Summary: In this post, I speculate that Libby was trying to use Judy as a cut-out on July 8; he was trying to get her to publish three pieces of intelligence attacking Joe Wilson's case to save OVP the trouble of declassifying it. It was intended to repeat the early September 2002 operation, where Judy made classified information public, so Administration officials could then talk about it. I then suggest that Joseph Tate started leaking the content of Libby's testimony--revealing that Dick strategized with Libby on July 12--to draw suspicions away from earlier involvement, precisely the cut-out operation he approved earlier in the week.
I wrote two posts after Judy published her tell-all, analyzing the truth and probable falseness of what she wrote. The pieces stand up remarkably well, IMHO, even given all the details we've learned since then. But I think it's worth returning to her statement given the recent details about the orderly leakage of the NIE and other documents. After all, two of the three items in one of her summary statements (which I suspect was an attempt to telegraph to Libby the questions Judy thought he might not have expected) include references to pertinent items:
Patrick J. Fitzgerald, asked me whether Mr. Libby had shared classified information with me during our several encounters before Mr. Novak's article. He also asked whether I thought Mr. Libby had tried to shape my testimony through a letter he sent to me in jail last month. And Mr. Fitzgerald asked whether Mr. Cheney had known what his chief aide was doing and saying.
Judy seemed to recognize the NIE stuff and the Dick stuff might pose some risk. Well, we certainly know Fitzgerald is having fun with them now.
NIE Three Classified Documents Leakage
Judy mentioned the NIE leaking, certainly. But look at how she describes it:
Mr. Fitzgerald asked me to examine a series of documents. Though I could not identify them with certainty, I said that some seemed familiar, and that they might be excerpts from the National Intelligence Estimate of Iraq's weapons. Mr. Fitzgerald asked whether Mr. Libby had shown any of the documents to me. I said no, I didn't think so. I thought I remembered him at one point reading from a piece of paper he pulled from his pocket. [emphasis mine]
A few things about this. First, Fitzgerald asked Judy about more than the NIE, he asked about a series of documents. But she only admitted to the NIE, which (incidentally) has been publicized enough that it is plausible that someone who hadn't seen the classified copy would recognize it, based on its content. Perhaps she only admitted to the NIE because it was not that incriminating to be able to identify it.
We now know, though, that Libby was pushing other people to declassify three documents.
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.
The NIE, Wilson's trip report, and (I have speculated) an early draft of the SOTU. But as I suggested (and eRiposte, followed belatedly by the media-for-pay, described extensively wrt the NIE), Libby was presenting misleading versions of those documents:
So, Libby was presenting the body of the NIE as if it were key judgments. Libby was presenting the CIA report, written by one or two Reports Officers, as if Wilson wrote it himself. And, I'm arguing, Libby and his friends were presenting a January 24 draft (after the "Niger" and "500 tons" claims had been removed, but still early enough to appear to be a draft) as if it were the only draft.
That may be one of the reasons Judy presented Libby as having read from a document in his pocket--perhaps she didn't see the documents themselves. Judy's not the brightest bulb on the dimming Christmas tree of media-for-pay, but she's not totally stupid. And she might have picked up the fact that Libby was misrepresenting the documents, if she had looked at them directly.
Or, she might just have been trying to protect Libby. Given what we now know, I suspect she was trying to protect Libby when she used the word "alluded" to describe Wilson's trip report.
As I told Mr. Fitzgerald and the grand jury, Mr. Libby alluded to the existence of two intelligence reports about Iraq's uranium procurement efforts. One report dated from February 2002. The other indicated that Iraq was seeking a broad trade relationship with Niger in 1999, a relationship that he said Niger officials had interpreted as an effort by Iraq to obtain uranium.
My notes indicate that Mr. Libby told me the report on the 1999 delegation had been attributed to Joe Wilson.
Mr. Libby also told me that on the basis of these two reports and other intelligence, his office had asked the C.I.A. for more analysis and investigation of Iraq's dealings with Niger. According to my interview notes, Mr. Libby told me that the resulting cable - based on Mr. Wilson's fact-finding mission, as it turned out - barely made it out of the bowels of the C.I.A.
