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July 19, 2005

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Steven J.

I also looked for the Mitchell quote unsuccessfully. I did come across a show where she was the guest host and although the topic was Plame, she didn't mention that her cover was known.

Joe

I thought I remembered hearing her say that on the Imus show, but hell, with saturation coverage since, who knows?

Jim E.

The only media-person I am aware of who has explicitly claimed that it was common-knowledge that Plame worked at the CIA was Cliff May. I wouldn't hang my hat on anything that hack says. He acted as if Plame was well-known among the DC cocktail-party circuit even before Wilson's op-ed ran. As if.

Anyways, I think I tracked down the Mitchell quote from the July 15 Hardball. (I think Powerline must have updated their post after July 10.) The Powerline commenter has distorted Mitchell. Here's Mitchell's quote (she's responding to a question about whether or not journalists were feeding info to Rove):

"It certainly does expose the way reporters and political figures work hand in glove. When you see here Rove saying, yeah, I heard that, too, according to the White House claim, the Republican claims, to an inquiry from Bob Novak, it is very clear that everybody is feeding each other information."

All Mitchell is doing here -- however inartfully -- is restating the Karl Rove/Republican talking points, not endorsing them. She never says Plame's status was already known her, nor does she seem to think it was widely known.

If you look at what she said on the Hardball the night before the above statement, it seems clear that Mitchell thinks this is all pretty serious and that she thinks Plame was truly covert:
"The other thing is a lot of misreporting, including in some of the papers today about what her role was. She was back in the States, had been back in the States since 1997. But she was still covert. She was considered a CIA officer, and a covert officer at Langley. Now she had previously been what was considered under non-official cover, which meant that she was of the deepest type of undercover spy overseas, meaning she had a job in a CIA front organization, a company that took years and years to establish. And that revealing her name was serious because anyone who ever dealt with that company or with her, any foreign national CIA agent, agent that is a term used for foreigners, that person or persons could then be suspect and could then be under life-threatening conditions."

Lesley

Scott Johnson: "Hilail Gildin writes..."

Hilail Gildin, Professor of Philosophy, Queens College.

Straussian and, uh oh, possible NEO CON.

I would assume Scott received that information from Hilail Gildin himself, via email to Powerline.

Oh. Disclaimer. The Hilail Gildin who wrote Scott may not be the Hilail Gildin at Queens College. Could be billions of Hilail Gildins out there.

How Hilail Gildin knew this? Mystery.

Jim E.

Since this thread is about Andrea Mitchell, I have a question for the media-critics on the right: Is Andrea Mitchell, the spouse of Ayn Rand's friend Alan Greenspan, liberally-biased?

Truzenzuzex

Jim, why does Cliff May have to be a "hack"? I mean, everybody can get into the act and call Corn a hack, or Novak a hack, or on and on ad infinitum.

I take it that you don't generally agree with May or like his style. Fine. But let's face it - at least two reporters knew about Plame (or at least had heard about her employment with the CIA) prior to any involvement by Rove & Co. I don't think a reasonable person would find it a stretch that others in the press knew as well. If you think it is likely that those two were the exclusive repository of that knowledge, perhaps you should enlighten us all with something more lucid than "As if."

With respect to Mitchell, my assumption is the person who informed Powerline of Mitchell's comment probably misherd or misunderstood her. It is also possible that she said something that shows up in the transcript as "crosstalk". I have heard a lot of interesting things in shows like Hardball that dissappear into crosstalk limbo.

Let's face the facts, though. Plame's cover was blown long before Novak reported it. If a reporter knows or suspects a person is a CIA agent, how hard is it to follow her to work and confirm it? If you hear somebody works for the CIA and they drive to the CIA headquarters in Langley for work, a reasonably strong logical conclusion can be drawn from that data.

BEAM

"I expect that most folks are eager to move on to the Supreme Court tussle"

I hope not. I was bummed when I saw Bush was going to name his nominee today.

BEAM

Didn't Plame's own former boss say just a couple of days ago in the Washington Times that many people knew she worked at the CIA?

I'll look for a link. I think it was last Thursday.

BEAM

Here is the link I was talking about. Don't know if this helps or not but:

"A former CIA covert agent who supervised Mrs. Plame early in her career yesterday took issue with her identification as an "undercover agent," saying that she worked for more than five years at the agency's headquarters in Langley and that most of her neighbors and friends knew that she was a CIA employee. "She made no bones about the fact that she was an agency employee and her husband was a diplomat," Fred Rustmann, a covert agent from 1966 to 1990, told The Washington Times.
"Her neighbors knew this, her friends knew this, his friends knew this. A lot of blame could be put on to central cover staff and the agency because they weren't minding the store here. ... The agency never changed her cover status."

http://www.washtimes.com/national/20050715-121257-9887r.htm

jukeboxgrad

TRUZ: "at least two reporters knew about Plame (or at least had heard about her employment with the CIA) prior to any involvement by Rove & Co"

I wonder if you'd like to tell us how you know all that.

"my assumption is the person who informed Powerline of Mitchell's comment probably misherd or misunderstood her"

I wonder if you'd like to make a prediction on the odds of Power Line ever running a correction.

"Plame's cover was blown long before Novak reported it"

That's what the media argued in the amicus brief, and the judges rejected that brief. I wonder what you know that the judges don't know.

"Didn't Plame's own former boss say just a couple of days ago in the Washington Times that many people knew she worked at the CIA?"

Yes. And the same article (link) also quotes one of the neighbors as saying he "absolutely didn't know" she was in the CIA.

The bottom line is that it doesn't matter if her cover was already weak. Rove had a duty to make sure of her status before he opened his mouth. There's a big difference between a few people in the neighborhood knowing her status, as compared with having it printed in major publications.

By the way, a pretty good indication that the CIA still cared about keeping her under cover, at least to some extent, is that they asked Novak to not use her name. Obviously he did anyway.

