Documents, charges, and the Yellowcake Road

Fitzgerald may bring in the Yellowcake Road story insofar as he needs it to show motive, but the charges will be limited outing a NOC and covering it up.

Josh Marshall links to a UPI story by Martin Walker reporting that “Fitzgerald’s team of investigators has sought and obtained documentation on the forgeries from the Italian government” and inferring from that fact that “the CIA leak inquiry that threatens senior White House aides has now widened to include the forgery of documents on African uranium that started the investigation.” Josh vouches for Walker’s credibility, and I have no reason to doubt him.

Please note, however, that the inference about the scope of the investigation doesn’t follow from the fact of Fitzgerald’s having sought the documents. Fitzgerald may well want to bring in the Yellowcake Road story to show motive for whatever crimes he charges. It will be especially helpful if he can show a bad motive (covering up incompetence or worse) to counter the likely defense that the people who outed a NOC thought they were acting patriotically.

But the charges themselves will have to be limited to blowing Plame’s cover and covering it up, because that’s the limit of Fitzgerald’s terms of reference.

Update A reader points out that the Yellowcake Road would become central to the case if it turned out that Valerie Plame Wilson and Brewster-Jennings were the true targets of the leak and not merely collateral damage in an attack on Joseph Wilson. Under this theory, the CIA was getting too close to discovering who forged the yellowcake documents, and Novak was recruited to burn the operation. Too fancy for my taste, but I admit it isn’t impossible.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com