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December 15, 2005

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TP

The really astounding thing is how caught up in their own self importance these media guys are. How many people does
Karl Rove talk to on any day and how many of them are more important than Matt Cooper? My guess is that Rove's real task with Cooper was to brush him off as quickly as possible so he could get on with more important things--like removing toe dirt.

Anonymous Liberal

Dickerson actually neglected to mention a few facts that could have made his argument stronger. First, there's plenty of evidence that Rove understood the significance of the Novak column. Not only did he give Libby the heads up that Novak was going to write about Plame, but he clearly took that publication as a green light to shop the information around town. He spoke to a number of reporters about Plame in the days after the Novak column ran and reportedly told Chris Matthews that "Wilson's wife is fair game." So not only was he following the news, but his behavior indicates that he knew the publication of Plame's name was significant (i.e. now it was okay to talk about it openly).

Second, Dickerson forgets to mention that only a few days after the Novak column was published, David Corn wrote a story suggesting that whoever provided Plame's identity to Novak may have committed a felony. I know the Nation isn't exactly the New York Times, but still, I'd bet that word of Corn's allegation reached Rove. I don't know about you, but if I read that I may have committed a felony, I'd at least take a second to think through the events in my head (which were less than a week old at that point) and figure out what exactly I did.

Also, this is a minor point, but how does the fact that this was one of Rove's very first conversations with Cooper help Rove's argument. Wouldn't you be more likely to forget a conversation with someone you talk to regularly than your very first conversation with someone? Rove was surely sizing Cooper in these initial chats, trying to get a sense of the guy. That should make those conversation stand out even more in his memory. When you're dealing with a reporter that you don't know very well, my guess is that you are more careful in choosing your words and more attentive to what is going on.

Anyway, I wholeheartedly agree with Dickerson. I don't think Rove's "I forgot" defense is credible. It's slightly more believable than Libby's, but that doesn't say much.

My guess, Tom, is that you are more or less agnostic on this point. That you find Rove's defense plausible, but don't necessarily believe it. Is that fair?

[Very fair - I can see why Rove would lie (one chat with Novak is a slip, but two become a troubling pattern), but I can see why he would forget, too. And I don't know how one could be sure, even sizing him up in a courtroom.

Sorry for the odd comment structure - I can't get to my own site via the front door, and I have tried both Mozilla Firefox and MS Explorer. Do I need to go Apple, or what?]

kim

I've commonly found myself disappointed at the recollections of others. Sometimes, amazed.
================================================

boris

That Rove forgot is more credible than starting a campaign of lying to everyone to cover up a two minute conversation. There just wasn't anything noteworthy in the conversation from Rove's POV based on the email. The theory that Rove went rogue over anthing in the email is ludicrous so the logic must be that something too insignificant to make the email was too significant to forget.

Better theory: The email contains the only elements Rove considered significant, and they were forgettable, therefore anything else in the conversation was more forgettable not less.

Jim E.

"That might make it [the Rove conversation] more memorable for Cooper..."

And now TM's bolstering the credibility of prosecution witnesses even as TM's right-wing fan club label Cooper a liar. Cool.

Rick Ballard

I dunno Kim, it kind of depends doesn't it? Some people think that the vagaries of memory pertaining to unbelieveable profits in cattle futures trading or the location of billing records are completely understandable (not to mention wholly forgiveable) while asserting that a two minute conversation with one of at least a hundred journos of equal standing should be etched in memory with sulphuric acid.

I just wish I could find my car keys.

boris

Liar yourself. Find and link two or more members of TM's rightwing regulars labeling Cooper a liar.

boris

Last comment was to Jim E

BTW the idea that later significance can restore memories already forgotten is an artifact of hindsight, not reality. Hindsight is tricky, and so-called common sense is rarely accurate.

Once an item is forgotten, it's gone.

r flanagan

I've heard Laura outed Valerie while
having her hair done. Or Jenna. Don't
tell Fitz.

Anonymous Liberal

But Kim, Rove didn't just "forget" some elements of the conversation. He "forgot" that the entire conversation ever occured. Keep in mind that this is the same conversation that Rove ended with "I've already said too much."

I agree that, all things being equal, it's possible that someone could forget about a conversation like this. But Dickerson's point is that all things are NOT equal. Whether or not Rove thought the conversation was significant at the time (and I think he did), he had reason to understand its significance within a week after it occurred. He had an email sitting there in his 'sent mail' folder memorializing the fact that it occurred. And more significantly, Cooper actually printed the information Rove gave him in that conversation. So how could Rove have totally forgotten about it? If this were Sandy Berger or some Clinton administration operative telling this story, would you believe him?

Gary Maxwell

the vagaries of memory pertaining to unbelieveable profits in cattle futures trading or the location of billing records are completely understandable (not to mention wholly forgiveable

Too funny

His meme is lying in ashes on the ground, smoke rising from the embers.

Anonymous Liberal

Sorry, that last comment was intended for Boris, not Kim.

Gary Maxwell

What did you have for lunch Monday? Just checking. Its not that far away come on, eating is very important without it you will surely die.

boris

he had reason to understand its significance within a week after it occurred

A rather weak assumption to base a chain of deduction on. What indication is there for a claim that Rove was involved in any aspect of the story while he was on vacation? Or is that just because it was SO MOMENTOUS that everyone on the planet could not have missed it.

kim

AL, you could stand to read a little clinical psychology on memory.

Is this what your attack on Rove has degenerated to, a sneer at his memory?
=================================================

Dwilkers

I haven't seen anybody serious here calling Cooper a liar. Hell I don't know what anyone would think Cooper has said that would be important enough to lie about.

If anything Cooper's inability to recall the welfare angle is evidence that reinforces Rove's claim of the forgetability of the conversation.

I don't know if he forgot the conversation or if he forgot the e-mail and thought he could get away with lying about it. What I do know is it would be real hard to prove he didn't forget about it to 12 people that can't even remember what they had for supper the night before - and that's what a prosecutor would have to prove; that he didn't forget it.

The idea being tossed around the last couple days that Rove is going to be indicted over the Cooper thing has raised my eyebrows a good deal. He might be indicted for something else, but not the Cooper thing IMO.

Pollyusa

I'll add another article published shortly after Novak's column that would let Rove know that the Plame outing could become a big deal.


Intelligence officials confirmed to Newsday Monday that Valerie Plame, wife of retired Ambassador Joseph Wilson, works at the agency on weapons of mass destruction issues in an undercover capacity -- at least she was undercover until last week when she was named by columnist Robert Novak
Newsday 7/21/03

boris

He "forgot" that the entire conversation ever occured

Which was my point. Do I need to rephrase it? The parts in the email look pretty forgettable to me. Fogotten. The parts that didn't even make the email were probably even more forgettable for Rove, or they would have made the email.

Don't know if I can make it any clearer with my limited writing ability.

kim

We haven't heard enough from Cooper yet to label him a liar. I have little doubt that his memory and Rove's memory of their conversation differ. I'm hoping we'll hear more of his take on the whole thing. Uh, not as a reporter, but as a witness.
==================================================

Gary Maxwell

Newsday? This is a joke, right? Come on Polly, what did you have for lunch Monday? You spent way more than 2 minutes on lunch, right ?, and its only three days ago. So?

M.F.

Seems to me that nobody defending Rove here or at any other Plamology blog has been able to adequately explain why, if V. Novak's talk with Luskin -- which tipped him off to Cooper's talk with Rove -- was at latest in May, the email didn't get found until September or October. That's just too much time, especially if you take the initial explanation -- "wrong search terms" -- at face value. That is, as soon as that conversation ends, Luskin goes back and types "Cooper" into the search, right? (Aside: The email contained the word "Cooper," didn't it?)

Add the long delay to the apparent fact that the email emerged at almost exactly the same time as it became clear that Cooper would have to testify, and it's hard not to draw the conclusion that Rove was covering up.

Right?

maryrose

Rick
I have to compliment you on your excellent article and the truth contained therein. Also your comments regarding selective memory on the part of the Clintons and of course the removed files from Vince Foster's office have always troubled me. How are these kind of people elected? The only criterion appears to be the ends justify the means. I work with young people and I want and hope for a better world for them without all this corruption.

Eric

I haven't read anything yet that would dissuade me from the theory that the reporters were looking to entrap a Bush official for something they, the reporters, already knew - Wilson's wife worked for the CIA.

The real question then is how the reporters knew. Was is common Washington party circuit knowledge? Did Wilson, as a member of the Kerry campaign, tell them? Did a proxy for him do it?

Jim E.

No regulars here call Cooper a liar? Hmmm. All the following are from a single thread about Viveca Novak (Viveca Novak's Tale, Dec. 11)

TS9 at 11:06am, Dec. 11: responding to a comment that Rove was the first to tell Cooper about Wilson’s wife, TS9 wrote: “total BS. Coop knew. Red pill time.”

Maryrose, 12:05 pm: “I do not believe Cooper didn't know about Plame [before Rove phone call].”

Clarice, 12:14pm: “I'd bet my bottom dollar that there's … conflict between Cooper's first Time account of his conversation with Rove and his post-gj report. Nothing like actually having your rearend in the frying pan to make you cut out the furbishes.”

Owl, 10:24pm: “[Cooper] only took notes on what 'he wanted out of the call' because he immediately wrote the 'hit piece' on the WH. In other words, I believe Cooper fully has the ability to lie in the gj. Look at his actions all the way through it. . . . Must be nice to plan the plot, write the story and then act as witnesses in the play”

In response to owl, maryrose writes at 12:04 pm Dec 12: “Owl, You are absolutely correct in you analysis.”

kim

Of course, Eric.

M.F., we may have not settled it but there was a long discussion for the reasons behind the apparent delay you note on one of these threads recently. I don't remember which one, even though we got quite involved. There were a number of rationales, but the only one I remember was my own. I have it lying around here, somewhere.
======================================

boris

nobody ... has been able to adequately explain why ... the email didn't get found until September

Actually that has been explained several times by tech savy posters 'round here.

Let me take a quick shot at it too.

Consider a database of drivers license info: the police have a suspect description ... 5'10" brown hair 175 lbs. Plug that into the database and check all the alibies. All 77 MILLION.

There needs to be a description of the information that not only COVERS the data, but EXCLUDES most of the irrelevant items.

Given what I've seen about the email in question, the only thing they would have had to go on was Cooper's name. How many hits would that provide ??? How long to manually sift through them all ???

Anonymous Liberal

"What indication is there for a claim that Rove was involved in any aspect of the story while he was on vacation?"

Boris, I don't know how long Rove's vacation lasted, but as I said in my first comment, there are multiple reports that soon after Novak's column was published, Rove was actively shopping the Wilson's wife angle around town, telling Chris Matthews that Plame was now "fair game.") That hardly seems like the behavior of someone who was not paying attention to the story. Indeed, it suggests that Rove was actively following the development of the Wilson story and understood that, now that Plame's identity on the public record, it was suddenly okay to talk about her.

And for the people comparing this to remembering what you had for lunch...please. That's silly. How many times have you been accused of committing a felony for what you had for lunch? And if you were, don't you think you could probably figure out what you had if you thought hard enough about it? Especially when the accusation comes only a few days later and you have receipts (the email) and other people's recollections (the Cooper article) to remind you? Dickerson brought up that analogy as a joke.

noah

Jim E.: very convincing. Yep, Cooper is a liar.

JK!

boris

Fair enough Jim E.

Being skeptical of Coop's state of knowledge is not calling him a liar regarding events related to the Rove-Cooper phone call.

Understand your conflation though. I take back "liar yourself".

TP

Boris. I guess I don't even understand why anybody would have done a further search before Cooper testified based on water cooler talk about what Cooper's testimony might be (if he testified).

kim

Jim E. We are awfully suspicious that at the least Cooper's statement that he first heard about her from Rove is disingenuous. He has parsed his public words so as to be ambiguous.

You should read a little book by Harriet Lerner called 'The Dance of Deception'.

He has used his massive communications ability to deceive. Not good karma.
==================================================

Jim E.

Thank you boris.

However, I didn't conflate. You wanted one example, and I presented several -- one of which explicitly called him a liar.

boris

Rove was actively shopping the Wilson's wife angle around town, telling Chris Matthews that Plame was now "fair game."

You provide no time frame for these allegations. The transfer window for long term memory is shorter than most "vacations". A flood of later similar events would make recovery even less likely, not more.

boris

I believe Cooper fully has the ability to lie

You mean this ??? Don't we all have the ability to lie ??? LOL.

The point seems to be that Cooper could GET AWAY with not telling the GJ he already knew about VP.

Quit while you're ahead.

maryrose

When this whole(charade) scenario plays out we"ll find out who has been truthful and who has been disengenious. At that time apologies and 'I told you so's" will be provided in abundance.

M.F.

Boris, Kim, et al.

Sorry if i'm rehashing old ground -- can't follow every discussion thread, much as I'd like to. And TM hasn't explained it in a front page post, as far as I know.

Anyway, I'm not sure that Boris's explanation is what I'd call "adequate" -- isn't there a way to narrow down the search to emails that Rove sent within a one month time period with the word "Cooper" in it? How many emails could Rove have sent in a month? Even at a whopping 500 per day, that's only 15,000 emails.

That it would have taken anywhere near three months (and that's the timing most favorable to Rove) strains credulity, imo. A basic search engine could do that in about 10 seconds, I'd think. Why not?

kim

It's not an echo chamber if the apparent echos are artifacts.
=======================================

kim

May I remind you, M.F. that V. Novak didn't tell Ruskin about the email. Where did you come up with the idea of an email?
=========================================

kim

Uh, V. Novak didn't tell Luskin about the email. She told him that Cooper had something on Rove, and maybe a thing or two more, but she didn't even know that Rove had sent an email to Hadley. Niether did Luskin. Niether did Rove. And, apparently, niether did Hadley.

Do you start to see why there may have been a delay? Is there reasonable doubt cast in your mind that the reason for the delay in not from Rovian nefariousness, but from the size of the needle and the size of the haystack?
==========================================

boris

MF I don't think you're taking into account efforts that didn't pan out. Phone logs, searches based on Wilson, Plame, etc.

The level of interest might have been less than you suppose. Rove had no recollection of the contents or existence of the conversation. Luskin only knew there might be a "Cooper" problem.

The WH archive process might be more archaic and bogged down with red tape and legal oversight than private sector systems modeled for efficiency rather than CYA.

topsecretk9

TP
how caught up in their own self importance these media guys are.

You can say that again. It's stunning.

---As to memory...I think it was Maybee who made the most astute male memory observation (universal---sorry fellas)

My Papa Bear can't remember shit unless it involves sex. Important conversations, milestone memorable moment in our lives, anything where and when involving the baby bears, if it's dinner or lunch, where he put his glasses.

And by the way V-Nov had 5 conversations with Luskin and she couldn't even nail down when they took place and I bet if she hadn't felt uncomfortable by what she said, none of the conversations would have been memorable to her.

M.F.

Kim --

Point taken, but if you're looking to confirm whether a conversation took place, an email search would probably be something you get to in, I don't know, a few weeks. Especially if the person is Rove, who manages the White House spin op and probably sends lots of emails to lots of people about press contacts. (I'm assuming this last part is true; Fitz knows whether its true.) And you're still discounting the synchronicity argument: court rules against Cooper, email comes out, like clockwork.

clarice

How deep in the Bubble do you have to be to think that you're every word in a dying media (news weeklies) is perused and set to memory by busy officials?

kim

V. Novak's testimony gives Fitz a reason to doubt an evil provenance for Rove's email.
==========================================

topsecretk9

Kim-

Ya think... a 5 AM search makes perfect sense

clarice

In any event, IIRC, both TM and I believe Luskin informed the sp immediately after V. Novak told him that newsroom chatter pegged Rove as one of Cooper's sources. Any delay seems to have been occasioned by the difficulty in retrieving any paper notation--it wasn't in the first place they'd have looked, the phone logs. We don't know either when it was turned over to the sp, do we? Only when Rove testified about it and that date may have been set by other scheduling issues, including those of the sp and gj.

kim

M.F., you are overly certain that Fitz didn't hear about the email until Cooper lost his battle.
===============================================

TM

Seems to me that nobody defending Rove here or at any other Plamology blog has been able to adequately explain why, if V. Novak's talk with Luskin -- which tipped him off to Cooper's talk with Rove -- was at latest in May, the email didn't get found until September or October. That's just too much time, especially if you take the initial explanation -- "wrong search terms" -- at face value.

I have been advised that Jeralynn Merritt suggested an answer - Luskin looked for the email, sent it over, Fitzgerald said thanks, and brought Rove in a few months later.

As an example - in July 2005 Rove offered to come in following Cooper. Fitzgerald finally brought him back in October.

Another idea - Luskin told Fitzgerald he was looking for evidence to track down a lead and jar Rove's memory; eventually, he found the email and later Fitzgerald brought Rove in.

Of course, if it was all so above-board, why is Fitzgerald still so intnerested?

And ocassional stories flicker by where it is suggested that Luskin had some different strategy in mind, and that Rove's real problem lies elsewhere - the way he learned about Ms. Plame, for example.

Hey, it's working! (Maybe...)

Bill in AZ

M.F. it's pretty simple - you don't generally go dredging around in old email archives for evidence of a phone call.

M.F.

Kim --

No, can't know for sure. It's actually possible that Luskin had turned it over to Fitz a lot earlier, but wanted to delay the public disclosure until it was certain that Cooper would testify. My guess is that the question of when Fitz got that email will play a big part in whether Rove is indicted or not. I guess we'll know soon enough.

kim

Maybe so, M.F., but I think it won't play a big part. It's existence virtually exonerates Rove, and it is a piece of cake, post V. Novak testimony, to create reasonable doubt that its provenance is evil.
============================================

topsecretk9

Anon Lib

Sorry for the odd comment structure - I can't get to my own site via the front door, and I have tried both Mozilla Firefox and MS Explorer. Do I need to go Apple, or what?]

Actually, your comments view normal. at least on my apple Must just be funky pre publish. Funny things computers.

clarice

TM, I have no idea what Fitz is interested in or why. I do know that Cooper's story sounds less than credible, given that there was obviously another source he's not disclosing to us and he seems to have forgotten even discussing welfare reform; V Novak is on leave; and Cooper was claiming confidentiality when he seems to have been blabbing to others about his source.

But if I were he I'd be seriously considering how great a witness for the prosecution Cooper really is.

Anonymous Liberal

Kim, do you really think that the Hadley email "virtually exonerates Rove"? Even Luskin isn't capable of that kind of up-is-downism.

The email establishes that 1) Rove spoke to Matthew Cooper BEFORE the Novak column was published (a conservation in which he now admits he passed along classified information re: Wilson's wife) and 2) that Rove's initial testimony before the FBI and grand jury was materially misleading.

Fitzgerald may not end up charging Rove with anything, but if that's the case, it will be despite the email, not because of it.

Do you really think that when Luskin found the email he thought to himself "wow, this virtually exonerates my client"? Please. That's patently absurd. Luskin probably damn near shit his pants when he found that email.

topsecretk9

Something I have been wondering....

Is everyone satisfied with the circumstances of V.Nov's forced leave? Is her situation that different than Woorworks?

kim

AL, do you really believe 1 and 2 are true?
===========================================

topsecretk9

Do you really think that when Luskin found the email he thought to himself "wow, this virtually exonerates my client"? Please. That's patently absurd. Luskin probably damn near shit his pants when he found that email.

Yes. Maybe it is absurd to you, but "Welfare Reform" is what comes in to play, in my mind. I think he jumped for joy.

kim

Down has commonly been up in this affair. Yes I see the email to Hadley as exonerative. I'm sure Luskin broke into a little grin at the word 'trap'. It's provenance, explained by late word from V. Novak, also erases perjury charges for earlier testimony.

It was buried treasure, and I'm sure Luskin was jigging with delight.

What I'm not sure I understand is why Luskin didn't tell Fitz about V. Novak, sooner.
=================================================

clarice

I'm with ts. And I think that those of you who don't think Luskin informed Fitz as soon as he heard from V. don't comprehend why he makes big money.

topsecretk9

Bill in AZ
HEH
you don't generally go dredging around in old email archives for evidence of a phone call.

Gary Maxwell

And for the people comparing this to remembering what you had for lunch...please. That's silly. How many times have you been accused of committing a felony for what you had for lunch? And if you were, don't you think you could probably figure out what you had if you thought hard enough about it?

Anon Lib

You are the naive ( silly?) one here methinks.

Have you ever given a deposition? Have you short of that, ever been presented with a document signed by you that you swear that you never saw before even though it is obvious that you had (or that someone is very good about faking your signature). Why do witnesses to a violent crime quite often give very very different descriptions of what happened and what the suspect looked like?

It is not about "thinking harder". Now that is a silly statement. It is about the way the human brain is wired and how short term and long term memory works. There are several posters here who have posted about this very subject. I will leave it to them to explain this further, if you require.

Anonymous Liberal

Topsecret,
Why would Luskin jump for joy at seeing "welfare reform" if his client had, until that point, no memory whatsoever of the conversation (and Cooper hadn't testified yet)? That doesn't make any sense.

Kim,
1 and 2 from my previous comment are incontravertibly true.

As for 1: Rove and Cooper did speak before the Novak Column (July 11) and Rove has testified that in that conservation he mentioned that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA (a fact which Fitzgerald has made clear was classified at the time, whether you think it should have been or not).

As for 2: Rove's initial testimony was materially misleading. That's why he had to go back and testify 3 more times. You can argue that there is an innocent explanation for why it was misleading (faulty memory) but you can't argue that it wasn't misleading.

Specter

Anon Lib,

It is not what we think is "classified", it is what the government thinks. And if Fitz thought it was classified, he would have brought those charges against Libby. The statements you made are just like the NYT - Rove divulged "classified" information. The facts seem to prove otherwise. You should looke up what the definition of a "covert agent" is according to US statutes. I posted it yesterday in another thread here. What you will find is that Plame doesn't meet the criteria. And, she has not met the criteria since she was brought back by the agency after Ames outed her to the Russians

boris

Why would Luskin jump for joy at seeing "welfare reform" if his client

Cooper called Rove on a different subject. The idea that Rove was shopping the story to Cooper is discredited.

