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January 30, 2006

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Gary Maxwell

Oh Clarice the little nugget at the end just sent a goosebump!

Dont you see the subpoena(s) and the multiple drafts of waivers as the Defense equivalent of sonar to the fisherman? If you want to catch fish, go where the Sonar says the fish are schooling. You dont negotiate real hard to keep form testifying about stuff that you dont know anything about. No you just reply "I dont know anything about that." And then your lawyer objects to the same question again as being "asked and answered". But when the subpoena asks for information on something and you repeatedly in multiple drafts expand the exclusion zone you probably have something quite interesting to the Defense and you just gave them a sonar echo of it.

Jeff

TM - I hope you get a cut of what the American Thinker brings in. It's also pretty weird that that article presents four full paragraphs of material taken from the American Journalism Review as its own. I guess the new media really do do journalism differently from what the article calls the antique media.

clarice

Jess--that AJR thing is an editor's error to which I have alerted him..When I posted this, I noted that there were typos that needed correction--that is the principal one. Should you require proof, I can send you a copy of the original submission in which all of that material was set off in italics. As was all quoted material.

clarice

You will be pleased to note, Jeff, that my editor reports he made the correction:

"Sorry about that. I fixed it. "

If you care to, you can check to make sure.

maryrose

Clarice:
Kudos on a comprehensive and thought provoking article. It has covered all the areas of concern and has pointed out the inconsistencies in testimony and in process. It's a very informative and complete summary of the issues at hand and the underlying motivations. Excellent work!

clarice

Thanks, maryrose. Thom's compendium of citations makes it possible to do such a thing. My idea is not to steal what he has done. I attribute it and am grateful for it. I try to bring this to a broader audience than bloggers--to sum up a lot of stuff as accurately as I can so people with -like-actual lives can see what's up.

I don't know how successful it is, but I sure try at it.

owl

Good post, Clarice. I just want to hear testimony about breakfast waffles, July 4th barbques and all Dem spouses connected to media.

No I'm greedy, so throw in the Green room chats, ESP, and whoever eats the talk-overs on Matthews.

clarice

Gary, I'd love to have even the list of subpoenas Fitz issued to newsies and the agreements he entered into to limit their testimony and document production. Wouldn't you?

clarice

Thanks, owl.

Gary Maxwell

Clarice

I want the whole hog not just the fatback. I want the multiple drafts, which gives me the direct roadmap to where to probe when I ask the questions in the depostion, since I wont be bound by the silly agreements that Fitz agreed to.

would I settle for less? Not without a huge and cantakeous fight at least through one appelate level.

clarice

Some reporters--Glenn Kessler comes to mind --have been very forthright. He got a waiver from Libby and reports he told Fitz he'd interviewed Libby twice and none of this stuff came up. And he did so after agreement with the SP that he'd not have to reveal any sources.

It would also be interesting to see how many reporters spoke to Libby in this time frame who would say the same thing, wouldn't it?
If Libby can document he spoke to 50 otherreporters and they all confirm Libby never mentioned Plame or Wilson, isn't that telling, too?

Rick Ballard

Clarice,

Brava! Excellent and well researched summation of "our side" of the story. The thought of motions and requests continuing on this throughout '06 is quite cheering.

Jeff,

An attempt at poisoning the well is all you've got this morning? Are you waiting on an email or fax?

clarice

Thanks, Rick. I value your opinion.(Now, how do we get the Rove-Soros-Schrum thread to Rove?)

Gary Maxwell

Clarice

What you are talking about is giving the jury a reason to pick one side or other in the "he said/ she said" debate. Now if Libby were able to prove that say, even 10 other reporters talked to him in the same time frame, and all say in effect "It never came up in the discussion, I as a juror start to say " what kind of lame conspiracy was this?" He has multiple chances to "destroy" Wilson but he passes? I am at least more favorably inclined to believe his version of events. It might get him to reasonable doubt ( or not). I am not your typical Wash DC juror, either.

clarice

Gary, you're right about the drafts, of course. It'll be like playing a super mongo version of Battleship..where is the destroyer hiding? PING..I just meant to whet our curiousity it would be fun to see the first cut (Corn?Kristof?Mitchell? )

clarice

Gary, I'm betting down the road that "words to that effect" will turn to my recollection isn't perfect and my notes suck etc..well before it gets to the jury. I could be wrong, but I think Mitchell "everybody knew" and Cooper"smear job" and Miller "I've no idea what my notes mean" are not the strongest legs on which to support this prosecution.

Jim E.

Libby, already indicted and disgraced, is likely on a fishing expedition. He can fog things up and maybe avoid a conviction through his efforts to further investigate reporters. That’s obviously what his defense attorney’s *should* be attempting. Clarice’s article nicely spelled out their likely strategy.

But isn’t it also possible that his efforts to go after the reporters might boomerang onto *other* administration officials? This could happen as a result of more reporters having to disclose their sources. There could be officials (say, Cheney or Addington or Hadley) who would rather that no more reporters get caught up into this, and are nervous about Libby’s defense techniques. Maybe in going after Russert and NBC, for example, we will learn that Cheney’s old chum and employee Pete Williams had been leaked a few relevant tidbits about Wilson wife that would have otherwise stayed under wraps. Seems possible.

I realize the mentality at this website is gleeful and confident that Libby’s defense will further embarrass the media and Fitz. While I agree that the former will get embarrassed even more as a result of this (hooray!), I think there’s a 50-50 chance that Libby’s defense will help Fitz learn even more incriminating things related to Plame about the Bush White House. What's good for Libby's defense might not be good for others in the administration.

Tom Bowler

Clarice, terrific article and great analysis. There's one thing that puzzles me. For a while now I've been wondering if Fitzgerald may have intentionally put the press on trial, by bringing these charges. In accordance with that cardinal rule that you never ask a witness a question you don't know the answer to, these developments would seem to be predictable. Any thoughts on that?

clarice

Thanks, Tom. I don't think that was on his mind. I think he may have been doing what Teonsing describes as creative (or was it "inventive")lawyering, trying to find grounds for indictment when an ordinary prosecutor would have thrown in the towel as soon as it was clear IIPA and the Espionage Act had no application. He noodled and and came up with the first in the gossip chain theory..I also think he was too close to things to recognize how his waivers and agreements with the press (a) distorted the picture and(b) left this opening for Libby to walk through.

Gary Maxwell

Jim E.

I am going to focus on the "Hooray" of your comment cuz its generally all we seem to agree on in the post. It, combined with the Peter Daou rant on the media, leads me to conclude that the media has lost its only friends. Neither the Left or the Right believe or respect the media any more. This must be crushing for them, who I know all have this mental image of themselves as the white knight in shining armor, just after they have slew the latest dragon to come upon this fair land.

clarice

Jim E, it may well be that other officials will be exposed as having talked to the press.. I expect those people are from DoS and the record will reflect that they, too, were simply involved in trying to refute Wilson's lies (not retaliating) or playing a role in an intra agency dispute. To me , this seems like a case of criminalizing ordinary partisan politics.

Syl

Clarice

Splendid! Just splendid! Thank you for the clarifying summary. clarifying? Clarice! I get it now!

Jim E

Keep hope alive! But methinks the Plame affair has just been thrown in the briar patch! Heh!

Appalled Moderate

And the consensus is:

1. Of course Libby's defense attorney are demanding everything they can get. Based on Libby's story, this is what you would exect them to do. Fitz had to know this was coming. My guess is that the resulting revelations will be no great shock to anyone, through we may be treated to some moments of reportorial angst.

2. Jim E has a point. Some very interesting sources may be uneartheed through this. (All I want to know is who was Novak's source one. That is why we had this scandal, isn't it?)

Jeff

clarice - I was just tweaking the article since (I thought) you cut off dialogue. I am curious about this:

It would also be interesting to see how many reporters spoke to Libby in this time frame who would say the same thing, wouldn't it?
If Libby can document he spoke to 50 otherreporters and they all confirm Libby never mentioned Plame or Wilson, isn't that telling, too?

What is it telling of? That he's a very smart guy who can think strategically? That it would be stupid to blab info about Plame all over the place? If he were telling fifty reporters about Plame, wouldn't that be telling that he didn't see any need to be careful with the information? By the way, I just figured out another reporter he was talking with in the June-July 2003 time period, which it might be interesting to look into. But I bet he wasn't telling the reporter about Plame and maybe even not about Wilson.

Rick Ballard

AM,

I join with you in desiring to know Source #1 (plus "CIA says" or whatever circumlocution he used) from Novak. He acts as if he is constrained by the prosecution from revealing the information but I believe that as much as I believe three quarters of what he puts on paper, which is to say that I don't believe it at all.

Novak is an illusionist of the third order and it's time that his charade came to an end.

clarice

Jeff,If they ALL say he never mentioned Plame/Wilson I think the notion that he was engaged in a "smear attempt" seems silly .I f some say they told HIM about Wilson/Plame, it adds to the idea that he misremembered who he'd had these conversations with. And then, if it turns out that many told others in the government about Plame/Wilson and those officials reported the conversations to Libby, his claim that he thought he heard it first from reporters becomes more plausible.(Heck, on most days, I can't remember which poster here said what though I have the ability to scroll back and find that out..imagine what it's like for someone who has many, many conversations in a single day..with a lot more on his plate that chats with reporters)

clarice

Jeff, are you suggesting that if Libby wanted to dish dirt with reporters to smear Wilson, he'd pick(a) Russert who he'd just called to rip into NBC's reporting?(b)Cooper who was a known partisan in this fight and (c) Miller who was off the story?

Why not, say, Fred Barnes or anyone at NRO, etc?

clarice

Thanks, Syl.

maryrose

Jim E:
If more people are brought into the main spotlight-good. We are after the truth here. With all these waivers and selective questions why would any reporter volunteer more than they have to. With the defense,s questions we get to the unvarnished truth and away from the Wilson'Plame spin story.

topsecretk9

Okay. I'll bite...

I just figured out another reporter he was talking with in the June-July 2003 time period, which it might be interesting to look into. But I bet he wasn't telling the reporter about Plame and maybe even not about Wilson.

Do tell?


Clarice, Godd work lady!

maryrose

I agree with Clarice's logic that Libby isn't one of these careless people who goes around blabbing to every reporter he meets. Common sense tells you reporters knew the connection with Plame and the CIA and talkedto each other about it. After the Fitz presser You have Woodward and V. Novak going in for questionning. Obviously there were some loopholes in the investigative case at that point because of the narrow focus on reporters and the greater focus on administration personnel. Can you imagine Fitz chagrin upon learning after two years that he was zeroing in on the wrong people.

maryrose

should be Fitz"s chagrin

clarice

Thanks, ts.

Jeff

Jeff, are you suggesting that if Libby wanted to dish dirt with reporters to smear Wilson, he'd pick(a) Russert who he'd just called to rip into NBC's reporting?(b)Cooper who was a known partisan in this fight and (c) Miller who was off the story?

Why not, say, Fred Barnes or anyone at NRO, etc?

I'm saying Miller, Miller, Miller. Draw a graph representing all the journalists in the U.S., with the x axis for friendliness to Libby's perspective on things WMD-, Iraq and terrorism-related, and the y axis for MSM legitimacy of publishing venue, and Judith Miller is going to show up at the very very farthest upper right of that graph. It's not accurate to say that Miller was off the story, especially as far as Miller was concerned.

As for Russert and Cooper, I don't think anyone is saying Libby (or anyone else) leaked anything to Russert about Plame; and as for Cooper, it's unclear what was going on, but I am inclined to think that by July 12, Libby et al knew the cat was coming out the bag, since, if we are to believe Susan Schmidt's reporting, Novak's column had already hit the wires (and it's plausible to imagine the White House would be on the lookout for that, since Novak told Rove he was gonna be publishing on Plame, and Rove told Libby, per the indictment). Therefore, those involved let loose with info about Wilson and Plame. After talking media strategy that day with Cheney, who tells Libby to refer reporters, according to one report, to what Fleischer was saying that day in Africa (which is potentially very interesting, since what Fleischer says echoes Tenet's statement, but with very significant variations of misleadingness), Libby talks with both Cooper and Miller, and sometime that day someone in the administration leaks to Pincus (my guesses remain Hadley, Bartlett or, less likely, Fleischer). Or maybe Libby just figured when Cooper brought it up that he'd give an ambiguous confirmation anyway. As for why Rove told Cooper, I'm inclined to believe Rove basically just screwed up, was perhaps over-excited about Novak's column coming out, said more than he should have, and then glossed over it in his email to Hadley. So yeah, I basically think Cooper was not targeted for a leak.

The obvious major missing piece in this current theory is Novak. Was Novak a target for a leak? Or more in a position similar to the one I've described for Cooper? Who was his first source and what was his/her motivation? One interesting question here is whether he talked with Harlow before or after he talked with Wilson (or both), since initially he told Wilson that his source was CIA. If Novak spoke to Wilson after he spoke with Harlow, then he was just using the CIA to try to make Wilson think he'd been cleared for the info so that Wilson would say something revealing. If Novak spoke with Wilson before speaking with Harlow, then either Novak was just bs-ing (a distinct possibility) or he might have been indicating that his first source was CIA, most likely Tenet or some other higher-up.

One other thing. Novak says he's not talking not because of the prosecutor, but on the advice of his counsel. He was set to publish something after the indictment, but refrained when he heard from Fitzgerald that the investigation was not over. I suspect his lawyers want to make really sure he's out of legal jeopardy before he reveals anything.

maryrose

I may be dense here but how exactly is Novak in possible legal jeopardy .

clarice

If you think Pincus FIRST learned of Plame from anyone in this Administration, you may be the only one who does. He himself described a July 4 barbecue at their home and has conceded that his sources go back years. He used to work at the CIA you know.

Jeff

That's your response? Not only did I not assert that Pincus first heard about Plame on July 12, it's totally irrelevant to the point, which is that members of the administration were busy leaking about Plame on July 12, including the one who talked to Pincus. It's utterly irrelevant to that fact whether that was the first Pincus heard about her or not. We don't know the answer to that yet. But I will remind you that there is simply no evidence for this claim:

He himself described a July 4 barbecue at their home.

There is no evidence. We went through this. It's another reporter on another day who was at the Wilsons'. Pincus was not there, at least as far as anyone has been able to tell, unless you have some other evidence.

clarice

In the AJR there are some interesting quotes from Woodward and Pincus:
Two other Post journalists, Walter Pincus and Bob Woodward, also received personal waivers from sources allowing them to answer questions in the Plame investigation. Woodward testified on November 14 about portions of interviews he had done with three current or former Bush administration officials. In a statement published in the Post November 16, Woodward said he had been contacted by Fitzgerald's office nearly two weeks earlier because one of the officials had told the special prosecutor about an interview with Woodward in mid-June 2003. During that interview, the source told Woodward that Plame worked as a CIA analyst on weapons of mass destruction. "I answered all of Fitzgerald's questions during my testimony without breaking promises to sources or infringing on conversations I had on unrelated matters for books or news reporting – past, present or future," Woodward said in his statement.
(snip)
Pincus has encountered waivers in both the Plame and Wen Ho Lee cases. In November, U.S. District Judge Rosemary M. Collyer, seeking to "avoid a repetition of the Judith Miller imbroglio," ordered Pincus to "contact each of his Government sources" to see if they would release him from confidentiality pledges he made while reporting on the Lee investigation.

Collyer denied Pincus' request to have his lawyers contact the sources. It's "very awkward because we both might be witnesses in the Wen Ho Lee trial, and we would have had a conversation," Pincus says. Asked how he handled the calls, he replied: "What I did was tell them I was calling them under a court order, and I read them the court order." One source, "who may or may not be a government source, depending on how you interpret those words," released Pincus from his pledge of confidentiality.

Pincus says most of his confidential sources are people he's dealt with for years, a point he feels has been lost in the outcry over the chilling effect on sources' willingness to come forward. "This is the whole thing: Each one of us has a different relationship with our sources."
_________

Here is a more contemporaneous piece on did comparing Kristof and Pincus' coverage and the way they went about dealing with what proved to be false reportage:< a href="http://66.218.69.11/search/cache?p=Clarice+Feldman+A+tale+of+two+papers&sm=Yahoo%21+Search&toggle=1&ei=UTF-8&u=www.americanthinker.com/articles.php%3Farticle_id%3D4951&w=clarice+feldman+tale+two+papers&d=HOoaoG1aMHxF&icp=1&.intl=us"> Kristof and Pincus

I'd be astonished if Kristof and Pincus will leave the witness stand on their own accord--they will be cut off at the knees.

clarice

Should be Kristof and Pincus

danking70

Nice work Clarice. Still curious about your other source.

Will that story ever see the light of day?

Jeff

I see what you mean about dialogue, clarice. I gave a direct answer (with supporting theory) to your question to me, and you answer back with a bunch of irrelevant mumbo jumbo. I'll say it again: when Pincus first heard about Plame is irrelevant to the fact that on July 12 a White House source leaked to him about Plame, one part of the larger fact that there appears to have been a flurry of leaks about Plame from the administration on that very day. This in turn was one part of the larger theory of what happened, the main plank of which was that Libby targeted Miller for the Plame leak and Wilson smear. Any thoughts on that? Or is it just so much easier to revert to bashing the liberal MSM?

Syl

I just posted re Clarice's article at Yargb. Can't do trackbacks :(

Syl

Jeff

You're not even close to proving there was some kind of conspiracy to punish Wilson. That his wife was CIA and sent him on the trip only discredits him because it shows he's not an impartial source. Sounds like normal back and forth between the press and our government on this one--not some kind of conspiracy.

What's important for the 'outing' is specifically Valery Plame and 'operative' (even though Novak claims he didn't mean that in the clandestine sense). That doesn't even touch Libby with a feather.

'Wilson's wife is CIA' is simply classified information. 'Valery Plame, operative' doesn't even enter into the Libby case at all.

Syl

there appears to have been a flurry of leaks about Plame from the administration on that very day.

Name them. And from exactly where in the administration. And exactly how many is a 'flurry'. How do you know there wasn't a similar 'flurry' three days before that that Fitz doesn't know or isn't talking about?

Or, more likely couldn't the information have rolled aorund so much already that it reached a tipping point, what you call a 'flurry'? That kind of thing happens you know. Look at blogs sometimes if you don't understand the dynamics of how that works.

the main plank of which was that Libby targeted Miller for the Plame leak

Or, Libby had a good relationship with Miller and was discussing something that bothered him.
Miller's notes give the possibility that she already knew (the first conversation). And we all know now that Libby to Miller was not the first time the info flowed govt to reporter.

clarice

danking--it will but not here..

danking70

Thx Clarice.

Waiting with bated breath....

Jeff

Syl - your threshold for considering something retaliation against the Wilsons or outing Plame appears to require Libby and whoever else sitting around twirling their mustaches and saying, "Let's do eeevil today, and let's not do several things at once - get back at the Wilsons, discredit Wilson, issue a warning to the CIA." Of course I haven't proven that that happened. I've offered a theory, which is coherent with everything we know and, obviously in my judgment, plausible. So set up omniscience as your standard, and yeah, I admit, I haven't got it.

If I were a smart guy with knowledge of classified information and how that works, access to it, and a desire to get the Wilsons, I would behave pretty close to the way Libby is described as acting in the indictment and in this Murray Waas article. Roughly, lead Miller on to the story, without simply saying, "Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is an undercover CIA operative. Please write an article blowing her cover. Thanks!" Not even Miller would do that. And I'll just mention that the indictment has evidence that Libby would have good reason to think she was or at least might be an operative (Cheney told him she worked at CPD, on the DO side of the CIA), and that he knew at least her real name (that is, "Valerie Wilson", which he uses in conversation with his CIA briefer in June). So "Valerie Wilson" and "likely operative, likely enough that you better be sure" do enter into the Libby case, as a matter of fact. Also, the indictment mentions that Libby told Edelman that there would be complications at the CIA with releasing info about WIlson's trip, and that they couldn't talk more about it on an unsecure phone, indication that he knew he was dealing with sensitive stuff. And that's with a cleared colleague, not even part of the normal back and forth between the press and government officials.

clarice

On the question of retaliation the WaPo editorial said it best:
Nevertheless, it is also a fact that Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald, after substantially completing his two-year investigation, has brought no criminal charges in the leak of Ms. Plame’s identity to journalists and its publication by columnist Robert D. Novak. Judging from the indictment, Mr. Libby was not Mr. Novak’s source, and Mr. Libby himself is not charged with any wrongdoing in revealing Ms. Plame’s identity to journalists. Though Mr. Fitzgerald says he has not wrapped up his work, that is the right outcome and one that reflects prudent judgment on his part. The special counsel was principally investigating whether any official violated a law that makes it a crime to knowingly disclose the identity of an undercover agent. The public record offers no indication that Mr. Libby or any other official deliberately exposed Ms. Plame to punish her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. Rather, Mr. Libby and other officials, including Karl Rove, the White House deputy chief of staff, apparently were seeking to combat the sensational allegations of a critic. They may have believed that Ms. Plame’s involvement was an important part of their story of why Mr. Wilson was sent to investigate claims that Iraq sought uranium ore from Niger, and why his subsequent—and mostly erroneous—allegations that the administration twisted that small part of the case against Saddam Hussein should not be credited. To criminalize such discussions between officials and reporters would run counter to the public interest. Cited here: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles.php?article_id=4951


Now, one might argue that the call to dump the prosecution was made at a time the WaPo had reason to believe it was an IED that would blow up in their own faces, but nevertheless the point is a good one. It was a reasonable political response and not a "retaliation" effort against a "whistleblower" speaking truth to power or whatever stupid pablum was used to describe Wilson and his attack.

Jeff

Name them. And from exactly where in the administration. And exactly how many is a 'flurry'. How do you know there wasn't a similar 'flurry' three days before that that Fitz doesn't know or isn't talking about?

1. Libby to Cooper. 2. Libby to Miller. 3. Unknown White House official to Pincus. That's a flurry compared to what we know was going on before. But it's true there could have been a similar flurry three days before, which we haven't learned about yet, and we're still waiting to hear about 1x2x6.

Everything you say about Miller could be true, and affects my theory in no way. More generally, it is part of my theory that info about the Wilsons was being bandied about for different purposes -- hence my sense that Cooper was not targeted for a leak -- while Libby was trying to launder classified stuff about Plame through Miller, for several purposes.

Gary Maxwell

That is it? Pretty thin soup, my friend.

I thought you said flurry. Thats only a couple of Flakes!

Jeff

You have got to be kidding me. I withdraw "flurry" and substitute "notable uptick, as far as we know".

Syl

Jeff

Your 'notable uptick' doesn't make sense as a concerted effort. Why would it even be necessary if it had all been planted with Miller? If one's conspiring one doesn't want to make it look too obvious with three leaks in one day.

Beto Ochoa

So when all the dust settles will it be Mr. Libby leaving the court house by the front entrance and reporters being led out the back? Will Joseph Wilson and Valarie Plame be at least civilly liable for their part in this scheme to defame the President? Will the discovery of Russerts and Mitchells involvment in the cover up of the conspiricy to create a crime where there was none present as a violation of the RICO Act?

maryrose

Jeff I'm sorry but your theory just doesn't hold water much less the facts. Joe Wilson is a disgruntled former employee trying to pass himself off as a whistleblower with his later comment about " frogmarching Karl Rove out of the White House." Who does this guy think he is? Like he would actually have enough juice to make that happen. He was just syeamed because the whole world found out his wife has to get him a job and because of her connection she was referred to as "fair game" She put herself out there when she recommended him. This was not a retaliation on Wilson no matter how you try to reach for it.

