Ari testimony, 1 , 2, 3 from Marcy Wheeler - grimmer than I expected for Libby, since I had guessed the "hush-hush, on the qt" comment would be a general statement about the Wilson trip, not a specific comment about the wife.
Also, when did Libby find out her name was Valerie "Plame" [which is how Ari said Libby identified her, although he waffles on cross]? She was "Wilson" in the INR memo; Novak says he got it from "Who's Who", but he should not have passed that back to Rove or Libby by July 7.
My old stand-by guess - someone got tired or referring to "Wilson's wife" and looked her up themselves. But if Libby did that prior to July 7, his memory defense has a major problem. Same point if Libby was told that by someone (no one who has testified has called her "Plame", I don't think, but I welcome advice on this point.)
Well - we can see why the defense wants to paint the picture that Ari is part of a "Protect Karl, Dump Libby" cabal. And Ari Fleischer is describing an undocumented face to face meeting - he will never be tried for perjury if he is embellishing this story. Still, this is the better day for Fitzgerald that we had expected.
W If you look at talking points before and after there is no mention of Mrs. Wilson. Is it fair to say that when the Novak article came out, from your personal perspective that was not viewed as a big article.
M It wasn't a huge revelation to me because I KNEW, I knew it was a big deal that he had disclosed it.
Wells sensibly moved on, but Fitzgerald did not come back to that on re-examination, which one might have expected. Is Fitzgerald asleep at his own trial, or was this some sort of misunderstanding? Frankly, (I paraphrase) "it wasn't a huge revelation because I knew it was a big deal" is not a phrase that makes a lot of sense to me.
But in a pinch, go to re-write: "It wasn't a huge revelation to me because I knew". And so she did - she already knew that Ms. Plame was at the CIA. Ms. Martin then follows with, "I knew that it was a big deal that he had disclosed it".
OK, how did she know it's a "big deal"? Does any of her testimony suggest that Harlow, or anyone, had warned her to keep this quiet?
Or was it a "big deal" that Novak had disclosed it because Novak was not on their target leak list and the wife was not one of their talking points, which meant (here comes the Big Deal!), that some other person or group was leaking their own story about the Wilson trip to the press. The implication would be that the message coordination had collapsed, and for a pressie, that is a big deal.
I'll stop now - as noted, this is the traditional open thread. But let me just say, the collapsed message coordination as the Big Deal is not a bad theory - hey, you try spinning this, uhh, stuff into something resembling non-stuff sometime.
UPDATE: Who ya gonna believe, Ari Fleischer or John Dickerson, then of TIME? Here is Mr. Fleischer (2):
P Were you in Uganda. Can you tell us if you had an occasion to talk to reporters by the side of the road.
Fl President walking toward second event. Meeting with young children who were going to sing songs. A group of reporters on the side of the road. I recall I said to these reporters, If you want to know who sent Amb Wilson to Niger, it was his wife, she works there. Tamara Lippert Newsweek, David Gregory and John Dickerson, Time Magazine.
My inbox was a mess. In the middle of it was an e-mail from Matt Cooper telling me to call him from a land line when I had some privacy. At some time after 1 p.m. his time, I called him. He told me that he had talked to Karl Rove that morning and that Rove had given him the same Wilson takedown I'd been getting in Uganda. But Matt had the one key fact I didn't: Rove had said that Wilson's wife sent him.
But if Ari is accurate, not only did John Dickerson know about the wife, he knew (and called the Washington bureau, but they were all busy) before Cooper talked to Rove.
Well, if Ari was making stuff up, that would have been a helpful detail for Rove, anyway. And as Mr. Dickerson notes, Fitzgerald had made a hash of the timeline in his Jan 26, 2006 letter to the defense the President was in Uganda on July 11, and Uganda is ahead of Washington, time-wise.
And how does this affect Libby's prospects? Well, if Ari is lying, that probably helps Libby. Or, if Mr. Dickerson was not fully forthcoming in his public writings and not investigated by Fitzgerald, one might wonder what other reporters are also, ahh, being parsimonious with the truth.
Since this is the age of instant information, John Dickerson has posted his reply at Slate:
I have a different memory. My recollection is that during a presidential trip to Africa in July 2003, Ari and another senior administration official had given me only hints. They told me to go inquire about who sent Wilson to Niger. As far as I can remember—and I am pretty sure I would remember it—neither of them ever told me that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA.