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October 16, 2005

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kim

For what it's worth, I'll second.
================================

kim

The White House wasn't criminal enough, the press has finally tattled on itself, and the CIA is getting Gossed. Whence Victoria Wilson, or is it Valerie Flame(master stroke that) and her washed up hubby, Ambassador Munchausen?
====================================================

Patrick R. Sullivan

If anyone is indicted over all this nonsense it should be the Wilsons. Without Joe running all over Washington (often with his wife in tow) blabbing about his trip to Niger none of this would have happened.

Note that Wilson's wife's employment was no big deal to Judy and she can't even remember who gave her the name because she talked to several people about her. In fact, Judy may have met her at the CIA when she was briefed before being embedded in Iraq:

The DCI Center for Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control (WINPAC) provides intelligence support aimed at protecting the US and its interests from all foreign weapons threats. WINPAC officers are a diverse group with a variety of backgrounds and work experiences; they include mathematicians, engineers (nuclear, chem/bio, mechanical, and aerospace, among others), physicists, economists, political scientists, computer specialists, and physical scientists. Many have advanced degrees and in-depth expertise, while others have a Bachelor’s degree in their fields and have learned most of what they know on the job. On any given day, our analysts could be answering a question from the President, assessing information about a foreign missile test, or developing new computational models to determine blast effects. Key parts of our mission include:

* Studying the development of the entire spectrum of threats, from weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, radiological, chemical, and biological weapons) to advanced conventional weapons like lasers, advanced explosives, and armor, as well as all types of missiles, including ballistic, cruise, and surface-to-air. We study systems from their earliest development phase through production, deployment, and transfers to other countries.

* Monitoring strategic arms control agreements.

* Supporting military and diplomatic operations, which entails frequent overseas travel.

Terrie Rosas

Tom, what do you make of the aspens and the rodeo?

Patrick R. Sullivan

Oops. Forgot to mention that those last four paragraphs are from the CIA website:

http://www.cia.gov/cia/di/organizationt_winpac_page.html

Jim E.

Seems I sort of agree with TM's hunches (and percentages) on this.

The one (obvious) point I'd bring up is this. That things look bad for Libby and Rove right now is based on the leaking of four people, two of whom are Rove and Libby themselves. (The other two are Miller and Cooper.) We have very minimal info. But the fact that things look bad for them despite having much of that minimal info comes straight from Rove and Libby's lawyers, means FitzGerald likely has other evidence that we outsiders don't even know exists. I still think the 8-pages of redacted stuff submitted to the judges means that there's more to this case (and things might possibly be even worse for Rove and Libby).

On the other hand, if the info that's publicly known is all there is to this case, well, then I think FitzGerald has the decision of a lifetime. Would be a tough, tough case to convict on (depending on the specific charges, of course).

Lastly: I haven't read it, but Time magazine supposedly reports that if indicted, Rove has decided he would resign immediately.

Jim E.

Er, that sentence should've read: "But the fact that things look bad for them despite the fact the much of the info out in the public comes straight from Rove and Libby's lawyers,..."

Jim E.

And I think that the blogger Digby has made a good point about Miller's notes mistating the name as "Victoria Wilson." Apparently several reporters covering the story in the early months incorrectly referred to Valerie as Victoria. As Digby speculated, perhaps Fleischer was one of the sources who was throwing out the incorrect name to many reporters (who were apparently too lazy to double-check).

And didn't Fleischer resign that same month?

TigerHawk

Whatever the result, there is a far more serious "First Amendment" issue here than the jailing of Judith Miller. If Fitzgerald indicts under some theory of mishandling classified information on these facts, he will have elevated prosecutorial silliness to a level unachieved even by Ken Starr. The problem, of course, is that it will create enormous political leverage over any future bureaucrat or White House official who speaks to the press -- leaked information that damages the opposition politically will now give rise to demands for prosecution (and, in fairness to what has happened here, it should). Since we all know that information is grossly overclassified, we will have defaulted our way into an official secrets act, of sorts, notwithstanding our long unwillingness to enact such a law. It is beyond ironic that the Fitzgerald appointment followed extended demands by the leading organs of the MSM, including particularly the New York Times.

Patrick R. Sullivan

'Special Counsel Fitzgerald will have a hard time getting Rove for perjury/obstruction on his Matt Cooper testimony, but he is almost certainly weighing charges of mishandling classified information.'

We don't even know if Rove had access to any classified information. He had a political job, not a national security one at the time.

TexasToast

I suspect that their is a lot we don't know. What we do know:

1. The NY Times blew it;
2. Somebody used an "unforgivable curse" by revealing
"Victoria Flame's" name.

I'm curious how lame this duck is.

kim

If the wing goes lame, it's vol de mort.
=================================================

Newby

TM-won't you ever learn? I was just reviewing your October 11 piece attempting to slam Waas.

Well, he was right and you were wrong (so was your posse). Furthermore, it appears his source was copies of Judy's notes.

So-I won't bother to refute this post. Events will do that for me.

Victoria Flame

Fitz knows that probability of convictions is much lower than the probability of indictments you state. Therefore, no Rove or Libby indictments. Fitz is no Ronnie Earle.

kim

The posse is pursuing The desperado out West. That's the answer to "Where is Joe?".
=============================================

SteveMG

The chances of Fitzgerald getting a conviction for mishandling of classified information is contingent on where the trial is held.

If in D.C., he's got a good shot. If in Northern Virginia, less of one.

Seems to me that after all this sturm und drang, the pressue on him to produce something will lead to him bringing charges against Libby and Rove.

Charging public officials with mishandling classified information should be troubling to even the most hardcore Bush hating lefty.

E.g., Daniel Ellsberg?

SMG

JayDee

Charging public officials with mishandling classified information should be troubling to even the most hardcore Bush hating lefty.

Why should this be troubling? Do we want public officials to mishandle classified information? Can you give me the upside to that, especially when its being used for petty political revenge?

I also don't see the upside to the pattern that DC has developed of powerful government officials using the protected status of "media sources" as cover to disseminate propaganda to its citizens.

I am not going to have any trouble accepting any decision Fitzgerald makes. After five years of this propagandizing , deceitful, elitist administration, I'm just happy to get some answers from someone whose honesty I trust.

boris

Is this the claim? ...

Rogue CIA operatives can spread anti-administration disinformation with impunity and it can't be rebutted using the truth because the truth is classified.

I doubt it.

Seven Machos

"I am not going to have any trouble accepting any decision Fitzgerald makes." -- JayZeeDee, October 16, 2005 at 12:22 PM.

When Wilson is indicted, or when no one is indicted, and when the left begins its hard, harmonic turn against Fitzgerald ("Questions about Fitzgerald emerge, say sources"), please remember this quote from our friend JayZeeDee. Please remember that he swore -- SWORE -- that he would accept Fitzgferald's decision.

Jerkweed

All Bush has to do is declassify it first Boris...You're right. Nevermind

Sue

"whose honesty I trust"

Like Joe Wilson? :)

SteveMG

JayDee:
Okay, then let's use my example.

Daniel Ellsberg. You support the conviction of Ellsberg for leaking, among other things, the Pentagon Papers?

There's a long long history of whistleblowers revealing classified information that shows government corruption and abuse.

You really, really want to stop the flow of that information?

And you want to go after those in the CIA who released classified information alleging that the W.H. manipulated intelligence?

You may wind up with Rove's and Libby's head (among other body parts); but don't be surprised at the end of the day what other body's will lose limbs in this.

SMG

Jeff

Glad to have you back, TM, things got a little weird in the comments while you were gone.

I know there is a disagreement between left and right about what Rove was referring to when he told Cooper about info soon to be declassified. But I'm curious if there is any evidence that it was (or was only) Wilson's trip itself, declassified by Tenet's statement, other than the fact of Tenet's statement itself, and that it was issued that day -- which is of course not nothing. I'm just curious if there's more I have not seen.

It seems to me more likely that the relevant info was the intelligence report based on Wilson's trip, which never was, in fact, declassified, right? One piece of evidence that seems pretty strong is that it is the punchline of Novak's original column of July 14 2003:

The story, actually, is whether the administration deliberately ignored Wilson's advice, and that requires scrutinizing the CIA summary of what their envoy reported. The Agency never before has declassified that kind of information, but the White House would like it to do just that now -- in its and in the public's interest.

Geek, Esq.

I would place the percentages higher. Mainly because of the dark matter of this investigation--what Fitzgerald has been able to piece together about the coordination between Libby and Rove and the rest of the WHIG association-in-fact enterprise.

Also, the Republicans' bleating about the Espionage Act is misplaced. This wasn't a leak of merely classified information. This was the deliberate spread of information designated as "Secret: Noforn." More specifically, an undercover CIA operative. (And spare me the "she wasn't really covert" b.s. Fitzgerald and every court who's looked at the full set of facts have reached a different conclusion--a conclusion entitled to much more deference than apologia from hardcore partisans).

This wasn't whistleblowing--this was the Bush administration using national security secrets as ammunition in an inside-the-beltway spin effort.

politica obscura

Quick legal question:

If Libby can be charged with leaking in June, wouldn't Wilson HAVE to be charged too? They both leaked about Wilson's trip....thoughts?

- po

jerry

I'll add that if this leak (Brewster-Jennings and Plame) resulted in the death of US or foreign agents, Fitzgerald, the Congress, the CIA, and the public, might have a hard time concluding "no harm - no foul" by the White House.

SteveMG

Geek:
There's no evidence of this wider conspiracy that you've been promoting.

The evidence seems - seems - to be that Fitzgerald may be using a statute dealing with the mishandling of classified information. The IIPA wasn't violated. I think most everyone - right and left - agrees on that.

If that law, i.e, the classified information, is applied here, it doesn't matter whether the official is a whistleblower revealing government corruption or an evil neocon Republican official dishing dirt on a patriotic former Ambassador who's mission was to save the Republic from those evil neocons.

Just be careful what you wish for is all I'm saying.

Believe it or not, there's more important ideas involved here than just getting your political opponents.

SMG

Sue

But it wasn't Wilson doing the same?

Cecil Turner

Special Counsel Fitzgerald will have a hard time getting Rove for perjury/obstruction on his Matt Cooper testimony, but he is almost certainly weighing charges of mishandling classified information.

It seems to me that unless it can be shown that somebody actually showed the INR memo to a reporter (as has been alleged), or knew Plame was covert, there's not much to go on. I'm also wondering if we have a complete list of the players.

Novak famously used the "no partisan gunslinger" line, and Judy didn't think "Flame" came from Libby. Obviously Judy's disclaimer would make zero sense if the only one she was talking to on the subject was Libby. Could Libby be Novak's non-gunslinger, and Rove be Judy's other source? Sounds dubious to me. Neither of those appear to make any sense unless there was someone else out there talking. Or are both of them dissembling to protect sources? Presumably Novak squealed (since he's not in jail), but are we sure who his (presumably main) source was? Or is there a chance for a mysterious guest indictee? Like possibly Fleischer?

Sue

Cecil,

That is my guess. Rove/Libby/Fleischer. But not on outing a NOC.

kim

Could it be that the intelligence report based on Joe's report never, in fact, existed? That could explain a few things. Maybe nobody ever wanted to put Joe on paper.
============================================

Sue

We know, as much as we can know, from Joe that he didn't write one.

