Wednesday, July 20, 2005

(S) Is for "(S)pread It Around" 

WaPo amplifies yesterday's Wall Street Journal scoop about the now-notorious Air Force One memo that identified CIA operative Valerie Plame as Joe Wilson's wife:
A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked "(S)" for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified, according to current and former government officials.

Plame -- who is referred to by her married name, Valerie Wilson, in the memo -- is mentioned in the second paragraph of the three-page document, which was written on June 10, 2003, by an analyst in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), according to a source who described the memo to The Washington Post.

The paragraph identifying her as the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV was clearly marked to show that it contained classified material at the "secret" level, two sources said. The CIA classifies as "secret" the names of officers whose identities are covert, according to former senior agency officials.

Anyone reading that paragraph should have been aware that it contained secret information, though that designation was not specifically attached to Plame's name and did not describe her status as covert, the sources said. It is a federal crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for a federal official to knowingly disclose the identity of a covert CIA official if the person knows the government is trying to keep it secret . . . .

Almost all of the memo is devoted to describing why State Department intelligence experts did not believe claims that Saddam Hussein had in the recent past sought to purchase uranium from Niger. Only two sentences in the seven-sentence paragraph mention Wilson's wife . . . .

Karl Rove, President Bush's deputy chief of staff, has testified that he learned Plame's name from Novak a few days before telling another reporter she worked at the CIA and played a role in her husband's mission, according to a lawyer familiar with Rove's account. Rove has also testified that the first time he saw the State Department memo was when "people in the special prosecutor's office" showed it to him, said Robert Luskin, his attorney.

"He had not seen it or heard about it before that time," Luskin said.

Several other administration officials were on the trip to Africa, including senior adviser Dan Bartlett, then-White House spokesman Ari Fleischer and others. Bartlett's attorney has refused to discuss the case, citing requests by the special counsel. Fleischer could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Our question: if Karl Rove really didn't see the memo, then which passenger on Air Force One should be doing time for leaking its contents to the fucking loudmouth?

Our other question: who's leaking to the Post (two, count 'em, two sources!) and the WSJ? It certainly ain't Luskin.

SIDEBAR: Our distinguished colleague Jeralyn Merritt of Talk Left reports that Senate and House Democratic panels intend to hold oversight hearings "to examine the national security implications of disclosing the identity of a covert intelligence officer." Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) will chair.

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