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February 09, 2006


As to why Libby would lie, given that he was authorized to leak classified information: could Cheney unilaterally declassify Plame's status? I suppose he could, or Bush, but in that case, you have them caught in direct lies about the affair.

Thanks for getting this up so fast. Type key neglected to post "emptywheel" under Orderly Leakage.

John Casper

Nope, that was me, think I've fixed it.


Remember, they were almost certainly trying to declassify Wilson's trip report the week of the leak (per Novak's article and a comment to Cooper). And they never did release that. So I doubt Cheney could. Tenet would have some say in the manner, and at least as far as the actual trip report, Tenet seems to have won.

I lifted this from the comments section over at TalkLeft.
It's by RDAndrea

Posted by rdandrea
February 9, 2006 12:05 PM
The trouble with Libby being "authorized" is that NOBODY can authorize you do disclose classified information. That's not how the system works. To be given classified information, you have to have 1) the right level of clearance, and 2) need to know.

Before classified information can be released to uncleared people, it must be declassified first. Only an Authorized Derivative Classifier can do that.

Honestly, the leaking of NIE material is not a big deal. First, it's arguable that the material should have been declassified by then, as it ultimately was, and, second, it's probable that it should never have been classified in the first place.

The bigger question here may be why Fitz is even mentioning the matter. Obviously, it provides a motive or pretext for Libby's meeting with Miller, but is that really necessary once we know that Libby talked about Wilson's wife at that meeting?

I think part of the reason Fitz is raising the NIE estimates is simply to establish two things: a) that Libby leaks and b) that Cheney authorizes him to do so.

After all, ultimately, the issue has very little relevance to whether Libby lied to the grand jury and obstructed justice. I suspect Fitz may be laying the groundwork for other charges against Cheney and Rove.

The trouble with rdeandrea's recognition of the trouble with Libby's defense is that I believe what's happening here is just what I said it was in the On the Necessity of Impeachment series.

This is more than just the reincarnation of the North defense. This is the reincarnation of the Nixon defense: "It's not illegal if the president does it."

And that's just what Alberto Gonzales told Russ Feingold the other day.

This is not "flipping." This is a straightforward presentation of the overarching neo-con theory of presidential powers.

The "I was authorized by Cheney and Bush to leak the NIE documents" line just won't work on a perjury case. I agree that Libby is a firewall to the President. He's trying to buy time for Bush's pardon, which will come after the 2006 elections.

Why aren't Democrats campaigning on this issue? I would like to see all Republican candidates held accountable to a "no pardons" pledge concerning Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, and other potentially indictable members of the Bush administration, including the President and Vice President. We should have all Republicans on the defensive for the actions of this administration in taking us to war and covering up for it.

I like RonK's version of the "no pardons" pledge.

re: Libby's superior's....

we seem to be forgetting that in addition to being Cheney's Chief of Staff, Libby also held the title "Assistant to the President".

Now, maybe in the white house there is some kind of special "assistant" hierarchy; but on the face of it, it appears to me that Bush would have to be considered the other "superior"...

I remarked a while ago, when Hadley was being weirdly coy and playful with the press, that his behavior only made sense if he knew Bush was in his corner. He had a real I know something you don't know attitude. Rove has it sometimes too. Libby, I get the sense, Bush still makes work for it a little and go through a few hoops.

p luk

I think that's what I was saying when I said, "and Assistant to the President, likely had two superiors." Don't know why Waas doesn't say it more directly. But I've been saying for over a week that Libby'd have two superiors, given that he played that weird dual role.


Oh, I think Fitz is being really sharp. I half suspect the one main reason he included Judy in the indictment (as unreliable as she is) is so he could include this tidbit. He may get sunk with the greymail, but he's gonna give the press and Congress every opportunity to take the "lied your way to war" from him and run with it.

I mean, consider. I'm not joking when I say the aluminum tubes is one thing Libby leaked. But if we get that proven in court by Libby's own testimony, we won't need to do a Phase II SSCI investigation. All the evidence will be there, clear as day.

Good analysis. Libby is definitely not flipping. That would be totally out of character. He is claiming authorization as a defense--but it won't work for perjury, however.

Even if "it is legal if the President does it", when did this get extended to the VP? So either Bush authorized it or Cheney exceeded his authority. But it ISN'T legal just because the Prez says so. Kagro is right, this is the great evil. See also Glenn Greenwald's post from yesterday on this point. Bush is claiming the prerogatives of a medieval King--capture your enemy and throw him in the dungeon, never to be heard from again. Isn't this want the (First) Revolutionary War was all about?

THere's a post on Raw Story about this that Jason Leopold has come up with that adds to the fuel.

When Libby spoke to Miller, and leaked info about the classified NIE report, didn't he say the NIE stuff bolstered the uranium/WMD stuff? And didn't the NIE report actually indicate the exact *opposite* of what Libby was telling Miller? Or am I wrong about that?

