Espionage Act now front and center in Novak-Plame-gate
Sat Oct 8, 2005 17:03


Murray Waas on Rove and Plame | Main
Blue Mass Group, October 08, 2005
Espionage Act now front and center in Novak-Plame-gate

For the longest time, almost everyone, including people who know a whole lot about Novak-Plame-gate, were assuming that the only criminal statute that might have been violated by outing Valerie Plame as a CIA agent was the very-narrow-and-hard-to-prove Intelligence Identities Protection Act. The only people talking about the much broader Espionage Act in relation to Novak-Plame-gate were bloggers (most notably Mark Kleiman). Then, earlier this week, the Act snuck into the NY Times, though it was buried deep in an article focusing on other aspects of the case.

Today, though, the Espionage Act has made it to the headlines. "Prosecutor in Leak Case Is Exploring Range of Crimes," the NY Times proclaims this morning (though not on the front page), and goes on to explain (1) that the Espionage Act is being explored by the special prosecutor and might well apply to this case, and (2) that the Act is alive and well, having been used recently to bring indictments in the AIPAC case among others, as we noted months ago.

Well, it's about time the media picked up on this. Karl Rove and the rest of his merry band are in real legal peril - as has been previously noted here and elsewhere, the Espionage Act applies with remarkable precision to what Rove is reliably reported to have done in this matter, and it appears that special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is well aware of that fact. Fitzgerald is holding additional interviews with Rove, Judith Miller, and maybe others next week, after which he will have to move quickly to bring any indictments he's going to bring before his grand jury expires on October 28. All will be revealed soon.

Posted by David at 11:47 AM in Law and Lawyers,
"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I
can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will
not refuse to do the something that I can do. What I can do,
I should do. And what I should do, by the grace of God,
I will do." - Edward Everett Hale

October 8, 2005
Prosecutor in Leak Case Is Exploring Range of Crimes

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7 - The prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak case is exploring a range of possible crimes, lawyers in the case say, suggesting that the investigation has moved well beyond its initial focus on whether anyone in the Bush administration illegally disclosed the identity of a C.I.A. operative.

In recent days, the prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, has accelerated the pace of his inquiry in an apparent effort to conclude the case before the grand jury's term expires on Oct. 28. Mr. Fitzgerald has indicated to several lawyers that he might be preparing to bring charges, but he has not yet made a decision.

He has asked to meet on Tuesday with Judith Miller, a reporter for The New York Times who, after spending 85 days in jail, testified last week to the grand jury about her conversations with I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff.

The meeting is expected to focus on newly discovered notes compiled by Ms. Miller that refer to a conversation she had with Mr. Libby on June 25, 2003, according to a lawyer in the case who did not want to be named because Mr. Fitzgerald has cautioned against discussing the case. Until now, the only conversations known to have occurred between Ms. Miller and Mr. Libby were on July 8 and 12, 2003.

The notes refer to Joseph C. Wilson IV, a former ambassador to Gabon. An Op-Ed article that he wrote for The Times, on July 6, 2003, which was critical of the administration's Iraq policy, started the events that led to the disclosure of the identity of his wife, Valerie Wilson, a C.I.A. operative, and subsequently to Mr. Fitzgerald's inquiry.

Mr. Fitzgerald has asked Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, to appear before the grand jury later next week for what would be his fourth round of testimony. Mr. Rove's lawyer, Robert D. Luskin, would not discuss the prosecutor's request but said Mr. Rove had been cooperating voluntarily since the beginning of the investigation.

Mr. Luskin said Mr. Rove had not been subpoenaed nor had he received a letter indicating that he was a target of the investigation, which would mean he might be charged with a crime.

As the federal investigation was getting under way around September 2003, Mr. Rove told President Bush and colleagues at the White House that he did not take part in any effort to retaliate against Ms. Wilson for her husband's criticisms of the administration's Iraq policies, a person with knowledge of the matter said on Friday evening, confirming a report in the National Journal's online edition.

As he approaches the end of his 22-month inquiry, Mr. Fitzgerald appears to be exploring novel approaches to possible charges in the case.

One legal theory the prosecutor has pursued, the lawyers said, is whether anyone violated a broadly worded federal statute that makes it a crime to "communicate" classified defense information to someone not authorized to receive it.

Under the law, any government official or private citizen who transferred classified information could potentially be charged with a felony.

Until recently, prosecutions under the espionage and censorship statute were rare. The law was invoked in May to charge Lawrence A. Franklin, a former defense analyst, with disclosing classified military secrets. The statute was employed again by prosecutors in August to charge Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, two former employees of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying organization, with turning over information from Mr. Franklin to the Israeli government.

That case, and the prospect that prosecutors could increasingly turn to the statute as part of the government's efforts to stop leaks to news organizations and others, has stirred concern about cutting off the traditional flow of information among public officials, government contractors, lobbyists and journalists who routinely trade sensitive and sometimes classified information.

Mr. Fitzgerald began his inquiry examining whether anyone in the Bush administration deliberately sought to retaliate against Mr. Wilson's criticisms by unlawfully disclosing the name of his wife, who is also known by her unmarried name, Valerie Plame.

Her identity was first revealed in a July 14, 2003, syndicated newspaper column by Robert D. Novak, which suggested that she had a role in arranging a 2002 trip to Africa by her husband. The purpose of the trip was to look into intelligence reports that Iraq had sought nuclear fuel from Niger.

Mr. Novak's column was published a week after Mr. Wilson discussed his trip in the article on The Times's Op-Ed page. Mr. Wilson wrote that he traveled to Africa at the request of the C.I.A., after Mr. Cheney's office had raised questions about the possible uranium sales. Mr. Wilson wrote that he concluded it was "highly doubtful" that Iraq had tried to buy nuclear material from Niger.

But lawyers in the case said it is difficult to prove a case under the law that makes it a crime for a government official to disclose the identity of an intelligence officer because of the complexity involved in showing that the official intentionally disclosed the identity or knew it could be a crime to reveal the identity.

The lawyers said Mr. Fitzgerald could also be focused on more routine violations by witnesses who have testified to the grand jury. He might consider false statement, perjury or obstruction of justice charges, they said, if he could show that anyone intentionally misled investigators or prosecutors.


This White House Scandal Finally Tips the Scale!
Leak of Identity of CIA Operative Valerie Plame:
21 Administration Officials Involved In Plame Leak

The cast of administration characters with known connections to the outing of an undercover CIA agent:

Main Page - Sunday, 10/09/05

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