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November 22, 2005

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Jeff

Two comments.

Is there a chance that the CIA concluded, upon further cover-up evaluation, that the wife was not involved?

Don't forget this from Pincus and Vandehei on the role that confusion between Wilson's 2002 trip to Niger and his 1999 trip to Niger, when apparently Wilson's wife really was involved in sending him, played:

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.

But also note that the CIA does not speak with one voice. Probably Libby was talking with Tenet or one of his immediate subordinates, who may just have been telling a different story than people within the CIA who actually knew what they were talking about.

Also, not sure if you saw this when I posted it yesterday, but way back on October 12 2003, Pincus and Allen used language almost identical to the language you cited from both Mitchell and Novak yesterday, and they were talking about what people were being told way back in the week around June (not July) 12 2003:

Starting that week, the officials repeatedly played down the importance of Wilson's trip and its findings, saying it had been authorized within the CIA's nonproliferation section at a low level without requiring the approval of senior agency officials. No one brought up Wilson's wife, and her employment at the agency was not known at the time the article was published.

Truzenzuzex

TM:

Then and now, the CIA's position, as set forth in Novak's original column and later confirmed by CNN and others, was that Plame had nothing to do with selecting Joe Wilson for the trip to Niger.(empahsis mine)
Hmm. So the CIA still insists that Plame wasn't involved in the "selection", which meshes pretty well with this article from the WaPo:
Wilson maintains that his wife was asked that day by one of her bosses to write a memo about his credentials for the mission--after they had selected him. That memo apparently was included in a cable to officials in Africa seeking concurrence with the choice of Wilson, the Senate report said.
Curious. If Wilson was well-known to the Nigerians from a 1999 trip as the above article suggests, one wonders why the agency would ask Plame (presumably, a person with a job as an analyst) to do secretary work about a man the Agency (and presumably the Nigerians as well) knew all about. I mean, Wilson could have provided all this info from his resume to any low-level adminstrative type for inclusion in a memo to Niger.

Or maybe the CIA could have just messaged the Nigerians and said, "Hey, Nigerians. Remember that Wilson dude we sent to talk with you a couple of years ago? We'd like to send him over for a few days. Just serve him a little mint tea, pat him on his head and send him home. Word?"

In addition to all this, Plame was tasked to "introduce him at a meeting at the CIA on Feb. 19, 2002". Huh? You mean 2-1/2 years after doing a job for the Agency, Wilson needed to be "introduced"? Perhaps we should be concerned about this astonishing lapse of memory - maybe there is a communicable strain of Alzheimer's run amok at Langley.

It seems suspicious to me that the CIA is still saying that Plame had nothing to do with Wilson's selection. That simply doesn't make sense, even if it were true. At the very least, there should have been a conversation like:

  • Unknown Spook: "Val, do you think Joe would be willing to do this for us?"
  • Val: "Sure, US, I'm sure he wouldn't mind. Let me just ask him."
  • Unknown Spook: "I'd appreciate that. He's been there before, right?"
  • Val: "Oh, yeah, he has great contacts there"...

Jeff

Truz. - The officials in Africa were American diplomatic officials, not African officials. Wilson also says in his book he didn't know the people at his Feb 19 meeting, though her may have met some of them.

Truzenzuzex

Jeff:

Truz. - The officials in Africa were American diplomatic officials, not African officials. Wilson also says in his book he didn't know the people at his Feb 19 meeting, though her may have met some of them.
OK, but my point is unchanged. He was just with them 2-1/2 years before. I doubt if all the officials in question, whoever they were, would have forgotten him, or that records of his visit were still there even taking turnover into account.

Squiggler

Insomnia had me listening at 4 am to IMUS in the Morning on MSNBC this morning, where Tim Russert was a phone in interview (regular event). Imus asked about Andrea Mitchell's statement that "everyone knew" about Plame/Wilson. Russert told Imus that he should speak to Mitchell again as he was sure she had "corrected" her Oct 2003 statement and said she had "misspoke." What surprised me is the way Russert made this statement, as if he had instant recall of another reporter's interview with Imus 2 years ago. It was kind of weird. It was as if he was letting Imus know that Imus didn't remember the content of his own interview with Mitchell but Russert did. (I hope I have that date right, my mind is a little groggy.)

