So I was reading this account of a Seymour Hersh interview on Fresh Air in which he says that Cheney loyalists have been "burrowed" into sensitive government positions, and continue to feed him information:
"I'll make it worse. I think he's put people left. He's put people back. They call it a stay-behind. It's sort of an intelligence term of art. When you leave a country and, you know, you've been driven out the, you know, you've lost the war. You leave people behind. It's a stay-behind that you can continue to have contacts with, to do sabotage, whatever you want to do. Cheney's left a stay-behind. He's got people in a lot of agencies that still tell him what's going on. Particularly in defense, obviously. Also in the NSA, there's still people that talk to him. He still knows what's going on. Can he still control policy up to a point? Probably up to a point, a minor point. But he's still there. He's still a presence."
(Audio link at bottom
And the first thing that went through my head was, "People from the NSA are talking to a guy who orchestrated the outing of a covert CIA agent?"
Then I realized that the real question was, "Why does Richard Bruce Cheney still have a security clearance?"
Based on my reading of the entire Lewis "Scooter" Libby case, it's clear that Patrick Fitzgerald had concerns that Cheney was aware of the leaks on some level, though he lacked any hard evidence (missing emails anyone?) to go any further.
That being said, a security clearance is not a legal procedure, it's an administrative procedure, and to a significant degree, it is necessary for the holder of this clearance to show that they not a security risk, either intentionally or through negligence.
There is also an additional duty to report any credible potential security violations to the appropriate authorities.
This is a lower standard of proof than, for example, the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, or obstruction of justice statutes.
There is therefore a significant concern that Dick Cheney violated the terms of his clearance, and pending an investigation, his clearance should be suspended pending an investigation.
Unlike a government employee whose livelihood is dependent on having a clearance, this should not provide an undue burden, and a hearing, with witnesses, including Lewis "Scooter" Libby and Mr. Cheney, testifying under oath, would be an appropriate venue to decide whether or not he was either deliberately or negligently cavalier with sensitive intelligence data.
Of course, if Mssrs Cheney or Libby were to make untrue statements in the process of giving their testimony, that would be a matter for the federal prosecutors.
Cross posted from 40 Years in the Desert.