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April 09, 2006

Comments

Sorry to post and run, but it's well past bed time here. And I've got client meetings tomorrow (thankfully, starting at a reasonable hour, but still). I'll check in tomorrow...

Great post emptywheel. I think taking this backward look at the Miller stuff is relevent to anyone trying to get a grip and what happened when Libby was tasked to replay the tubes story.

I wonder if the January 24th document was the National Intelligence Officer document that has not yet seen the light of day. That would be dynamite.

Oops, forgot. I think you are right about the "Its me, Scooter." surmise. More pointedly, I think she is reminding him that he told her in August that it was a complete cluster he got involved in because Cheney tasked him to do those leaks.

>and all those amateurs who have returned to the fold of obsession lately!

I never left! This is one of my favorite EW posts since the original Judy series. I've missed old Judy badly in recent chapters of this never-ending mystery. That last paragraph of her tell-all is just so bizarre! I can't help but think it's like the old Coppola/Hackman classic "The Conversation". Gene spends the whole movie listening to this tape where they say "They'd kill us if they could" and finally at the end, Gene, and the viewers, realize that it was really "They'd kill us if they could" - transforming the victims into the killers by changing the stress of two words.

It seems like Judy's saying that Scooter Libby approached her, wearing the cowboy get-up and said "Judy - it's [me] Scooter Libby". But if the same words were coming from Cheney, or someone else, they could be taken to mean "Judy, it's Scooter Libby" as in "Judy, in response to your question, the answer is: 'It's Scooter Libby'."

In any case, there's a huge mystery as to Judy's motivations in all this. Why on earth would she include such a cryptic paragraph? And why in the hell did she not take advantage of the golden opportunity she had to blow the whistle on the scumbags who destroyed her reputation to cynically promote what she now knew that they knew all along was going to be a cynical and immoral exercise in war-profiteering? Judy could have been one of the heroes in this passion play - instead she's the goat.

Sorry, that January report was from the "National Intelligence Council", not "Official".

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/08/AR2006040800916_2.html

I relocated some specific information about the Wyo meeting posted there. Sorry it took a while to probe the internet for it; it is full of side links, as well.

obsessed

LOL! I was wondering how you'd respond to that! I know you've never given up. I'm just amused by the for-pay-media climbing back on this bus, and desperately trying to catch up.

great post again EW

when you write "described Judy's covert status" - i suspect you mean Plame's status

Thanks for the terrific post emptywheel.
Just saw this in the NYT's and thought how cool it would be to read an answer in the NYT's to one of your questions:
"Bill Keller, executive editor of The Times, will answer questions in this space about the newspaper and the news. Questions will be selected from e-mails sent to asktheeditors@nytimes.com, and Mr. Keller will answer as many this week as time permits. Afterward, these discussions will continue with other Times editors."
OT: Fred Hiatt got destroyed in the WaPo blog over his "Good Leak" editorial.

This has been known for a while, but it's just reemerged with new significance that the NIE's phrase about Iraq vigorously trying to procure uranium - and is it from Africa or in Niger? -, which Libby was determined to misrepresent as one of the NIE's Key Judgments, comes straight from DIA, and more specifically probably from the DIA's February 12 2002 intelligence product, which was based on the February 5 report on Niger-Iraq, which caught Cheney's eye, and which prompted him to ask the CIA for more, in turn prompting them to do the Wilson trip. Yesterday's WaPo article had this near the very end:

On July 30, 2003, two senior intelligence officials said in an interview that Niger was never an important part of the CIA's analysis, and that the language of Iraq's vigorous pursuit of uranium came verbatim from a Defense Intelligence Agency report that had caught the vice president's attention.

And today's Pincus article specifies the time period of the DIA report:

Some of Libby's comments about the NIE that he made to reporter Judith Miller, then of the New York Times, on July 8, 2003, were inaccurate. Libby said one "key judgment of the NIE held that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium." That was not an NIE key judgment, and the CIA officials who wrote the document disputed that statement. The "vigorously trying to procure" quote came from an unconfirmed Defense Intelligence Agency report from early 2002 that had caught Cheney's eye.

So this is probably the February 12 DIA report. It's pretty amazing that the NIE passage on Niger was based on this report - though the rationale from the CIA was that that NIE, especially since it was put together so quickly, had a kitchen sink quality to it, and this stuff was included for the sake of completeness. But it's also amazing that Libby would keep working it in June-July 2003. It also strikes me as likely that Libby did not show the February 5 or 12 report or the report based on Wilson's trip to Miller. Because then she would have been able to recognize that he was cherry-picking and misrepresenting on the fly. That is, just as with the NIE, so with Wilson's trip report, he was acting as though one feature of them was much more prominent and significant than it really was.

Here's the question I want to answer: What are Miller and Libby hiding?

When Libby was interviewed by the FBI (back in October and November 2003), they already had his handwritten daily notes. I believe that this was first reported by Murray Waas in July, 2004 [http://www.prospect.org/web/printfriendly-view.ww?id=8073]. You can tell this is definitely true by looking carefully at the Libby indictment. Libby had to explain away the fact that Cheney had told him about Plame in June.

Once you realize that Libby's notes have been in the hands of investigators from the very beginning, you have to start wondering why Libby told the story that he told. That is, not just why he lied, but why he came up with the story that he did. He had to know that the FBI would eventually get around to Grossman and that Grossman would certainly not help him out. By the time he testified before the Grand Jury, Libby knew that, even if the reporters never testified, he was at significant risk for a perjury charge if Fleischer testified truthfully. And Ari had every reason to do just that.

One possible explanation is that Libby was trying to pin the whole thing on Rove. If Libby could hide his contacts with reporters before July 10, then Rove and Mr. X were responsible for outing Plame to Novak. But if that was Libby's strategy, why spin the whole NIE story? Maybe the NIE story was in his notes, but I don't think so or Waas would have told us about it long before now.

I think Libby was hiding something else; something that wasn't in his notes; something that Miller either knows or could point Fitzgerald to if she testified truthfully; something that Libby's lawyers are desperately trying to figure out if Fitzgerald already knows (that's why they seem to be blundering in their discovery motions); something that's more damaging to the Bush administration that the NIE/Plame/Aluminum tubes fiasco.

A possible alternative for that third classified document from January 2003 emerged from Gellman and Linzer's article in the WaPo yesterday - and even if this is not that document, the fact that this one exists is huge, and it's amazing we haven't heard about it before (if we haven't):

Tenet interceded to keep the claim out of a speech Bush gave in Cincinnati on Oct. 7, 2002, but by Dec. 19 it reappeared in a State Department "fact sheet." After that, the Pentagon asked for an authoritative judgment from the National Intelligence Council, the senior coordinating body for the 15 agencies that then constituted the U.S. intelligence community. Did Iraq and Niger discuss a uranium sale, or not? If they had, the Pentagon would need to reconsider its ties with Niger.

The council's reply, drafted in a January 2003 memo by the national intelligence officer for Africa, was unequivocal: The Niger story was baseless and should be laid to rest. Four U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge said in interviews that the memo, which has not been reported before, arrived at the White House as Bush and his highest-ranking advisers made the uranium story a centerpiece of their case for the rapidly approaching war against Iraq.

Others have noted this, but this is such huge news it's worth underlining as strongly as possible. The sheer fact that there was a January 2003 document embodying the authoritative judgment of the intelligence community declaring the Niger story baseless is just extraordinary. And though the Post does not make entirely clear if the memo reached the White House just before or just after the SOTU, either way its existence is a huge embarrassment for the White House - and might even be the thing they did not want discovered that explains, finally, the huge overreaction to Wilson. As a matter of fact, they've succeeded until now from keeping this quiet.

But now it's out. And my suspicion is that part of why it has come out now may be that it is in fact that third document from January 24, 2003 that Fitzgerald mentions. The WaPo's description of the timing of the NIC document fits a January 24, 2003 date perfectly. Of course, from the WaPo's description, it sure sounds like the NIC memo decisively undercut, rather than supporting, the White House case, so why would they be pressing for its declassification? Well, Fitzgerald doesn't actually say that it was Libby or anyone else at the White House pressing for the declassification of the January 24 2003 document. It could have been someone else - say, the CIA. And remember that when July 18 rolled around, the portions of the NIE released to reporters in fact contained a bunch of the stuff that undermined the White House case. I have always wondered about that, and my guess has been that there were multiple, not always agreeing forces at work in the declassification process that produced the July 18 version of the NIE. The CIA in particular would have wanted different things to get out from the White House. In fact, my guess is that this explains part of why Bush-Cheney-Libby circumvented the ordinary declassification process - they knew what the result would be, and they wanted to manage the narrative more unilaterally.

