Thursday, July 21, 2005

S does NOT stand for SHARE

WJS National Political Editor John Harwood on Olbermann tonight: the State Department Memo was classified TOP SECRET and the paragraph referring to Valerie Wilson was indicated as "SNF" (SECRET NO FOREIGN - meaning do not share w/foreign intelligence services). The story will be printed in tomorrow's WSJ.

Also, the folks at Bloomberg News are reportedly preparing to reveal the both Karl Rove and Scooter Libby perjured themselves in their testimony to the grand jury. The story is expected to break after midnight tonight.

related @ DF: Next round of split hairs

UPDATE: Bloomberg story here (nothing new), there had been previous references to turdblossom & novakula having differing accounts as to who said what to whom (I hadn't previously noted that Matt Cooper says he didn't discuss welfare reform with Rove).

UPDATE (22JUL05) Transcript from last night's Countdown: Third story
[emphasis added]

HARWOOD: Keith, my colleague, Anne Marie Squayo (ph), who broke the story two days ago that this memo had been clearly marked that it was sensitive, not to be shared, is reporting tonight for tomorrow's “Wall Street Journal” that the memo was actually classified by the government as top secret, which is a clear indication to anybody at the senior level that it shouldn't be shared. And more specifically, the passage in the memo that refers to Valerie Plame, under her married name of Valerie Wilson, and her role in this whole thing was marked NS- NSF—I'm sorry, “Secret”—
SNF, “Secret no foreign,” meaning it should not be shared even with foreign intelligence agencies that are friendly to the United States.

So that was a special designation on this memo that was another obvious tip-off to people not to circulate this information.

OLBERMANN: So if you've been in the government more than five minutes and you read a document that says, Top secret, do not share with foreigners, in essence, does that necessarily also mean, Do not share with other Americans?

HARWOOD: Well, I think the fact that it was marked—had the “S” for “secret” overall and its classification was “top secret” is a very clear indication. Now, we have to say that this is not the only way that members of the Bush administration or members of the White House staff could have learned about Valerie Plame and her role in this. And in fact, as you mentioned in the set-up piece, Karl Rove, through his lawyer, has said the first time he ever saw this document was when he was showed during the process of this investigation.

OLBERMANN: But anybody who read this memo then saw a big “TS” next to the two sentences that referred to Valerie Plame Wilson's work for the CIA, “TS” for “top secret.” That's not rocket science. But “TS” for “top secret”—does that also legally mean classified? Is leaking something marked “secret” or “top secret” a crime by itself?

HARWOOD: Well, leaking classified information, Keith, is a crime. Unfortunately, it's the kind of thing that happens fairly often in the government, so that's not the crime that Patrick Fitzgerald's investigating. He's investigating a more serious crime, which has to do with the knowing outing of a covert agent, and that's what Valerie Plame—we believed that Valerie Plame had that status with the U.S. government.

So you know, the leaking of classified information is one of those things that happens. It is rarely prosecuted because a lot of technical violations take place. But in terms of outing a covert agent, that is very rare, and that's why we're having this investigation that's been going on two years.

OLBERMANN: So again, if you're in the government and you read a document and it says “TS,” “top secret,” about Valerie Plame, and you tell somebody else in the government who, indeed, has not read the document, Hey, did you know Joe Wilson's wife works for the CIA, and the second person goes and tells a reporter, is the crime—can the crime be passed on? Is there a Typhoid Mary in this, or does it have to be—is that second person not conceivably guilty of any crime?

HARWOOD: Well, we're going to find out. That's one of the things that Patrick Fitzgerald is going to tell us when he finishes his investigation. Arguably, the second person, if he was unaware, A, that she was covert, and B, the classification status of this document, might blamelessly be able to spread that around. But I think one thing we all have to expect of senior government officials is they're going to be discreet with information like this, even if it isn't a crime. So that doesn't necessarily get people off the hook, even though it might get some to avoid prosecution.

OLBERMANN: Put the labeling of the memo and the importance of the memo in context for us. Does it—John, does it change our understanding of the special prosecutor's targets here, either in terms of suspects or of crimes?

HARWOOD: Well, the memo in a couple of ways changes our understanding of the case. One is that what officials said under questioning by investigators about their knowledge of this memo is something that is interesting on substantive grounds, in terms of how the news got out, but also could be relevant if there's a perjury case that's being built here. Did people say one thing—that's why the prosecutor has subpoenaed phone logs, for example, from Air Force One, which would indicate whether officials might have seen the memo and then passed information to others.

So it is an underscoring of the sensitivity of the information, why—that people should not have passed the information, but it isn't the whole answer to the case because there are other ways that people could have learned this information about Valerie Plame, and it could have been circulated. In fact, Karl Rove has said that he—through his lawyer, that he learned some of this information from a reporter.

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