Tuesday, July 20, 2004

An E-Mail Exchange with A Liberal Friend

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A friend pointed out the John Deutsch case from the Clinton years.  Deutsch was CIA Director and kept classified information on his home PC, which was not secure.  He was not prosecuted.  My friend suggested Berger's case was the same, and that Berger would be treated harshly because he was critical of the Bush administration.
 
My response: 
 
The Deutsch situation looks to me like one of someone making an excusable (but unbelievably dumb) mistake.  I think Berger's probably is too. I can understand his taking the notes (although with all his experience in national security he should have known better).  He is, however, now Kerry's national security advisor and Clinton's former NSA adviser, and the documents he took might have been embarrassing to Clinton.  A bit of a long shot, I think, but it deserves to be investigated.  As for the timing, when you are dumb enough to put your head on the choppnig block during the "political season," you have to be ready for some swings of the axe, whether you put your head there by mistake or not.
 
You said, "Burger said critical things about the Bush Administration, so I'm sure his case will be presented as a much more serious breach of security and the story dragged out as long as possible.  Ashcroft might even choose to prosecute."
 
OK, that may happen.  See above regarding putting one's head on the chopping block.  But aslso consider, as Hugh Hewitt said:
 
"Keep applying the Condi Rice test.  If Dr. Rice had been caught stuffing her blouse with highly classified handwritten notes from the days after 9/11, what would be going on in D.C. right now?"
 
You said, "The knowing and intentional disclosure of the name of a covert CIA agent to the press for purely political gain is an additional order of magnitude more serious, don't you think?"
 
We've talked about this.  If that's what happened then the perpetrator should be prosecuted.  There is a lot of doubt as to whether (1) the disclosure was "knowing and intentional" (i.e., did the guy know she was covert?) and (2) she was actually "covert" as defined in the law.  Time will tell.
 
But what we do know about that incident is that Robert Novak called a source at the White House and asked, in effect, "How in the world did a partisan Democrat like Joseph Wilson get the very sensitive assignment of going to Niger to investigate whether Iraq tried to get yellowcake from Iraq?" The response was, "His wife works for the CIA and she recommended him."
 
Wilson, who apparently has a very flexible relationship with the truth, wrote in an op-ed piece that his wife "had nothing to do with" his selection for the Niger mission.  That statement has now been shown to be false in the Senate Intelligence Committee report.  Wilson now claims a Clintonesque distinction between whether she "recommended" or "proposed" him for the trip.  Give us a break, Joe!
 
Assuming all that is true, I really wonder how much enthusiasm the prosecutor is going to have for the case against whoever leaked that information to Robert Novak.




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