Memeorandum


Powered by TypePad

« Congressional Hearings Into Plame Case | Main | Bolton's Disclosure Accurate? »

July 27, 2005

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b2aa69e200d83424d02e53ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference The Times Discovers Ari Fleischer:

» Democrats betting on a losing hand? from Mark in Mexico
The American Spectator wonders if the Democrats are strangling themselves with the Rove / Plame affair. [Read More]

» Plame Game -5 "Connecting the Dots" from Macmind - Conservative Commentary and Common Sense
While most of the concentration on blogs and in the media is on "who leaked -what/ were/here/there with whom"? The connective dots of the real story behind the story are coming together. [Read More]

» The Case Against Plame and The CIA from The Strata-Sphere
In a previous post I went into great detail about how I believe the Special Prosecutor, which the MSM naively believes is investigating Rove, is actually investigating a much larger, dangerous leaking of classified material. That post cearly identif... [Read More]

» Pincus Still Has Truth Issues from Captain's Quarters
Walter Pincus extends his conflict of interest in covering Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame in today's Washington Post, continuing his role as a purveyor of misinformation. He and Jim VandeHei write that Patrick Fitzgerald has widened his investigation, bu... [Read More]

» Calling Ari from CommonSenseDesk
JTM takes a long look at Ari Fleischer's role in Plamegate. Seems poor Ari may be more involved than anyone initially thought. [Read More]

» Calling Ari from CommonSenseDesk
JTM takes a long look at Ari Fleischer's role in Plamegate. Seems poor Ari may be more involved than anyone initially thought. [Read More]

» A Wider Net? Wider Misreporting from Macmind - Conservative Commentary and Common Sense
"The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media." ~ William Colby, Former Director, CIA" [Read More]

» Miscellanea: Fair and Balanced, Al Jazeera Style from Decision '08
More on everybody's favorite intelligence-gathering couple from the typically thorough Tom Maguire... [Read More]

» CIA VS. THE WHITE HOUSE: INMAN SPEAKS from Right Wing Nut House
This article originally appears in The American Thinker Admiral Bobby Inman is known as one of the most brilliant men who ever worked in the intelligence game. His service as Deputy Director of Central Intelligence under William Casey as well as his... [Read More]

Comments

Martin

Read Pincus in the Post today instead.

Appalled Moderate

Novak's source has to be Libby. Otherwise why the prosecutorial interest in what Tim Russert had to say to him?

Martin

Just read the Post-the whole time TM and other right wing nuts have been arguing the Plame leak was no bg deal, Fitzgerald has left them in the dust. The CIA is talking to the grand jury. The grand jury is getting witnesses based on tips from Wilson. The Post now calls Plamegate "the CIA leak probe." Lord God have mercy-all crimes are paid.

Slartibartfast

Yet somehow Martin continues to get the sequence of investigation -> trial -> verdict completely backward. Baffling, from a guy who's just plain smarter than the rest of us.

Martin

Kinda like you morons started a war in Iraq out of sequence, i.e. there was no evidence for a casus belli, but you assured us all you'd find it in due course.

So you know well how this works, Slarti.

Slartibartfast
you morons started a war in Iraq out of sequence, i.e. there was no evidence for a casus belli

I agree that our casus belli for Operation Desert Storm was probably kind of thin, yes. Still, we help out where we can.

Martin

April Glaspie.

Florence Schmieg

Seems to me that all of these news reports point more and more to one thing: Karl Rove is not the leak.

Slartibartfast
In April 1991 Glaspie testified before the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States Senate. She said that at the July 25 meeting she had "repeatedly warned Iraqi President Saddam Hussein against using force to settle his dispute with Kuwait." She also said that Saddam had lied to her by denying he would invade Kuwait. Asked to explain how Saddam could have interpreted her comments as implying U.S. approval for the invasion of Kuwait, she replied: "We foolishly did not realize he [Saddam] was stupid."

So, puzzled as to where you're going with this.

Martin

"She said that at the July 25 meeting she had "repeatedly warned Iraqi President Saddam Hussein against using force to settle his dispute with Kuwait."

Ok-What did the official transcript released by the State Department say?

Slartibartfast

Well, let's take a look at it. Got a link?

Seven Machos

Florence: Don't worry. Scooter Libby will soon become the guy who has been the real boss of the White House. If not him, Ari Fleischer. The important thing isn't who leaked. The important thing is that the leak makes the White House look bad and stupid and evil. If it can be tied to BLOOD FOR OIIIILLLL!!!!, that's just gravy.

Martin

Oh forget it-unfruitful sideline. I want one of you guys to explain again that Plame wasn't undercover.

