Sunday, July 10, 2005

Jumping to Conclusions

Some people reading the Newsweak story aren't paying attention.

Craig Crawford:

1.) [Rove] leaks to Time's Matt Cooper in such a way that he avoids the law's intent requirement for criminal liability (today's Newsweek notes that Cooper's email shows nothing indicating Rove knew or revealed that Valerie Plame was an undercover agent, only that she worked at the CIA).


Things in Michael Isikoff's piece naming Karl Rove as Matt Cooper's source that we didn't already know:

-- Rove didn't break the law: "Nothing in the Cooper e-mail suggests that Rove used Plame's name or knew she was a covert operative."

First, violation of the law doesn't require the leaker to tell the leakee that the CIA agent was undercover, it only requires the leaker to disclose the identity of the agent, with knowledge that the agent is undercover.

Second, the prosecutor isn't limited to what the leaker said to a particular leakee to prove that the leaker knew the agent was undercover. That knowledge can be shown numerous ways: from people who informed the leaker of the agent's undercover status, from other people who were told by the leaker that the agent was undercover, from documents the leaker wrote or read, pre-leak, that refer to the agent's undercover status, etc. Further, Rove may have told Cooper more than Cooper said in the e-mail to Duffy. (Which is why Cooper's testimony is needed.)

Third, it doesn't matter if Rove knew Plame's name. He identified her as Ambassador Wilson's wife. If I said George W. Bush's wife was an Oxycontin addict (and it wasn't true, etc.), Mrs. Bush could successfully sue me for defamation even if I "didn't use Laura Bush's name." Rove identified a specific individual by description, that's all that's required.

Joshua Marshall has a much better grasp of the issues presented.

On a related matter, Susan Madrak at Suburban Guerrilla points out an error in my previous Rove post -- Rove's mouthpiece would not be present during the grand jury questioning and thus lacks first-hand knowledge of Rove's testimony. Of course, he'd debrief Rove after the fact and, if he was doing his job right, would prepare Rove so throughly beforehand that Rove would be spouting the "correct" answers robotically. But he would not have eyewitness knowledge of Rove's testimony.

Update: Pint-sized Republican hack Mickey Kaus gets it wrong too, and tries to cover his wee hack ass by having it both ways:

Without identifying her by name, Rove mentioned Wilson's wife's employment but did so in order to get reporters to pay less attention to Wilson's report, not (at least on the surface) in order to blow Plame's cover or retailiate against Wilson (and "stifle dissent"). ... Does that get Rove off the legal hook? I think it should -- if Rove didn't intend the info to become public and trusted the reporters he talked with to be responsible. Rove's problem is that the statute doesn't seem to require an intent for the info to become public for there to be a crime; it only requires an act of disclosure. Specifically, it punishes anyone who "intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information." Matt Cooper would be such an individual.

Kaus tries to acquit Rove, but runs afoul of the language of the statute. But he still lacks the honesty to admit Rove's excuse doesn't get Rove off the hook. Consumers of legal services in California should be grateful that Kaus is not practicing law.

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