Sunday, October 23, 2005


Indictments against Karl Rove and Lewis "Scooter" Libby in the CIA leak investigation will come this week, or not at all. A grand jury impaneled to hear evidence in the case has a Friday deadline, and Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has not given any indication that he will ask for an extension.

Officials in the Bush Administration mutter (on background, of course) that the mood inside the White House is somber, dark, brooding -- much like a Nixon meeting, only with more expletive deleteds.

Reality, however, paints a much different picture. Rove and Libby are still on the payroll, and they apparently still have security clearances giving them access to supposedly secure information.

Even if they are not indicted, the men have already admitted to leaking sensitive information to reporters. President Bush can yank their security clearances right now -- if he was serious about securing America's secrets.

Executive Order 12958, issued April 1995 by then-President Clinton, sets the system for "classifying, safeguarding, and declassifying national security information." It remains in effect today, and it's crystal on what to do when administration employees disclose classified information:
Sec. 5.7. Sanctions. (a) If the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office finds that a violation of this order or its implementing directives may have occurred, the Director shall make a report to the head of the agency or to the senior agency official so that corrective steps, if appropriate, may be taken.

(b) Officers and employees of the United States Government, and its contractors, licensees, certificate holders, and grantees shall be subject to appropriate sanctions if they knowingly, willfully, or negligently:

(1) disclose to unauthorized persons information properly classified under this order or predecessor orders;

(2) classify or continue the classification of information in violation of this order or any implementing directive;

(3) create or continue a special access program contrary to the requirements of this order; or

(4) contravene any other provision of this order or its implementing directives.

(c) Sanctions may include reprimand, suspension without pay, removal, termination of classification authority, loss or denial of access to classified information, or other sanctions in accordance with applicable law and agency regulation.
Rove reportedly admitted to Bush that he was a leaker in the Plame case. Bush could sanction Rove (and Libby, who also holds the title of "assistant to the president") and strip the men of their security clearances. But then who would tell the president what to do next?

No comments: