McCain’s Mistake

This morning on ABC, George Stephanopoulos asked Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) about the Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement (a.k.a. SF 312), which was signed by Karl Rove and every other member of the administration with a security clearance. McCain argued that Rove may not have violated the agreement because when he leaked Valerie Plame’s identity it could have been an “honest mistake”:

STEPHANOPOULOS: …Do you believe that this [Classified Information Nondisclosure] agreement should be abided by?

MCCAIN: I do, but that also implies that someone knowingly revealed…


STEPHANOPOULOS: No, this covers negligent disclosures.

MCCAIN: Again, I don’t know what the definition of negligent — if you make an honest mistake, that’s one thing, if you do something without knowledge that you’re violating or being negligent, et cetera.

Actually, the nondisclosure agreement makes no exceptions for “honest mistakes.” Rather, Karl Rove had an affirmative obligation to find out whether Plame’s identity was classified or not. From the agreement Rove signed:

I understand that if I am uncertain about the classification status of information, I am required to confirm from an authorized official that the information is unclassified before I may disclose it…

Rove is required to abide by this provision whether learned Plame’s identity from a secret government document or a journalist.

(Crooks and Liars has the video)