Keith

Tom, I would be interested to get your thoughts on what we might be able to glean from the questions that Fitz was asking Judy, other than the Libby is in trouble stuff (which was pretty obvious).

I tend to agree on your percentages. I get the feeling that Rove might get off, not because he is exactly clean, but because there just isn't enough to convict him.

The same happen for Libby.

SteveMG

"That the intelligence report based on Joe's report never, in fact, existed?"

Well, yes and no.

The SSCI reported that Wilson was interviewed/de-briefed AT HIS HOME by two Agency analysts while Mrs. Plame served as hostess.

It's unclear what type of report the two officers filed.

SCSI also says that Wilson's mission provided little information either way on whether Iraq was indeed seeking to arrange a purchase of yellowcake from Niger.

In other words, Wilson's little foray was a joke.

SMG

Keith

I meant, on my last sentence, that the same might happen for Libby. If the case is based on Judy's testimony alone (a big if), I think she herself provides enough reasonable doubt for a good defender to avoid a conviction.

kim

Lack of a report would explain the CIA's present consternation even in the lack of a plot; it explains the White House's belief that they've been double-crossed by the CIA; it explains how Wilson is such a madman, and the press is self-explantory, finally.
===================================================

politica obscura

SMG, if this is so, "If that law, i.e, the classified information, is applied here, it doesn't matter whether the official is a whistleblower revealing government corruption or an evil neocon Republican official".... then why isn't anyone else mentioning it? If the law Fitz is operating under has to do with handling classified material, shouldn't Wilson be in everyone's discussion?

SteveMG

Kim:
"It explains the White House's belief that they've been double-crossed by the CIA;"

There's no doubt in my mind that that occurred. That at least a faction in the CIA was in open revolt against the White House. And they were leaking all kinds of information - including classified stuff - to the press. Part of me still holds to the idea that Wilson pulled a sting; he made his (false) accusations in an attempt to draw the W.H. out. They bit on it.

But that doesn't exonerate Libby or Rove from violating the law. If Fitzgerald's got the goods on them, charge them. And if they're found guilty, string 'em up.

This isn't a nice tidy morality tale where one side is the child of light and the other the child of dark. Lots of hard ball politics being played.

Again, Rove and Libby should go if they broke the law.

SMG

JayDee

Rogue CIA operatives can spread anti-administration disinformation with impunity and it can't be rebutted using the truth because the truth is classified.

I have no problem whatsoever with the WH rebutting Wilson with the truth. However the only classified "truth" that they revealed was very peripheral to any rebuttal. Wilson's wife recommended him for the job. Big friggin deal. She didn't have the power to actually send him on the mission. She offered him as a candidate. Clearly someone ELSE with the proper authority actually authorized his trip. WHO?

They didn't need to bring his wife into it at all. Not at all. They could have said "he wasn't sent by Cheney, it was someone at CIA who recommended him." Does this materially change any of the salient points of the WH rebuttal? It does not.

The sheer pettiness and reflexive character assassination of these bastards is what has undone them. This is what I can't believe you guys are continually defending. They never needed to bring Plame into it. It was malicious, petty and incredibly irresponsible.

Yes, Macho, I'll even come here to eat crow if Fitzy comes up empty....or to CROW if he doesn't.

There's so much we don't know. But, wasn't it implied on another thread, that Novak's "non gunslinging" source was Miller? I think the best thing the admin has going for it is that this whole thing is going to be all but impossible for the average American to follow. Enter Fox News and the Disinformation Brigade.

Kate

Time Magazine reports that the original leaker to Novak is known to Fitzgerald and he is not from the White House.

That could mean Tennant or Powell, I don't know.

SteveMG

politica obscura:
"If the law Fitz is operating under has to do with handling classified material, shouldn't Wilson be in everyone's discussion?"

Yeah, I guess so.

If you do a search here, you'll find a post where Tom discussed this. There was mention that perhaps the law didn't apply to Wilson since he was a private citizen at the time. He didn't fall under the statute's provisions. It's unclear.

In any case, there's a world of difference between an obscure former Ambassador leaking classified information versus the President's and Vice President's top advisers and chief of staff respectively doing the same. The latter, let's face it, is a helluva lot more serious.

SMG

JayDee

SMG, I see your point. But basically , as a citizen, I admire whistleblowers, because I crave the truth. I despise propagandists for the same reason.

The law's the law. Isn't this something we all have to accept? If a whistleblowing hero goes up against it, and pays the price, I admire that the way I admire any heroic act. But it doesn't mean I want "classified" to be a meaningless designation.

Diane

Does anyone not think it odd the best way to get "even" with Joe Wilson, was to out his wife as a CIA agent? It seems the brilliant, devious, & powerful Rove, as he is so often described) could have come up with something more creative and punishing!!!

SteveMG

JayDee:
Okay, fair point and it's a good distinction - i.e., someone exposing corruption versus someone using it for political advantage. Although I'm not sure how the law could be applied to allow one and not the other.

SMG

Go Metro

JayZee wrote: "Why should this be troubling? Do we want public officials to mishandle classified information? Can you give me the upside to that, especially when its being used for petty political revenge?"

I'll admit I'm not nearly as knowledgable as most of the great commentors on this blog but, how exactly is disclosing who Joe Wilson is married to "petty political revenge"? How is vengeful in any way? I thought it's just a simple fact. Like I said a lot of this stuff is over my head, but that much isn't hard to figure out. He's either married to her or he's not.

EddieP

Couldn't it be as simple as the special prosecutor has yet to uncover a crime, and is wrapping up loose ends? He must be metaphysically certain that a crime has or has not been comitted. He's going to be ridiculed no matter what his position. If I were him, I'd want to be certain that there was absolutely nothing I hadn't looked into and double and triple checked.

J.J.

TM,

If Wilson was being discussed with reporters as early as June 25, the assumption is that the WH brought it up. Could it not have been the reporters who had heard rumblings from or about Wilson? It just seems, to me, that he was a small part of the "what happened to WMD" discussions. The reporters could have been throwing him into the discussions and the WH could have not been picking up the pointers to him specifically. I guess I mean that KR and SL didn't try to actively find out anything more than minimum on Wilson and his wife until his piece was published. Plus, they did so to answer reporters questions, more than for any "revenge" motive.

p.lukasiak

This theme is that Joe Wilson was not an independent, impartial, third party retired diplomat who happened to side with the CIA. In fact, as should have been reported, Wilson was in bed, literally and metaphorically, with the CIA faction trying to torpedo the White House.

The problem with this theory is that we know for a fact that the White House was ignoring contrary intelligence and spinning what little information they had, and that professional CIA (and other intelligence agency) analysts had been providing accurate assessments of the raw intelligence to no avail. It wasn't about "getting the White House", it was about self-defense.

And the bottom line is simply that Libby, Rove, et. al. chose to try and discredit the source of the information, rather than telling the truth. And the reason why they couldn't is that the truth was even more damning than Wilson's own story. (Cheney had been briefed on the subject, and been told that the documents could not be genuine --- but this briefing was not based specifically on Wilson's conclusions.)

As to the question of people who claimed they knew the documents were forged before the CIA got a hold of the documents --- If someone passes me a memo on your letterhead in which you claim to be Linda Lovelace, I'm going to be skeptical. And when I establish for a fact that you aren't Linda Lovelace, I'm going to conclude that the memo on your letterhead is a forgery.

JayDee

I elaborated on that here, Go Metro:

I have no problem whatsoever with the WH rebutting Wilson with the truth. However the only classified "truth" that they revealed was very peripheral to any rebuttal. Wilson's wife recommended him for the job. Big friggin deal. She didn't have the power to actually send him on the mission. She offered him as a candidate. Clearly someone ELSE with the proper authority actually authorized his trip. WHO?

They didn't need to bring his wife into it at all. Not at all. They could have said "he wasn't sent by Cheney, it was someone at CIA who recommended him." Does this materially change any of the salient points of the WH rebuttal? It does not.

This is such a simple point. I wish the WH defenders would stop dancing around it.

Shipwreck

Rove spending 4 hours before the GJ on its last day hearing testimony is not unusual. You assume he spent four hours answering questions. In fact, what happens in this kind of circumstance is that the prosecutor invites the grand jurors to pose questions to the witness -- maybe for the first time -- but he usually screens the questions with the witness out of the room, and this can sometimes lead to lengthy periods where the witness is waiting in the hall while the grand jurors and the prosecutor meet behind closed doors. Once the questions are decided upon, and the wording of the question is resolved, the witness comes back into the room and the prosecutor will generally read the question and take the answer. The witness will then leave the room, and the grand jury and the prosecutor will discuss the witness's answer, and then discuss the next question.

Lesley

I'm not sure how much the WH was spinning or not spinning about WMD's. Check out the time stamp and source of this article. It will surprise you. Hat tip to MacRanger.

NYT WMD's

Brian

2 comments:

1 - I don't see what is meant by "If he does not indict on any underlying criminal act, but only on failure to cooperate with the investigation..." Fitzgerald is a serious federal prsecutor; we're not talking about Ronnie Earle from Pudunk, Texas. A federal indictment for obstruction must list specific acts (or it will be dismissed): it cannot simple allege "failure to cooperate."

2 - A 1001 violation for lying to a federal investigator (usually the FBI) is easier to prove (or get away with, as the case may be, because the FBI does not tape but only takes notes of conversations with witnesses/suspects) than perjury or obstruction. Right now I remember only press accounts of grand jury testimony - not conversations with the FBI - but I wonder if Rove or Libby have any vulnerability here.

Sue

Jay Dee,

Aren't you putting Wilson in a position he doesn't belong? The SSIC certainly didn't view him as a defender of the truth.

Cecil Turner

The problem with this theory is that we know for a fact that the White House was ignoring contrary intelligence and spinning what little information they had, and that professional CIA (and other intelligence agency) analysts had been providing accurate assessments of the raw intelligence to no avail.

Nonsense. The White House declassified part of the National Intelligence Estimate precisely to put the lie to those assertions. The CIA was reporting Iraqi attempts to acquire uranium as fact, right up to the start of the war. Here's their "accurate assessment":

Iraq also began vigorously trying to procure uranium ore and yellowcake; acquiring either would shorten the time Baghdad needs to produce nuclear weapons.
  • A foreign government service reported that as of early 2001, Niger planned to send several tons of "pure uranium" (probably yellowcake) to Iraq. As of early 2001, Niger and Iraq reportedly were still working out arrangements for this deal, which could be for up to 500 tons of yellowcake. We do not know the status of this arrangement.
  • Reports indicate Iraq also has sought uranium ore from Somalia and possibly the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Newby

"declassified part"

Wonder what the other part says?

Pal2Pal (Sara)

I wish someone would explain to me why it is the White House everyone thinks was the "bad guy" in all this and not Joe Wilson himself. He is the proven liar here, isn't he?

boris

If they didn't know she was covert, then they didn't know revealing her employer would damage her career (it didn't anyway) so the proposed retribution motive lacks any grounds in evidence.

Therefore not retribution just setting the record straight.