Also, as a way to make this suggestion a more plausible alternative to a SOTU draft being the classified January 24, 2003, I wonder whether a draft of the SOTU would be classified.

In any case, regardless of whether the January 24 2003 document Fitzgerald refers to is this NIC report or not, the very fact of this report is a huge bombshell. It needs to and, I suspect, will become a center of attention in coming days.

Jeff

Also there's a January 24 DIA document eRiposte has referenced. I actually think that is more likley than the NIO document, because it would presumably support the Dick story.

But still. We have evidence of Tenet and Condi declassifying the NIE. We have evidence of Tenet and Ari declassifying the CIA trip report. I think the third thing is either so inflammatory that somehow Tenet convinced Bush he couldn't declassify it (Plame's role at WINPAC?) or something we saw evidence of declassification.

Here's another question to ponder when thinking about Judy Miller. If you were a reporter who got a leak about classified information and you knew that it had been approved by Bush, what would you think this Bush quote meant:

"I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is, partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers."

someone needs to explain to me why this tidbit from Fitz's depo hasn't received much attention.... (page 19 of http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/files/Libby_FitzResp_060405.pdf )

At some point after the publication of the July 6, 2003 Op Ed by Mr. Wilson, Vice President Cheney, defendant’s immediate superior, expressed concerns to defendant regarding whether Mr. Wilson’s trip was legitimate or whether it was in effect a junket set up by Mr. Wilson’s wife.

Soon after July 6, Dick Cheney wonders whether the Wilson trip is a junket set up by Valerie Plame. On July 14, Bob Novak publishes a column with that very premise.


ew - Yeah, I'll add a little to that. There are actually two documents we know of dated January 24, 2003, and I bet one of them is the third classified document. There is the DIA document, and then there is a fax from the NIO to the NSC. The relevant passages on them seem to be SSCI report pp. 63-64 and Robb-Silberman p. 78 (and attendant footnotes), which seems to be based largely on the passage in the SSCI report, though there are some slight variations. I bet one of those two documents is the third document. One thing pointing to the NIO fax to the NSC is that it basically recapitulated or even just reproduced precisely the "vigorous procurement" passage from the October 2002 NIE. Here's what the SSCI says (transcribing):

The fax contained the information from the October 2002 NIE on Iraq's vigorous attempts to procure uranium ore and yellowcake from Niger and other countries in Africa.

So the likely scenario here is that it was Libby or someone like him who was pressing to declassify that document, because it would show the reassertion of the vigorous procurement efforts claim from the intelligence community right before the SOTU. And it does.

But then what about the document yesterday's WaPo describes? There are several possible candidates mentioned in the SSCI and Robb-Silberman in the same area of the text, although none is presented as being as categorically negative as the WaPo's sources describe our document. That could be a reflection of the systematic effort of the SSCI to mislead. Or the document the WaPo reports on may be entirely left out of the SSCI and Robb-Silberman.

So we still need to know what this document was, what precisely it said, when exactly it was produced, when (especially in relation to the SOTU) the White House saw it, who saw it, what was done with it, and also whether this document had any role in the fact that Powell did not include the uranium claim in his disgraceful UN presentation such a short time after the SOTU.

On that last note, the SSCI passage about the NIO fax just cited continues with this odd note:

The information was used to prepare for Secretary Powell's presentation of intelligence to the UN in February 2003.

Well, Powell definitely didn't end up using the bs about Iraqi vigor in trying to procure uranium from Africa. Was this one of the documents Libby was pushing on Powell? Why did Powell push back? Did he use other parts of the NIO's fax to NSC? Inquiring minds want to know.

The WaPo's bombshell about the January dismissal of the uranium claim is still one of the main places this story should go.

lukasiak - I totally agree that that is another place this story should go. Cheney is now cited for the first time voicing almost exactly one of the main talking points against Wilson, and the one that started this whole mess. When exactly did he say that? Might Cheney himself have been Pincus' source on July 12 - after all, Cheney took Cathie Martin, the usual communications person, off the case on July 12, replacing her with Libby. Presumably he did so because he considered the job particularly important, and that having someone with Libby's credibility and position doing the job was called for. Maybe he stepped in personally as well.

In any case, it's on the record now that Cheney himself was talking the talk about Wilson's trip maybe being a junket - aka a boondoggle? - set up by his wife. That is big news in its own right, and deserves to be followed up on.

I take it so far it hasn't gotten that much attention because it's been overshadowed by the newly revealed role of Bush. But attention should turn to Cheney's role too.

Jeff

So far that's the only convincing known January 24 document (to me, at least). Unlike all the other suggestions (except my SOTU one) it could plausibly be considered one of the things getting declassified. Because the press was scrambling to pressure Condi on why Powell had rejected the intell Bush hadn't. If they could find an excuse--in the form of a still un-debunked document--it would help their case.

Btw, I didn't answer your doubt about a classified speech. I'm increasingly convinced it would be considered classified. The reason that passage didn't appear in the SOTU, after all, was because of Sources and Methods concerns (at least ostensibly). Given the way they treat info in the Bolton hearings (in which precisely this kind of vetting, involving Alan Foley, was at issue), I'm sure if something is rejected because it would compromise sources and methods, the draft itself would still be classified.

p luk

My biggest question about that is, who testified to that effect? Cathie Martin?

I'm enticed by the Dick as Pincus source idea. Because it would mean Dick still qualified as one of the multiple WH sources who was leaking Plame's name, also referenced in the document. If Cathie Martin was Pincus' source, then we're one WH source short of multiple WH sources publicizing Plame's ID, barring Hadley being Novak's Mr. X.

A bit off-topic. I recently chanced across the (scary) transcript of a speech + Q&A by (scary) Sec. Def. Cheney at the (scary) Federalist Society (1/19/90). At the beginning of his speech, he tells the story of the Wyoming cowboy who got him elected to Congress. Those who are obsessing over Judy's "It's Scooter Libby" line (and/or Cheney shooting a lawyer in the face) may enjoy this. Beyond that, it's just a pointless bit of Cheneyalia.

CHENEY: I like to tell the story that happened to me -- a true story. As I began my campaign, that first campaign, I was -- in January -- up in a place called Dubois in Wyoming. I don't know how many of you know Wyoming, but Dubois is a small community up behind Jackson Hole in the high mountain country. And in January, the snow's about hip deep and there's absolutely nothing to do in Dubois in the winter time except go down to the Ram's Horn Bar and Grill where everybody goes for lunch every day.

And when it was my time to go work the community of Dubois, I went down to the Ram's Horn Bar and Grill at noon, where all the local elite were assembled, and was introduced around as Dick Cheney, young candidate for congress. And there was and old cowboy over at the bar, had his boot up on the rail, cowboy hat pulled down over his eyes, and he looked over at me. He said, "Son," he said, "are you a Democrat?" I said, "No, sir." He said, "Are you a lawyer?" I said, "No." He said, "I'll vote for you." (Laughter.)

Well, told that story all over the state of Wyoming, and that's how I won. (Laughter.) (Applause.) It was five years before the Bar Association invited me to speak to them. (Laughter.)

My source is the Lexis-Nexis; I couldn't find the same thing anywhere in google. So I have no link.

So far that's the only convincing known January 24 document (to me, at least).

Which, the DIA document, or the NIO-to-NSC document? If I had to bet, I'd bet on the latter.

If Cathie Martin was Pincus' source, then we're one WH source short of multiple WH sources publicizing Plame's ID

I don't get it - why wouldn't Martin count equally as Cheney as White House? Is it that the VP himself is part of the White House for these purposes, but not his staff? Also, it is worth noting that Fitzgerald is talking about both before and after Novak's column, right? So it remains possible the multiplicity was reached after July 14 - though I doubt it.