Appalled Moderate

Hey Martin:

So that we can stay on topic here, what do you think the Pincus article adds to the discussion? I read it and beyond concluding that Novak should be banished from reporting for life, didn't see it as advancing the legal or political case against either Rove or Libby. (In fact, there's a source claiming that the CIA was working on the response to Wilson, not Rove and Libby as claimed in the NYT. If refutation is correct, that would weaken the case that Rove "should have known" about Plame's covert status.)

Martin

Hey Slarti-didn't see your post-short answer-no there's no link-the State Dept. has never released its transcript (Iraq has released theirs)-not even to 1. support Glaspies testimony and 2. refute all the wild claims of the leftists that Bush I bungled us into Desert Storm. It remains classified. Maybe we should get Rove on it.

Slartibartfast
Oh forget it-unfruitful sideline.

Brought to you by the resident boy genius. Heh. Unfruitful. You've got a gift for understatement, Martin.

spongeworthy

I still think it's Powell.

I wonder if the Martin-types know how little their opinions and their slant on the facts matter to us just as soon as they reveal what mindless axes they're grinding. If I was on a lefty board and I wanted my opinions to be weighed in the balance, the last thing I'd be on about is Monica Lewinsky or even Socks Berger.

Once you've partaken of the Kool-Aid and we can see the little grape moustache left behind you may as well be hollering down the well, as my sainted Mother used to say.

Martin

AM-I don't really care about Rove or Libby per se believe it or not. I believe the administration knowingly deceived the country into war in Iraq. But I thought we'd have to settle for small scale retribution on Rove. From this Post story, I gather Fitzgerald is after the big picture and the whole sorry enchilada is going to be revealed.

Having the truth revealed will be far better than just busting a scumbag.

Davis

The people who are trying to stop John Bolton from being nominated as our Ambassador to the UN are now trying to tie him into the "leaking investigation". The fact that the Grand Jury is meeting in secret prevents Bolton from defending himself. His opponents know this. This is just one example of how the investigation is interfering with ongoing, important government business. The sooner that Mr. Fitzgerald concludes this, the better.

Martin

IOW Fitzgerald is doing Congress's job. A sorry spectacle.

Miller

It would make sense that the Special Prosecutor would interview Bolton. He was pushing the "uranium from Africa" claim as late as December '02, just a month before the SOTU. This is probably being leaked by someone at State who doesn't want Bolton confirmed. The info about Fleisher reading the State Dept. memo on Air Force One in July '03 also appears to be leaked by someone at State. It looks like elements of both the CIA and State are not happy at their loss of control over the handling of, respectively, intelligence and foreign policy.

Jeff

Davis - Please explain how "The fact that the Grand Jury is meeting in secret prevents Bolton from defending himself." If Bolton testified, he can talk about his testimony. If Bolton has had nothing to do with the investigation whatsoever, he can just come out and categorically say, "Those who suspect I gave a false answer on my Disclosure Form are just plain wrong. My answer stands." Period. So where's the problem? And if Bolton has had nothing to do with the investigation, then I don't see why the secrecy of the grand jury has anything to do with it.

Seven Machos

In the Left's demonology, what Republican WASN'T involved in Plamegate?

Crank

Martin - Remember the Ollie North case: if Congress gets involved and starts taking testimony, it could wind up making it all but impossible to prosecute anyone, because the prosecutor would then have to prove that he didn't get any information from testimony given under grants of immmunity (Granted, that could be easier here, since Fitzgerald has already gathered most of his facts).

Martin

It's called the "CIA Leak Probe" now by the cognoscenti, 7M.

Martin

I'm cool with that Crank-getting the truth out on Iran-Contra went beyond the need for particular convictions. Another reason Repubs shouldn't panic over the CIA leak probe and make themselve look stupid by denial of plain fact (e.g. Plame was undercover).

The American people knew the absolutely mind-boggling facts of Iran Contra and still elected Bush I (alas, but so be it)-so they might well keep voting for the traitors in Bush 2. Just get the truth out and move on.

Marcel

Today’s Washington Post article points out that the Special Prosecutor has cast a wider net than previously known, talking to CIA and State officials. That backs up what Miller suggests. Witnesses are allowed to talk about their own testimony, and they can pick up on the direction of the probe from the questions that are posed to them.

Looking at which reporters and bloggers are putting out the new information, most of them usually report on foreign policy and intelligence issues. They would have the contacts at the State Dept. and CIA. The political writers are still getting information from White House and Party contacts, but there isn’t much coming out of those places.

The PR momentum has shifted away from the White House and RNC and towards the witnesses who are willing to talk, and many of them aren’t too friendly towards the White House.

