Sunday, March 18, 2007

Wilson? Yeah! Fitz? Feh!

I just got a chance to review the testimony of Valerie Wilson before the Waxman committee. What an excellent witness she was!

The Party of Bush loyalists are still trying to get into the public discourse the idea that Mrs. Wilson was not a covert agent, but Mrs. Wilson and Henry Waxman drove a stake through the heart of that nonsense. But is that enough? The Party of Bush has a fall back position that also needs to be laid to rest.

The idea is that Mrs. Wilson might have been covert but that the bastards that outed her did not know that. It’s time for a little refresher course in the law.

It is a criminal offense to out a CIA covert agent. The statute is 50 U.S.C. 421. The elements of the offense are:

  • The perp had authorized access to classified information that identifies a covert agent,

  • He or she intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information,

  • knowing that the information disclosed identifies a covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent’s intelligence relationship to the United States.

  • It’s too late in the day to argue that Rove, Libby and Cheney didn’t have access to classified information that identified Mrs. Wilson, or that Robert Novak was authorized to receive classified information. The question is, did the party of Bush’s hit men “intentionally” disclose the information.

    Intentionally is a word that seems to be brimming over with legal significance, and yet, it is quite simple. It means that the actor knew what he or she was doing. It is not intended to cover an act done through ignorance, mistake or accident. A person normally intends the natural consequences of his acts.

    Rove may say that he was talking in his sleep, or that it was a slip of the tongue. Or he might argue that he thought he was talking to Cheney when he called up Chris Matthews and said, “Valerie Plame is fair game.” If so, he has the balls of a blind burglar.

    On the other hand, if he admits that he knew that he was talking to someone not authorized to receive classified information, then he has ’fessed up.

    There’s another part to the statute: the perp has to “know” that the information disclosed identifies a covert agent, who is being actively protected by the government. So, you can well imagine these guys saying, “we had no idea she was under cover.”

    It’s a ludicrous argument, but certainly, not beneath the thugs in the service of King George the Incompetent. Here’s why it won’t work.

    A typical jury instruction in cases like this would say something like:
    When knowledge of the existence of a particular fact is an essential part of an offense, such knowledge may be established if the Defendant is aware of a high probability of its existence, unless the Defendant actually believes that it does not exist.
    Which one of these buffoons could say with a straight face that he actually believed that Valerie Wilson was not covert? Not one. The most they might say is that they had no idea, and didn’t really think about it.

    But were they aware that there was a high probability that she was a covert agent? Mrs. Wilson’s testimony on Friday laid it all out.

    First, remember that the Royal Stenographer, Judith Wilson has stated that Irve Wilson, (a/k/a “Scooter”) told her that Joseph Wilson's wife worked for the CIA in WINPAC (Weapons Intelligence, Non-Proliferation, and Arms Control).

    Mrs. Wilson confirmed that she was working in the Counter-Proliferation Division (CPD). What we know so far – and what Mrs. Wilson confirmed on Friday – was that almost everyone who works in the CPD was covert. In other words, it would be impossible to know that she worked in the CPD and not know that there was a “high probability” that she was covert.

    Next time you hear someone sing the praises of Fitz, the special prosecutor remember he didn't get the guys who ruined the career of the patriotic Mrs. Wilson, and he let the guilty guys wriggle off the hook.

    “… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”

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