Waxman Finds an Aluminum Bullet<br>What About the SF 312?
By Leon H Wolf Posted in Elections — 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.