Jeff

The WaPo piece is interesting on the question of the interaction between Novak and the CIA. The CIA version (apparently attested to under oath before the grand jury) is just what I thought it would be, and not surprisingly supports my blame-Novak version over TM's blame-the-CIA version. Here's the WaPo:

Harlow, the former CIA spokesman, said in an interview yesterday that he testified last year before a grand jury about conversations he had with Novak at least three days before the column was published. He said he warned Novak, in the strongest terms he was permitted to use without revealing classified information, that Wilson's wife had not authorized the mission and that if he did write about it, her name should not be revealed.

Harlow said that after Novak's call, he checked Plame's status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative. He said he called Novak back to repeat that the story Novak had related to him was wrong and that Plame's name should not be used. But he did not tell Novak directly that she was undercover because that was classified.

I wonder whether Novak has disputed any of those facts or that characterization when he was under oath? Presumably it is possible to corroborate some of it - whether Harlow called him back, whether Harlow did in fact check on Plame's status as an undercover operative, and so on. It is, of course, possible that Novak just didn't get it -- we're all prone to interpreting things in self-serving ways, I gather -- but after this it seems at least a little bit harder to claim that the CIA failed to do what it should have done to protect Plame.

Seven Machos

Anyway, Marty, are you going to answer my question?

I mean, you are the brilliant one here. I'm just dumb old me, a little person with little views. Please. Educate me. Show me the light. Be as arrogant and condescending as possible also, because that makes me want to agree with you more.

Martin

Ok 7M-Ashcroft wasn't involved in it, and wouldn't agree to cover it up. That's why he got the axe. Now explain again how Plame was not undercover.

Jeff

Miller - One issue concerning Bolton is whether he answered a particular question on his Disclosure Form for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee accurately and truthfully. It does make sense that Fitzgerald would interview Bolton. However, if he was interviewed before he filled out his Disclosure Form, then it would appear he did so either incorrectly or untruthfully. Here's the question, via Steve Clemons:

Interviews -- Have you been interviewed or asked to supply any information in connection with any administrative (including an inspector general), Congressional or grand jury investigation within the past 5 years, except routine Congressional testimony? If so, provide details.

Apparently, Bolton answered no, whereas Karen Hughes, for instance, answered yes on account of the Fitzgerald investigation. If Bolton was interviewed, the correct answer is yes. If he was interviewed after filling out the form, presumably it just needs to be amended (or whatever that process is). If he was interviewed before filling out the form, permit me to speculate that he will not be our next ambassador to the U.N.

Seven Machos

John Ashcroft: darling of the Left.

I wish I was smart enough to understand all this the way Marty does.

Martin

7M-was Plame undercover or not?

Miller

The MSNBC report that Bolton was interviewed in connection with the CIA leak probe must have the White House in bind. If Bolton withdraws his nomination it will look like he has something to hide, and maybe did file a false declaration. But if there is a recess appointment, that could backfire if and when there is confirmation that Bolton was a witness. So the White House may be forced to let the nomination drag on for some time.

Jeff

There's an interesting article in the Boston Globe today on the SSCI report -- the unfinished part -- that might cause some revision of the view I've seen here that the process has been either comprehensive or bipartisan.

Crank

I read the Pincus article too, and I don't see much new. Fitzgerald has interviewed a lot of people; just means he's careful. If anything, the fact that he's looking into context means he doesn't take the view of many on the Left that such things are legally irrelevant. On the other hand, a broad-ranging investigation could be a sign that he intends to indict someone for something. In other words, wait and see.

Davis

There is only one media source - MSNBC - that says it has information that Bolton gave testimony. One report is not proven fact, we don't know who their source was, and at this point it is no more than a rumor. Bolton appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and answered their questions.

TexasToast

Bolton also makes it even clearer that the real war here is not between Dems and Reps - but between State Dpt and CIA vs Cheney, Rumsfeld, Porter Goss et al.

The "16 words" fight seems to illustrate the larger fight over where to assign the "blame" for the WMD fiasco - to the CIA for faulty intelligence or the Cheney/Rumsfeld crowd for the agressive overselling of the faulty intelligence. The Wilson op-ed and the Senate Report both have axes to grind with respect to that as shown by the never to be completed second part of the Senate Report. Roberts has already put his ore in the water by filing that in the round file, and now, he puts his ore in the water again by calling for hearings on the CIA's definition of "covert". The very topic of the hearings suggests the result.

Jeff

Davis - I fail to see how your post of 9:13 a.m. responds to what I posted in response to you.

There is only one media source - MSNBC - that says it has information that Bolton gave testimony. One report is not proven fact, we don't know who their source was, and at this point it is no more than a rumor.

