's signed form? Where's the FOIA request for his files? Has he been reprimanded for any issues concerning this form?

Has the congressman?

Does it matter?

We could go on forever, and I guess we will as long as they keep serving up the issues!

This is fun. Next!

It doesn't matter if he knew or should have known it was classified.  It's his responsibility to make sure it's not - pleading ignorance is not an excuse for a breach in this case.

Democratic congressional leaders, simply need to be quiet.  At this point, it's not an issue they need to be opining about.  Can the pronouncements, press conferences, press releases and simply get back to work.  A special counsel is investigating and at some point, his activities will conclude.

In a similar vein, left and right wing pundits, bloggers, et al would be well-advised to take a moderate, considered approach to the issue.  It could blow up either way -- it would look silly to be in attack mode against Rove and the WH only to find Judith Miller, Joe Wilson or someone else charged.

On the right, I'd think that Watergate, Monicagate, etc. would encourage caution.  In each case, fuzzy allegations, strident denials, advocates rising up in defense and then -- whoops.

Trying to deconstruct the investigation from cable coverage, news articles and blogger analyses is about as constructive as trying to defuse a bomb, locked in a box, from the outside.

At the end of the day, the "facts" cited by both sides are largely hearsay.  What do we really know.

  1. The CIA raised an issue with the Justice Dept.

  2. A special counsel was appointed.

  3. He is investigating something and calling witnesses.

  4. He convinced several judges that whatever he is investigating merited jailing or threatening to jail reporters.

Everything else is speculation.

"Whether the information was classified or not, one would think that Rove and Libby would know better than to dish it out."

What if Rove and Libby didn't dish it out? What if Novak and Cooper and Miller and Mati Hari and Judge Crater and Jimmy Hoffa all called them seeking comment?

1 - at this point the extent of the alleged quoted comments seem to be - "Wilson's wife works at the CIA on WMD" including variations, most of which presuppose leading questions restating the alleged comments anyway.

2 - the alleged intent seems to be - "Wilson's wife is a fabulous spy whose suffering will silence Wilson, and Rove is evil too!"

3 - the legal finding on "dishing" is . . . nothing yet.

story, but there has to be some pretty good evidence that a crime has been committed if a grand jury has been convened and a reporter is sitting in jail protecting a source.  This cannot all be dismissed as Plame was not a covert agent and her status was well-known...  There has to be something more if a judge is willing to put Judith Miller in jail for refusing to testify.

Maybe you think Plame and Wilson have committed the crime and not Rove, is there any evidence of who else who may be implicated in wrongdoing here?

Is the blanket denial of any involvement that was issued early on.  George Bush vowed to find out who the leakers were and take care of them. Now he knows who the leakers are, and he parses his language in a Clintonesque way ("If anyone has broken the law"....) in order to avoid confronting them. For a guy who has build his political image on no nonsense truth telling and decision making, it is particularly ironic.

there has to be some pretty good evidence that a crime has been committed if a grand jury has been convened and a reporter is sitting in jail protecting a source

That is absolutely true. However, the grand jury may be onto something completely different. We have no way of knowing why Miller is in jail.

WHen you say, "If anyone has violated the law, they will be taken care of," and then later they say, "If anyone has violated the law, they will be taken care of," that's being consistent.

Not very Clintonesque at all.

I got so frustrated with the nonsense over at Kos that I actually registered.  Strangely, I almost felt bad for them - All dressed up and nowhere to go.

Well, my posts were greeted with insults and I was deleted.  They truly are the Kwazy Kos Kids!

That is where I heard about it.  So I may as well re-hash it here.

And in my post I definitely thought that what he said to Novak was not violating it.  Just his revelations to Cooper.

I think that this is another one of those things that will be impossible to prove.  As it has been pointed out, how reasonable is it to assume that Rove knew this to be classified?  He has plenty of wiggle room.

Of course, that is little consolation because it is just one more thing that the public will see, and it easier to understand the argument that says that he should have checked before passing the information on.  Hearing it explained that it was reasonable that he not know that this was classified is less likely to fit into a digestable soundbite.

