Monday, October 31, 2005

Legality of Leaking: Carlos Opines

Liberal zee2 over at redstate has the following comment in thread Scooter Libby Indictment regarding Plamegate and Fitzgerald's lame indictments:

So I don't know which exact statute was violated, but are you telling me there is no law against government officials leaking classified information? And if there is no such law, we probably both agree this is a Law congress should probably be busy writing.

Now we are close to a strange agreement, but I would error on the side of reform instead of new laws. The protection of classified information appears to be a very fluid legal issue. Things that are clearly bad for 'enemies of the state' to know should be protected. But who decides that? And things that are confidential because the parties do not want the information public are protected, until they are public. I agree it would be nice to have clear guidelines, but this is a country of free speech, free press and all the crazy loopholes that go with that. I would be in favor of reform in this issue! But good luck.

Take the Sandy Burglar case, the former national security advisor turned tv consultant. Obviously it would not be good for certain governments and/or terrorists to have access to the documents he had access to. And if he were no longer in government, and not under any official capacity, should he even have access to the files? Of course he should. He already knows most of whats in there. And he did break the law, but it was written off as just bungling, and not a vetting of incriminating documents. He gets a slap on the hand.

If you or I took the same documents, we would still be behind bars.

What about a technician working in Military Intelligence? I have met a few. Bright young computer geeks serving their country. Do you think their wives know anything? Of course they do, but that is against the law. Yet we don't want to crack down on that. And the military does have the rules as you seem to desire, but covering only members of the military. So you can see that many things conflict here, and we haven't even come to issues regarding the press.

Now lets go speculate on the cloak and dagger part. Your concern is that classified information contained in a memo circulated in the V.P.'s office was leaked at the risk of agents welfare and lives. First of all, if the agent in question was under the often quoted NOC, that agents name would not appear on any memo as it did in this case. Sensitive and primary assets are not going to be written down and circulated outside of the Directorate. If they are, well then they are a bungling bunch of buffoons and no intelligence agency. I would presume that those who organize and run such operations are more concerned about their agents than you or I.

As to the 'classified' nature of the memo, it is not a good idea to spill the beans per say, as it leads to mistrust at the least, and outright prosecution at the worst. But in order to be prosecuted for a crime, the revealing of classified information has to fall under certain laws. And the intent needs to be clear. Political revenge is the intent the left is claiming, but that doesn't cut it. So it ultimately resides in the trust of those who have access to the information to use it in the interest of the country or agency for which it is intended. Was this trust breached? Those on the left believe so. But I can make a clearer case of the same "crime".

Wilson discloses classified information in his oped attacking the Administration. Worse than that, by becoming a very public figure he exposed his wife to increased scrutiny leading to her identification as a CIA employee. Not only did he break the trust of the CIA, unless of course the CIA intended to attack the administration, he threatened the status of his wife, unless her status was not a concern. I think we get a very clear picture of the real situation. And it leaves the central core vacated as concerning the Fitzgerald investigation. Forever to be remembered as a Witch Hunt and not much else. Unless we get some juicy fireworks during the trial. I hope so, and Libby will get some pretty good lawyers, hopefully they attack the 'big picture' issues and suck the media whore Wilson into the trial.

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