HH

"And that revealing her name was serious because anyone who ever dealt with that company or with her, any foreign national CIA agent, agent that is a term used for foreigners, that person or persons could then be suspect and could then be under life-threatening conditions."

Except it has been long established that her name was revealed at least twice if not three times prior to the Novak column, at least once by Wilson, the others by Wilson or Plame.

Jeff

Frankly, it's astonishing the sloppiness with which some people here are handling evidence, even as they continually lay claim to reasonableness and such things.

Truzenzuzex, could you please explain how you come up with the idea that "at least two reporters knew about Plame (or at least had heard about her employment with the CIA) prior to any involvement by Rove & Co." Are you are talking about May and Novak? May and his source? Please illuminate us how you reasoned this out. Does May identify when he learned about Plame? Is it not possible -- indeed, even reasonable -- to imagine that he learned it as part of the dissemination of information about Plame? After all, if you look at the text, what he said -- regardless of the Known Facts that have since been created about this -- is that he inferred that her status was common knowledge on the basis of the casual manner in which it was mentioned by his source. But we now have reason to believe that casualness was a calculated part of the spreading of Plame's status by those who sought to discredit Joe Wilson. So May is not such a reliable source here after all. And who's the other? Please don't say it's Novak. (I will leave aside the fact that May himself appears to have abandoned his earlier pose in favor of the quote unquote argument that it was David Corn not Robert Novak who exposed Plame as a covert operative, against the plain meaning of Novak's text and his own earlier theorizing.)

Beam, note the dates of Rustmann's employment. Or just go here: http://www.davidcorn.com/2005/07/rove_scandal_th.php

HH
BEAM

"The bottom line is that it doesn't matter if her cover was already weak."

Weak is an understatement.

"There's a big difference between a few people in the neighborhood knowing her status, as compared with having it printed in major publications."

Did Matthew Cooper live in her neighborhood too?

Jeff

BEAM -- You're going to have to update your talking points. Matthew Cooper didn't know anything about Joe Wilson's wife until Karl Rove told him.

I am not, repeat not, claiming I know that Plame was covert in the sense requisite to violations of the IIPA. I just don't know -- though there is some evidence pointing in that direction, as well as some evidence pointing in the other direction. My point is that you have no regard for proportioning your judgments to the evidence. You are just throwing whatever you got at those who disagree with you.

Same goes for you, HH. There's a slight of hand -- Rustmann retires in 1990, so what he says about what happens after that is said not as her superior but just another informed observer.

Lesley

Jeff, Why do you think the CIA didn't warn Novak off the story if they thought it would put an agent or an operation in jeopardy? I am frankly stumped by that question.

Jeff

Lesley - well, one plausible interpretation is that the CIA did warn Novak off the story, he just wasn't interested in the warning. I will be interested to hear that part of Fitzgerald's version, since there has been some information reported about contacts between the CIA and Novak that are suggestive but hard to read -- he reportedly asked whether Plame was covert, though it's not clear when -- but in any case we have Novak's own version, which of course is unlikely to be unfriendly to Novak. Novak says, "At the CIA, the official designated to talk to me denied that Wilson's wife had inspired his selection but said she was delegated to request his help. He asked me not to use her name, saying she probably never again will be given a foreign assignment but that exposure of her name might cause "difficulties" if she travels abroad. He never suggested to me that Wilson's wife or anybody else would be endangered." That's from his Oct. 1 2003 piece (got it from Townhall). So, the official asks him not to use her name and suggests unspecified difficulties. Sounds kinda like a warning off the story to me, no? Or perhaps Novak was thinking, I'm trusty Bob Novak, after all, if the official doesn't come out and say "She's a covert operative BUT DON'T TELL!" then she must not be covert, so I'll go ahead and call her an agency operative in my column, and name her by her maiden name. Or something like that. Now, I'm not saying that what sounds like just the kind of warning the CIA would issue -- a warning that was suitably ambiguous not to actually give away her status to someone who had no authorization to know but nevertheless a warning -- actually was just the kind of warning the CIA would issue. As I said, I look forward to hearing Fitzgerald's version. But there's what I think is a plausible answer to your question.

Lesley

Thanks, Jeff. Very thoughtful and well-reasoned response. I, too, look forward to the Fitzgerald Report. My hope is that it will satisfy everyone's curiosity about this mess. Unlikely, but one can always hope.

Steven J.

RE: neighbor's knowledge of Plame

"Before this whole affair, no one would ever have thought of her as an undercover agent," said David Tillotson, a next-door neighbor for seven years who got to know the Wilsons well over back-fence chats, shared dinners and play dates for their grandchildren with the Wilsons' children, Trevor and Samantha.
"She wasn't mysterious," Mr. Tillotson said. "She was sort of a working soccer mom."
He recalled his incredulity on July 14, 2003, when his wife, Victoria, spotted in The Washington Post, in a syndicated column by Robert Novak, a line identifying their neighbor by her maiden name and calling her an "agency operative." Ms. Tillotson kept calling out: "This can't be! This can't be!"
The Wilsons' neighbor on the other side, Christopher Wolf, was similarly aghast. As he sat on his deck staring at the Novak column, Mr. Wilson came out his back door.
"I said: 'This is amazing! I had no idea,' " Mr. Wolf recalled. "He sort of motioned to me to keep my voice down."


Pivate Spy and Public Spouse Live at Center of Leak Case
By Scott Shane
New York Times, Tuesday 05 July 2005

Steven J.

JIM E. -

Thanx for digging that out!

Steve J.

TM

This was in the Sept 28, 2003 WaPo:

When Novak told a CIA spokesman he was going to write a column about Wilson's wife, the spokesman urged him not to print her name "for security reasons," according to one CIA official. Intelligence officials said they believed Novak understood there were reasons other than Plame's personal security not to use her name, even though the CIA has declined to confirm whether she was undercover.

...The CIA occasionally asks news organizations to withhold the names of undercover agents, and news organizations usually comply. An intelligence official told The Post yesterday that no further harm would come from repeating Plame's name.

And somewhere should be a cite to verify this old post, but I am quoting myself now:

And the editor of "The Washington Post," Fred Hyatt, said in an editorial as well that if the request had been made by the CIA not to put this information in for the fear of the safety of Mrs. Wilson or anybody else, I certainly would not have used her name. But that request was not made.

I am pretty confident that, at a minimum, the CIA blew it. But there was good support (both the WaP account, and Hyatt's comment) for the notion that the CIA did not exert themselves to protect her.

In fact, as to the idea that it might inconvenience her in traveling abroad, that might be true for any CIA employee, covert or not - I doubt the folks who hate the CIA make these fine distinctions.

(And Hyatt may not be at the WaPo, but maybe the Chi Trib - I remember not remembering that well).

BumperStickerist

TM -

The simpler explanation for the CIA's request of Novak is that the CIA did not want Valerie Plame's name used so that attention was not drawn to their two previous screw-ups.

Afaik, that's not on the Republican Talking Points list, as I don't read the Republican Talking Points list. But, in thinking about this, the CIA, apparently, knew that Plame was compromised, if Novak published her name then questions could arise regarding the manner in which Plame came off of NOC status. That could prove embarrasing for Certain Elements within the CIA.

Novak's reasonings jibe with the notion of a bureaucracy protecting itself, not an agent.

and, fwiw, I remember seeing that Mitchell clip from a talk show - either Imus or, possibly, Hard Ball, but I think Imus. It wasn't Perry Mason like, just a question that, I think, went 'So did people know that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA' .. cut to Mitchell who looked *very* uncomfortable, long pause, 'yes it was known..'

I understand the power of Rove might make mine a false memory - sort of like Bush actually winning the 2000 election. Such is the power of our lord and master, Karl.

However, if somebody can check Closed Captioning records that might work - provided that the transcriber didn't type 'Wall eerie Plane'. I do not think that it was a 'cocktail circuit'/cocktail party type of exchange.

It's telling, though, that we're now into 'Defense Attorney' territory for standards of proof regarding media broadcasts.

BEAM

"BEAM -- You're going to have to update your talking points. Matthew Cooper didn't know anything about Joe Wilson's wife until Karl Rove told him."

You're right, I'm sorry. I was thinking of Novak.

Jim E.

I'm waiting for anyone to name the several reporters who knew about Plame's status before Novak's column. Rove and his lawyer are the only ones saying that reporters fed Rove information. Call me crazy, but given their conflict of interest, I wouldn't necessarily bet the house on that version of events at this time. It may be true, but there's no reason to give them unquestioning credit for it at this point.

Also, Plame went NOC after 1990, so that Washington Times article is inoperative, as they say, in terms of debunking Plame's status. Besides, I think it's fair to assume that the first thing Fitsgerald would have looked at is Plame's status.

By reporting the White House's suspicous activity in this matter does not count as "pro-Wilson" spin. Wilson is besides the point when it comes to the law. Or did you guys refer to the evidence against OJ as "pro-Nicole Simpson spin" back in the day, too?

Finally, I was asked to bolster my "Cliff May is a hack" comment. With pleasure. I'll give a fresh example: Cliff May has publicly said that David Corn, and not Novak, was the first person who really blew Plame's cover. He put that in print as a tenative hypothesis last week and then said it as fact on CNN this week. Not only does the public record show May to be wrong, but May e-mailed Corn for comment prior to printing his column (which is actually responsible) and then ignored what Corn said (not responsible at all). And to go from spouting an unconvincing hypothesis to blurting it out as fact on CNN is quite unforgivable. The clueless CNN anchor let May smear Corn (and Wilson) with no follow-up. May knows that most people don't know the ins and outs of the case, so he just plain lies about it. Therefore, he's a hack.

Jim E.

Bumperstickerist,
I am unable to find Imus transcripts, so maybe you're right. But unless you're strangely remembering an interview from a long time ago, Imus is broadcasting from New Mexico and guests call-in. My point is, assuming the interview is recent, you wouldn't be able to see what Mitchell looked like since she wouldn't ahve a video camera in her.

Also, why would Mitchell look "uncomfortable" anyways?

Jim E.

Bumperstickerist,
I am unable to find Imus transcripts, so maybe you're right. But unless you're strangely remembering an interview from a long time ago, Imus is broadcasting from New Mexico and guests call-in. My point is, assuming the interview is recent, you wouldn't be able to see what Mitchell looked like since she wouldn't have a video camera on her.

Also, why would Mitchell look "uncomfortable" anyways? You make it sound sinister, and it makes no sense to me. She always looks uncomfortable.

Joe

I mentioned the Imus thing way up top, too. It was from a while back, like 2003. Hence, the uncertainty. For what it's worth, Imus is only out of NM in the Summer and until just recently was out of WFAN in NY, which is in the same building as NBC, Mitchell's network. So it probably isn't that much of a stretch that he would have her in the studio.

BR

TM's post and subsequent comments made me recall a strange mention of Andrea Mitchell by Wilson in his 9/18/03 Interview by Josh Marshall of TalkingPointsMemo ("TPM"):


"TPM: And, just to be clear, at this time, you hadn't seen these documents that turned out to be forgeries?

WILSON: No, I hadn't. I had just been briefed on a *memorandum of agreement covering the sale. Now, my understanding is that there are all sorts of other documents that have since come to light and Andrea Mitchell showed me some documents which I had not seen and frankly, I did not have my glasses, so I didn't even get a chance to read them, and I have not seen them since."

[* In the Vanity Fair Jan 04 piece it became a "purported" memorandum.]


My questions are now: What documents? When did Andrea Mitchell show him some documents? On a tv show? In private? I didn't know that any of the (three ?) sets of forgeries in Plamegate were publicly available. Has anyone seen them on the net?


One can't tell from the above statement by Wilson what dates he's referring to. He may be deliberately vague, because it would blow this thing sky high if it comes out he did see fake docs in his Feb 02 briefings at the CIA before his Niger trip, as the Senate Report indicates after reviewing his statements to the press. His reference in the above interview to "other documents that have since come to light" ostensibly refers to docs given to Italian Journalist Burba in Sept. 02, then delivered to the US Embassy on 10/9/02 (and much later, on 5 Sept. 04, it was revealed in the UK Telegraph that the Burba docs came from French agent "Giacomo.") In March 03, twelve days before the Iraq War began, the UN's Elbaradei of the IAEA on 3/7/03 declared certain Niger documents as "not authentic." (Can't tell yet if that's Set 1 or 2, or if it's one and the same thing.) I know this sounds tangled, but if there is a crime by the anti-war, anti-Bush faction in the CIA forging docs to prevent the war and embarrass Bush, also possibly to hide secret private business dealings with the French company, Cogema, which owns and controls the uranium mines in Niger, then the attempted coverup would be clouded by this much confusion.


Back on 7/17/05, when I was making a list of links showing where Wilson describes details of the forgeries and a second list of links where he denies ever seeing any forgeries, I was only concentrating on the conflicting data coming from Wilson. But now that you are discussing Andrea Mitchell, it reminded me that her name came up in one of his denials.


Links to everything I've written above are contained in parallel research to JustOneMinute's going on at Wizbang in comments sections here, here, and especially here. (This last link contains the "Yes I saw them/No I didn't see them" lists and SET 1, SET 2, SET 3 Niger-related forgeries links.)

W. Lockman

Jim E.

Mitchell's relationship with Greenspan in no way precludes her being pro-liberal. I'd say it's more than counterbalanced by the fact she's been on NBC since about the time of the Battle of Gettysburg.

BR

[Please excuse me if this double-posts. Having trouble getting it to go through.]

TM's post and subsequent comments made me recall a strange mention of Andrea Mitchell by Wilson in his 9/18/03 Interview by Josh Marshall of TalkingPointsMemo ("TPM"):


"TPM: And, just to be clear, at this time, you hadn't seen these documents that turned out to be forgeries?

WILSON: No, I hadn't. I had just been briefed on a *memorandum of agreement covering the sale. Now, my understanding is that there are all sorts of other documents that have since come to light and Andrea Mitchell showed me some documents which I had not seen and frankly, I did not have my glasses, so I didn't even get a chance to read them, and I have not seen them since."

[* In the Vanity Fair Jan 04 piece it became a "purported" memorandum.]


My questions are now: What documents? When did Andrea Mitchell show him some documents? On a tv show? In private? I didn't know that any of the (three ?) sets of forgeries in Plamegate were publicly available. Has anyone seen them on the net?


One can't tell from the above statement by Wilson what dates he's referring to. He may be deliberately vague, because it would blow this thing sky high if it comes out he did see fake docs in his Feb 02 briefings at the CIA before his Niger trip, as the Senate Report indicates after reviewing his statements to the press. His reference in the above interview to "other documents that have since come to light" ostensibly refers to docs given to Italian Journalist Burba in Sept. 02, then delivered to the US Embassy on 10/9/02 (and much later, on 5 Sept. 04, it was revealed in the UK Telegraph that the Burba docs came from French agent "Giacomo.") In March 03, twelve days before the Iraq War began, the UN's Elbaradei of the IAEA on 3/7/03 declared certain Niger documents as "not authentic." (Can't tell yet if that's Set 1 or 2, or if it's one and the same thing.) I know this sounds tangled, but if there is a crime by the anti-war, anti-Bush faction in the CIA forging docs to prevent the war and embarrass Bush, also possibly to hide secret private business dealings with the French company, Cogema, which owns and controls the uranium mines in Niger, then the attempted coverup would be clouded by this much confusion.


Back on 7/17/05, when I was making a list of links showing where Wilson describes details of the forgeries and a second list of links where he denies ever seeing any forgeries, I was only concentrating on the conflicting data coming from Wilson. But now that you are discussing Andrea Mitchell, it reminded me that her name came up in one of his denials.


Links to everything I've written above are contained in parallel research to JustOneMinute's going on at Wizbang in comments sections here, here, and especially here. (This last link contains the "Yes I saw them/No I didn't see them" lists and SET 1, SET 2, SET 3 Niger-related forgeries links.)

BumperStickerist

going off memory (again) and I'll go check the Wizbang links in a second, but *my sense* of Mitchell's discomfort was that it was more along the lines of "I don't want to talk about my drinking habits with Don Imus" and run the risk of Bernie jumping in with bits about Imus peeing in the phone booth rather than a discomfort like "I'm covering for somebody..."

As for the timing of the Andrea's appearance, I think it was only a couple of month's ago - pre-shark attack / Natalee Halloway. And again, I'm perfectly willing to be wrong on this.

Though, a transcript would be nice. Given the eclectic nature of the internet, you'd think that *somebody* would have a stalker-like site devoted to Andrea Mitchell with all her guest show appearance and transcripts listed, along with various disturbingly personal information.

Jim E.

W. Lockman,

Thanks for the response. I just wanted to make sure that Andrea Mitchell was liberally biased -- you provided excellent evidence. Campbell Brown, Daryl Kagan -- both dating right-wingers -- are surely liberally biased, too, because hey, they must be. It doesn't matter who they are dating, because that wouldn't preclude their alliegance to the Dems. Okay. The default position is that Republicans must be victims of media bias.

But Matt Cooper is suspect because he is married to a Dem. Alrighty, then.

me (and TCO)

You know irrespective of Rove outing Wilson (and in no way justifying it), Wilson sure seems like a hack. Asked to do a confidential mission and then blabs about it (yeah...I know he didn't sign an NDA...that's not my point). Asked to track down an issue and spends all his time/effort at the hotel drinking sweet tea and doing official meetings (not an intrepid researcher). Makes analysis and judgement of an overall issue, where he has only a piece of the information.

DW West

Fred Barnes (Fox News, Weekly Standard) recently said on-air that he had known that Wilson's wife was CIA. But he didn't say when or how he learned this.

There are 3 time periods in question:
1) Before Wilson's op-ed was published on July 6/03 (actually on the street July 5).
2) Between then and Novak's July 14 article, when the information was traded back and forth between some Administration officals and some reporters.
3) After July 14 when the whole world knew.

It would be interesting to get confirmation from anyone without security clearance that they knew Plame's CIA identity before the July5/6 weekend.

Jim E.

me,
While your last sentence is correct (at least in terms of his public pronouncements, if not the oral report he gave the CIA), time has shown that Wilson's overall analysis and judgments were quite correct. And the same month Wilson's op-ed appeared, the White House admitted the 16 words never should have been put in the speech. So if you think Wilson's a hack for some reason, seems that the White House is more hacky. (Neener-neener!)

Also, you have no idea exactly what Wilson did on his trip or whether ANYONE has cause to complain over how he conducted himself. Righties keep saying Wilson was wrong, but substantively, on the nuclear issue, I don't see how. Nothing Wilson did was illegal, and whistle-blowers are usually afforded respect, not smears. That is, unless you are dealing with partisan hacks determined to crush their perceived enemies, truth be damned.

And as you said, focusing on Wilson is quite irrelevant. He's on the peripherary of this whole thing.

yeoman

I saw Andrea Mitchell make the comment that it was common knowledge that Plame was CIA. I remember it because I was struck that a member of the press was making this comment. It occurred during a panel discussion at the end of one of the weekend shows. I believe that would limit it to Meet the Press or The Chris Matthews Show (his Sunday AM show) since she would be limited to NBC/MSNBC. I checked the transcripts for the Matthews show but they only go to Jan 05, no recent shows. I did not see it in the MTP transcript. Anyone have videotape?

Jeff

TM - It's unclear what you're claiming. The WaPo news report and Hyatt's report are referring to the fact that the CIA did not exert themselves well after whatever cover Plame may have had was blown by Novak. Whence your confidence that the CIA blew it?

BR - I will happily and enthusiastically join you in calling for the press and the government to figure out who forged the Niger documents, how they got into circulation, and how they ended up in the Bush administration's hands. Is it your view that the SSCI stayed away from this matter, and that the fact that the investigation of it referred to in a footnote there is nowhere to be seen, because those powerful Democrats on the committee, led by dodo-brain Rockefeller, exerted themselves so that what the "crime by the anti-war, anti-Bush faction in the CIA forging docs to prevent the war and embarrass Bush" you speculate about not be revealed? That sounds plausible. So get all your friends to demand an assertive and public investigation. Hearings before Congress even! I'm all for it.

DW West - You're exactly right about the three time periods, though the first one probably starts significantly before Wilson's op-ed is actually published. Recall that INR memo is reported to date from early June. Also, we do not know that it was only in your period 2) that "the information was traded back and forth between some Administration officals and some reporters." That could very well have happened during period 1) as well. Gee, I wonder why it is that none of these people -- all right-wingers too! -- who claim that Plame's status was well-known have specified when they learned the information, and how. Novak, Barnes, May . . . It would indeed be interesting to get confirmation from anyone without security clearance that -- and how! -- they knew Plame's CIA identity. To say nothing of July 5-July 14.

And oh yeah, I see we've made no progress in actually documenting what Andrea Mitchell said, when she said it, and how she said it. Still impatient to know.

overtaxed

This is an important loose end. Have Cliff May or Fred Barnes given any indication of how they know Plame's identity - i.e. from other journalists, government sources, or Party sources?

Also, how was she identified to them - as Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Wilson or Valerie Plame?

Patrick R. Sullivan

Everyone seems to be missing that forged documents are exactly what would be expected to accompany CLANDESTINE SALES of uranium.

We know what Wilson did in Niger if we read his stupid book; he mostly sat around and listened to his friends say, "Oh, no, mercy, we'd never sell uranium to Iraq. That would be illegal. Just because our sales are off by 80% since those mines in Canada opened, doesn't mean we'd succumb to the temptation of $10 million. Put your mind at rest, Joe."

There are two articles here:

http://cshink.com/iraq_had_talks_on_uranium.htm

that provide the details of Niger's secret uranium deals.

Patrick R. Sullivan

'...who forged the Niger documents, how they got into circulation, and how they ended up in the Bush administration's hands.'

You can find that in the Financial Times articles here:

http://cshink.com/iraq_had_talks_on_uranium.htm

SamAm

I hate throwing out a statement for which I don't have a link handy, but I believe NBC News released a statement of clarification about Mitchell and her knowledge of Plame, which said something along the lines of she didn't know Joe Wilson's wife was CIA until after the administration started moving against him.

Maybe my memory is reading too much into it, I dunno. But it would contradict the Imus rumor, and as a written statement of fact be more trustworthy. It may have been in the same statement when they acknowledged Russert testified.

Jeff

Patrick - Sadly, no. That's some of what we know now, but it's not an answer to the questions I raised. And it's mixed in with what I suspect is some major bs from sources, especially in Italy and Britain. I would also note that the information contained in the articles you reference is utterly at odds with your suggestion "that forged documents are exactly what would be expected to accompany CLANDESTINE SALES of uranium."

Steven J.

JIM E. - "And the same month Wilson's op-ed appeared, the White House admitted the 16 words never should have been put in the speech."

Tenet and Hadley also admitted that.

HH

"There's a slight of hand -- Rustmann retires in 1990, so what he says about what happens after that is said not as her superior but just another informed observer."