Once Luskin set out to find the reason Rove had a Cooper problem he was certainly glad to find it. That it "virtually exonerated Rove" certainly made him more. (partially because the contents were so eminently forgettable)

Failure to understand these points is an indication that there's more than logic involved in your thinking.

topsecretk9

Gary
Have you ever given a deposition? Have you short of that, ever been presented with a document signed by you that you swear that you never saw before even though it is obvious that you had (or that someone is very good about faking your signature).

Thank You stepping outside the box on this appears to be hard. On the document question...for instance a "homesale". How many docs do we sign?...if asked a year later "what does this document (out of 30 or so arcane docs) that YOU signed say"?


AL
Why would Luskin jump for joy at seeing "welfare reform" if his client had, until that point, no memory whatsoever of the conversation (and Cooper hadn't testified yet)? That doesn't make any sense.

WHY does that make NO sense? WHY? Your client has no recollection of a conversation, than an EMAIL comes up that details a PHONE call that details the conversation starting with something OTHER than Wilson's wife.

The email CONTENT explains why the conversation was forgotten.

It may not be sense you like, but it can be explained in real life.

topsecretk9

Gary
Have you ever given a deposition? Have you short of that, ever been presented with a document signed by you that you swear that you never saw before even though it is obvious that you had (or that someone is very good about faking your signature).

Thank You stepping outside the box on this appears to be hard. On the document question...for instance a "homesale". How many docs do we sign?...if asked a year later "what does this document (out of 30 or so arcane docs) that YOU signed say"?


AL
Why would Luskin jump for joy at seeing "welfare reform" if his client had, until that point, no memory whatsoever of the conversation (and Cooper hadn't testified yet)? That doesn't make any sense.

WHY does that make NO sense? WHY? Your client has no recollection of a conversation, than an EMAIL comes up that details a PHONE call that details the conversation starting with something OTHER than Wilson's wife.

The email CONTENT explains why the conversation was forgotten.

It may not be sense you like, but it can be explained in real life.

noah

Fitz said that Plame's employment status was classified but did not charge Libby with disclosing that fact...correct? The lingering puzzle for us non-experts is what crime Fitz thought he was pursuing.

ed

Specter, please. It was established in Libby's indictment that Plame's status was "classified." It made no mention of her status being covert however, but that's not what AL said.

boris

It was established in Libby's indictment that Plame's status was "classified."

What Fitz considers "classified" and what actually is "classified" can only be determined by charging and convicting of disclosure. Did not charge, therefore at this point moot.

Her "status" as a one time covert agent was not revealed by Novak. That she worked at the CIA and helped arranged Joe's Niger mission was not secret and hence not "classified" in any real sense.

Any possible legal claim in that regard depends on how widely known it was, an obvious bone of contention given later developments .

clarice

And fon't confuse the presser with the indictment. In the presser, as I recall, Fitz made some claims that aren't in the indictment.

noah

Boris:

I don't understand your reasoning. If Fitz could charge Libby for disclosing classified information, how would that depend on whether someone else disclosed it also? Classification is determined by the government. Not by the leakers.

boris

Classification is determined by the government

Too simplistic. Using the big red stamp on everything that could be embarassing or to CYA is discouraged by objective rules about what can and cannot be classified.

At any given time there is a lot of information treated as classified according to department rules that would not stand up in a legal prosecution.

clarice

As Victoria Toensing who wrote the Agee Act has said repeatedly, one element of that crime is that the CIA must show that it took every step to maintain the agent's secrect status. As the agency outed Plame to Cuba; and Harlow outed her to Novak and as it sent Wilson on his Mission without a coonfidentiality requirement and allowed him to blab about it all over the world, they could never meet that test.

clarice

As Victoria Toensing who wrote the Agee Act has said repeatedly, one element of that crime is that the CIA must show that it took every step to maintain the agent's secrect status. As the agency outed Plame to Cuba; and Harlow outed her to Novak and as it sent Wilson on his Mission without a confidentiality requirement and allowed him to blab about it all over the world, they could never meet that test.

noah

Boris: Ok. Take for example the unauthorized disclosure of the Abu Ghraib photos (classified) arguably one of the greatest blows to national security in recent memory. Are you suggesting that the leaker could not be prosecuted because of the CYA aspects? I recall Rumsfeld mentioning in passing that the unauthorized release was a felony.

Kate

Are we permitted to say negative things about Fitzgerald or is that considered as bad as trying to discredit the saintly Joe Wilson?

OK...