Let's face it.  Rove and the White House are on the defensive on this.  This is just one more thing to counter, that on the face of it appears to be damning.

When Scott McLellan was first asked about this affai he laughed and said it was "Ridiculous" that anyone in the WH was involved. George B. said that anyone who was involved would be out of the WH. Now that THAT statement has been proven  untenable, he moves the criteria for leaving the white house to "breaking the law". My point is that as he covers and backs up for what seems like the 3rd straight week, he parses his language and changes what he says.

"Waxman and his sycophants at Kos have once again made the mistake of spending too much time around folks who think exactly like they do - which often leads to the error in which one begins to believe that their fervent wishes are actually facts."

Isn't this the same pile they've stepped in twice before in the past year?

If we are correct and this is nothing, I expect this investigation will end with Fitzgerald saving his own reputation by writing a longish, but ambiguous report that will leave both sides thinking that they won. The alternative, I hope, is the exposure of a conspiracy to alter intelligence, damage a sitting President, and effect the outcome of a national election. I know....wishful thinking.

McClellan's words are not at issue. Bush's words are.

Read this and then return. We shall talk.

Not all CIA "operatives" are NOC, or even under official cover. Many of them are just desk jockeys, and it's clear that's what Rove thought Plame was.

Don't you feel a little bit dirty having to resort to democrat style parsing?

"McClellan's words are not at issue. Bush's words are"

I mean c'mon...isnt' it reasonable to assume that the WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN speaks for the white house?

It's reasonable to assume that sometimes McClellan doesn't have the actual soul of George W. Bush handy to consult with and actually, you know, makes mistakes.

I know, it's far-flung (dare we say, Clintonesque), but it's something that at least bears consideration.

Did you read Leon's exegises on this? There's a lot of "knowledge" involved, and whether Rove "knew" it was classified or not seems to be the issue, not his duty to investigate what he never thought was classified in the first place.

Lot of negatives in there, I think I got it right.

That kind of argumentation is puerile and tiresome. It advances nothing except the annoyance level. We don't need it here, if you get my drift.

But isn't this assuming that Rove signed the SF 312 (i.e. was handling classified material back in 2003)?  I've seen nothing to suggest this.

section 3 of sf312 says: "I understand that if I am uncertain about the classification status of information, I am required to confirm from an authorized official that the information is  unclassified before I may disclose it . . . ."

What I don't understand is why Novak bothered to use Plame's name after the CIA told him not to.  Cooper seemed to have gotten the hint that it was double-super-secret-background.  

of CIA employees are desk jockies at Langley, and not covert spies whose jobs are classified.

But the CIA doesn't share employment numbers with the public (for obvious reasons).

Leon,

Please bear in mind that the Plame investigation originated with a CIA complaint to the Justice Dep't.  AG Ashcroft then appointed Fitzgerald to take up the inquiry.  The point here is that the notion that Plame was undercover is not the product of some fuzzbrain over at Daily Kos--  the CIA itself takes that position.

Although that takes us back to whether or not Rove thought her position was classified.  If he didn't think it classified, and if Novak mentioned her identitity was confirmed by a CIA source, I think Rove could have reasonably assumed that her covertness wasn't "uncertain" especially if Rove knew the CIA source.

I just think we are expecting Rove to have more knowledge than he did.

this road.

He may in the end win on this, but can you picture what happens the next time Reid decides to leak classified info from an FBI file he wasn't supposed to have access to in the first place?

Kerry supposedly leaked the name of a CIA employee a few months back (I haven't seen a leak to this, just seen references to it in various blogs).

Congressmen and senators and shoot State and the CIA play this game all the time.  Is Waxman going to go on a witch hunt to get every single person who has done it found out and sanctioned?

I would argue the people who outed the CIA business front flying the airplanes put the WOT and covert agents at a lot more risk than Rove did Plame.  Has Waxman made a statement about that yet?

And now we're in Pat Moynihan's land of excessive secrecy. Can anyone who has signed the form ever be not "uncertain" (I cannot even say certain, since it's an offical form) of the nature of government information.

