Shane Harris of the Washingtonian looks at the increasingly aggressive pursuit by the Obama administration of people (especially journalists) who leak sensitive information to the public.
Newsfilter: Former CIA officer Valerie Plame sues Cheney, Rove, Libby, close on the heels of columnist Robert Novak kinda-sorta coming clean about his role.
CIA Officer Fired for Leaking Classified Info to Media Newsfilter. The president, we are told, leaked via Libby a secret to the press. That is ok. The leak was telling the press that laws were being broken--FISA subverted--so that undermining national laws becomes a crime only when it is revealed? A CIA officer has been relieved of his duty after being caught leaking classified information to the media. Citing the Privacy Act, the CIA would not provide any details about the officer's identity or assignments.
Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald says emails relevant to the Valerie Plame leak investigation have gone missing from the White House. "In an adundance of caution," Fitzgerald wrote [PDF] to "Scooter" Libby's lawyers on January 23, "we advise you that we have learned that not all email of the Office of the Vice President and the Executive Office of President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system." Might this help explain why Alberto Gonzales -- now the Attorney General, and lately so busy mustering arguments to assert that Bush's NSA domestic-spying program is "legal" -- waited 12 hours before instructing White House staff to preserve documents relevant to the leak investigation after telling Andrew Card about it? Shades of the late, great yoga instructor, Rose Mary Woods. [More on Plame here.]
Woodward Was Told of Plame More Than Two Years Ago "Washington Post Assistant Managing Editor Bob Woodward testified under oath Monday in the CIA leak case that a senior administration official told him about CIA operative Valerie Plame and her position at the agency nearly a month before her identity was disclosed." Woodward's statement. [PDF] The unnamed official isn't Libby or Rove. [via]
Why Did Attorney General Ashcroft Remove Himself From The Valerie Plame Wilson Leak Investigation? If there is a witness willing to testify against one -- or both -- of the leakers in exchange for immunity, what then? It seems likely that Fitzgerald will move very quickly to find out if there is indeed a case to be made against the leakers. To bolster his case, he may call Novak and others to the grand jury or, as noted above, subpoena Novak's (and others') phone records over the relevant period. Even Ashcroft himself could in theory be called to the grand jury. If this case does not make headlines in 90 to 120 days, it will be quite surprising. There has been too much high level action and Comey, a presidential appointee, knows that politically it would be better for Bush & Company to have the matter flushed out within the next few months, than to have it arise just before the November election. Needless to say, this could be an interesting year for the White House, with more than reelection to worry about.
CIA Seeks Probe of Iraq-Al Qaeda Memo Leak The CIA will ask the Justice Department to investigate the leak of a 16-page classified Pentagon memo that listed and briefly described raw agency intelligence on any relationship between Saddam Hussein's Iraqi government and Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network, according to congressional and administration sources...and if this probe is like so many others, that will be the end of this news item.