A little more informed than most, in fact a lot more. He only needs have a background in the CIA to comment on her cover being in danger.

jukeboxgrad

HH: "Except it has been long established that her name was revealed at least twice if not three times prior to the Novak column"

It's not a question of whether or not "her name was revealed." It's a question of exposing her identity as a CIA agent. Please demonstrate that this was done (aside from perhaps with a handful of friends and/or neighbors, and even that is highly questionable) "prior to the Novak column."

Ultimately your assertion doesn't carry any weight unless you can show a published account (pre-Novak) indicating that Plame worked for the CIA. We'll be waiting. (I realize others have already made my point, but I think it's worth emphasizing.)

"claims that Rove saying she was Wilson's wife was enough to blow her cover"

Now you're really bringing this down to the level of the absurd. You seem to be claiming that all Rove said is "Wilson's wife is Wilson's wife" (since we all know Rove didn't use the word "Plame"). Trouble is, Rove said a lot more than that. Rove told Cooper that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, regarding WMD.

"But somehow Wilson listing Plame as his wife didn't do the same..."

If the Wilson bio had said "my wife is Valerie Plame, who works for the CIA," you'd have a point. But that's not what it said.

LESLEY: "Why do you think the CIA didn't warn Novak off the story if they thought it would put an agent or an operation in jeopardy?"

As Jeff mentioned, the CIA did indeed ask Novak to not use her name. He did anyway. Novak admitted all this. The CIA person was in a bind. There are fairly obvious reasons why he didn't want to say "please don't use her name because she is a covert operative" (this itself would have been a leak of classified information).

jukeboxgrad

TM: "the CIA blew it"

They asked Novak to not print the name, and he did anyway, and this means "the CIA blew it?" Welcome to Tom's Topsy Turvy world. (I think it was Jeff who has already made this point.)

"the CIA did not exert themselves to protect her"

In late September, CIA told WaPo that the cat was already long out of the bag. And you turn this into "the CIA did not exert themselves to protect her?" I realize you need to protect your reputation for hackery, but you're overdoing it.

BUMPER: "yes it was known"

Nice job repeating that phony Andrea Mitchell meme without a shred of evidence to back it up.

JIM E. properly pointed out that Cliff May is a hack. I'll chime in on this. Here May touts the Washington Times article that's getting a lot of play for Rustmann (never mind the fact that Rustmann left the CIA in 1990, which mean he's hardly in a position to offer an eyewitness judgment on Plame's recent covert status). Like most of the other folks touting this article, May conveniently forgets to mention the part of the article quoting a neighbor who says he "absolutely didn't know" that Plame was in the CIA.

May also says "Bob Novak did not know she had been undercover." This conveniently overlooks the fact that Novak used the word "operative" (although he could very easily have said "employee," or "works at," instead), which is commonly defined as "a secret agent; a spy." May also neglects to mention that the CIA asked Novak to withold Plame's name, which is another indication that Novak had reason to know, or at least to suspect, that Plame was undercover.

"Matt Cooper is suspect because he is married to a Dem"

On that subject, it's interesting that notice that Cooper covered for Rove all through the pre-election period. I'm sure this made Matt popular with Mandy.

"time has shown that Wilson's overall analysis and judgments were quite correct"

Indeed. Here's an interesting little example. Wilson said this 8/3/03: "we defeated the Sunni tribe, and the Sunni tribe would like to come back and reassert itself in power or at a minimum will want to defend itself against both U.S. occupation forces and what they fear is going to be a Shia attempt to assert their power over the country. So I don't think over the medium and long term this is over by a long shot." Fairly prescient.

jukeboxgrad

ME: "Asked to do a confidential mission and then blabs about it"

Wilson pursued a variety of alternate channels before finally deciding to write the oped. In particular, before writing the oped, Wilson tried to communicate his concerns to Rice, privately. The message he got back was that "Rice was not interested and he should publish his story in his own name if he wanted to attract attention" (link).">http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A13696-2003Oct11?language=printer">link). As far as I know, Rice has never denied this.

In other words, Rice was apparently given a chance to say "please don't write this" and she passed on the chance. So I think this needs to be taken into account before accusing Wilson the way you did.

"Makes analysis and judgement of an overall issue, where he has only a piece of the information."

Wilson merely said "his [Bush's] conclusion was not borne out by the facts _as I understood them_" (emphasis added). I think that's a moderate and reasonable statement, and far from a "judgement of an overall issue."

I'm still waiting for someone to tell me where Bush got "recently" and "significant quantities." I can find nothing in the SSCI or Butler reports (or elsewhere) which I would call impressive support for those claims.

Patrick R. Sullivan

'Wilson tried to communicate his concerns to Rice, privately. The message he got back was that "Rice was not interested and he should publish his story in his own name if he wanted to attract attention" (link). As far as I know, Rice has never denied this.'

AFAIK [your link doesn't work], Wilson never claimed this. It isn't the story he tells in his book.

kim

Let's see, if it isn't the story he tells in his book, then it must be true. Finally, JBG, we're in agreement on something.
===============================================

jukeboxgrad

PATRICK: "your link doesn't work"

Thanks for pointing that out. My mistake. Try this ("Rice was not interested and he should publish his story in his own name if he wanted to attract attention").

"Wilson never claimed this"

According to Pincus and Allen, you're wrong.

"It isn't the story he tells in his book."

As far as I know, this detail doesn't appear in his book. However, I'm aware of nothing in his book to contradict this detail. So please be more specific.

TM

Righties keep saying Wilson was wrong, but substantively, on the nuclear issue, I don't see how. Nothing Wilson did was illegal, and whistle-blowers are usually afforded respect, not smears.

And the whistle he blew was what, precisely? That his report had conclusively debunked the notion that Saddam was looking for uranium in Africa? It hadn't.

That he had exposed the forged documents (as he leaked to Kristof on May 6)? He later admitted the obvios - he had never seen the forgeries.

That his report had been briefed to Cheney's office, and ignored? It hadn't been.