Thus they would not know they were not supposed to mention that the CIA person who arranged for Joe's "mission" was his analyst wife.

Therefore no intent to violate secrecy.

No dancing, just logic.

If there was enough dodging and inconsistency in various testimony it's possible that Fitz could charge obstruction or conspiracy to obstruct even if there was no underlying violtaion of law.

That would be a sham based on what we know at this point.

Reasonable Doubt Sr.

"Sources who have reviewed some of the testimony before the grand jury say there is significant evidence that reporters were in some cases alerting officials about Plame's identity and relationship to Wilson -- not the other way around.

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, has also testified before the grand jury, saying he was alerted by someone in the media to Plame's identity, according to a source familiar with his account. Cooper has previously testified that he brought up the subject of Plame with Libby and that Libby responded that he had heard about her from someone else in the media, according to sources knowledgeable about Cooper's testimony."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/15/AR2005071500036_pf.html

"Libby has testified that he learned about Plame from NBC correspondent Tim Russert, according to a source who spoke with The Washington Post some months ago. Russert said in a statement last year that he told the prosecutor that "he did not know Ms. Plame's name or that she was a CIA operative" and that he did not provide such information to Libby in July 2003."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/22/AR2005072201830.html

"Another character in the drama remains unnamed: the original source for columnist Robert Novak, who wrote the first piece naming Plame. Fitzgerald, says a lawyer who's involved in the case, "knows who it is—and it's not someone at the White House.""
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1118313,00.html?promoid=rss_top

"And when the prosecutor in the case asked her to explain how "Valerie Flame" appeared in the same notebook she used in interviewing Mr. Libby, Ms. Miller said she "didn't think" she heard it from him. "I said I believed the information came from another source, whom I could not recall," she wrote on Friday, recounting her testimony for an article that appears today."
...
"But Mr. Libby was already defending Vice President Dick Cheney, saying his boss knew nothing about Mr. Wilson or his findings. Ms. Miller said her notes leave open the possibility that Mr. Libby told her Mr. Wilson's wife might work at the agency."
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/16/national/16leak.html?pagewanted=2&ei=5094&en=ae9961705f60a5d9&hp&ex=1129435200&adxnnl=0&partner=homepage&adxnnlx=1129407802-bnW70RpVRRICJWWIIurzrQ

Mmmmmmm, I guess that also leaves open the possiblity that Libby didn't tell Miller either. I hope the absentminded journalist Miller is not Fitz's "star" witness!

Wolfman

Wonder what the other [still classified] part [of the NIE] says?

Is there any credible reporting to support Wilson's original claim - made through Kristof - that the WH knew about the forged documents before the SOTU. I read somewhere that even Wilson now distances himself from those claims.

JorgXMckie

Well, I suppose if your BSD is fairly advanced the "fake but accurate" label applies widely. The *FACT* that Wilson lied his head off is nothing next to the point that Chimpy McBushitlerburton is evil. Even if Wilson lied (and he obviously did. Even the Dems on the coommittee agreed on that.) the 'underlying story' must be true because it exposes Chimpy McBushitlerburton's evilness.

ed

Hmmm.

What I think is curious is that nobody has either addressed or explained why neither Plame nor Wilson have testified.

boris

Judy Miller:

My notes indicate that well before Mr. Wilson published his critique, Mr. Libby told me that Mr. Wilson's wife may have worked on unconventional weapons at the C.I.A.

My notes do not show that Mr. Libby identified Mr. Wilson's wife by name.

.... [skipping to June 23rd meeting recollections] ...

But he added that the C.I.A. "took it upon itself to try and figure out more" by sending a "clandestine guy" to Niger to investigate. I told Mr. Fitzgerald that I thought "clandestine guy" was a reference to Mr. Wilson - Mr. Libby's first reference to him in my notes.

This seems to indicate that the first meeting on the subject was discussing the source for Pincus and Kristoff disinformation as an unnamed agent with a CIA wife, who were later identified as Joe and Val. Judy Miller may have known immediately who Libby was talking about WITHOUT ANY ACTUAL IDENTIFICATION.

See: Strata


JayDee

boris, you're dancing like Mean Gene and you don't even know it.

I'm not talking about any possible crimes here. I'm talking merely about the petty little girlishness of these fools. Whether or not they knew she was covert or had intent or any of that is the answer Fitzgerald will give us. No one else, certainly not you. But the question remains why mention Wilson's wife at all?

They could have said simply, "Wilson is lying when he says Cheney's office sent him. In fact, it was someone at CIA." But instead, they named a name, or a Flame. Why? Does it affect Wilson's veracity that his wife recommended his name? To tinfoil hat wearers maybe, but to anyone else? No, the only reason to mention her name was to a. allege cronyism and b. make him look like a weak man whose wife gets him work. Neither point is salient to whether or not Wilson's allegations were true. Rather they are typical pubbie dirty politics, Rove-style.

And clearly they knew this was wrong, "super duper secret double cover" and "I've said too much already". Leaking it like high schoolers in the washroom? What putzes. If they had a case to make, they should have come out and made it in the open. Which Wilson, for all his faults, had the courage to do. This was asinine behavior, whether or not they get nailed for any technical crime.

What makes this discussion so amusing is how hard you all would be paddling the other way if we just reversed the D's and the R's.

boris

You can't tell a "secret" to hurt someone unless you know it's a secret. I think you know a lot more about petty sorority sisters than you're letting on.

Fandy Grunwald

"I've said too much already".

I see we have a big Cooper backer here. Big Coop has a great memory when it comes to that suspicious sounding quote (which was not in his notes)...too bad his memory sucks when it comes to the original premise of HIS call TO Rove...welfare. At least Rove has a contemporaneous email to back him up.

