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October 19, 2005

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TexasToast

Tom, How dare you! Mr. Libby did not connect his roots with “that woman”.

Mac

"So there we were, out west, in September. Which is right around the time certain tree aficionados believe the aspen trees start turning. In clusters. Because their roots connect them. The Aspen aspens towering over us in the photo, however, clearly hadn’t turned. Maybe they hadn’t gotten the heavy-handed metaphor memo yet."

I'm no arborist, but those look like "towering" evergreens behind you there Arianna. They have both kinds in Colorado. Maybe you didn't get the memo.

BoredCitizen

I'm bored with this Plamegate thing. The media has me to the point where anything less than the entire White House resigning will be a yawn.

What is the next "scandal" on the docket? I hear Mama Sheehan is going down to Crawford for Thanksgiving, but that is over a month away...plus it's old too. I want something fresh.

kim

Arrichterianna quakes in error, Mac. As does her cluster.
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Jim E.

Did Rove just turn on LIbby???? AP has a new story...

Jim E.

Did TM pull a post from the main page?

clarice

Jim--This story?
Top White House aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby discussed their contacts with reporters about an undercover CIA officer in the days before her identity was published, the first known intersection between two central figures in the criminal leak investigation.

Rove told grand jurors it was possible he first heard in the White House that Valerie Plame, wife of Bush administration Joseph Wilson, worked for the CIA from Libby's recounting of a conversation with a journalist, according to people familiar with his testimony.

They said Rove testified that his discussions with Libby before Plame's CIA cover was blown were limited to information reporters had passed to them. Some evidence prosecutors have gathered conflicts with Libby's account. [/quote] http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/wireStory?id=1231309

Hard to see anything damaging about this if it's an accurate account of Rove's gj testimony. In fact, it is likely that reporters told them, not the other way around, and that, it seems to me, is the fatal flaw in any prosecution of them for "outing" Plame.That is, they learned what they did from scuttlebut from the press and not classified information.


[quote]

Cecil Turner

That is, they learned what they did from scuttlebut from the press and not classified information.

As a die-hard afficianado of the INR memo leak-vector theory, I'm sticking with the internal office scuttlebutt scenario. (Okay, that might just be stubbornness.) I don't think it really matters, though. Whatever the original source, in order for them to be in significant trouble, they had to believe it was classified when they discussed it with uncleared personnel. And most indicators are that they didn't. (Of course, learning about it from a reporter would be a nice touch.)

Concur that this isn't damaging. In fact, the distracted air is exactly what one would expect if they were telling the truth (see, that's the eeeviill genius of it all!). Okay, not dispositive.

Did TM pull a post from the main page?

I think that sometimes happens when he updates (and typepad is acting up--it gave me a couple errors a few minutes ago).

Syl

Arianna is just plain weird...in a fun kinda way sometimes though.

But I just boil at the snark. We did win the major war in record time with few casualties and little collateral damage. The Iraqi people WERE grateful we had deposed Saddam. Their exuberance was obvious, though not always in everybody's best interest (looting).

It's the insurgency and the al Qaeda car bombs that color everyone's view of Iraq because that aspect of it has lasted so long.

But, sheesh, people, there were TWO wars. The first one we won decisively just as had been predicted. The second one is a totally different type of war and is still in progress.

The anti-war movement is completely incoherent on the subject. They can't tell the difference.

Jim E.

"In fact, it is likely that reporters told them, not the other way around,"

There is zero evidence of this. On the other hand, there is lots of evidence that the contrary is true.

In terms of the significance of Rove's testimony, well, that would depend on when he told the GJ this particular story. If he didn't mention Libby (in this particular context) until GJ appearance #4, then Libby has a new problem. Just seems curious that with all of the leaks coming from Rove, he decides to leak this tibbit now, this late in the game. Is he signaling to others to run back to FitzGerald, change their stories, and throw Libby in front of the bus? Would make a lot of sense to try to cooperate pre-indictment, rather than post.

If Rove's testimony has been consistent (cough, cough) all along on this point, this leak is *still* bad news for Libby.

Jim E.

And here's something I don't buy: Rove claims he didn't mean to be a confirming source to reporters. (He's presumably referring to Novak and Cooper, even though he, not Cooper, initiated talk about Wilson's wife.) Rove's a big boy, he knows how DC works, and I think we can all agree that the White House was in fact pushing back against Wilson. Rove can't act this naive about how sourcing works. Plus, he and Novak go way, way back, so I don't believe for an instant that he got his wires crossed with Novak. Please.

Free Dum

The AP article clears Rove and still leaves some questions open about Libby. But we are talking perjury or obstruction, not classified or conspiracy charges. And after Miller's testimony of not recalling who said what or her sources, it is just as likely that a reporter would be charged as Libby.

The best part is the left wants Rove. Not that many people (except in DC and idiots like us) are that familiar with Rove, but no one outside DC knows who the hell "Scooter" is. Bush's dog?

Free Dum

I think Jim E. is not seeing a Merry Fitzmas in his future afterall. He must not have been a good boy this year.

Jim E.

"AP article clears Rove."

It summarizes a self-serving Rove leak -- it doesn't "clear" anyone.

Jim E.

So perjury and obstruction are no big deal now? Talk about moral relativism!

Jim E.

Speaking of moral relativism, if there are any indictments (and I say "if" -- I'm doubtful), you might as well say they didn't murder anyone. I mean, why stop at comparing perjury to the leaking of classified info? These are choir-boys we're talking about, right?

Syl

One aspect I think may be important is that in the Rove/Cooper dialog it seems to me that the intention is not for the info to go public, but for the info to alert reporters they shouldn't trust Wilson so much.

Then the fact that reporters seemed to know so much more than Libby and Rove were actually divulging looms larger.

However, I don't see that either Libby or Rove actually stated 'this is on background only'.

I can see reporters not divulging that publicly, but I can't see the reason lawyers for Rove and Libby not doing it. "Hey, my guy TOLD the reporter this was background only."

Unless 'on background' is only informally honored by journalists. If they think it's gonna bleed, they use it anyway.


Syl

Jim E

"Rove claims he didn't mean to be a confirming source to reporters."

Truly, 'I heard that too' is NOT a confirmation of anything. Novak knows that. He's been around. He just shrugged, was lazy, didn't confirm with anyone else and ran with it.

Syl

"Some evidence prosecutors have gathered conflicts with Libby's account"

Okay. What. Exactly.

Libby: some clandestine guy
Miller: you mean Wilson?

I hope Fitzgerald is pouring over Miller's article. She's going from her memory of her testimony. Probably referring to her notes again as she's writing.

Fitz compares what she said she said with what she said, and concludes: Miller's memory sucks aspens.

Jim E.

syl wrote: "it seems to me that the intention is not for the info to go public, but for the info to alert reporters they shouldn't trust Wilson so much."

I agree that this is as good an explanation of what Rove and Libby did (assuming they did it) as anything. But that hardly gets them off the hook now, does it? By trafficing in classified info, they broke the law (and I'm not even referring to the 1982 law). Saying this is on "background only" is NOT a mitigating factor. syl's post makes a good conspiracy case. It's their responsibility (Rove's and Libby's) -- not that of the reporter -- to make a good-faith effort to know if what they're saying is not classified.

Novak and Cooper both considered "I heard that, too" to be a confirmation (each reporter with a different source). Those two reporters, and senior administration officials, very clearly understand the import of what they're saying, and they all know how the game is played. And Rove and Novak's relationship (and long, notorious leak-filled history) is such that it's highly unlikely that Novak misread Rove's intentions. Plus, Rove's the one who initiated the topic with Cooper, so Rove can't act as if he's been passive about all of this.

The more I think about it, the more I think Rove is signalling to others (through his leak) to dump it all on the VP's office. Either that, or FitzGerald is, for the first time, starting to leak in an attempt to shake the tree and intice more people to flip. These particular leaks are happening for a reason.

TM

Re the pulled post - I may have accidentally done just. I was putting in a long UPDATE and saved it as a draft to go get some dinner, little realizing that the whole post acquired "draft" status and disappeared. Well, common sense would have told me that it would, but I only try that trick about once a year.

And I L-U-V the AP story - now Tim Russert is back, as an alibi witness for Rove! And only a few days ago we were saying Russert could not be an alibi witness for Libby, because Russert talked to Libby in July, but Libby talked with Miller about Wislon and wife in June.

As a bonus, the AP completely falis to read the carefully worded NBC press release.

This makes my day.

windansea

JimE JimE JimE

pull up your pants...your thong is showing

Syl

Jim E

It doesn't matter what Cooper and Novak think 'I heard that too' means. All that's being confirmed is gossip.

And confirming gossip re classified information is the same as 'I neither confirm nor deny'.

There is nothing illegal about that, no matter what the gossip is referring to.

Syl

To be clearer. Confirming there is gossip about classified information is the same as 'I neither confirm nor deny'.

Syl

Tom

"This makes my day."

:)

Syl

Jim E

To your first point:

"By trafficing in classified info, they broke the law."

Only if it can be determined that the first occurence of 'Wilson's wife is CIA' came from Libby. (Kinda looks like it, depending on Judy's memory.) And that that minimum info is deemed to have been classified.

I think a case can be made that the added details may have come from the press and were passed back and forth. Gossip.

Then, back to Novak. He actually did have another confirming source....Harlow.

Jim E.

Syl,
You're forgetting that the "I heard that, too" line came from the second, not first, sources. Reporters were getting fed the info about Wilson's wife out of the blue. It's not like Novak and Cooper are from the same generation of reporters. Somehow, these very different journalists use the exact same sourcing rule. All the players know the import of their conversations. Besides, "I heard that, too" is not being responsible about classified info.

TM,
The AP's summary of Russert was so stark and clear, that I'd assumed they got new info about his testimony. But you're probably correct: they made (incorrect) assumptions based on his opaque statement to the press.

Jim E.

Syl,
Who's Harlow?

And I don't get this idea of reporters leaking classified info to others. That's what Waas referred to as the "theory of immaculate conception." The info came from somewhere, and to act as if reporters made it appear out of thin air is unserious. Maybe it came from some clueless CIA staffer, and not the adminstration. But it came from somewhere, and someone broke the law.

Syl

A conspiracy to commit gossip!

Syl

Jim E

"The info came from somewhere"

And that's likely to be Libby. But a lot depends on if 'wilson's wife is CIA' counts as classified.

Harlow is CIA. That public affairs person who actually confirmed Novak's story before he unconfirmed it.

"Besides, "I heard that, too" is not being responsible about classified info. "

Sure it is. It's neither confirming nor denying. At that point it's gossip. No reason to even find out if it's classified.

Jim E.

"But a lot depends on if 'wilson's wife is CIA' counts as classified."

Victoria Toesnig, a writer of the 1982 law (that most people think is too difficult to bring a case under) and a pro-Bush shill, has said use of the actual name is not important: "No, it would not [be necessary to use exact name]. That's not an important part of whether this is a crime or not."

"It's neither confirming nor denying."

Well, a right-wing nut (Novak) and MSM reporter (Cooper) would beg to differ with you.

Jim E.

To follow up on Toensing quote: my point was that if the name wasn't important for the 1982 law, it probably wouldn't be important for other laws that deal with violations of handling classified information. Saying "Wilson's wife is CIA" has the same real-world consequences as saying "Wilson's wife is a covert agent."

Syl

JimE

Re the unimportance of the actual name...I have no reason not to agree.

re "It's neither confirming nor denying."

"Well, a right-wing nut (Novak) and MSM reporter (Cooper) would beg to differ with you."

Tough titties. They're wrong. According to someone I know who has actually been involved in tracking down leaks of classified info and had caught a spy or two in his day, 'I heard that too' is not confirmation that the information heard is legit.

Anyway I don't think the press even requires confirmation of underlying facts, they only want two sources for the words they print. The press prints gossip, assertions, and various misinformation all the time.


Syl

And, believe me, a foreign agent doesn't read something in the NY Times and take it as fact. It may get their attention, but then there's the scramble to discover if it's really true or not.

Sometimes the scramble can do them in.

TM

Rove's a big boy, he knows how DC works, and I think we can all agree that the White House was in fact pushing back against Wilson. Rove can't act this naive about how sourcing works. Plus, he and Novak go way, way back, so I don't believe for an instant that he got his wires crossed with Novak. Please.

Troublingly sensible, especially their history. I'll propose a middle ground - if Rove had wanted to warn Novak off, he would have laughed out loud, or something.

If he had wanted to be a confirming source, he would have expected some give and take about whether he was a "senior Admin official", "Admin official", "WH advisor", "former consultant", or whatever.

Instead, he took the middle road - didn't discourage Novak, thereby hinting that he should keep looking, but didn't confirm (or so he thought).

Maybe a simple "Getting warmer..." would have sufficed.

Of course, Novak's quoted his source as having said "You know about that", which is a bit (or a lot) stronger. But take that to court.

(Hmm - it could mean - "oh, you know about that unconfirmed rumor, too"?). Hall of mirrors.

kim

And you can't waltz a jury through a hall of mirrors, without at least a couple of them noticing. Not when the preponderence is of smoke.

If there are indictments, it will be for something we don't know yet. Probably something stupid like anachronistic ink. Or whiteout to make Plame Flame.
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kim

It has just struck me why most blonde jokes could morph easily into journo jokes.
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Wilson/Plame