Jim E.

syl asked: "Why would it even be necessary if it had all been planted with Miller?"

Miller never wrote the story (despite repeated leaks to her), so they had to keep leaking. They would have preferred their leaks make the front page of the NY Times from a so-called neutral reporter like Miller. Instead they had to settle for the explicit partisan, Novak.

maryrose

" They had to keepleaking?"
That sounds kind of desperate and "out There"

MayBee

Very good, miss clarice.

Has this already been discussed? How did Libby et al find out Wilson was the one blabbing to Kristoff and Pincus? Did a fellow reporter (Miller) tell him?

And I think this is important to keep in mind:
If Libby can document he spoke to 50 otherreporters and they all confirm Libby never mentioned Plame or Wilson, isn't that telling, too?

Very telling. Remember Kristoff said the admin attempts to dissuade him were very lame and did not mention Valerie.

Jeff

Why would it even be necessary if it had all been planted with Miller? If one's conspiring one doesn't want to make it look too obvious with three leaks in one day.

Three things to keep in mind, all possible factors. First, Miller was not a sure thing. Second, there's no reason to think this bunch was any more competent at carrying out a leak than at making policy. (Just kidding, there's actually good reason to think they're good at political hitjobs; but they may have screwed up a little, Pincus' source gotten overeager, Rove overexcited with Cooper.) Third, as I suggested, it's possible that on July 12, the White House knows that Plame's identity and CIA affiliation is in the process of becoming public knowledge thanks to Novak's column, at which point, there's no reason not to spread the word as widely as possible. The major problem with the latter possibility is that, as far as we can tell, Libby did not seem to testify to knowledge of Novak's column on the wire on July 11. He may have, of course, but you would expect this to play some role in his account of his actions on July 12.

rcb

Explain to me why it wasn't Tenet telling everyone who asked from May or June onward, with a special push after the first week of July. That's when those he'd informed reached a critical mass to be self-sustaining in the Washington Press echo chamber. Novak heard the echo and asked Tenet, Rove and Hadley. Case closed.

Now open the one on Joe.
================================

brutus

Bold Prediction:

I forgot most of my federal crim procedure, but I assume there is a procedural mechanism for the defense to move to dismiss the indictment before trial, based on facts developed in pretrial discovery.

If so, Libby's lawyers depose the reporters, review Fitz's subpoenas and documents and the media's notes and emails, and come up with tons of stuff showing (i) Plame's I.D. was widely known, (ii) Libby was not at the beginning of the chain, (iii) Russert et al's credibility is highly suspect. Bingo -- insufficient evidence to support the indictment and case dismissed. No one testifies in open court. Even if it's a close call under ordinary circumstances, in this case the judge will err on the side of avoiding the protracted and messy issues likely to arise at trial.

Jeff

rcb - Tenet could have a central, as yet undisclosed role in all of this. I'm curious, do you have any evidence?

Also, even if he was telling people, it's pretty indisputable that Libby was deeply involved in responding to Wilson and seeking to discredit him and his claims (nothing illegal about that per se, of course); and that that effort included gaining knowledge about Wilson's wife and then using it. So the idea that Libby was carried on a crest of self-sustaining echoes is ludicrous.

owl

They would have preferred their leaks make the front page of the NY Times from a so-called neutral reporter like Miller.

Jim E, that was almost as good as Fitz's storyline. In case you failed to notice, there is a method to their madness at the NYTs. Now I can name you a long list of Bush attacks but nary a one that helps him. Can you name me a few over the last 5 years? Okay, how about one?

Jeff

Can you name me a few over the last 5 years? Okay, how about one?

How about pretty much anything having to do with the Bush administration by Judith Miller, fool? Start with her September 8, 2002 co-bylined article, "Threats and Responses: The Iraqis; U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts," which usefully laundered the rhetoric of the smoking gun and the mushroom cloud into the debate with the MSM imprimatur of the NYT for use by Cheney and the rest. And that's just for a start. Which speaks quite directly, obviously to the point Jim E and I were both making.

MJW

One thing I wonder about (as I've mentioned previously), is what exactly is meant by saying Novak's column was "on the AP newswire" on July 11. Does it mean it was accessible to anyone who has an AP newsfeed? If so, I'd think lots of reporters and White House officials would have known by July 12 that Plame worked for the CIA. I'd also think this would be widely publicised, given that Libby could have credibly claimed Novak was one of the reporters he was referring to in his conversations with Cooper and Miller. I wish I could find a definitive answer to this question.

clarice

That's a great question,MJW. I assume that it means it's available to its commercial subscribers and that they get it before it is publicly available. I think there's a release date on it. I do not know if the WH press office is on that list.

clarice

Googling AP news feed, this is what I get.http://www.nytimes.com/pages/aponline/news/ We need a journo to answer this.

MJW

Another thing I mentioned before, is the curious fact that the indictment never says Libby knew Plame's CIA employment status was classified.

To those who say it was because Libby was charged with lying, not revealing classified information, consider how big of deal Fitzgerald makes of her supposedly secret status.

First, he spends the first several pages in the indictment discussing Libby's duty "not to disclose classified information to persons not authorized to receive such information," and how Plame's "employment status was classified" and "not common knowledge outside the intelligence community."

Then, in reference to the disclosure of Plame's CIA affiliation, he specifically states that "[a] major focus of the Grand Jury Investigation was to determine . . . whether any official making such a disclosure did so knowing that the employment of Valerie Wilson by the CIA was classified information."

Fitzgerald also tries in various ways to imply Libby knew her job was classified. For example, he says:

5. On or about June 9, 2003, a number of classified documents from the CIA were faxed to the Office of the Vice President to the personal attention of LIBBY and another person in the Office of the Vice President. The faxed documents, which were marked as classified, discussed, among other things, Wilson and his trip to Niger, but did not mention Wilson by name. After receiving these documents, LIBBY and one or more other persons in the Office of the Vice President handwrote the names “Wilson” and “Joe Wilson” on the documents.

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.

Whoa, looks bad for Libby: classified documents which were marked classified. Only problem is, the documents didn't even mention Wilson by name, much less his wife. What was classified was apparently the information Wilson revealed to the world in the New York Times. Libby didn't learn about Plame from these classified documents; he was told by the Under Secretary of State. No mention is made as to whether the Under Secretary said her status was classified.

Later, the indicment says:

Shortly after publication of the article in The New Republic, LIBBY spoke by telephone with his then Principal Deputy and discussed the article. That official asked LIBBY whether information about Wilson’s trip could be shared with the press to rebut the allegations that the Vice President had sent Wilson. LIBBY responded that there would be complications at the CIA in disclosing that information publicly, and that he could not discuss the matter on a non-secure telephone line.
Obviously Libby knows he's dealing with classified material. Why else would he only discuss it on a secure telephone? But, once again, it's not Plame's job that Libby considers to be too sensitive to discuss openly, it's Wison's trip to Niger.

Why do you suppose that Fitzgerald includes this business about the non-secure telephone? What on earth does it have to do with anything? The only reasonable conclusion is that it's a bit of sleight-of-hand, to lead the reader to the false conclusion that Libby knew Plame's CIA job was classified.

Given that the indictement singles out as a primary purpose of the investigation determining whether anyone disclosing Plame's CIA employment did so knowing it was classified information, don't you suppose he at sometime got around to asking Libby whether he knew Plame's status was classified? And don't you suppose if Libby had not answered truthfully, Fitzgerald would have added another perjury count? So what did Libby answer, and if he said he knew Plame's position with the CIA was classified, why did the indictment fail to mention that?

clarice

Man, MJW you are asking the most interesting questions tonight. If I had to guess, I'd say that either she was not properly classified and that he doesn't want to have to prove her status was not mis- classified .I wonder if Harlow confirmed her status to Novak because he assumed that she was not a classified employee at that time, and on further checking found out she was.

Libby has an outstanding request for classified material which TM says the judge is scheduled to rule on Feb 3. Let's see if there's any clue there. I thought the redacted pp in the Miller appeal opinion which Dow Jones sought would deal with that (remember Tatel's opinion?), but it turns out they didn't.

clarice

It's past 2:30 here..why does all the intriguing stuff come so late? I am really sleep deprived...........

MJW

Slight clarification:
In saying, "The only reasonable conclusion is that it's a bit of sleight-of-hand, to lead the reader to the false conclusion that Libby knew Plame's CIA job was classified," I didn't mean that Libby definitely didn't know Plame's status was classified. I don't know for sure one way or the other. I just meant that there's nothing in the statment I'm referring to that could correctly lead to the conclusion Libby did know.

clarice

I knew what you meant. And you have made a good point.

Maybe it's because the evidence that he told anyone she was in the CIA is weak. As I recall Russert says they never discussed it.Cooper said Libby just said he heard it to. And I still don't know what Miller says he told her--Only that he never said he'd heard whatever he said from other reporters.(But it's very late and I'm going on memory.)

MJW

Clarice, I must admit to being puzzled by the indictments handling of Plame's classification. If Fitzgerald was worried that the claim that she was a super-secret agent wouldn't hold up, why does he spend so much time on it? Yet, once he's mentioned it so prominantly, why does he drop the ball by not alleging Libby was aware that her status was classified when he mentioned her to Miller and Cooper? I can't quite fit the pieces together, but I very much doubt that the failure to assert that Libby was aware of Plame's status was an oversight.

I suppose there's always the theory that Fitz wrote up the "classified status" stuff when he still had hopes of getting an indictment based on the Espionage Act; and when that fell through, he just coun't bare to drop it -- what with it sounding so incriminating and all.

I noticed some posts about Libby's discovery motions on Jeralyn Merritt's website snickering about how clever Fitz was to indict for perjury, thus rendering Libby's requests immaterial. I think if Fitz were as sly as they think he is, he would have been a little more careful to avoid opening doors for the defense.

MayBee

And I still don't know what Miller says he told her--Only that he never said he'd heard whatever he said from other reporters.(But it's very late and I'm going on memory.)

MJW's question is excellent, and Miller's story is confusing. I see the answer to my earlier qustion is right there in the indictment (imagine).
But with Miller, I still think it is just as likely Libby was asking her about Wilson/Plame as it is that he was telling her about Wilson/Plame. Wouldn't he want to know what the buzz is about this guy, who he's connected to, how he got hooked up with the NYTs, who knows anything about his wife? Short of tapping the Wilson's phone, how was Libby to find out what people outside the administration/CIA knew about these people and their motives?

MJW

And I still don't know what Miller says he told her--Only that he never said he'd heard whatever he said from other reporters.

Clarice and MayBee bring up an interesting point. That part of the obstruction charge is pretty weird. For the equivalent Cooper allegation it says, Libby says he said THIS, but actually said THIS. For the Miller allegation, it says Libby said he said THIS, but he didn't. It gives no details of what allegedly transpired, beyond claiming Miller and Libby "discussed Wilson’s wife, and that she worked at the CIA." I suspect the only reason for bringing Miller into the indictment is to support the notion that Libby mentioned Plame prior to the time Novak wrote his column, in order to make him the first leaker. I lean toward the idea that the parenthetical comments in Miller's notes were to remind her of information she learned elsewhere. Though admittedly I know nothing of Miller's note-taking practice, I don't see why she would have put information she was hearing directly from Libby in parenthethes.