I noticed that comment about Cheney and the junket. It is interesting that Fitzgerald doesn't source that comment to anyone. If Libby had testified to that, I would have expected Fitzgerald to cite that fact. I can't imagine Cheney testified to that. Perhaps it is something else contained in Libby's notes.

NIO to NSC.

And Martin wouldn't be such an obvious WH source because she didn't have an office there. Cheney's "OVP Office" is in EOB, but he has an office in the WH.

And Martin wouldn't be such an obvious WH source because she didn't have an office there. Cheney's "OVP Office" is in EOB, but he has an office in the WH.

Makes sense. But we know in any case that Pincus' source was a White House official, since he's told us that - finally, after two years of saying "administration official" or "senior administration official." So there's your multiplicity of White House officials even before Novak's column, whoever Pincus' source was.

EW, I'm in trouble over at TM's. Has Joe Wilson ever named a specific person who he thinks leaked about his wife?

I just noticed that there appears to be a nearly flat contradiction between what Fitzgerald says in his filing and what the new White House line appears to be, as embodied in this from today Times (repeating what the AP reported on Sunday):

But the official said that Mr. Bush did not designate Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby Jr., or anyone else, to release the information to reporters.

On p. 20 of Fitzgerald's filing, it states that some time before Libby's July 8 conversation with Miller, the

Vice President advised defendant that the President specifically had authorized defendant to disclose certain information in the NIE.

On the assumption that whoever's testimony and/or whatever evidence provided this information to Fitzgerald is reliable - and at this point Fitzgerald evidently buys it - there are only two ways I can reconcile those two statements. One, the White House is being cute and legalistic and means, "The President specifically authorized Libby to disclose certain information in the NIE, he just didn't explicitly say to release the information to reporters. Dick went to Bush saying he wanted authorization for Libby to get the word out, and Bush said, tell Libby to get it out." Or two, Cheney advised Libby that the President had specifically authorized Libby to disclose certain information in the NIE, but that was a lie. All Bush said was, "Get it out," and Cheney lied to Libby, telling him Bush had specifically told him, Cheney, for Libby to get it out to reporters.

Following up on a couple of earlier posts, and lukasiak's, here are some questions I think reporters should be dogging Cheney with:

1. Did you tell Libby that the President specifically had authorized Libby to disclose certain information in the NIE before Robert Novak published his July 14 column? Bush says he told you no such thing, it appears. Did you lie to Libby? Is Bush lying? Is there some other explanation?

2. Were you Walter Pincus' source on Plame on July 12? Did you talk to Pincus about Wilson's wife and Wilson's trip on July 12? If not you, was it someone in your office, like Cathie Martin?

3. Did you talk to Robert Novak about Wilson's wife before the publication of his column on July 14, 2003?

4jkb4ia

Yes. There's the Karl Rove frogmarch comment, which he says was repeating a tip from someone. And he has also said he had heard Libby and Rove were involved, he may have said Abrams too. But then Wilson backed off of the Rove comment.

Jeff

Good point about Pincus' source.

Re: the discrepancy, I should caveat out front that I don't have a good handle on the recent stories because I keep losing them on my computer--sometimes I'm very tree-bound. But I think the difference may be explained in another way. I think Fitz is emphasizing the authorization (that is, that Libby's superiors authorized his leak at all. Whereas Bush's technical denial is focusing on authorization of a specific person. I suspect the stress in Fitz is on authorization for a reason--that is, that the mode of authorization is more important because there's something funky about it (as would be the case if they were authorizing a plan to cut-out this data, rather than just a plan to leak it).

Whereas Bush's technical denial is focusing on authorization of a specific person.

I don't want to hang too much on one formulation, and even on one word, but I took Fitzgerald to be saying that the President authorized a specific person - namely Libby - when Fitzgerald writes that Cheney told Libby that "the President specifically had authorized defendant" to disclose parts of the NIE. Perhaps Fitzgerald means the President specifically, and not Libby specifically, though that's obviously not how I read it. Or maybe Fitzgerald means he had authorized the release specifically. But as I read it, Fitzgerald is saying the specificity goes to Libby as the person authorized by the President. On my alternative reading, the White House's technical denial would be with regard to whether Bush authorized the release specifically to reporters. But again, this may be hanging too much on one sentence.

So the question is, did Bush authorize Libby to get information in the NIE out, with it left up to Cheney and/or Libby how to do that? Did Cheney ask Bush if Libby in particular could be authorized to disclose information in the NIE? Or was there no talk of Libby between Bush and Cheney at all?

i know this is naieve

but

would some kind commenter tell me what a "cut-out" is.

i can sort of guess but can't quite get the picture in my head.

Via Elizabeth de la Vega at Tom Dispatch

MR. RUSSERT: Then on June 8, Dr. Rice, the national security adviser, appeared on MEET THE PRESS, and I asked her about how those words wound up in the president's State of the Union address, and she said this:

(Videotape, MEET THE PRESS, June 8, 2003):

DR. CONDOLEEZZA RICE: Maybe someone knew down in the bowels of the agency, but no one in our circles knew that there were doubts and suspicions that this might be a forgery.

(End videotape)

Judith Miller, per emptywheel above:

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.

Orion

Technically, a cut-out is someone through whom you pass information in intelligence, to hide the tracks from the intelligence agency (say) and the evil-doer on the end. The person is often just a dummy, someone willing to carry information for a fee, but someone who doesn't know what they're carrying or why.

So I'm using it a little loosely. (And note, some people were using the term to refer to Judy more literally back when it was thought she was passing the info about Plame to other journalists.) I'm arguing that they're giving info to Judy so she can publish it, so that anyone in the Administration can then talk about the information, without referencing the still-classified information underlying it. THis operation was critical in the run-up to the war, because it allowed BushCo to make the pro-war intelligence public, while the people looking at the anti-war stuff had no way of countering it in arguments, because they couldn't get away wiht leaks like this.

But the idea is, Judy is leaked information to publicize. Because of a journalist's respect for sourcing, no one will ever learn (they thought) the source of Judy's intelligence. So they could leak indiscriminately, and have the trail of the leaker end at Judy.

orionATI,
A cutout is someone who is a go-between who is used to shield the identity of the leaker in this case.
A cutout is usually someone who ostensibly has no direct link to the leaker and who can be relied upon to act as a firewall in protecting the leaker should an investigation ensue at a later date.
The various reporters were used as cutouts in these leaks, though not terribly sophisticated ones.
The Mafia structure their organisations as a series of cutouts to protect the Dons so that each level can only finger their direct superior.

William Ockham's insightful comment upthread is an example of a leaker talking to his cut-out when Bush said to Miller:-
"I have no idea whether we'll find out who the leaker is, partially because, in all due respect to your profession, you do a very good job of protecting the leakers." i.e. you're the cut-out, you know you're the cut-out, so do you're job.

While on that subject, I think evreybody asummes that Miller was duped by Libby et al, but what if everbody including Miller knew it was bullshit from the git go. Maybe that answers William's other question - the bomb that's not in anyones notes but ever present in their memories is that everyone knew (and everyone knew everyone knew!) that it was all manufactured bullshit to start a war.
Now, THAT'd be worth hiding, no!

That might explain the limited exposures and limited hangouts that we are seeing now without the whole thing unravelling at high speed. These are all shots across each others bows saying (protect me or it's gunna be Mutually Assured Destruction round here any minute now)

Griffon

Oh, I strongly believe Judy was in on it from the start. She certainly was by the time she reported from Iraq, because she had to have seen them stage those finds. But she's probably been in on it from much earlier.

I like the Cheney as Pincus's source because Judge Tatel raised his eyebrows when Fitz asked him to throw Judy in jail. I don't think Fitz would have pushed the NYT and other media organizations to the extent that he did if the case didn't involve cabinet level officials. Nor would Judge Tatel have supported Fitz they way he did if the leaker were some low level p.r. person.

The MSM should really be playing that clip of Bush talking about the press protecting leakers again.

It is also interesting that Pincus has been quiet on this story since Woodward got involved. And then he dropped a pretty big story today that has for the most part been ignored. Except here.

