Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, violated law that forbade revealing the identity of U.S. spies by confirming the identity of CIA spy Valerie Plame in a conversation with Robert Novak July 8, 2003. Six days later Mr. Novak published a news story based on that conversation with Karl Rove in his nationally syndicated column.
On March 25, 2003, President George W. Bush issued Executive Order number 12958 which governs how federal employees are granted security clearances in order to access classified information. Such an order has existed in various forms since Harry Truman was president. [Executive Order No. 12958, Classified National Security Information (as amended), sec. 4.1(a) (Mar. 28, 2003) (online at www.archives.gov/isoo/policy_documents/executive_order_
Mr. Rove signed SF-312, which is the federal government's "Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement," which states in part that, “I will never divulge classified information to anyone who is not authorized to receive it." Robert Novak was not authorized to receive such sensitive and secret information.
Karl Rove's attorney is quibbling about the interpretation of such a document, arguing that there is a significant and meaningful difference between "releasing classified information to someone not authorized to receive it and confirming classified information from someone not authorized to have it."
The nondisclosure agreement Mr. Rove signed has no such distinction.
In fact, every person whom signs the SF-312 receives a booklet which states in part that, "Before … 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, … confirmation of its accuracy is also an unauthorized disclosure." [Information Security Oversight Office, National Archives and Records Administration, Briefing Booklet: Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement (Standard Form 312), at 73 (emphasis added) (online at www.archives.gov/isoo/training/standard_form_312.pdf).]
Mr. Rove's attorney is also arguing that any possible revealing of classified information applies only if he did it intentionally or knowingly.
However, the nondisclosure statement and the executive order require punishment for anyone who discloses classified information "knowingly, willfully, or negligently." Sanctions are NOT optional, because the executive order states that “Officers and employees of the United States Government … shall be subject to appropriate sanctions if they knowingly, willfully, or negligently … disclose to unauthorized persons information properly classified.”.
To date, the White House has NOT complied with their own order.