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November 22, 2005

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Jeff

It's useful for the timeline on when Woodward spoke with his source, and keeping Armitage in the running. But Kurtz gets the timeline of when Woodward says he spoke with Downie and with his source, and why, completely wrong. To say nothing of the fact that you'd expect someone who has had the access to Woodward Kurtz has had to ask Woodward what the new piece of the puzzle Woodward learned that led him to tell Downie about his source -- but not yet to go into aggressive reporting mode and go back to his source, which Woodward says didn't happen until several days later when he gets a load of the indictment of Libby and learns that his source had leaked to him before the earliest leak of which Fitzgerald was aware.

sideshow joe

Is Woodward saying that Pincus told him that the "envoy" was Joe Wilson? If so, it makes sense that after Woodward learned from "Mr. A" that Wilson's wife had a role in sending him that Woodward would mention it to Pincus.

Re-enactment:

{it was a warm summer day in D.C., when these two star reporters met in the comfort of an air conditioned hallway at Post HQ}

BW: "Hey Walt, remember a few days ago you told me about Wilson, well it looks like his wife works at the CIA and had a role in sending him."

WP: "BFD Bob, that's old news."

Gabriel

On Larry King last night, they showed a clip from a show in late October -- I think it was October 27th -- that featured a panel of journalists talking about the Plame case. Larry turned to Michael Isikoff about some "bombshell" that Woodward was holding onto. Isikoff said a source in the White House told him that Woodward had a bombshell scoop that he was going to reveal in the next day's paper. Woodward denied the claim at the time.

How did Isikoff know? Who else in the White House knew that Woodward knew about Joe Wilson's wife?

Truzenzuzex

TM (from you HK quote):

He said the source told him Plame was a CIA analyst on weapons of mass destruction. In his experience, Woodward said, such analysts are not undercover. Fitzgerald has said Plame had covert status. (emphasis mine)
Where did Fitsgerald say this, exactly?

Jim E.

"incredibly aggressive reporting mode"

Not only is that a lame line, but Woodward used it repeatedly in the interview. Is it like Dr. David Banner transforming into the Hulk?

Woodward was/is a big Judy Miller defender. Woodward is all about protecting his sources. Yet even he admits that he was the "catalyst" in pushing his source towards Fitzgerald. That seems contrary to the role of a reporter to shame a source into testifying in a criminal investigation.

I'm not saying I'm heartbroken by it. (I'm glad Fitz is learning more.) But I don't understand how Woodward can reconcile the priority he places on source confidentiality and also taking steps to blow the confidentiality of his source.

Gabriel Sutherland
Prior to July 14, 2003, Valerie Wilson’s employment status was classified. Prior to that date, her affiliation with the CIA was not common knowledge outside the intelligence community.
Source:Office of Special Counsel Press Release[PDF]
Les Nessman

"That seems contrary to the role of a reporter to shame a source into testifying in a criminal investigation."

Because we all know that EVERYTHING should take a backseat to the Important Work that our beknighted fourth estate does. /snark


Reporter, get over thyself.

danking

"But I don't understand how Woodward can reconcile the priority he places on source confidentiality and also taking steps to blow the confidentiality of his source."

Only an innocent man hangs in the balance...

topsecretk9

Well one thing is clear..."casual and offhand" screwed the civil suit (of not the Vallely suit, one of the other ones, but I think the Vallely one pretty much got killed too by Muffin)

Patrick R. Sullivan

----------quote------------
WOODWARD: ...how casual and offhand this was.

Remember, the investigation and the allegations that people have printed about this story is that there's some vast conspiracy to slime Joe Wilson and his wife, really attack him in an ugly way that is outside of the boundaries of political hardball.

The evidence I had firsthand, small piece of the puzzle I acknowledge, is that that was not the case. ....
------------endquote----------

Iow, Joe Wilson is a blowhard.

Geek, Esq.

Is Woodward that stupid, or does he think we are?

The story about Wilson was in its formative stages, and Woodward (described by some as an invesitgative reporter) raises the subject with a senior administration official.

THAT counts as "off-hand gossip?"

Kate

Geek...yes They were talking about important items like war and the future of the Middle East in advance of Woodward's book. When they started talking about Wilson both yawned.

owl

"But I don't understand how Woodward can reconcile the priority he places on source confidentiality and also taking steps to blow the confidentiality of his source."

I guess the same way that Cooper made such a big deal out of having to testify that he was (ALMOST) willing to go to jail (except what would the children say?) and then he comes out "singing like a canary". Such standards with such conflicting behavior. At least Woodward has almost kept his mouth shut.

Syl

Gabriel

I caught that too...a wh source telling Isikoff that Woodward has a bombshell.

The thing is on Oct 27, the night of that LKL panel, Woodward hadn't testified yet. He shouldn't even have been there opining on anything.

He couldn't say a word until after he testified.

But, obviously, at least someone in the wh knew what was coming. I'm curious as to who too.

Syl

Jeff

I don't understand why you said this? please explain:

But Kurtz gets the timeline of when Woodward says he spoke with Downie and with his source, and why, completely wrong.

Woodward spoke to Downie and his source before the indictments came down.

But we don't know when the source called fitz. We don't know when the source testified to fitz.

We only know when Woodward testified (Nov 3?) which was after the indictment.

topsecretk9

Speaking of Armitage...from Libby's indictment

"6. On or about June 11 or 12, 2003, the Under Secretary of State orally advised LIBBY in the White House that, in sum and substance, Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA and that State Department personnel were saying that Wilson’s wife was involved in the planning of his trip."

If Woodward source IS Armitage, then Fitz just handed him his sources who were saying this BEFORE June 11th...and who called State personnel after SOTUS.

BTW...Woodward said last night towards the end of GJ he was aggressively reporting on the Plame affair and had DISCOVERED something SURPRISING...then when Fitz made his announcement that Libby was the first official, it was THEN that Woodward realized his SURPRISING find WAS ALSO RELATED to this source, only this source had talked to Woodward earlier...

I said last night, his surprising find was Novaks source was also HIS source...when Fitz spoke, Woodward realized Novaks source had talked to him first

topsecretk9

AND if Armitage is Pincus's too...Then well "sort of gossip and chatter" comes into play...only who would thunk Armitage was such a gossip....Armitage was out educating reporters WHO then in turn went and educated each other before the called the WH ...any Woodward appearances on Meet the Press around this time?

Syl

top

I'm still not sure that Woodward's source and Novak's source are the same. Could be. I'm just not sure.

I figure Woodward wasn't paying much attention to the whole business until Downie told him to do some reporting on it.

I think Woodward discovered that the earliest date mentioned by anybody close to the investigation was June 23rd (Miller) and that was the surprise?

Maybe not. But what was going around pre-indictment about Novak's source?

Jim E.

topsecret wrote: "BTW...Woodward said last night towards the end of GJ he was aggressively reporting on the Plame affair and had DISCOVERED something SURPRISING...then when Fitz made his announcement that Libby was the first official, it was THEN that Woodward realized his SURPRISING find WAS ALSO RELATED to this source, only this source had talked to Woodward earlier..."

I think this is correct. topsecret's point is that the Libby indictment by itself (and the June 23 date) was NOT the only thing the caught Woodward's eye. Before the indictment, and one presumes, only SHORTLY before the the indictment, Woodward had stumbled across something he thought was significant -- significant enough to finally have a conversation with his editor. And that something significant was different than the date he spoke to his source.

Everyone seems to be focusing on the Libby/June 23 thing, but as topsecret points out, that's not the whole thing.

Jim E.

And I'm not sure I'm in agreement with topsecret that the "something significant" was that Woodward's source was the same as Novak's. It could be, I guess, but I don't see how that would get Woodward into "incredible aggressive reporting mode."

Jim E.

Time magazine said that Woodward's source and Novak's source were one and the same, didn't it?

I still don't think that was Woodward's find, though.

Jeff

Syl - Woodward says the thing that pushed him to go to his source was seeing the indictment and Fitzgerald's press conference, and realizing that he talked to his source before the first leak of which Fitzgerald is aware. The mysterious new piece of the puzzle led him to reveal that he had a source to Downie, but not, on his own account, to go back to his source.

noah

I am wondering if Woodward has yet told us everything he knows about this. Presumably he has told Downie everything. If so important information is still being withheld from me and you.

JM Hanes

I haven't been keeping up with Woodward's appearances, but has he actually said that it's the date he was informed that's the important part of his testimony? If Fitz deposed him for two hours, what else did they talked about. What new info galvanized him into action? Esp. if the indictment itself said "on or about June 11 or 12."

Does anybody else think Downie sounds like he's enjoying having a go at Woodward in public?

Downie has said Woodward made a "mistake" in not informing him about the Plame conversation and should not have been voicing his opinions about Fitzgerald.

Who is he kidding? I only wish that reporters & pundits on talk shows would actually stick to opining on stuff that actually know something about. The sniping from other reporters sounds even callower.

Gabriel Sutherland

Woodward gives us only one conclusion to derive from what he says -- he never tells you everything he knows. Woodward is already working on his next book about the Bush Administration's second term. As he explains that his books are a priority, even at the expense of his own newspaper, what other conlusion should we come to?

Syl: The Isikoff bit intrigues me. Recall that Isikoff authored the Newsweek piece from last week that all but fingered Armitage as Woodward's source. Isikoff told us on LKL that someone in the WH is talking to him. So the WH is now telling Newsweek that it's Armitage.

Novak told us that his source isn't a partisan gunslinger. Of the folks in the White House at that time I could only credibly suggest that Condeleeza Rice fit that profile. However, when you extend your focus group to Senior Administration Officials you get Powell, Armitage and perhaps a few other lesser known names. Hadley denied. Tenet denied. A handful of others denied. Armitage is reserving comment.

It's all possible that the WH is just shaking the 8 Ball to get "all signs point to" Armitage. Newsweek could have come up with that, but they, unlike blogs, need a source to print it.

owl

Good catch ts but I agree with Jim E. I took it that Woodward thought the entire Plamegame was gossip and still does, except this other thing he discovered.

Me? I just still want to know WHY did Plame or the CIA send JOE? Unless it was a vacation, it still makes no more sense today than back then. Woodward.....if you are reading this, please answer this one question and I will buy your book.

Sue

Shoot, Owl, I'll buy it for you and personally deliver it if you can get Woodward to spill the beans. :)

Rick Ballard

Owl,

Look at COGEMA. Wilson's hustle was "international consultant". His "experience" concerning uranium mining came from chatting to COGEMA people while he was ambassador to Gabon. COGEMA is French controlled but headquartered in Saskatchewan with mines in Gabon and Niger. The Akouta mine is about 120 KM from the Algerian border via what is known as the "Uranium Road". It looks like about a 24 hour drive from the Akouta mine to the Libyan border via Algeria.

COGEMA has crosslinking directorates with Total/Final/Elf which will lead you back to Powercorp in Canada.

If it were a Republican rather than a Democrat involved the NYT would be doing six degrees of separation charts on the front page. Since it's a Dem with strong French tranzi ties it doesn't deserve investigation.

Btw - when Wilson was sipping mint tea in Niamey he was farther from Akouta than Akouta is from Libya. And anyone who believe that you can't get a load of anything you can dream of out of a third world country with a per capita income of $235 per year shouldn't be allowed out of the house without adult supervision.

IAEA controls - sure, nice fantasy.

Davebo

A good question is, why are we still wondering who Woodward's source was?

He admits his source has relieved him of his confidentiality agreement, and he's obviously told Fitz already.

Why not clue the rest of us in?

Davebo
IAEA controls - sure, nice fantasy.

You seem to be talking in circles here.

Saddam already had enough Yellow Cake to make over 100 nuclear weapons. So why would he need Niger Yellow Cake?

Because his was under those fantasy IAEA controls?

Rick Ballard

One might speculate that the fact that Saddam's were under IAEA seals would lead him to round up additional yellowcake that was not under IAEA's incompetent control. You might as well ask why he didn't just buy 500 tons from Libya which had 2700 tons on hand that the IAEA knew nothing about until Kadaffi tossed in his cards.

The IAEA is a polite fiction run by fools for fools.

BumperStickerist

Me? I just still want to know WHY did Plame or the CIA send JOE? Unless it was a vacation, it still makes no more sense today than back then.

Sending Wilson makes sense in that he has personal relationships with people, could get meetings, and then the communications of those people can be monitored.

It's similar in concept to sending an aircraft over an area in the hopes of seeing where the anti-aircraft radars are located. The plane itself isn't too important, it's the effect of the plane's persence that's of interest.

So, in that context, Wilson as envoy makes sense.

What's funny is that Wilson (and his supporters) would think that a one week trip by a former ambassador to Niger could result in any sort of definitive statement to the negative regarding Niger/Iraq.

The only way Wilson could provide first-hand information of value would be if he witnessed trucks with Iraqi drivers being loaded with Niger yellow cake.

Otherwise, Joe could have been sent in to beat the bushes. Which is admirable and useful in its own right.

.

Sue

Bumper,

You have to discount his wife's words about this 'crazy story' first. He wasn't sent in to beat bushes. Unless it was Bush's administration he was trying to beat.

Dwilkers

The CIA sent Wilson because they didn't treat the request from the White House seriously. Its as simple as that. They got the question from Cheney's office and needed to have an answer to give him, so the sent ol' Joe and called out for Moo Sho Pork for lunch.

Your tax dollars at work.

boris

RB:

One might speculate that the fact that Saddam's were under IAEA seals would lead him to round up additional yellowcake that was not under IAEA's incompetent control.

Yes one certainly might. Saddam had good reason to be more careful than Libya, being under the microscope, competent or not.

The Unbeliever

Bumperstickerist, if the CIA sent Wilson in as a decoy--or the equivalent of a clumsy hound dog jumping into bushes to scare out the birds--then why didn't they send subsequent operatives into Niger to catch/monitor the "birds" he shook loose? Shouldn't we now be hearing about "Niger phase II"--the logical follow-up op where the CIA blanketed the country with spy nets and listening devices to catch any chatter and nervousness on the part of Niger officials or foreign Arabic visitors?

clarice

Why are we wasting all this time investigating the non -leak of a non- undercover agent and not who leaked the Atta investigation to the AP or why the hell the CIA is doing such a poor job interrogating Al-Ani? Indeed, why not see who and why the very investigation into the Iraq-9/11 connections are "radioactive"?

MichaelW

Jim E. asked:

TM (from you HK quote):

He said the source told him Plame was a CIA analyst on weapons of mass destruction. In his experience, Woodward said, such analysts are not undercover. Fitzgerald has said Plame had covert status. (emphasis mine)

Where did Fitsgerald say this, exactly?

Gabriel Sutherland answered (unhelpfully):

Prior to July 14, 2003, Valerie Wilson’s employment status was classified. Prior to that date, her affiliation with the CIA was not common knowledge outside the intelligence community.

Source:Office of Special Counsel Press Release[PDF]

There is a big difference between "classified" (which applies to virtually all CIA employees) and "covert" (which only applies to a very small subset). Leaking one (covert) is criminal, while leaking the other (classified) is not (although it is violative of government regs).

owl

Or just as good Clarice......that post of Andy McCarthy's today. I'm no good with links but that paragraph that ends with "boogie to Baghdad" is awfully compelling. I am amazed that more is not made of all that.

clarice

I'm not--the apparatchniki and the press have made radioactive what most Americans understand intuitively--there was a connection. (And one reason they consistently demonize Laurie Mylroie is that she ,better than anyone else in the intel agencies, made it.)

JM Hanes

Michael -

I just assumed Gabriel was pointing out that Plame's status was classified as opposed to covert, but perhaps he's making the same mistake that a lot of folks have made, including, it appears, Howard Kurtz. Fitz has done everything possible to make it sound as though Plame were covert -- short of actually saying it, that is.

MichaelW

JM:

I suppose you're right about Gabriel's comment, but it sure seemed to be an "answer" to Jim E.'s questions rather than support for Jim E.'s implied statement (that Fitz never claimed Plame was "covert").

Jim E.

While not a big deal, Trusenzuzex asked the question, not "Jim E."

Howard Kurtz is wrong on this point. Fitz never said Plame was covert.

TM

On or about June 11 or 12, 2003, the Under Secretary of State orally advised LIBBY...

Grossman (and presumably, others) were Under Secretaries; Armitage was the Deputy Secretary.

My ISP is a joke today, but Fitzgerald *may* have said Val was covert at his press conference.

topsecretk9

TM

I was interested more in the statement by Fitz "that State Department personnel were saying that Wilson’s wife was involved in the planning of his trip."

Personnel were bantering about before June 10! Great Water cooler fodder...word getting around...STATE, predates all too.

TM

On or about June 11 or 12, 2003, the Under Secretary of State orally advised LIBBY...

Grossman (and presumably, others) were Under Secretaries; Armitage was the Deputy Secretary.

My ISP is a joke today, but Fitzgerald *may* have said Val was covert at his

Jim E.

From the Fitz press conference:

"I am not speaking to whether or not Valerie Wilson was covert."

So Howie's wrong. Fitz never said one way or another.

If one parses Fitz's presser, though, a case could be made that Plame *was* covert, but he couldn't prove a criminal case about her outing. In Fitz's words: "we have not made any allegation that Mr. Libby knowingly, intentionally outed a covert agent."

And why else would Fitz say things like this if Plame weren't covert?: "To the CIA people who are going out at a time that we need more human intelligence, I think everyone agrees with that, at a time when we need our spy agencies to have people work there, I think just the notion that someone's identity could be compromised lightly, to me compromises the ability to recruit people."

MichaelW

Whoops! Sorry about that Trusenzuzex and Jim E. :)

TM: I'm pretty sure Fitz said no such thing (primarily because this would be BIG news and reported non-stop), but I'll look for a transcript to settle the point.

If Fitz did refer to Plame as "covert" in a speech, but not in the indictment, that would be a huge misstatement. Either (a) Plame was covert and Fitz improperly left this pertinent fact out of the indictment, or (b) Plame was merely "classified" and Fitz incorrectly called her "covert". The difference is significant.

Truzenzuzex

TM:

To the contrary. Fitzgerald said, in his news conference:

FITZGERALD: Let me say two things. Number one, I am not speaking to whether or not Valerie Wilson was covert. And anything I say is not intended to say anything beyond this: that she was a CIA officer from January 1st, 2002, forward.

Truzenzuzex

Jim E:

And why else would Fitz say things like this if Plame weren't covert?
To be as clear as possible, perhaps? The press was repeatedly using the word "covert", and Fitzgerald could not simply ignore it in his response. You will find that in his press conference, Fitzgerald used the word "covert" only in response to a question containing the same word.

MichaelW

Well that didn't take long:

Saturday, Oct. 29, 2005 12:13 p.m. EDT

Patrick Fitzgerald Retreats From Plame 'Covert' Claim

Leakgate Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald dropped a mini-bombshell Friday afternoon while he was explaining his indictment of Lewis "Scooter" Libby to the press.

It turns out that the central premise of his investigation - that Valerie Plame Wilson enjoyed protected "covert" status at the CIA - may not be true.

"Let me say two things," Fitzgerald told reporters. "I am not speaking [in this indictment] to whether or not Valerie Wilson was covert . . . And we have not made any allegation that Mr. Libby knowingly or intentionally outed a covert agent."

Fitzgerald did insist that Mrs. Wilson's "association with the CIA was classified," which would make leaking her occupation a crime. But he declined to bring any charges to that effect, casting even more doubt on the claim that her CIA job was a closely guarded secret.


[/crow-eating]

I should note however, that the claim about leaking a classified agent's status being criminal is false. To be sure, there are crimes that may involve the leaking of such an agent's name or occupation as one of the crime's elements, but the leak itself is not criminal.

Truzenzuzex

MichaelW:

I should note however, that the claim about leaking a classified agent's status being criminal is false. To be sure, there are crimes that may involve the leaking of such an agent's name or occupation as one of the crime's elements, but the leak itself is not criminal.
Then what could have Fitzgerald possibly mean by this (from the indictment):
b. In connection with his role as a senior government official with responsibilities for national security matters, LIBBY held security clearances entitling him to access to classified information. As a person with such clearances, LIBBY was obligated by applicable laws and regulations, including Title 18, United States Code, Section 793, and Executive Order 12958 (as modified by Executive Order 13292), not to disclose classified information to persons not authorized to receive such information, and otherwise to exercise proper care to safeguard classified information against unauthorized disclosure. On or about January 23, 2001, LIBBY executed a written "Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement," stating in part that "I understand and accept that by being granted access to classified information, special confidence and trust shall be placed in me by the United States Government," and that "I have been advised that the unauthorized disclosure, unauthorized retention, or negligent handling of classified information by me could cause damage or irreparable injury to the United States or could be used to advantage by a foreign nation."

