The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

UH OH!

Late last week we learned how Valerie Plame's identity found its way into the Bush administration, through a State Department Memo that was passed around Air Force One in the days prior to Rove and Libby talking to Cooper, Novak, etc. Rove's cover story is that he learned about Plame from "reporters", the names of which he is suspiciously hazy about (given that he has a reputation for having a very sharp mind).

In tomorrow's Washington Post, it will be revealed that the State Department memo was marked as secret:

A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked "(S)" for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified, according to current and former government officials.

Plame -- who is referred to by her married name, Valerie Wilson, in the memo -- is mentioned in the second paragraph of the three-page document, which was written on June 10, 2003, by an analyst in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), according to a source who described the memo to The Washington Post.

The paragraph identifying her as the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV was clearly marked to show that it contained classified material at the "secret" level, two sources said. The CIA classifies as "secret" the names of officers whose identities are covert, according to former senior agency officials.

Anyone reading that paragraph should have been aware that it contained secret information, though that designation was not specifically attached to Plame's name and did not describe her status as covert, the sources said. It is a federal crime, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, for a federal official to knowingly disclose the identity of a covert CIA official if the person knows the government is trying to keep it secret.

Prosecutors attempting to determine whether senior government officials knowingly leaked Plame's identity as a covert CIA operative to the media are investigating whether White House officials gained access to information about her from the memo, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.
Note the page number for the article (A01). Looks like Bush's deliberately moving up the timing of his SCOTUS nominee bought him (and Rove) a reprieve of . . . about 36 hours. I think they're losing their touch.

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