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January 29, 2007



Tom, thanks for the link to Fineman's interesting article (October, 2003. While one might argue with some of his assertions, the following passage is certainly eyebrow raising:

It was a fascinating moment if you know the history. The way I hear the story, Bush Two, when he was elected, had his doubts about Tenet, but was told he was a “good guy” by the ultimate arbiter of “good guys” in the Bush Family, Bush One. Tenet had curried favor with the family years earlier when he was still an intelligence bureaucrat on the Hill, serving as chief of staff of the Senate Intelligence Committee. Though he was working in a Democrat-controlled environment, Tenet helped out—or at least did not stand in the way—when Bush One wanted to appoint his friend, Robert Gates, to head the CIA. Word was that Tenet was a “team player”—a standup guy, not a relentless Democratic partisan by any means. An expert at the inside game from his years as a staffer on the Hill, Tenet knew how to fit into Bush Two’s world. He did so with ease from the start.

Bush presumably trusted Tenet and the CIA to get the goods on Saddam and his WMD. Cheney’s staff evidently did too. But why did Tenet send Wilson to Africa? Maybe he just thought he was sending the most qualified guy. But the neo-cons and their allies came to see it as a conspiracy to ignore the truth—especially after Wilson, last July, went public with the essence of his findings, which was that the yellowcake rumors were false.

The moment that piece hit the op-ed page of the New York Times, it was all-out war between the pro- and anti-war factions, and between the CIA and its critics. I am told by what I regard as a very reliable source inside the White House that aides there did, in fact, try to peddle the identity of Joe Wilson’s wife to several reporters. But the motive wasn’t revenge or intimidation so much as a desire to explain why, in their view, Wilson wasn’t a neutral investigator, but, a member of the CIA’s leave-Saddam-in-place team.

And on Tenet’s part, it was time for payback—whatever his past relationship with the Bush’s had been. First, he and his agency had been humiliated, caught by the White House trying to distance themselves from the president’s speech. Then the CIA was forced to admit that it had signed off on the speech. Now one of its own investigations was coming under attack, as was one of its own undercover staffers.

Are we to believe that it was a routine matter for the CIA to forward to the Department of Justice a complaint about the leak of Valerie Plame’s name and job? Are we to think that Tenet didn’t know that the complaint was being forwarded? Or that Tenet couldn’t have shortstopped it if he wanted to?

So, back in 2003 there was already a coherent, credible and responsible explanation for the interest of WH and OVP personnel in Joe Wilson and, eventually, who sent him to Niger. And that's what's coming out at the trial--like, Fitz couldn't have figured that out from the testimony these people had already given, he just had to have in front of a federal judge?

Let's see, now. We know that elements at DOJ, prominent among them Comey (who talked Ashcroft into recusing and then appointed Fitz), who were at serious policy and personal loggerheads with the Administration--and with the OVP and Libby in particular, who was the point man on important legal issues concerning the war on terror.

We know that DOS, including Powell and Armitage, were also at serious policy and personal loggerheads with the Administration and their despised "pissants" (Armitage's favorite epithet). And Libby again was prominently involved.

And then there was Tenet and the CIA. Certainly the Wilson mission to Niger seriously irked DOS, but it looks like at some point--probably shortly after the referral to DOJ--key people at DOJ, DOS and CIA found that they had a common interest in thwarting Administration policy and that Plamegate could be the vehicle for just that type of initiative. Hmmm, could it be that when Powell, Armitage and Taft came over to DOJ to discuss Armitage's leak this realization dawned on those who were part of the conversation? Or some scenario so similar to this that it makes no real difference?


Nice post, azaghal. One can only hope it's the policy and personal loggerheads' kids that get blown up before anyone else's. Assuming anyone's will, of course, which is obviously a pretty far-fetched assumption.


I'm glad you read Schmidt the way I do. His coverage of the Libby trial is surely strange. He is straight about reporting the courtroom happenings as they occur, but his underlying assumption that Plame is covert skews his coverage. It's almost like he isn't reading his own reports.


I've always thought that it was treated as a no big deal thing...and was no big deal. This means the conspiracy to "burn an agent" meme of the liberals is reduced. However, it actually makes it more likely that Libby did leak (because he also was not thinking of the security aspect). When this thing became a tar baby wrt the "agent burning" he lied. And whether the tar baby was the public bruahaha or the actual legal issue of the outing, is no matter. Both are motive to lie. (And only the real running dogs here think that the legal aspect was irrelevant, was settled for Libby given that there had been a formal referal to DOJ and given that if leaks to one reporter are wrong, they are likely wrong to another.)

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