Rick Ballard

MichaelW,

That leads you back to the original referral and the fact that Fitzgerlad's original charge was to deal with whether a regulation - not a statute - had been broken. Fitz dragged the statutory element in with his request for additional authorization to pursue conspiracy, false statements and perjury.

What I find very disturbing is the fact that he is being disingenuous - to put it mildly - in characterizations of the possible underlying offense. He's moving ever more distant from what I consider to be an ideal prosecutor. If he wants to be a character from Dostoevsky then he is going to have to learn to live with some rather negative publicity.

Jim Miller

One more possible motive for Mrs. Wilson: This is pure speculation on my part, of course, but it is consistent with what we know about the two. (Or at least what I know about the two.)

This is his third marriage, her first, and from what he has said about his own past, and some timelines I have seen, I suspect Joe may not have been a model of fidelity earlier in his life.

So a prudent wife, in love with her husband (as most seem to believe she is), might have looked for ways to keep him busy. (And I seem to recall reading somewhere that she met him in Paris after his trip to Niger.)

That doesn't mean that she (and others at the CIA) might not have had other motives as well. But I would not be surprised to learn that this was one of her motives.

Reg Jones

I'm a bit surprised no one has focused on this:

KING: If you had to do it all over, what would you change?...

WOODWARD:... it's a matter of record, it's a matter of my sworn testimony. I made efforts to get the source this year earlier and last year to give me some information about this so I could put something in the newspaper or a book, so I could get information out, and totally failed.
+++++++++++++++++++++++

Assuming that Woodward's source has given sworn testimony re Plame doesn't the above take away the Source's "I forgot" defense. It seems so. Though it would have helped if King had followed up to clarify what exactly he told the source in 2004-05.

Just to elaborate.

1.Source gives Fitz testimony and doesn't disclose mid-June Woodward disclosure.

2. Woodward reminds source of disclosure in 2004 and 2005 [possibly before but certainly after testimony].

3. Source does not go to Fitz to clarify testimony.

4. Libby indictment comes down and Woodward goes back to Source to remind him of the significance of his mid-june leak.

5. Source releases Woodward to testify and goes back to Fitz to clarify testimony.

Lew Clark

She was not covert! Who told me? Patrick Fitzgerald, and he should know. "Prior to July 14, 2003, Valerie Wilson’s employment status was classified. Prior to that date, her affiliation with the CIA was not common knowledge outside the intelligence community." Fitz was very careful not to say "covert agent". He had been at this long enough to know the difference. If she had been a covert agent on July 14, 2003 the indictment would have read: "On July 14, 2003, Valerie Wilson was a covert agent as defined by the IIPA" then the indictment would go on to state that Libby was being prosecuted under the IIPA.
You can throw the term "covert agent" around all you want. If the person does not meet the definition of "covert agent" in the IIPA then it is meaningless for prosecution purposes.
I always felt Fitzgerald was saying, "Although she was not a "covert agent" she worked over at CIA on classified stuff. And, dadburn it, you shouldn't be casually throwing around the names of people who work over at CIA on classified stuff". The only problem is, it's not illegal to throw around the names of people who work over at CIA on classified stuff. It's only illegal to throw around the names of a "covert agent", and that has a very specific definition in the law.

Truzenzuzex

Jim:

So a prudent wife, in love with her husband (as most seem to believe she is), might have looked for ways to keep him busy. (And I seem to recall reading somewhere that she met him in Paris after his trip to Niger.)
Hell, that works great for me. A jelous wifey, a little understandable nepotism, no federal case there.

Except the CIA says that's not what happened. Au contraire, they say, we the Unknown Spooks picked Wilson, and Plame just typed up a little resume for him and hyped him up for the suits. Nothing to see here. Move along...

TM

Assuming that Woodward's source has given sworn testimony re Plame doesn't the above take away the Source's "I forgot" defense...

Good point. If I were to draw an inference from that, I would say that, between Hadley and Armitage, Hadley was more likely to have been asked about other press contacts (I have this idea that Armitage was asked about the INR memo and how it circulated, but it seems as if Fitzgeralds was focusing on WH leakers.)

IN that theory, Armitage really had no leagal exposure at all - he was playing "Don't ask, don't tell" with Fitzgerald.

Hadley, OTOH, should have either come clean a year ago, or continued to rely on Woodward to keep quiet.

Which makes me think the source was Armitage, who reluctantly did the right thing, but has no legal exposure.

In fact, bonus wrinkle - when we hashed through grand jury rules, a key rule was that a witness can avoid perjury charges by correcting their testimony during the term of the grand jury, as long as they were not in imminent danger of discovery.

However, that term lapsed, and we have a new GJ. One might argue that discovery was not imminent, but still...