Fine, but so what? Why can't Bolton simply issue a categorical statement that he has not been at all involved in the Fitzgerald investigation? Or even just state categorically that he stands by his answers on his Disclosure Form? That would put an end to that. The secrecy of the grand jury proceedings is neither here nor there on this issue, and consequently the idea that Bolton can't defend himself is wrong.

Bolton appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and answered their questions.

Assuming you include the Disclosure Form Bolton filled out for the Committee, am I to understand that you agree that if Bolton answered untruthfully, that is a big deal?

Davis

Jeff, John Bolton is under no obligation to respond to speculation in the press. The Senate may think differently, but they are not currently considering his nomination.

TexasToast

Say Tom

I noticed you changed the ending of your update from "remains a puzzle" to, [paraphrased] "Wilson's a chump for only going public after his wife was outed by Novak".

A bit gratuitous, no?

scott ferris

The WaPo article does refute Novak's claim that CIA did not try and stop him from outing Plame. Novak's inconsistencies after he wrote the Wilson article are entirely self-serving and are likely not truthful. Would love to read Novak's transcripts to see if indeed he is a rat beside being a hack.

Seven Machos

Marty, I have made it abundantly clear that I don't think Plame was under cover for several years. You keep asking that I rehash my argument, as if I would dance for your pleasure. This I will not do.

If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. A stupid little person like me, what do I have to worry about? I don't have to worry about my self-esteem being damaged. Unlike a brilliant intellectual specimen such as yourself, I am not able to take immense pride in my overwhelming intelligence.

I don't think I am wrong.

exmaple

"the NY Times exaggerated the role of Rove and Libby in drafting Tenet's mea culpa statement on the 16 Words."

A new trend amidst the raging debate, insert unsupported spin absolving the CIA from the words about uranium, maybe it will stick.

scott ferris

Excellent White House Briefing Report. It's not linked to the home page yet, see Dan Froomkin. From WHBR:

NOVAK: I can't tell anything I ever talked to Karl Rove about, because I don't think I ever talked to him about any subject, even the time of day, on the record."

But the liberal Think Progress blog notes what it calls an outright lie right off the bat: Novak never talked to Rove on the record? Then how come he quoted Rove at least twice?

Doess he think no one fact checks?

Seven Machos

Well, Scotty, it sounds like you caught Robert Novak redhanded. Should his reporter's licence be revoked now?

scott ferris

Froomkin is going to taking question live on line now at WaPo. Should be good.

scott ferris

Machos, your a shrill for the right with nothing better then peddle

Jeff

Davis said

Jeff, John Bolton is under no obligation to respond to speculation in the press.

But now you've totally changed your argument. You started off saying

The fact that the Grand Jury is meeting in secret prevents Bolton from defending himself. His opponents know this.

First you say Bolton is prevented from defending himself, now you're saying he's not obligated to.

Seven Machos said

I have made it abundantly clear that I don't think Plame was under cover for several years.

I'm curious whether this passage from the WaPo article today made any impression (my emphasis added):

Harlow said that after Novak's call, he checked Plame's status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative. He said he called Novak back to repeat that the story Novak had related to him was wrong and that Plame's name should not be used. But he did not tell Novak directly that she was undercover because that was classified.

That struck me as pretty definitive, especially since it appears from the article that Harlow gave this same account under oath to the grand jury. And in any case, even if we imagine that Harlow is not telling the truth about checking on Plame's status, isn't it doubtful that he would tell this to a reporter now if, in fact, Plame were not an undercover operative at the time?

exmaple

""The "16 words" fight seems to illustrate the larger fight over where to assign the "blame" for the WMD fiasco - to the CIA for faulty intelligence or the Cheney/Rumsfeld crowd for the agressive overselling of the faulty intelligence.""

The "overselling" is bascially a myth grounded in nitpicking. The CIA believed in Iraq's wmds. So did other intelligence agencies in Europe.

The plan of attack is on the "16 words" which were wrong - what about the hundreds of other words about Iraq's wmds uncontested by the press as believed by the CIA? Arguments of the overselling of the faulty intelligence are meant to distract attention from the core premise - the intelligence was faulty.

In the highly charged political climate of this debate the greater truths are ignored for disputes about style and rhetoric.

Seven Machos

Jeff -- I think any judicial treatment of undercover status would involved an objective test, which does not mean did you think you were undercover or did somebody say you were undercover, but did your actions evince undercoverness.

From everything I have seen, Valerie Plame's actions since 1997 did not evince undercoverness. Hence, she was not undercover.

scott ferris

Machos,
Your a shrill with nothing better to do, so why don't you get a job besides fighting for the 101 keyboards, or better yet enlist in the GWOT, or is it GSAVE today? When the WH changes acronyms we are really in trouble. I got to go to work...

