It Ain’t a River in Egypt

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blogging, Valerie Plame

Kevin Drum writes about the confirmation that Valerie Plame was covert:

So that settles that. I hope the wingosphere can finally stop bleating about how she wasn’t “really” covert and there was no harm in what Libby et. al. did.

Ha.

On another note, this probably means I was wrong about the reason Fitzgerald didn’t try to prosecute anyone for leaking Plame’s name. (Libby was tried only for perjury, not for outing a covert agent.) I figured it was because Plame had been working inside the U.S. for six years at the time of the leak, and one of the technical elements of “covert” under the IIPA Act is that the agent has “within the last five years served outside the United States.”

But obviously she had been working under cover outside the U.S. quite extensively during the previous five years, which means that Plame almost certainly qualified as “covert” under the specific definitions outlined in IIPA. Nonetheless, for some reason Fitzgerald decided not to bring outing charges against anyone. This suggests that Mark Kleiman has been right all along: Fitzgerald’s decision had nothing to do with technical aspects of IIPA, but rather with its scienter requirements. That is, the leakers had to know that leaking Plame’s name could be damaging, and Fitzgerald didn’t think he had the evidence to make that case. That might have been especially true since the leaks seem to have been authorized at very high levels, something the leakers could have used in their defense at trial.

Of course the wingnuts aren’t admitting they were wrong; they are clinging to their delusions more fiercely and frantically than ever. My favorite so far is the Flopping Ace, who draws upon his vast personal experience in espionage to write,

So basically what constitutes a “covert” agent within the CIA is that they travel overseas sometimes using an alias, sometimes using their true name.

Wow.

Just wow.

I mean a foreign country would never keep tabs on the real names of agents would they? But hey, she was “covert”.

They still haven’t figured out it wasn’t her “name” that was a secret. It was her “job.” They still insist that Plame wasn’t “covert,” even though the CIA says she was, because (they claim) she doesn’t meet the criterion of “covert” under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982. And they know this because Victoria Toensing and other Faux Snooze media personalities told them so. And in their minds, since (they think) the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982 was not violated, then there was “no underlying crime,” even though Mr. Fitzgerald’s original indictment discussed allegations that other laws may have been been violated, such as “Title 18, United States Code, Section 793, and Executive Order 12958 (as modified by Executive Order 13292).” Those don’t count.

My understanding has been all along that the reason Mr. Fitzgerald didn’t charge anyone with revealing classified information under any of the several statutes discussed in the indictment is that he couldn’t prove intent. He also couldn’t determine for certain if the people who “outed” Plame fully appreciated that her status as a CIA employee (not her “name,” wingnuts) was classified. My understanding of the various statutes is that to be convicted of spilling classified beans the prosecution must prove the spiller knew the beans were classified. Fitzgerald couldn’t put together a strong enough case to bring this charge to trial, and one reason he couldn’t put this case together is that Scooter Libby wouldn’t tell the truth.

But try explaining that to a wingnut. Just try.

Elsewhere on the wingnut-o-net I’m seeing replays of the whole Plame mythos, including the “she sent Joe Wilson to Niger and lied about it” tale, which has been debunked so many times I’ve lost count. It doesn’t matter; you know Faux Snooze and Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the Echo Chamber are pushing the same old lies and misinformation as hard as they can today. And nobody’s minds will change. We’re way past the point that fact matter to these people.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Kevin Hayden  •  May 30, 2007 @12:21 pm

    When your understanding of intel has been gained from Ian Fleming novels and episodes of Mission Impossible, it’s understandable why Ace behaves like a Joker Wild.

    Real agents are just too normal for such a mind – constructed with secret handshakes and flying ninjas – to fully grasp.

