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The Ham Sandwich Theory is Back, and Outing a CIA Agent is Not a Crime

Reported by Janie - October 20, 2005

Yesterday (10/19) Dayside hosts Juliet Huddy and Mike Jerrick briefly discussed the CIA Leak case on Dayside, and invited Fox host Brit Hume onto the show to give more "insight" into the story.

Hume began: "The puzzling thing about this case is the investigation has gone on so very long and has covered so much territory in terms of at least the number of witnesses called. But the problem I see is that it is not at all clear that the original event that triggered the investigation was a crime. It started, of course, with Bob Novak, a colleague in Washington, a columnist, noting that Joe Wilson who was sent on this mission by the CIA to check things out in Niger, with regard to Saddam Hussein and an alleged attempt to purchase nuclear weapons materials. Whether, why he was ever picked, because he was a critic of the administration, the answer Novak picked up was well, it seems his wife was CIA. Well, it turned out his wife was CIA, and it turns out she was undercover.

Comment: Hume claims that he does not see a crime committed in the case. The CIA agent had her identify disclosed to the public, and as Hume openly admits, Plame was undercover, but in his eyes, outing a CIA agent is not actually a crime. Fantastic national security policy there, Mr. Hume.

Hume continued: "There’s no indication that Novak knew that, and there's no indication that any of the people who have been identified as possible sources for Novak, or other journalists, knew that she was undercover. So, that kind of intentional disclosure, which amounts to a crime, does not seem to be present here."

Comment: Whether or not Novak knew that she was undercover is not the issue at hand. Hume claims that Novak's possible sources in the case did not know she was undercover as well. However, that does not matter in this case. The sources that supposedly leaked her name in the case, have security clearance, which means they have access to finding out whether or not Plame was actually covert before talking to reporters. Just 7 days before Novak's piece was published, a memo was passed around among administration officials with the information on Plame, clearly marked with an (S) next to the paragraph in which she was discussed, meaning the information contained in that paragraph was secret. Administration officials knew that her covert status was protected, and both Karl Rove and Scooter Libby, both targets in the probe, had full access to that memo. This is where judicial precedents come into play. Whether or not Rove and Libby "knew" she was covert is not an issue, they had access to the information, and according to USA v LADISH MALTING CO., a decided Supreme Court case, that's all that matters. What that case decided was that "having knowledge" means the person knew or "should have known." Under this legal precedent, both Rove and Libby clearly violated the law.

What Hume also does not mention, is the recent information coming out of the investigation leading many within the beltway to believe the leak was intentional. According to the New York Daily News, Fitzgerald is investigating Vice President Dick Cheney's and the White House Iraq Group's (WHIG) involvement in the leak, and that the outing of Plame was orchestrated as political payback for her husband's involvement in debunking WHIG's claims that Saddam Hussein had attempted to purchase nuclear weapon materials from Niger.

Hume then invoked this now infamous line: "Well, remember this about prosecutors, they have, when it comes to getting indictments from grand juries, you know, the old saw about this is that a grand jury could be persuaded to indict a ham sandwich."

Comment: Another right-wing talking point being thrown around on Fox... what a surprise. The viewers were left with the impression that this entire scandal is no big deal, as Hume attempted to provide protection to the administration.

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