This is a separate discussion entirely, and probably the completely wrong place to bring it up, but the libertarian spirit in me recoils at the idea that someone we presumably trust (say an elected official) is "required to confirm from an authorized official that the information is  unclassified".

Will there be no end to such "authorized officials", and what if two reach conflicting directions on such material? Is there a classified court of classified appeals of classfied categorization decisions? The mind reels!

Bush: "If somebody did leak classified information, I'd like to know it, and we'll take the appropriate action."

Question is:  has he taken the appropriate action?  IF Rove talked to Cooper and Novak, is that a "leak?"  Depends on what your definition of a leak is.  He may have been a source for Novak's article but not the leak (if Novak got the information from someone else first).  He was the first person to tell Cooper about Plame; so he may have been a leaker there.

And if by "leak" the president means the source of classified information, Rove may not have leaked in either case (since we don't know if any classified information was disseminated).

At issue is whether Rove knew this, had reason to suspect it, and whether Tenet chose to disclose this information first to Novak.

Lord help us all if the government can't keep classified and unclassified information in separate piles.

Section 2 of the sf312 says: "I hereby acknowledge that I have received a security indoctrination concerning the nature and protection of classified information . . . ."

Indoctrination?  WHoah!  Sounds Orwellian.

Still, if the CIA told Novak not to use her name and presumably Rove told Novak the same thing he told Cooper, Novak shouldn't have used her name.  It's his fault that the "identity" was made known.  Rove just wanted folks to stop repeating the "Cheney sent Wilson to Niger" baloney.

That's interesting speculation, and might be one of the only situations that I could see Rove as entirely in the clear-- both in the legal sense and the tougher standard of having done something unethical.

I never thought I'd agree with McClellan but there's just to many unknowns here-- I think the right has a problem admitting that Rove could have done something wrong or illegal, just as the left is too unwaveringly certain that he has.

It's an ongoing investigation, after all.  I'm interested to see what comes out in the next few weeks-- my gut says someone is going down for this, whether it's Rove or not, we'll see.

The Wilson fiasco has played out for two years, and in some ways it is like three jigsaw puzzles intermixed, but we are really interested in only one particular picture, and we do not have a copy of the scene to use for a guide.

American Thinker has a neat summary presenting an integrated view of the available data, rejecting the chaff, and extrapolating likely endgames.

http://www.americanthinker.com/articles.php?article_id=4656

The Nixon Presidency was destroyed, but Nixon did many things correctly in a volatile international and domestic situation - much like today, in fact.  A lot of Nixon's problems were a paranoid reaction to Kennedy's theft of the 1960 elections and the unrelenting leftist attacks on his administration.

Nixon was brought down by the Liberal media, the Liberal (and corrupt, and incompetent) intelligence agencies (CIA and FBI), and the Liberal Democrat power structure.  This unholy troika has celebrated Nixon's destruction for the last thirty years, and is attempting to repeat their triumph.  

The current Liberal triumvirate is making a lot of noise attacking President Bush, but is not getting much result.  The Democrat's attempt to steal the 2000 elections failed.  President Bush is not paranoid (nor dishonest, nor stupid, as the left maintains).  The Liberal media is losing customers and revenues, because there are better, more accurate, and less corrupt news outlets coming on line.  The intelligence agencies are now being rebuilt, and there will no longer be a hard left and utterly incompetent bias within the intel community.  The Republicans have the Executive, majorities in both Houses of Congress, a majority of Statehouses, and a majority among state legislatures.  Soon the Rule of Law will be restored within the Court system, as well.

Karl Rove is the latest target in a long series of Liberal attacks on the administration.  The Liberals are desperate for even a symbolic victory after a steady string of defeats.  Rove won't be the last, but where is this leading us?  Florida, the Democratic 2002 losses, the Democratic 2004 losses, the old media scandals and decline, the intelligence corruption and incompetence: what next?

The Democratic left is thrashing wildly, trying to maintain power, but the American people will not stand for it.

I think the exact conversation Novak had with the CIA and who he talked to there is important in all this.

But a part of me thinks everyone chasing this story was unaware of Plames covert past, and since much of classified info is on a need to know basis, it makes me wonder how out there her past would have been to most CIA contacts.

there is still a lot out there that is unknown and may not ever be known.

