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October 29, 2005


There could be a more mundane explanation. Perhaps the "senior administration official" was counting the Rove call to Chris Matthews (the "his wife is fair game" call) that happened within a day or so of the Wilson op-ed piece. That would make Matthews the sixth journalist (if you permit a very loose definition of the word journalist). The call to Matthews was in that critical week of events on which most of the leak investigation has focused. So, maybe it was Matthews, even though the facts are not exactly in line with the initial report.

I'm still puzzled why the Matthews revelation of Rove's state of mind in that call just after the Wilson op-ed piece has not gotten more attention. It definitely shows that Rove (and therefore the White House) was in attack mode toward Joe Wilson, and was intentionally using Valerie Wilson to smear him.

Maybe that is the reason they moved the announcement of Greenspan's successor up a week or two...


Check out my update.

If you look at the Crowley piece, it certainly looks like Tweety may have been chatting with Libby on July 8. At a time when we know he was leaking Plame's identity. I'm guessing (revising my guess) it WAS Tweety. But that it was on July 8.


On the who was right question you mention a couple of posts down, I think you are not fair to your argument as I understood it.

To wit, the VP-CIA battle was ongoing as early as MArch and the Wilson/
Plame flap was a continuation of that.

My point was that Fitz would concentrate on the Plame branch of that, which started in May.

Assume you're watching the Wolverines.

Could Tweety keep his mouth shut about it? I think he would be bragging to everyone that he was "in the loop." No one cares more about being a Kool Kid than Chris Matthews.


I don't mean to be a broken record on the subject, but your analysis on this is way, way off.

Pincus has said that his source was neither Rove nor Libby. Kessler testified that he and Libby did not even discuss Joe Wilson, much less his wife.

So Kessler doesn't belong on the list at all, and if Tweety testified, why isn't he part of the case against Libby? Did Libby tell the truth to him, and no one else?! (There are more problems, too, but I'm trying to go easy on you.)

Fitzgerald said in his press conference that "there's a lot of reporters whose reporting and contacts have touched upon this case that we never even talked to. . . . what we decided to do was to make sure before we subpoenaed any reporter that we really needed that testimony."

If Powell or someone else heard Ari Fleischer making calls from Air Force One, and Fleischer admitted it when confronted, then there was no need to subpoena those reporters.

The 6 reporters in 1 x 2 x 6 were Pincus and five others whose names haven't surfaced, or at least weren't subpoenaed about it. Book it.

Tweety's great, he has really concentrated on the Plame story this last week and I'm expecting more great things from him over the next months -- maybe (an) appearance(s) by emptywheel?


I'll agree that Kessler probably is not one of the 6. Someone made that point on DKos, and I'll concede that willingly.

But Pincus did get leaked to--not by Libby though.

Tweety would not be named in the indictment for a variety of reasons. One, to hide the fact that he's proof that Russert's story is true (remember, the indictment is not a list of everything Fitz has got, it's just a list of Libby's crimes). Two, because since Libby didn't testify about him, then Tweety's conversation with him wouldn't very well qualify as perjury or false statement (it would, however, qualify as obstruction.

Finally, consider. It appears very likely that Tweety talked to someone in the WH on or around July 8. That would mean his conversation would be one of the suspect ones--they would have to talk to him to determine whether he could have been the source. But as he suggested, he wouldn't require a subpoena.

Your argument still has a few holes. First, Powell or Card didn't say they SAW the calls get made. The SAO said they know about it. If you want to go back to your Card argument (or even Tenet), you could argue they were able to state that to Mike Allen because they were in on discussions to plot the outing. If there was a strategy session at which it was decided that Rove and Libby would call the top 6 reporters in the WH book (and the ones we're talking about all qualify, except for Cooper), then they would have enough to give to the WaPo.

I think that Ari might be the guy who made those calls. Although I doubt it. Libby's indictment suggests that Ari didn't even find out about Plame until July 7. The fact that we now know the INR memo was really important in June, and not July, makes any sightings of him with the memo on July 7 far less incriminating (particularly since it now sounds like he was looking at the inappropriately circulated Libby copy, rather than the appropriately circulated Powell copy. He would be a witness that there were two copies. And most importantly, these guys didn't trust Ari. You go to Hannah and Wurmser if you want a cut out for risky stuff. Ari wasn't perceived as reliable enough--correctly if I'm right that he dealt early.

I am interested to hear your other objections, because while I think your Kessler one is important, your other ones don't seem to be.


I think you're being gracious. I was harping that the INR, at least as described, was written to answer a much broader question--the State position on Niger. You were arguing that it was clearly a response just to Kristof--it was a response to a question about Wilson. Which the indictment makes clear, it was.

And oddly, I don't do college football unless it's in person. Mr. emptywheel is intolerable when we watch the wolverines--he routes for anyone but. But I've trained him into pro football very nicely, so that's what we stick with.

emptywheel, thanks for the update. I wasn't aware of the Matthews involvement with Russert, so was just guessing about what made sense with the little we know.

One more reason why Tweety may be really involved in this is the last line quoted by Crowley:

Somebody's to blame here, and it's a very high level and it's not speculating.

Tweety had to have called SOMEONE to assert that this wasn't speculation...

But Pincus did get leaked to--not by Libby though.

Not by Rove, either. So if Rove and Libby are your 2 in 1x2x6, then Pincus can't be one of the 6.

The SAO said they know about it. . . . If there was a strategy session at which it was decided that Rove and Libby would call the top 6 reporters in the WH book (and the ones we're talking about all qualify, except for Cooper), then they would have enough to give to the WaPo.

How would they know that the calls were actually made?! If the SAO told the WaPo that Rove and Libby called six reporters just on the basis of attending a meeting, that would be lying. And the WaPo would be extremely irresponsible in running with the story on that basis.

In fact, look at the actual record of how the Rove/Libby leaks were communicated. Recall the WaPo's language:

"... two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife."

Was Cooper called? No, he called Rove. Was Miller called? No, she met Libby in his office. And Novak's original source was neither Libby nor Rove, so Rove didn't "disclose" Plame's identity or occupation to him.

So, of your list of journalists, the number whom either Rove or Libby "called ... and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife" is ... zero.

In short, your theory purporting to explain the WaPo story is based on every key aspect of it being inaccurate.

I don't mean to imply that's farfetched, but Occam called me and said, that's quite a heavy beard you've got there. :-)

Shoot, should've previewed. :-(

Hey, what about "Jeff Gannon"? Although he most likely doesn't count as a "real" journalist... :-p

Um, Swopa. SAO was talking to a journalist, not a court of law. I think if anyone--Ari, Colin, or Tenet--was at a meeting where someone said, "Okay, then, Rove and Libby, you'll call these journalists and leak Plame's identity," I think that person would be more than justified in assuming he was correct if he told Mike Allen that two SAOs "called" 6 reporters. Or, alternately, if there was a meeting at which Rove and Libby presented what happened and discussed what kind of risk they were in and said, "we talked to X and Y and Z and three of their friends," it also would not be surprising if SAO said, "called." It'd be technically incorrect. And if it was, I'm sure Fitz figured it out during testimony. But not unusual for a leak to a journalist. Your argument is just ridiculous because it assumes SAO was treating what he was saying with the specificity of a legal proceeding.

Remember, Allen and SAO were not busy parsing words, as Novak was in his column (which is why you might have a point in your Ms. X theory). If someone was a witness to a decision at a meeting, he would be absolutely justified in claiming there were 6 people called, even if the circumstances were not exactly phone calls.

Oh, and by the way? Um, Miller, she got called, certainly on July 12. The fact that she met face to face does not mean she was not called (did she just happen to meet Libby in the St. Regis? Doubt it, I bet they made plans by PHONE first). We don't know what happened with Tweety, if at all, or Mitchell. Pincus was called, again, not by these two.

I just think you're being WAY MORE anal than a typical journalist or a typical journalist's source are going to be.

Or let me put it another way, Swopa.

There is not a plausible scenario where an SAO would have the kind of surety of information you're suggesting. Rove and Libby aren't going to make phone calls from a telemarketers desk in the middle of a big room where everyone can watch. Even Ari, in the AF1 scenario, is not going to make these calls in the middle of the secure room with everyone watching. Not going to happen. So whoever SAO is, by reasonable supposition, was reporting what he had been told or led to believe. Which means the details may not be exact.

SAO was talking to a journalist, not a court of law.... Allen and SAO were not busy parsing words, as Novak was in his column

If Bob Novak holds himself to a higher standard of technical accuracy than Mike Allen and a whistle-blowing administration official, then doomsday is surely upon us. :)

Emptywheel, everyone, you should try to see Russert's non-Meet the Press weekend show tonight. He talkes about Libby calling, and says that his (Russert's) reaction at seeing Novak's column was "that's what he [Libby] was trying to figure out." To me, this seems like info beyond what he might have told Fitzgerald.