Scott

Marcel

Maybe we would be past the debate about politicizing intelligence if Pat Roberts had not gone back on his word to investigate this after the 2004 election. It is too bad that the SSCI is just another cog in the Rove machine. No, this is not another Watergate. At that time the Senate was independent. Now for the most part it is not.

Seven Machos

Scott: it's shill. "Shrill" is an adjective.

Jeff

Seven Machos said

Jeff -- I think any judicial treatment of undercover status would involved an objective test, which does not mean did you think you were undercover or did somebody say you were undercover, but did your actions evince undercoverness.

This is truly puzzling to me, and I think you need to refine this set of criteria, because you seem to be saying that it doesn't matter that the CIA or the government or whoever it is that, you know, pretty much determines the status of CIA agents, doesn't count for anything. I mean, it's true that it's only with a bunch of words that the CIA makes someone officially an undercover operative, but that doesn't seem correctly characterized as "somebody say[s] you were undercover." By your criterion, if I walk around doing things that "evince undercoverness", then I'm undecover. But, much as I hate to admit it, that's not true.

I assume you would be willing to say that at least a necessary, though on your argument not a sufficient, condition of being an undercover operative is that your have to have official status as an undercover operative. And from today's reporting it certainly seems pretty definitive that Plame's official status within the CIA was, in fact, an undercover operative. Now, to me that seems enough. But I'd be happy if you are willing to admit that much, and then to argue that, say, a reasonable person could still think she wasn't undercover because she also did things that didn't "evince undercoverness". So are you now willing to acknowledge that, from the WaPo article, it appears that Plame's status within the CIA was that of an undercover operative?

Seven Machos

No.

pamela

7M--
Maybe Scott conflated 'shrill shill'--or maybe that credits him with the creativity to think that up, eh? I guess I don't know him well enough to know that :)

Anyway, I like your style.

Seven Machos

Jeff -- I should say more. I appreciate your reasonableness and your reaching out.

I could be wrong. I am prepared to accept that Plame was undercover. I admit that someone at the CIA has said she was undercover. I think you should admit that it is unlikely at this juncture that the Agency would have said anything else.

I am thinking about the crime that was allegedly committed here. When dealing with the statute governing the crime and witha possible criminal conviction, it's not enough to just accept what the CIA says at face value. There has to be evidence.

If I was the attorney for anyone convicted, the very first thing I would argue is that Plame was not undercover because she took no action to protect her true identity. You can't go to work every day at Langley, then claim to be a secret spy who everybody suspects of not going to work at Langley every day.

Jeff

TM - So you're now prepared to acknowledge that the CIA did in fact warn Novak in much stronger terms than Novak, in his subsequent account, suggested - but it was still the CIA's fault? Then why didn't Novak give an accurate account of his interaction with the CIA and Wilson and then make the argument that you're making -- that despite being warned off in the stronger terms allowable under the law (which is the issue here about not revealing Plame's status, not the hit squad), Novak fulfilled his responsibility by publishing anyway on the theory that he could say whatever he liked since, if it really mattered, it was the CIA's job (with the help of Joe Wilson) to contact his publisher to squelch the story. After all, the CIA is the de facto censor of all publications in the U.S., and it is their job to stay on top of every one, even if they believed they had made it as clear as day to a reporter what not to publish.

By the way, I bet other reporters also talked to the CIA, and got the message. Would that make a difference to you regarding where responsibility lies for Novak's column, and what counts as affirmative measures?

Tommy V

Jeff,

It shouldn't be puzzling to you. Plame official status with the CIA was that her position was cliassified. This is why the CIA asked for the investigation in the first place.

This official status was held over from when she came back to the states, in 1997, but there all indications that this was not active, and she was undercover on paper only.

She was not behaving as if she was undercover, she did not have an undercover job, nor was the CIA going through any active steps to treat her as if she was undercover. (Undercover operatives do not work 5 days a week at Langley. etc...)

Even with all this, however, if someone from the CIA told Novak not to use the name, Novak would simply be guessing that Plame wasn't "really" undercover, and I can't imagine why he would put the name in print.

Marcel

Seven and Pat Roberts agree that going to work at Langley every day makes it difficult to argue that someone's status is undercover. That must me a surprise to the many CIA employees at Langley who think they are undercover. At least Seven and Sen. Roberts are both reading off the same page - the RNC talking points.

Appalled Moderate

Based on today's Pincus, I can't see how Fitzgerald could prosecute Rove or Libby under an Espionage Act "reasonably should have known" she was covert theory, without also prosecuting Novak.

Marianne

Tommy, You seem to know a lot about what Valerie Wilson was doing at CIA headquarters (and had been doing since her return to the US). Do you have personal knowledge or related documentation or is this just speculation? Do you know if her outside contacts knew that she was CIA?

