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November 16, 2005

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Wellll, I just found out, via Josh Marshall, about this latest interesting little turn of events. Bob Woodward, no less!

emptywheel, I'll leave to the good work of you, Jane and Reddhedd at FDL, etc., the implications this has for the time line - and no doubt we'll be learning lots of other new tidbits over the next few days.

But my God, what a piece of work is Bob Woodward! From kingkiller to lickspittle courtier; it's like something straight out of the Wars of the Roses. Now all we need is for two kids to disappear in the Tower of London.

-- Rick

Rick,

I spat out this "smoking them out post." But damnit. I'll bet you a quarter I'm right. What better way to get a bunch of blabbering journalists without having to subpoena all of them than to have Mr. Powerful Former Veep Chief of Staff to beg them to testify? Well, you indict Mr. Powerful Yadda Yadda. And then he'll be on the phone begging them to testify. "Prove that nice Mr. Fitzgerald is wrong!" He'll say.

Only, as I said, Mr. Fitzgerald didn't say Libby was the first to leak Plame's identity on June 23. He said he was the first. Didn't put a date to it.

Whoo! Look at all those prairie dogs running out of their holes!

They are so making a movie out of all this when it's all said and done.

George Clooney for director!
And the woman who played Felicia Tillman on Desperate Housewives for Judy Miller.

Well, we do know that this investigation isn't over. That's bad news politically for the White House, because all the twists and turns make it more intriguing for the American public.

Unless I'm misundersanding what you're claiming, I don't see how it can be the case that Woodward's Mr. X is Libby. Woodward's statement says he testified about interviews with three current or former Bush administration officials, and he names Libby as one of the three -- but not the one who first gave him the info about Wilson's wife. So that has to be someone else. The info sure sounds like the info Cheney gave Libby, according to the indictment. And to my mind Mr. X is working on behalf of Libby -- though Woodward's testimony, as he himself reports it, appears to do Libby no good, since Woodward says, in effect, that he's pretty sure he didn't reveal anything about Plame to Libby. But I can only imagine Mr. X going to Fitzgerald because either 1)he thinks Fitzgerald has put aside definitively the case regarding the underlying crime, since Mr. X appears at first glance to be most at risk of Espionage Act violation, or 2)he is worried for some reason that Woodward was going to go to Fitzgerald first -- and in fact we learn from tomorrow's WaPo that Woodward first told his editor about Mr. X in October in the context of a possible story, which is presumably the bombshell Woodward was rumored to have the night before Fitzmas. So maybe Mr. X took preemptive action. But that seems like an extremely high risk strategy, unless he felt confident Fitzgerald was done with the underlying crime.

Jane has some compelling evidence pointing towards Fleitz as Woodward's Mr. X.

...and Jeralyn at talkleft thinks it's Wurmser.

Wilson on Woodward last August.

"Now, with respect to Woodward, the great irony in all of this is that, of course, Woodward was hanging around the White House and dealing with the most senior officials of our government for several years while he was writing his two books, the second of which was Plan of Attack, and you know, I think the question for Woodward once all is said and done is, ‘you were sniffing around there. You were talking to all of these people on a daily basis. You were basically taking their dictation, and you didn't sniff out a story? You didn't sniff out a story that might actually be rather important.’"

Maybe Woodward was saving it for the book. This challenges a key assertion in the indictment about who was first to leak. Look at what Libby's lawyer said about this. They are chipping away. Also Woodward throws cover for IIPA "it was casual."

Woodward taped his interviews. Knowing that tape was out there (or could be out there) might be enough to get the interviewee to come forward and cop to it up front. Woodward's tape no doubt will have an 18 and a half minute gap unfortunately and the smoking gun won't turn into a mushroom cloud.

It's mind-bending to contemplate to what extent we--meaning the vast array of gullible readers and voters--have been betrayed and screwed. What hurts is that on top of the pile of writhing snakes is a man who looks and talks like a moron, and beneath him, propping him up, are fat Fascist goons and oil company execs and of course Haliburton and their getting no-bid contracts in Iran and the rest of the world. Can we ever hope this will come to an end?

Guys, Mr. X is not Wurmser or Fleitz. Neither would be called a "senior administration official." It could be Dick Cheney. But it can't be them.

It's my public service duty to periodically remind everyone that the story's about Iraq. I say that obvious fact because it makes Woodward's behavior even more bizarre. Pincus is pretty good with details and doesn't recall the same conversation Woodward does:

Downie said he could not explain why Woodward said he provided a tip about Wilson's wife to Walter Pincus, a Post reporter writing about the subject, but did not pursue the matter when the CIA leak investigation began. He said Woodward has often worked under ground rules while doing research for his books that prevent him from naming sources or even using the information they provide until much later.

Woodward's statement said he testified: "I told Walter Pincus, a reporter at The Post, without naming my source, that I understood Wilson's wife worked at the CIA as a WMD analyst."

Pincus said he does not recall Woodward telling him that. In an interview, Pincus said he cannot imagine he would have forgotten such a conversation around the same time he was writing about Wilson.

How odd is that? As odd as Woodward saying 'a bunch of gossip that will amount to nothing' given that this is all about Iraq. Woodward's reputation? I think we have a new definition of "collateral damage".

emptywheel,
It's about time the guns were turned on Pravda on Potomac. Given what we know now about Woodward, what about the story by Pincus and Allen published on October 4, 2003?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A40012-2003Oct3?language=printer

well waddayaknow. They've removed the text of the story. I'm not surprised. For that very reason I saved a copy...