I don't know about somebody going down-my gut says that if somebody does go down, it isn't somebody in the WH.  It may be somebody in the administration, but I think in the end Rove and Libby get cleared.

I think the primary leak was either from CIA or State and it may have been the memo that Powell had with him going to Africa that spurred it.

First of all, you are the first person to agree with me on the Novak issue.  I was beginning to think I was losing it (the jury is still out on that one).

Secondly, Novak said that one person at the CIA (that he talked to) said "don't use her name," his other CIA informant said the opposite.  

Could he (and the White House) have been set up by the anti-Bush section of the CIA to leak this information just to trap them?  Is that why Goss was sent in there to clean the place out?

Leon says that most people don't know a NOC from a deskjockey; it's on a need-to-know basis only.  Novak is clear on the charge; so maybe this is a point of inquiry for the prosecutors.  Who told Novak it was OK to use her name, and why?

Get used to it. It's gonna be a loooong summer for you guys.

The issue is why the White House is so evasive and squishy on the role of white house staffers. All this nonsense about that no good meanie Joe Wilson is only a distraction from the issue at hand.

It was an internal struggle at the FBI that created Deep Throat and his secretive need to destroy the President (by using the media -- see what I mean?).

I think the fact that Tenet left not long after this investigation began could be important.

As for the tinfoil hat speculation land I was reading on a blog (can't remember which one) that posited the set up idea.  They used the fact that the GOP people tended to refer to Plame as Valarie Wilson or Wilson's wife, while the dem folks refer to her as Plame.

Novak's source seemed to have used Plame, since he used Valarie Plame and not Valarie Wilson in his piece.

I think it may be making a bit much of the name game, but it an interesting theory, and there are certainly others who seem to be leaning that direction.

I think Novak's primary source is the key here, and since Novak isn't in jail, it makes me think he named names.

You don't get to decide the issues on this site, neither do you get to decide the issues for Fitz.

Cinch your britches up a few sizes or we'll do it for you.

Dug back through your posts and saw where streiff explicitly warned you about this kind of garbage. Welcome to The Pile™.

in the CIA in the last 2 years.  Tenet, McLaughlin, Pavitt, Kappes, Sulick, Scheuer, atleast 2 division chiefs....

we suck it up, advance our positive ideas, convince the voters and keep on winning elections.

The dems have gained much experience in the how-to-lose-elections department, and this tactic will only add volumes to that resume.

those names came from either the Office of the DCI or the Directorate of Operations.  Quite a few people who outranked Plame resigning.  Good luck sifting through the post-9/11 intelligence shakeup to find the needles pointing at Plame.  Heh.

Weird. The only thing I could find that was even close to "declassified" about this issue, was that the State of the Union Address's information about Iraq purchasing Uranium was a mistake. Rice and a subordinate (Stephen Hadley ) came out a few weeks later and admitted she was mistaken.

Perhaps what ever was about to be declassified was suddenly classified again. I'm sure with all this heat that is possible.

I have to agree here with Leon. Even if the WH spokesman said something a bunch of times, and even if the President, or one of his staff, didn't correct him a bunch of time, the spokesman is still human and can make mistakes.

And it just goes to prove that Rove is not lying! If he heard the fired part I'm sure he would have spoke up if he was feeling guilty or something.

I'm lost, sorry. Who is Deep Throat now?

If the man had spent five minutes thinking it through, he would have realized that he might be getting into deep waters.  

Why....do I seem to be the only one in the world who maintains that Rove was NOT involved in a leak? At the time when the WH issued denials, I in no way interpreted the denials to mean that Rove (or anyone else) had never ever ever discussed Joe Wilson or his wife with anyone from anywhere. He discussed. He did not LEAK. It is not subject to interpretation.

Further, in consideration of the parent topic/thread.... think about it:

If Rove had learned something about a CIA employee from a government source, in the line of official business, and whatever he learned was ambiguous as to covert status or (lack thereof- were it even a possibility) then Rove would have dutifully sought clarification. He learned of Wilson's wife's employment at the CIA from multiple MEDIA SOURCES, in media-relations lines of business! There was NO reason for Rove to suspect let alone ASSUME that Wilson's wife was covert. He heard it from reporters!!! Hello?!? The onus was NOT on him to not repeat the vague information he heard.

