8/14/2005

TomDispatch: De la Vega on How to Prosecute the Plame Case

De la Vega on How to Prosecute the Plame Case

Rumors and leaks continue to swirl around the case of outed CIA agent Valerie Plame and the various journalists and Bush "senior administration officials" believed to be involved in some fashion in her outing. Whole forests have undoubtedly been pulped for the endless flood of summer stories about the Plame case and yet something has been missing. The Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, the law against outing a CIA operative under which Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald was, in essence, called into existence, is rarely discussed in any serious way -- and then at best only in a passing paragraph or two deep in any story. And yet a media/punditry consensus has formed that it is a law so specifically, even quirkily, written as to be almost impossible to use in a prosecution (hopeless, in fact, against a figure like Karl Rove or Vice President Cheney's right-hand man I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby); and that Special Counsel Fitzgerald has already turned away from the law, moving on to more conceivable avenues of prosecution -- like obstruction of justice.

Elizabeth de la Vega, former federal prosecutor and Chief of the San Jose Branch of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California, has no more inside information than the rest of us on an investigation that has seemed remarkably leak-less; but calling on her prosecutorial experience, she begs to differ on the question of whether the 1982 law is difficult to use in a prosecution. Alone among a sea of pundits, she suggests that the 1982 law is a perfectly usable one under which, based on what we know at present, a case could indeed be brought against a "senior administration official" and perhaps prosecuted successfully indeed. This is news. Tom.

TomDispatch

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