Franklin pleads

Bad news for whoever outed Valerie Plame: a guilty plea under the Espionage Act for revealing classified information not involving protected intelligence identities, not to hostile nations, and not for money.

More bad news for Rove, Libby, et al.: Lawrence Franklin has agreed to plead guilty to leaking classfied information to two AIPAC staff members.

Why do say that’s bad news for the folks who outed Valerie Plame Wilson? Because Franklin was indicted under the Espionage Act (specifically 18 U.S.C. 793 (d)) for giving classified information to those not eligible to receive it, including members of the media.

No money involved, no inteligence identities. And yet Franklin is pleading out. Looks to me as if the

Espionage Act is still alive, and as if it applies squarely to the facts of the Plame case.

The maximum sentence, by the way, is 10 years, and the guidelines call for 87-108 months.

We may need some modifications to the Espionage Act. As written, it goes too far in shutting the mouths of those who know information that, while classified, can in fact be revealed without damage to the national security and which the public has a need to know. I’d favor adding an element of actual damage to the national security to the offense. But in the Plame case, that test is easily met.

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: