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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Spy versus Spy

Via Billmon, I learn that Mark A.R. Kleiman has pretty clearly shown that while Karl Rove may get off on the charge of violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, which was designed to be hard to break, he may well be on the hook for espionage:
Rove's conduct certainly meets the far less demanding elements of the Espionage Act: (1) possession of (2) information (3) relating to the national defense (4) which the person possessing it has reason to know could be used to damage the United States or aid a foreign nation and (5) wilful communication of that information to (6) a person not entitled to receive it.

Under the Espionage Act, the person doing the communicating need not actually know that revelation could be damaging; he needs only "reason to know." Classification is generally reason to know, and a security-clearance holder is responsible for knowing what information is classified.

Nor is it necessary that the discloser intend public distribution; if Rove told Cooper -- which he did -- and Cooper didn't have a security clearance -- which he didn't -- the crime would have been complete.

And to be a crime the disclosure need not be intended to damage the national security; it is only the act of communication itself that must be wilful.

It's also a crime to "cause" such information to be communicated, for example by asking someone else to do so.
The prospect of Rove being charged as a traitor has Billmon charged up:
In my wildest, my most delightful dreams, I could not imagine that the guy who just three weeks ago was equating liberals with traitors could soon be facing trial as a . . . traitor. I mean, I wouldn't dare put something like that on my Christmas list. Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins.

Of course, even if Karl is indicted for espionage, he'll probably be offered plenty of chances to cut a deal. And even if he is convicted, he isn't likely to do any jail time. And even if he does do jail time, it's likely to be in the kind of country club prison where the toughest punishment is having your golf privileges revoked.

Still, it was a nice fantasy while it lasted, and I thank Mark for it. And who knows? Karl's luck could all go bad at sentencing time, and leave him in front of a judge who actually believes in a little law and order, instead of some liberal wuss.
Then again, we can hope that if he is allowed to cop a plea to a lesser charge, it will be on condition that he rat out his co-conspirators, particularly Dick and George. Now THAT would be sweet!