Then there's this new Leopold piece:

http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/041006Z.shtml

4jkb4ia - this also from Wilson's book:
"John Hannah and David Wurmser, mid-level political appointees in the vice-president’s office, have both been suggested as sources of the leak …Mid-level officials, however, do not leak information without the authority from a higher level"

Couldn't Jan. 24 document be the NIC document, written by the Intelligence officer for Africa at the behest of the Pentagon, noted in the Sun. WaPo article "Concerted effort to discredit Bush critic". The document came days before the SOTU speech and was unequivocal that the Niger story was false. So why would the Admin. have used this document? Well, they wouldn't have used the WHOLE document, but a portion of it, a la NIE. We'd have to see the document to see how they could have used it. Or then again, it's not the 1/24 document Fitz showed Judy at all...

Does everyone take it for granted that BushCo invented the Niger intelligence in the first place, that they passed it off to the Italians with instructions to get it to CIA? Nobody seems to talk about this very much; only that intelligence was cherry picked. But cherries are easier to pick if you place them in a bowl in front of you. It would explain the over-reaction to Joe Wilson if they not only knew that the Niger intelligence was bad, but they also knew why it was bad. At this point, it seems not only possible for this crew to be that mendacious, it seems like part of their business plan.

Has anyone checked Judy Miller's NYT reporting to see if she specifically refers to information as "classified" after the July 8th meeting? If she refers to any of the NIE material as 'classified' or 'secret' in any of her reports it's good circumstantial evidence that the Libby/WH selective declassification is bullsh%t.

Is there an archive of Judy Miller's Iraq reporting available someplace other than TimesSelect?

Emptywheel,
I guess Miller would only have been sitting in on those meetings (OSP & WHIG?) if -
1.She was up to speed with all the macj=hinations AND the motives and
2. The others including Cheney trusted her to not rat them out at a future date.

Which brings us back to your earlier post on "Keepin' 'em in line" (Just had an image of all these putzes line dancing! Who's the dude under the hat? Cheney or Libby?)
You gotta wonder what they're hanging over Judy's head. It'd have to be more than complicity in their schemes because that came after admittion to the club.

Ken

I don't know that the Bush Administration did the forgeries. Maybe. But I'd say I'm very suspicious that a Ledeen wing of the non-governmental propaganda consultants was involved. Maybe if Silvio really lost we'll find out some day.

joejoejoe

Thing is, Judy wasn't reporting. From her last Iraq article in mid-May, she did one more on the mobile weapons labs, then another, then one article on Stephen Hatfill, then her grand recap (no mention of NIE, IIRC), a few articles related to Kelly's death, and then she was back on probation shortly thereafter.

Griffon,

You're getting giddy!

I'm not sure that Judy's not a true believer.

Plus, just a revelation of how much her stories were bought and paid for would pretty much shame her into submission.

You could be right, Emptywheel!
I'm certainly out of my depth regarding who did what and when but after some years of being involved with, and many more observing, totally power hungry people, I am familiar with the corrupted thinking processes that go with the pursuit of power.

And one of those things is that they actually don't believe in anything because there is no truth for these people. They have sacrificed it's meaning to get where they are. They are like junkies pursueing power without rest to keep the fear at bay and using anybody and anything in the process.

But I'm beginning to ramble, you may be right that Judy is sufficiently compromised now but it's my guess that they would have compromised her before they let her into the club a la P2. But I'm really just guessing and it probably doesn't matter, anyway, except it's useful to see how these people think and that it is very different to how most people do. Which is the chief reason they get away with so much so easily. Ramble over!

I looked thru Judy Miller's reporting from July 8, 2003 thru the end of that year and found this interesting bit just a few weeks after the first Libby meeting...

NYT, David Sanger with Judtih Miller 7/23/13 NYT - "...According to the outline of events the White House gave today, Mr. Tenet's warnings to the National Security Council that the information was unreliable came only six days after the intelligence director published it in the "National Intelligence Estimate," the gold-standard of intelligence documents circulated to the highest levels of the administration and to Congress. 8"I can't explain that," Mr. Hadley said, referring the issue back to Mr. Tenet. Three months later, on Jan. 24, another senior C.I.A. official, Robert Walpole, sent Mr. Hadley and other White House officials another memorandum that again said Iraq had sought to obtain the uranium, citing the language in the Oct. 1 intelligence estimate. 8That memorandum, which was not part of the White House discovery this weekend, was intended to aid Secretary of State Colin L. Powell as he prepared to make the case against Saddam Hussein at the United Nations. But it arrived at the White House just four days before the State of the Union speech, and seemed to support the president's now disputed statement. It contained none of the cautions that Mr. Tenet had voiced by phone to Mr. Hadley and in the two memorandums sent just before the president's speech in Cincinnati on Oct. 7, laying out the case against Mr. Hussein. 8Mr. Hadley and Mr. Bartlett said that one of the memorandums was found this weekend by Michael Gerson, President Bush's chief speechwriter. The second was found Monday by the C.I.A. Mr. Bush, they said, was told of the existence of the memorandums on Monday."

So the CIA is offering conflicting reports in the days before the SOTU, specifically Walpole's Jan. 24 memo. Now look at this Washington Post report long after the fact on the same subject.

WaPo, Walter Pincus 5/22/05 - "On Jan. 24, 2003, four days before President Bush delivered his State of the Union address presenting the case for war against Iraq, the National Security Council staff put out a call for new intelligence to bolster claims that Saddam Hussein possessed nuclear, chemical and biological weapons or programs. 8The person receiving the request, Robert Walpole, then the national intelligence officer for strategic and nuclear programs, would later tell investigators that "the NSC believed the nuclear case was weak," according to a 500-page report released last year by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence."

That's not really how it looks in the original NYT report - that Hadley ASKED for the CIA report. It looks like the White House was doing their best with the a flurry of CIA reports when in fact they were asking for the reports themselves. Now look at this Richard Sale report at the time of Porter Goss' nomination to CIA.

UPI, Richard Sale 8/11/04 - "... But several serving intelligence sources said Goss and other Bush advocates are ignoring the degree of internal CIA opposition to such mistakes as the inclusion in the State of the Union address of allegations that Niger was attempting to sell uranium to Iraq, disowned by many agency and State Department analysts long before the speech. 8For example, a congressional investigative memo -- confirmed by agency sources -- is strongly critical of Robert Walpole who, as the agency's national intelligence officer for proliferation, played a key role in promoting the bogus claims about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction in October 2002. 8According to a congressional document, when the experts from the CIA's Office of Directorate of Intelligence, especially the Weapons Inspection and Proliferation and Arms Control, or WINPAC, began to dispute Walpole's claims, getting support from technical experts assigned to it from the agency's director of science and technology, Walpole simply bypassed them. 8Walpole had a close relationship with Robert Joseph on the National Security Council staff who held the same hard-line views, congressional sources said. 8According to the document, Joseph was a key advocate of putting the Niger allegations into the speech and succeeded -- aided by Walpole. 8Walpole also did not return phone calls. 8The normal practice in writing a first draft of an national intelligence estimate -- a policy finding that must be in place before action can be taken -- is to assign it to someone at WINPAC in the directorate of intelligence. Walpole skirted experts in his own agency and went over to a hard-line deputy NIO at the Defense Intelligence Agency, a person known to be hawkish and close to the neo-conservatives, the document said. 8A former senior CIA official said, "Anyone in the DIA opposed to the views of the hawks had either been forced out or they had quit in disgust." 8"Everyone, including Goss, was aware that within the agency, among the lower or technical levels," there was intense opposition to including the Niger allegations in the State of the Union address, a former very senior CIA official said."

I think that there may be some documents floating around related to the SOTU drafts (see emptywheel's The Dog Ate My Draft of the SOTU) that could cause big trouble for the administration.

joejoejoe- That is a great find. One question: how did Sanger and/or Miller know about the January 24 2003 memo from the NIO to NSC (which is almost certainly, I think we can say, the third classified document to which Fitzgerald refers)? A quick look through the July 22 2003 press conference from Bartlett and Hadley that the NYT article is reporting on shows that there is a reference to it in a question:

Q Steve, part of the story I still can't get my head around is the NIE comes out October 1st. And even if you hadn't read it then -- and I'm not sure if you did read it in that first week -- you got a call from the Director between the 5th and the 7th saying, we've got problems in the Niger element of this. And the NIE, we are told, is the gold standard of your intelligence assessments. Less than a week after it's published the Director is walking it back? And then on January 24th, four days before the speech, you get another member from the CIA quoting the NIE, presumably without some of the caveats, suggesting that it's back in.

Now, does that tell me that the CIA's story kept changing? What am I supposed to conclude from that?

Was that January 24 document in fact declassified and released to the public at the same time as the sections of the NIE, on July 18? Or was it released on July 22, as a way to counter the terrible story that Hadley and therefore the White House had been repeatedly warned back in October not to use the uranium claim in the President's speech? How did Miller - I mean Miller or Sanger - know so much about it?

The other thing is that this highlights once again the significance of this newly reported (by the WaPo) January 2003 document from the NIC stating that the uranium claim was baseless and should be laid to rest. Yes, there were similar cautions - as with Tenet's warnings to Hadley back in October 2002 - but the point is that this newly reported document puts the deep skepticism of the intelligence community (in an authoritative judgment from the body that produces the NIE itself, no less) regarding the Niger story back at the White House's doorstep right before the State of the Union Address. Hadley can't say he forgot Tenet's multiple warnings from three months before. And it doesn't matter that on January 24, four days before the SOTU, Walpole was just rehashing the October NIE to provide fodder for Powell's UN speech. Immediately before the SOTU, the White House received an authoritative judgment from the NIC that the Niger story was baseless. It's no wonder - and it should be suspicious - that we have not heard about this document before now, more than three years later. The SSCI report: nothing. Robb-Silberman: nothing. Don't you think the White House should be asked about it?

Meanwhile, while we wait for someone in the media to see the significance of Gellman and Linzer's new scoop, and to ask the White House about it, I'd like to put out an APB for pollyusa. Calling all information on the January 24 2003 document, and Robert Walpole.

joejoejoe -- what a find? Walpole is certainly the guy. Who is he reporting to? That's the 1/24 document.

jeff -- And YES, the NIC document is the smoking gun, IMHO. It proves they had a definitive judgment from the intelligence establishment re Niger (thanks to the Pentagon pushing it) just DAYS before the SOTU. Is that not somekind of defrauding of the government/breaking of the law? Impeachable?

emptywheel -- your command of this story, and of the English language, is mind-boggling.

joejoejoe -- I meant "what a find!", not "find" with a question mark.

I can't get my head around it. But a basic timeline is helpful for context.

July 6, 2003 - Wilson write Op-Ed in NYT
July 11, 2003 - Tenet retracts 16 words, Condi says "specifics about amount and place" were removed from SOTU
July 14, 2003 - Ari says Condi meant Cincinnati, Berlusconi gets invite to Crawford
July 20-1, 2003 - Silvio Berlusconi visits Crawford
July 22, 2003 - Hadley and Bartlett brief on SOTU/CIA uranium claims

How far in advance are visits from a head of state usually planned? Berlusconi comes to the US less than a week after it's announced? Did this have anything to do with SISMI documents?

Also, do not forget. The author of the January 24 document, if by that we mean the NIC document, authored by the National Intelligence Officer for Africa, is Robert G. Houdek.

Somebody should talk with this guy!

Reporters?? Investigators?? Where are you???

Could someone give us a quick and dirty overall summary (QDOS) of the significance of these documents and what they might mean in terms of the broader goal of ridding the country of as many of these crooks as possible?

I'm very excited about this third document. Why? Because you guys are very excited about it! It's painful to admit, but I don't really understand it yet. I'm like your dog. I sense your excitement so my ears are perking up and I feel like I want to start barking. Somebody throw me a bone!!

You know, maybe that's one of the less sinister reasons that a lot of this isn't getting covered adequately, or at all, by the traditional media. They just can't get their heads all the way around it. If the more tangled aspects could be presented in a way that could be more quickly digested by the masses ... it would be a very worthy project.

obsessed, I know that swimming feeling.
Here's a good start from Larry Johnson at BooMan

http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2006/4/11/02958/4361

(You'll need to copy and paste it into your browser)

http://www.cjr.org/issues/2005/5/judycode.asp

In July of 2001, Steve Engelberg, then an editor at The New York Times, looked up to see Judy Miller standing at his desk. As Engelberg recalls, Miller had just learned from a source about an intercepted communication between two Al Qaeda members who were discussing how disappointed they were that the United States had never attempted to retaliate for the bombing of the USS Cole. Not to worry, one of them said, soon they were going to do something so big that the U.S. would have to retaliate.

More topical stuff over at BooMan

http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2006/4/10/231352/047

Quotes from a 1977 Carl Bernstein article;

"“After a foreigner is recruited, a case officer often has to stay in the background,” explained a CIA official. “So you use a journalist to carry messages to and from both parties”
(snip)
" Formal recruitment of reporters was generally handled at high levels—after the journalist had undergone a thorough background check. The actual approach might even be made by a deputy director or division chief. On some occasions, no discussion would he entered into until the journalist had signed a pledge of secrecy.

“The secrecy agreement was the sort of ritual that got you into the tabernacle,” said a former assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence. “After that you had to play by the rules.”
(snip)
"Within the CIA, journalist‑operatives were accorded elite status, a consequence of the common experience journalists shared with high‑level CIA officials. Many had gone to the same schools as their CIA handlers, moved in the same circles, shared fashionably liberal, anti‑Communist political values, and were part of the same “old boy” network that constituted something of an establishment elite in the media, politics and academia of postwar America."

I wonder who Bernstein had in mind when he wrote that?!

And now for Judy - Booman quoting from Wikipedia"
"She graduated from Barnard College in 1969 and received a master's degree in public affairs from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. In 1971, while at Princeton, Miller traveled to Jerusalem to research a paper."

And BooMan's conclusion:-
" Miller has the profile of a typical CIA asset. She attended two Ivy League schools: Barnard and Princeton. She worked in Cairo as a bureau chief. And, most importantly, she was close personal friends with the Sulzbergers.

and

" My strong suspicion is that Judith Miller has been an intelligence asset for a long time. Perhaps she was recruited back during her time at the Woodrow Wilson school."


Davids Sanger and Johnstone write in today's NYT: But in one of those odd twists in the unpredictable world of news leaks, neither of the reporters Mr. Libby met, Bob Woodward of The Washington Post or Judith Miller, then of The New York Times, reported a word of it under their own bylines. In fact, other reporters working on the story were talking to senior officials who were warning that the uranium information in the intelligence estimate was dubious at best.

Sanger's got a brilliant mind. Jeff, you should email him some of your theories.

Davids Sanger and Johnstone write in today's NYT: But in one of those odd twists in the unpredictable world of news leaks, neither of the reporters Mr. Libby met, Bob Woodward of The Washington Post or Judith Miller, then of The New York Times, reported a word of it under their own bylines. In fact, other reporters working on the story were talking to senior officials who were warning that the uranium information in the intelligence estimate was dubious at best.

Sanger's got a brilliant mind. Jeff, you should email him some of your theories.

joejoejoe

Friggin brilliant! Really brilliant!

Here's all I can add for the moment, because i am totally and utterly exhausted. But recall that there was a transition happening at NYT. Joe Lelyveld was acting Exec from June 5 until technically July 31. But Keller got named on July 15 (this is from memory, so the dates may be off by one). And it was in this transition period (when it looks like Lelyveld left the gate open a bit and Judy snuck through) when Judy published her big excuse for finding no WMDs AND this--finally leaking the one document that Libby had been trying to leak but hadn't succeeded.

And yes, I absolutely agree, this is the mysterious document number 3. Has to be.

One more thing. Sanger was one of the journalists whose communication with the WH was subpoenaed in the second batch of journalists. He had a few more good leaks during this period, mostly from CIA, which is what I've always thought he got subpoenaed for. But I wonder if Fitz wasn't hunting down this article. That is, I wonder whether Fitz didn't subpoena Sanger to make sure that it wasn't him who got leaked Walpole's document.

Folks, the NIO-to-NSC Jan 24 transmission was a fax and the reason I didn't think that was the Jan 24 document to look for was because it was nothing other than a fax of existing documents - one of which was the page of the NIE that Libby already was leaking. (There is something very odd about that NIO-to-NSC fax - which was claimed to have been for Powell's speech - because if you skip over to the SSCI's discussion of Powell's speech, you'll find it says that no one remembers seeing any draft of his speech referring to the uranium claim. I have been mulling over this for some time now).

The Walpole find is interesting and I need to think about that.

Folks, the NIO-to-NSC Jan 24 transmission was a fax and the reason I didn't think that was the Jan 24 document to look for was because it was nothing other than a fax of existing documents - one of which was the page of the NIE that Libby already was leaking.

Yes, but that just means the document is lame. Presumably the reason the White House would want to declassify it after the fact was to show that they were still getting the Niger story unaltered from the intelligence community a mere four days before the SOTU. And that is in fact precisely the message the NYT conveyed in their July 23 2003 story. In light of the fact that we're just learning there was a January 2003 document from the NIC categorically disputing the Niger story, it might be revisiting what Pincus reported on 5-22-05 (cited by joejoejoe above), namely that the NIO's fax was produced in response to a specific request for new information from the NSC staff. Was the NSC staff aware of the NIC's debunking of the Niger story at that moment? Were they seeking to bolster the case in the face of a last-minute discovery that there was nothing to the Niger story.

We can't know until we know more about the details of the Post's scoop on the January 2003 NIC story. In fact, it would be nice to have that confirmed and fleshed out.

ew - Note the part of the July 22 2003 press conference I quoted above. We don't know who was asking that question, and it could well have been Sanger or Miller - but clearly some journalist was treating the January 24 2003 NIO-to-NSC document as public knowledge. I sort of wonder whether that wasn't declassified and released to the journalists either alongside the NIE on July 18, and it simply got overshadowed, or on July 22, to try to bolster the White House's argument in the face of the deeply embarrassing revelations concerning the Cincinnati speech that took place between those two press conferences. In any case, so far I haven't found any coverage of it other than Sanger and Miller's, but I think the only search I did was for Walpole.

Here's how I understand the line of speculation that follows from joejoejoe's find.

On July 8, Miller and Libby meet. A few weeks later, Miller contributes to a Sanger article. The Miller/Sanger article describes a Jan. 24 memo as supportive of the Niger-uranium claim. If this Jan. 24 document is the NIC document (Niger-uranium claim "baseless"), then the description of it in the Miller/Sanger article is a misrepresentation--presumably the misrepresentation of it that Libby fed Miller on the 8th.

Further, if this memo is "the third document," we presume that Bush/Cheney wanted to declassify everything from it except its conclusion ("baseless"). And after the Sanger/Miller-Libby article, there would be no need to declassify any of it: the misrepresentation was now "out there" for Bush/Cheney to cite at their leisure.

Is that the gist?

Jeff,

I guess I wasn't clear in my comment. What I was saying is that the NIO-to-NSC fax was probably not a single document/memo in the way we traditionally understand it. It seems to have been a collection of memos or documents which addressed the broad question of Saddam's WMD capabilities, of which the uranium claim was just one small piece. The DIA memo on the other hand was focused specifically on the uranium claim.

That said, I just saw the Sanger/Miller piece and it seems that the Walpole Jan 24 document/memo/whatever is a strong candidate. Which makes it even more important to figure out when the contradictory memo from NIO for Africa reached the White House and whether the INR dissent in the NIE was part of Walpole's Jan 24 "memo".

Ok, I know that this is the place for Discussions at a High Level of Seriousness, but I have my own lowbrow 2 cents to add regarding the already much lampooned image of Scooter dressed in cowboy drag. Leaving aside the fact that even Judy's narrative does not clearly identify the cowboy-boots-and-hatted figure as Scooter (he just intones, "Judy, it's Scooter Libby," and not, say, "Hey hotcakes, it's me, Scooter!") I find the image of Scooter in cowboy gear so improbable and facially risible that I cannot take it seriously for a moment. The only special authority I can offer on this matter is the fact that I have of late espied M. Libby with some frequency at my local Starbucks. On dressy days, he is draped in understated, yet clearly superfine (and superpricey)suiting; on casual days dresses down to, say, courduroys a nice shirt and a navy blazer; he does at times wear quasi-wraparound shades. And the man is small. I mean tiny. Wee. A pipsqueak. Why do I importune your time with such superficial description. Well, because if you take the wee and rather effete Scooter and dress him up like a cowboy, the effect wil be somewhat more comical than this. I don't buy it.

eriposte -

Unless I am misunderstanding, I believe we are in heated agreement.

&y -

That's not quite it. There are two completely separate documents. Actually, there are three, which I think might be the source of the confusion. There are two documents dated January 24, 2003, which are the main candidates for being the January 24 document Fitzgerald refers to and which the administration was seeking to declassify. There is a DIA document and -- and this is the one we've been talking about -- there is a package of background material sent by Walpole, the NIO, to the NSC. The latter is the document that is discussed briefly at the July 22 press conference and that Sanger and Miller report on the next day. By all accounts, this document does in fact support the White House line and the 16 words - because it is just a rehash of the NIE claim (which originated with DIA) about Iraq seeking uranium in Niger. The document itself may be somewhat misleading, but it is not the document that would show that right before the SOTU, the White House got word from the intelligence community that it judged the Niger story baseless.

The document that does that is the one that we have only just heard about from the WaPo, and we do not know nearly enough about it yet to draw any conclusions. But if it actually exists and is as described, far from wanting it declassified, even in misleading form, the White House almost certainly wanted this document buried. If it exists and is as described, I don't see how this document is not a huge deal, because it puts the White House in possession of the knowledge that the authoritative judgment of the intelligence community was that the Niger story was baseless within days (or, at most, weeks) of the State of the Union and its 16 words. Someone who knows a lot about this stuff is skeptical that the WaPo got the story right. So let's see.

Does that make sense?

That [Walpole] memorandum, which was not part of the White House discovery this weekend, was intended to aid Secretary of State Colin L. Powell as he prepared to make the case against Saddam Hussein at the United Nations. But it arrived at the White House just four days before the State of the Union speech, and seemed to support the president's now disputed statement. - Sanger/Miller 7/23/03

How did Sanger/Miller see the Walpole memorandum if it was NOT part of the White House discovery? Did Libby show it to Judy? Was it still classified? IS it still classified? After Fitz's latest filing talked about selective declassification I thought to take a second look at Judy Miller's writings. I knew she never wrote about Plame/Wilson's wife but I wanted to look again to see if Judy referred to the NIE in any of reporting subsequent to the Libby meetings. I found the Walpole connection by accident.

emptywheel - I forgot that Sanger was subpoened. I'll bet you are correct that he was trying to separate what content in the 7/23/03 piece was his and what was Judy Miller.

eriposte - I hope refocusing on this Walpole memo just prior to the SOTU shakes something loose. In hindsight the big White House panic was surrounding the President's credibility in the SOTU, not the Novak story on Plame. I hope the context of the ongoing reporting picks up that at the same time the President was declassifying bits and pieces of information that boosted their interests, they were silencing critics. The Department of Energy gagged it's employees from discussing the aluminum tubes on 9/13/02, the same day the story appeared in the NYT and Rice and Cheney talked about the NYT story on television.

OT: There is a pretty decent summary of the manipulation of intelligence online produced by the House Democrats on the Judiciary Committee. It's footnoted and referenced so it's handy for reviewing old newspaper stories and reporting that might be newly relevant with the fresh Fitzgerald filings.

Chapter 3: Detailed Factual Findings - http://www.house.gov/judiciary_democrats/iraqrept122005/section3b.pdf

Yes, Jeff. That makes sense. Thank you for the walkthrough.

How did Sanger/Miller see the Walpole memorandum if it was NOT part of the White House discovery?

The White House discovery referred to is completely separate from the January 24 document - the discovery was the discovery, over the weekend between the July 18 and the july 22 press conferences, of two memos from the CIA to the White House dating from early October 2002 in which the CIA warned the White House that Bush should not include the uranium claim in his October 7 2002 speech in Cincinnati. The White House had the Walpole memorandum in its possession and knew about it for a while, if not continuously. But if claimed to have discovered one of the memos from the CIA over the weekend (and the other, I believe, was "found" subsequently by the CIA).

Whatever the document of the 24th was it didn't get declassified in the great "tell-all" of July. So there was something about it which didn't serve the "great need".

Whatever the document of the 24th was it didn't get declassified in the great "tell-all" of July.

Are you sure about that? How do you know? Because it seems possible to me it was declassified and just didn't get much attention because the declassified NIE got all the attention.

Right you are Jeff. Guess I need to look and see if there is a listing somewhere.

Jeff

I interpreted tryggth's point as being, "Judy did not reference the Walpole Jan 24 document in her tell-all version of the Libby meeting," meaning either Judy wanted to keep it quiet, or she didn't think it important to telegraph to Libby that Fitzgerald was interested in it.

eR

I understand that the document was just recycled old "facts," but it is likely that it's the document for two reasons:

1) It was the document the WH had immediately preceding the SOTU from which they could justify the 16 words in the SOTU. Consider the strategy they were using that week. They wanted to argue that the claim was in the NIE, and therefore it was logical to use (based on the traditional treatment of NIEs). Then that came under challenge, so they wanted to provide a reason why it was STILL a valid conclusion. If the Walpole document(s) is the basis for which they made that decision and if it gave them a way to blame CIA for the claim then it served their purpose. The DIA document just doesn't do that.

2) We know someone was actively declassifying this. ANd, if I'm right that Libby showed Judy all three of the documents he was trying to declassify, then we also know that Libby was probably spinning the contents of it, attempting to get Judy to publish it in Scooter's version. The reason the SOTU draft made sense (and frankly still could be possible) is because we know there were SAOs trying to make claims about an interim draft of the SOTU. In other words, there is evidence of the attempt to declassify. With the Sanger/Judy article, there is also evidence for the Walpole document (with the added benefit that it is actually dated 1/24.

"In light of the fact that we're just learning there was a January 2003 document from the NIC categorically disputing the Niger story, it might be revisiting what Pincus reported on 5-22-05 (cited by joejoejoe above), namely that the NIO's fax was produced in response to a specific request for new information from the NSC staff. Was the NSC staff aware of the NIC's debunking of the Niger story at that moment? Were they seeking to bolster the case in the face of a last-minute discovery that there was nothing to the Niger story."

Jeff -- Yes, bolstering their case, etc. This is precisely my point. And the NSC staff that would have made the new request was likely Robert Joseph, who sent such request to Robert Walpole, with whom he is said to be close. The Walpole fax/memo/papers (whatever) were meant to muddy the conclusion coming down, supposedly definitively from NIC (at behest of the Pentagon, btw).

What I can't explain is why the Sanger/Miller NYT story says Walpole bolstered WMD, when the recent WaPo piece has him being critical of same, along with Tenet. What game is Walpole playing (or being forced to play)? Both Walpole and Joseph are heavily tied into nuclear proliferation issues in this administration. Given what's happening around Iran right now, it needs to be top priority to figure out what's what with these two, expose them and their role.

Valtin - Let's not get too far in front on the story. We still need to learn more about the NIC document, whether it really is as reported by the WaPo, when exactly it was produced, when it was received at the White House, by whom, to whom it was passed, whether someone important enough to do something about the SOTU saw it in time, what the reaction was, and so on, before we can jump to the conclusion that the request for and production of the NIO's package to the NSC on January 24 was specifically pushback or ass-covering regarding the NIC document.

Also worth noting is that it looks like Walpole has been around in his role as NIO for quite a while, predating the administration. In fact, he's not a part of the administration at all, is he?

From reading the Bolton testimony and other coverage, you get the impression that most of the NIOs are serious people (Fulton Armstrong, Paul Pillar, and some others). It seems more academic than the rest of CIA, more hoity toit.

Jeff -- Yes, I admit to overt speculation, but it's meant to be heuristic, not conclusive. (And I was only following your own line of speculation here.) I would love to know more about this NIC document. Was it declassified? Who in the WH would have received this document? WaPo says it was written by the NIO on African Affairs. As I noted above, that could only be Robert G. Houdek.

The National Intelligence Council "reports to the Director of Central Intelligence in his role as head of the Intelligence Community and represents the coordinated views of the Community as a whole."

As for Walpole, he is not a member of the Administration, but that doesn't mean he isn't "close" to people there. In Richard Sale's 2004 article, he writes:

"Walpole had a close relationship with Robert Joseph on the National Security Council staff who held the same hard-line views, congressional sources said.

According to the document, Joseph was a key advocate of putting the Niger allegations into the speech and succeeded -- aided by Walpole.

Walpole also did not return phone calls."

As for Walpole's resume, he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Defense and Arms Control Policy, Bureau of Politico-Military Affairs, from 1989 to 1992 in the administration of Bush I. "Mr. Walpole was appointed National Intelligence Officer for Weapons of Mass Destruction and Proliferation in April 2004, previously having served from March 1998 to April 2004 as the NIO for Strategic and Nuclear Programs. He also served as the Special Assistant to the DCI for Persian Gulf War Illnesses Issues." His government origins seem to lie in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research, where he "managed intelligence analysis on foreign strategic and nuclear programs as a Division Chief and Office Director"(1985-89). LINK re both Walpole and Houdek at NIC

Robert Walpole was also the author of the October NIE. There is an interesting discussion in "Plan of Attack" about how Tenet badly wanted the NIE to be definitive. [Aside, Woodward's book is loathsome in so many respects, but it does give us some insight into the events in question (despite his scrubbing of the book to hide his culpability).] Walpole seems to be very much Tenet's guy. The only reasonable conclusion one can draw from Woodward's book and subsequent events is that Cheney's August 2002 VFW speech forced the administration to take a very extreme position with respect to Iraq's WMD program and Tenet, caught between Democratic senators who demanded an NIE and the Bush administration's very public commitment to the conclusion that Iraq had WMDs, had Walpole cut and paste an NIE to justify the administration position.

One a side note, it's interesting to compare the actions of Scooter Libby and Harold Rhode. Both were caught leaking classified information to further the political goals of the Wolfowitz/Libby/Cheney cabal.

Valtin - I was mostly just joking. But I am a little skeptical of Sale's reporting, he often seems to be just relaying some major axe-grinding.

Ockham - I agree that Woodward's books are useful, for all their problems. The funny thing you mention is that Cheney seems to be a victim of precisely what Nora Ephron accused Woodward of doing to his potential subjects: holding out the threat of poor treatment in his books if you don't cooperate. It's clear from the end of Plan of Attack that Cheney was very wary of cooperating with Woodward - Bush and Woodward talk about it - and although he apparently did finally agree to a background conversation, Woodward clearly put him in the bad-guy role. It is that fact that makes me skeptical of what is an attractive interpretation of the Iraq War, that it was all Cheney's fault.

Here's a curious find, from a blog called xymphora, a 11/10/2003 piece called Cheney's War. Quoting a radiofreeusa.net link that is now broken, xymphora wrote:

"By early September [2002], intelligence experts in Congress were clamouring for a so-called National Intelligence Estimate, a full rundown of everything known about Iraq's weapons programmes. Usually NIEs take months to produce, but George Tenet, the CIA director, came up with a 100-page document in just three weeks.

The man he picked to write it, the weapons expert Robert Walpole, had a track record of going back over old intelligence assessments and reworking them in accordance with the wishes of a specific political interest group. In 1998, he had come up with an estimate of the missile capabilities of various rogue states that managed to sound considerably more alarming than a previous CIA estimate issued three years earlier. On that occasion, he was acting at the behest of a congressional commission anxious to make the case for a missile defence system; the commission chairman was none other than Donald Rumsfeld, now Secretary of Defence and a key architect of the Iraq war.

Mr Walpole's NIE on Iraq threw together all the elements that have now been discredited - Niger, the aluminium tubes, and so on. It also gave the misleading impression that intelligence analysts were in broad agreement about the Iraqi threat, relegating most of the doubts and misgivings to footnotes and appendices.

