Monday, July 18, 2005

The nail in everyone's coffin?

Here's something from The Carpetbagger Report that may slam the door on Rove:

Question 19: If information that a signer of the SF 312 knows to have been classified appears in a public source, for example, in a newspaper article, may the signer assume that the information has been declassified and disseminate it elsewhere?

Answer: No. Information remains classified until it has been officially declassified. Its disclosure in a public source does not declassify the information. Of course, merely quoting the public source in the abstract is not a second unauthorized disclosure. However, before disseminating the information elsewhere or confirming the accuracy of what appears in the public source, the signer of the SF 312 must confirm through an authorized official that the information has, in fact, been declassified. If it has not, further dissemination of the information or confirmation of its accuracy is also an unauthorized disclosure.

However, I would urge extreme caution to any prosecutor who uses this as an argument to get Rove or anyone for a leak. We already have a fear that thanks to the court cases against Miller and Cooper (even though his was dropped) sources will be more leery of giving information. We've seen that happen already, when a paper refused to print information about a case b/c it was afraid the leakers had given away protected information. Now imagine if EVERY single piece of information that could have been classified has to be checked before confirming. Add to that the Bush Admin's penchant for secrecy, and imagine several things that weren't classified before now being designated as such. In addition to all that, try to think of having to go to a person to confirm something is declassified, thereby leaving a trail. Now here's an article mentioning the fact YOU had to clear in the paper, and some higher-ups are unhappy.

The press is not perfect. That doesn't mean it should be decimated. Using SF312 as a way to get Rove or whoever will. Is it worth taking down the free press for Rove? I don't think even the looniest lefty would say yes.

(This is all speculation of course. I don't think - yet - this would come to pass. But if it did...)

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