Sunday, August 07, 2005

While We Were Out . . . 

. . . Murray Waas identified Judy Miller's source:

I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, has told federal investigators that he met with New York Times reporter Judith Miller on July 8, 2003, and discussed CIA operative Valerie Plame, according to legal sources familiar with Libby's account.

The meeting between Libby and Miller has been a central focus of the investigation by special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald as to whether any Bush administration official broke the law by unmasking Plame's identity or relied on classified information to discredit former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, according to sources close to the case as well as documents filed in federal court by Fitzgerald . . . .

Miller has said she would not consider providing any information to investigators about conversations with Libby or anyone else without a more specific, or personal, waiver. She said she considers general waivers to be inherently coercive. Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, has previously said Miller had not been granted "any kind of a waiver … that she finds persuasive or believes was freely given."

Libby has never offered to provide such a personalized waiver for Miller, according to three legal sources with first-hand knowledge of the matter. Joseph A. Tate, an attorney for Libby, declined to comment for this story . . . .

And the president of the United States -- at whose pleasure Libby serves and who has vowed to do everything possible to get to the truth of the matter -- does not appear to be likely to direct Libby to grant such a waiver any time soon.
As you know, Messrs. Rove and Libby have reportedly testified that they did not know of Valerie Plame's identity and/or undercover status until they were told by journalists -- a key point that might exempt them from prosecution under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, which emphasizes intent in the disclosure classified information. That narrative, however, is becoming less tenable by the day. Libby named Tim Russert of NBC as his source, but Russert has reportedly contradicted that account under oath [or maybe not; see Needlenose] and Matt Cooper of Time has poked similar holes in Rove's testimony. Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is reportedly investigating other routes by which Rove and Libby might have learned of Plame's covert status, such as a classified State Department memo that was circulated among vatious White House officials aboard Air Force One just before Rove and Libby began their campaign of leaks to the press.

David Corn earlier this week identified another possible source:
In October 2003, I wrote a piece entitled "I Am No Novak" in which I noted that there was one White House staffer, a fellow who was not known to the public, whom the Plame leak special prosecutor ought to interview. This person was then working on the National Security Council staff on nonproliferation matters. What made him special was that prior to that assignment, he had worked with Valerie Wilson at the CIA . . . .

I did not name the individual because I did not want to engage in Rove-like conduct. (Hence, the headline of my article.) But now it can be told: the name of this NSC staffer is David Shedd. And he no longer is undercover. Larry Johnson, former CIA analyst and current Valerie Wilson champion, shared with me today an interesting fact. On June 23, 2005, Facts on File World News Digest published a short item that disclosed Shedd's CIA affiliation . . . .

I realize I'm just speculating. But this is a critical matter, in part because Fitzgerald may need to show that the leaker(s)--including Rove--realized Valerie Wilson was undercover at the CIA. If Shedd, who apparently was undercover there, told anyone, "hey, I worked with Joseph Wilson's wife at the CIA," would that be an indication that Valerie Wilson also was undercover at the CIA? You be the judge.

What makes the Shedd connection intriguing is the use of Valerie Wilson's maiden name in the Novak column that triggered this scandal. Novak hasn't said how he came to refer to Joseph Wilson's wife as Valerie Plame when at the time she was mostly known as Valerie Wilson. He has hinted--though not said definitively--that he looked her up in a who's who entry for Wilson that listed her by her maiden name. But Larry Johnson points out that people who had worked with Valerie Wilson for years at the CIA--like Shedd--knew her as Valerie Plame. (She had only been married to Wilson for a few years.) Did Shedd, then, put Plame into play--wittingly or not?
On the other hand, Messrs. Libby and Rove may be trying to dodge the wrong bullet; the special prosecutor may be able to throw them in jail without proving foreknowledge or intent. Our learned colleague Mark A.R. Kleiman points out that the recent Larry Franklin/AIPAC indictments were based on the Espionage Act of 1917, which sets the bar of criminality considerably lower than the 1982 statute:
The indictments were for "communication of national defense information to persons not entitled to receive it," in violation of 18 U.S.C. 793 (d), otherwise known as the Espionage Act, and for conspiracy to do so.

(There are also charges of communicating such information to foreign officials, but the press release on the indictment issued by the U.S. Attorney specifically mentions "unlawful communication, delivery and transmission to persons not entitled to receive it, including members of the media.") (Emphasis added.)

There seems to be no evidence that money changed hands, or that there was any intention to damage U.S. interests. Franklin is simply charged with giving classified information to those without security clearances, in pursuit of a political agenda.

So it turns out that the Espionage Act isn't a dead letter after all, and that it can be used to prosecute non-commercial, non-hostile revelations of sensitive information to the press, as opposed to giving secrets to hostile foreign powers.

Or, as the U.S. Attorney put it, "When it comes to classified information, there is a clear line in the law. Today's charges are about crossing that line. Those entrusted with safeguarding our nation's secrets must remain faithful to that trust. Those not authorized to receive classified information must resist the temptation to acquire it, no matter what their motivation may be."
UPDATE: Although Digby and Atrios have already linked to it, we will risk redundancy by directing you to Arianna Huffington's post on Douglas Jehl of the NYT, who has been assigned to do an in-house investigative report on Judith Miller's role in Plamegate.

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