Jeff

Seven Machos said

I think you should admit that it is unlikely at this juncture that the Agency would have said anything else.

I am thinking about the crime that was allegedly committed here. When dealing with the statute governing the crime and witha possible criminal conviction, it's not enough to just accept what the CIA says at face value. There has to be evidence.

I doubt the Agency would say anything else at this juncture -- and, apparently, Harlow would so testify under oath -- if it were not true and there were not evidence to back it up. I mean, Harlow says he checked, which means there is some way to check, which suggests evidence, and a way for the grand jury to corroborate -- or disprove -- Harlow's testimony. How did he check? Did he talk to someone -- and if so, does that someone corroborate the story? Did he check a document -- if so, can we see it? and so on.

So I really doubt Harlow would tell this story to the WaPo now if it were not true, and there were not evidence.

Again, if you as defense lawyer want to argue that despite the fact that Plame was classified as a covert operative, she wasn't really because of her evincing non-covertness, fine, see if it works. I don't think it would get that far -- but I would be happy if everyone on the right would acknowledge that, yes, it appears that her official status actually was that of covert operative.

And by the way, at this point it's not at all clear to me what the relevant statute is.

Tommy V

Marianne,

You just have to keep up with the stories in the news. I didn't state anything that hasn't been established as I understand it. All conclusions, of course, are mine.

If you're not up for speculation then you will have to wait until the special prosecutor is done.

Jim E.

I think you should admit that it is unlikely at this juncture that the Bush administration and its shills would be saying anything else but that they've done nothing wrong.

Tommy V

I would think Fitz is spending a lot of his resources trying to determine where Rove and Libby found out about Plame.

If they found out through official channels then they had the responsibilty to at least check Plame's official status and whether it could be referenced in conversations with the press.

If Rove was told by a reporter, as he says, there was certainly no reason to believe Plame's status was somehow classified or in any way a tightly held secret.

In my mind, this is the primary question.

kim

At this juncture it's unlikely anyone would be admitting wrongdoing.

But we'll get there.
=============================================

Lesley

"A big question is her duties at Langley. I regret that I referred to her in my column as an "operative," a word I have lavished on hack politicians for more than 40 years. While the CIA refuses to publicly define her status, the official contact says she is "covered" -- working under the guise of another agency. However, an unofficial source at the Agency says she has been an analyst, not in covert operations." - from the Oct 1 2003 Novak article entitled "The CIA Leak."

I don't know if this adds anything to the discussion but I was struck that there might be a distinction between "covered" and "covert."

Seven Machos

Appalled: Novak can't be prosecuted. You have to be a government official to be prosecuted. Free speech and all that. If Joe Wilson is indicted, I'm sure we'll hear plenty about what it means to be an actual government official and how he wasn't ACTUALLY a government official.

Marcel: I have yet to receive a single Republican talking point.

Jim: I admit it. The White House can't say it is guilty. Have you considered the possibility that the White House also IS not guilty?

Tommy V

Lesley,

If Novak is accurate there, I think that backs up the idea that her status was not up to date with her duties.

This would explain why she would have a covered status, but was by all appearences not behaving like it.

Again, just my conclusions.

Slartibartfast
Harlow said that after Novak's call, he checked Plame's status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative. He said he called Novak back to repeat that the story Novak had related to him was wrong and that Plame's name should not be used. But he did not tell Novak directly that she was undercover because that was classified.

That sounds pretty clear to me: as far as the CIA is concerned (and they're the classification authority, so it can be taken as BY DEFINITION) Plame was undercover, and her identity is classified. It's pretty clear that some violation of one law or another (possibly multiple laws) has occurred, and I'd guess that what Fitzgerald is doing is attempting to find out the original source of the leak.

As has already been noted by other commenters, granted, but I'd say that testimony under oath that Plame was undercover is just about as much evidence to that effect as you're ever likely to see.

Jim E.

Yes.

Slartibartfast

I hope the above makes Jeff a leedle bit more happy. I do think "everyone on the Right" is probably an unreasonable condition for happiness, though.

Seven Machos

Slart -- The lack of evidence because of national security is not enough evidence to convict beyond a reasonable doubt. I would froth at the mouth to take this case for any client, even Joe Wilson. Just pay this hefty retainer up front, please...

The primary question is: how stupid and poorly thought-out is the goofy law making all of this an issue in the first place?

Slartibartfast
I think you should admit that it is unlikely at this juncture that the Agency would have said anything else.

What evidence would convince you?

Slartibartfast
The primary question is: how stupid and poorly thought-out is the goofy law making all of this an issue in the first place?

Which one? There are multiple statutes that may apply.

Jeff

Slartibartfast - you just made my day. Seriously.