Lew Clark

And I do believe that Fitzgerald's reference to the release of classified information under 18USC, is a "lawyerly" tap dance. Yes, Valerie Wilson did, probably, work with classified information. But, of that classified information, what did Libby disclose? Only that she worked at CIA, which was not classified. I think, Fitzgerald, in desperation, hoped that he could make his case that 1+1=3 and hope the jury wouldn't have calculators with them.

kim

Woodward was 'Out to(for?) Lunch' in the deliberately targetted to-do last winter. People give him more credibility than he deserves. I give him as much credibility as I have all the leaks du demisemaine, which is to say, poquito.

Nice cover for Fitz to suddenly play surprised, though.
=====================

Reg Jones

TM:

between Hadley and Armitage, Hadley was more likely to have been asked about other press contacts...

If Fitz didn't ask Armitage about any Plame leaks then Fitz is incompetent.

Which makes me think the source was Armitage, who reluctantly did the right thing, but has no legal exposure.

Possible. But I'm not nearly as optimistic that the Source [Armitage or other] has no legal exposure. I suspect that your "imminent discovery" hook is overrated.

Let's go further. What if Armitage is Novak's source. Fitz surely would have asked about other leaks. Armitage says I don't recall any. Woodword reminds source in 2004-05. Is the theory that Armitage still has a "don't ask, don't tell" safe harbor?

Patrick R. Sullivan

'The story about Wilson was in its formative stages, and Woodward (described by some as an invesitgative reporter) raises the subject with a senior administration official.

'THAT counts as "off-hand gossip?" '

Woodward had just read Walter Pincus's story about an 'envoy' and found out his name was Joe Wilson. So, he asks his source if he knows anything about him (which would lead one to think the source is in State). Something along the lines of:

Woodward: 'Do you know why Cheney sent Joe Wilson to Niger to check out the uranium thing?'

Source: 'Cheney didn't send him. Wilson's wife is an analyst at CIA, I've been told she had something to do with him going.'

Gossip, or background detail. Not important. Until David Corn gets the bright idea to hang an 'outing a covert agent' charge, and Wilson likes the idea.

BumperStickerist

/monitor the "birds" he shook loose? Shouldn't we now be hearing about "Niger phase II"--the logical follow-up op where the CIA blanketed the country with spy nets and listening devices to catch any chatter and nervousness on the part of Niger officials or foreign Arabic visitors?

The NSA would (likely) handle that part.

One thing that's missing from the history of PlameGage are intercepts collected by NSA, if any.

Though I'm all for the 'Joe was trying to jump start his international consulting bidness via his wife' angle.


.

topsecretk9

Food for thought:

From the November 21 edition of MSNBC's Imus in the Morning:

(MARY) MATALIN: What's the crime here? Everybody in town knew that, and who outed her was her husband -- "my wife, the CIA wife" and all this stuff. No crime, big gossip, politics, he's attacking us, we're answering him, and somehow people are in jail and a guy's career is ruined. Does that make sense to you?

clarice

Makes sense to me..

sideshow joe

I think that when Fitz was referring to releasing "classified" info as criminal he was referring to the Espionage Act (US Code, Title 18, Part I, Chap 37, Section 793). The criteria required to meet that Act includes: "with intent or reason to believe that the information is to be used to the injury of the United States..."

The from Fitz's press conference:
"And all I'll say is that if national defense information which is involved because her affiliation with the CIA, whether or not she was covert, was classified, if that was intentionally transmitted, that would violate the statute known as Section 793, which is the Espionage Act.

That is a difficult statute to interpret. It's a statute you ought to carefully apply.

I think there are people out there who would argue that you would never use that to prosecute the transmission of classified information, because they think that would convert that statute into what is in England the Official Secrets Act.

Let me back up. The average American may not appreciate that there's no law that's specifically just says, "If you give classified information to somebody else, it is a crime."

There may be an Official Secrets Act in England. There are some narrow statutes, and there is this one statute that has some flexibility in it.

So there are people who should argue that you should never use that statute because it would become like the Official Secrets Act.

FITZGERALD: I don't buy that theory, but I do know you should be very careful in applying that law because there are a lot of interests that could be implicated in making sure that you picked the right case to charge that statute.

That actually feeds into the other question. When you decide whether or not to charge someone with a crime, you want to know as many facts as possible. You want to know what their motive is, you want to know their state of knowledge, you want to know their intent, you want to know the facts. "

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/28/AR2005102801340.html

Then Fitz goes to the 'sand in the eyes' baseball thingy.

Now does anyone really believe that Libby intent was to harm the United States? Even if you buy off on the lame theory of intent to harn Joe and Val for payback, that is a looooong way from intent to harm the U.S.? Especially since she was a desk jockey!!!! (ok, I just had to get that in).

sideshow joe

Let me also add that as far as "intent to harm the U.S." we have preliminary indications that there was no damage. If Libby's plan was to bring down the U.S., the PlameGame was a terrible approach. As TM has said as far as damage claims:

"Bob Woodward's leaked version was even more reassuring:

WOODWARD: ... They did a damage assessment within the CIA, looking at what this did that Joe Wilson's wife was outed. And turned out it was quite minimal damage. They did not have to pull anyone out undercover abroad. They didn't have to resettle anyone. There was no physical danger to anyone and there was just some embarrassment.

The WaPo also presents a garbled paragraph that is more compelling in the re-edited version picked up by Newsday:

The CIA will not conduct a formal damage assessment until legal proceedings are complete.

