Ex-Prosecutor: Plame Leak Not Illegal
... Says Toensing, "The Novak column and the surrounding facts do not support evidence of criminal conduct."
For Plame's outing to have been illegal, the one-time deputy AG says, "her status as undercover must be classified." Also, Plame "must have been assigned to duty outside the United States currently or in the past five years."
Since in neither case does Plame qualify, Toensing says: "There is a serious legal question as to whether she qualifies as 'covert.'"
The law also requires that the celebrated non-spy's outing take place by someone who knew the government had taken "affirmative measures to conceal [the agent's] relationship" to the U.S., a prospect Toensing says is unlikely.
Other signs that no laws were broken include the fact that after Plame was outted, the CIA's general counsel took no steps to prosecute Novak, as has been done to other reporters under similar circumstances.
Neither did then-CIA Director George Tenet or his deputy pick up the phone to tell Novak that the publication of her name would threaten national security and her safety, as is also routinely done when the CIA is serious about prohibiting publication.
In fact, the myth that laws were violated in the Plame case began to unravel in October 2003, in a column by New York Times scribe Nicholas Kristof, who explained that Valerie Plame had abandoned her covert role a full nine years before.
So the current sound and fury designed to bring down Karl Rove by calling his actions illegal are just that: sound and fury, signifying nothing.
Because Valerie Plame abandoned her covert role a full nine years before the article came out, she cannot be classified as a covert agent--as that would have required her to have served in a covert position no more than five years prior to the article. The fact that Robert Novak was not "frog-marched" (as Mr. Wilson, Ms. Plame's husband, asked of Karl Rove) out by the CIA--as if the law was broken, Robert Novak is also guilty of breaking the law--is a sure indication that the CIA didn't think any laws were in fact broken.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty place from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
- William Shakespeare, MacBeth, Act 5, Scene 5