This bit from Salon does a good job in summing up the legalistic wingnut defense of Karl Rove :
As the Washington Post pointed out, “To be considered a violation of the law, a disclosure by a government official must have been deliberate, the person doing it must have known that the CIA officer was a covert agent, and he or she must have known that the government was actively concealing the covert agent’s identity.”
Based on Cooper’s e-mail with Rove, it isn’t clear that Rove knew Plame’s name. But even if Rove did know Plame’s name, which is likely, that fact is not as important as knowing her CIA status. In pointing out her occupation and association to Wilson, Rove was clearly identifying Plame. Was he then knowingly and deliberately disclosing a CIA operative? For that, Rove would have had to know that Plame was undercover. If he didn’t know that fact if Rove knew Plame simply as Wilson’s wife who happened to work on WMD at the CIA he didn’t commit a crime.
First of all, let’s cut through the “we’re still not sure that she was ‘covert'” line that a lot of conservatives are still clinging to. This investigation has been going on for almost two years now. Do you really think Fitzgerald would waste this much time and money on a snipe hunt that could be solved with a quick phone call to the CIA? Get serious guys.
Once we get into the Clintonian parsing of the word “knowingly”, things get really interesting. Having established that Plame was undercover and that Rove revealed that Plame was CIA, the question then becomes “Did Valerie Plame hide her undercover position at the CIA through a front job…at the CIA?” If you’re dumb enough to believe that, there’s nothing I can do to help you. For the rest of us, the fact that Rove knew about a connection between Joe Wilson’s wife and the CIA is damning enough to convict him.
While I’m on the subject of Plame’s undercover identity, do you guys remember this Washington Post article from Oct. 2003?
The leak of a CIA operative’s name has also exposed the identity of a CIA front company, potentially expanding the damage caused by the original disclosure, Bush administration officials said yesterday.
The company’s identity, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, became public because it appeared in Federal Election Commission records on a form filled out in 1999 by Valerie Plame, the case officer at the center of the controversy, when she contributed $1,000 to Al Gore’s presidential primary campaign.
After the name of the company was broadcast yesterday, administration officials confirmed that it was a CIA front. They said the obscure and possibly defunct firm was listed as Plame’s employer on her W-2 tax forms in 1999 when she was working undercover for the CIA.
. . .
The inadvertent disclosure of the name of a business affiliated with the CIA underscores the potential damage to the agency and its operatives caused by the leak of Plame’s identity. Intelligence officials have said that once Plame’s job as an undercover operative was revealed, other agency secrets could be unraveled and her sources might be compromised or endangered.
A former diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity said yesterday that every foreign intelligence service would run Plame’s name through its databases within hours of its publication to determine if she had visited their country and to reconstruct her activities.
This is much bigger than Valerie Plame. Due to the treasonous acts of Karl Rove et. al., any CIA agent that’s listed Brewster-Jennings & Associates as an employer has been compromised. The same goes for anybody that has vouched for Ms. Plame or vice versa. The simple disclosure of Valerie Plame’s identity has given foreign governments the seeds to unravel an unknowable chunk of our intelligence backbone.