Intelligence Leak Laws

The Bush White House and the Right Wing Smear Machine would have us believe that there is only one statute that Rove and Scooter Libbey could have violated when they leaked Valerie Plame’s name. Hat Tip to King of Zembla for pointing us in John Dean’s direction, Leak Laws.
As it turns out, John Ashcroft prosecuted a similar case:

Former White House counsel John Dean, always looking for a fresh angle, mentions yet another statute that the Ashcroft DoJ invoked in a “relatively minor leak case that it vigorously prosecuted, though it involved information that was not nearly as sensitive as that which Rove provided Matt Cooper.

Isn’t that interesting? The Ashcroft Justice Department set a precedent for rigorously prosecuting leakers.

(click through to King of Zembla for links)

I am referring to the prosecution and conviction of Jonathan Randel. Randel was a Drug Enforcement Agency analyst, a PhD in history, working in the Atlanta office of the DEA. Randel was convinced that British Lord Michael Ashcroft (a major contributor to Britain’s Conservative Party, as well as American conservative causes) was being ignored by DEA, and its investigation of money laundering. (Lord Ashcroft is based in South Florida and the off-shore tax haven of Belize.)
Randel leaked the fact that Lord Ashcroft’s name was in the DEA files, and this fact soon surfaced in the London news media. Ashcroft sued, and learned the source of the information was Randel. Using his clout, soon Ashcroft had the U.S. Attorney in pursuit of Randel for his leak.

We all know how serious Atty. Gen. Ashcroft was about enforcing our drug laws. It looks like it was OK with the Ashcroft Justice Department to be a drug kingpin, as long as your politics were politically correct:

By late February 2002, the Department of Justice indicted Randel for his leaking of Lord Ashcroft’s name. It was an eighteen count “kitchen sink” indictment; they threw everything they could think of at Randel. Most relevant for Karl Rove’s situation, Court One of Randel’s indictment alleged a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 641. This is a law that prohibits theft (or conversion for one’s own use) of government records and information for non-governmental purposes. But its broad language covers leaks, and it has now been used to cover just such actions.

This may explain why Ken Mehlman refused Tim Russert’s offer to agree in advance with whatever conclusion and indictment Fitzgerald returned from his Grand Jury investigation:

Randel, faced with a life sentence (actually, 500 years) if convicted on all counts, on the advice of his attorney, pleaded guilty to violating Section 641. On January 9, 2003, Randel was sentenced to a year in a federal prison, followed by three years probation. This sentence prompted the U.S. Attorney to boast that the conviction of Randel made a good example of how the Bush Administration would handle leakers . . . .

A year in prison doesn’t seem nearly sufficient punishment for a more serious leak that affects national security. Randel should be out on probation by now. I wonder what’s going through his mind right now?

While there are other potential violations of the law that may be involved with the Valerie Plame Wilson case, it would be speculation to consider them. But Karl Rove’s leak to Matt Cooper is now an established fact. First, there is Matt Cooper’s email record. And Cooper has now confirmed that he has told the grand jury he spoke with Rove. If Rove’s leak fails to fall under the statute that was used to prosecute Randel, I do not understand why.
There are stories circulating that Rove may have been told of Valerie Plame’s CIA activity by a journalist, such as Judith Miller, as recently suggested in Editor & Publisher. If so, that doesn’t exonerate Rove. Rather, it could make for some interesting pairing under the federal conspiracy statute (which was the statute most commonly employed during Watergate)

Another Hat Tip to King of Zembla for linking up, of all people, Jeff Gannon with the State Department Memo that either Colin Powell or Ari Fleischer carried on to Air Force One. We Smell A Ratfucker:

The “conservative news outlet” to which the dubious INR document was leaked was Talon News, and the seasoned investigative reporter who promoted it in print was that indefatigable bloodhound — or should we say bulldog? — J.D. Guckert, aka “Jeff Gannon.”

1 thought on “Intelligence Leak Laws

  1. In addition to Title 18, United States Code, Section 641, there’s also the Espionage Act, the National Security Act [includes the Intelligence Identities Protection Act], possible violations of the Patriot Act, and per Rep. Waxman, Rove may have violated a White House non-disclosure agreement, Bush may have violated Executive Order 12958, and then there are possible perjury and obstruction of justice charges.

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