Maybe he blew a silent dog-whistle.

On the question of whether the CIA blew it in their chat with Novak prior to his publication,

They asked Novak to not print the name, and he did anyway, and this means "the CIA blew it?" Welcome to Tom's Topsy Turvy world. (I think it was Jeff who has already made this point.)

Read around a bit - lots of folks agree that if the CIA wants something to not be published, they manage it. Sometimes htay have to ask a little harder, and they do. Even the Times recently (in the Public Editor's column on their outing of CIA Air) admitted that they ran the article past the CIA first.

And no, set aside your spy novels - confirming to Novak that she is covert does not oblige the CIA to send a hit squad out to permanently silence Novak. Novak knowing doesn't bother them (much); Novak publishing bothers them more.

Let me know if this is too complicated, Juke.

jukeboxgrad

TM: "the whistle [Wilson] blew was what, precisely?"

(By the way, I think you're confusing me with Jim E. Given the quality of his posts, I don't necessarily mind. But I thought you should know.)

Wilson said "his [Bush's] conclusion was not borne out by the facts as I understood them." This strikes me as a reasonable, moderate, and helpful statement. In my opinion, Wilson was especially objecting to "recently" and "significant quantities." I think this was a very helpful whistle to blow, because as far as I can tell Bush was blowing smoke when he said those words.

So what, precisely, was Bush's basis for saying those words? By the way, please don't make a vague reference to SSCI and/or Butler. What I have found there is very weak support (if at all) for the words I've cited. By the way, I've asked this question here many times. The lack of an answer is in itself quite revealing, I think.

"That his report had conclusively debunked the notion that Saddam was looking for uranium in Africa? It hadn't."

You should know me well enough by now to realize that a pathetic straw man like that won't fool me. You were smart enough to leave the words "recently" and "significant quantities" out of your statement. Bush wasn't.

"he had exposed the forged documents"

Compared with the issue I just raised, I think the issue of the timing of his statements on the forged documents is a bit of a sideshow.

"That his report had been briefed to Cheney's office, and ignored? It hadn't been."

I'm sure you're right that "it hadn't been," because everyone up and down the chain of command knew exactly what Cheney wanted to hear, and what he didn't want to hear.

Question: imagine that Wilson had come home with the opposite result: "Val, guess what, I saw the trucks getting loaded with uranium." Or imagine something more moderate: "hey Val, someone told me about an Iraqi trade delegation that just came through last week, not several years ago, and they said they definitely wanted yellowcake, unlike several years ago when the word uranium was assumed, but not explicit, and they specifically said they wanted 500 tons, unlike several years ago when the conversation never even got close to that point." (By the way, I've obviously constructed that to match the claim Bush made, which included the words "recently" and "significant quantities.")

How many nanoseconds would have elapsed before Cheney dispatched a personal limo to fetch Wilson and stand him up in a prime-time news conference?

My point is that the White House was shopping, and it knew exactly what it wanted. This is called setting policy and then finding facts, instead of the other way around.

So yes, it was deliberately ignored in the sense that it was the conclusions, rather than the subject matter or the source, which determined whether or not it was going to be sent upstairs.

By the way, I'm not suggesting it landed on Cheney's desk and he shredded it. I'm suggesting it never got near Cheney's desk, because all the folks further down the chain understood exactly what Cheney wanted to see and didn't want to see.

In other words, the question isn't whether or not Wilson's report reached Cheney. I'm willing to assume it didn't. In my opinion, the more interesting question is why it didn't.

"lots of folks agree that if the CIA wants something to not be published, they manage it"

This is a classic blame-the-victim attitude ("honey, if you had only told me more clearly that you didn't like it when I slapped you around, I would have stopped before I broke your arm").

This is also a restatement of Novak's lame defense (paraphrase): "if Tenet himself had asked me, then of course I would have obliged. After all, I know Tenet."

The person on the other end of the phone was in a bind. If he made a big fuss ("she's covert, you jerk!"), that is tantamount to a leak itself. He had to consider the risk that this would lead to Novak writing "the CIA confirmed she was covert" (of course in the end this is very close to what he actually did, when he reported that they asked him to withold her name).

The poor CIA guy was trying to be subtle. By the way, Novak makes no claim along the following lines: "I told the guy if he wanted me to cut her name I would be perfectly happy to oblige, but first he needed to escalate and have Tenet call me" (and that is the obvious thing he should have done, if he sincerely felt that way). On the contrary. There is ample reason to imagine that the CIA guy ended the conversation thinking Novak had received the message, and no futher intervention was necessary (and maybe Novak even intentionally conveyed such an impression, for his own predictable reasons; after all, he didn't really want to get that call from Tenet; just imagine how disappointed Karl would have been to discover that Novak botched the mission in this manner; also, imagine the phone call from Tenet to Rove that would probably have ensued). In other words, the CIA guy didn't conceive of just how big a jerk Novak is.

"Even the Times recently ... admitted that they ran the article past the CIA first."

That's a stunning non sequitur. It's not as if the CIA, in that case, batted an eyelash. They didn't (in contrast with the way they reacted to Novak). Why are you going out of your way to remind us that your post on that topic was also pure hackery? For exactly the reason I just mentioned, it is no comparison to the Plame case.

"Novak knowing doesn't bother them (much); Novak publishing bothers them more."

That's true, but I addressed this. The guy on the phone was appropriately concerned that any word out of his mouth might have been heading directly into print. I've worked with the press; I've learned the hard way this is the reality.

Truzenzuzex

Jukeboxgrad:

Belated answers:

1. Who knew about Plame? Novak and the media person who told Karl Rove about it. Could be one and the same, of course, but I doubt it. Maybe it was Mitchell?

2. Powerline: Why would they run a correction? They guy may be right - it is merely unconfirmable over the internet. That does not mean Mitchell didn't say it. By the way, at least one person in this thread say they also heard it.