Is that how it works when our national security is threatened and lives are on the line - the CIA waits a few years until the trials are over, then assesses the damage? "

http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/2005/10/how_covert_was__2.html

sideshow joe

"And all I'll say is that if national defense information which is involved because her affiliation with the CIA, whether or not she was covert, was classified, if that was intentionally transmitted, that would violate the statute known as Section 793, which is the Espionage Act."

Well, I guess Woodward's source "intentially tranmitted" it before Libby. I am looking forward to the next indictment...and the next...and the next.

Jim E.

It is a fact that Fitz never said that Plame was covert. That is clear, and that is not in dispute.

But I still don't think one can necessarily conclude that she was not covert based on what Fitz said. I do think the reasonable likelihood exists that she was covert, but that Fitz couldn't prove the relevant criminal statue was violated. What else did he mean by the "sand in eyes" comment? What did Ashccroft investigate for three months, and why did Ashcroft see the need to then turn it over to Fitz? That doesn't make sense if she wasn't covert.

For the sake of argument, let's assume Plame was covert. It is not in either Fitz's OR Libby's interest to make that information public. If he's not going to prosecute Libby for the offense, it would be terribly unprofessional (and awkward) for Fitz to bring it up without holding anyone accountable. And if Fitz did bring it up, Libby would be crucified (figuratively) for committing a treasonous act and suffer the public humiliation for committing a deed for which he was not accused. That would be totally unfair to Libby, in both a legal and ethical sense.

Speaking of Ashcroft ... that's apparently the type of prosecutor some of you want Fitz to imitate. Ashcroft told quite a tale about the so-called "dirty bomber," yet Padilla was not charged on what Ashcroft publicly accused him of years ago. I don't think Fitz should be criticized for being reserved in his public statements.

Besides, I somehow doubt any of you would even believe Fitz if he did say she was covert.

Truzenzuzex

Jim E.:

Besides, I somehow doubt any of you would even believe Fitz if he did say she was covert.
You're reaching, Jim.

But hey, we are all speculating. Nobody knows if the CIA considered her "covert", or if she was under non official cover, official cover or no actual cover. Classification of the fact of her employment with the CIA could have been a routine precaution, despite the fact she drove to Langley every day.

Hey, maybe Woodward will tell us.

Syl

Well, our problem is that there is more than one CIA status classification. If the status is classified, you cannot even tell anyone Valery works for the CIA.

But there is more than one status that is classified and we don't know which one Valery had, or even if it was valid. The Vanity Fair article said the CIA had begun the process of moving her off NOC status earlier that spring.

Whether that process had been completed or not, we don't know. What I heard (here) was she was going to Official Cover under State. That status is also classified.

'Covert' just has no meaning outside of the IIPA context.

sideshow joe

I think we can all agree that Val was not "covert". The question is "Is Val lesbian?" I have no problem with that.

Jeff

Reg Jones - Whether we are talking Armitage or someone else, I find is almost impossible to believe Novak and Woodward had the same source, if, as seems clear, Fitzgerald knows who Novak's source is. I can't imagine that that person, already known as a leaker to Fitzgerald, would not acknolwedge having leaked to Woodward, unless somehow leaking at such an early date were perceived as distinctively problematic. But at the same time, like you (I think), I have a hard time believing that, whoever he is, Woodward's source does not face major legal jeopardy.

JM Hanes

Jim -
"I don't think Fitz should be criticized for being reserved in his public statements."

I could go with that if Fitz hadn't been trying so hard to imply that she was covert, while being so careful not to state it as a fact.

Jim E.

JM,
If Fitz was, as you say, "trying so hard" to imply her covertness, why is it that a majority of the commenters on this blog as well as the conservative pundits in the media repeatedly claim Fitz's presser proves, or at least implies, that Plame was NOT covert?

Syl

Because we see throught it?

Nah, that's too easy an answer. Pfeh.

Dumbledore

"her affiliation with the CIA, whether or not she was covert, was classified, if that was intentionally transmitted, that would violate the statute known as Section 793, which is the Espionage Act."

Mr. Fitzgerald meet the First Amendment. First Amendment meet Fitz.

In order to argue that this is not protected free speech, one would have to argue that divulging the information represents "a clear and present danger" which may result in "substantive evils which Congress has a right to prevent".

There was at least enough doubt surrounding this type of situation for congress to feel compelled to create the (much stricter) IIPA in the first place. (Which, by Fitz's logic, would be completely unnecessary as it would be subsumed by the Espionage Act).

"I think there are people out there who would argue that you would never use that to prosecute the transmission of classified information, because they think that would convert that statute into what is in England the Official Secrets Act."

But, of course, what _prevents_ it from becoming the Official Secrets and Espionage Act is not prosecutorial discretion, it's that pesky first amendment.


MJW

I'd be a lot more inclined to accept Jim E.'s theory that Fitzgerald chose not to mention Plame's covert status because he wasn't using it as the basis for charging a crime if Fitz hadn't spent the first two and a half pages of the indictment talking about Plame's "classified" and "not common knowlege" status and Libby's obligation under "Title 18, United States Code, Section 793, and Executive Order
12958" to protect it.

Terrie

Back to the Woodward timeline, with your collective help and a little suspended disbelief about Woodward's version of events.

Woodward now says that he discovered the missing piece of the Plame puzzle before Fitzgerald announced Libby's indictment, right?

