Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Unauthorized Disclosures and "Rovegate"

The unfolding controversy over the role of White House adviser KarlRove in disclosing the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame has inspired new attention to the details of official policy ondisclosures of classified information.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) noted astutely that under the terms of thestandard classified information nondisclosure agreement, officialsare not supposed to confirm the accuracy of classified informationeven when it is obtained from a public source such as a journalist.Rep. Waxman reiterated this point yesterday in a letter to PresidentBush: (Read letter here)

Meanwhile, the subjective character of classification policy washighlighted as Democrats turned ostentatiously hawkish on leakswhile Republicans all but dismissed the public identification of acovered CIA officer as insignificant.See "Political Parties Reverse Roles in Debate Over CIA Leak" by JoshGerstein, New York Sun, July 18: http://www.nysun.com/article/17134

A Knight-Ridder news story noted that under the prevailing executiveorder, "appropriate and prompt corrective" administrative action issupposed to be taken against any U.S. government official who"knowingly, willfully or negligently" discloses classifiedinformation. But "a White House spokesman declined to respond toquestions about the executive order."See "Bush says he'll fire any aide who committed a crime in leakcase" by Jonathan S. Landay, Knight-Ridder Newspapers, July 18: (full story here)

A federal judge last week accepted the Central Intelligence Agency'scontention that the President's Daily Brief (PDB) is itself an"intelligence method" that is exempt from disclosure no matter howold it is and despite the fact that other PDBs have beendeclassified and disclosed without adverse effect.

The decision is a disappointment for historians and others who lookedto the courts to impose restraint and rationality on CIA'sindiscriminate secrecy practices.For complete background, see "Judge Grants Immortality toPresidential Privilege" from the National Security Archive here: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/pdbnews/index.htm

Also see: The Martians Have Landed! A Little Conspiracy Theorizing from BuzzFlash... Patrick Fitzgerald, Rove Has Got You In His Sights, Take Care.


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