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November 17, 2005

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Or here's another way of asking this question. Grossman's brief (assuming he said basically what's in the INR memo) is the only piece of information we KNOW OF that says Plame worked at CIA as an analyst. The rest either skirts the issue or says she was CPD, on the operations side.

But suppose Woodward received his leak before Grossman's breifing There is always the possibility Grossman included it in his phone updates to Libby. But there is also the possibility that the "Plame as analyst" myth came through to Woodward's source via another unknown channel. Say, Fred Fleitz and John Bolton, who had seen the INR memo when they vetted it.

Mid-June by any stretch of the imagination is after June 9 and, to me, after June 12.

I believe mid-June means between June 13 and June 19.

I agree that it is doubtful that Woodward needed to rely on Grossman. His access was higher up and probably senior at state of VP. The obfuscation about dates can only be deliberate, since the man otherwise tapes conversations and takes notes. You're right that Pincus should be able to tell us whether there was info flowing between him and Woodward in early June. If yes, then the old "I heard it from a reporter" argument makes a comeback.

MarkC

I don't know why the "I heard it from a reporter" makes a comeback. Pincus didn't know of Plame's identity, AFAIK. And given Armando's dates (which I largely agree with), then the most interesting flow of information might be Pincus to Libby, not vice versa.

Also, I don't doubt Woodward had that kind of access (although, remember, Grossman was technically senior to Bolton at State, third in seniority after Powell and Armitage). The question is, did Woodward's senior source (Hadley or Cheney) get their information from Grossman (Hadley) or someone at CIA (Cheney or Hadley via someone else). Because if it's from CIA, then it's much easier to take an espionage case.

So I guess the timeline now hinges upon how likely it is that there is some sort of papertrail between Woodward and his SAO contact. A phone record, a sign-in sheet, a receipt. I suspect that Woodward did not meet his SAO in an underground parking lot, so there is likely something to dig up. Here's to hoping Fitz can find in, because I'm sure he's looking for it.

My bet? He already has it in hand, and that it what forced Woodward's source and Woodward to testify. Which means that this could be a "correction" to earlier testimony, since Fitz is very likely to have interviewed all potential SAOs over the last two years. Because while this source is new to us, I do not think it is new to Fitzgerald.

I'm just letting my pessimism get the better of me that this pushback is a reversion to that story, and that enough obfuscation on this count will tie up the investigation. Pincus writes: "The sources spoke on condition of anonymity and on condition that the name of the former ambassador not be disclosed." So Pincus knew Joseph Wilson's name, and knew that he was sent by the CIA, and was warned not to use it. "You can't mention his name, and you'll never guess why. . ."

MarkC

But Pincus wouldn't need to get that Wilson info from sources. He was one of basically three journalists (with Kristof and David Ensor at CNN) who started this story by talking to Wilson.

Pincus' Mr. X (who I'd bet is Hadley if Woodward's Mr. X ends up being Hadley) may try to claim he learned of this from Pincus. But he'd have a hard time doing that if he leaked the news in June to Woodward.

And there's another question. Did Pincus get this leak because Woodward had been chatting to him?

emptywheel--

thanks for your thoughts on the document in Woodward's pocket on the night before Fitzmas; he was going to read from it so it's not likely the classified report, right?

Do we think it's possible that Woodward told Rove about Plame?

M

Who knows with these nutballs? Like I said, BushCO was trying very hard to declassify that document. Ari was quoting stuff out of it. And, apparently, Libby (to Judy). So it's not like they've respected its classification.

lemon

I strongly suspect Woodward told the truth. And I strongly suspect Fitz asked about all contacts back and forth between Woodward on this.

EW,

How about this in the NYT! Something's being walked-back big time:

In his formal statement in The Post, Mr. Woodward said he had mentioned to Mr. Pincus in June 2003 that Ms. Wilson worked at the C.I.A. But Mr. Pincus, who has written that he first heard about Ms. Wilson from a senior administration official in July, said he did not recall that.

"The way he describes it, which is he walked by and said something about Wilson's wife being at C.I.A., I have absolutely no memory of it at all," Mr. Pincus said in a telephone interview. "And I think he may say that my reaction was 'What!' " like I was surprised. He now thinks I may never have heard him, and said, 'What?' "

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/17/national/17leak.html?ei=5088&en=a72b56b59dae5c1c&ex=1289883600&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=print

The whole article is interesting and, as I commented over at FDL, dense and worth dissecting.

I, too, am dying to know the exact date of Woodward's conversation with his unknown source. Given that Woodward doesn't obscure the other dates in his statement, I think that the revelation of this one would be somehow damaging to the source.

For argument's sake, let's say that "mid-June" could refer to any date from June 10th through June 19th. And for sanity's sake, let's ignore for the moment the possibility that Woodward talked to "Mr. X" on the 12th, because on that day the chronology is murky to the point of being completely opaque.

If Woodward talked to "Mr. X." sometime after the 12th, I can only think of two "senior administration officials" who would be aided by the vagueness of the "mid-June" reference -- the two who we know were aware, after the 12th, that Plame worked in the DO. Those two are Libby and Cheney, and we know Mr. X. isn't Libby, so it seems that if the conversation took place after June 12th signs point toward the VP.

If Woodward spoke to his source before the 12th, I suspect that the source is someone who, up to this point, seemed not to have known about Plame until after the Grossman briefing. Someone like, say, Stephen Hadley.

oh emptywheel, that is one genius post.

I might have my timeline wrong, but my reading makes the date of Woodward's conversation unimportant.

The key piece, ultimately, is whether that June 12 event can be nailed down. Is there proof that Cheney told Libby that Plame was CPD on June 12?

Libby talked to reporters after that date -- to Judy Miller on June 23, for example. If he was told she was undercover on June 12, he's knowingly revealing important classified information in those later conversations -- and the Espionage Act and IIPA possibly come into play. Right?

I'm pretty sure Leonnig said on MSNBC yesterday (the clip was posted on washingtonpost.com) that Woodward talked to his source during the first two weeks of June. Take it with a grain of salt - it was live TV and Leonnig is not always the most precise in that context. But if that is correct, it seems to me that puts the relevant date in a narrow window between, say, June 10 and June 15.

William

For Libby, yes. But not for Mr. X.

But it may make things a whole lot more interesting if it can be proven that both Mr. X and Mr. Libby spread the news about Plame after they had heard of Plame's covert status.

Jeff

Nice catch. Someday I'm going to have to start watching TV myself.

Shouldn't it be Official B rather than Mr.X ? just askin'..

I believe Fitz thinks he's still at least one step away from Official B--so Official B only appears in Libby's indictment as one of the unnamed people in OVP.

"But we might be able to determine whether Woodward had any substantive discussions about Wilson before the Grossman briefing simply by asking the WaPo's resident Wilson expert whether he had any conversations with Woodward about Wilson". emptywheel

Let's ask -

Wednesday, Nov. 18, at 10 a.m. ET
Post Executive Editor Discusses Woodward
Reporter's Silence in CIA Leak Case Scrutinized

Leonard Downie Jr.
Washington Post Executive Editor
Friday, November 18, 2005; 10:00 AM


Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie Jr. will be online Friday, Nov. 18, at 10 a.m. ET to discuss Bob Woodward's revelation that he may have been the first reporter told of Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA operative. Woodward, whose testimony may cast doubt on the case against I. Lewis Libby, apologized to The Washington Post Wednesday for withholding that information for over two years.

Submit your questions and comments before or during today's discussion.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2005/11/17/DI2005111700936.html

I think most americans think of the mid month as a function of the teens.. plus or minus 14 to 16 days. If they remember based on weeks, then probably 11 to 19 would be mid month. That probably also applies to February.

We should really do a poll.

I should haven't previewed... I meant if a person has a concept of a 30-day month, then mid month would be the week (3days) either side of 15, and it would be 12 to 18. If they thought in terms of weeks, they would probably think 11 to 19.
HOWEVER,,, June 2003 had 5 weekends... so if he thinks graphically, he might associate "mid month" as the week of 15 to 21st. Still, 15 is middle of June, so based on what I have read about Woodward, he probably heard it in May and did a post it note for his next book.

I wonder about this quote "I got a call from somebody in the CIA saying he got a call from the best New York Times reporter on this saying exactly that I supposedly had a bombshell."

Who was this CIA agent and how did he know? Presumably he was aware that Fitzgerald had interviewed the SAO about this and that the SAO had alerted Woodward. So how could the CIA know this unless a CIA man was told by the SAO? Or could he have been one of the CIA agents involved in the story already?

Also examining Woodward's previous stories might give an idea on which Senior Administration Officials had been talking to him in the past. For example was there any indication Cheney ever gave stories to Woodward?

Also why would Woodward say this to Pincus in such an off hand manner (while wlaking past his desk) instead of discussing it like they were both trying to make a story? Usually if one reporter told another about information like this then they would talk more about making a story, otherwise why mention it at all. So this implies Woodward might have been trying to seed the idea with Pincus but not discuss it. This implies Woodward knew not to get involved in talking about this. So this then implies Woodward was wary about spreading this information.

Also the only reason a journalist like Woodward wouldn't try to make a story about this before Novak is because he knew Plame was covert. No other reason makes sense. Therefore the SAO told Woodward Wilson's wife was in fact covert.

Ccobb---

Exactly. I agree with you 100% And I think whomever Mr. X is, he testified along the lines of "Well, I told Scooter that Wilson's wife was CIA, but nobody in the press. As far as I know, Scooter was the first person to talk to the press about her."

Hence, the Fitzgerald statment during his press conference (which is NOT in the indictment, btw) that Libby was the first _known_ person to have talked to the press about Plame. I think that by not putting that info in the indictment, but emphasizing it during the press conference, he was sending a message to Mr. X, "I know you were the first person to talk to a journalist, and I've got you under oath saying that you weren't."

That would be a plausible scenario for Cheney to be Mr.X, but then why would Cheney give himself up voluntarily? To help save Libby's skin? (maybe Libby could testify to far more damaging crimes?)

Or is Fitz really interested in the original original leaker, the person at CIA who gave up "Valerie Plame" and CPD (and possibly Brewster Jennings)? Maybe that person is still unknown and was a mole for Cheney or other NeoCon interests. (which could tie this all in to the Franklin/AIPAC case)

My question regarding the above is that I assume Plame's identity and affiliation with CPD as a case officer was probably top secret and compartamentalized information. Is Cheney is the "need-to-know" group? Wasn't this beyond his security clearance?

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