Friday, March 16, 2007

Where's Your "Show Trial" Now?

Yesterday, rightwing bloggers were decrying Henry Waxman's congressional hearings as a show trial.

But they were wrong.

First Valerie Plame, under oath, confirmed that she was a covert CIA agent at the time she was outed - a federal offense with a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.
Whoever, as a result of having authorized access to classified information, learns the identify of a covert agent and intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent’s intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
Then came this shocker:
Dr. James Knodell, director of the Office of Security at the White House, told a congressional committee today that he was aware of no internal investigation or report into the leak of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame.

The White House had first opposed Knodell testifying but after a threat of a subpoena from the committee yesterday he was allowed to appear today.

Knodell testified that those who had participated in the leaking of classified information were required to attest to this and he was not aware that anyone, including Karl Rove, had done that.

He said that he had started at the White House in August 2004, a year after the leak, but his records show no evidence of a probe or report there: "I have no knowledge of any investigation in my office," he said.

Rep. Waxman recalled that President Bush had promised a full internal probe. Knodell repeated that no probe took place, as far as he knew, and was not happening today.

Knodell said he had "no" conversations whatsoever with the president, vice president, Karl Rove or anyone about the leak.

Asked by chairman Rep. Henry Waxman if he knew this was an issue of concern, he said "yes." Asked if he learned this from the White House or the press, he said, "through the press."

Rep. Elijah Cummings said all of this was "shocking." Waxman said that Knodell's office's lack of action was a "breach within a breach." Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton called this a "dereliction of duty."

Knodell, who is a career employee and not a Bush appointee, said he would go back and "review this with senior management." He admitted that leaking classified information called for action, whether the leak was accidental or on purpose.

Democrats challenged his assertion that no probe was necessary since a criminal investigation was underway. They said that the criminal probe was narrowly focused, started well after the leak -- during which the White House apparently did nothing -- and that in any case, the White House was required to carry out its own probe and deny security clearances to anyone who had leaked classified information.

They demanded to know why Rove's security clearance had not been revoked.

Rep. Waxman at one point said that he regretted not being able to put up a video of the president promising a full probe but added, "I guess we will leave that to The Daily Show."
The Daily Show may be out of luck. A quick search revealed many instances of Bush promising full co-operation with the DoJ investigation and backtracking on promises to fire anyone involved but no promise of an internal White House security investigation per se. Then again, that "full co-operation" didn't happen either. The White House had already decided its people should be found innocent.
[White House spokesman] McClellan said the White House counsel's [Alberto Gonzales] office will review the documents before giving them to Justice Department investigators and said that process could take up to two weeks

"I think it's standard practice that in any administration the counsel's office would be the point of contact with the Department of Justice and that they would make sure that the material turned in is responsive to the request," McClellan said. "We'll be turning information in to the Department of Justice over the next couple of weeks."

...McClellan firmly ruled out any role by three administration officials in the leak: political adviser Karl Rove; Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby; and National Security Council official Elliott Abrams. The spokesman said he had spoken to all three officials about the leak.

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