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December 02, 2005

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Could it be Novak's ORIGINAL source? Mr. X?

I don't think so. THis is in the section Fitz is willing to release, the stuff that relates to Libby. Novak's testimony about Mr. X would only relate to Libby if Libby were Mr. X.

For what it's worth, I tried my damnedest today when Dana Priest was on a local NPR call-in show, as I called in and got to ask her - in light of Steve Clemons' recent suggestions that the original 1x2x6 source may have gone wobbly - whether she had any reason to think her SAO source for the Sept. 28 story had backed off his/her original claim. Her answer, I kid you not, was, more or less, "I'm sorry, I can't help you. That's one of the things about anonymous sources. . . " which astonished and puzzled me, since I didn't think my question in any way invited her to reveal anything about the identity of her source. But I got nowhere. If I had to guess, I would say I suspect the source has gone wobbly on the original story, and is not the witness referred to by Fitzgerald today.

I was just trying to puzzle this out myself.

I believe this was argued December 8, 2004 and decided February 15, 2005. Judy would not have testified by then, and thus I don't think her testimony would have been part of the redacted pages of Tatel's concurrence. Cooper would have testified by then, so you are right on that count.

Is it possible that this testimony came from one of the people already cited in the indictment -- Ari, Grossman, Martin, Big Time, Addington, "CIA Briefer," etc.?

Fitz also cites "additional details include quotations from testimony summarized in the indictment and the identities of persons who were identified in the indictment solely by job title.

I don't think it's some surprise like Mrs. Greenspan, because on p. 11 Fitz excludes "persons who have not been publicly identified as witnesses or subjects of the investigation." Unless you include Don Imus, that kind of leaves her out.

Hmm, I thought that what was a lot more than a nugget was the news that there is no classified info (as of Nov 30, 2005) in the redacted pages.

And FWIW, the SOA who leaked the 1 x 2 x 6 story was demoted to "administration official" in a follow up story a day ortwolater, and (I kid you not) seemed to have become a senior aide a week or two later.

Link rot has killed all my WaPo connections, but the Sep 28, 29 and 30 stories, plus Oct 12 2003 should have the grim career path of the leaker.

Jeff

SAO is not Priest's source. He's Allen's source. He couldn't be Priest's source, because Priest is not bylined on his next appearance, for which he is interviewed again. Which explains very clearly why Priest couldn't help you. (Steve Clemons is superb for inside gossip, but not so good at these kinds of details--he even missed some huge details in the Bolton testimony, which he was one of the only people to read).

TM

Yes, I'm aware of SAO's demotion. Which is one of the reasons why I think he's not Powell. Ari would be the perfect person to be SAO, particularly since we know he cooperated. Or Armitage? Btw, I've been doing some work on some neocons. And read in a chunk, it becomes apparent that Armitage is the standard scapegoat for Neocons. Got a problem you want to blame someone for? It's Armitage. Which is reason 1038562 why Armitage is probably not Woody's source. I'd even suggest the original claims that he was (LAT, for example) were probably more disinformation from Neocons, doing the same thing they always do.

Jane, if you put your point and mine together, I think it likely that the unnamed person is someone mentioned (Ari of Cathie Martin) in the guise of SAO.

Is it possible Cathie Martin is SAO? I don't think so, because she was on the record after October 2003 saying Dick had nothing to do with this, that he didn't handle media. But it would make Tom happy, because it would fit with the career prospect of SAO to AO to Aide.

emptywheel -

You are right about Armitage. I don't recall what exactly his schtick has been over the years - probably a foreign policy "realist" - but the neocons don't like him.

At a subtler level, he doesn't seem like someone who would burn a CIA agent because her hubby embarrassed the Bushies. In spinworld, that makes him the perfect fall guy; if he *were* the one who outed Plame, it would reduce the whole thing from crime to blunder. In realworld, it's good reason to think he's a red herring.

