Thursday, October 02, 2003

Is the leaker a terrorist?

Jack Gillis sends along this intriguing line of legal thought:

Bear with me a moment while I repeat the legal gobbledeygoo operating in the Novak/Plame affair. I promise you'll all LOVE the kicker. Here's the relevant portion of the Intelligence Identities Act:

Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, codified as 50 U.S.C., Section 421: (a) Disclosure of information by persons having or having had access to classified information that identifies covert agent. Whoever, having or having had authorized access to classified information that identifies a covert agent, intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent's intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined not more than $50,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

And now here's the relevant portion that pretty much cinches Plame as being covered; she need only have been abroad on the Company dime once in the last five years.:

Section 426(4): The term "covert agent" means -- (A) a present or retired officer or employee of an intelligence agency (i) whose identity as such an officer or employee is classified information, and (ii) who is serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States.

Now here's the kicker. Sorry for the ellipsis, but there's a lot of junk in the P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act:


(a) Chapter 1 of title 18, United States Code, is amended-- (1) by adding after section 24 a new section as follows: Sec. 25. Federal terrorism offense defined

As used in this title, the term 'Federal terrorism offense' means an offense that is-- (1) is calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion; or to retaliate against government conduct; and (2) is a violation of . . .

4) section 601 (relating to disclosure of identities of covert agents) of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. 421);"

That means that if it could be shown that the release of Plame's name was intended to intimidate or retaliate for government conduct--and Wilson's trip
and Wilson's subsequent report are government conduct--then the leaker isn't just a leaker, the leaker is a TERRORIST as defined in the P.A.T.R.I.O.T.

Is that cool or what?

Neither Jack nor I are lawyers and this may just be sheer dreamland thinking, but it just goes to show you how complicated this whole terrorist business.


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