RE: The Leak
Sat Oct 15, 2005 03:14

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: The Leak
Date: Fri, 14 Oct 2005 04:11:48 EDT
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SF-312 prohibits confirming or repeating classified information to unauthorized individuals, even if that information is already leaked. SF-312 is a vehicle for federal employee compliance with Executive Order 13292. Executive orders are not laws, but violation typically results in dismissal. Relevant passages of the agreement read,

The Plame Affair (aka. Plame CIA leak investigation,

Plame scandal, or Plamegate1) is the common term for an ongoing United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) leak investigation which has origins in the Iraq disarmament crisis of late 2002, and concerned the identification of Valerie Plame, wife of retired ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, as a CIA "operative on weapons of mass destruction" in a July 2003 column by conservative pundit Robert Novak. Novak's column was published only eight days after the publication of a New York Times op-ed written by Wilson, which was highly critical of the Bush administration's use of "unreliable" "yellowcake" documents as part of its rationale for the Iraq War.

Wilson claims that Novak had conspired with Bush administration sources to expose his wife's identity as political retribution for his earlier criticism. Divulging the identity of an undercover CIA agent is, in some circumstances, a federal crime in the United States.

The Plame Affair includes the subsequent Independent Council investigation by special appointee Patrick Fitzgerald into the actions of Bush administration officials —including Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, Ari Fleischer, and unknown others— regarding their knowledge of the leak of Plame's identity. In addition to Novak, six other journalists are reported to have known Plame's identity before the Novak column was published, including Judith Miller of The New York Times, who spent 85 days in jail for failing to divulge the identity of her confidential administration source to a grand jury.


Justice Department investigation

The matter is currently under investigation by the Justice Department and the FBI. Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft recused himself from the investigation in December 2003. U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald currently heads the investigation. Because the Justice Department is a part of the executive branch, some critics of the Bush Administration contend that the absence of rapid and effective action has been deliberate.

In March 2004, the Special Counsel subpoenaed the telephone records from Air Force One.

On April 7, 2005, the Washington Post reported that unnamed sources speculated Fitzgerald was not likely to seek an indictment for the alleged crime of knowingly exposing a covert officer (which prompted the inquiry), although he may possibly charge a government official with perjury for giving conflicting information to prosecutors during the investigation. [30]

Fitzgerald sought to compel Matt Cooper, a TIME Magazine correspondent who had covered the story, to disclose his sources to a grand jury. After losing all legal appeals up through the Supreme Court, TIME turned over Cooper's notes to the prosecutor. Cooper agreed to testify after receiving permission from his source, Karl Rove, to do so. Robert Luskin confirmed Rove was Cooper's source. A July 11, 2003 email from Cooper to his bureau chief indicated that Rove had told Cooper that it was Wilson's wife who authorized her husband's trip to Niger, mentioning that she "apparently" worked at "the agency" on weapons of mass destruction issues. Newsweek reported that nothing in the Cooper email suggested that Rove used Plame's name or knew she was a covert operative [31], although Cooper's TIME Magazine article describing his grand jury testimony noted that Rove said, "I've already said too much." Neither Newsweek nor TIME have released the complete Cooper email.

The leak to Newsweek, presumably from TIME Magazine, was the first major leak of investigative information. More attenuated leaks have followed, seemingly tailored to either include or absolve various officials and media personages. As of late July 2005, Fitzgerald's office has apparently not talked to the press. White House officials such as Press Secretary Scott McClellan and the President have not made any on-the-record comments concerning the investigation since Newsweek's e-mail scoop, although other Republican officials, particularly RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman, are talking with the press.

New York Times reporter Judith Miller served a civil contempt jail sentence from early July 2005 to 29 September 2005, for refusing to testify to the grand jury. She was released upon reaching an agreement with Fitzgerald to testify at a hearing scheduled on the morning of September 30th, 2005.[32][33] Miller had previously indicated that, unlike Cooper's, her source has not sufficiently waived confidentiality. She issued a statement at a press conference after her release, stating that her source, Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff, had released her from her promise of confidentiality.

