Thursday, July 21, 2005

Next round of split hairs: state dept memo paragraph mentioning Valerie Wilson was classified

A classified State Department memo delivered to former Secretary of State Colin Powell as he headed to Africa with the President 7 July 2003, clearly indicated that the information contained in the paragraph referencing CIA agent Valerie Wilson was classified material at the secret level. The paragraph also identifies Wilson as the wife of BushCo arch nemesis and former Ambassador Joseph Wilson. According to the CIA, names of officers that are covert operatives are classified as secret.
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.
The 3 page report, written 10 June 2003, described why the State Department did not believe that Saddam Hussein had tried to purchase uranium from Niger in the recent past which directly contradicted all WH statements regarding the subject and undermines (at least part of) the administration's flawed premise for invading Iraq. Among the other interesting tidbits of the memo was the fact that the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence & Research (INR) opposed Wilson's trip because it had [emphasis added]
already had disproved the allegation that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger. Attached to the INR memo were the notes taken by the senior INR analyst who attended the 2002 meeting at the CIA.
Eleven former intelligence officers sent a 3-page statement to Congressional leaders yesterday indicating that the leak of Plame's identity may have damaged national security and our ability to gather intelligence and their concerns about how the Republican party was handling news of senior administration official involvement in the leak by undermining the seriousness and potential implications of the breach [emphasis added]
They said the Republican National Committee has circulated suggestions for officials to deal with the Plame case by focusing on the idea that Plame was not working undercover and legally merited no protection.
Regardless of the fact that neither the State Department memo nor Karl Rove & Scooter Libby specifically stated that Plame was working covertly, the paragraph of the memo that mentioned her was marked to indicate that it contained secret classified material and, as I noted here, Rove and Libby are required to ensure any information they provide/confirm is not classified even if it's [erroneoulsy] appeared publicly.

Since the Republican majority in Congress refuses to address the issue, frustrated House & Senate Democrats plan to hold their own hearing on the leaks tomorrow. [emphasis added]
Senate Republican Congressional Committee Chair Elizabeth Dole declared, "It is incredibly irresponsible for individuals and organizations to make accusations based on rumor and innuendo. It is unfair to the investigation and even more unfair to Karl Rove."
Despite Dole's statement to the contrary, the hearings and complaints from "the liberals" and Democrats are not based on rumor or innuendo. We have definitive proof of Rove's negligent handling of classified information. Rove has admitted to [at least] confirming the accuracy of what we know was classified material in discussions at least 3 reporters (Cooper, Novak and one whose name he can't remember). If Rove really did not know the information was classified, the lack of knowledge was due to willful ignorance of the status; as referenced above, if he was not sure of Plame's exact status he was required to ask and failure to do so on his part was negligent and resulted in illegal handling of classified information and a compromise to national security.

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