TM

...Plame had nothing to do with selecting Joe Wilson for the trip to Niger.

Well, if that is the official CIA story, how can we shake them?

I guess we have to settle for, she was not involved, other than in writing up a recommendation after the fact, approaching him on behalf of the CIA, and introducing him at a mutlti-agency meeting.

How anyonbe could prove she made the initial recommendation is beyond me, but so what?

The main point is, Wilson's entire story anounts to "My wife's team was right, and the White House was wrong". Gee, thanks for sharing. Had that laughable conflict been disclosed, who would have listened to the guy?

Squiggler

http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2005/11/22/104619.shtml

Just opened my Newsmax feed and they have an article on Russert's Imus interview with exact quotes.

JM Hanes

Squig -

Mitchell herself was on Imus not so long ago, which is when she "corrected" her earlier statement.

owl

Poor Andrea......it must be tough to be squeezed on one end by Russert and the other by Matthews. The Huffs are out huffing. TM was kind compared. She was in a no-win because she was mostly reporting one thing but KNEW they all knew.

Even two years later, no one has explained to me WHY the CIA would have sent Joe Wilson on this mission. Too many pieces do not make sense about the WHY him? No written report. No signed confidentialy agreement. A spouse supposely hiding at CIA? Nada about the WHY Joe makes any more sense today than it did then. So if I still want to know WHY Joe, I suspect it was the buzz when the envoy Joe was touting it hard from May.

Truzenzuzex

TM:

The main point is, Wilson's entire story anounts to "My wife's team was right, and the White House was wrong". Gee, thanks for sharing. Had that laughable conflict been disclosed, who would have listened to the guy?
Heh. True, and perhaps that's why it's "their story and they're sticking to it". After all, how would the CIA look if it was discovered that they sent Wilson to Niger knowing that if his wife's role was disclosed, Wilson's report (such as it was) would have been laughed at. Maybe the fear of just such a discovery drove the lack of NDA and written report - that way, if questioned, they could just laugh it off; "Seemed like a good idea at the time.."

One must wonder, though, why the CIA (who allegedly was responding to what they thought was a request for information by the Veep) would have treated it in such a cavilier and offhand manner. Perhaps Tennent just didn't run a very tight ship. Or perhaps the CIA really did want Wilson to write that op-ed.

I am sure somebody knows the truth about all this, but he/she ain't talking (but wait - now maybe they'll talk to Woodward - no loose lips there...).

Christopher Fotos

Jeff, I harped on that July 27, 2005 story you cite (and others) at my own blog, and though the Post never posted a correction I'm aware of (and none is appended to the July 27 story), Pincus eventually conceded there was more to than the (in my opinion incredibly condescending) excuse about "confusion." On Aug. 11, after recounting the CIA's version, Pincus writes:

Two other sources appear to support the view that Wilson's wife suggested her husband's trip. One is a June 2003 memo by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR). The other, which depends in good part on the INR document, is a statement of the views of Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and two other Republican members. That statement was attached to the full committee report on its 2004 inquiry into the intelligence on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The INR document's reference to the Wilson trip is contained in two sentences in a three-page memo on why the State Department disagreed with the idea that Iraq was seeking uranium from Africa -- a view that would ultimately be endorsed after the Iraq invasion by the U.S. weapons hunter David Kay. The notes supporting those two sentences in the INR document say that the Feb. 19, 2002, meeting at the CIA was "apparently convened by [the former ambassador's] wife who had the idea to dispatch [him] to use his contacts to sort out the Iraq-Niger uranium issue," according to the Senate intelligence committee report. But one Senate Democratic staff member said, "That was speculation, that was not true."

The full Senate committee report says that CPD officials "could not recall how the office decided to contact" Wilson but that "interviews and documents indicate his wife suggested his name for the trip."

Christopher Fotos

"Pincus eventually conceded there was more to Plame's role than the (in my opinion incredibly condescending) excuse..."

sorry.

paul

So let me get this straight:

John Kerry takes Wilson off of his website during the 04 election, even though 'his wife had nothing to do with the trip...'

This is the problem- have people believe one conspiracy, but then discount another. It's an all-or-nothing proposition-you can't 'cherry-pick' conspiracies-it's like creating a 30 foot wave and then thinking you can steer it.

just ask the congressional dems why they are at 25% approval ratings.

Karl Maher

Just don't use your glitch put an X on Kristof's head.

Reg Jones

What was Plames's Senate testimony?

MARGARET WARNER: ... Let me ask you one final question... You also signed a separate statement that really questioned Ambassador Wilson's credibility. What was your evidence for that?

SEN. KIT BOND: ...The ambassador has said that his wife had nothing to do with recommending him. And when we interviewed... our committee interviewed his wife, she then... she was asked specifically if she had... who had recommended the ambassador go. And she said that "I can't remember exactly whether I recommended him or my boss did." And other people... other agents reported that it was on her recommendation that the ambassador was sent. [NewsHour, 7/20/04]

cathyf
Even two years later, no one has explained to me WHY the CIA would have sent Joe Wilson on this mission. Too many pieces do not make sense about the WHY him? No written report. No signed confidentialy agreement.
Well, the most innocent explanation would be that the CIA sorta sending Mr. Wilson on a sorta-government mission to Niger would boost Mr. Wilson's mojo on the I'm a very influential person you should hire me as a consultant and pay my thousands of dollar per-diem schmooze factor. Which would boost the Wilson family income. And look, Mrs. Wilson's was a loyal CIA employee for many years who risked her freedom and maybe her life for our country, her ability to work in her profession was compromised through no fault of her own, so the government owed her.

There are various conspiracy theories about what was going on, but I think that this quite likely was the story -- a little CIA backscratching to help Wilson's consulting company drum up business. There is plenty here for the CIA to be hiding -- this would most likely be illegal, even if 95% of the American people would consider it fair and just that we should help the Wilsons out given Valerie's service to our country.

cathy :-)

danking

Cathy,

And Wilson tried to milk it for a position in the Kerry Administration...

Truzenzuzex

Cathyf:

Well, the most innocent explanation would be that the CIA sorta sending Mr. Wilson on a sorta-government mission to Niger would boost Mr. Wilson's mojo on the I'm a very influential person you should hire me as a consultant and pay my thousands of dollar per-diem schmooze factor.
So the oh-so-serious spy agency, greatly feared throughout the world, sends a Democratic partisan on a mission to investigate something as serious as weapons of mass destruction for a Republican administration just to indirectly boost one of their employee's income???

This would be the most outragous explanation I have heard. It suggests not only utter incompetence, but that the spy agency who so badly bungled 9-11 and WMD in Iraq had nothing better to do with their time than concoct ways to put money in Valerie Plame's pocket.

At least I would give them credit for being spies and doing nefarious and sneeky things to further their own self-interest...

fletcher hudson

The real story is that Russert in his brief 20 minute, two question interview with the FBI(per his own account) denied only that he mentioned "Plame' to Libby. He has never been confronted with the question of whether he discussed Wilson's wife with Libby.

Sue

Truz,

That is the piece of the puzzle that keeps bugging me. Why Joe Wilson? If we knew the answer to that one, we could wrap this one up.

Truzenzuzex

Sue:

That is the piece of the puzzle that keeps bugging me. Why Joe Wilson? If we knew the answer to that one, we could wrap this one up.
Lets face it: Occam's razor suggests that Plame got wind of the inquiries from the Veep's office about Niger and suggested sending Wilson to her superiors. That would explain it, simply and cleanly.

Except the CIA claims otherwise, which raises questions that go far beyond the simple suggestions of nepotism. A little nepotism here and there anyone can understand, even overlook. But if that explanation doesn't serve, then serious questions of competence and conspiracy start to pop up.

Sue

Truz,

So it is your guess it was just a 'honey deal'? A way to get him exposure for his own personal gain? She thought it was a 'crazy story' and so why not send Joe to check it out and make a few contacts while he was at it?

I don't get it. Or buy it. Because if I buy it, our intelligence is non-existent.

Truzenzuzex

Sue:

So it is your guess it was just a 'honey deal'? A way to get him exposure for his own personal gain? She thought it was a 'crazy story' and so why not send Joe to check it out and make a few contacts while he was at it?
Honestly, I wish I knew. I can't figure why the CIA would keep insisting things were otherwise, unless maybe they were. But if so, all sorts of nasty conspiracy theories become ever so slightly more plausible - it was well known that the Agency and the White House were at odds at the time this happend.

Perhaps one of those Unknown Spooks (or maybe just the Wilsons) decided it was time to show the WH that deception and playing against the baser instincts of humanity is their exclusive playground.

cathyf
A little nepotism here and there anyone can understand, even overlook.
But the CIA is a government agency. There are things which are illegal for them to do, which would be totally legal, ethical and admirable for a private company to do.

So imagine that the CIA did a little backscratching favor for a loyal long-time employee who got badly screwed by things that weren't her fault (Aldrich Ames and the Havanna incident). Then they did the correct, competent thing, which was to ignore the "information" which was unreliable because it wasn't a proper intel-gathering mission.

Then Joe Wilson (still hustling to fund his family's rich-folks lifestyle) decides to recycle his Niger trip into yet another business opportunity, this time as an advisor to the Kerry campaign, and as a talking-head expert on cable TV. So the CIA, which did something illegal-but-not-really-wrong was caught. They 'fessed up to the State Dept. and the VP that it was a boondoggle, and everybody leaked to the press so that they would just make Joe Wilson disappear without having to get anybody in trouble. But the press, being craven partisans, refused to take the hint ("Don't get too far out there"), and Joe, being the loose cannon that he is, threw gasoline on the flames by outing his wife's whole history to David Corn.

cathy :-)

Truzenzuzex

Cathy:

They 'fessed up to the State Dept. and the VP that it was a boondoggle, and everybody leaked to the press so that they would just make Joe Wilson disappear without having to get anybody in trouble. But the press, being craven partisans, refused to take the hint ("Don't get too far out there"), and Joe, being the loose cannon that he is, threw gasoline on the flames by outing his wife's whole history to David Corn.
Hmmm, I almost forgot about Corn.

I wonder if he is on the Libby witness list. That could be worth the price of admission right there.

Sue

I want to know where Tom Clancy was while all of this was going on? I think he is the leaker. It sounds too much like one of his novels. The only problem, I can't turn to the last page and find out what happened, like I've been known to do a time or two.

Sue

Someone mentioned further upthread that maybe the CIA was confusing the 1999 trip, (acknowledged by CIA Plame did recommend him), with the 2002 trip (denied by CIA Plame recommended him). However, didn't I read in the SSIC report about an email from Plame recommending him for the 2002 trip?

cathyf
The main point is, Wilson's entire story anounts to "My wife's team was right, and the White House was wrong". Gee, thanks for sharing. Had that laughable conflict been disclosed, who would have listened to the guy?
Does it change anything that the two sides are not quite that? I see it as,

Side One: "Saddam was trying to buy uranium in Africa"
-- White House
-- VP
-- WINPAC (CIA, Directorate of Intelligence)

Side Two: "That's a load of crap"
-- DNR (State Department)
-- Valerie Wilson

What do we know about the "wife's team" which is CPD (CIA, Directorate of Operations)? The general story has been that there was a dispute between DoS and CIA where it was CIA who took the threat of Saddam buying uranium seriously. In that dispute, was CPD on INR's side, or was everybody except Valerie on WINPAC's side?

If Joe was the ambassador to Gabon, then he was one of DoS's key people in the uranium-producing region of Africa. What was his relationship with INR back then?

Was sending Joe Wilson a scheme cooked up by INR and Valerie to try to convince the rest of CPD to come over to their side in their dispute with WINPAC and the White House? And when the INR wrote the memo, they hide behind Valerie and blame it all on her?

cathy :-)

Marianne

Whatever you think of Joe Wilson, he did have several years of diplomatic experience in Iraq and Africa (including Niger), and had recently been in charge of African issues at the National Security Council.

topsecretk9

I posted this before, but in just reading the last few comments it made me think of it again...Vanity Fair Author

"WARD: And the other point I think that is pretty important to make is that she is very proud of her husband. She's very supportive of his position in all of this and of what he's done. And I think that in the same way she attended the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) awards in a very controlled manner, she made sure there would be no photographs taken of her, she felt that she could contribute in a way in this, in a way that did not blow her anonymity. "

Now I wouldn't fault a wife being proud or supportive of a husband, but come on! It is the INTEL INFO that she works with on a daily basis...and she works for the Pres. That her husband is outing what he believes to be dirty laundry to HELP Kerry and HURT Bush is outrageous...there is a HUGE ethical (borderline criminal) conflict here.

Additionally, he has been found to be L Y I N G at worst, or just horribly wrong and too dense to realize it at the least. She is still at CIA and PROUD her husband is running around LYING about topics she works on which effect our national security. It's CRAZY.

MJW

Fletcher Hudson: The real story is that Russert in his brief 20 minute, two question interview with the FBI(per his own account) denied only that he mentioned "Plame' to Libby. He has never been confronted with the question of whether he discussed Wilson's wife with Libby.

Though I'm skeptical Fitzgerald would go that far in keeping his preferred slant on the story alive, it does jive with something odd I noticed just before the indictment. That Lefkowitz guy who was interviewed on several TV shows about the FBI's last minute questioning of Wilson's neighbors said on one show that agents were asking if they knew before Novak's column that Plame was a covert CIA agent. It's likely Lefkowitz wasn't reflecting the agents' exact wording, but it does make me wonder.

MJW

In the previous post, I meant to say "does jibe with." However, since in Spanish 'b' and 'v' are pronounced alike, I prefer not to think of it as an error, but rather as a shout-out to our Latin friends. And I aint jivin' you.

Syl

Top

It is the INTEL INFO that she works with on a daily basis...and she works for the Pres.

Actually it is ILLEGAL for a CIA employee to become involved in politics. Not that we've seen any convicions. Sigh. Who was it that wrote an article about that fairly recently? And suggested that the illegality be extended to the spouses of CIA employees as well.

Syl

Ah. It was good ol' Zell Miller.

The link is very long. Hope it takes.

owl

Syl, I had forgotten that article but it expresses what I have felt about this Plamething all along. It really is criminal and I am absolutely outraged that the investigation moved in the opposite direction from justice. I consider Plame/Wilson to have committed a TRUE crime. It's illegal for Plame.... and Wilson was a co-conspirator with Plame. The MSM has enabled these two to commit a huge crime. And Fitz is their storyteller. How sweet.

reliapundit

libby indictment says:

", Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA and that State Department personnel were saying "

which we now know is ARMITAGE.

who is no neo-con, and was probably trying to bolster joe wilson's cred.

which means the indictment and the left-wing read on this whole matter is WRONG.

topsecretk9

syl and owl---

ditto. ditto. ditto.

--and Wilson was a co-conspirator with Plame.---

really her sorta strangish silent string pulling ALMOST makes Wilson look like the American equivalent of Rocco Martino

Rella

who is no neo-con, and was probably trying to bolster joe wilson's cred.

Almost. No "neo-con" but a can still call a "boondoggle" a "boondoggle" when he sees it--i.e.. not neo, but not altogether Scowcroft either.

However, Scowcroft among a few others would be bolstering and fist-hamming to give cred.

paul

"Whatever you think of Joe Wilson, he did have several years of diplomatic experience in Iraq and Africa (including Niger), and had recently been in charge of African issues at the National Security Council."

So in the future we could send the following to their respective Countries to make sure no WMD technology/materials have been supplied:
Arnold to Austria.
Gerard Depardieu to France.
Omar Shariff to Egypt.
Liam Neeson to Ireland...


Let's face it, Joe Wilson had zero experience in clandestine ops. His 'investigation' could have been done by phone(the CIA should have used Jayson Blair)-as he reports that he spoke with heads of state. It's not like he even submitted a written report. In his open letter the Senate he admits that he NEVER disproved the yellow-cake story...

This is the guy dems want to hang their hats on?

Please...stay away from foreign policy, its a big boys game.

kim

Hey, the anti-war crowd doesn't think Saddam should have been deposed. Game over.
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Wilson/Plame