I’m on vacation, but I couldn’t resist posting the below on my davidcorn.com site, where I routinely obsess over the Karl Rove scandal.
Last week, the Justice Department issued a new indictment of Lawrence Franklin, the Pentagon official accused of passing secrets to officials of AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying outfit. The indictment is bad news for the Bush White House and Karl Rove.
That’s not only because the Franklin case is embarrassing for the administration, the Pentagon, and their neocon allies. (Franklin worked with Douglas Feith, who until recently was a senior Pentagon official close to the neocons.) The Franklin indictment is a sign that Rove and any other White House aide involved in the Plame/CIA leak might be vulnerable to prosecution under the Espionage Act.
Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald–who is not involved in the Franklin prosecution–has not had to state publicly what sort of case he is trying to build in the Plame/CIA leak matter. The most obvious one would be based on the charge that the leaker violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. But that law was narrowly drawn, and to win a conviction Fitzgerald would have to prove that Rove or any other leaker knew that Valerie Wilson was working under cover at the CIA. There are, however, other laws under which Fitzgerald might charge the CIA/Plame leakers. The Franklin indictment points the way. (And criminal law aside, by sharing classified information with at least two reporters–Valerie Wilson’s employment at the CIA was classified–Rove committed an offense that violated various rules and would get most government workers seriously punished or dismissed.)
The Franklin indictments notes:
On or about December 8, 1999, FRANKLIN signed a Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement, a Standard Form 312 (SF-312). In that document FRANKLIN acknowledged that he was aware that the unauthorized disclosure of classified information by him could cause irreparable injury to the United States or could be used to advantage by a foreign nation and that he would never divulge classified information to an unauthorized person. He further acknowledged that he would never divulge classified information unless he had officially verified that the recipient was authorized by the United States to receive it. Additionally, he agreed that if he was uncertain about the classification status of information, he was required to confirm from an authorized official that the information is unclassified before he could disclose it.
Yet, the indictment alleges, Franklin passed classified information to Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman, two senior AIPAC officials. And the indictment claims Rosen and Weissman shared this information with Israel. Consequently, the indictment charges Franklin, Rosen and Weissman with “conspiracy to communicate National Defense Information under sections 793(d) and 793(e) of Title 18, United States Code. And Franklin was charged with three counts of “communication of National Defense Information”–not conspiracy–under section 793(d). He was also charged with one count of “conspiracy to communicate classified information” to a foreign government.