Quasi OT--

EW, remember p. luk and my speculation about Plame being at State? Here's a quote from a Larry Johnson interview with Wolf Blitzer (via BooTrib):

Not only that, when Valerie wrote that check to Al Gore's campaign as a member of Brewster-Jennings, she was living her cover. Not a single neighbor knew that she worked for the CIA. She protected that cover. She was in the process of moving from non-official cover to official cover, but, under the law, official cover's still protected.

I can't remember off-hand, but I guess that would have been in '99-'00, no? I have my suspicions as to where exactly she might have worked at State (probably one of the offices in the NP bureau), but no good evidence to confirm.

I think that, once again, Fitzgerald is pointing us towards Bush. I would like to make a couple of points. Based on the testimony of Libby and Miller, Libby wasn't really leaking the classified contents of the NIE. He was lying about the classified contents of the NIE. He was telling Miller that the classified parts made the case for the war stronger. We know now that that's flat wrong. The administration had already declassifed the parts of the NIE that best supported their case for war. eRiposte over at the Left Coaster has dealt with that extensively (maybe even obsessively, and I mean that as the ultimate compliment). See http://www.theleftcoaster.com/archives/005999.php

So, we have Libby claiming, in effect, that Dick Cheney and George Bush authorized him to meet with a reporter and deliberately misrepresent classified information in order to undermine the credibility of an Administration opponent. Will anybody in the press notice that? I doubt it.

Is Libby laying the groundwork for a defense that when he lied to the grand jury he was just following orders? That seems uncomfortably (for Cheney, at least) close to the truth. I'll leave to the lawyers to decide if it's a viable defense.

Is that defense strategy a response to the publication of these letters? Or is it a response to the news that Fitzgerald will insist on introducing the NIE tidbit because of the way it relates to Libby's breakfast meeting with Judy?

First off, I'm not sure that "I was just following orders" is going to be a defense strategy.

IMHO, I think that Fitz's reference to Libby's claim of authorization to give classified information to Miller was an attempt to "turn" Libby.... Fitz was telling Libby

"Oh, btw dude, remember when during your grand jury testimony, I pointed out to you that it was illegal to give classified information to journalists? And remember how you told me how you told me your boss said it was okay to leak classified information from the NIE to Judity Miller? Well, guess what.... right now I have no intention of charging you and your boss with conspiring to leak classified information..... but I do plan on bringing it up during the trial.... Is there any chance you might want to tell me what really happened, so that you don't go down with the rest of your crew?"

....and the reason Libby's team released this information -- because they needed it for "evidence" that Fitzgerald was not providing all the discovery materials the defense thought it was entitled to (i.e. it accompanied the "proposed motion" on discovery submitted by the defense to Watson).

In other words, Fitz threw a few "bomblets" into his response to the Libby team's request for discovery materials---making sure that if Libby went to the judge on the discovery issue, that there would be "repercussions."

One of them was "emails are missing from the archives". Another one was "well, as of right now, there are only five journalists that I know of who knew that Plame was CIA -- so you can kiss your "everybody knew" defense goodbye." And there is this one, the "Libby was told that it was OK to leak classified info by his boss" bomblet....


I need to go back. But my understanding is that Judy lied in her own version of this by saying it had already been declassified. It was declassified on July 18 (working from memory), 10 days after their conversation.

Which suggests she thought it important to cloud the NIE issue.

Two funny things:

Waas presents Miller's account of her own testimony as jibing with Libby's on the issue of the NIE. But while Miller's reported testimony isn't inconsistent with what we learn of Libby's testimony on sharing classified information authorized by Cheney, she doesn't exactly provide much corroboration either. She repeatedly downplays the extent to which, and even throws doubt on whether, Libby shared classified information at their July 8 meeting. As I read Fitzgerald's rendition of Libby's testimony, Miller's testimony to the contrary would actually corroborate Libby's story, that the whole purpose of that meeting was to transmit information from the classified NIE. Similarly, we get this on Cheney:

Before the grand jury, Mr. Fitzgerald asked me questions about Mr. Cheney. He asked, for example, if Mr. Libby ever indicated whether Mr. Cheney had approved of his interviews with me or was aware of them. The answer was no.

Again, this is not inconsistent with Libby's account, but it doesn't provide corroboration for the idea that LIbby was authorized by Cheney to disclose classified info either. With regard both to Libby's disclosure of the NIE and Cheney's authorization, it is hard to resist the temptation that Miller may have fudged her testimony in an effort to help Libby and, misunderstanding the point of Fitzgerald's questions, done just the reverse, failed to provide help she could have.

Thinking through this prompted me to look back at the NYT and WaPo articles from the day Miller was set to finally testify. If I remember correctly, at the time a lot of people, including me, thought that at least the WaPo article looked like a last-ditch effort by Libby to signal to Miller what she should testify to. But you know what? I think it's almost the opposite. The NYT from September 30 2005 cites "someone who has been briefed on Mr. Libby's testimony and who believes that his statements show he did nothing wrong". Sounds like the Libby team, right? Here's what the source says:

Mr. Libby said that he did not know Mr. Wilson but that he had heard from the C.I.A. that the former ambassador's wife, an agency employee, might have had a role in arranging a trip that Mr. Wilson took to Africa on behalf of the agency to investigate reports of Iraq's efforts to obtain nuclear material.