Andrea Mitchell and Pete Williams were also on the show. Interestingly, Mitchell also said that the WaPo had mistakenly reported that she was contacted by Libby, but I'm sure I heard her say several months ago in a Plame discussion that she was called by the WH. On tonight's show she said she talked with other reporters, but perhaps she was also contacted but by another person in the WH, if not Libby?

Lastly, Mitchell and Williams trotted out the "blame Wilson" scenarios, much to my dislike.

Swopa, you misstated my words.

Novak parses, carefully, to present a spin while managing facts.

Allen attempts to present a true, transparent picture of reality.

Those are two different pursuits. Both of Novak's critical columns in this affair are clearly carefullly parsed. The first, because he's trying to lay it all out there (which is the reason I've argued for months that when he references something that is to be declassified, it really IS the CIA report of Wilson's trip, and not the INR memo). The second column, as I think we both agree, is a careful story worked out with the help of Rove and Libby.

Allen isn't trying to play those games. He's trying to give a story, a narrative, not a bunch of incriminating "factoids."


Is that the Russert one where he basically laughs at what Libby said he said?

It's a show on CNBC called "Tim Russert." He interviews the usual characters. This was taped after the indictment, reviewing it with Mitchell and Williams - though I thought you could have done much better.

So they're discussing his call with Libby and he describes his reaction to Novak's article as I described it (that Libby was "trying to figure something out"). Maybe he meant/or said that he (Russert) was trying to figure out Plame, but I don't think that's what he said.

My memory of Mitchell is that she said on a discussion of Plame with Tweety or on Meet the Press that "someone/they contacted her" regarding Plame.

LMAO: "Go to Digby if you'd like some great insight. Keep reading, though, if you'd like to consider a really pedestrian question."

LMAO: "Go to Digby if you'd like some great insight. Keep reading, though, if you'd like to consider a really pedestrian question."
John Casper

Rove and Libby aren't going to make phone calls from a telemarketers desk in the middle of a big room where everyone can watch. Even Ari, in the AF1 scenario, is not going to make these calls in the middle of the secure room with everyone watching. Not going to happen.

Wait a second. Here's your scenario from above:

"...there was a strategy session at which it was decided that Rove and Libby would call the top 6 reporters in the WH book..."

How is that any less incriminating? I've never understood why Rove and Libby would have to be instructed in a group session to do something like this -- it would make more sense for them to decide it in a private conversation.

Ok, here's a grand unified theory of how number six could be both Matthews and Mrs. Greenspan.

I'll preface this with my take on Matthews: he likes everyone to know that he's "in the know." That HE'S the consummate Washington insider, NO bit of gossip goes past him and his clique of Hardball pundits unheard. And he likes to think of himself as champion of the hoi polloi, that is, he likes to spread this gossip in some form or another on his show such that he believes at least a simplified version of the story, if not the whole truth, gets out.

This may be why he's so schizophrenic: he's useful to Rove et al, in that he can be reliably counted upon as spreading Rovian gossip or talking points, but he may go too far with his analysis and actually start to dissect out the real truth on his show. So, he's constantly got to be reined in by his admin handlers, and for every "real nugget" he gives out, he has to do his penance to stay in the spinmeisters' good graces. For Rove, it's a guy they have to learn to live with, but in the end he's more useful than not. (and also easily manipulated)

Anyway, onto what I think might have happened. Let's say Andrea Mitchell hears from a little birdie (Rove? Libby? Some friend in OVP?) about the Wilson/Plame deal, and that Plame is CIA, as say, social gossip, before a coordinated media campaign by Libby/Rove. True to form, she calls up her good friend Tweety, with the Guess what I just heard? news bit. And they gossip, and speculate what it all might mean in relation to the recent Wilson op-ed.

After talking to Andrea, Matthews calls up Libby to confirm, as EW speculates above. My guess is, and this is important, it is MATTHEWS who gives them the perfect cover story: the reporters told us!

You see, I never could see the words that Libby attributes to Russert, in Russert's mouth. As soon as I read them, I thought, that sounds like Tweety. But it never occurred to me that it might be true.

