LIBBY flew with the Vice President and others to and from Norfolk, Virginia, on Air Force Two. On his return trip, LIBBY discussed iwth other officials aboard the plane what LIBBY should say in response to certain pending media inquiries, including questions from Time reporter Matt Cooper. (Paragraph 22)
Josh's reader points us to this passage in an October 1 NYT article:
Mr. Libby said he told Mr. Cheney that reporters had been pressing the vice president's office for more details about who sent Mr. Wilson to Africa. The two men spoke when Mr. Cheney was on a trip to Norfolk, Va., for the commissioning of the carrier Ronald Reagan.
Mr. Libby said Mr. Cheney directed him to refer reporters to Mr. Tenet's statement, which said that the C.I.A. had been behind Mr. Wilson's selection for the trip.
And Gellman points out:
Defending the war became the animating priority aboard Air Force Two that day. According to his indictment on Friday, Libby "discussed with other officials aboard the plane" how he should respond to "pending media inquiries" about the critic, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV. Apart from Libby, only press aide Catherine Martin is known to have accompanied Cheney on that flight.
Tricky Fitzgerald!! He's been hiding Dick right in the middle of his Libby indictment.
That made me wonder where else he might have hidden Dick in this indictment, and what those hidden tidbits might tell us about an indictment against our upstanding "Go Fuck Yourself" Vice President, if Fitzgerald chose to pursue that route.
First, let's look at the places in the indictment where we know Dick appears.
- On June 12, Dick passed on information he purportedly got from Tenet that Plame worked for that Counter-Proliferation Division. That is, Dick told Libby that Plame was covert.
- On July 12, Dick and Libby and Cathie Martin strategized how to respond to "certain pending media inquiries, including questions from Time reporter Matthew Cooper." Now, Libby has said Dick told him to refer people to Tenet's statement. But from the available evidence, that's not exactly what Libby did. Tenet's statement provides Dick plausible deniability of any connection with deciding to send Wilson to Niger--he pretends this was not a response to an inquiry from Dick's office.
In an effort to inquire about certain reports involving Niger, CIA's counter-proliferation experts, on their own initiative, asked an individual with ties to the region to make a visit to see what he could learn. [emphasis mine]
And Libby passed on the claim that Dick was not involved, on the record. But it's not the only thing he said.
From Cooper's testimony:
I recounted an on-the-record conversation with Libby that moved to background. On the record, he denied that Cheney knew about or played any role in the Wilson trip to Niger. On background, I asked Libby if he had heard anything about Wilson's wife sending her husband to Niger. Libby replied, "Yeah, I've heard that too," or words to that effect. Like Rove, Libby never used Valerie Plame's name or indicated that her status was covert, and he never told me that he had heard about Plame from other reporters, as some press accounts have indicated.
From Judy's testimony:
My notes of this phone call show that Mr. Libby quickly turned to criticizing Mr. Wilson's report on his mission to Niger. He said it was unclear whether Mr. Wilson had spoken with any Niger officials who had dealt with Iraq's trade representatives.
From the indictment:
LIBBY spoke by telephone with Judith Miller of the New York Times and discussed Wilson's wife, and that she worked at the CIA. (24)
So it may well be that Dick told Libby to refer to Tenet's statement with journalists. He may not have referred to it itself, but he definitely referred to what it said, on the record. But he also spread Plame's name and, to Judy at least, her status as CIA. Did he do the Plame leaking on his own? Did he disobey Dick's instructions? Or did Dick tell him to continue leaking, so long as it couldn't be traced back to OVP?
Update, of the Josh Marshall makes me want Lexis Nexus variety (and through him, an earlier tidbit from Gellman's article now flushed down the Memory Hole):
On July 12, the day Cheney and Libby flew together from Norfolk, the vice president instructed his aide to alert reporters of an attack launched that morning on Wilson's credibility by Fleischer, according to a well-placed source.
Hmm. Dick is in trouble.
Now, let's consider some indictment references where Fitzgerald might have hidden Dick--and one more likely point of Dick's involvement.
- On May 29, Libby asked Marc Grossman to put together some information on Wilson. Why did Libby do that? Did Dick tell him to?
- On June 9, the CIA faxed a bunch of documents to Libby and "another person" in the OVP. Could Dick have asked for those documents? Could he be the "another person"? Was he one of the people who identified the CIA report by marking it with Joe Wilson's name? (5)
- Prior to June 12, Libby participated in discussions "concerning how to respond to Pincus," who was writing an article on Wilson's trip. We know Dick participated in just such a strategy session a month later. Did he also participate in this one?
- Sometime before July 8, Cathie Martin heard "from another government official" about Plame's identity. Is Dick this "another government official"?
- On July 16, (after Novak leaked Plame's status but before anyone noticed David Corn's post recognizing Novak's column might involve an IIPA violation) Dick attended Gerald Ford's birthday party at the White House. Alan Greenspan attended as a guest of honor. We don't know, AFAIK, whether Greenspan's wife attended, but her husband did receive an award. Two days later, on July 18, Mitchell said:
Today, the administration is also trying to explain how it handled these documents shown earlier on NBC News, documents that were the basis for accusing Saddam of trying to buy uranium from Niger for nuclear weapons. First, it said it didn't have the documents until after the State of the Union in January. Now officials admit they had them all along, since October, but withheld them from the UN for months.
And two more days later, on July 20, Andrea Mitchell called Joe Wilson and said:
what White House sources were telling her about the real story being not the sixteen words but Wilson and his wife. (Politics of Truth 350)
Did Dick chat to Andrea Mitchell at Ford's birthday party on July 16? Did he tell her the real story was Wilson and his wife? Has Fitzgerald found any other evidence of communication between Administration officials and Mitchell (that is, phone records), or did this leaking definitely happen at the party?
So there's a good bit that might indict Dick. But certain things have to happen before Fitzgerald could get close to indicting him.
First, he almost certainly would have to indict Libby for an IIPA or Espionage violation. Dick's indictment would probably relate to conspiracy. But you can't indict people on conspiracy unless it's a conspiracy to do something illegal. Ken Starr notwithstanding, lying to reporters is probably not enough (and there's no evidence I know of that Dick was involved in the later conspiracy to lie to the FBI and Grand Jury). Unless Fitzgerald is willing to try to indict a sitting Vice President on a conspiracy to violate Joe Wilson's civil rights (again, I doubt it), Fitzgerald is also going to have to prove one of the crimes related to security violations.
Second, he'd have to get participants in some of these strategy discussions to describe what went on in them. This is the area, I think, where Fitzgerald has made the most progress. It appears, for example, that Cathie Martin is willing to testify that she told Libby she had heard about Plame's identity (she therefore corrborates Ari's testimony that he and Libby talked about Plame the day before, Libby says, he learned about her). Has she also talked to Fitzgerald about the July 12 conversation on board Air Force Two? Did she also tell Fitzgerald who told her of Plame's identity? Add in people like Wurmser and Hannah, and Fitzgerald may have a lot more dots already connected than what he shows us in this indictment.
Third, he'd have to get Libby to explain some of these strategy conversations between him and Dick. He'd need to corroborate whatever Martin said, for example. Explain why he ordered Grossman to put together information on Wilson. Explain who ordered those CIA documents.
And finally, I sincerely believe he'd have to flip Judy--flip her so hard he left her writhing on the floor. I guarantee you, Judy Miller is still hiding a whole bunch of things, things that go straight to the core of this leak. And I'm fairly convinced her claim about her Aspen comment...
In answer, I told the grand jury about my last encounter with Mr. Libby. It came in August 2003, shortly after I attended a conference on national security issues held in Aspen, Colo. After the conference, I traveled to Jackson Hole, Wyo. At a rodeo one afternoon, a man in jeans, a cowboy hat and sunglasses approached me. He asked me how the Aspen conference had gone. I had no idea who he was. "Judy," he said. "It's Scooter Libby."
...is just a bunch of bull-puckey. I strongly suspect it's a coded comment to telegraph her plan to protect noted Jackson Hole resident Dick Cheney.
So Fitzgerald still has his work cut out for him if he thinks he's going to indict Dick anytime soon.
Just remember though. Governor Ryan? Indictment number 66. Fitzgerald has already shown he has superhuman amounts of patience and persistence. So while an indictment would take a good bit more work, if anyone can do it, Fitzgerald can.