If, by allude, you mean talked about it directly, perhaps even read you a summary, even if he totally misrepresented it, huh Judy? She basically supports what I've been arguing--Libby misrepresented the trip report. And note how she describes "the resulting cable": "attributed to Joe Wilson," "based on Mr. Wilson's fact-finding mission, as it turned out." You see, on July 8, Libby presented this as if Wilson had written it, that it was "attributed" to Wilson. But since Judy had found that out in the interim, she includes a caveat, "based on" to describe it here.
Which makes Libby's backtracking from these claims on July 12 interesting.
My notes of this phone call show that Mr. Libby quickly turned to criticizing Mr. Wilson's report on his mission to Niger. He said it was unclear whether Mr. Wilson had spoken with any Niger officials who had dealt with Iraq's trade representatives.
I think Judy and Libby had two conversations on July 12 because Libby needed to backtrack off some of the claims he made on July 8, but needed to do so from a secure location. As Murray Waas points out, Libby and Judy had two conversations, the second one substantive.
Four days after the Libby-Miller breakfast and Libby's discussion with Addington, Libby gave Miller additional information on Wilson and Plame, according to legal sources familiar with Miller's testimony.
Phone records reviewed by the grand jury in the CIA leak investigation appear to confirm that Libby and Miller had a three-minute conversation on July 12 while Miller was apparently in a taxicab returning home. When the reporter got home, she and Libby spoke for a 37 minutes, according to the phone records.
And as I pointed out recently, in his affidavit from August 2004, Fitzgerald appears to have believed that Judy only spoke to Libby once on July 12, the three minute conversation while Judy was still in the cab.
The grand jury needs to know when Libby advised Miller about Wilson's wife--during their private meeting outside the White House on July 8 or during the three minute telephone call on July 12--and whether Libby qualified his disclosure to Miller by stating that he had heard it only from a reporter and did not know if it were true.
I suspect, Fitzgerald learned in the interim about the second conversation. That would suggest Libby had obscured the longer, more substantive discussion through his FBI interviews and his grand jury testimony. I suspect he would have hid the second conversation under two circumstances--either the second conversation was incriminating enough Libby had felt the need to go somewhere safe to have the conversation (as he had met with Judy earlier at the St. Regis). Or that Libby wanted to hide the extent of their July 12 conversation. Or hell, why not both?
One thing about Judy's tell all, though. No apparent mention of the January 24 document. Did Libby not raise it? Or did Judy guard it more closely for some reason?
Unless the document related more specifically to Plame's classification. This was the conversation, remember, where the WINPAC canard came up. Did Libby show Judy something that very specifically described Judy's covert status? Perhaps described her transition from CPD to WINPAC, which meant she was technically still covered (Libby's Nixon-lawyer's term), but that she was now serving as an analyst?
In any case, a lot of us Plameologists (and all those amateurs who have returned to the fold of obsession lately!) have been wondering why Libby asked Judy to attribute this leakage conversation to a "former Hill staffer" if Dick had already declassified the NIE. Maybe it wasn't the NIE leakage they were hiding. Maybe it was the other two documents, Wilson's trip report and the mysterious January 24 document (certainly, if the January 24 document related to Plame's status, I can imagine why he'd go to false attribution).
I have one more suggestion. BooMan has rightly pointed out that Judy had gotten classified information before, before her aluminum tubes article (though I would stress that Judy saw the intelligence the NIE was based on, given the timing, not the NIE key judgments themself). The reason she received it in early September was so Administration officials could refer to her article and therefore avoid declassifying the underlying intelligence. They could just refer to the A1 story in the NYT, and not have to refer (directly) to any classified intelligence.
Did Libby call Judy down to DC on July 8 for a face-to-face to arrange a similar leak? Did Dick authorize all this leaking to Judy, so she could serve as a cut-out to allow them to avoid having to declassify these three documents? Is that why everyone else claims not to know that Libby had "declassified" these items? Did they try to go through Judy the cut-out so they could totally misrepresent the intelligence, rather than let Tenet present the actual contents of it? It might explain the tensions surrounding the Tenet-Libby-Hadley conversations from that week...
And it sure would explain the high-level involvement. Murray Waas has been connecting the NIE leak with earlier leaking for two months:
Beyond what was stated in the court paper, say people with firsthand knowledge of the matter, Libby also indicated what he will offer as a broad defense during his upcoming criminal trial: that Vice President Cheney and other senior Bush administration officials had earlier encouraged and authorized him to share classified information with journalists to build public support for going to war. Later, after the war began in 2003, Cheney authorized Libby to release additional classified information, including details of the NIE, to defend the administration's use of prewar intelligence in making the case for war.
Is he suggesting operation Judy-cut-out was the same both times?
It's not that they were authorizing the leaking, they were authorizing Libby to use Judy as a cut-out so they could avoid declassifying intelligence and so they could misrepresent it. Pity for the cabal Judy had already so thoroughly trashed her reputation in their cause that NYT wouldn't let her play the A1 cut-out again.
The Dick Stuff
And there's the Dick stuff. There's admittedly not much here, just Judy shooting down the idea that Cheney was ever involved in this leaking.
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.
Pretty convenient, that quick "no" denying Dick's involvement?
As I point out in Reading Judy Two, though, there's something suspicious about timing. David Johnston published a September 30 story on the Judy testimony that included the following leak, which was then one of the first references to Dick's involvement coaching Libby on July 12:
Mr. Libby said he told Mr. Cheney that reporters had been pressing the vice president's office for more details about who sent Mr. Wilson to Africa. The two men spoke when Mr. Cheney was on a trip to Norfolk, Va., for the commissioning of the carrier Ronald Reagan.
Mr. Libby said Mr. Cheney directed him to refer reporters to Mr. Tenet's statement, which said that the C.I.A. had been behind Mr. Wilson's selection for the trip.
As I asked in that post,
The NYT story was the story reporting her September 30 testimony. That is, the NYT received a leak regarding Libby's notes on Cheney on the same day Judy responded to questions about Cheney the first time. And the leak of Libby's notes probably came from his lawyer, Joseph Tate. What a remarkable conincidence! Why, would you imagine, would Joseph Tate leak the contents of that note immediately after Judy testified? [emphasis mine]
I still wonder how Tate knew that he had to leak it, that Judy had been asked about Dick (go read the earlier post for speculation on it). But we may now have a plausible answer for why he leaked what he did. Before Judy publishes any account revealing that Fitzgerald suspects Dick, he pre-empts her story by suggesting that Dick was involved in the leak on July 12. Thereby preventing anyone from speculating that Dick might have been involved earlier. Say, before Libby tried to use Judy as a cut-out on July 8.
The Aspens Turning, Again and Again
Which brings me to the third item that Judy felt warranted her summary statement, Libby's Aspen letter. Here's how she explains herself.
Mr. Fitzgerald also focused on the letter's closing lines. "Out West, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning," Mr. Libby wrote. "They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them."
How did I interpret that? Mr. Fitzgerald asked.
In answer, I told the grand jury about my last encounter with Mr. Libby. It came in August 2003, shortly after I attended a conference on national security issues held in Aspen, Colo. After the conference, I traveled to Jackson Hole, Wyo. At a rodeo one afternoon, a man in jeans, a cowboy hat and sunglasses approached me. He asked me how the Aspen conference had gone. I had no idea who he was.
"Judy," he said. "It's Scooter Libby."
Cocky sonsofbitches, all of them.
I'll simply repeat one of my speculations regarding this passage. All conferences that take place in Aspen or named Aspen aside, Judy boldly asserts this relates to Jackson Hole. Jackson Hole, where anyone who follows his fishing habits knows, Dick has a house, IIRC (pollyusa, help!) in a development with Aspens in the name. I don't know whether there ever was a rodeo. But Dick's the
wild west shooter cowboy in this crowd, not Libby. I strongly suspect this is a reference to meeting Dick in Jackson Hole. A suggestion, perhaps, that Judy placed Libby in the role Dick had played, to protect their cluster's Dick.
I don't know why Judy included it (because the reference to Jackson Hole makes it fairly transparent, I think). Maybe it was an accidental moment of truth? Maybe they are just cocky sonsofbitches. But this is, I'm sure, a way for Judy to say that she helped Libby sustain the cover-up. That while she testified to a lot about Libby's guilt, she covered up Cheney's efforts from earlier in the week.