1) Why would a serious prosecutor accept a case about outing a covert agent when that agent appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair as a spoof;

2) Why did he continue the investigation after the SSCI report documenting Wilson as a liar, or at least why didn't Fitz change his strategy, or suspects;

3) Why did Fitz buy into the media's narrative so totally, even after they proved to be a bunch of biased fibbers;

4) Why are all the leaks out of Fitz's probe to far left media outlets;

5) Why is Fitz still in DC, why doesn't he go home'

6) Why did his press conference consist of damaging insinuations about Libby not in the indictment and silly baseball analogies?

boris

could not be prosecuted because of the CYA aspects?

No, I did not mean to imply that CYA was a factor in deciding whether specific information was classifiable. Excluding CYA ONLY from the criteria used to EVALUATE classification in general ... yes.

Clearly Abu Ghraib had embarassing elements and nation interest concerns, in addition to military and legal confidentiality rules.

The embarassment factor does in no way overide the others, although there are certainly many who would sanctimoniously assert otherwise.

maryrose

Clarice:
Your comment reminding us to separate the presser and the indictment is very important. I watched the presser and though Fitz had a lot to say about a supposed cover being blown he was unable to indict on that charge. It now appears to me that the ones throwing sand in the umpires eyes are none other than our illustrious press corps, who appear to be accountable to no one.

Anonymous Liberal

It's amazing to me that at this stage in the game there is still so much confusion as to basic facts. Here's a quick primer.

Whether Plame was "covert" under the meaning of the IIPA and whether her employment status was classified are two wholly separate questions.

The first is a question of legal interpretation that Fitzgerald has yet to say anything about.

The second (whether or not her employment with the CIA was classified) is not a legal question; it's a factual one. And the answer is yes! Fitzgerald made that clear in his press conference. And no, Boris, that's not Fitzgerald's call to make. The CIA and other intelligence agencies made that call long before these events ever happened.

You can argue that her affiliation with the CIA should not have been classified. But you can't argue that is wasn't.

As for Fitzgerald's decision not to charge Libby with an underlying crime, that has nothing to do with whether or not the information was classified. First of all, the prosecutor always has the discretion not to charge someone, even when they are guilty. Second, his decision almost surely hinged on the knowledge/intention element of the crime, not whether or not the information was classified.

Finally, Gary Maxwell, I'm an attorney so I'm very familiar with the whole deposition experience. But we're not talking about trying to remember an insignificant document years later. We're talking about trying to remember the existance of a conversation that took place less than week before it's significance became abundantly clear.

noah

Boris: Pardon me for beating the dead horse a bit more. So IF Plame's status was properly classified, then Fitz could have charged Libby for disclosing it? If yes, it would seem to be to a heck of a lot easier to prove than perjury and obstruction of justice. If no, then WTF?

maryrose

AL
It seems to me if you can't indict on a charge than why muddy the waters by referring to something that you can't prove. Don't go looking for reasons to nail someone.

boris

is not a legal question; it's a factual one

You're still not getting it. Her "status" as a one time covert agent was hidden, secret and likely classifiable according to a number of standards. Where she went to work every day was not secret and hence not classifiable regardless of what the CIA, or Fitz claims.

There are objective criteria for deciding if information is classifiable independent of departmental policy or procedure. This is most likely the reason it was not prosecuted. Making the case that where she worked everyday was classified could be asserted to the public based on a CIA claim. Making that case legally was likely impossible because the information was not secret and whould fail any challange.

conversation that took place less than week before it's significance became abundantly clear.

To who? Where's the timeline from Rove-Cooper to the next instance of Rove's involvement? Terms like "less than a week" seem inconsistent with "went on vacation" and the word "abundantly" appears to have emotional significance to you but just looks silly to me.

noah

As for Fitzgerald's decision not to charge Libby with an underlying crime, that has nothing to do with whether or not the information was classified.

Can not be true. Any underlying crime must be related in some way to the release of classified information...otherwise there is no basis for the investigation at all.

Jim E.

Since the topic of covert, classified, and charges are being talked about, I thought I'd provide a few of Fitz' relevant statements.

All quotes from FitzGerald's presser:

"I am not speaking to whether or not Valerie Wilson was covert. . . . I will confirm that her association with the CIA was classified at that time through July 2003." . . .

"The average American may not appreciate that there's no law that's specifically just says, If you give classified information to somebody else, it is a crime.'" . . .

"But at the end of the day, I think I want to say one more thing, which is: When you do a criminal case, if you find a violation, it doesn't really, in the end, matter what statute you use if you vindicate the interest. If Mr. Libby is proven to have done what we've alleged -- convicting him of obstruction of justice, perjury and false statements -- very serious felonies -- will vindicate the interest of the public in making sure he's held accountable. It's not as if you say, 'Well, this person was convicted but under the wrong statute.'"

Specter

AL,

You are right that Fitz said "classified" in his indictment of Libby. But in the next sentence he said, "Prior to July 14, 2003, Valerie Wilson’s affiliation with the CIA was not common knowledge outside the intelligence community." We no know that probably wasn't true either.

Specter

Ooops...should read "now know"

Cecil Turner

As usual, the IIPA definitions section is helpful:

(1) The term ''classified information'' means information or material designated and clearly marked or clearly represented, pursuant to the provisions of a statute or Executive order (or a regulation or order issued pursuant to a statute or Executive order), as requiring a specific degree of protection against unauthorized disclosure for reasons of national security. [emphasis added]
Roughly translated: it's gotta actually be sensitive information relating to national security, it must have been classified in a proper manner, and it has to be clearly marked. As Boris points out, simply because it's stamped "SECRET" doesn't cut it.

P.S. maryrose, I note a couple of spelling tics--including a rather ingenious spelling of "disingenuous" above--that seem to be shared by a few folks at Balloon Juice. No offense.

noah

Jim E.: Thanks for pointing out that Fitz, by his own words, was on a fishing expedition in search of perjury traps.

boris

Thanks CT, perhaps different perspectives on the point can cut through some of the fog.

Information can be classified SECRET when in reality it is neither secret nor legally classifiable. This seeming paradox is apparently too noggin boggling for some.

Anonymous Liberal

Noah,
I think you misinterpreted what I was trying to say (maybe that's my fault), but in doing so, you made a great case for why Plame's affiliation with the CIA was obviously classified. This investigation never would have been launched in the first place had it not been.

Boris,
The answers to your questions about the memory issue are in the Dickerson article and my previous comments. I'm not going to rehash them now.

As to your argument about classification, you're still wildly missing the point. Because of Plame's history as a NOC, her affiliation with the CIA (i.e. the very fact that she was employed by the agency) was classified information. That is the case with all NOCs and is unconstestable. You can argue that because of X, Y, Z someone should have declassified that information. I don't know what the merits of that argument are, but it can at least logically be argued. But you CAN'T argue that the information was not classified. It was. End of story.

That fact alone, of course, does not establish that an underlying crime occurred (that would depend on the context in which the classified information was revealed, i.e., knowledge/intent of the leaker).

Specter

Here's some names for you:

Dr. Thomas Fingar, David Gordon, Craig Gralley, Matthew Burrows, Enid Schoettle, Robert Houdek, James Shinn, William Anderson, and I could go on. They all work for the CIA and are about a classified as Plame was. Hope they don't come knockin' at my door....

noah

AL:

Well to my small non-lawyer brain that is the crux of the issue. Is it fair for the CIA to make a referral for a criminal investigation when there is no crime and they were perfectly positioned to know that??? Just because they are ticked off about something??

noah

After all Earle had to go get another indictment when he made a similar mistake.

maryrose

CT,
I debated whether to respond or not because now I am taking offense. This is the only blog I have ever been on. I don't know how to access Ballon Juice. Please don't respond to any of my posts.

noah

I'd feel a lot better about the whole deal if there was any prospect that the Abu Ghraib leaker will ever be brought to justice. You liberals would scream bloody murder!!

Anonymous Liberal

Noah,

*If* the CIA fraudulently made a criminal referal when they *knew* no crime could possibly have been committed, of course that's wrong. But other than on right-wing blogs, has anyone even made that allegation?
It sounds downright nutty. Plus, do you really think Fitzgerald is that incompetent? That he wouldn't have figured that out by now? He's the most well respected prosecutor in the country. Give the man some credit.

Specter

Yes...Fitz is that incompetent. Simple. But let's get down to brass tacks. NOC - what does that mean - it means non-official cover and is for people who use different identities when that are on assignment in other countries. Now maybe Plame vs. Wilson qualifies, but I doubt it. Was she really working undercover at a desk here in the US? Why? That is what doesn't make any sense.

noah

AL: So tell me since you are a lawyer, why can't the defense examine that very issue before trial...ie, require the CIA lawyers to explain the basis of their referral under the LAW.

Jim E.

Didn't Ashcroft's justice department investigate this before handing this off to Fitz?

noah

From what I understand the referral itself is classified. I have not seen or heard of any definitive finding that Plame was covered under the IIPA. If she is not then of course the referral is fraudulent unless of course the CIA lawyers are just plain incompetent.

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