MJW

Additionally, if Miller was, indeed, referring to information she got from Libby, why did she say (or ask -- there was a question mark) that Plame worked for a bureau, and later say -- as if answering her previous question -- that Plame worked for WINPAC? Neither of which agreed with what Libby had heard from official sources.

MJW

I just realized something. I've long harperd on the indictment's dishonest presentation of Miller's "bureu" testimony, where Fitzgerald claims Libby told Miller that Plame "might" work for a bureau of the CIA. The "might" being used to explain the question mark im Miller's notes; even though Miller herself offered several guesses about the question mark's significance.

What I didn't notice is that Fitzgerald is equally dishonest about the July 8 meeting. The indictment claims, "During this discussion, LIBBY advised Miller of his belief that Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA." According to Miller, what her notes actually say is, "Wife works at Winpac."

Why would Fitzgerald leave out the "Winpac" detail? Might it be because earlier, the indicment claims, "On or about June 12, 2003, LIBBY was advised by the Vice President of the United States that Wilson’s wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Division"? I think it might.


Tom Maguire

About Pincus and his past life at the CIA - I read somewhere (I'll bey it was an interview with him) that he actualy was in Naval Intelligence, or something like that - he is certainy the right age to have some military service in his background.

kim

Oh, I get it. Pincus didn't write about the Swifties because he knew too much; he was too much a part of the story.
=====================================

kim

Well, C, I'm still expecting the Deus Ex Machina to appear as Tenet, making all this wool slip out of Fitz's eyes and reveal an unruly, dare I say criminal, element in the CIA and/or Democratic Party with the 'Superannuated Press' gleefully and corruptly along for the ride.
===============================================

kim

Super Annuated Press. I like that. The SAPs.
==================================================

Cecil Turner

I suspect the only reason for bringing Miller into the indictment is to support the notion that Libby mentioned Plame prior to the time Novak wrote his column, in order to make him the first leaker.

I thought it was to preserve relevance to the leak investigation, which goes to whether or not it was material to the case. Per the indictment:

A major focus of the Grand Jury Investigation was to determine which government officials had disclosed to the media prior to July 14, 2003 information concerning the affiliation of Valerie Wilson with theCIA,andthe nature, timing, extent, and purpose of such disclosures, as well as whether any official making such a disclosure did so knowing that the employment of Valerie Wilson by the CIA was classified information.
It goes on to claim as material:
Whether and when LIBBY disclosed to members of the media that Wilson’s wife was employed by the CIA;
But July 14th is not the relevant date, as shown earlier in the document:
On or about July 10 or July 11, 2003, LIBBY spoke to a senior official in the White House (“Official A”) who advised LIBBY of a conversation Official A had earlier that week with columnist Robert Novak in which Wilson’s wife was discussed as a CIA employee involved in Wilson’s trip. LIBBY was advised by Official A that Novak would be writing a story about Wilson’s wife.
It seems to me that any conversation on the 12th, especially since we now know Novak's story was already on the wires by then, is completely irrelevant to the leak case . . . and if I were Libby's lawyer, I'd certainly make that argument.

Bill in AZ

"Oh, I get it. Pincus didn't write about the Swifties because he knew too much; he was too much a part of the story."

er... just connecting dots here... was Pincus the hatless sooper sekrit agent Kerry smuggled into Cambodia, along with the weapons to the Khmer Rouge?

Sue

Jeff,

You are doing what you accuse others of. Reaching a conclusion, based on your bias, and backing into it. Your 1st assumption is this was a smear of Wilson. I think you place way too much importance on Wilson. He was not the only voice in the vast wilderness of Bush Lied, Kids Died. Why did Rove/Libby and others concentrate only on him? The one line, at the VP's behest. That led people to believe that Cheney was well aware of Wilson's trip and ignored his findings (such as they were). If Wilson had not used that line, I doubt we would be here today. The smear you speak of was merely setting the record straight as to what Cheney knew. The other was collateral damage. Plame was not an intended victim. If she had been, Fitz would have indicted on that charge. As you have laid out, there is more than enough proof that Libby revealed 'classified' information. Rove too, if you want to count what he said to Novak and Cooper. To me, it is telling that he didn't.

maryrose

These are all excellent posts and comments which seem to undermine Fitz's case. What are the real chances of a judge throwing out some of these counts?

clarice

I recall Pincus also worked for the CIA. Googling Pincus and CIA it is hard to find because you pull up so many articles he's written about the agency. I found this and stopped. Though I know nothing of the publication or its reliability, it accords with what I recall having read elsewhere:
________

Walter Pincus, the Washington Post's lead reporter in taking on the San Jose Mercury News series linking the contras to the crack epidemic, is on record as a believer in agencies like the CIA. At a forum in spring 1995,Pincus told the audience (Salt Lake Tribune, 4/7/95): "You never should and never will get rid of intelligence organizations."
Pincus' bio says that he "served in the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Corps, stationed in Washington," from 1955 to 1957, and went on to become "Washington correspondent for three North Carolina newspapers" in 1959. What his bio doesn't mention is that in 1960, he was recruited by CIA employees to serve as a U.S. representative at two international conferences -- his trips paid for by CIA fronts. Pincus was unapologetic when he disclosed his CIA role in a 1967 piece he wrote soon after joining the staff of the Washington Post. (Ironically, that Post article was reprinted in the San Jose Mercury, 2/18/67.)

Last summer, the Washington Times (7/31/96), a newspaper that hardly considers affinity with the CIA to be a reportorial sin, described Pincus as a journalist "who some in the agency refer to as 'the CIA's house reporter.'"

_____________a href="http://216.109.125.130/search/cache?p=Walter+Pincus+bio&prssweb=Search&ei=UTF-8&xargs=0&pstart=1&b=11&u=www.datafilter.com/mc/c_fairCiaDamageControlSide2.html&w=walter+pincus+bio&d=eSL07m1aMHRb&icp=1&.intl=us">Our Man in the Newsroom

clarice

Our Man in the Newsroom

clarice

I'm bumping this, because MJW had a very interesting point early this a.m. and I wonder what others think ot if.

