I think it was John Casper who pointed out that the last time I left town for more than a few days, the Plame Affair got really exciting (in that case, the Judy magnum opus appeared). Well, I'll be gone for 9 more days. At this rate, who knows what we'll learn.
Anyway, I won't say anything more about the Bush bombshell from Fitzgerald's response released today. Except to pat myself on the back for correctly discerning what Fitzgerald telegraphed two months ago, when I noted:
Now, apparently Libby "was authorized to dislcose information about the NIE to the press by his superiors." (6) Hmm. Libby is the Chief of Staff to the VP. Who are his superiors. Hold on, I know!! Dick Cheney! George Bush! Both telling Libby to go peddle classified information to journalists. Nice crowd, this Bush White House.
Just a few more tidbits and then I want to talk about the way that Fitzgerald has hidden George and Stephen in this response like Easter Eggs.
First the tidbits. In the department of "not as cool as the President authorizing leaks but pretty damned incriminating anyway," there's this passage:
During this time, while the President was unaware of the role that the Vice President’s Chief of Staff and National Security Adviser had in fact played in disclosing Ms. Wilson’s CIA employment, defendant implored White House officials to have a public statement issued exonerating him.
Now, this passage explains the background to Scottie making reassurances that Karl and Libby were not guilty (Fitzgerald goes on to include Libby's very very very technical denial). But this passage almost certainly refers to Fall 2003, the time when Scottie was exonerating Libby. And at that point, Bush was unaware of the role his National Security Adviser had in leaking Plame's identity? Hello! That's Condi, the National Security Adviser in 2003, not Hadley (as I originally thought). Now, we've suspected Condi had a hand in this from the start. Apparently there's a bit of fire behind the smoke.
Update: Shouldn't have been in such a rush to pat myself on the back--as several people pointed out below, this is a reference to Libby in both his OVP roles, CoS for Veep and National Security Adviser. Thanks for the correction!
Next, this passage begins to explain some of the mystery behind Libby's leaking to Judy about Wilson's CIA trip report.
Defendant discussed with Miller the contents of a then classified CIA report which defendant characterized to Miller as having been written by Wilson. Defendant advised Miller that Wilson had reported that he had learned that in 1999 an Iraqi delegation visited Niger and sought to expand commercial relations, which was understood to be a reference to a desire to obtain uranium.
Either Libby didn't know that this report was written by a reporting officer, or he neglected to tell Judy. And as a result, he suggested that Wilson had said nothing debunking the Iraqi-Nigerien uranium deal. As far as we know, Wilson did say something about it, but the reports officer didn't record it.
Finally, I'm increasingly curious about the story surrounding Libby's claim that Powell said that "everyone knows" about Plame.
Nor has defendant established how “[a]ny notes from the September 2003 meeting in the Situation Room at which Colin Powell is reported to have said that (1) everyone knows that Mr. Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA and that (b) it was Mr. Wilson’s wife who suggested that the CIA send her husband on a mission to Niger” (see Memo. at 15) would be helpful to defendant in preparing his defense, even if such documents existed, and it is the understanding of the government that there are no notes indicating that Secretary Powell made the purported statements.
This passage makes it abundantly clear--Libby didn't claim he heard Powell say this. He just reported it, passed along something he heard from someone else (and besides, had Libby been there, he would almost certainly have taken notes). What the hell was Libby doing, passing on such a report during legal testimony? Further, it all seems very sketchy, as if maybe Powell didn't say it at all. Which would be rather curious, since Libby testified to this (apparently) in October, as if it happened in September. All in the time frame when the conspirators were putting together their cover-up.
Now, I've got to bust Fitzgerald just a little. I think he mischaracterizes Libby's reasons to want to get materials on the NIE and Powell's alleged statement. Fitzgerald says Libby is looking for context. But Libby requested those documents because they are things Libby has testified to that Fitzgerald has suggested he will enter into evidence. That is, Libby is afraid he will have to defend himself on these counts. Though Fitzgerald pretty much slaps down the idea anyway, pointing out that it is irrelevant to the issue of whether or not Libby lied.
So on to the Easter Egg Hunt. Fitzgerald ruins Libby's fun by announcing he has no intention of calling Tenet, Hadley, or Rove.
Because the government does not intend at this time to call three of these individuals – Mr. Tenet, Mr. Hadley, and Mr. Rove – defendant is not entitled to discovery based on the need to prepare to cross-examine those individuals.
As others have pointed out, one good reason not to call them to testify is if Fitzgerald plans to charge them (a distinct possibility with Rove and Hadley). But he also might not call them if he wanted to avoid revealing evidence to Libby ... particularly if he knew Libby would call them anyway. Imagine, for example, if in one of his attempts to avoid indictment, Rove dealt some really good info on Libby. The only way Fitzgerald could spring it on Libby is if Libby calls Rove--freeing Fitzgerald from any discovery. At the least, it's a way to force Libby to admit what he knows, if he wants to call these people. And it may be a great way to keep Libby's team off-balance.
Which makes the materials on the NIE Fitzgerald has agreed to release all the more interesting.
The government has produced to defendant all documents responsive to the above request that were received from the Office of the Vice President, including notes of defendant and drafts of the July 11, 2003 statement issued by CIA Director George Tenet. The government declined to seek copies or produce additional drafts of the July 11, 2003 statement maintained by other agencies on the ground that such documents would be irrelevant in the absence of any connection to defendant, and also potentially duplicative of documents already produced.
That is, if the draft made it to OVP, Libby gets a copy. But if the draft didn't make it to OVP--if it remained at NSC or CIA, for example--Libby doesn't get a copy. Now there may be nothing there (note Fitzgerald's comment about duplicative evidence). But there's also the distinct possibility that there's something in the CIA-NSC correspondance that Libby would like to get a hold of.
Which is rather interesting, in light of the following comment:
Defendant testified in the grand jury that he understood that even in the days following his conversation with Ms. Miller, other key officials – including Cabinet level officials – were not made aware of the earlier declassification even as those officials were pressed to carry out a declassification of the NIE, the report about Wilson’s trip and another classified document dated January 24, 2003.
I'm guessing that two of these cabinet level officers are Hadley and Tenet. Both were clearly involved in declassifying the NIE (indeed, Tenet included a chunk of the NIE in his mea culpa). Again, think about what the correspondance might reveal. Which, if that wasn't clear enough, Fitzgerald repeats it again in a footnote.
Defendant fails to mention, however, that he consciously decided not to make Mr. Hadley aware of the fact that defendant himself had already been disseminating the NIE by leaking it to reporters while Mr. Hadley sought to get it formally declassified. There is no reason to root around in the files of the NSC or CIA or State Department given that no one at any of those three agencies was aware of any declassification of the NIE prior to July 18, 2003. Since Mr. Hadley was involved in efforts to declassify what Mr. Libby testified had already been declassified, Mr. Hadley’s files will create confusion rather than providing context. The government is producing to defendant Mr. Hadley’s notes of meetings and conversations in which both defendant and Mr. Hadley participated, and in which the potential declassification of the NIE was discussed.
Hadley didn't know. His files would create confusion.There's something in Hadley's files that Libby wants and that Fitzgerald won't give him.
Which puts Libby back into the difficult situation. Either he admits he knows something is there (which admits to a greater conspiracy). Or he doesn't get this evidence.