Here's what I mean: Tweety calls up Libby, and in typical Tweety fashion cuts right to the chase: didya read Wilson's op-ed, boy you guys must be pissed about that, you know all the reporters are saying the CIA only sent him there cause that's where his wife works, betcha didn't know that! And then, of course, well is it true? And, maybe Libby actually does say what he says he did in the GJ testimony, that he tried to dance around the subject, neither confirming nor denying it, probably disparaging Wilson nonetheless, and warning Matthews not to run with the Plame info on his show. He's afraid of confirming anything to Matthews who will blab like crazy on the show, and he and Rove haven't quite figured out which trustworthy, discreet journalists they can leak to in a controlled fashion so as to limit sourcing back to them.

To Matthews,however, this is still like gold, cause now he knows he's on the right track, and even if he can't mention the Plame is CIA angle, he can still run with those guys over at OVP, especially Libby, who after all sent Wilson in the first place, should've known better and not let that Niger stuff into the SOTU. Plus this fits with Matthews' MO as I posit above: let everyone know that he KNOWS something, while at the same time let slip an important detail that the masses should be focused on.

Now, naturally Libby's not all that happy about the Hardball piece, and calls Russert (who he probably trusts a little more) on July 10 to complain. But at the same time, he also mentions how Tweety called him a couple of days before and was digging around about Plame and Wilson and asks Russert if Tweety's said anything along these lines to him or if Russert's heard this info as well? And of course Russert says, no, that's news to me and is quite puzzled about the whole thing (which explains his Aha moment that he inadvertantly revealed on the CNBC show Sat).

Now, for Libby that conversation is good, because now he's planted another Plame seed in an indirect manner, off the record, but it gets the whispering campaign going in full gear just in time for the planted leaks to Miller, Cooper, Pincus, Novak, etc.

Okay, now fast forward to the s*it hitting the fan. Now, Rove and Libby realize they're in deep doo-do and are trying to concoct a cover story, and Rove realizes, hey let's just say the journalists told us, after all, Tweety knew about this before we leaked to everyone else! So that's the cover story, and Libby says so to that effect to the FBI, except he says that he had that same conversation (which actually could have been true with regards to tweety) but to Russert.

This accomplishes 2 things: First, it keeps the investigators away from Matthews (who they think will blab) and focuses on Russert (who they hope won't). Secondly, in case part one fails, and unfortunately, I think this may be the defense Libby will use, he'll say "Oh, I forgot, I meant I talked to Matthews, not Russert. You know, I always get those two confused." And it wouldn't be hard, because you do see the two of them together quite a bit, they both work for NBC in Washington, and let's face it, he talks to a lot of journalists.

Maybe Fitz interviewed Matthews and got the real story from him (hence no subpoena), and that's why he does believe Russert (as EW suggests). And, since in all liklihood, Russert and Libby DID actually discuss Matthews and what he and Libby might have talked about, Libby and he were able to come to a personal waiver agreement, because Russert could always say, well we talked about Matthews, and that would be 100% true. Russert's just not telling the whole truth. And now, Scooter can still say at trial, yeah, I got them confused and might get off on the two counts of perjury and false statements wrt Russert (which, I strongly suspect will be the case as Libby's lawyers are already reportedly preparing the "I forgot" defense).

This speculation also helps, at least for me, solve another mystery, why hire Tate as a lawyer when his expertise is intellectual property and not criminal defense? The answer is that Tate's real role was to serve as an enforcer/advisor/go-between for the networks/papers and Libby. Tate would be in the best position to negotiate waivers for testimony in consultation with network/media counsel as he could advise them as to what "risks" they might be overlooking by allowing reporters to testify, and how they might be losing intellectual property rights by doing so. Basically, job number one was to constantly remind the network counsel that it wasn't in their best interest to allow the journalists to testify, and also if they didn't testify, how to use intellectual property arguments to keep Fitz from subpoening notes, tapes, etc. Tate was a stonewaller, nothing more.

The whole key was, keep the reporters from testifying. If Fitz wasn't as dogged as he was, they might have gotten away with it.

Good job deciding to count Kessler out - he shared a byline with Pincus on a story citing a leak, and Pincus was the one. Somewhere, an unambiguous denial by Kessler can be found.

A transcript of the Tim Russert Show on CNBC is available on Lexis. I have extensive excerpts at this post.

In a nutshell, Tim and his subordinates are still locked in to "I didn't leak a name, and I did not know her name until I read the Novak column".

Although it has received less attention, one wonders - why won't Tim state whether he knew there was a story about "Wilson's wife is at the CIA", regardless of whether he told Libby?


We also recycle an old Andrea Mitchell quote from Oct 3, 2003 in which she states that the "Wilson's wife is CIA" was widely known among journalists chasing the Pincus/Kristof anonymous stories in June.

This is interesting analysis

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