Jeff

Yet, once he's mentioned it so prominantly, why does he drop the ball by not alleging Libby was aware that her status was classified when he mentioned her to Miller and Cooper?

One possibility is that Fitzgerald feels less confident of proving in court any such false statement than the ones he's got. From what I understand, federal prosecutors have the luxury, much more than others, of prosecuting their cases on the slam dunks.

Additionally, if Miller was, indeed, referring to information she got from Libby, why did she say (or ask -- there was a question mark) that Plame worked for a bureau, and later say -- as if answering her previous question -- that Plame worked for WINPAC? Neither of which agreed with what Libby had heard from official sources.

Because Libby was lying to her? As TM has said many times in the past, there's nothing criminal about lying to a reporter per se. And my guess is that Libby lied because the information he got from Cheney indicated that she was or was very likely to be an undercover operative, as CPD resides on the DO side of the CIA, unlike Winpac, I believe. My sense is that Libby was pointing Miller toward the story without giving away stuff he knew he shouldn't, to the greatest degree possible.

It seems to me that any conversation on the 12th, especially since we now know Novak's story was already on the wires by then, is completely irrelevant to the leak case

This is, I suspect, more or less what Libby et al might have been thinking on July 12. Two problems, though. If Libby knew it was classified information, then it wouldn't matter that it had been published, right? Second, as far as we know, Novak's column on the wires plays no role in Libby's story. I wonder if maybe this is something that was only figured out later, well after Libby's testimony. As far as I can tell, the first mention of Novak's column on the wires on July 11 is from November 2004, from Steno Sue Schmidt in the WaPo, whereas Libby testified before the grand jury back in March 2004.

clarice

I never have bought the business that if it is already published it is still classified and may not be repeated line of hooey. As a practical matter, if it is published it is impossible to establish the harm to national security by restating it. The harm's been done. Unless we're talking born again virgin classification.

Gary Maxwell

You mean its hard to put the horse back in the barn after he has already run away?

Sue

Jeff,

Just out of curiosity, do you think they were deliberately trying to get Plame 'outed'?

MJW

Jeff hypothesises that Libby told Miller that Plame worked at Winpac to "point[] Miller toward the story without giving away stuff he knew he shouldn't, to the greatest degree possible."

So, assuming Plames's CIA job was properly classified and Libby knew it was classified, the question is: would revealing she worked for the CIA, but not saying what her exact job was, be a lesser violation? If it is, then perhaps May is correct in accusing Corn of being the worst leaker of all.

Since Libby could have simpy and accurately said Plame worked at the CIA, or, if he wanted to be more specific, that she worked at the CIA on WMDs, I think Jeff's theory sounds like a unconvincing attempt to explain away a clear discrepency.

Jeff

Just out of curiosity, do you think they were deliberately trying to get Plame 'outed'?

I believe that Libby et al (where it's unclear who al are) were deliberately trying to get the information that Wilson's CIA wife was instrumental in getting Wilson the trip published, yes.

MJW - I take it telling Miller that Plame worked for Winpac accomplishes two things for Libby: 1)It gives Miller the impression that Wilson's wife's CIA status is decidedly not classified, which is indeed precisely the impression she received, she tells us:

In fact, I told the grand jury that when Mr. Libby indicated that Ms. Plame worked for Winpac, I assumed that she worked as an analyst, not as an undercover operative.

2)It gives Libby deniability. He can say, "Hey, just like I told Miller, I thought she was an analyst at Winpac, not on the DO side" etc.

MJW

Jeff, in responding to my question, "Yet, once he's mentioned it so prominantly, why does he drop the ball by not alleging Libby was aware that her status was classified when he mentioned her to Miller and Cooper?"

"One possibility is that Fitzgerald feels less confident of proving in court any such false statement than the ones he's got. From what I understand, federal prosecutors have the luxury, much more than others, of prosecuting their cases on the slam dunks."

That only addresses half the question. The other half is why, if he wanted to avoid the problems of proving that Libby knew Plames's status was classified, does he makes so much out of it in the first place? If you're in the clear, going for the slam dunk, why dribble back and forth across the court first?

MJW

Jeff: ")It gives Libby deniability. He can say, "Hey, just like I told Miller, I thought she was an analyst at Winpac, not on the DO side" etc."

And yet he didn't employ that approach with the FBI or the GJ. All that scheming, gone for naught.

maryrose

Some very good points MJW.
I still want Jeff to answer why getting out the information that Wilson's wife got him the gig to Niger is a problem, it's the truth. What Wilson was peddling was a lie. Cheney's office did NOT send him. And who are the et al you are referring to in your above post? You wish other people were involved to substantiate you theory.

MayBee

would revealing she worked for the CIA, but not saying what her exact job was, be a lesser violation?

It seems it could hardly be a violation at all. If someone is driving into Langley everyday, can it be illegal to mention they work at Langley?

MJW

Once again, I'll point out that Miller testified that Libby told her on July 8 that Plame worked for Winpac. The indictment just says Libby said Plame worked for the CIA. If Fitzgerald didn't consider the Winpac angle a problem, why didn't he represent Miller's testimony more precisely?

Sue

Jeff,

That is not the same as 'outed'.

Cecil Turner

Two problems, though. If Libby knew it was classified information, then it wouldn't matter that it had been published, right? Second, as far as we know, Novak's column on the wires plays no role in Libby's story.

Having already been published is not a defense for leaking classified information . . . but Libby's not charged with that. It certainly does matter if he's charged with obstructing an investigation into how a certain piece of information was leaked, however, since nothing he did after the fact could possibly have an effect on the leak. And it's telling that Fitz uses the July 14th cut off date, which also would have no effect on the leaking classified information charge.

I think Jeff's theory sounds like a unconvincing attempt to explain away a clear discrepency.

Me too. The obvious alternative is that Miller might've had another source.

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Wilson/Plame