Plame update: special prosecutor time

Newsday [*] has confirmed from CIA sources that Valerie Plame was indeed a covert CIA officer working on weapons of mass destruction.

The New York Times can’t find room for the story in its news sections. Both the Times and the Post ought to be embarrassed to have been beaten by Newsday on a story that’s been there to be picked up for a week.

There’s some chatter going around, based on the convoluted statements about sourcing in the Novak and TIME stories, that Plame might have been outed by the CIA in some sort of internal struggle rather than by the White House. That seems to me grossly implausible, and in any case not relevant to the White House’s liability here.

If Novak is to be believed — and recall that’s a very big “if” — two senior administration officials told him that Plame had suggested recruiting Wilson for a secret CIA mission. Saying that Plame is in a position to suggest who gets sent on secret CIA missions implies that she has some involvement with the CIA. Given that she was working undercover, that amounted to burning her. So no matter what anyone at the CIA did or didn’t do, those two senior administration officials committed, if Novak is telling the truth, an aggravated felony.

The number of suspects is small enough so that a prosecutor with a grand jury would have a good chance of getting to the bottom of this fairly quickly. But of course John Ashcroft isn’t about to do any such thing. Though the special prosecutor statute has expired, the Attorney General can still ask the courts to appoint a special prosecutor. That should now be the insistent demand of every Democratic member of Congress, every Democratic presidential candidate, every journalist, and every citizen.

Write your Congressman. Write a letter to the editor.

Thread starts here.

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: