Digby and Robert George remind us that the Plame leak didn't happen in one dimension--at precisely the same time as Bush's top advisors were plotting to out a spy, Tony Blair's government was leaking the identity of David Kelly. George does a good job of showing how intertwined the events of those Two Tense Weeks were. (As I mentioned in this comment, I considered whether the information on Iraqi acquisition of uranium that Fitzgerald subpoenaed from Judy might have to do with David Kelly; but Kelly's intelligence expertise--and the dispute over the British dossier--related to BW and CW.)
So while we're discussing Transatlantic scandals, I'd like to direct attention back to what I believe to be a last-minute visit by Tony Blair on July 17 2003.
Now I don't have any proof that it was a last minute visit (got right back on that speculative rocker, didn't I?). But there are several reasons I think the visit was put together as a response to the intertwined scandals.The visit was first announced less than a week earlier, on July 11. And, in spite of the fact that the official announcement of the visit came from Ari's office, he was not informed of the news.
Q: Ari, Prime Minister Blair is coming next week, is that correct?
MR. FLEISCHER: I don't think that's correct.
Q: I've heard -- I thought I heard from somebody at the White House --
MR. FLEISCHER: -- saying I'm paying a little less attention to events after Monday than I used to, but I don't --
Q: I heard he's giving a joint address to Congress --
MR. FLEISCHER: I'll have to look. I don't know.
Perhaps they just didn't tell Ari because he was a has-been by this point (his last day would be the 14th, 3 days before the visit). Can't blame them for that. But it'd be hard to keep Ari in the dark unless it was dreamt up after Ari left on Air Force One to go to Africa. That is, after Rove and Libby started ratcheting up their campaign against Wilson.
We know that Blair and Bush had used face to face meetings previously to strategize how to win PR campaigns, as when Blair visited Bush's ranch in March 2002.
The rewards from your visit to Crawford will be few. The risks are high, both for you and for the Government.
And details about the same visit tell us Bush looked to Blair for guidance on such issues.
Bush will want to pick your brains. He will also want to hear whether he can expect coalition support.
No doubt we need to keep a sense of perspective. But my talks with Condi convinced me that Bush wants to hear you [sic] views on Iraq before taking decisions.
But just because Bush and Blair had had big pow-wows in person in the past doesn't mean they were here. Publicly, the visit seems to have been an opportunity to make speeches reinforcing their belief they were doing the right thing in Iraq, and reiterating their confidence they would find WMDs. Perhaps that's all it was, a joint press conference, an attempt to find strength in unity.
But here's a question I'd like to ask. Was Blair's visit in response to the Wilson op-ed? If it was, wouldn't that suggest Bush and Blair were intimately involved in strategizing a response? If so, how far would their knowledge extend?
Robert George asks:
WHO is the “member of [David Kelly’s] fan club” in a position to tell Judy Miller that “things went well for” him in his testimony on July 16th?
Me, I want to know what Blair and Bush had to say to each other about their dual scandals--and what that reveals about their active involvement in the response.
Update: antonetteg reminds me the truly important part of Blair's visit:
"JD Guckert was busy entertaining the Prime Minister of Great Britain (not a joke)."
And in the story Gannon filed, he seems to have been present at the Blair / Bush news conference, and possibly even their "private meeting."
So two questions. What do Bush and Blair know? And does JimmyJeff have any proof of the, um, intimacy of their knowledge?