No foul, no harm: Plame Game should end
At last, we know the truth about the Valerie Plame “leak” investigation which has cost the U.S. government millions of dollars, wasted the time of everyone involved and, once again, revealed the bias of the Sinistra Media against the Bush Administration.
All the Sinistra Media had to do was examine Title 5, Chapter 15, Subchapter IV, Section 421 of the U.S. Code – the statute designed to punish those who wrongfully disclose the identity of intelligence officers operating in a covert status. It becomes immediately clear that Valerie Plame (AKA Mrs. Joe Wilson) was not an intelligence officer whose status was covered by the statute. Therefore, the column written by Robert Novak that sought to explain why her husband, Joe Wilson, was sent to Niger to look into possible attempts by Saddam Hussein to purchase yellow-cake uranium was not a “leak.”
Yes, many years ago, Valerie Plame did work overseas for the CIA in a role requiring her to present herself as someone other than an U.S. intelligence officer. Back then, and for five years following her covert role, she was protected by the statute. But when Robert Novak mentioned that Joe Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA, Valerie Plame had not been in a covert status for far longer than the five-year period protected the statute.
Bottom line: it is impossible to “out” someone who is not in a covert status and is not protected by Title 5, Chapter 15, Subchapter IV, Section 421 of the U.S. Code.
So, what was Robert Novak trying to do? Novak thought it odd that the CIA would dispatch a former Clinton appointee, and an outspoken critic of Bush foreign policy in the War on Terror, to check out reports from British and French intelligence that Saddam had been seeking to purchase yellow-cake uranium in Niger.
In an off-the-record conversation with then deputy secretary of state, Richard L. Armitage, Novak learned that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA and it appeared that she had suggested her husband, Joe Wilson, be sent to Niger. When Novak’s column appeared, Armitage realized he was the probable source. But if Armitage had checked the statute and Valerie Plame’s status, Armitage would have realized that he had committed no crime.
Instead, Armitage told Secretary of State, Colin Powell, what he had done and they decided Armitage should tell the White House what Armitage “thought” he had done. Then White House counsel, Roberto R. Gonzales, opined (apparently, not checking the statute and the status of Valerie Plame) that it would be improper for the White House to know such details of whatever Armitage had done and that Armitage should contact the Justice Department which, in turn, would have the FBI look into the matter.
Meanwhile, the CIA, as required by statute, told the Justice Department that one of its “employees” had been mentioned in a newspaper column. This is done routinely irrespective of the status of the employee. That prompted the appointment of special prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, who has now spent three years and millions of dollars trying to prove that the White House “outed” Valerie Plame as part of a plot to discredit Joe Wilson.
Amazingly, Fitzgerald knew from day one that Armitage was the source of the “leak.” And, so far, all Fitzgerald has been able to do is indict, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Cheney’s former chief-of-staff, because Libby’s recollections of his conversations with reporters about Valerie Plame don’t track with those of the reporters. Apparently, with nothing better to do, Fitzgerald indicted Libby for perjury. While Libby probably won’t be convicted, he lost his job and faces thousands of dollars in lawyer’s fees.
Lawyers like to say: “No harm, no foul”. But even though there was no foul, harm has been done to the nation by Mr. Fitzgerald who needs to be investigated for abuse of prosecutorial powers, along with Valerie Plame (Mrs. Joe Wilson) who should be investigated for nepotism.
Former intelligence officer, William Hamilton, a syndicated columnist, a featured commentator for USA Today and self-described “recovering lawyer and philosopher,” is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.