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July 21, 2005

Rove-A-Mania: Catch The Fever!

Boy, I certainly have a bad case of it. I haven't been this excited by a story since I heard Rosie O'Donnell was backing Boy George's semi-autobiographical pop-rock musical Taboo.

Walter Pincus, reliably unreliable, states that the State Dept. memo getting a lot of scrutiny in this non-scandal mentioned that Plame was Wilson's wife, with the paragraph marked (S) for "secret."

He says that that designation is typically used for noting agents working under cover.

Well... who knows what in the paragraph was actually (S). Further, the fact is that the classification regime is notoriously eager to slap (Secret) on any old thing, since it's a lot easier (and safer) to claim something is secret rather than do a real analysis and determine that it's not, in fact, secret at all.

I should note that "secret" is just about the lowest, if not the lowest, level of classified information. Not sure, but I think only "confidential" is lower on the scale. And the three classic categories -- Confidential, Secret, Top Secret -- don't even cover real secrets. Those are bullshit classifications. Real secret stuff is protected by codeword-clearance, where only a limited number of folks are allowed to see the information, and you have to be cleared specifically to view information designated by a particular codeword.

Still, technically, "secret" information is classified information.

The left is going all ape-shit over this, as can be expected. But Pincus knows -- as I'm sure he's complained before -- that bureaucrats routinely and thoughtlessly stamp things "secret" or "top secret" just to cover their asses. No one ever got fired for marking non-classified information as classified; but heads roll if you fail to mark true classified information as such.

He doesn't point that out, of course, though I'm sure he's complained about that a thousand times before.

Long story short: whatever was marked on the memo, Valerie Plame was not a covert agent.

But... there is the possibility that, while she was known by her neighbors as being a CIA officer (and of course known to every foreign intelligence service worth a damn, since she drove to Langely every day for the last five years), her identinty was still technically classified, owing to bureaucratic inertia and incompetence, and so it's possible that someone is technically guilty of revealing classified information.

Assuming they read the memo at all, and did not in fact simply hear this from reporters.

Outside the Beltway thinks it unlikely that someone in the Administration read the memo.

I don't know about "unlikely" -- somebody, somewhere, reads this crap -- but it's hardly proven that Karl Rove or Scooter Libby did.

How Bullshit Classified Information Is So Classified: PiZero provides this link about Top Secret, Secret, and Confidential information.

But, once again, "Top Secret" is nothing of the sort. Low-level FBI agents have Top Secret classification.

Genuine secret information is not allowed to be so broadly read. The real secret classification system is codeword-clearance.

Pat Moynihan talked about this on 60 Minutes, complaining about the overclassification bias in the government. He said, flat out, that Top Secret information was nothing of the sort; real secrets were classified by codewords.

What are those codewords?, he was asked.

"I can't tell you," he said. "The codewords themselves are secret."

PS: The stuff Sandy Berger stole from the archives? Codeword-clearance. The press didn't seem particularly interested in his theft (and admitted DESTRUCTION!) of original copies of genuine secret documents from the archives.

But some State Department memo has an (S) on it and Walter Pincus gets a dangerous erection lasting more than four hours.

A Secret Paragraph? Commenters Russ and BrewFan, who had Top Secret clearance previously, both rather doubt that a paragraph would be labeled "Secret." They seem to think the entire document gets rated according to the highest-confidentiality rating of any information disclosed within it.

If that's right, then Walter Pincus is just making shit up out of whole cloth, or allowing himself to be played. To sex up his report, he needs the (S) in specific reference to Valerie Plame, and he's claiming that the paragraph in question was specifically labled (S).

Rather than the entire document.

I don't know myself. But I will say I trust Russ and BrewFan more than Walter Pincus.

digg this
posted by Ace at 01:50 PM

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