Most egegriously — beyond the collusion of Scooter and Karl to smear Valerie Plame — and the selling of the Iraq war by the WHIGs — the entire Bush administration has failed to play by the rules it’s enforced on everybody else.

The Friday edition of the Wall Street Journal reveals that:

[Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald] may be piecing together a case that White House White House officials conspired to leak various types of classified material in conversations with reporters — including Ms. Plame’s identity but also other secrets related to national security.

The WSJ story — “CIA Leak Queries Look at Disclosure Of Classified Data” — reports that Fitzgerald is now looking beyond his “initial mission” of finding out “if the leaking of Valerie Plame’s name violated a 1982 act that bars the intentional disclosure of an undercover intelligence operative’s identity.”

It’s key to note that the WSJ wrongly describes (and thereby attempts to minimize?) Fitzgerald’s mission:

… Fitzgerald was given broad authority [GAO PDF] to investigate leaks of Plame’s identity. He was not restricted to investigating possible violations of the IIPA, and he is reportedly considering a number of possible charges. According to an October 12 Washington Post article: “Numerous lawyers involved in the 22-month investigation said they are bracing for Fitzgerald to bring criminal charges against administration officials. … based on his questions, he may be focused on charges of false statements, obstruction of justice or violations of the Espionage Act involving the release of classified government information to unauthorized persons.” (Media Matters, Oct. 13, 2005)

The WSJ asserts that “[b]uilding a case on leaking classified intelligence likely would require a lower burden of proof than proving the 1982 law was violated” — for example, “[a] current investigation into the leaking of classified Pentagon information to the Israeli lobbying group, American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has resulted in three indictments.”

Be careful what you wish for, you egomaniacal numbskulls. The Bush administration — hellbent on politicizing national security — has promoted “concern about national-security leaks” and “promised to make more use of civil sanctions to punish leaking.”

Too many TV cable pundits — particularly the ‘wingers — have focused on the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act, the act that Victoria Toensing proudly (and unceasingy) claims as her Rosemary’s Baby:

[But, on the October 12 edition of MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews], Toensing misleadingly claimed that Fitzgerald’s investigation was limited to possible violations of one statute in particular and recycled a number of falsehoods about Plame’s husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. […]

… Toensing distorted the scope of Fitzgerald’s investigation by narrowing it to a single law. … (Media Matters, Oct. 13, 2005)

But Vicky Toensing had better bone up on “the 1917 Espionage Act, which more widely prohibits disclosure of ‘information relating to the national defense’.”

Update [2005-10-21 17:20:9 by susanhu]: The LeftCoaster also reports on the WSJ story: “As Fitzgerald Sets Up His Own Website, Wall Street Journal Says Conspiracy Case Seems To Be His Emphasis.”

Marty Aussenberg of the weekly Memphis Flyer has handicapped the “Plame Game.” The 1982 act is a “longshot,” but he gives “better than even” odds that the 1917 Espionate Act will be used.

The 1917 statute, notes the WSJ, “is broader, and would set a lower legal burden for proving a defendant’s intent …” Adds Aussenberg:

The two sections of the act, “transmitting defense information,” and “disclosing classified information,” also have their precedents, and don’t have anywhere near the tooky requirements of the “identities protection act.” The DEA leaker [an agent who leaked the name of a prominent British citizen, implifying he was involved in money laundering] was also prosecuted under this statute. Of all the crimes that address the information in the case (i.e., Plame’s status), this is the easiest one to satisfy.

Aussenberg says the odds for perjury charges are “possible, but not likely” and those for conspiracy are “[p]retty damn good.” He lays the odds at “much better than even” on Theft of Government Information (18 U.S.C. §641):

Classified or not, covert or not, intentionally or not, there can be no denying that the information about Plame (which included information she was working on WMD at the CIA) was sensitive government information, meaning for the government’s use and purposes. We know that from the Matt Cooper “double super secret background” conversation he acknowledges having with Rove in his now-disclosed e-mails to his bosses at Time.

While the precise language of this statute seems, on its surface, ill-suited to what Rove and Libby may have done, there is precedent for its use for that purpose. The Reagan administration used the statute to prosecute the leak by a civilian analyst in Navy Intelligence of a classified satellite photos of a Soviet nuclear-powered aircraft carrier under construction to a British-based publication. The conviction raised howls in the media (and prompted innumerable press “friend of the court” briefs when the conviction was appealed to the Fourth Circuit). The media, of course, saw their source of government leaks drying up, and didn’t like it. The conviction, though, was upheld.

The Bush administration also used the statute to prosecute a DEA agent for leaking the name of a prominent British citizen as coming from the DEA’s files., the implication being that he had something to do with money laundering. When the leak was traced to to the DEA agent, the government indicted him for, among other things, the theft of government information. ODDS: much better than even.

Memphis Flyer

All emphases mine.

See also: Catnip’s diary on the Friday NYT story that says that Scooter Libby and Karl Rove “sought to conceal their actions and mislead prosecutors.”

Victoria Toensing, it just dawned on me that you yourself may be Rosemary’s Baby. You are indeed too scary to show on camera.

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