Friday, August 03, 2007

What possible harm?

A judge today sided with Foggy Bottom on a major sticking point about Valerie Plame's upcoming book, "Fair Game":
The ex-spy whose unmasking led to the conviction of Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide cannot disclose the dates she worked for the CIA because the details were never declassified, a federal judge has ruled.
Hmm. Does this mean the CIA's "chief of retirement and insurance services" has committed a crime?

As to "possible harm", I thought Larry Johnson and Joe Wilson were pretty adamant about the leak's immeasurable harm way back when Armitage told Novak and wasn't charged? Strange.

Perhaps the lefties will claim that Bush leaned on CIA to muzzle Plame in an effort to stop the disclosure of her actual coverage under the IIPA law, something that might formally destroy the last remaining GOP talking point. OK, but this would be a strange political move since CIA Director Hayden has already admitted she was "covert" as has Fitzgerald. Or was Plame's disclosure designed to target the prosecutor?

Very confusing. If we assume CIA is being upfront and truthful (a tall order) about the possible harm done to national security by Plame disclosing her dates of service then the screaming message seems to be that Novak's column wasn't really harmful at all, leaving Plamegate as a big fluffy pile of nothing. But why would Plame undermine her own story?

On the other hand, if we assume they are operating under orders by Bush to stop Plame from disclosing because it would prove she was covered (even though Hayden and Fitzgerald have already said she was covert) that seems to leave Fitzmas as a stealth administration tool sent in to put out the fire, rendering the whole trial as a charade. Is he really that good an actor? Somehow this fits nicely with the rest of the story.

On a somewhat related note, a three judge panel has decided that the FBI's raid on Congressman Cold Cash Jefferson's office was unconstitutional. Aside from the cries of joy heard through the House chamber, the ruling seems to bolster the idea of executive privilege and separation of powers, the very thing Reid and company are trying to incinerate with their subpoena roulette wheel. The divisions are troubling. Oh well, maybe the Yearly Kos meeting will act to unite the country again. Keep hope alive.

MORE 8/3/07

Above I mentioned that it doesn't make sense for Plame to desire the release of dates and places in her book if they proved she WAS NOT covered under the IIPA (defeating the purpose), therefore we must assume they would. But are they correct? Although the CIA has already released her service time, including the amount of time overseas, they never specified whether they counted as being "stationed", not just on per diem.
It's kind of hard to imagine there are any dolts clueless enough to 1) not remember Plame, and 2) not have heard about this brouhaha, which seems the only plausible reason to say release of specifics would still harm security. Gotta be deeper than that to convince a federal judge, even one appointed by Clinton.

One of the commenters at Just One Minute made this point:
Recall that the CIA spokesperson initially said there were problems with the book in the form of "fiction" - she was free to print if she labeled it fiction - that tells me that the CIA was not going along- at all - with her "version" of things.

So a guess might she was configuring her dates of service abroad to fit in the IIPA?
And, if she was misremembering those dates to suit the statute might she also be inadvertently blowing the covers of other operatives currently in the field whose marks might get confused? We'll obviously never find out unless someone leaks it to the New York Times.

MORE 8/5/07

In re-reading the above it's hard to believe that even I could have understood what I was trying to say. Let me try to boil it down.

Joe Wilson claimed in his book that Plame had not been stationed overseas in the five years prior to the leak. That suggested she wasn't covered under the IIPA act. Indeed, Fitzgerald never prosecuted anyone under it. Then, after Libby was sentenced we heard several people, including the prosecutor, CIA Director, Henry Waxman and Plame herself, say she was "covert", which still didn't explain why Armitage was given a free pass.

If Plame were to publish a book that said she was stationed overseas--thereby covered--that would seem to undermine her husband's credibility (and the story in general) while bringing into question Fitzgerald's prosecutorial decisions as well. So, exactly what is Mr. Kappes trying to protect?

Convergent upon that mess we now learn the FBI is apparently actively investigating the leak of the TSP to the New York Times. We'll have to wait and see if the Plame backers advocate frog marching for these people but as can be seen in the MSNBC article, it appears the strategy is to suggest the administration is using jack-booted thugs to strong-arm witnesses and perhaps even members of the committees. Oy.

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