Monday, February 27, 2006

Plame's Status - Covert, Classified, or Not - Is Unimportant

Or so claims Patrick Fitzgerald, the CIA Leak Prosector, currently prosecuting Lewis Libby.
CIA leak prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald argued at a hearing Friday that, as far as the perjury charges against former Cheney chief of staff Lewis Libby are concerned, it does not matter whether or not Valerie Wilson was a covert CIA agent when she was mentioned in the famous Robert Novak column of July 14, 2003. "We're trying a perjury case," Fitzgerald told Judge Reggie Walton. Even if Plame had never worked for the CIA at all, Fitzgerald continued — even if she had been simply mistaken for a CIA agent — the charges against Libby would still stand. In addition, Fitzgerald said, he does not intend to offer "any proof of actual damage" caused by the disclosure of Wilson's identity.

Fitzgerald's comments mark the evolution of the CIA leak case from a matter in which Fitzgerald investigated allegations that members of the Bush administration outed covert agent Wilson as part of a plot to discredit her husband, Joseph Wilson — an alleged act about which Fitzgerald once said, "the damage wasn't to one person. It wasn't just Valerie Wilson. It was done to all of us" — into a case in which Valerie Wilson's job status and any damage done by the disclosure of her identity have become irrelevant, at least in Fitzgerald's view.
Uh huh. Of course, if her status was that irrelevant, there was absolutely no need to have a special prosecutor investigating it in the first place.

It turns out Fitzgerald also does not intend to give up the original referral sent by the CIA to the Justice Department after the publication of the Novak column, pleading that it is not discoverable because it is "classified".

I guess the classification in that case is still relevant.

Tom Maguire of JustOneMinute offers more prognosticating on this development.
The gist - a non-White House senior official leaked the Plame story to Bob Woodward in June, and (quite probably) Bob Novak in July; the source admitted to the Noval leak but only testified to the Woodward leak in November 2005. However, he lacked criminal intent, or was not part of a sinister conspiracy, or something, because Fitzgerald is apparently not pursuing him.

Libby, on the other hand, mentioned Plame to Judy Miller, discussed the Wilson trip but not Ms. Plame with Tim Russert, and responded with something like, "I heard that, too" when Matt Cooper ran the Plame story by him (per the reporter's versions).

Does this make Libby a criminal conspirator, or a criminal leaker? Not yet - he hasn't been indicted for that. However, per Fitzgerald he lied about his conversations with three reporters, and, as Fitzgerald explained in his press conference, he is guilty of something, so away we go.

Just what Libby is guilty of that Mr. Clean of the non-White House is not guilty of eludes me presently, but I assume all will come clear in the fullness of time.


Meanwhile, the FBI-DoJ probe to discover who leaked the intelligence that actually hurt National Security is ongoing, and appears to be focused "on the staffs of two Senators, Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Sen. Dick Durbin, as well as committee staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee and career intelligence staff detailed to U.S. Senate offices and committees."

Macsmind has been pointing at this development for a while now.

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