Yes, Coop, another stellar witness.

politica obscura

Sorry JD, your story doesn't make sense. Why wouldn't you mention that the person who sent him on the mission was his wife... he is going around town saying it was "the Vice President" what better way to drive home the point that this guy can't be trusted than to tell the truth that Wilson "Ain't married to the VP"!

Seems pretty logical... not petty or "girlish" as you so (insultingly to women) put it.

JayDee

Boris, did Plame authorize Wilson to go on the trip? Did she have that authority ? No. So she didn't send him on the trip. Why mention her? I'm pretty sure everybody in that sumphole we call Washington DC gets recommended for their jobs by somebody else. What matters is who gave the ok. It wasn't Plame. Mentioning her, secret or not, was irrelevant. It was done to make him look like a schmuck, because they didn't want to discuss the truth openly. And because they're snaky, slimy little bastards who like to drag people's families into things. Ask Cindy McCain.

JayDee

Repeating for benefit of politica obscura: Plame did not SEND Wilson on the trip. Didn't have the authority. Geez.

Wolfman

But the question remains why mention Wilson's wife at all?

Many have speculated that there was a faction in the CIA that strongly opposed the Bush administration's emerging policy towards Iraq. Perhaps the linking of Wilson with a CIA wife was meant to indicate to reporters - who presumably are "in the know" - that Wilson was just part of that cabal rather than a truly new, independent and informed voice for the anti-Administration point of view.

Geek, Esq.

It seems to me that unless it can be shown that somebody actually showed the INR memo to a reporter (as has been alleged), or knew Plame was covert, there's not much to go on.

If they can show that Rove/Libby/Ari learned of her identity through the INR memo, and then passed on that information to non-authorized recipients, they're in the soup.

Could Libby be Novak's non-gunslinger, and Rove be Judy's other source? . . . Or is there a chance for a mysterious guest indictee? Like possibly Fleischer?

Miller described Libby as a "Straight-shooter." Pure coincidence, or a bit of a hint?

Fleischer is the big favorite for the third indictment slot, according to the DC rumor mill. Remember this: Fleischer left the WH before Bush's "Cooperate Fully or get Fired" edict. More than likely, he's lawyered up and has had much less to say to the grand jury.

Wolfman

It was done to make him look like a schmuck, because they didn't want to discuss the truth openly.

What "truth" are you referring to? Given the developing timeline, the Administration appears to have been trying to discredit the claims made by Wilson anonymously in the Kristof and Pincus articles. They were sufficiently untrue, particularly about the forged documents, that Wilson has distanced himself from those claims.

SteveMG

Wolfman:
"The linking of Wilson with a CIA wife was meant to indicate to reporters - who presumably are "in the know" - that Wilson was just part of that cabal"

I think that's the best explanation for the revelation.

Wilson has said that it was done to destroy her career (even though she was not working in a covert capacity at the time) and to send a signal to Administration critics that there would be a backlash against them.

But that seems pretty weak. A better argument, as you note, would be Libby attempting to point out that Plame, working in the CPD, was part of that faction in the Agency trying to undermine the Administration.

Instead of arguing that this was an example of the evil Bushitler regime again going after opponents, the best narrative is that it was an example of bureaucratic infighting between different parts of the government.

Something that's been going on for, oh, about 200 years.

SMG

Wolfman

SMG,

To me the more interesting story - mostly unreported - is the way that political opponents use the press to fight their battles. And the fact, I believe, that the press becomes participants - rather than simply reporters - in the political wars to some degree.

Wilson started this chain of events by leaking to the NYT (Kristof) then others. Had he told the truth, I'd have a different view of this entire affair than I currently do.

Geek, Esq.

Strike my last comment about Libby being described as a "straight shooter." She described him as a "good faith source who was usually straight with me."

Still possible that he was Novak's other source.

Wolfman

Still possible that [Libby] was Novak's other source.

Time Magazine is reporting that Novak's first source is known to the SP and is not someone from the WH. My two cents, that's all I can afford, is on Powell.

JayDee

Why do you think Powell, Wolfman?

I also think Powell is going to turn out to be a player here, just not in that way.

SteveMG

Wolfmand:
"Me the more interesting story - mostly unreported - is the way that political opponents use the press to fight their battles."

Well, it's certainly not in the interest of the press to reveal that. Once that happens, the sources dry up.

And isn't that, in part, what Miller and Cooper were concerned about when they refused to testify? They wanted a release from Libby that they could talk (although Miller's request seems to be more complex). Otherwise, future sources would be reluctant to give them information, i.e., spin things.

Hmm, remember that story in the Times and Post about six months ago re Iran's nuclear capacity? Someone released classified information from the NIE stating that the mullahs were 8-10 years away from putting together a nuclear device? Clearly, that was an attempt by someone to weaken the W.H.'s hardline against Iran.

Imagine that! Releasing classified information. I'm shocked, shocked.

SMG

Wolfman

Why do you think Powell, Wolfman?

My opinion is based on few facts and poorly developed intuition. Novak had said something to the effect that the source passed on the Plame information almost by accident and is not a partisan gunslinger. Powell neatly fits the description of not being a partisan gunslinger. I also recall that the INR memo (marked with the scarlet "s") was commissioned either by or for Powell; certainly by his agency. Also, Powell's agency (INR) was the most skeptical about the yellowcake claims (note that Powell himself never repeated those claims).

mary mapes

Boris, did Plame authorize Wilson to go on the trip? Did she have that authority ?

--No, but her superiors pulled his name out of a hat.

boris

That Wilson's wife in the CIA arranged his "mission" only seems irrelevant if one assumes all parties were acting in good faith and that Joe's selection was unremarkable in every other way.

