11/20/2005

Daily Kos: Deciphering the Plame investigation: An Old Hound's New Hunt

* agentcooper's diary :: ::
*

Lechliter -- who claims 25 years experience in the intelligence field -- has penned a detailed analysis of the Plame affair, and Patrick Fitzgerald's duty as special counsel, that he has sent to Fitzgerald.

Yes. He is telling what Fitzgerald what he should be doing. He's an Army Colonel, he can't help it, it's in his blood.

But what he has to say is intersting:

Lechliter's most interesting conclusion is this: Contrary to what some pundits have said, it may in fact have been a violation of federal regulations for senior administration officials -- even those who did not disclose her identity -- to privately discuss Plame's identity among themselves. Intriguingly, Lechliter also concludes that Fitzgerald could, if he chose to, recommend administrative disciplinary measures against those officials, even if they have not done anything clearly illegal.

Since Lechliter's manifest was sent the American Prospect, and I can't find it on the web yet, I can't read what his rationale for such a recommendation. But let's give him the benefit of the doubt. He's earned it thus far.

Now the American people, according to polls on the seriousness of the blowing of Plame's cover, get the seriousness of the offense. But what has the right-wing twit choir still singing a happy tune is something that Fitzgerald said, which Lechliter mentions:

Lechliter's starting point is the Fitzerald press conference. The special counsel said: "Let me make clear there was nothing wrong with government officials discussing Valerie Wilson or Mr. Wilson or his wife and imparting the information to Mr. Libby."

Of course! It's just a bit of gossip. No harm there.

Lechliter points to Executive Order 12968 which governs the access officials have to classified information. It says: "Employees shall not be granted access to classified information unless they ... have a demonstrated need-to-know."

This gets to a crucial point of why was Plame's name being circulated if the intent wasn't to defang Joe Wilson via destroying her wife's career. (Bob Woodward's curiously timed entrance into this saga just adds to the purposeful muddying of the waters: if Plame was being leaked to Woodward (and others?) in June 2003 before Wilson's July 6, 2003 OpEd what more sinister motive was there to destroy her work? She did work on WMDs, the ballyhooed but impotent justification for invading Iraq)

Here's where it gets good:

The press -- and Fitzgerald -- has mostly focused on whether a criminal act occurred when one or more of these officials passed the info to reporters. But Lechliter argues that a perhaps more important question is this: Have the above officials violated federal rules by privately sharing classified information with each other? Lechliter argues, compellingly, that there's little doubt that the above officials had no "need-to-know" this information. Therefore, he continues, one or more of them may have violated the executive order simply by passing the information on to a colleague without a "need-to-know" it.

"Clearance does not entitle a government employee to access to all [classified] information, but only to that material necessary to perform his or her valid government function," Lechliter writes. "I cannot conceive of any plausible reason," he continues, for these senior officials to "have a need to know the status of Mrs. Wilson."

But Lechliter reminds Fitzgerald that for all intents and purposes he is an Attorney General:

Here's how: Lechliter points to a now well-known February 6, 2004 letter to Fitzgerald from Deputy Attorney General James Comey, in which Comey defines the special counsel's authority. The letter says that Fitzgerald's authority is "plenary and includes the authority" to investigate "violations of any federal laws." But it also says something that's gone pretty much unnoticed: that Fitzgerald has the authority to "pursue administrative remedies and civil sanctions ... that are within the Attorney General's authority to impose or pursue."

Daily Kos: Deciphering the Plame investigation: An Old Hound's New Hunt

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