From Rep. Waxman's opening statement at his Plame show trial today:
I have been advised by the CIA that even now, after all that has happened, I cannot disclose the full nature, scope, and character of Ms. 'Wilson's service to our nation without causing serious damage to our national security interests.
But General Hayden and the CIA have cleared these following comments for today's hearing.
During her employment at the CIA, Ms. Wilson was under cover.
Her employment status with the CIA was classified information prohibited from disclosure under Executive Order 12958.
At the time of the publication of Robert Novak's column on July 14, 2003, Ms. Wilson's CIA employment status was covert.
This was classified information.
First, I want a special counsel to indict Waxman for perjury - the relevant Executive Order is 13292, which amended and supplanted 12958 in March 2003, and which was effective immediately (except for section 1.6, related to markings - what are the odds the violation to which he refers is there? Groan. I want a lawyer...).
But before we take Mr. Waxman away in chains, let's talk about his statement. The magic words we are all listening for are "Ms. Plame had covert status under the law as defined by the Intelligence Identities Protection Act." His failure to speak those words speaks volumes - I have no doubt he will gull the NY Times (Mission Accomplished - see below), but folks in the know will see this for the smokescreen it is.
Please - don't tell me that there would have been vast national security implications if he had said "CIA lawyers who have studied her file have assured me that Ms. Plame had covert status under the IIPA". There would have been no national security implications to his saying it, it would have strengthened his presentation to say it, yet he did not say it - what reasonable conclusion might one draw?
Telling us that the CIA considered her to be covert as per their employment practices is smoke - the WaPo understood this point this morning (but the Times never will).
MORE: Ms. Toensing's opening statement makes points that regular readers here will find familiar. From the archives, my thoughts on Ms. Plame's gloomy tradecraft; and here are some quick thoughts on the history of the IIPA as it relates to "service abroad".
From the other side, let me thank an emailer and single out this Kos diarist, a lawyer whose entire contribution to the debate seems to have been the nicknaming of Ms. Toensing as "Toestink". Beyond that contribution, the writer does not make a single point not made roughly two or three years ago. Move On, please - say something new.
And I'll even help - just for starters, tell me why I should give zero weight to this definiton of "service abroad":
D. Service abroad means service on or after September 6, 1960, by an employee at a post of duty outside the United States and outside the employee's place of residence if that place of residence is a territory or possession of the United States.
Obviously, this is nowhere near dispositive since it is not a CIA
definition. But who out there is certain that this definition stands
alone in opposition to common practice throughout the US government?
Who suspects that maybe this is a common definition that crops up in
other agencies as well? How might a judge rule in light of that, and
in light of the history of the Act? And who would care to do a bit of, hmm, legal research to attempt to pin that down?
Or we could pass the time dreaming up names like "Toestink"; no worries. I'm sort of proud of "Special Clownshow Fitzgerald" myself, if that is the road we are going to walk.