  2. tontocal  •  May 30, 2007 @2:02 pm

    I remember seeing Victoria Toensing’s testimony in the hearings, and her insisting that since she, ya know, ‘wrote’ the law, she should know better than anyone that Plame ‘was not covert’ according to the statute. Well, looked up the statue myself:

    “(4) The term “covert agent” means -
(A) a present or retired officer or employee of an
intelligence agency or a present or retired member of the Armed
Forces assigned to duty with an intelligence agency -
(i) whose identity as such an officer, employee, or member
is classified information, and
(ii) who is serving outside the United States or has within
the last five years served outside the United States;”

    Poor Victoria, I understand dyslexia sometimes makes people react angrily because they are embarrassed to admit to being so impaired, because that’s the only reason I can think of why she could possibly have missed or overlooked those particular clauses that explicitly prove her testimony to Waxman was….er…wrong.

  3. sniflheim  •  May 30, 2007 @2:27 pm

    Oh yeah, well if they were serious about her being so covert they’d have concealed her position from the Office of the Vice President.

  4. maha  •  May 30, 2007 @2:46 pm

    tontocal — yeah, as I remember Toensing’s claim was that Plame hadn’t worked outside the U.S. in the past five years, so she didn’t fit the definition. But we now know she did work outside the United States from time to time for an intelligence agency in an undercover capacity. That fits the definition dead on. Yet all over the rightie blogosphere today I’m seeing wingnuts citing the statute and saying “Plame was not covert.” And, anyway, her being covert was far from the only issue in the indictment.

  5. Swami  •  May 30, 2007 @3:38 pm

    The good news is…it doesn’t matter whether Valerie Plame was covert or not at this point..Libby has been convicted… And even if Bush pardons him, he’ll still remain a convicted felon to his dying day. Bush doesn’t have the power to exonerate him. Libby might be basking now in the praises from fellow neocons in upholding the code of omerta, but as time wears on, and Libby is faced with himself, the pain of his poor choice to lie will be a constant companion. After all, Libby pursued a vocation in law, so it’s a safe assumption to believe that somewhere within him is a reverence for truth….and that will haunt him.
    I agree with Forrest Gump..stupid is what stupid does.

  6. John Palmer/LongHairedWeirdo  •  May 30, 2007 @4:46 pm

    My understanding has been all along that the reason Mr. Fitzgerald didn’t charge anyone with revealing classified information under any of the several statutes discussed in the indictment is that he couldn’t prove intent.

    I believe, from reading his pre-sentencing whatchamacallit with an illness fuzzed brain (NB: brain still fuzzed), Fitzgerald also said that Libby’s lies made a sound determination of what had happened impossible.

    i.e., it sounded to me like “someone might have broken the relevant statutes, but we can’t determine that because we don’t have truthful testimony from Libby.”

    But obviously, I can’t promise that’s accurate. Give me another 20 hours of sleep, and I should be able to, by which time, no one will care. Ah well.

  7. QrazyQat  •  May 30, 2007 @8:06 pm

    Oh yeah, well if they were serious about her being so covert they’d have concealed her position from the Office of the Vice President.

    It seems that in future we’ll have to, if the GOP is in the White House.

    Libby has been convicted… And even if Bush pardons him, he’ll still remain a convicted felon to his dying day.

    Like G. Gordon Liddy and Oliver North. Yeah, that’s tough, he’ll be forced to live the life of a celebrity multi-millionaire.

  8. Doug Hughes  •  May 30, 2007 @9:14 pm

    Slightly off topic, but pertaining to the VP. I read today that MSM was unable to obtain under Freedom of Information, logs of visitirs to the VP at his residence because the Secret Service must turn over those logs to the Office of the VP and is prohibited from keeping duplicates, and the Office of the VP destroys those records as a matter of policy. Somebody keep me form choking when I hear either Bush or Cheney talk about ‘transparent’ governemnt.

  9. Flamethrower  •  May 31, 2007 @3:28 pm

    when’s Kevin gonna learn: anytime the wingnuts are in full fury over a “fact” is the time to run 180 degrees away?



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