3. The judges didn't reject the facts in the amicus brief - they simply didn't find it persuasive to the argument that the Miller should be relieved of her obligation to provide her evidence to the grand jury.

4. Quoth you "The bottom line is that it doesn't matter if her cover was already weak. Rove had a duty to make sure of her status before he opened his mouth."

As my mother used to say, "baloney sausage." Under what theory did he have this obligation? He had, in my estimation, neither the "need to know" nor the actual knowledge of Plame's status from an authoritative classified source. Therefore, he was operating precisely as any other person - speculating on something that later proved to be true. In addition, it appears clear that Plame was largely responsible for getting her husband the job - definitely a basis for political suspicion.

His basis for that speculation was from outside the government, and he apparently had no knowledge the CIA might have considered Plame to be "covert", as far as I know.

J Mann

Back to the subject, does anyone know anything about that Gerald Ford party? It's a fascinating tidbit, and I'd like to know more.

nittypig

"I'm still waiting for someone to tell me where Bush got "recently" and "significant quantities." I can find nothing in the SSCI or Butler reports (or elsewhere) which I would call impressive support for those claims."

Well he almost certainly got 'significant' from Blair who said to the house of commons in Sept '02:
"We know that Saddam has been trying to buy significant quantities of uranium from Africa"

'recently' and 'significant' are obviously relative terms.

The SSCI report states that there was intelligence that Niger had approved the sale of several tons of uranium to Iraq late in 2000. The shipment was alleged to be for early 2001. OK, it now looks like this was basically wrong, but to me that sounds like both 'significant' amounts and 'recently'.

And of course the meeting between the Nigerien government and the Iraqis on the subject of uranium sales that Wilson manged to get the Nigerien government to confirm was in June 1999.

Whether that counts as 'recent' is purely subjective. But the evidence is pretty overwhelming that in 1999-2000 the Iraqis were looking into Niger.

jukeboxgrad

TRUZ: "Who knew about Plame? Novak and the media person who told Karl Rove about it."

With regard to "the media person who told Karl Rove about it," the only source for that remarkable idea seems to be a leak via Rove's lawyer (link). And Luskin has now changed his story slightly. Now he says Rove may have heard it from another official, who in turn had heard it from the media: "A lawyer familiar with Rove's testimony hedged a bit on who precisely told Rove about Plame, saying it may have come secondhand from another aide, as well as from Novak" (link).

By the way, Novak wrote that he got the info from two White House sources. He didn't say anything about hearing it from other reporters. So this seems inconsistent with Luskin's ever-changing story. Nevertheless, you seem to be treating Luskin's murky, confusing leaks as if they are proven facts. Interesting standards of evidence you have.

"Powerline: Why would they run a correction? They guy may be right - it is merely unconfirmable over the internet. That does not mean Mitchell didn't say it. By the way, at least one person in this thread say they also heard it."

How about if a lefty blogger published an email someone sent them, saying that Bush tortures puppies. Imagine I defended this by saying: "Why would they run a correction? They guy may be right - it is merely unconfirmable over the internet. That does not mean Bush doesn't really torture puppies. By the way, at least one person in this thread say they also heard it."

Would that be legitimate? You seem to have trouble understanding that spreading libelous, unfounded rumors is not a good idea.

"The judges didn't reject the facts in the amicus brief - they simply didn't find it persuasive to the argument that the Miller should be relieved of her obligation to provide her evidence to the grand jury."

That's like saying "the operation didn't fail, it only did not succeed in keeping the patient alive." You're getting into some pretty strange semantical territory when you claim that "simply didn't find it persuasive" is not just another way to say that they did indeed "reject the facts."

"Under what theory did he have this obligation? [a duty to make sure of her status before he opened his mouth]"

It's not a "theory." It's the SF312 he signed, which said "I understand that if I am uncertain about the classification status of information I am required to confirm from an authorized official that the information is unclassified before I may disclose it" (link).

Is Rove going to claim he was certain Plame was not covert? Because if he wasn't certain, then he was uncertain. If he was uncertain, did he adhere to the terms of this agreement and "confirm from an authorized official that the information is unclassified before" he disclosed it? Somehow I doubt it. In other words, the burden is on Rove to show that he checked on her covert (or not) status before he blabbed about her.

By the way, just the fact that she was CIA should have been enough to raise the question. Obviously not every CIA employee is covert, but many are: "as many as one-third of the CIA's approximately 20,000 employees are undercover or have worked in that capacity at some point in their careers" (link).

"he was operating precisely as any other person - speculating on something that later proved to be true"

When Rove told Cooper, in plain English, that Wilson's wife worked for CIA, regarding WMD, there was no "speculating" involved.

Aside from that, someone who leaks classified data cannot hide behind a fig leaf of "speculating." Let's say I called the Kremlin and said "here are the names of several covert CIA agents in Moscow. I'm not sure of this, it's just speculation." Good luck arguing that "speculating" is a defense.

"it appears clear that Plame was largely responsible for getting her husband the job"

Nice job repeating GOP talking points that are either exaggerated or downright false. Note this: "A senior intelligence official confirmed that Plame was a Directorate of Operations undercover officer who worked 'alongside' the operations officers who asked her husband to travel to Niger. But he said she did not recommend her husband to undertake the Niger assignment. 'They [the officers who did ask Wilson to check the uranium story] were aware of who she was married to, which is not surprising,' he said. 'There are people elsewhere in government who are trying to make her look like she was the one who was cooking this up, for some reason,' he said. 'I can't figure out what it could be.'"

Also note this: "At the CIA, the official designated to talk to me denied that Wilson's wife had inspired his selection but said she was delegated to request his help."

So yes, I guess it's "clear" as long as you selectively ignore evidence that undermines your talking point.

By the way, speaking of statements that are downright false: Rove apparently told Cooper that Plame "authorized" Wilson's trip. There is no apparent basis for this statement, outside of Rove's imagination.

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Wilson/Plame