This caught my eye from 3; the subject is the fateful Russert-Libby phone call:
L: ...So I called Russert, can't remember if I got him right away or had to call back. We spoke briefly, and then I turned to our issues. I mentioned Andrea Mitchell but said I'm not really calling about Mitchell, then went into problems with Matthews. I think Russert said he had to call me back. And I think in the second phone call, if there was one, or a delay in the first call, we had a fuller conversation. He said not much he could do about Chris Matthews, and then he said did you know Ambassador Wilson's wife works for the CIA? I remeber being taken aback by that, and I said "No, I don't know that." Intentionally, because I didn't want him to take me as confirming it. Because I had forgotten by then that I had ever known.
So he said wife works at CIA, and I said, "I don't know that," and he said, "Yeah, all the reporters know that," and I said "I don't know that." Again.
F: What was resolution with Chris Matthews.
L: We were told to go to his producer. In short, I struck out.
The intriguing detail is this - Libby mentions two phone calls, or a break in the first phone call. As I recall, Libby had a break on his phone call with Matt Cooper on July 12; I also recall that the defense alluded to the possibility that Libby had confused the Russert and Cooper phone calls.
And in Tape 2 we learn that questions were raised about Andrea Mitchell's report of July 8; in 3, we find out that Tenet was quite angry:
F: Do you recall a meeting on July 9th chaired by Stephen Hadley?
L: Not specifically.
F: Hadley was angry, saying that Tenet was upset by Andrea Mitchell report… do you recall him looking at Cathie Martin and Claire Buchan of OVP?
L: Not specifically.
F: This was just after you spoke with Andrea Mitchell, right?
Well, well. As part of our ongoing effort to provide the finest in bipartisan psychic blogging, let's applaud Jim E, who dug up an extended transcript of an Andrea Mitchell July 8 report on the Wilson trip over a year ago. I especially liked her use of the word "operative" since Bob Novak echoed it a few days later, but here is the excerpt:
CAPITAL REPORT, Tuesday, July 8, 2003
GLORIA BORGER, co-host:
But first, NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent, Andrea Mitchell, joins us with the latest.
Andrea, how much of a problem is this for this administration right now?
ANDREA MITCHELL (NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent): Well, it's becoming a political problem; at least the Democrats are putting out statements. And, in fact, Democrats on the Hill in the Intelligence Committee, Senator Rockefeller demanding investigations, the inspector general of the CIA is already investigating. And while the Republican leadership on the Hill is pushing back and trying to prevent full-scale investigations, they themselves are going along with inquiries into it.
ALAN MURRAY, co-host:
Andrea, are you getting any explanation for how this could have happened? I mean, we now know that Ambassador Joe Wilson had come back a year earlier telling the State Department that it looked like bad intelligence. It seems to have been a widespread notion this was bad intelligence, and yet somehow it got put in the State of the Union address. How did it happen?
MITCHELL: Well, that is a great question, because this is the bad information that just wouldn't go away. It would not die. People tried to put a stake through it. And the only conclusion that Joe Wilson comes to and that other critics of the administration is that this was bad information, but it reflected so negatively on Saddam Hussein, it was the scariest thing they had against him, so those who wanted war used it to make their case. It was repeated by the Brits on September 24th of 2002, months and months after Wilson had come back and debunked it. It was repeated in September on "Meet the Press" by Dick Cheney to Tim Russert.
Again, it popped up in the national intelligence estimate, which is the consensus document that goes to the Hill and the White House, and this was October 1st. It was briefed to the Senate Intelligence Committee or Foreign Relations Committee, rather, on October 4th. And even though there was a caveat from the State Department that this information was highly dubious, this was buried in a footnote. And again it cropped up in December in a white paper put out by the State Department, even though people in the State Department knew it wasn't true.
BORGER: Andrea, this being Washington, somebody's going to have to take the fall for this. The president giving faulty information in a State of the Union address is not something that makes the president very happy. So who is going to end up taking the fall?
MITCHELL: Well, people at the CIA say that it's not going to be George Tenet; and, in fact, that high-level people at the CIA did not really know that it was false, never even looked at Joe Wilson's verbal report or notes from that report, didn't even know that it was he who had made this report, because he was sent over by some of the covert operatives in the CIA at a very low level, not, in fact, tasked by the vice president.
So one of Wilson's assumptions, which is that Dick Cheney asked the CIA about this allegation from a foreign intelligence service and that he was sent as a result of that, may not, in fact, be true. It could very well be that the vice president is correct, that he never asked for Joe Wilson to be sent, that it was a much lower level. And Condi Rice may, in fact, have been accurate when she said very recently to Russert on "Meet the Press" that this was buried deep in the bowels of the CIA.
But the bottom line is, though, that it did get into the national intelligence estimate, which is a very important document, and this came from the CIA to all the policy-makers and someone should have warned them--I talked to someone at the CIA today and they said this was a throw-away line and it should have been thrown away and it should never have gotten into the State of the Union, and we do need to find out how that happened.
Lots there to irritate Tenet. And it is poignant that as of July 8, following the Wilson op-ed, Alan Murray is saying that Wilson reported back to the State Dept. That ties in to the notion that over at State folks were busy explaining the real genesis of the Wilson trip to their friends in the press - just for example, Armitage was leaking to Novak on July 8 and explaining that Wilson was sent by the CIA over the objections of the INR.