Joe's selection was NOT unremarkable in ANY way so how he got selected is very much a REMARKABLE part of the story. Furthermore, all evidence points to the fact that the trip was set up to address administration claims these agents believed were untrue.

As if CIA employees would be unaware of uses of disinformation if that's what it really was or that it would be their business to rebut it.

The BEST spin one can attribute to their motive is: "Nobody is listening to us !!! Why won't you LISTEN to us !!!"

Wolfman

remember that story in the Times and Post about six months ago re Iran's nuclear capacity? Someone released classified information from the NIE stating that the mullahs were 8-10 years away from putting together a nuclear device? Clearly, that was an attempt by someone to weaken the W.H.'s hardline against Iran.

I generally don't have any problem with "leaks" that accurately inform the public. But we have to trust the gatekeepers - the press - to assess the credibility of their sources. Some have lost that trust; I'm sure others have it and abuse it.

Lesley

The press has certainly played an unsavory role in this story, almost like Renfield, the character Dracula recruited to do his bidding during the light of day.

SteveMG

JayDee:
"Plame did not SEND Wilson on the trip. Didn't have the authority. Geez."

Let me guess: You've been reading Larry Johnson at the TPM Cafe, right?

Let me guess, part II: You think Wilson would have been sent IF his wife didn't push him for the task?

Someone with, as far as I know, zero knowledge on nuclear weapons capabilities and development?

C'mon, JayDee, aren't you at least a little curious over Valerie Plame pushing for her husband to check into the question re Niger/Iraq and yellowcake? Just a little?

SMG

J.J.

IF any indictments happen such as perjury, classified material, etc. will people like Miller have to testify? And have to repond to a defense attorney? Could whoever is indicted (via their lawyers) make them do so? If it's a side issue type of indictment like this, I'd hate to see people like Miller get away with such vague and misleading testimony, while someone else gets clobbered for something based on that type of testimony.

Syl

Do we know the exact date Russert spoke with Libby? July is mentioned, but is that a fact?

mary mapes

Does Sandys Berger's sentence set a precedence?

Patrick R. Sullivan

'...why mention Wilson's wife at all?'

Because it's factual. The WH was trying to get the truth out, and Valerie was part of it.

Further, it sure looks like some factions at CIA were trying to distract attention from their intelligence by blaming the Vice President. The fact that the husband of a CIA employee who works on WMD analysis is aggressively peddling false information around Washington DC looks to be part of a CIA disinformation campaign.

JAZ

thanks so much for coming back online. it was getting pretty depressing reading the daily kos this weekend.

one question, libby's meeting with Miller occured on June 23 the Powell INR was first sited on July 9 on Air FOrce I. How could Libby have been passing classified information if the document that disclosed the classified nature of the information was not available until after the disclosure?

will this matter in the scheme of things.

thanks so much for your information.

Victoria Flame

If it goes to trial, iMiller will have to testify. Then when she is on the stand the Defense will ask her about what Libby told her. She will respond ending every statement with "I think". Then the Defense will ask her about her other sources. She'll refuse to answer and end up in jail again. And then the defense will call Joe, Valerie, Larry Johnson, Pincus, Kristof, Corn, Rocco Martino, Mandy Grunwald, Bill Clinton, Chuck Schumer. All with crappy memories and taking the fifth. Case dismissed.

JAZ

thanks so much for coming back online. it was getting pretty depressing reading the daily kos this weekend.

one question, libby's meeting with Miller occured on June 23 the Powell INR was first sited on July 9 on Air FOrce I. How could Libby have been passing classified information if the document that disclosed the classified nature of the information was not available until after the disclosure?

will this matter in the scheme of things.

thanks so much for your information.

MeTooThen

SMG,

"C'mon, JayDee, aren't you at least a little curious over Valerie Plame pushing for her husband to check into the question re Niger/Iraq and yellowcake? Just a little?"

Do.not.feed.the.trolls.

There.

I said it, again.

...

The other sources for Novak, Miller, et al, were at the Agency.

Sorry.

What's amazing is that Tenet lasted as long as he did.

Really.

Wolfman

IF any indictments happen such as perjury, classified material, etc. will people like Miller have to testify?

Very interesting because the U.S. Constitution guarantees an accused the right to confront the witnesses against him. I don't know what would happen if many of the witnesses (i.e., the reporters) refused to testify about matters germane to the accused's defense. I assume this is a problem that the SP is puzzling over.

Sue

Did I miss it or does Miller not discuss why she had to go back the 2nd time? Did Fitzgerald jog her memory about a June meeting and she searched for the notes?

Joey Nutso

Andrew McCarthy, former federal prosecutor and a friend of Patrick Fitzgerald (per Powerline), has an updated comment at Natl Review Online. His original comment said based on Miller's testimony things look worse for Libby. In his new post he expands on his thinking:

"RE: COULD JOSEPH WILSON BE INDICTED [Andy McCarthy]
John, just to be clear, while I think the Times story today demonstrates that the case on Scooter Libby is more serious than many people have assumed, I am not saying I believe he will be indicted based on what we now know. If I were a betting man -- and I'm not -- I would bet against it. I think it comes down to four considerations: ..."

{the rest of the commentary is here -
http://corner.nationalreview.com/05_10_16_corner-archive.asp#079685

M. Simon

Why mention Plame?

Any body here ever hear of nepotism?

It is one way to discredit people.

I've even heard people use it against Bush cronies. Like you know Miers has the two most important qualifications for the job. She passed the religion test and she is a confidant of Bush's. But never fear, she is boning up on the Constitution.

Geoffrey Barto

For JayDee and others: When Bush's cousin called Florida for him on Fox in 2000, the import of family connections was obvious to the left.

If FEMA sent an "independent" investigator with gov't experience - i.e. Jeb Bush - to determine if the WH had responded to Katrina appropriately, everyone would be up in arms.

So when the CIA sends an "independent" investigator who alleges that we started a war on false premises, shouldn't we know that his wife, who recommended him, was not neutral on what he'd find?

It looks to me like both sides, in pushing a political narrative, abused their positions and their access to classified information and the press. If convictions come out of this, Rove, Libby, Wilson and Plame should share a cell: they all used their positions to put ostensibly secret info into the public domain to advance their storylines.

AJStrata

Some things to remember about Plame's recommendations of her husband.

(1) She proposed it twice (second time in a memo)
(2) When Alan Foley first heard the recommendation he asked her for a memo outlining Joe's qualifications - therefore it was up to Val to get him the job. No one else had the knowledge or inclination to Bush Joe
(3) If you follow my track back on this post I point to the SCCI report which shows all the other IC elements dismissed the Wilson option. Moreover there was another, better option, and there was a parallel effort out of the embassy. Plame pushed this in the face of a lot of resistance
(4) Kristof's sources were the Wilsons - no doubt about it. That means a lot of people in the NY Times knew before the Kristof story of the Wilson's relationships. This predates any WH actions which keyed off the Kristof story.
(5) Miller's last story requires careful parsing because she never says Libby mentioned the Wilsons by name in the first June interview.

mary mapes

Judy talks to Libby (6-23), who disputes the claim, Cheney arranged a trip or even asked CIA to arrange a trip. CIA sent some clandestine guy on their own. Miller eventually talks to Wilson or Plame but more likely Picus and relates, that VP office is disputing the envoys story, that VP asked for the trip, among other things...what do you say to this Pincus? Pincus calls Wilson and says, "they're coming after you". Wilson is panicked because he blew it when he referred to the forgeries; at this point Pincus does not realize what a nutball Wilson really is. Wilson decides to out himself in order to back pedals "the names were wrong, the dates were wrong". So on July 6
We get
"(As for the actual memorandum, I never saw it. But news accounts have pointed out that the documents had glaring errors — they were signed, for example, by officials who were no longer in government — and were probably forged. And then there's the fact that Niger formally denied the charges.)"

on the same day Pincus published this, which is odd because it contradicts his own original reporting the month before, in June,

Wilson never saw the disputed documents but talked with officials whose signatures would have been required and concluded the allegations were almost certainly false. Back in Washington, he briefed CIA officers but did not draft his own report.

two days later a stranger to all, but Joe Wilson, happens to bump into Novak on the street and asks to escort him a few blocks. During this, the stranger’s one or two cursory questions is able to get Novak to spill his guts. Wilson then outs his wife to Eason Jordan bemoan the GOP hate machine.

In the meantime, Pincus calls his dinner partner, Matt Cooper to relate the full frontal assault the WH is waging on Wilson and his wife. Cooper should call Judy Miller to find out more. Cooper calls Miller and inquires on the insidious attack on Wilson and "his wife. Cooper informs her that the WH has been pushing back, everyone is talking about it. This is odd to Judy because she didn’t perceive an assault at all when she spoke with Libby.

Judy meets with Libby, asks about the heavy handed push back on the Wilson’s and Libby is miffed. How do you figure? She relates that Matt Cooper called and tells Coopers version. The subject continues on the niger trip. Libby talks to Rove, asks about this pushback campaign against the Wilson’s" Rove is just as perplexed as Libby, he has fielded very few calls, and none from Matt Cooper.
Ultimately Cooper calls Rove, who has a heads up, and doesn’t take the bait—in his email. Meanwhile David Corn has big time ESP.

CaseyL

There are a few a priori assumptions here that need evidence or clarification:

1. There is an assumption that Wilson and Plame were pro-Saddam Hussein, and therefore opposed to a military effort to oust him.

I'd be very interested in hearing some evidence for this point of view, particularly in light of Wilson's behavior as Ambassador to Iraq during the first Gulf War. Did that behavior strike you as the words and actions of someone who was "pro Saddam"?

2. Let me guess, part II: You think Wilson would have been sent IF his wife didn't push him for the task? Someone with, as far as I know, zero knowledge on nuclear weapons capabilities and development?

If you're sending someone to Country X to talk to its Ministers about possible contacts with Country Y, what qualifications do you look for? Someone with no experience in either country, who knows no one in either country, and has no contacts in either country?

Joe Wilson was not just some guy lounging around the house whose wife "decides" to "send" him to Niger. He was a retired Ambassador with 20+ years' experience in the region - and a widely respected one at that (by, among others, George HW Bush) until it became politically expedient to destroy his reputation.

Who else other than Joe Wilson should have gone? What other candidates do you know of who had been ambassadors to Iraq, who knew who the important people in Iraq were, who had long-standing contacts in Niger, and who were likely to be able to get meetings with Ministers in Niger?

And he was going to check on a specific story about a specific item: yellowcake. He was not going to check on a laboratory, or a manufacturing facility, or to look for items that might be associated with the production of nuclear weapons. Expertise in nuclear weapons capabilities wasn't required for that trip; knowledge of the regional politics and politicians was.

3. The wingers here keep talking about Wilson's "lies." It's an accepted article of faith that he's a "liar." However, no one has yet to say exactly what lies he told. And include cites, please; cites of original sources, mind you, not just other wingers' opinions and screeds, and not speeches or tracts by politicians.

Keith

Fitzgerald won't bring a case he can't win, and I don't see any sure bets for him on the table.

Exactly. From what we know now, I'm not convinced that there will be indictments. But, of course, we don't know anything.

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Wilson/Plame