Leak of Agent's Name Causes Exposure of CIA Front Firm

By Walter Pincus and Mike Allen
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, October 4, 2003; Page A03


The leak of a CIA operative's name has also exposed the identity of a CIA front company, potentially expanding the damage caused by the original disclosure, Bush administration officials said yesterday.

The company's identity, Brewster-Jennings & Associates, became public because it appeared in Federal Election Commission records on a form filled out in 1999 by Valerie Plame, the case officer at the center of the controversy, when she contributed $1,000 to Al Gore's presidential primary campaign.

After the name of the company was broadcast yesterday, administration officials confirmed that it was a CIA front. They said the obscure and possibly defunct firm was listed as Plame's employer on her W-2 tax forms in 1999 when she was working undercover for the CIA. Plame's name was first published July 14 in a newspaper column by Robert D. Novak that quoted two senior administration officials. They were critical of her husband, former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, for his handling of a CIA mission that undercut President Bush's claim that Iraq had sought uranium from the African nation of Niger for possible use in developing nuclear weapons.

The Justice Department began a formal criminal investigation of the leak Sept. 26.

The inadvertent disclosure of the name of a business affiliated with the CIA underscores the potential damage to the agency and its operatives caused by the leak of Plame's identity. Intelligence officials have said that once Plame's job as an undercover operative was revealed, other agency secrets could be unraveled and her sources might be compromised or endangered.

A former diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity said yesterday that every foreign intelligence service would run Plame's name through its databases within hours of its publication to determine if she had visited their country and to reconstruct her activities.

"That's why the agency is so sensitive about just publishing her name," the former diplomat said.

FEC rules require donors to list their employment. Plame used her married name, Valerie E. Wilson, and listed her employment as an "analyst" with Brewster-Jennings & Associates. The document establishes that Plame has worked undercover within the past five years. The time frame is one of the standards used in making determinations about whether a disclosure is a criminal violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.

It could not be learned yesterday whether other CIA operatives were associated with Brewster-Jennings.

Before this (and the Novak broadcast on October 3 which enabled this) the name Brewster Jennings had never appeared in the public domain. And this was done a week AFTER the DoJ began their criminal inquiry.

Methinks the Washington Post has an awful lot of explaining to do.

emptywheel --

You'd bet me a quarter? What kind of wimpie offer is that? Why not $100? Doesn't matter - I wouldn't bet against you on this, not for a penny.

To me, the most intriguing thing here (beyond the sheer fact of Woodward's up-to-his-neck involvement) is the little disagreement between him and Walter Pincus. Pincus is just about calling Woody a liar. Certainly I'd take Woody's statements with the same amount of salt used for Judy's.

-- Rick

Although, Rick, it's really interesting because reporters conversations among themselves aren't going to have the same kind of backup as the rest of their conversations.

Woodward has amazing details on the rest of this. The first interview was taped. Woodward knows the in-person meeting with Libby started at 5:10 pm. But his conversation with Pincus? Nada.

Emtywheel
It's CONSPIRACY, baby. It's not that Libby is exponerated here, but that now three admin officials (X, Rove, Libby) are proven to have leaked - around the same time. Who planned this, who OK-ed this, or in Fitz's paraphrased words, "what was the underlying crime that Libby is perjuring himself about?".
Da WHIG Conspiracy - the ultimate political movie:
Starring Woody, Miller and the Rooster - hanging themselves halfway thru
Starring above 3 officials - proving ultimately to be bit players
Starring Unka Cheney - himself a shill for Big Oil and Chalabi
and, out of the shadows, Da Energy Task Force - a secretive cabal who just lied to Cogress (hey, almost like the Illuminati!)

I bet Oliver Stone is having an ORGASM right now!

whenwego

First you have to make it conspiracy to do something. It's not conspiracy to lie, that's not going to put them in the slammer. I agree there's a conspiracy. But we've not got the evidence yet.

emptywheel,

You say it can't be one of the three little piggies (Wurmser, Hannah or Fleitz) because it couldn't be claimed that they are Senior Admin. Officials. But, given that Judy would have written any title her source claimed ("Former Hill Staffer"), can we really put any trust to claims of seniority any more?

yam

Yes, we can. Judy would NEVER have agreed to that attribution if she knew her source's identity was going to become public in about three weeks. Woodward's source is going to become public in about three weeks. Therefore, he's going to make sure the WaPo doesn't embarrass themselves by calling Wurmser a senior official.

emptywheel - However, it is worth noting that, as far as I can tell, it is the WaPo story and not Woodward himself who identifies Mr. X as a "senior administration official." I suspect we can still take that to the bank, but given that the article contains other basic errors (like attributing information that is in the two different question lists to only one of them), perhaps because it was written in haste, I think it might be worth getting some kind of confirmation that they really meant to say SAO.

Jeff

You're probably right. But I suspect that attribution came as the result of some teethpulling on the part of frustrated journalists who were frustrated with Woodward's obscurity. The WaPo isn't going to change its sourcing rules just to protect Woodward. So I suspect they insisted on an accurate attribution.

As Olbermann pointed out tonight, Fitzgerald further hedged his remarks on Libby by saying he was the first administration official KNOWN to have discussed Valerie Plame. Then he had his little tete-a-tete with Woodward. Oh and lets not forget Fitz's discussion with Bush's personal attorney. What could they have been discussing? Perhaps information regarding the WH visitation logs, suggesting that Woodward had been at the Oval Office in mid-June?

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