And once again, it was not a leak. He did not mention her name. He did not reveal and classified information. She wasn't even covert, and hadn't been for some time. He did not seem to have an intent to out her or to harm her. And on and on with these sorts of details you all already know...

The real issue is of course, who really DID reveal her name and "covert" status? As some have mentioned... the fact that she had ever been anything close to covert might have originally come from Wilson himself, in response to Novak's column giving her name only.

I meant to say... if anything, the reasonable thing to do would be to assume that she was not in any way secret or covert.

  1. He heard it from multiple media circles, which meant it was circulating in the media.

  2. The media generally doesn't have access to classified information.

  3. If the media already has it, the media already has it (duh!)

  4. Novak particularly would not be likely (or stupid enough) to throw around names of covert agents (which he has of course maintained he knew nothing of.)

  5. Even if there were reasonable cause to suspect that Plame could have been convert, the notion that Rove could just go look in the classified information bin to inquire about Joe Wilson's wife's status with the agency is a bit silly. (Did he really have an official need-to-know reason or ability to inquire? Keep in mind also he has indicated he either never heard or remembered her name anyway- why would he... it probably seemed inconsequential)

also, correction for parent post: "He did not reveal any classified information.

I think, most of us on this site think the same way you do on this.  

I disagree with that. It is an assumption. The fact that the CIA requested an investigation does not automatically mean that Plame was undercover.

This was a woman who was married to a former Ambassador and member of the National Security Council who openly drove to Langley every morning.

Even by the definition of the IIPA, as a desk bound employee for over five years she is not a covert operative.

"Please bear in mind that the Plame investigation originated with a CIA complaint to the Justice Dep't.  AG Ashcroft then appointed Fitzgerald to take up the inquiry.  The point here is that the notion that Plame was undercover is not the product of some fuzzbrain over at Daily Kos--  the CIA itself takes that position."

Actually, all we know is that the CIA requested an investigation into this mess.

The WHY of the investigation is ASSUMED (and we know what happens to those who assume) to be to find out exactly how The Dastardly Karl Rove leaked information as to the identity of the Noble Patriot and Self-Proclaimed Secret Agent, Valerie Plame.

That may not be an accurate assumption.

One issue that the press consistently refuses to look at is just how Joe Wilson wound up getting this mission, despite being manifestly unqualified to perform it. (Indeed, it doesn't appear he actually performed the mission; he merely billed the CIA for sitting around with his bubbas and drinking tea.)

However, the CIA would most definitely want a closer look at that issue, because if the non-Wilson accounts of how he got the job are correct (and Wilson has proven to be dishonest one time too many for me to believe his version), then the forcus of the investigation may be...

...Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame, and their abuse of the security classification system.

This article pretty much lays waste to the "covert" angle and exculpates Novak, and explains the lack of concern when he called the CIA:

http://www.nationalreview.com/mccarthy/mccarthy.asp

Sorry to disappoint the Watergate fans, but there's a long history or public info here for the MSM to overcome before a "secret" can be found.

Just because it's poorly covered doesn't mean it's irrelevant.

It's not like Rove would be if it was someone else who had allegations.  Fox News would have a special graphic for it even.  

I'm not saying that makes it right but hey, republicans have been more successful than democrats with attack politics for a long time.  It's pretty weak to start calling it 'unfair' now.  

I posted without reading your whole comment.  Nm, Good post.

But really, if anyone in the administration leaked classified information, confirmed, or repeated it, even after he heard about it from others or even reporters, I would expect his job would be to say - at the very least - "no comment".

And I'd really want someone who was patriotic to take one for the team and divert the questioner the best then could, as to protect our assets the best we can.

Hell, if I knew someone was a NOC and someone asked me about it, I'd keep my mouth shut, even lie if needed. I have too much respect for those who put their lives on the line for us.

If it wasn't classified then it doesn't matter much at all.

We'll find out soon enough I suppose!

 
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