Valerie Plame update: perjury charges?

Did someone close to the President fib to the grand jury? And does the Special Prosecutor need the journalists’ testimony to prove it?

David Ignatius speculates in the Washington Post that Patrick Fitzgerald’s pursuit of journalists’ testimony might indicate that he has shifted attention from the revelation of an undercover intelligence officer’s identity to the cover-up, and in particular to possible perjury before the Plame grand jury.

That could well be so. But I question the premise of Ignatius’s column: that the revelation itself is next-to-impossible to prosecute because the Intelligence Identities Protection Act has such a tough-to-prove set of elements. I continue to think that a prosecution under the Espionage Act would be a slam-dunk, given proof of the mention of “Valerie Plame” and “CIA operative” in the same breath to anyone without the very high security clearance required to know the identity of an intelligence officer acting under non-official cover.

The least likely scenario, to my mind, is that Fitzgerald is just going through the motions and doesn’t intend to indict anybody. But my belief that the culprits will be caught may be as much a product of wishful thinking as the right-wing belief that they will get off scot-free.

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