Ken Mehlman: Spinning out of control

Today's edition of Meet The Press had me yelling back at the TV, especially this bit:

MR. RUSSERT: One more point. I'll bring in Mr. Podesta. When one is given classified clearance, they are asked to sign an oath, and they are given a briefing book with form--Standard Form 312, it's called. And if you read this briefing book, it says this: "Before...confirming the accuracy of what appears in the public source, the signer of"--"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."

So by confirming a story from Robert Novak or sharing information with Matt Cooper, no matter where it came from, if, in fact, it was classified information, without seeking to determine whether it was declassified, it is an unauthorized disclosure.

MR. MEHLMAN: Well, you're making an assumption that it's classified information. In fact, what the story on Friday, you pointed out, shows, and what earlier stories have shown is that this information at least came to Mr. Rove from journalists, not from a classified source. But, again, here we are speculating. We should have confidence. I have tremendous confidence in Pat Fitzgerald. He's a career prosecutor. He's a tough prosecutor. That's why he was put in charge of this case, because people want to get to the bottom of it. And that's why it is so outrageous that these partisan smears would occur this past week. The question is this: Do the people that are smearing Karl Rove not have confidence in Mr. Fitzgerald? Do they not think, in fact, he's going to get to the bottom of it? Or would they rather, than getting to the facts, try to make political gain?

Uh, the information can still be classified, no matter where you hear about it. I think Tim just covered that, reading from the book. The book was very clear. So the only question remaining is whether or not Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA employee was confidential. If Pat Fitzgerald (who Ken feels is competent) has been on the case for about two years now, I'd think he'd have established that the information was classified, or this investigation would have stopped in about the second day.

But anyhow, let's hear what Ken has to say about this prosecutor that he has so much confidence in:

MR. RUSSERT: You say you have tremendous confidence in Pat Fitzgerald.


MR. RUSSERT: If, in fact, he indicts White House officials, will you accept that indictment and not fight it?

MR. MEHLMAN: First of all, I'm the chairman of the Republican National Committee. I'm not an attorney for anybody. The fact is I look forward to his getting to the bottom of this. I can't speak for...

MR. RUSSERT: But if he indicts White House officials...


MR. RUSSERT: ...will you pledge today, because you have tremendous confidence in him, that you will not criticize his decision?

MR. MEHLMAN: Again, I'm not going to speculate. I have tremendous confidence in him. I look to getting to the bottom of this. Whatever he does, I can assure you, people are going to follow and are going to look to abide by.

MR. PODESTA: Just say "yes," Ken.

MR. MEHLMAN: But I think it would be inappropriate for me as the RNC chairman to say what legal strategy people may take in the future.

MR. RUSSERT: But if you have tremendous confidence in him, then you will respect and accept his decision.

MR. MEHLMAN: I look forward to hearing what he has to say, and I intend to respect what he has to say, but, again, I'm not going to speculate on what he might do.

Wow. Mehlman won't even put his mouth where his mouth is, never mind his money. So, the Republican line is this: the Democrats are using "partisan smears" and we should wait for what Fitzgerald has to say, but if Fitzgerald comes to the same conclusion (though we have utmost confidence in him) then he's obviously wrong too, and then we will attack him, despite our confidence.