Maybe he found it with Isikoff's help from their joint appearance on Larry King Live on Fitzmas Eve, October 27, during which Isikoff confronted Woodward with White House gossip that the latter was working on a Plame-related bombshell, which Woodward denied that night and again last night. Right?

Isikoff, with Evan Thomas, named Armitage as the most likely source for Woodward and Novak, right?

Add Isikoff to the ever expanding mainstream media/White House gossip ring, right?

Or maybe Woodward found the puzzle piece and then asked the White House related questions that tipped off Isikoff's source, thus setting the MSM/WH gossip ring abuzz. Hence Isikoff's question on LKL, right?

Regardless of the Isikoff connection, after the Fitzmas Day press conference Woodward realized he held material information and contacted his government source from mid-June 2003. The source declared the urge to tell Fitzgerald the truth but not the general public. Right?

So, if not the realization that he shared a key source with Novak, what was the puzzle piece that turned Woodward from a detached pundit to a central player?

If not the realization that he left Fitzgerald with false information or a false impression, why did Woodward's source assert that he had to come forward with the truth? Honest folks don't have to talk about telling the truth because they just do it.

The source was reminded by Woodward often enough in the past year that he cannot plausibly revert to the faulty memory defense, right?

What am I missing?

JM Hanes

Jim,

"If Fitz was, as you say, "trying so hard" to imply her covertness, why is it that a majority of the commenters...."

Mostly because we've been parsing every word he's uttered. I'm not sure whether Plame was officially covert or not. I just know that Fitz has described her as if she were so persuasively that even pros like Kurtz & others assume she was. Yet Fitz, himself, has never used that word, which strikes me as odd. Fitz is obviously a smart guy, so it also strikes me as significant for reasons I discussed here.

I'm actually beginning to think that maybe she was covert, but shouldn't have been and that maybe the CIA just never got around to officially changing her status. IIRC, wasn't Tenet supposedly on the verge of declassifying related material? I suspect Fitz doesn't want to level a covert-based charge, because given what we know, if it becomes an issue in the case, it will essentially be laughed out of court. Overcharging a defendant is a common prosecutorial error, both in cases where the evidence is inferential and in cases where the jury ends up thinking the prosecutor has been over zealous, even if technically correct.

TM has noted that the fact that the CIA has balked at making a formal damage assessment is patently absurd. It would not help the prosecutor if they were to issue an official finding of "no harm, no foul." They don't want the CIA itself to become an issue in court any more than Fitz does, because they are not going to look good if that happens.

JM Hanes

Terrie,

"Honest folks don't have to talk about telling the truth because they just do it."

That "I've got to tell the truth" phrasing really sticks out, doesn't it? It's hard to guess what it means. I've found myself assuming that we'll eventually find out, but wouldn't it be quintessentially ironic, if Woodward ends up keeping the identity of this source secret for another 30 years too? Frustration will achieve a new high!

Gabriel Sutherland

JMHanes/MichaelW: Catch up. Fitzgerald cannot reveal if Valerie Plame maintained "covert status". That information is CLASSIFIED. The statement from the press release that I provided here was HELPFUL. You're just looking for clues within information when the information you want is CLASSIFIED.

Watch the Fitzgerald press release again. He stresses a dozen times that he cannot answer certain questions because of the national security implications. The answers to those questions are, DUH, BIG HUGE DUH!, classfied.

Furthermore, the Libby indictment tells the public absolutely nothing about the "covert" question. It only talks about the fact that Fitzgerald cannot investigate the truth if witnesses and grand jury testimony is misleading or untruthful.

Syl

Gabriel

Catch up. Fitzgerald cannot reveal if Valerie Plame maintained "covert status". That information is CLASSIFIED.

Well, holy cow! Then she wasn't outed!

cathyf
But, of course, what _prevents_ it from becoming the Official Secrets and Espionage Act is not prosecutorial discretion, it's that pesky first amendment.
Well, there is another pesky little thing, which is separation of powers. The Espionage Act was passed in 1917. The classification system for secret information was established by 4 executive orders, the first one in 1951. Guess what -- the law Congress passed in 1917 doesn't say, "it's a violation to divulge information classified under a system that will be implemented 34 years from now by executive order from presidents and never passed into law by the congress." Of couse this law has its own definition of what it is illegal to divulge, and it includes that the divulger has to reasonably believe that there is some national security implications to the information. It can't be a crime unless it violates a law passed by congress. Executive orders are not laws, and no, the president doesn't get to make up laws and unilaterally enact them.

There is, of course, this interesting passage:

Sec. 1.6 Limitations on Classification.

(a) In no case shall information be classified in order to conceal violations of law, inefficiency, or administrative error; to prevent embarrassment to a person, organization, or agency; to restrain competition; or to prevent or delay the release of information that does not require protection in the interest of national security.
from Executive Order 12356. That looks pretty clear -- Valerie's status wasn't classified. (And neither is a lot of stuff with classification stamped on it...)

cathy :-)

kim

I'd guess that Woodward is trying to avoid twice being used by a digruntled office-seeker to bring down a President. Has he a conscience?
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kim

And Syl, I'd guess that Val's status is still classified. We don't know what she does there, do we?
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Wilson/Plame