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October 16, 2005

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Jerkweed

TM-re: Point 4:

Judy accidentally bumps into Scooter at a rodeo in Wyoming?? At the same time Cheney is vacationing there???

And you think that shows a lack of love?????

Christopher Fotos

File this under "Unsolved Mysteries" - Howard Fineman wrote a piece originally titled "Victoria's Secret", as per these excerpts; per Atrios, Mike Isikoff called her "Vickie". Que pasa? Did these reporters share one droll source, did they gossip with each other, did they have Group Brainfreeze, or what?

It's the turning of the aspens.

Victoria Flame

Where has Joe "Big Mouth" Wilson been hiding these days?

kim

Desperado Joe is galloping out West trying to get out of Confabulation County.k But he has his facts and his maps upside down, and is about to cross the border into the hands of the Law.

Journalists without borders has done him wrong.
==============================================

pollyusa

New Time story up.

This is new on Novak's first source. CIA? Tenet? Does that qualify as a senior administration official?

Another character in the drama remains unnamed: the original source for columnist Robert Novak, who wrote the first piece naming Plame. Fitzgerald, says a lawyer who's involved in the case, "knows who it is—and it's not someone at the White House.
Time
"

Couple of quotes regarding Novak you may not have seen.

I'd like to say a lot about the case, but because of my attorney's advice I can't. But I will. And there might be some surprising things.
CNN 6/05

I don't know this publication but interesting information in the article including this.

“There’s no question he rolled over.” According to our sources, Miller shared Plame’s identity with her perfidious fellow neocon after deciding not to publish it herself; Novak then called his two White House sources

MeTooThen

...perfidious fellow neocon..."

It is to laugh.

Or not.

...

And Father Saddam sits in his cell awaiting trial.

Is there no justice?

...

Evil, that's what it is.

Damn neocons.

...

Hey, don't be so sad.

Maybe the "minutemen" will kill enough Iraqi women, children, doctors, politicians, policemen, reporters, NGO's etc., and the illegal occupying RepublithugNazis will leave Iraq at once.

And then Father Saddam can come back to power, and with the help of the French UN diplomats, all order will be restored.

...

If only.

Courage.

/rant off

pollyusa

Let me add this from a Wilson interview, Novak origibally told Wilson is source was CIA then later said he misspoke.

I've often thought Tenet could have been Novak's first source.

But Wilson was caught off guard when around July 9 he received a phone call from Robert Novak, who, according to Wilson, said he'd been told by a C.I.A. source that Wilson's wife worked for the agency. "Can you confirm or deny?" Wilson recalls Novak as saying. "I need another source."

Wilson says he replied, "I'm not going to answer any questions about my wife."

snip

Wilson says, he called Novak and said, "When you asked for the confirmation you said a 'C.I.A. source.'" "I misspoke," Wilson says Novak replied.

mary mapes

Miller's a patsy..she tipped off both sides, only one side didn't take the bait...who was that stanger that escorted Novak down the street?

jerry

I first hear the Plame story on the car radio and for several days thought her name was Valerie Flame.

lemondloulou54

Maybe the whole "Victoria Wilson" "Valerie Flame" interchange was how Rove and Libby decided to refer to Ms. Plame to reporters so that when asked, "Did you leak the name "Valerie Plame" to reporters could always be "No." It's the inverse of Judy saying, ". . . . I gave Mr. Libby the wrong name on purpose to see whether he would correct me and confirm her identity. "

michael schrage

question: if judy miller - as she hereself acknowledges - had a security clearance and scooter libby tells her 'classified' information, precisely what part of the espionage act has been violated? given that no story was published and 'secret' information was given to someone who the government itself had vouched for as 'secure' and trustworthy, what's the crime here? Institutionally bizarre journalism; yes - illegal secrets illegally disclosed...? hmmmm....

kim

Hotta Millhari.
=====================

Jeff

One interesting dimension of Miller's article that I have not seen noted elsewhere yet has to do with all the things Libby tells Miller, according to Miller and her notes, across the three meetings about what the VP's office knew about Wilson and when they knew it. Look in particular at the claim from the July 8 meeting that Wilson himself was the source for one of two major pieces of intel about a potential Niger-Iraq uranium deal. That is the first time I've heard that, and don't know what to make of it, or rather, I can make a couple of different things of it. Clearly, Libby is not referring to Wilson's 2002 trip, whose results he goes on to belittle by consigning them, a la Rice, to the bowels of the agency; and this is presumably not the rightwing talking point that Wilson's report of a former Nigerien official anxious that maybe the Iraqis wanted to talk about uranium, which they never did, constitutes some kind of smoking gun provided by Wilson himself. Rather, it appears to be a reference to WIlson's 1999 trip to Niger at the behest of the CIA. Note that this trip shows up in the SSCI, and the 1999 intel about the effort to set up a meeting, brokered by Baraka, an Algerian businessman, between Niger and Iraq is in there. But at least in the unredacted sections, they are not connected. (I believe the status of this intel as intel on pursuit of uranium was later debunked by the Duelfer report. And nothing in the SSCI report indicates anything about uranium in the reporting on that 1999 meeting.) I will note there is a somewhat obscure reference to this business in Wilson's interview with TPM back in September of 2003, where it sounds like this was a piece of intel that Wilson included in his debrief in 2002, though I can't be sure.

What's the point? At least, Libby appears to have known about Wilson's 1999 trip, which he probably found out about while doing a work-up on Wilson after Kristof's article. And he may be garbling some of the details -- he appears to back away from some related claims (also floated by Fleischer in that week in July, rebutted by Wilson) on July 12, though it's not clear Miller realized that's what he was doing. And here's the interesting thing, confusion -- on the part of or fostered by Bush administration folks -- between WIlson's trips appears to have played a significant role in the nepotism charge on Wilson's trip. Check this out from the July 27 2005 WaPo, Pincus and VandeHei, Pincus here clearly referencing what he was told by a still publicly unknown source on July 12 2003:

Using background conversations with at least three journalists and other means, Bush officials attacked Wilson's credibility. They said that his 2002 trip to Niger was a boondoggle arranged by his wife, but CIA officials say that is incorrect. One reason for the confusion about Plame's role is that she had arranged a trip for him to Niger three years earlier on an unrelated matter, CIA officials told The Washington Post.

Personally, i think this speaks to my longstanding claim that Pincus was given the boondoggle claim in the first person (that is, it was someone like Hadley), but TM may still defend the third person claim (so it was someone like Tenet saying, "Listen to what those jokers in the WH are claiming, . . ."). But in either case, we have the CIA telling Pincus that there was confusion on someone's part over the 2002 trip and the 1999 trip, which Plame really did play a substantial role in setting up (though that doesn't necessarily mean it was a boondoggle -- we are still talking Niger here). We know from various sources now that in fact the White House, and more particularly the Veep's peeps, went to the CIA after Kristof to find out all they could about Wilson, so this is presumably how the confusion got started. It is worth noting that the implication of Pincus' report seems to be that Valerie Plame was dragged into all of this mess, and out into the open, as a result of this confusion. Or in any case, I'm willing to guess that if and when we get the fuller contours of the story, Wilson's 1999 trip to Niger will play a significant, if comitragic, role in that story.

Newby

I think John Podhoretz has solved this mystery:

"What if, therefore, Judy Miller's source for the name "Valerie Plame" was....Google?"

paging Douglas Feith-there's a challenger for your title.

Jim E.

Was John Bolton's then-chief of staff an analyst at WINPAC when the story broke? Could that person be the source?

BR

Who are you referring to, Jim E?

****

This is getting hilarious. Did Miller sleep through CBSgate? A rodeo? A man dressed in jeans, a cowboy hat and sunglasses? Good grief, did Lucy Ramirez send him too??!!

Syl

Jeff

There was no confusion. There was a meeting in 1999. Wilson reported it back then. He confirmed it from another source in 2002.

That 'uranium' was not mentioned, only surmised, is meaningless. It wasn't about cowpeas.

Duelfer's report was limited to documentation he found inside Iraq. He found nothing to either confirm or deny such a meeting in Niger. Just a general finding of no evidence.

Wilson's report that Nigerian officials denied something illegal took place (actual sale) or that it couldn't (because of French involvement...Hah!) was not deemed noteworthy by the CIA. His confirmation of earlier reports of a meeting with an Iraqi delegation was.

That his wife was instrumental in sending him, whether it was generally know she had done so in the past as well, only goes to the point that it was not Cheney who sent Wilson to Niger then ignored his non-report.

Syl

BR

"did Lucy Ramirez send him too??!!"

LOL!

Syl

Novak: "And there might be some surprising things."

Back in June they may have been surprising. Will they still be surprising in October?

pollyusa

BR

I'm guess Jim E is talking about Fleitz.

According to two sources, Bolton's former chief of staff, Fred Fleitz, was at least one of the sources of the classified information about Valerie Plame that flowed through the Bush administration and eventually made its way into Bob Novak's now infamous column.
Huffington

BR

Forgive me for not answering your earlier questions on the Isikoff thread, I've been out of town with no access to a computer. I will post my reply at the Isikoff thread.

BR

Thank you, Polly. I'll check there later. Gotta go for a latté break!

Well, as soon as I've posted my next coded message to Kim :)

BR

"Hotta Millhari" – are we thinking of a Triple Cross?

NYT – Their version – 10/16/05:

"Miller is known for her expertise in intelligence and security issues and her ability to cultivate relationships with influential sources in government."

"…most people I talk to have been troubled and puzzled by Judy's seeming ability to operate outside of conventional reportorial channels and managerial controls," said Todd S. Purdum, a Washington reporter for The Times. "Partly because of that, many people have worried about whether this was the proper fight to fight."

NYT – Miller's version – 10/16/05
Does anyone have a workable link to it? I notice a commenter above mentioned her having a security clearance??

Friend like Pearl or foe? (9th paragraph on)

Jim E.

BR,
pollyusa is correct. I was referring to Fleitz. I didn't know his name. Since I posted the above comment, Kevin Drum at Washingtonmonthly has written an entire post about it. His speculation: Fleitz (who worked in Plame's division of WINPAC in the CIA) leaked to his boss Bolton, who, in turn, leaked to Novak and Miller. Bolton is personal friends with Miller and visited her in jail. Just speculation.

Jim E.

From what I can tell, Bolton has never been in front of the GJ.

pollyusa

Miller's version

cathyf
...Fleitz (who worked in Plame's division of WINPAC in the CIA) ... his boss Bolton...

Jim E. -- did you check with the CIA before "outting" CIA employee Fleitz?!?!? Better hide your ISP info... Fitzgerald will be coming after you on Espionage Act charges next!

cathy :-)

Jeff

There was no confusion. There was a meeting in 1999. Wilson reported it back then. He confirmed it from another source in 2002.

Syl, I believe you are incorrect and confused. (I myself was about the two different claims of uranium pursuit until recently.) The basis for my belief that there were two separate 1999 incidents is the SSCI report, the Butler report, and the Duelfer report, which refer to this other incident, plus the fact that Wilson's book sure makes it seem like he learned about the 1999 meeting with Baghdad Bob for the first time in 2002 (though it is possible it was not, since it appears that his 1999 trip may remain classified in some respects, so we wouldn't hear details from him).

I'm curious as to what you base your claim that there was only one 1999 incident or meeting on, aside from what we've now heard LIbby told Miller. Also, is there any other evidence out there that Wilson provided the earlier intel, regardless of whether it concerned the same incident he reported on in 2002 or not?

That 'uranium' was not mentioned, only surmised, is meaningless. It wasn't about cowpeas.

Duelfer's report was limited to documentation he found inside Iraq. He found nothing to either confirm or deny such a meeting in Niger. Just a general finding of no evidence.

Incorrect again! Duelfer found no evidence in general to show that Iraq sought uranium from abroad or renewed indigenous production after 1991, but in fact he reports evidence of absence of pursuit of uranium with regard to the meeting between Niger and Iraq that did not involved Baghdad Bob, but rather Wissam Zahawie (as he is referred to in the Duelfer report). Your "in Iraq, not in Niger" is therefore not telling in this regard. But this presumes you appreciate that there was an additional claim about a different 1999 meeting from the one we have heard so much about.

Maybe more on the rest later. And again, we've got a report from Pincus that the CIA thinks there was confusion between the two trips, which is interesting, however it is best interpreted.

Again, I'm curious what else you've seen on the fact that Wilson gave intel back in 1999 that was one of the key pieces of evidence for Cheney's interest in the pursuit of uranium by Iraq in Niger.

Ron Brynaert

Great thoughts like usual...except for the link to Podhoretz.

"What if, in the course of normal events, somebody told her that Wilson was well-connected and knew what he was talking about because his wife worked for the CIA? What if she then went to Google to look up stuff about Wilson and found his bio online at the Middle East Institute?"

In the "J-Pod" scenario...the "in the course of normal events" somebody would be Judy's source...not freaking Google.

narciso

Well it could have been Kate Jones, (for those observant Alias viewers)Anyone report
Jason Vest of the Nation, Boston Phoenix,etc
for outing the Agency's new ops chief; (a
name even the AP has kept underwraps for now; How about Woodward's outing of the Afghan Sect. Chief; or also in the AP's
revealing the name and background of Milan based officers in the Imam Nasr affair; or the times revealing tail numbers and corporate officers in "rendition air"

jukeboxgrad

"From what I can tell, Bolton has never been in front of the GJ"

NBC says Bolton did indeed appear (link).

Syl

Je

The SSCI report is quite clear that Valery had a role in Wilson's selection for the 2002 trip. See the next thread for section and cite.

Wilson's objections are in the report. But his criticism of the memo seems rather strange, because it doesn't explain WHY the memo even exists.

ahem

my longstanding claim that Pincus was given the boondoggle claim in the first person

Um, Jeff: Pincus himself talked about it in his Nieman piece back in July.

Btw, Syl: your verbosity is matched by your capacity to play fast and loose with established facts. Have you considered a job with the SSCI?

Electrolux

"My name is Victoria Wilson. My journey is beginning. A journey that I hope will open the doors of life to me and link my past with my future. A journey that will take me to a strange and dark place, to the edge of the sea high atop Widows' Hill. A house called Collinwood. A world I've never known, with people I've never met. People who tonight are still only shadows in my mind, but who will soon fill the days and nights of my tomorrows."

Jon H

Here's a funny thought.

Rove isn't as much of a genius as he's said to be.

He could have avoided all of this simply by saying "Wilson happens to be sleeping with a woman at the CIA, and she got him hired for the trip to Niger."

This would have put his hiring in question, without naming his WIFE as the CIA employee, but ALSO creating the impression that he's an adulterer, yet he really does sleep with her, so it wouldn't be slander.

It would have been perfect. The media would probably never, ever suspect that the CIA 'other woman' happened to be Wilson's wife.

russ

Geez! Now McQuire is speculating and raving like a dim-witted Dem...

kim

You should go look at Jay Rosen go wild.
========================================

Jim E.

JBG,
Thanks -- I hadn't seen that report.

Jeff

Syl - Am I to take it that you concede on the points I actually made in my response to you? Either way, the SSCI is not clear on Plame's role, not clear at all, though it is clear that she had some role in Wilson's 2002 trip, which Wilson in his book does not contest, as long as you actually read it, instead of reading what Steno Sue Schmidt incorrectly quotes out of it.

ahem - I'd be interested to hear where exactly in his Nieman report piece Pincus makes clear that his July 12 2003 source is making the claim him- or herself that Wilson's trip was a boondoggle set up by his wife. It is what I believe, but TM has made a strong case on several occasions that it could have been Tenet reporting what the White House was saying, rather than asserting it himself.

Appalled Moderate

If we are talking about indicting Libby and Rove (and perhaps Miller)on leaking classified information via the Espinonage Act, how does Wilson escape?

If we indict Rove and Libby on perjury or obstruction, but do not indict on an underlying crime, how is this different than Starr's pursuit of Clinton over L'affaire Lewinski?

I am have problems with an investigation that just ends up indicting a couple of toxic people for lying about committing hardball politics. It is like impeaching Clinton for lying about sex. The conduct does deserve censure and exposure, but not jail time and legal bills.

I do really hope, if things go as they seem to be going, that all those folks who made such strong declarative statements on Clinton's impeachment are willing to make similar strong declarative statements about this situation. And that the position taken isn't a 180 degree reversal.

Jon H

"If we are talking about indicting Libby and Rove (and perhaps Miller)on leaking classified information via the Espinonage Act, how does Wilson escape?"

It's my understanding that not all classified information is treated the same, as far as leaks go. We don't have an Official Secrets Act. For the most part, it isn't illegal to leak classified information (though it's certainly a firing offense and against policy).

The Espionage Act may be applicable to Plame's identity, but not applicable to Wilson's trip, or to the level of information he released about his trip.

Jon H

"If we indict Rove and Libby on perjury or obstruction, but do not indict on an underlying crime, how is this different than Starr's pursuit of Clinton over L'affaire Lewinski?"

One is a criminal case which involves national security and a group of people at the highest level of government. The other is a civil case over a private matter.

That strikes me as a significant difference. Do you see them as equivalent?

"It is like impeaching Clinton for lying about sex. The conduct does deserve censure and exposure, but not jail time and legal bills."

Lying in a matter related to national security doesn't deserve jail time?

j.west

Little has been mentioned as to motive in the Joe Wilson/Valerie Plame indictment scenario. Try this one on for size.

The saddest, most pathetic figures in Washington are ex-ambassadors to obscure countries who are associated with totally out of power political parties.

These throwaways tend to be “consultants” (read unemployed) and they desperately want to be “back in the game”.

Anyone who has been a marginal “B” list player who finds themselves eliminated from lists altogether, can think of nothing else than regaining their former status, or better yet, making the leap to the “A” list.

Multiply this desire by the ego quotient exemplified by Joseph Wilson.

Add to this formula a spouse of which little is known except:

She is a partisan democrat (Gore donations).

She apparently has a taste for the good life in foreign capitals.

She has enough seniority to be influential in decisions but junior enough to be held unaccountable.

And let us assume that everything started innocently enough with the CIA decision to send someone to Niger to inquire about the yellowcake story. Valerie, wishing to help her husband find some small role in the “game”, convinces her superiors to let Joe have the assignment (without pay).

Joe takes the trip and returns to tell the CIA (in an oral report) information that tends to bolster the Saddam/Yellowcake connection (according to the 9/11 commission).

Joe finds he is still cloaked in obscurity with no hope of rejoining the “game” while the current administration is in power.

Fast forwarded to 2003. WMDs are not found in Iraq and the Kerry campaign is centering their focus - not on domestic policy - but on “Bush lied” foreign policy.

Who emerges as a consultant to the Kerry camp? Our friend Joe.

Is it in the realm of possibility that some bargain, either explicit or implied, might have been struck? Is there someone in the Kerry organization who would intimate that if Joe were able, somehow, to generate a multimedia buzz that Bush was less than truthful in the lead up to the war in Iraq that maybe there would be a posting as ambassador to a country more in keeping with Joe’s talent – say France.

BR

Thanks for the link to Miller's verion, Polly :)

Jon H, that was really funny... it would've given the MSM a prankish trojan horse. When the culprits finally do go down, though (please, Mr. Fitz, do the right thing, soon), they'll probably blame Rove for not thinking that up to have saved them after the fact in another Plamegate timewarp.

Newby

Hardy har har:

"In an interview yesterday, Wilson said that once the criminal questions are settled, he and his wife may file a civil lawsuit against Bush, Cheney and others seeking damages for the alleged harm done to Plame's career.

If they do so, the current state of the law makes it likely that the suit will be allowed to proceed -- and Bush and Cheney will face questioning under oath -- while they are in office. The reason for that is a unanimous 1997 U.S. Supreme Court decision ruling that Paula Jones' sexual harassment suit against then-President Bill Clinton could go forward immediately, a decision that was hailed by conservatives at the time."

Gary Maxwell

Ok I want to officially declare my total and unequivical boredom with all of this. I dont see Rove testifying vountarily 4 times and having his own words used against him. Same for Libby.

There is no there there. Lets move on to the DeLay/Earle dustup. While there is no there there either, we do have it obvious that its a political battle and that is much more fun that reading 2nd hand report of testimony and reporters notes for god sake.

Geek, Esq.

If we are talking about indicting Libby and Rove (and perhaps Miller)on leaking classified information via the Espinonage Act, how does Wilson escape?

A few thoughts:

1) The Bush administration had already gone public with the Niger/uranium story. Wilson's comments were directly in connection with that story. He was, so to speak, correcting the version that was released.

2) But, you say, isn't that what the leakers were doing about Joe Wilson? Big difference: What Joe Wilson's wife did for a living was not a matter of public debate before this.

3) The details of a trip to Africa, the details of which had been mooted by intervening events, is much different than blowing the cover of an active intelligence asset.

Patrick R. Sullivan

If Joe Wilson decides to sue he'll be opening himself up to discovery procedures. And then he'll realllllly be sorry.

But, as to j.west's movie script above, it can be given an even more sinister twist. Wilson knew about the forged documents back in February 2002, because the CIA cabal who cooked them up, showed them to him back then; 'Ha ha, Joe, get it? We put incorrect names on them, they'll rely on them and it'll blow up in their faces.'

Cecil Turner

He was, so to speak, correcting the version that was released.

He was leaking defense-related information in wartime in an effort to undermine the war effort, and he was lying. There's not much moral high ground there.

Big difference: What Joe Wilson's wife did for a living was not a matter of public debate before this.

It directly related to a false impression Wilson was spreading. And even if it was a technical cover violation, it's hard to see how it materially affected Plame's actual duties. Seems to me in order to claim it was a big deal, you have to show it was intentional. (Retaliation against a whistleblower would be a big deal, even if the blown cover part was an accident.)

The details of a trip to Africa, the details of which had been mooted by intervening events . . .

Seems to me that's the bulk of the INR memo, which was classified TS. It's hard to see why we'd get excited about leaking the S/NF background paragraph about Plame, and then say the rest of it didn't matter.

NewbyNewby

For you CT-In oral arguments before Judge Hogan:

"This case is not about a whistle-blower," Fitzgerald added. "It's about potential retaliation against a whistle-blower."

Cecil Turner

"Potential" being the key word. But I agree it's a pretty good indicator Wilson isn't in serious jeopardy.

NewbyNewby

Nope. The whistleblower is Plame.

JayDee

You don't say, newbynewby. Tell us more.

Cecil Turner

Nope. The whistleblower is Plame.

Now that would be a problem. For Plame. She's not allowed to blow whistles anywhere but the CIA IG or a congressional oversight committees. And though I tend to think you're at least partially right, it's likely impossible to prove.

NewbyNewby

1. I actually hope Cheney et al. were actually fixing the intelligence, as I'd rather have evil geniuses in charge than incompetent fools. So I assume they were.

2. People in the agency were fighting back, a "erverted war" to use Libby's term.

3. Plame was one of the ones offering resistance.

4. They weren't using Plame to get to Wilson; they were using Wilson to get to Plame.

paul

Somethings to add to the NYT timeline:

The day on which the 'forged Italian document story' was first mentioned by the Times.

The date the documents were declassified.

In an investigation about leaks, involving Wilson/Plame, I'd be curious to know who provided the information about the false documents to the press.

JayDee

That's very interesting, newby2. What you're saying then is that Plame WAS outed deliberately, as punishment for bucking the admin?

That would definitely explain Fitzgerald's intensity in persuing this as a serious crime then.

Geek, Esq.

He was leaking defense-related information in wartime in an effort to undermine the war effort, and he was lying. There's not much moral high ground there.

Moral status is only tangentially related to legal liability.

Wilson didn't expose any assets or give our enemies anything they can use against the United States.

In contrast, don't forget that not only was Plame undercover, but also Brewster Jennings and everyone associated with it. Every person with a Brewster Jennings business card, whether they were working in Langley or Kazakhstan, was outed as a CIA operative. The White House essentially outed an entire operation with this little fiasco.

Syl

Jeff

I'm not conceding anything. The bottom line is there was an attempt by Saddam to open trade with Niger. Goats, cowpeas, onions, or uranium. Take yer pick.

And, forgotten in all of this, is Saddam's behavior. If he wanted the world to think he still had WMD's and was conniving to continue his nuclear weapons program, while at the same time denying it to the U.N., it is perfectly conceivable that sending a delegation to Niger and other African countries to seek uranium was part of a Saddam disinformation plan.

To Saddam it was win:win. Even if you weren't able to actually GET the yellowcake, people would know you were still interested in doing so and might very well suspect you still had an ongoing program. Yet you still had plausable deniability.

It's naive and silly for the left to dismiss Saddam's attempts.

Geek, Esq.

To clarify, a prosecution under the Espionage Act requires that the defendant have reason to believe that the information improperly disclosed would harm the US or benefit a foreign nation.

As signers of form SF-312, both Rove and Wilson would face the presumption that they did have reason to believe that leaking such information would harm the U.S.

HOWEVER--

Wilson would be in a much better position to rebut this presumption than would Rove, Libby, et al. The damage from Wilson speaking was limited to the public relations and political sphere--exactly the kind of stuff that the 1st Amendment protects.

In marked contrast, the harm from the outing of Plame and Brewster Jennings directly harmed our anti-WMD efforts by essentially wiping out a covert operation.

JayDee

Geek, I haven't seen the Brewster Jennings angle addressed very much during all this. In the beginning that seemed to me to be the most serious side effect, definitely adding weight to the crime. Why is it so rarely discussed? Is it possible the WH wanted that operation killed for some reason..i.e. because they didn't fit in the "fixing"?

Jon H

"it is perfectly conceivable that sending a delegation to Niger and other African countries to seek uranium was part of a Saddam disinformation plan."

For that matter, a delegation to Niger seeking chick peas would have the same effect, because everyone would assume he was seeking something verboten.

Geek, Esq.

Geek, I haven't seen the Brewster Jennings angle addressed very much during all this. In the beginning that seemed to me to be the most serious side effect, definitely adding weight to the crime. Why is it so rarely discussed? Is it possible the WH wanted that operation killed for some reason..i.e. because they didn't fit in the "fixing"?

I would venture that it isn't being discussed because the media is lazy and prefers to work on other, more accessible angles.

I doubt that the WH wanted to harm WMD efforts. Rather, I suspect that they viewed everything--including national security policy--as means to electoral ends.

TexasToast

Syl

Even Condi now says that Iraq was not a "proximate cause" of 911 unless one made a policy decision to follow a "bolder" approach. There was no connection to 911, no WMD's. Just a tin pot dictator/amateur spy novelist.

Hubris.

Crank

Everyone knows that if you want to run into a NY Times reporter, there's no better place than at a rodeo. In Wyoming.

Cecil Turner

I actually hope Cheney et al. were actually fixing the intelligence, as I'd rather have evil geniuses in charge than incompetent fools.

We now have a pretty good idea where the breakdown occurred, and it was somewhere between the Tenet and Plame levels. There were rumblings at low levels, but apparently they didn't even manage to convince the mid-level managers at CIA. The SSCI (p.53) gives a blow-by-blow account of the discussion on this particular point:

When someone, the NIO was not sure who, suggested that the uranium information be included as another sign of reconstitution, the INR Iraq nuclear analyst spoke up and said that he did not agree with the uranium reporting and that INR would be including text indicating their disagreement in their footnote on nuclear reconstitution. The NIO said he did not recall anyone else at the coordination meeting who disagreed with the uranium text, but also did not recall anyone really supporting including the uranium issue as part of the judgment that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program, so he suggested that the uranium information did not need to part of the key judgments. He told Committee staff he suggested that “We’ll leave it in the paper for completeness. Nobody can say we didn’t connect the dots. But we don’t have to put that dot in the key judgments.”
It's obvious from reading the NIE that CIA HQ was still convinced of the validity of the story up to then, but there were some wingeing at the details. It's obvious from the discussion (SSCI, sec2, p53-55), that there was an argument about the validity of African uranium, and the naysayers lost. It's also obvious that it happened at a relatively low level, and even Tenet probably never heard about it.

That would definitely explain Fitzgerald's intensity in persuing this as a serious crime then.

Not really. If they had credible evidence Plame was the one leaking, they could discipline her directly (or arrest her and broadcast the fact on national television). "Outing" for retaliation makes no sense at all.

In contrast, don't forget that not only was Plame undercover, but also Brewster Jennings and everyone associated with it. Every person with a Brewster Jennings business card, whether they were working in Langley or Kazakhstan, was outed as a CIA operative. The White House essentially outed an entire operation with this little fiasco.

Puh-leeze. They were in the process of moving her out of NOC status, and all that stuff would have been in the open. Her field experience was dated, and there's no evidence of any security ramifications (which would make such a wonderful story that it's hard to believe it's out there and unreported).

JayDee

Cecil, in the process of removing Plame from NOC, would her former status be revealed? Not sure what reclassifying her status would reveal. In other words, she'd now be identifiable as a CIA employee. Would there then be a direct inference that she had been CIA while at Brewster Jennings?

What is your take on Brewster Jennings anyway? Are you also unimpressed with the fact that their operation had to close shop due to this situation?

Also, there's no need for Plame to actually have "leaked" anything to be considered a whistleblower. It's plausible that her (or her "cabal" at CIA's) known active opposition to intelligence fixing and her connection to Wilson just made her a convenient candidate for the horse head in the bed.

Geek, Esq.

Puh-leeze. They were in the process of moving her out of NOC status, and all that stuff would have been in the open. Her field experience was dated, and there's no evidence of any security ramifications (which would make such a wonderful story that it's hard to believe it's out there and unreported).

Do you know something that Patrick Fitzgerald and every court that's seen all of his evidence don't know?

Not to be overly snarky, but those who are in the know have a remarkably different perspective.

j.west

".....but those who are in the know have a remarkably different perspective."

Who, exactly, is in the "know" about this case?

Cecil Turner

Not sure what reclassifying her status would reveal. In other words, she'd now be identifiable as a CIA employee.

With a hubby who does CIA missions and a hole in her resume. I think it's likely any interested professional could fill in the blanks, and at any rate you couldn't take the chance. Brewster Jennings ceases to be a viable cover. (<--conjecture based on reading and zero actual expertise: my background is military, not spook-stuff).

Not to be overly snarky, but those who are in the know have a remarkably different perspective.

If you're suggesting there's some evidence of actual security ramifications (as opposed to potential ones) please trot it out. I'm not. (And in fact, my subsequent reading on the original Agee leaks suggests there's less than meets the eye to that one as well. In particular, the claims that it led to the assassination of CIA station chief Welch in Athens are not well proven. This one is comparatively very small potatoes.)

I'd also contest your implication that the damage from Wilson's speech was limited. It certainly affected the war effort (in particular our relations with potential allies), and was a major propaganda victory for the Iraqi insurgency. (As Napoleon famously quipped, moral considerations account for 3/4 of war effort.) While I'd agree with you that the speech is protected, it was also extremely bad form, and a push-back was certainly warranted.

Newby

"Outing" for retaliation makes no sense at all.

But outing her just to cast aspersions on Wilson does make sense. Only if they are truly morons (always a possibility).

But, according to Miller, Libby says a faction in the CIA was selectively leaking and engaged in a "perverted war."

Whose side was Plame on in this war, I wonder?

What if by getting Plame's name out there-(e.g. Novak-"they gave me the name") Libby et al. were trying to cast aspersions on Plame by associating her with Wilson (i.e. Kerry contributor). It's a typical sleaze ( i.e. Rove) operation

IOW they were trying to smear Plame not Wilson.

And yes-she was being transitioned out of NOC-but oops-the process wasn't complete.

Jeff

Syl -

You're completely changing the subject, and you didn't address what I actually wrote, which is much more specific than your general ruminations. But no matter. What I really would like to hear from you, to repeat my initial questions in hopefully understandable form is a matter of fact: 1)It appears to me that there was intel on two different incidents in 1999 -- one a meeting on the sidelines of an OAS meeting, which Wilson reported on in 2002; and the other an effort by an Algerian businessman to set up a trip by the Iraqi ambassador to the Vatican to Niger, reported on in 1999. You seem to say otherwise. Why? 2)Have you seen evidence other than what Libby told Miller that it was Wilson's 1999 trip that produced that second piece of intel regarding the Algerian businessman and so on? I'm not expressing doubt that that was the case. Rather, it was news to me, and I'm wondering if it was not in fact news.

It is a separate question whether there was confusion, and on whose part, over Wilson's two trips, as Pincus reports the CIA has claimed, seemingly by way of explaining how it was that the White House came to claim that Wilson's wife set up his 2002 trip as a boondoggle.

Jon H

Cecil writes: "I'd also contest your implication that the damage from Wilson's speech was limited. It certainly affected the war effort (in particular our relations with potential allies), and was a major propaganda victory for the Iraqi insurgency"

In July of 2003, the party line was that there was no insurgency, just 'dead enders' to be mopped up.

JayDee

I think it's likely any interested professional could fill in the blanks, and at any rate you couldn't take the chance. Brewster Jennings ceases to be a viable cover.

So was there a planned rollup of Brewster Jennings set to coordinate with Plame's re-classification? How do these things generally work?

Geek, Esq.

Who, exactly, is in the "know" about this case?

If you're suggesting there's some evidence of actual security ramifications (as opposed to potential ones) please trot it out. I'm not.

Fitzgerald is certainly in the know. As are the courts who have reviewed the evidence he presented while seeking to enforce the subpoenas on reporters.

What have the judges had to say?

The Circuit Court of Appeals (Tatel, J., joined by his colleagues):

"I have no doubt that the leak at issue was a serious matter . . . Her exposure, therefore, not only may have jeopardized any covert activities of her own, but also may have endangered friends and associates from whom she might have gathered information in the past. . . . Thus, considering the gravity of the suspected crime and the low value of the leaked information, no privilege bars the subpoenas."

In any event, I find it difficult to believe that someone as intelligent as yourself is seriously adopting the idiotioc argument that outing a CIA-front company dedicated to investigating WMD's lacked serious national security implications.

Geek, Esq.

Note to self: Spell "idiotic" correctly.

More on Brewster Jennings.

"The leak of a CIA operative's name has also exposed the identity of a CIA front company, potentially expanding the damage caused by the original disclosure, Bush administration officials said yesterday.

The company's identity, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, became public because it appeared in Federal Election Commission records on a form filled out in 1999 by Valerie Plame, the case officer at the center of the controversy, when she contributed $1,000 to Al Gore's presidential primary campaign.

After the name of the company was broadcast yesterday, administration officials confirmed that it was a CIA front. They said the obscure and possibly defunct firm was listed as Plame's employer on her W-2 tax forms in 1999 when she was working undercover for the CIA. Plame's name was first published July 14 in a newspaper column by Robert D. Novak that quoted two senior administration officials. They were critical of her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, for his handling of a CIA mission that undercut President Bush's claim that Iraq had sought uranium from the African nation of Niger for possible use in developing nuclear weapons.

. . .
The inadvertent disclosure of the name of a business affiliated with the CIA underscores the potential damage to the agency and its operatives caused by the leak of Plame's identity. Intelligence officials have said that once Plame's job as an undercover operative was revealed, other agency secrets could be unraveled and her sources might be compromised or endangered.

A former diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity said yesterday that every foreign intelligence service would run Plame's name through its databases within hours of its publication to determine if she had visited their country and to reconstruct her activities.

"That's why the agency is so sensitive about just publishing her name," the former diplomat said."

Seriously, the argument that outing Plame lacked the potential to do serious harm to our national security is pure nonsense.


Cecil Turner

In July of 2003, the party line was that there was no insurgency, just 'dead enders' to be mopped up.

Call it what you like. Attempting to discredit the political leadership is a classic propaganda meme (because it works). In this case it undermined our attempts to get more occupation (or "liberation" if you prefer)/reconstruction aid and assistance. How much of an effect it had is debatable, but it seems to me substantial (especially when combined with like-minded efforts which were mostly politically motivated). The contention that revealing Plame's relationship with the CIA (a couple weeks/months?) early is a larger blow to national security is a bit hard for me to credit. (On the other hand, I tend to be more attentive to the war effort, and am willing to be educated on the spook front.)

"That's why the agency is so sensitive about just publishing her name," the former diplomat said."

That former diplomat's name wouldn't be "Wilson" by any chance? Just askin'.

Seriously, the argument that outing Plame lacked the potential to do serious harm to our national security is pure nonsense.

As long as you have the word "potential" in there, I don't think we're too far off on this one. (Considerably closer than we appear to be on the war effort.)

parenthetical

Geek-
In your own words:

"To clarify, a prosecution under the Espionage Act requires that the defendant have reason to believe that the information improperly disclosed would harm the US or benefit a foreign nation."

"The damage from Wilson speaking was limited to the public relations and political sphere..."

"Wilson didn't expose any assets or give our enemies anything they can use against the United States."

If the goal of the US was to garner international support, post war-and a CIA agent was leaking dispositive classified information, when classifed information that would support the WMD argument, could not be released because it was classified...)

She provided aid and comfort to the enemy. (... only if she was the source of Wilson's statements regarding his African trip, and his discussion of the 'classifed Italian documents'. I have a strong suspicion that she, thru her husband, provided a substantial amount of information that would bolster her husband's case.)


As a hypothetical, suppose during the buildup to Kosovo, a CIA agent was leaking documents that showed that Cohen's statement about 144,000 Alabanians being killed was false...while there existed other information that supported it.

Tim F

in re the Time article, it seems very unlikely that Tenet would be the source. It doesn't fit his character, and if anybody knows not to endanger ongoing operations it would be him.

Put me down for John Bolton. Look at his qualifications - not in the White House (now or at the time), in bed with WHIG, poor judgment, lack of impulse control and access to relevant information. Means, motive and opportunity.

TexasToast

Cecil

How does a patriot oppose a war? The political leadership discredited itself. Are we just not supposed to notice?

Tim F

suppose during the buildup to Kosovo, a CIA agent was leaking documents that showed that Cohen's statement about 144,000 Alabanians being killed was false...while there existed other information that supported it.

The correct response is to out him and wreck his network?

Geek, Esq.

As long as you have the word "potential" in there, I don't think we're too far off on this one.

Ah, the problem is my reading comprehension and general haughtiness.

Potential is legally operative concept, however. Assessing actual harm is next to impossible--especially if it involves secrets that have remained unknown to the general public. Moreover, we don't want to let people off the hook because they didn't know to a degree of metaphysical certitude that their leaking of information would harm national security.


Regarding that unnamed diplomat, it would be a violation of journalistic ethics to let Wilson comment anonymously on a story about him.

Of course, that's what Judy Miller was going to allow Scooter Libby to do in this case, but this is the Post, not the Times we're talking about here.

Geek, Esq.

Parenthetical:

Jailing someone for harming the administration's political/public relations goals would almost certainly run afoul of the First Amendment.

Sue

The better question then would be why was the CIA using a covert operative that had been outed by Aldrich Ames? Seems ridiculous to continue to use her knowing she was compromised. Then again, the CIA hasn't been doing such a bang up job, have they?

cathyf
In contrast, don't forget that not only was Plame undercover, but also Brewster Jennings and everyone associated with it. Every person with a Brewster Jennings business card, whether they were working in Langley or Kazakhstan, was outed as a CIA operative. The White House essentially outed an entire operation with this little fiasco.
Utter nonsense. Plame's cover was believed to have been blown by Aldrich Ames, and known to be blown when some CIA flunky sent an intelligence report to the Swiss embassy in Havana but didn't send it securely. So the Cubans, and the Russians, certainly had her name years before, and if any of them know how to use google, they had Brewster Jennings.

Given that data mining is what the CIA does I think that they were more than capable of appreciating the significance of the Havana fiasco. If they still had any viable national security assets that were connectable to "Brewster Jennings," "Valerie Plame" or "Valerie Wilson" then they are complete and total incompetents.

cathy :-)

Syl

Sue

"Seems ridiculous to continue to use her knowing she was compromised."

True. But I think they learned their lesson. They decided to change the name she used to Victoria Flame :)

JayDee

cathyf, then why in your opinion has Fitzgerald just spent 2 years investigating a non-crime?

Syl

JayDee

"cathyf, then why in your opinion has Fitzgerald just spent 2 years investigating a non-crime?"

He wanted Judy to stew in jail?

:)

Syl

Jeff

That Wilson, during each trip he made to Niger, confirmed a meeting with Iraqi's, is what's significant. I don't really care that much that it was two different meetings, or that one was later questioned. Saddam was putting out feelers, or at the least, wanted us to believe so.

And I don't think there was any confusion between the two trips. In fact, one of the reasons Valery got Joe picked for the second one is that he made the first one. Wilson was not able to prove she had no involvement.

Sue

Plus, a simple search of Brewster Jennings will reveal that it is an empty cover. The people that managed the building where it was 'located' thought something was strange. No one was ever there. I don't think the CIA was actively using Brewster Jennings, not after 1999. If they were, then again, they are not the spoofs I thought they were. And the way they have screwed up intelligence, it might be the answer.

Syl

TT

I don't know what your obsession is over Iraq vis-a-vis 9/11. Neither Condi nor Bush ever claimed Saddam had something to do with the attack. Iraq DID however have something to do with 9/11 in that our position on Iraq was a reaction to the event. We weren't going to tolerate an unpredictable madman who supported Islamic terrorism, had violated a ceasefire agreement, and thumbed his nose at several UNSC resolutions.

His people deserved better and we owed them after our abandonment previously.

As for stockpiles of WMD. Who really cares? Saddam was prepared to continue his programs first chance he got. The anti-war faction only uses 'no WMD' as a political weapon, they don't much care about WMD either.

Sue

"All it was was a telephone and a post office box," said one former intelligence official who asked not to be identified. "When she was abroad she had a more viable cover."

Don't you just love all these 'unidentified' sources? :)

I don't think Brewster Jennings is a big deal. I guess by now Fitzgerald knows the answer to whether it was a big deal or not.

Sue

Reckon her 'more viable cover' was Victoria? I doubt she used Flame. Too stripperish.

Tim F

That pretty much hits the crux of the matter. We're all guessing, he's not.

JayDee

Syl, in keeping with the Republican belief in Constitutional Originalism, can you explain how the who-cares rationale you just gave for the Iraq war is compatible with our constitutional democracy?

If an administration can just decide within itself that there is a justification for war, and then uses phonied up, cherry picked intelligence to sell it like a product (literally -not to be "rolled out in August") to the US Congress, then deems that any contradictory intelligence (even if accurate) undermines the war effort ... how much of our democracy remains?

cathyf
cathyf, then why in your opinion has Fitzgerald just spent 2 years investigating a non-crime?
Well, unless he has something else, yeah, he has. Given Fitzgerald's reputation (I live in Illinois -- we think rather highly of him here) it's hard to imagine that he doesn't have something. TM has certainly entertained all sorts of variations on what he could have.

But I've said it over and over -- if "super duper top secret" really means "secret from anybody who doesn't know how to use google" then we are in very deep trouble.

I've also been curious about the whole Havana fiasco and the evident failure of the CIA to take the most minimal actions to minimize the danger after it. I grew up in Washington, and the prevailing cynicism was that the bureaucracy classified their mistakes to cover them up, and that while it was illegal, they usually got away with it. Was the failure to "roll up" Valerie's connections an attempted coverup of the Havana fiasco? Do the resources devoted to a roll-up operation appear on some accounting report somewhere and are people held accountable if it was a CIA screwup that made the roll-up necessary? I've never heard anybody bring up the question of just why the Agency had her classified as covert when she wasn't. Everybody just assumes that this was simple bureaucratic sloth. Maybe Fitzgerald should be interested?

cathy :-)

Newby

Actually Flame would not be a good stripper name-it suggests a burning infection. Not that there's not some stripper somewhere named Flame-but that girl is not maximizing her income.

Androgynous names are the current vogue in stripper "stage" names. We have a 'Hunter' working every shift.

Sue

I don't think Flame would have been a good cover name. However, the partner listed on Dunn & Bradstreet is Victor Jennings. Makes me say hmmmm...Victor/Victoria. :)

Jon h

Cecil writes: "Attempting to discredit the political leadership is a classic propaganda meme (because it works). "

Cecil, why do you hate our freedom?

parenthetical

"Jailing someone for harming the administration's political/public relations goals would almost certainly run afoul of the First Amendment."

United States v. Morison

http://www.mtsu.edu/~lburriss/morison.html

Apparently giving classified info to those lacking clearance is enough. No threat to US has to be shown.

j.west

Fitzgerald went into the investigation with this authorization:

“to investigate and prosecute violations of any federal criminal laws related to the underlying alleged unauthorized disclosure, as well as federal crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with, [his] investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses,”

When the arguments were made to support the subpoenas, the district court ruled that these subpoenas:

"stem[med] from legitimate needs due to an unanticipated shift in the grand jury's investigation,"

It appears from the initial instructions to Fitzgerald that every commonly held view of the possible outcome of the investigation is “anticipated”. The appeal clearly states that the investigation took an “unanticipated shift”.

Who wants to take a crack at explaining this?

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