-- Rick

my 2 cents....

the person who has not discussed his testimony is Hadley. I personally believe that Hadley was the go-between for Rove and Libby....and was both Novakula's source, and Woodward's. Rove told Hadley that he "didn't take the bait" re: Cooper, because by that point they both knew that Novak would be writing about Plame....and they didn't want Cooper scooping their good friend Bob Novak.

p luk

Hmm. I don't buy it.

First, if Hadley's in that statement, he's in a third Hadley section, which might include Judy (probably does), but not Cooper.

Futher, given Jane's argument that everyone has already been named, it can't be Hadley. He doesn't appear in Libby's indictment.

And finally, Hadley's role in this is precisely the kind of thing Fitz won't let get out yet, because he still expects (I expect) to indict Hadley. So he can't be in the Libby section that Fitz is prepared to release.

HAdley's involvement with Libby, for example, has to do with some discussions they (and Rove) were having on July 8 and 9 that they tried to explain away as Rove and Libby as cooperating in the Tenet speech strategy. But that doesn't appear in the indictment. Largely because that's not supportive of a perjury indictment--it's supportive of a conspiracy indictment.

I haven't posted here before but have been hearing from folks who know that Woodward's source is the same as Novak's and that it's Armitage. Even more interesting is that Fitzgerald has known this from the beginning. When I initially heard this I didn't want to believe it, as it seemed like neocon spin. However, it's coming from a source that is very reliable and very interested in seeing Rove and Company behind bars where he belongs.

I bring this up because I think it's important for bloggers to begin thinking about what our response to the neocon spin is going to be when this becomes public, which it ultimately will (probably sooner rather than later).

I don't think it hurts our case at all as it proves that this was even more widely discussed within the Administration than was previously thought.

My assumption is that Armitage is the one witness who has not come public with his testimony to Fitzgerald that is mentioned in Fitzgerald's filing.

I'm curious about your perspective (and Jane's)on how this changes things, if at all.

EW

Very interesting new WAPO that states that the Viveca/Luskin conversation occured in early 2004.

This article goes on to say that Rove's first Grand Jury testimony was after the Viveca/Luskin conversation and Rove did not disclose the fact that he spoke with Cooper during that testimony.

One person familiar with the case said the Novak-Luskin conversation is not what prompted Rove to change his testimony in the case. In fact, this person said, Novak told Luskin about the Rove-Cooper connection before Rove's first appearance before the grand jury in February 2004. In that appearance, Rove testified that he did not recall talking to Cooper about Plame.
WAPO 12/03/05


In addition, all but one of the witnesses discussed in this portion of the redacted pages have publicly disclosed the substance of their own testimony before the grand jury.

Cheney? He was interviewed but never before the GJ, no?

MikeinDC

There's no reason Armitage would be mentioned in the bit on Libby that Fitzgerald has agreed to release. He's not critical to the argument that Libby was lying, even if he is Woody's source.

Also, you might ask your source how Armitage found out about Plame. Because the articles sourced to State (from someone like Grossman, Wilkerson, Armitage, or Ford) say clearly Armitage didn't see the INR memo until July. The articles sourced to friends of Libby and Rove say he saw it when he got back to DC. Now, granted, Armitage may have been spinning for himself; he's certainly capable. But the other stories just aren't sourced credibly.

Also, you might ask how it would happen that Armitage would make such a leak in violation of his incredibly loyal (to Powell) nature and and in violation of his intense rivalry with OVP at the time.

In other words, you provide me with a motive and a means, and I'll entertain the Armitage idea. Even Tom Maguire hasn't been able to do that even marginally credibly yet, with all his laudable weeks of trying. But perhaps your source can just ask Armitage himself.

As to how it affects the notion of a crime? Well, if Armitage saw the INR memo and passed that on, he will be in violation of his security agreement. Kind of like Sandy Berger. But he would not, in any way, be in violation of IIPA or espionage. Because Woody's leak said only that Plame was CIA (that is, it's only even a crime if you can prove the person found out from the INR memo with it's Secret paragraph). The crime, of course, comes in telling Novak that Plame was a NOC. Now if you want me to believe that Armitage is Mr. X (Woody's, Novak's, and Pincus's source AND that he told Novak she was a NOC), you'll have to do a lot more convincing because every detail we know rules against it.

polly

Yeah, I saw that. You might consider that Rove had been reminded of his conversation with Cooper, but didn't testify about it, until after Cooper had been subpoenaed twice and answered one of those subpoenas. In other words, in some ways this is the most incriminating story, that Rove waited until he was sure Cooper might testify before he revealed the Cooper information. Add in the fact that there's been no credible explanation of how the email slipped through two searches to which it responded, and I think Karl still goes to jail.

... the articles sourced to State (from someone like Grossman, Wilkerson, Armitage, or Ford) say clearly Armitage didn't see the INR memo until July.

That's incorrect -- this is from Time magazine on Jul. 31st (the August 8th issue):

"... Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman asked for and received a memo on the Wilson trip from Carl Ford, head of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Sources familiar with the memo, which disclosed Plame's relationship to Wilson, say Secretary of State Colin Powell read it in mid-June.

Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage may have received a copy then too."

emptywheel - Thanks for the eye-opening response. I knew that the 1x2x6 source was Allen's and not Priest's per se, but I was assuming that either Priest knew who it was as well, or at the very least that, sharing the byline for the Sept. 28, 2003 article, she is responsible for the entire article and for knowing whether the Post should continue to stand by the information in it or acknowledge error. But given that you plausibly suggest that her answer amounts to, "I don't know," I realize that assumption may be mistaken, and she is in effect responsible not for the article as a whole but only for her reporting that went into it. So thanks. I still think there is reason to suspect the 1x2x6 source has gone wobbly.

For what it's worth, I too have heard -- third-hand from presumably knowledgeable DC types -- that Armitage is Woodward's source. Maybe it's all just rumors that can be traced back to Armitage's adversaries within the Republican establishment in DC, but I wouldn't bet on it. However, I continue to have a hard time imagining that Armitage is both Woodward's source and Novak's. Since Fitzgerald obviously knows who Novak's source is, and since we know (right?) that Armitage has been questioned in the investigation, I really can't imagine that he would cop to being Novak's source and not to talking with Woodward. The only motive I can imagine is that he would have thought it damaging to admit to having talked almost a month earlier, so early in the game; but would that really be worth the risk? Then again, we've seen a lot of stupid arrogance (or vice versa) in the case, so who knows.

As for preparing for it to be Armitage, don't forget the guy is, after all, just another member of the Bush administration. When I want to see W.'s first-term State Department (or the CIA, for that matter) treated as a genuine ally of the Democratic Party (to say nothing of the dread liberal MSM, the French, and so on), I go to the comments at Tom Maguire's site.

Even more specifically, from the Los Angeles Times on August 25:

"After a June 12 Washington Post story made reference to the Niger uranium inquiry, Armitage asked intelligence officers in the State Department for more information. He was forwarded a copy of a memo classified "Secret" that included a description of Wilson's trip for the CIA, his findings, a brief description of the origin of the trip and a reference to "Wilson's wife."

As I wrote at the time, the article was very obviously sourced to the State Department.

"... in some ways this is the most incriminating story ..."

I think that's what Polly's trying to suggest.

I still think there is reason to suspect the 1x2x6 source has gone wobbly.

In the immortal words of Karl Rove, I wouldn't get too far in front on that, Jeff. The WaPo reporter may have been regurgitating spin that Rove's allies put out two years ago (and probably since then) -- and the one time it was floated in the press, the SAO immediately reconfirmed the story.

I'm not sure what you expect as far as proof that the source has not "gone wobbly." Is he or she supposed to call Mike Allen every week or two to reconfirm the story, just for the hell of it? Why would Allen bother to print it, if so?

Swopa - Are we sure that Allen talked to his source for the October 12 story after the source saw the Newsweek story? Last week I tried to figure this out, working from your posts at the time, and came away with some doubts. I'd be more than happy to have them put to rest.

Here's a guess as to why the Rove's version in today's rather crazy WaPo story is supposed to help Rove: Luskin hears about a possible Rove-Cooper connection on Plame in early 2004, but he doesn't think much of it and does not tell Rove about it. But then, in fall 2004 as he personally is going through Rove's email, he sees the Rove-Hadley email, which if I recall only mentions Niger and does not say anything about either of the Wilsons, and only because he recalls the conversation with Novak, he thinks there may be something Plame-related to it. He calls Rove's attention to it then, mentions his Novak conversation, and they go to Fitzgerald. This version of events averts the seemingly more obvious and damning explanation that Luskin recognized the significance of the Rove-Hadley email because Rove had told him about the conversation with Cooper, and takes all responsibility for recognizing the significance of the email off of Rove.

One other thing: isn't the WaPo story the first we have heard that Rove affirmatively testified that he did not recall talking to Cooper about Plame in February 2004?

EW

As for the means - as Swopa points out above, Armitage certainly had access to the original memo that mentioned Wilson's wife.

As for the motive, I would argue that Powell, as the face of the Administration in front of the UN and the world, wasn't too excited about people questioning the intelligence that Powell himself thought was shaky.

I don't think it's unreasonable to postulate that Armitage, being the loyal water carrier that he was, might want to discredit Wilson to make sure that history wouldn't judge his boss to be both a fool and a tool. Clearly, that's what happened when Wilson's information turned out to be correct.

I'm hoping that you take this perspective seriously because you and Jane and some of the others have been totally discounting Armitage because he seems "too useful" to the Administration argument. I'd rather we are positioning ourselves to say that the fact that Armitage was Novak (and Woodward's) source doesn't change the underlying crimes that were committed by the Administration.

Otherwise, when it is confirmed that Armitage is the source (and he will be), the wingnuts will be able to say that you (we) were wrong all along about this so why should we buy your arguments now.

While we are helping research, maybe EW has time to revisit Josh Marshall's project on the Mystery of the Flamboyant Forgers; JMM's note today says the latest installment will be ready Real Soon Now.
What is the final day of Pincus' grace period before the hoosegow, gotta be early this coming week.
And how long does one stand in the sand alongside the sphinx before it leaks valuable information from high palace officials.

Swopa - Are we sure that Allen talked to his source for the October 12 story after the source saw the Newsweek story?

We should be. :-) The Newsweek story was posted on October 8th. The Post story on the 12th says:

The source elaborated on the conversations last week, saying that officials brought up Plame as part of their broader case against Wilson. β€œIt was unsolicited,” the source said. β€œThey were pushing back. They used everything they had.”

Now, if your theory is that SAO didn't know about the Newsweek story, what does that say about Mike Allen? That he didn't know about it either? (A major competitor openly questioned the truth of his blockbuster scoop, and nobody told him?!) That he knew, but didn't bother to check with the SAO?

Neither one of those possibilities makes any sense. What does make sense is that Allen saw the Newsweek story and called the SAO for a response.

Swopa - Right, that was the passage I was thinking of. I would be a lot happier if they just said Saturday, like I think they did with the original Sept. 28 article. But you're probably right, and I hope so. I just feel uneasy about the apparent fact that Pincus was hinting to Clemons that the source went wobbly.

Pincus should be one of the last people "hinting to Clemons that the source went wobbly," since he was one of the six or more reporters, and he was called on July 12th.

This is an impressive thread.

I do think folks should be prepared for an unpleasant Armitage revelation. What seals it for me is the WAY in which Novak talked about Wilson -- calling him an "asshole" and all.

That's how Armitage talks. I doubt Novak would have been so moved if he'd heard it from some Neocon or other. Armitage is a damned good guy, but tilts in the emotive bullheaded direction, which can allow the opportunist Neocons to feather him when necessary. Which seems to be often, as EW has noted.

I see Powell as having been the resident Hamlet in the WH -- full of angst, forever staring into the abyss. A fundamental Realist who had just enough self-doubt & sense of duty to turn Neocon at critical junctures. Thereby hashing up Denmark.

Powell's troubled conscience made him insist Tenet sit behind him for the UN speech, and take full historical credit for his "slam dunk" sentiments. So perhaps Armitage, Powell's own personal Frodo, thought he was doing his boss a favor. These boys ain't Dems.

But if Fitzgerald has known it was Armitage all along, I think EW's point sticks -- Libby remains on the rotisserie.

Woodward has sauntered in to dilute the conspiracy charges against the Neocons, which might not help them with Fitz, but certainly would with public opinion. Which will be a big deal, when the WH goes into blast Fitz mode.

BTW, for what it's worth, I can't help but presume that everyone who testifies with Fitz goes around soon afterward telling their closest allies exactly what was talked about. So there's a lurking teamwork component to it all.

Swopa - But that idea that PIncus was one of the six doesn't fit with what I thought was your still-current theory about who called the six reporters when. Or have you reconsidered that theory, or have I misunderstood it?

Sorry, but I don't understand these alleged Armitage motives. Powell quite deliberately left out the silly uranium claims from his Feb. 5 UN speech.

Jeff,

You must have misunderstood. As previously noted on this fine site, I've always felt Pincus was one of the 1x2x6 recipients.

In fact, if you look closely at the WaPo 1x2x6 story, Pincus appears to have been an anonymous source.

Thanks, Swopa, got it. I think you're right that Pincus is a likely source for the 1x2x6 story, and the other source appears to be Wilson, who gave Allen and Priest what turned out to be incorrect information, insofar as the slime against him and his wife that Wilson heard about (from Mitchell and Matthews), and passed on to the Post, happened after Novak's column, not before. Which I assume is part of what generated the Newsweek pushback, as well as Mitchell's ire at Wilson and Kurtz, who identified her on that Monday morning as a recipient of the leak, I think, on the basis of Wilson's info.

I've thought for a long time that Hadley was Pincus' source, and part of the reason was that the leak that Pincus got was done so hamhandedly, completely botching the prescribed WH talking points, and I thought that fit with a guy like Hadley who is more of a policy guy than a hatchet man. But it could be Fleischer: if you look at what he was saying all week about Wilson and more generally about the 16 words, he screwed up his facts repeatedly and got the White House into all kinds of trouble by saying true but self-undermining things. (He was about to leave his job, so maybe that helps to explain why he was off his game.) So maybe he just screwed up with Pincus too. If you look at the story (or stories, I can't remember) Pincus published on July 13, he had a lot of sources, so he was clearly talking to a lot of people. If I remember correctly, it's pretty clear that one of them was Hadley. But that's not so telling.

KM

The point was that Wilson was the first one attacking the Administration's credibility on any of these allegations. So attacking Wilson was an attempt to send a message to everyone else to not challenge the administration. As Smokestack point out, perhaps Armitage thought he was Samwise protecting Frodo and eagerly went on the attack.

this is why the blogs are taking over the news and becoming the only credible sources
people that care for the truth and are not corporate stooges
thank you all for your time and effort

Mike, both you and Smokestack mentioned Powell. I can see Samwise going to bat for Frodo. It's just about the only remotely plausible motive for a deliberate Armitage involvement in this mess I could imagine (and I simply do not credit the idea that Woodward's leak really was mere gossip -- i.e. that Armitage's alleged involvement was unwitting).

But let's note that the first two sentences of your response make a very general point about the motives for the Admin's response to Wilson. They have very dubious applicability to Armitage. They are not equivalent to Samwise protecting Frodo. For Frodo, as I pointed out, had absolutely nothing to do with the Niger claims, which is what Wilson's critique was all about. So why would Armitage savage Wilson in an attempt to protect Powell from something that did not threaten him and indeed had nothing to do with him? Particularly when Powell appears to have been contemptuous of the get-Wilson campaign from the get-go, when either Powell or Armitage could have been the SAO who publicly fought back against it, when Powell has subsequently issued a public (and, from the Admin's perspective, entirely gratuitous) statement of regret about his UN speech, etc. etc.....

Not saying what you're speculating is impossible. But IMO it's pretty implausible.

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