But Jeff has gotten me re-examining an even more intriguing article, the October 12 WaPo article the followed up and elaborated on the earlier WaPo article.This article is interesting because while it largely aligns with what we know from Libby's indictment, it also suggests there is a lot more right under the surface. The article is sourced to "sources familiar with the probe" (Wilson appears to have been interviewed, the famous SAO from the September 28 article was interviewed again, and someone from CIA was interviewed). Here are some random interesting tidbits from the article.
First, the article raises more questions about when Pincus and Woodward spoke about Wilson.
What started as political gossip and damage control has become a major criminal investigation that has already harmed the administration and could be a problem for President Bush for months to come.
Pincus says he spoke about the Wilson affair after this article appeared. But this paragraph makes it seem like he spoke to Woodward beforehand--because Pincus and Allen use the same language to describe the leak as Woodward did. Who else would have told them this started as political gossip? (Or perhaps Allen spoke with Woodward before this article and Pincus spoke to him after it?)
Then there's a paragraph that seems to be based on Pincus' earlier June 12 article.
One reason investigators are looking back is that even before Novak’s column appeared, government officials had been trying for more than a month to convince journalists that Wilson’s mission was not as important as it was being portrayed. Wilson concluded during the 2002 mission that there was no solid evidence for the administration’s assertion that Iraq was trying to acquire uranium in Niger to develop nuclear weapons, and he angered the White House when he became an outspoken critic of the war.
Pincus can attest that "government officials had been trying for more than a month to convince journalists that Wilson’s mission was not as important as it was being portrayed" because he spoke with Libby for his June 12 article and was told it wasn't important. But they use the plural here--"journalists." Do they know of another journalist who had been told Wilson's trip wasn't important? Like Woodward?
Then the article goes on to tell us something that is readily apparent from the indictment--that the FBI was looking for the original source of Plame's covert status. They seemed to be casting suspicion, though, on David Shedd.
The FBI is trying to determine when White House officials and members of the vice president’s staff first focused on Wilson and learned about his wife’s employment at the agency. One group that may have known of the connection before that time is the handful of CIA officers detailed to the White House, where they work primarily on the National Security Council staff. A former NSC staff member said one or more of those officers may have been aware of the Plame-Wilson relationship.
I'm also curious who this "former NSC staff member" is, because he's obviously willing to work against Bush. One possibility is Rand Beers, who resigned as NSC's counter-terrorism director the week the Iraq War started, but who would presumably know who in NSC had connections to the covert side of CIA still in October 2003.
This article points to the Kristof article as the beginning of the attention on Wilson--both from journalists and from OVP.
Wilson said he told Kristof about his trip to Niger on the condition that Kristof must keep his name out of the column. When the column appeared, it created little public stir, though it set a number of reporters on the trail of the anonymous former ambassador. Kristof confirmed that account.
The column mentioned the alleged role of the vice president’s office for the first time. That was when Cheney aides became aware of Wilson’s mission and they began asking questions about him within the government, according to an administration official.
Again, Allen and Pincus use the plural to describe the journalists working on this story. Not surprising, but worth noting.
And whatever administration official Allen and Pincus spoke to here (is he the author of the 1 X 2 X 6 theory?), he describes the interest in Wilson as limited to Cheney's aides; he makes no mention of Cheney himself. (I'll ask again ... did Allen and Pincus consult with Woodward before writing this story?) But he does know what was going on at the time, that OVP had put an APB out for dirt on Wilson. So if this is the SAO, then it says the person was pretty closely involved. One great candidate for this story would be Marc Grossman, or someone (like Armitage) who knew Libby had asked Grossman for information and that Grossman subsequently briefed at the White House on this.
And then they describe the chronology surrounding the June 12 Pincus story.
In early June, Wilson told his story to The Washington Post on the condition that his name be withheld. On June 12, The Post published a more complete account than Kristof’s of Wilson’s trip. Wilson has now given permission to The Post to identify him as one source for that article.
By that time, officials in the White House, Cheney’s office, the CIA and the State Department were familiar with Wilson and his mission to Niger. Starting that week, the officials repeatedly played down the importance of Wilson’s trip and its findings, saying it had been authorized within the CIA’s nonproliferation section at a low level without requiring the approval of senior agency officials. No one brought up Wilson’s wife, and her employment at the agency was not known at the time the article was published.
Again, the story tells us what we know from the indictment. Officials (named Hadley and Rove?) at WH, OVP, the CIA, and State knew of Wilson's identity by this point. Most of this information could again come from Marc Grossman or a surrogate. He would be able to speak to the WH (he'd know who attended his briefing) and the OVP (because of Libby's inquiries). And of course, Grossman could speak to State's knowledge of the affair.
The CIA knowledge appears to come from a senior CIA source; as we'll see Pincus (or Allen) appears to have gotten a good bit of detail from CIA about the materials sent to OVP.
Note that none of these sources state that WH, OVP, CIA, and State knew of Plame's identity by this point. But they did. All of them. A curious omission.
Now the rest of this paragraph may reference Pincus' early work on this story. As he said in his June 12 article:
The CIA's decision to send an emissary to Niger was triggered by questions raised by an aide to Vice President Cheney during an agency briefing on intelligence circulating about the purported Iraqi efforts to acquire the uranium, according to the senior officials. Cheney's staff was not told at the time that its concerns had been the impetus for a CIA mission and did not learn it occurred or its specific results.
Cheney and his staff continued to get intelligence on the matter, but the vice president, unlike other senior administration officials, never mentioned it in a public speech. He and his staff did not learn of its role in spurring the mission until it was disclosed by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof on May 6, according to an administration official.
This was apparently sourced to Scooter Libby in June. And Pincus has reported that Libby did not mention Plame when they spoke for this story.
Now we get to Pincus' (or Allen's) CIA source, who appears to have reviewed the report from Wilson's trip.
Wilson’s oral report to a CIA officer had been turned into a routine one-and-a-half page CIA intelligence memo to the White House and other agencies. By tradition, his identity as the source, even though he went under the auspices of the CIA, was not disclosed.
This report is one of the things we know from the indictment that OVP had received (on June 9).
Now, SAO appears to say the interest in Wilson got more intense after the Pincus story.
The Post article generated little public response. But behind the scenes, Bush officials were concerned. “After the June story, a lot of people in government were scurrying around asking who is this envoy and why is he saying these things,” a senior administration official said.
This is interesting. Look at how much interest there was before June 12, before Pincus' story came out, that we see in the indictment. Does SAO simply mean that the interest got more widespread? Perhaps it spread beyond OVP and a few at the WH?
In any case, this article allows us to pinpoint exactly when Wilson spoke to David Shipley. He called some present and former administration people on June 13, and by June 14, he was telling Ray McGovern he was going to go public in a few weeks, so presumably he called Shipley on June 13.
Wilson said he attempted to increase pressure on the White House the day after the June 12 article was published by calling some present and former senior administration officials who know national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. He wanted them to tell Rice that she was wrong in her comment on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on June 8 that there may be some intelligence “in the bowels of the agency,” but that no one around her had any doubts about the uranium story.
Wilson said those officials told him Rice was not interested and he should publish his story in his own name if he wanted to attract attention.
Now, this passage suggests Wilson spoke to at least three people after Condi's MTP appearance. I'd bet my house that one of these is Scowcroft, since we know Wilson had been trying to get through to Condi via Scowcroft since the previous Fall.
And, again, I'd bet a fair bit (but not my house) that Grossman is one of the other (at least) two. Wilson and Grossman are both career foreign service officers. They graduated the same year (1972--thanks to William for the tip) from UCSB. Wilson tells us he had close contact with Grossman when the former was political adviser to European Command and the latter was Ambassador to Turkey.
Throughout the two years I was at European Command, our relations with the Turkish military needed constant attention. [Deputy CINC] Jim Jamerson was on the phone several times a week with the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, Marc Grossman, working on the most trivial details. (Politics of Truth 218)
And given the commonality of Turkey to their past and Grossman's demonstrable involvement with the American-Turkish Council (which is where Wilson first became close with Scowcroft), it would not be at all surprising if Grossman participated in discussions about Iraq with Wilson and Scowcroft as early as Fall 2002.
In any case, probably Scowcroft, probably Grossman, and at least one other person who likely has ties with State tried to talk some sense into Condi, to no avail. Does this mean Condi was already part of the Get Wilson squad? It certainly suggests she had been persuaded--around the same time as Plame's covert status was becoming known and around the same time as Woodward received his leak from Mr. (Ms.?) X.
Finally, this article reiterates the claim made in the September 28 WaPo article. Note that SAO clearly says the leaks to six journalists happened the week of July 7, not earlier (which raises questions as to whether the earlier Judy and Woodward leaks were included in the six).
That same week, two top White House officials disclosed Plame’s identity to least six Washington journalists, an administration official told The Post for an article published Sept. 28. The source elaborated on the conversations last week, saying that officials brought up Plame as part of their broader case against Wilson.
“It was unsolicited,” the source said. “They were pushing back. They used everything they had.”
Now, clearly Grossman or someone close to Grossman is a central source for this story. But I can't imagine how Grossman could be witness to the six journalist leak the week of July 7. Tenet--who was working with Hadley and possible Rove and Libby on his mea culpa that week and who could be the CIA source for much of this article--might know of the leaks. Or, given that Ari is apparently a cooperating witness, perhaps he is SAO.
One more thought. This article gets pretty damn close to outlining much of the evidence we got in Libby's indictment. (Catherine Martin is the biggest piece of evidence in the indictment that doesn't make it into this article.) Think about that. Much of the evidence used to indict Libby was readily available in October 2003, back when Ashcroft was squelching the investigation, well before Judy and Cooper ever got subpoenaed.