A question for those of you out there who think this is leading back to the CIA and/or Wilson. Today's WaPo story seems pretty clearly to be driven by Tenet and/or other former CIA people close to him, as well as Wilson, pushing back against the White House -- Rove and Libby's story last week about their role in Tenet's statement, while still certifying the WH's attack on the CIA via Hadley's role in getting Tenet to produce the statement -- as well as against what I can only call the WH's lackey, Sen. Roberts, and his questioning Plame's covert status as well as his threat to investigate Fitzgerald's investigation. Whatever you think of that (and I don't demand that you share my view of Roberts), that seems to be what's going on with today's story. Would they really be doing all that if they thought for a minute that Fitzgerald's investigation is heading toward targeting the CIA and Wilson? It seems really doubtful to me, but maybe I'm missing something.

Martin

So Slarti-you have integrity. Good, I will listen to what you have on the merits with respect, because I now know your theories attempt to comply with Reality.

7M, however, you are a Plamegate creationist, however. No fact will change your belief, and your value as an interlocutor suffers accordingly.

Slartibartfast

JFTR, I have no idea where this is all leading to. The person who's going to be left holding the bag is, hopefully, that person who knew Plame was covert and leaked. I can't speculate as to who that was.

Jeff

TM - So I take it, in light of your latest updates, you've revised your view that Wilson was passive when he learned about Novak. He sought to contact Novak, eventually reaching him. He called the head of CNN. He told his wife. And perhaps Novak's lie -- er, I mean, his misspeaking -- to Wilson that he got info from the CIA is part of what made Wilson think the CIA was dealing with it. And in fact the CIA was dealing with it, though evidently not to your satisfaction. What would it take to convince you that Novak was doing bad things here, that it wasn't the CIA?

Joe Jackson

It cracks me up when Bush says that no one will work in his administration if they commited a crime. Well, now, I suppose if one were in prison, one wouldn't be working in the administration would one? Hey! Maybe that's the point! Maybe Bush was considering having Rove, Ari and Libby call in from C-Block and participate in meetings via conference call. Wow, Dumbya is more clever than I thought.

Marcel

How does one "act like an undercover agent"? Wear a trenchcoat and fedora? Not be married, not have children, not live on a regular street in a regular neighborhood?

It might surprise some that we have undercover CIA agents stationed in some embassies and consulates the world. Many have official cover as employees of State or other departments and agencies. Many of them go to work at the embassy or consulate or trade office. Therefore I assume there is no reason that Bob Novak could not publish their names and their spouses names in his Thursday column.

Black Jack

There is much back and forth about Joe Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame, but verrry little about Matt Cooper and his wife, Mandy Grunwald. Remember her? She, Paul Begala, and James Carville ran the Clinton War Room and specialized in smears and dirty tricks. Could Mandy be a covert operative and secretly involved in the Plame Game?

Martin

Forget it Jeff, it's like asking a creationist what fact will finally convince them evolution best fits the observable phenomena.

TM is too far gone into the realm of cognitive certainty to reverse course now.

If there are indictments, you can be sure they will still continue to loudly proclaim the prosecution is unjust.

TM

From Jeff:

TM - So you're now prepared to acknowledge that the CIA did in fact warn Novak in much stronger terms than Novak, in his subsequent account, suggested - but it was still the CIA's fault?

I am not sure I am acknowledging anything - the CIA spokeperson continues to admit that he did not tell Novak not to publish.

Anyway, Howard Kurtz got some reaction at the time:

Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor of The Washington Post, one of the papers that published the July 14 column, said that "in retrospect, I wish I had asked more questions. If I had, given that his column appears in a lot of places, I'm not sure I would have done anything differently. But I wish we had thought about it harder. Alarm bells didn't go off. . . . We have a policy of trying not to publish anything that would endanger anybody."

But Steve Huntley, editorial page editor of the Chicago Sun-Times, Novak's home paper, said: "I trust his judgment and accuracy unquestionably, and his ethics as well. . . . This is the sort of thing you're always faced with when a source tells you something a source should not be telling you. Do you become a second gatekeeper? Our business is to report news, not to slam the door on it."

News organizations often face the dilemma of whether to publish a politically juicy story that might jeopardize someone in a sensitive government position. These judgment calls often involve national security secrets -- troop movements, terrorism investigations, classified military documents -- or police matters, as during the Washington sniper investigation. Journalists sometimes withhold or delay publishing such information at the request of authorities.

I continue to believe that the CIA handled this horribly, and I have no doubt that both Novak and the CIA flack are putting themselves in the best possible light.

That said, Novak has been doing this for decades, and he has editors, all of whom let it slide.