Some commentators, most prominently Arianna Huffington, on her Huffington Post blog, have suggested that Miller may have been "grandstanding" in delaying her testimony to the grand jury. Others believe that Miller went to jail to land a million dollar book deal and to move attention from her questionable Iraq war reports.

On October 6, 2005, Fitzgerald recalled, for the fourth time, Karl Rove to take the stand before the Grand Jury investigating the leak of Plame. This is significant, according to major media sources, as previously Fitzgerald had indicated that the only remaining witnesses to call were Cooper and Miller before he would close his case. Reports have focused on this "last-minute" recall to testify, widely reporting that this is seen by other high-ranking government sources as "ominous" for senior officials in the Bush Administration. The Grand Jury is scheduled to end its term on October 28.[34][35][36]

Time line of Plame affair

See main article at: Plame affair timeline

CIA calls for special prosecutor

In September 2003, the CIA requested that the Justice Department investigate the matter.[37] Karl Rove was identified by the New York Times in connection to the Plame leak on 2 October 2003, in an article that both highlighted Attorney General John Ashcroft's employment of Rove in three previous political campaigns, and pointed to Ashcroft's potential conflict of interest in investigating Rove. In recusing himself from the case, Ashcroft named Deputy Attorney General James Comey, to be "acting attorney general" for the case; Comey in turn named U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald on 30 December 2003 (Comey names Fitzgerald). Fitzgerald began investigations into the leak working from White House telephone records turned over to the FBI in October 2003. [38]

Though Plame's exposure was claimed to be retaliation for Wilson's editorial on issues surrounding the yellowcake forgery, the White House and the GOP have sought to discredit Wilson with a public relations campaign that claims Wilson has a partisan political agenda. However, Wilson along with current and former CIA officials have asserted the leak not only damaged Plame's career, but arguably endangered U.S. National Security and endangered the missions of other CIA agents working abroad under nonofficial cover (as "NOCs"), passing as private citizens without diplomatic passports. Plame, who worked undercover for the CIA for nearly 20 years,[39] was identified as an NOC by New York Times reporter Elisabeth Bumiller (among others) on 5 October 2003.[40] Articles in The Washington Post,[41] The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications have pointed to Plame's association with Brewster Jennings & Associates, nominally an oil exploration firm, but in fact a CIA front company (now defunct) spying on Saudi and other interests across the Middle East. Under certain circumstances, disclosure of the identity of a covert agent is illegal under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, though the language of the statute raises the issue of whether Karl Rove is within the class of persons to whom the statute applies.[42] However, Title 18, United States Code, Section 641[43] prohibits theft (or conversion for one's own use) of government records and information for non-governmental purposes and was found to apply in the conviction of Jonathan Randel[44].

While the complete list of witnesses who have testified before the Grand Jury is not known (Fitzgerald has conducted his investigation with much more discretion than previous presidential investigations[45]), a number of individuals have acknowledged giving testimony, including White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, Deputy Press Secretary Claire Buchan, former press secretary Ari Fleischer, former special advisor to the president Karen Hughes, former White House communications aide Adam Levine, former advisor to the Vice President Mary Matalin, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.[46] On 13 May 2005, citing "close followers of the case," The Washington Post reported that the length of the investigation, and the particular importance paid to the testimony of reporters, suggested that the counsel's role had expanded to include investigation of perjury charges against witnesses.[47] Other observers have suggested that the testimony of journalists was needed to show a pattern of intent by the leaker or leakers.[48]

Both Vice President Dick Cheney and President George W. Bush have been interviewed by Fitzgerald, although not under oath. [49]

Legal filings by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald contain many pages blanked out for security reasons, leading some observers to speculate that Fitzgerald has pursued the extent to which national security was compromised by the actions of Rove and others. On 18 July 2005, The Economist reported that Valerie Plame had been dissuaded by the CIA from publishing her own account of her exposure, suggesting that such an article would itself be a breach of national security. The Economist also reported that "affirmative measures" by the CIA were being taken to protect Plame's identity at the time Karl Rove revealed her CIA affiliation to journalists. [50]

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