This is of course contradictory to what Libby actually testified to - he claimed he had sourced all the info he gave reporters, even on July 12, the date of the last conversation with Miller, back to other reporters, not the CIA. How about the Post, which seemed like it brought Susan Schmidt back on to a story she hadn't covered in some time expressly to provide good info from Libby to Miller? The Post tells a subtly different story:

According to a source familiar with Libby's account of his conversations with Miller in July 2003, the subject of Wilson's wife came up on two occasions. In the first, on July 8, Miller met with Libby to interview him about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the source said.

At that time, she asked him why Wilson had been chosen to investigate questions Cheney had posed about whether Iraq tried to buy uranium in the African nation of Niger. Libby, the source familiar with his account said, told her that the White House was working with the CIA to find out more about Wilson's trip and how he was selected.

Libby told Miller he heard that Wilson's wife had something to do with sending him but he did not know who she was or where she worked, the source said.

Libby had a second conversation with Miller on July 12 or July 13, the source said, in which he said he had learned that Wilson's wife had a role in sending him on the trip and that she worked for the CIA. Libby never knew Plame's name or that she was a covert operative, the source said.

Fitzgerald's August 27, 2004 affidavit says Libby did not testify that Wilson's wife was discussed at the July 8 meeting. And Libby's indictment is more assertive that Libby testified that he did not discuss Wilson's wife at that meeting (26.c of Count One). Furthermore, this source's account of Libby's version of the July 12 conversation with Miller leaves out the crucial item that got Libby in trouble, the claim that he sourced his info on Plame back to other reporters. The Post's version even hints at what the Times is more explicit about, that the info came from within the government, since this version has Libby on July 8 telling Miller that the White House was working with the CIA to find out more about Wilson's trip and how he was chosen.

So all in all, those two stories, far from being signals from Libby to Miller about how to testify, appear to have been efforts by someone to confuse Miller about Libby's version and make it impossible for her to corroborate his false testimony. Who?

Speaking of intrguing media strategy, do you think the strategy of whoever spoke with Waas for today's article was to try to sow distrust between Cheney and Libby? Was that the point of Fitzgerald's 404(b) paragraph?


The NYT pieces appear to have disappeared by the the "select" wall, but check out this Isikoff piece:

It's pretty clear what Libby was doing in the July 8th meeting with Miller. He was trying to get Miller to write an article that undermined Wilson by saying that the classified NIE showed that Wilson was a liar. I'm sure the plan was for Cheney to go on a Sunday talk show to point at NYT headline and claim it vindicated the Administration's views.


How many times did Libby testify in front of Fitz, and when was his last appearance? I'm wondering if Libby ever had a chance to "correct" his testimony after Fitz's Aug 2004 affy and if that might account for the stories right before Miller testified.

Jim E - Libby testified before the grand jury twice in March 2004, after having spoken with FBI agents twice in the fall of 2003. I don't think anything like what you described happened. Those September 30, 2003 stories simply give an inaccurate account of LIbby's testimony on the morning that Miller was set to testify, seemingly based on sources friendly to Libby, but unlikely to genuinely be so.

One other point about the now famous 404(b) paragraph: it states that Libby "caused at least one other government official to discuss the NIE with the media in July 2003" - or that Libby testified he did such causing (it's unclear from the sentence which Fitzgerald is asserting). I wonder who the other government official is, and whether it is directly related or unrelated to leaks about Wilson's wife. I wonder if the other government official -- Cathie Martin? Karl Rove? -- might have been one of the other leakers, say, Pincus' source? Which reminds me: I checked, and Martin has been an occasional on-the-record source for Pincus. But not enough to be surprising or telling.

This story on Cheney also came out today at the same time Waas' story came out. It looks like they have the same sources. It does seem interesting that two of the same stories came out at the exact same time.


Cheney Spearheaded Effort to Discredit Wilson
By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t | Report

Thursday 09 February 2006

Vice President Dick Cheney and then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley led a campaign beginning in March 2003 to discredit former Ambassador Joseph Wilson for publicly criticizing the Bush administration's intelligence on Iraq, according to current and former administration officials.

The officials work or had worked in the State Department, the CIA and the National Security Council in a senior capacity and had direct knowledge of the Vice President's campaign to discredit Wilson.

In interviews over the course of two days this week, these officials were urged to speak on the record for this story. But they resisted, saying they had already testified before a grand jury investigating the leak of Wilson's wife, covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson, and added that speaking out against the administration and specifically Vice President Cheney would cause them to lose their jobs and subject their families to vitriolic attacks by the White House.

The officials said they decided to speak out now because they have become disillusioned with the Bush administration's policies regarding Iraq and the flawed intelligence that led to the war.

They said their roles, along with several others at the CIA and State Department, included digging up or "inventing" embarrassing information on the former Ambassador that could be used against him, preparing memos and classified material on Wilson for Cheney and the National Security Council, and attending meetings in Cheney's office to discuss with Cheney, Hadley, and others the efforts that would be taken to discredit Wilson.

A former CIA official who has worked in the counter-proliferation division, and is familiar with the undercover work Wilson's wife did for the agency, said Cheney and Hadley visited CIA headquarters a day or two after Joseph Wilson was interviewed on CNN.

These were the first public comments Wilson had made about Iraq. He said the administration was more interested in redrawing the map of the Middle East to pursue its own foreign policy objectives than in dealing with the so-called terrorist threat.

"The underlying objective, as I see it, the more I look at this, is less and less disarmament, and it really has little to do with terrorism, because everybody knows that a war to invade and conquer and occupy Iraq is going to spawn a new generation of terrorists," Wilson said in a March 2, 2003, interview with CNN.

"So you look at what's underpinning this, and you go back and you take a look at who's been influencing the process. And it's been those who really believe that our objective must be far grander, and that is to redraw the political map of the Middle East," Wilson added.

This was the first time that Wilson had spoken out publicly against the administration's policies. It was two and a half weeks before the start of the Iraq war.

But it wasn't Wilson who Cheney was so upset about when he visited the CIA in March 2003.

During the same CNN segment in which Wilson was interviewed, former United Nations weapons inspector David Albright made similar comments about the rationale for the Iraq war and added that he believed UN weapons inspectors should be given more time to search the country for weapons of mass destruction.

The National Security Council and CIA officials said Cheney had visited CIA headquarters and asked several CIA officials to dig up dirt on Albright, and to put together a dossier that would discredit his work that could be distributed to the media.

"Vice President Cheney was more concerned with Mr. Albright," the CIA official said. "The international community had been saying that inspectors should have more time, that the US should not set a deadline. The Vice President felt Mr. Albright's remarks would fuel the debate."

The officials said a "binder" was sent to the Vice President's office that contained material that could be used by the White House to discredit Albright if he continued to comment on the administration's war plans. However, it's unclear whether Cheney or other White House officials used the information against Albright.

A week later, Wilson was interviewed on CNN again. This was the first time Wilson ridiculed the Bush administration's intelligence that claimed Iraq tried to purchase yellowcake uranium from Niger.

"Well, this particular case is outrageous. We know a lot about the uranium business in Niger, and for something like this to go unchallenged by US - the US government - is just simply stupid. It would have taken a couple of phone calls. We have had an embassy there since the early '60s. All this stuff is open. It's a restricted market of buyers and sellers," Wilson said in the March 8, 2003, CNN interview. "For this to have gotten to the IAEA is on the face of it dumb, but more to the point, it taints the whole rest of the case that the government is trying to build against Iraq."

What Wilson wasn't at liberty to disclose during that interview, because the information was still classified, was that he had personally traveled to Niger a year earlier on behalf of the CIA to investigate whether Iraq had in fact tried to purchase uranium from the African country. Cheney had asked the CIA in 2002 to look into the allegation, which turned out to be based on forged documents, but was included in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address nonetheless.

Wilson's comments enraged Cheney, all of the officials said, because they were seen as a personal attack against the Vice President, who was instrumental in getting the intelligence community to cite the Niger claims in government reports to build a case for war against Iraq.

The former Ambassador's stinging rebuke also caught the attention of Stephen Hadley, who played an even bigger role in the Niger controversy, having been responsible for allowing President Bush to cite the allegations in his State of the Union address.

At this time, the international community, various media outlets, and the International Atomic Energy Association had called into question the veracity of the Niger documents. Mohammed ElBaradei, head of IAEA, told the UN Security Council on March 7, 2003, that the Niger documents were forgeries and could not be used to prove Iraq was a nuclear threat.

Wilson's comments in addition to ElBaradei's UN report were seen as a threat to the administration's attack plans against Iraq, the officials said, which would take place 11 days later.

Hadley had avoided making public comments about the veracity of the Niger documents, going as far as ignoring a written request by IAEA head Mohammed ElBaradei to share the intelligence with his agency so his inspectors could verify the claims. Hadley is said to have known the Niger documents were crude forgeries, but pushed the administration to cite it as evidence that Iraq was a nuclear threat, according to the State Department officials, who said they personally told Hadley in a written report that the documents were bogus.

The CIA and State Department officials said that a day after Wilson's March 8, 2003, CNN appearance, they attended a meeting at the Vice President's office chaired by Cheney, and it was there that a decision was made to discredit Wilson. Those who attended the meeting included I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff who was indicted in October for lying to investigators, perjury and obstruction of justice related to his role in the Plame Wilson leak, Hadley, White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, and John Hannah, Cheney's deputy national security adviser, the officials said.

"The way I remember it," the CIA official said about that first meeting he attended in Cheney's office, "is that the vice president was obsessed with Wilson. He called him an 'asshole,' a son-of-a-bitch. He took his comments very personally. He wanted us to do everything in our power to destroy his reputation and he wanted to be kept up to date about the progress."

A spokeswoman for Cheney would not comment for this story, saying the investigation into the leak is ongoing. The spokeswoman refused to give her name. Additional calls made to Cheney's office were not returned.

The CIA, State Department and National Security Council officials said that early on they had passed on information about Wilson to Cheney and Libby that purportedly showed Wilson as being a "womanizer" and that he had dabbled in drugs during his youth, allegations that are apparently false, they said.

The officials said that during the meeting, Hadley said he would respond to Wilson's comments by writing an editorial about the Iraqi threat, which it was hoped would be a first step in overshadowing Wilson's CNN appearance.

A column written by Hadley that appeared in the Chicago Tribune on February 16, 2003, was redistributed to newspaper editors by the State Department on March 10, 2003, two days after Wilson was interviewed on CNN. The column, "Two Potent Iraqi Weapons: Denial and Deception" once again raised the issue that Iraq had tried to purchase uranium from Niger.

Cheney appeared on Meet the Press on March 16, 2003, to respond to ElBaradei's assertion that the Niger documents were forgeries.

"I think Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong," Cheney said during the interview. "[The IAEA] has consistently underestimated or missed what it was Saddam Hussein was doing. I don't have any reason to believe they're any more valid this time than they've been in the past."

Cheney knew the State Department had prepared a report saying the Niger claims were false, but he thought the report had no merit, the two State Department officials said. Meanwhile, the CIA was preparing information for the vice president and his senior aides on Wilson should the former ambassador decide to speak out against the administration again.

Behind the scenes, Wilson had been speaking to various members of Congress about the administration's use of the Niger documents and had said the intelligence the White House relied upon was flawed, said one of the State Department officials who had a conversation with Wilson. Wilson's criticism of the administration's intelligence eventually leaked out to reporters, but with the Iraq war just a week away, the story was never covered.

It's unclear whether anyone disseminated information on Wilson in March 2003, following the meeting in Cheney's office. Although the officials said they helped prepare negative information on Wilson about his personal and professional life and had given it to Libby and Cheney, Wilson seemed to drop off the radar once the Iraq war started on March 19, 2003.

With no sign of weapons of mass destruction to be found in Iraq, news accounts started to call into question the credibility of the administration's pre-war intelligence. In May 2003, Wilson re-emerged at a political conference in Washington sponsored by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee. There he told the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff that he had been the special envoy who traveled to Niger in February 2002 to check out allegations that Iraq tried to purchase uranium from the country. He told Kristoff he briefed a CIA analyst that the claims were untrue. Wilson said he believed the administration had ignored his report and were dishonest with Congress and the American people.

When Kristoff's column was published in the Times, the CIA official said, "a request came in from Cheney that was passed to me that said 'the vice president wants to know whether Joe Wilson went to Niger.' I'm paraphrasing. But that's more or less what I was asked to find out."

In his column, Kristoff Had accused Cheney of allowing the truth about the Niger documents the administration used to build a case for war to go "missing in action." The failure of US armed forces to find any WMDs in Iraq in two months following the start of the war had been blamed on Cheney.

What in the previous months had been a request to gather information that could be used to discredit Wilson now turned into a full-scale effort involving the Office of the Vice President, the National Security Council, and the State Department to find out how Wilson came to be chosen to investigate the Niger uranium allegations.

"Cheney and Libby made it clear that Wilson had to be shut down," the CIA official said. "This wasn't just about protecting the credibility of the White House. For the vice president, going after Wilson was purely personal, in my opinion."

Cheney was personally involved in this aspect of the information gathering process as well, visiting CIA headquarters to inquire about Wilson, the CIA official said. Hadley had also raised questions about Wilson during this month with the State Department officials and asked that information regarding Wilson's trip to Niger be sent to his attention at the National Security Council.

That's when Valerie Plame Wilson's name popped up showing that she was a covert CIA operative. The former CIA official who works in the counter-proliferation division said another meeting about Wilson took place in Cheney's office, attended by the same individuals who were there in March. But Cheney didn't take part in it, the officials said.

"Libby led the meeting," one of the State Department officials said. "But he was just as upset about Wilson as Cheney was."

The officials said that as of late May 2003 the only correspondence they had had was with Libby and Hadley. They said they were unaware who had made the decision to unmask Plame Wilson's undercover CIA status to a handful of reporters.

George Tenet, the former director of the CIA, took responsibility for allowing what is widely referred to as the infamous "sixteen words" to be included in Bush's State of the Union address. Tenet's mea culpa came one day after Wilson penned an op-ed for the New York Times in which he accused the administration of "twisting" intelligence on Iraq. In the column, Wilson revealed that he was the special envoy who traveled to Niger to investigate the uranium claims.

Tenet is working on a book titled At the Center of the Storm with former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow, which it is expected will be published later this year. Tenet will reportedly come clean on how the "sixteen words made it into the President's State of the Union speech, according to publishersmarketplace.com, an industry newsletter.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who has been investigating the Plame Wilson leak for more than two years, questioned Cheney about his role in the leak in 2004. Cheney did not testify under oath, and it's unknown what he told the special prosecutor.

On September 14, 2003, during an interview with Tim Russert of NBC's "Meet the Press," Cheney maintained that he didn't know Wilson or have any knowledge about his Niger trip or who was responsible for leaking his wife's name to the media.

"I don't know Joe Wilson," Cheney said, in response to Russert, who quoted Wilson as saying there was no truth to the Niger uranium claims. "I've never met Joe Wilson. And Joe Wilson - I don't who sent Joe Wilson. He never submitted a report that I ever saw when he came back ... I don't know Mr. Wilson. I probably shouldn't judge him. I have no idea who hired him."

My god, Cheney sounds so perfectly Nixonian in this story. He can lie as calmly as a lizard, that's for sure.

Gotta love the New York Times....

nine days AFTER Fitzgerald's letter is made public, someone at the Post finally gets around to reading it AFTER Murray Waas reports on the "authorization to leak classified information".....


Now, imagine if this letter had been about the Paula Jones case ... would it have taken more than a week for the Times to have assigned someone to read and report on the evidence that has been released? I don't think so....

Gotta love the Times:

"The letter was first reported Thursday by the National Journal, which said its sources had identified that one of the superiors was Mr. Cheney."

Forget about the fact that the "superiors" part of the letter was reported a week ago here and at Raw Story...but the freaking letter itself was first reported in the Daily News, as well.

p luk and Ron

Yeah, I was laughing yesterday with all the BREAKING BREAKING BREAKING. No. I pointed to that passage a week ago. It's been publicly avaialble since then...maybe I'll call NYT and tell them...


I think you're absolutely right that Judy screwed up her testimony. But I'm still inclined to believe that that Steno Sue article WAS intended to coach her testimony. Remember, Waas has reported that two other newspapers received the same leak, and they didn't print it because it was so obviously designed to support Libby. Also, Steno Sue is reliable enough in a Judy Miller kind of way NOT to write something that she can't trust. I doubt she would have written this article if she wasn't absolutely confident that the source was representing Libby's interests.

But this NIE stuff wasn't in the affy, was it? The affy lays basically says that, if Libby revealed Plame's identity on July 8, he'd get hit with IIPA, but not if he did so on July 12. (And recall, it appears from the affy that Fitz is unaware of the second, longer phone call on July 12). I think that message still fits Libby's goals: to get Judy to NOT admit she learned of Plame on July 8. Did she follow that instruction? Well, she had to explain the WINPAC reference in her notes, so she was not at liberty to follow it exactly. And of course, Libby DIDN'T send info about the NIE, because he had no idea Fitz was going after it.

Two more points. Remember that both Libby and Judy believed they had hidden their June 23 meeting at this point. So that coaching was prepared without full knowledge of where Fitz would go.

Also, when Libby testified, he believed all the journalists would refuse to testify. And he had explained the Judy meeting--which was really his first Plame leak meeting that week--away with the NIE excuse. The Steno Sue leak came in response to news that Judy was going to testify (but with only a few hours notice). Recall that Tate was scrambling mightily that day, seemed to be taken by surprise that Judy had agreed to testify. So I imagine the Steno Sue leak was a ham-handed attempt at damage control. They knew Judy would have to testify to SOME discussion of Plame on July 8. So they were trying to give her a way to frame it such that it wouldn't totally blow the Russert story out of the water.

I'm really scratching my head about the discrepancy between what Libby actually testified to, and what the Wash Post reported on the eve of Miller's appearance.

I wonder if it's because Libby realized that Miller's notes of her conversations with him would be a subject of her testimony as well. When he originally testified, Libby was probably hopeful that Miller (and her notes) would never be revealed. But when it was clear that Miller and her notes were going before Fitz, Libby had to send signals to her in order to let her know how to couch the "Wilson's wife" stuff, which he knew would appear in her notes.

Maybe he was most concerned with signalling to Miller that she not testify about him mentioning "Flame" with any specificity (which I suspect he actually did--at least in the June converstation). In that regard, Miller did play along. She didn't seem to have a very good memory about anything. She didn't necessarily help him, but she did muddy the waters a bit and didn't nail him with telling her that Plame was a covert agent.

But who knows. I do think you've come across something new. I'm just not exactly sure what it is.

At the very least, this is just further evidence of what a horrible witness Miller is for Fitz.
OK, I got interrupted while writing this, and now I see emptywheel has beaten me to the punch. I think what I've written overlaps with emptywheel a bit in that we both still think Libby *was* coaching Miller.

Here's some really off-the-wall speculation that I made back at the time (Sept. 2005), and re-reading that David Johnston/Douglas Jehl piece reminds me. The description of Libby's testimony in that article doesn't resemble Libby's testimony at all. It does, however, perfectly match the contents of Judy Miller's notes. I thought then, and still suspect, that some reporter in the NYT's Washington office saw those notes while Ms. Miller was incarcerated. In fact, I wonder if those notes would ever have seen the light of day without the intervention of someone (let's call that person DJ) at the NYT besides Ms. Miller. I think DJ was playing a very interesting game. Whether motivated by an intense dislike of Ms. Miller or just good old fashioned patriotism (what's the difference in this case, really), DJ wanted Ms. Miller to think that Libby had testified in a manner consistent with Ms. Miller's notes.

EW, Jim E. -- then what about Jeff's point #2, about the question of the source of Libby's knowledge about Plame?

ew, Jim E - First off, just to be clear, I'm not claiming Miller screwing up her testimony about the NIE has anything to do one way or the other with the question of Libby coaching her testimony concerning Plame. And ew, I think you missed my point: it's not about the discrepancy between what the Post and the Times conveyed to Miller on September 30 and what Miller had to testify to about July 8, given her notes. It's about the discrepancies between what the Post and the Times reported on September 30 and Libby's testimony, which we only learn of later from the indictment (and Fitzgerald's affidavit). It's possible something like what Jim E and you describe was going on (Libby knew her notes were coming into it, and tried to signal her to make things out as innocent as possible, and they were operating on the fly). But the fact is the indictment and the affidavit say Libby testified that he did not mention Wilson's wife on July 8, whereas the Post report says he did. Plus the Post says nothing about sourcing info about Plame back to reporters on July 12, which is a crucial detail Libby would not have failed to include. Indeed, compare that with Schmidt's November 26 2004 account of Cooper's testimony, which claimed that he did include that crucial detail, even though we now know he didn't. (But I'm also starting to wonder whether that leak didn't also come from the investigation side and not Libby's, so as not to tip Libby off to the fact that Cooper had contradicted his testimony.) Basically, I wonder whether Schmidt is not the Republicans' stenographer, but rather prosecutors'. That fits with (what I understand was) her coverage of the Clinton thing as well as with her coverage of Abramoff.


I am very reluctant to think that Fitz leaked anything to the media. And even if he were leaking, it's an even bigger jump to suggest he's leaking lies so as to purposely confuse witnesses and Libby. I really don't see that.

Furthermore, say Libby's team was trying to coach Miller via Schmidt. Unless Schmidt allowed them to write the story themselves, they'd have to rely on her ability and discretion to accurately pass along the relevant information. I hate Steno Sue as much as the next guy, but there's no way that she'd be so blatently on their "side" that she's actually conspiring with them. For all we know, Libby's coaching got botched in translation. I mean, look at how often straight reporters unintentionally screw up what is in the public record.

Something funny definitely went on with the Wash Post story, but at the same time I wouldn't hang my entire hat on a phrase here or there. For all we know, Libby and his lawyers were disappointed at how Schmidt mangled their message.

Also, regarding Schmidt: I don't think is generically pro-prosecution. Until I can be persuaded otherwise, I think she is pro-Republican. Yes, she was the recipient of Starr's leaks, but that was also pro-Republican of her, and she was also the go-to person for the Jessica Lynch invention. And her Abramoff contribution of note was clearly pro-DeLay and anti-Dem (it was her story that said Abramoff gave money to Dems that set off the furor against Deborah Howell).

No, that's what I understood you to be saying the first time.

I'm saying that when Libby testified, he was sure Judy didn't testify. He could trust that more than Russert, Cooper, Ari, anything. So when he testified, he made it as innocent as possible.

Then, faced with the prospect in September that she would testify, Libby quickly put together a NEW story, one that stuck with some outlines of his testimony, but more importantly took things he knew he had said to her (about WINPAC, for example) and told her how best to spin that. He likely KNEW she was going to have to testify that they talked about Plame. So the question was, how best to do so while still protecting certain aspects of the story (named Dick). That's why I'm clarifying what Libby's lawyers would know. They seem to have been working off the affy as a guide of what Fitz would ask. They hadn't yet had the discussion about the NIE.

Now, unless Murray Waas was wrong on this count, we KNOW Steno Sue's source was friendly to Libby. Here's what he said about it:

Finally, on September 29, the night before Miller was scheduled to testify before the grand jury, a source sympathetic to Libby spoke to journalists for at least three news organizations to leak word as to what Libby himself had said during his own testimony.

Journalists at two news organizations declined to publish stories. Among their concerns was that they had only a single source for the story and that that source had such a strong bias on behalf of Libby that the account of his grand jury testimony might possibly be incomplete or misleading in some way.

From the time it became clear that Cooper would talk in July, Rove and Libby were both visibly scrambling, trying to impugn known witnesses (like Ari) and trying to put the best spin on things (by having Byron York accuse Cooper of "burning" Rove for the WAY he reported the story). Tate, the night it came out that Judy was going to testify, spent several hours saying, "no comment," before he finally said, "Oh yeah, we want her to testify." They were surprised by Judy's testimony, and I think they tried to invent a NEW story that night that would basically SPIN what they knew Judy would say (and had said in the statement she made before she left jail) to make it look less incriminating than it was. It's not clear it worked, either. Judy could only deviate slightly from the signed statement she had already made. That's why, I think, it doesn't resemble Libby's testimony. He knew it couldn't. And he was trying to salvage as much of the story as he could.

What do you make of this from the Note:

ABC's Jonathan Karl received this statement from Libby attorney William Jeffries: "There is no truth at all to the story that Mr. Libby's lawyers have advised the court or the Special Counsel that he will raise a defense based on authorization by superiors. Indeed, there has never been any conference call between Mr. Libby's defense lawyers and Judge Walton. We do not know who reporters are relying on as sources for this story, but any such persons are neither knowledgeable nor authorized to speak for Mr. Libby's defense team."


Do you have a link?

I'm just looking at it (clarice at Tom Maguire's cited it). But it looks like Jeffress is mischaracterizing what Waas said.

And it looks like, while the Veep thing was a ploy that was part of the greymail scheme, it may have backfired.

ew - Ok, I'm just about convinced. It remains odd to me that Libby would float a story that seems so un-exculpating. But maybe that is just in retrospect, knowing the points on which Fitzgerald nailed him. On that issue, Libby's lawyers wouldn't have had access to Fitzgerald's affidavit, would they have? I could be wrong, but I thought that was from Fitzgerald just for the court's consumption, not Libby's. If they had seen it, it would be shocking that Libby would not have made damn sure that Schmidt said something about Libby sourcing information to reporters on July 12.


I'm not sure one way or another, I guess we ought to as ReddHedd. When I wrote what I wrote, I assumed they had seen Tatel's opinion. But now that I think about it, they probably didn't even see that.

Remember, too, that Libby didn't know whether he had to defend against the IIPA or not. The version he coached Judy on gets him off of the IIPA charge, though not the perjury charge.

In some sense, I think Libby's lawyers have miscalculated, because their defense strategy would work a lot better if he HAD been charged with IIPA. As it is, it stands much less chance of success. It'll be interesting to see how Walton rules on the motions. If he rules against Libby, they may think more serious about avoiding a court battle.

ew - I think you're probably right that, in effect, Libby knew there was no way of avoiding obstruction-type charges regardless of what Miller testified to, if Fitzgerald decided to press charges, so he was just trying to avoid charges for the underlying crimes. Which he succeeded at, thanks in no small part, I suspect, to what a good job Miller did of discrediting herself both in front of the grand jury and with the public at large. I do not think that Libby's team has any intention of avoiding a court battle except on their own terms, whether that be through graymail dismissal or stalling through January 2009 when Libby gets a pardon. No way Libby pleads and cooperates. No way.

IMO, the affy goes beyond the Tatel opinion. And the NIE stuff comes from Libby's GJ testimony, which I'm sure they've had for a while.


I agree, the IIPA charge WOULD have been much easier to use the greymail strategy against. It's hard for me to believe that Libby's lawyers didn't at least anticipate the 2 perjury and 2 false statements counts, as they knew how both Cooper and Russert testified at that time. Maybe they weren't as concerned about a possible 3rd count with Miller. And I think they had to let Miller testify as Fitz was strongly suggesting that he was considering indicting Libby on an obstruction count for failing to "release" Miller.

Remember that Miller's not only trying to help Libby out with her testimony. Her real priorities, I'd speculate, were to keep other fronts from breaking out in this scandal, that is to keep Bolton and whatever nefarious activities were going on at State regarding the possible "salting" of WMDs in Iraq out of the limelight, as well as to protect Cheney's behind vis-a-vis "ordering Libby to leak" . I'm not suggesting that Miller was party to such activities, but I think she was the designated reporter "plant" to find those WMDs with MET alpha. When she didn't find such WMDs, naturally she probably went first to Bolton and asked him "what the hell went wrong, why weren't the WMDs where you told me that they'd be?" Maybe Bolton gave her the Valerie Flame name to get her off his back and told her to go talk to Scooter about it.


IANAL, but my understanding is that both Judge Tatel's redacted opinion and Fitz's affy were filed "under seal," thus Libby's lawyers were not allowed to see it until the court "unsealed" it. Furthermore, Fitz's affy was filed ex parte meaning directly with the Court, and thus even Miller's, Cooper's and Time's lawyers, who were fighting the subpoenas, couldn't even see it. It's possible that the journalist's lawyers were able to see parts of the redacted Tatel opinion, but I kind of doubt it, since it still contained sensitive GJ testimony that is supposed to be kept secret.

So, in sum, no, Libby's lawyers could not (at least should not have) seen this information.

Here's another thought. Libby's motion to compel discovery was filed January 31, and the DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on the Dow Jones motion to release the Tatel opinion on Friday Feb 3. So, does that mean that Libby's lawyers didn't even see this info before they tipped their hand regarding their defensive strategy? Or is all the new info we get from the Tatel opinion and Fitz's affy sort of hinted at in Fitz's letter to Libby's attys?

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