More from Jeff:

By the way, I bet other reporters also talked to the CIA, and got the message. Would that make a difference to you regarding where responsibility lies for Novak's column, and what counts as affirmative measures?

Only Pincus, so far, has admitted to getting a pre-publication leak, but he never talked to the CIA because (he says), he didn't see the news value of a spousal connection.

If other reporters were tipped, talked to the CIA, and did not publish, they ought to self-identify. Or, the CIA press flack ought to identify them. But I don't think it happened.

pamela

JJ--
Nice straw man.

Martin

See?

Lesley

I find it interesting that Mr. Harlow's revelation about his Grand Jury testimony (I assume he could not talk to reporters about it without the CIA's approval) coincides with the announcement of Congressional Hearings.

Martin

-Only Pincus, so far, has admitted to getting a pre-publication leak-

No Matt Cooper did too-that's 3.

The SAO said 6 were given the leak-so we're at 50%.

Trelaney

How can we win the War on Terror when at home we have a War between White House and the CIA?

peapies

This is slightly different than the narrative in his book in which Wilson asserts Novak brought up his wife,

from WAPO
(the secret friend on the street corner)
"The person, whom Wilson declined to identify to The Post, asked Novak about the "yellow cake" uranium matter and then about Wilson, Wilson said. "

Jeff

TM - Thanks for the reply. Just to be clear, then: your position is that the CIA should simply have told Novak not to publish, right? And anything short of that is poor performance?

As for other journalists, I can't remember, was it Pincus or Cooper who said that he did not publish anything about the false line being pushed by the White House that Wilson's wife authorized his trip because he didn't think it was true? I wonder how they came to that conclusion.

Slartibartfast

This:

I am not sure I am acknowledging anything - the CIA spokeperson continues to admit that he did not tell Novak not to publish.

and this:

Harlow said that after Novak's call, he checked Plame's status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative. He said he called Novak back to repeat that the story Novak had related to him was wrong and that Plame's name should not be used. But he did not tell Novak directly that she was undercover because that was classified.

have some fundamental points of disagreement. Cite, Tom?

Appalled Moderate

TM:

The CIA guy obviously felt constrained. I would like to know what he did after talking to Novak. Did he call his superiors and alert them something was up? What did they do? I wonder if this peculiar passage from Pincus helps explains things:

"Harlow was also involved in the larger internal administration battle over who would be held responsible for Bush using the disputed charge about the Iraq-Niger connection as part of the war argument."

Seven Machos

Marcel said: "It might surprise some that we have undercover CIA agents stationed in some embassies and consulates the world." REALLY? No WAY!!!

People: one more time, with feeling: you can't go to work at Langley every day and claim to be undercover. Cover is a story -- something that isn't really true but you say is true and pretend is true. What is your cover if you work at Langley? What is your pretend job? How can you have -- to use a spy-trade term -- "plausible denaibility" if your office is in the EPICENTER OF AMERICAN SPYING?

TM

What would it take to convince you that Novak was doing bad things here, that it wasn't the CIA?

Probably a tape of their conversation. It would also be interesting to know whether Ms. Plame told her boss on July 8 or 9, and what memos or phone calls followed her heads-up.

I would also love to know who Harlow, the CIA flack, talked to within the CIA - did he write a memo to his boss saying "Re: Plame, Mission accomplished, Novak heard me loud and clear"? Did he say, "I am not sure I sold him someone better call his publisher?"

And did the CIA have any after-action evaluation dissecting their own message mismanagement? What did they conclude?

Or is Harlow a one man operation who deals with blown covert agents every day without supervision?

Right now we have self-serving columns from Novak and self-serving CIA leaks.

And that goes double if the CIA message was "Don't use her name because your story is wrong". Now, of course, they will say that they made a distinction, and said "You can't use her even if your story is right". But telling Novak his sotry was wrong was not, in itself, going to dissuade him (he had other sources telling him it was right). Telling him that, right or wrong, her CIA link was classified, would have done it.

Slartibartfast
Telling him that, right or wrong, her CIA link was classified, would have done it.

Which brings us to some rather delicate ground: he can't tell Novak that because that would, in itself, be revealing classified information. But if he doesn't, Novak publishes that Harlow knows will compromise Plame. The only way out of this is to imagine Novak will take it under advisement not to publish, trusting that the CIA guy has a good reason for so advising.

Martin

So why DID Novhack use it?

Who want this information distributed? Is it the "they" who Novak said "gave it to him" and "thought significant."

b/c that "they" would apparently be able to overrule any lousy CIA objection
and that "they" was in the course of making the CIA the fallguy for the yellowcake tale.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Amazon

  • Lee Child, Kindle short story
  • Lee Child
  • Gary Taubes

Traffic

Wilson/Plame