More on the classified

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More on theclassified information‘ strategy.

Why are Knut Royce and Timothy Phelps named in the Gonzales memo noted below?

Perhaps because of this line in their July 22nd article on Novak and Wilson in Newsday

A senior intelligence official confirmed that Plame was a Directorate of Operations undercover officer who worked “alongside” the operations officers who asked her husband to travel to Niger.

That seems to show that after Novak had published Plame’s name, someone at the CIA — or another intelligence agency — confirmed to Royce and Phelps that Plame was in fact at the DO.

Confirming that Plame was CIA after the information was publicized is quite different from the initial disclosure. But if the White House or the Justice Department was so inclined, it could be a good way of launching some sort of counter-attack against the CIA. That is, if they can be shown to have disclosed Plame’s profession as well, even if only after the fact. (Maybe the White House leaked … Maybe the Agency did too. How far do you want this to go? etc.)

More importantly, consider this.

I noted earlier that in his comments yesterday President Bush never referred to the issue of blowing a covert operative’s cover, only to his opposition to “leaks of classified information.”

Now, what is the whole question we’re dealing with here? The Wilson/Plame matter is an outgrowth of the Niger/Uranium controversy. And that’s just part of the larger debate about the intelligence wars leading up to the war, the whole matter of politicized intelligence.

One of the questions that’s been churning through Washington of late is when some of those disgruntled folks at CIA are going to go to the press and start talking about all the stuff that happened in the lead-up to war. That might involve some ‘leaks of classified information’ or at least leaks that get close enough to it to make some career person over at Langley scared to talk.

I don’t think this is all part of some plan — at least not one quite fully developed. But just keep this angle in mind: the possibility that the administration is going to try use this controversy to go on the offensive against those who might reveal further uncomfortable truths about what happened in the lead-up to war. After all, what started this whole mess was their attempt to shut up people down in the national security bureaucracy who might already have come forward or might be thinking of doing so.

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