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Former presidential adviser and political pundit David Gergen repeatedly pushed the false Republican spin that unless White House senior adviser Karl Rove revealed CIA operative Valerie Plame's actual name, he did not commit a crime.
In fact, the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act, under which the intentional disclosure of a covert agent's identity is illegal, applies to any individual who "intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information." Even Robert Luskin, Rove's lawyer, has acknowledged that leaking Plame's actual name, as opposed to information that otherwise identified her, is not central to whether Rove revealed classified information.
Appearing on the July 13 edition of MSNBC'S Hardball with Chris Matthews, Gergen stated that "as long as he didn't put the name out," Rove did not have a legal problem:
ANDREA MITCHELL (NBC News chief foreign affairs correspondent): And -- and, in fact, I have always have thought that Bob Novak's column [which outed Plame] back then said that there were two administration officials. I have always thought that Karl Rove is the only one we know about, but that there was someone else, clearly, inside the administration, inside the White House, perhaps, who was feeding this information. And this could have been in fact a higher-up or someone else that has not been identified.
GERGEN: But not only that. It's also -- everything we know so far suggests it was the second source who actually put her name out, not Karl Rove.
MITCHELL: Exactly. Exactly.
GERGEN: And as long as he didn't put the name out, I don't think he has a legal problem. And that's -- so, I don't think he's going to get indicted, unless he lied to the grand jury.
From the July 13 edition of CNN's Inside Politics:
GERGEN: I think it's also very important to distinguish between whether the White House misled us, which I think reporters feel they did, and they did, after all, say Karl Rove had nothing to do with this, with the naming or the identification of this woman. He clearly had -- he was clearly involved, contrary to what the White House said.
But on the law, based on what we know now, it would appear clearly that he does not have a legal problem, that Karl Rove did not violate the law. If he only told [Time magazine correspondent] Matt Cooper and other journalists, "Hey, Joe Wilson's wife did this," that's not a violation of the law. This is a very complex case, but it comes down to that simple question: Did he leak her name, and did he know she was a covert agent?
From Gergen's July 11 appearance on CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight:
GERGEN: I don't see -- well, I don't see what we know so far as indicating he's in legal trouble. There may be some political storm over this.
GERGEN: But what we know is that Karl Rove may have apparently told Time magazine that Joe Wilson's wife, who worked at the agency, might have been behind his trip to Africa. That's not illegal on its face. I mean, if he didn't disclose her name and didn't know her, didn't know that she was covert, there's no violation of the law. That is what he has publicly said.