Then, xymphora goes on to quote the Sanger/Miller NYT piece, fingering Hadley "and other White House officials" as the recipient of the Walpole memo:

""According to the outline of events the White House gave today, Mr. Tenet's warnings to the National Security Council that the information was unreliable came only six days after the intelligence director published it in the 'National Intelligence Estimate,' the gold-standard of intelligence documents circulated to the highest levels of the administration and to Congress.

'I can't explain that,' Mr. Hadley said, referring the issue back to Mr. Tenet. Three months later, on Jan. 24, another senior C.I.A. official, Robert Walpole, sent Mr. Hadley and other White House officials another memorandum that again said Iraq had sought to obtain the uranium, citing the language in the Oct. 1 intelligence estimate."

joejoejoe quoted this above, but I wanted to again, to stress the Hadley point re the Walpole memo. Larry Johnson at tpmcafe also posted re this matter 11/14/05:

"There were major mistakes of leadership. For example, Robert Walpole, the man who led the drafting of the October 2002 estimate, surrounded himself with true believers who shared the view of Bush Administration policymakers at the NSC and Department of Defense that military action in Iraq was required. This National Intelligence Officer did nothing to ensure that dissident voices within the CIA and other parts of the intelligence community were heard....

The director of WINPAC at the CIA, Alan Foley, repeatedly warned NSC official Robert Joseph not that the Niger claim was unreliable. Undeterred Joseph inserted the bogus 16 words into the President's 2003 State of the Union Address."

Jeff -- Johnson would seem to be corroborating Sale's information, at least so far as the Walpole NSC connection (Robert Joseph?).


Jeff,

I agree with Nora Ephron and my comments about Cheney are indeed filtered through that lens. Cheney only filled the void left by Bush's inability to control his subordinates. The neo-cons carried the day largely because Rice was completely ineffective against the onslaught of Cheney/Rumsfeld/Libby/Wolfowitz et.al. That, and the fact that Rove realized that the war-mongering was an effective election strategy

Trivia. Rest assured Fitzgerald's team has checked out Judy's story on the Jackson, Wyoming, rodeo meet-up.

Fitz has apparently corrected his filing. ACcording to Byron York, the page 23 sentence should actually read: "Defendant understood that he was to tell Miller, among other things, some of the key judgments of the NIE, and that the NIE stated that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium."

Heh... see how confusing it is? Even Fitz's team was temporarily confused about the Niger claim not being part of the Key Judgements.

Although, it would have been more interesting if Libby *was* tasked to represent the uranium claim as being part of the key judgements.

Man, what an inexcusable screwup by Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald states in a filing that Libby was instructed to lie by the Vice President to a reporter about a matter of non-trivial significance, the document with the intel justifying the war in Iraq. It gives rise to front page stories in the two major papers. And Fitzgerald is mistaken? That is a deep disservice to Libby.

Onward and upward. But I'll be more skeptical of Fitzgerald.

Folks

Re: the NIE, I've been listening to former Senator Graham's book on terrorism and dodgy intelligence. And he is quite clear in his opinion about the NIE. The chronology he describes is something like:

He, Durbin, and Levin request the NIE
Tenet is shocked, because he hasn't even thought of doing it, in spite of the fact that the NIE is always the basis for big decisions
They get an NIE in record time, although Tenet refuses to include certain aspects that the Dems requested, including details on the consequences of war in Iraq
They compare the classified and unclassified versions of the document and realize the unclassified (with its bells and whistles) could not have been done in the short time period in which it took to do the NIE

In short, the unclassified "NIE" was not an NIE at all, it was a talking point document produced before the classified NIE.

Walpole shows up named by position in the SSCI. IIRC he was involved with (but not held responsible) for introducing some of these dodgy claims back into the NIE, in spite of the fact that the rest of the people involved were not interested in it.

In short, Walpole's job was to make sure the classified NIE looked like the precursor to the unclassified one.

Around election season it was mysterious to me why Senator Graham exited the Capitol, to return to FL, though he had served quite a while already. Ordinarily, I see very little of the mundane media, but noticed some comments of BobGraham's in the press fairly reinforcing comments by ex-Speaker Daschle around second part of December 2005, during public comments offered by a few current and former members
of the congressional compartmentalized Group of 8 who receive(d) briefings on secrets protected by the executive.
It sounds like the hasty pudding NIE is an important chink in the information construct, which we now know, thanks to ex-Sen. Graham.

Even taking into account Fitzgerald's correction, it's pretty clear that Libby did in fact lie about the NIE. According to Miller, Libby said that "the assessments of the classified estimate were even stronger than those in the unclassified version." That is an obvious lie. Even the SSCI admitted that the unclassified White Paper omitted key qualifiers, etc.

emptywheel,

Walpole's job was to make sure the classified NIE looked like a WHIG talking-point document. Sickening.

You sure don't introduce new products in August. Iraq was all just a big marketing/reelection campaign. Thousands dead, billions squandered, civil war,...

Wargate.

I wonder if more minority report genre materials might surface if elections November 2006 place the Democratic Party in the SSCI chair. Amb-W wrote his own misgivings about the cherrypicked final report. It has been a long wait for Phase-2 hearings-report; though, if the elections shift the party in power, a reconfigured SSCI might be holding hearings around the time Libby's trial is scheduled in early 2007. I would expect SSCI's Roberts to constitute some Phase-2-like process prior to that, if the elections begin to appear as if his chairmanship would end that soon.

&y -- I like that: "wargate". Makes it easy to see these people are primarily war criminals.

emptywheel - thanks for making the connection to the classified and declassified NIE. What with the NIE tinkering, the other 1/24 memo, and his other duties (look him up at globalsecurity.org), Walpole has been one busy fellow.

My response to Fitzgerald's correction is here:
http://www.theleftcoaster.com/archives/007343.php

Also, my detailed comments relating to what is being discussed in this thread is here:
http://www.theleftcoaster.com/archives/007351.php

Prompted by eriposte's excellent post on the January 2003 documents, here's my latest version of the questions I wish reporters would pursue on both the January 24, 2003 NIO-to-NSC fax, and the newly reported January 2003 NIC memo purportedly declaring the Niger story baseless.

Regarding the January 24 NIO-toNSC fax, was it declassified and released to the press in July 2003, as Fitzgerald tells us it was being pressed to be, along with the NIE, which was declassified, and the report based on Wilson's trip, which evidently was not? If so, precisely when - July 18, when the NIE was publicly declassified and released to the press in connection with Barlett's press conference on background? (Perhaps the release of the NIE overshadowed this other document at the time.) Or July 22, when Bartlett and Hadley went on the record with faces of shame after the "discovery" over the weekend of those two memos sent from CIA to Hadley and the Cincinnati speech writers?

And if it was not declassified, how did a)someone in the press know enough about it to ask a question about it at the July 22 press conference, and b)Miller and Sanger know even more about it, so that they could report on it, in rather administration-friendly fashion on July 23, as joejoejoe noticed. I'm particularly interested in the last question in light of emptywheel's latest post on Miller's role in reporting on the mobile labs controvery in May-June 2003.

As for the NIC memo that the Post just reported on for the first time:

1. Does this document actually exist and is at as described? Specifically, does it really date from January 2003? Is it the authoritative judgment of the NIC? And does it say the Niger story is baseless and should be laid to rest?

2. What is the exact date of the memo?

3. When precisely was it received at the White House? By whom? What did that person do with it? Who else at the White House learned of it? Specifically, who in a position to do anything about the SOTU learned of it, and when exactly? What did they do with that knowledge?

4. Why is there no mention whatsoever of this document, as far as I can tell, in either the SSCI report or Robb-Silberman?

Further down the road, there may be these other questions:

5. Is there any connection between the White House learning of this document, and the NSC putting out a call for any new or more intel on Iraqi WMD on January 24, which resulted in Walpole, the NIO for whatever, faxing over a package of rehashed NIE stuff to the NSC, among other things presumably?

6. Did the newly reported NIC memo play any role in the decision for Powell not to include the Niger story or any claim based on it in his presentation to the UN shortly after the SOTU?

I'm new here, and maybe this is OT, but I've been thinking about what David Addington told Libby when Libby went to him for reassurance before he started leaking NIE info to Judy-I'll bet the "instant unitary declassification" theory came out in Libby's meeting with Addington where he deveoped his pseudo-"reliance defense" or "estoppel defense" to leaking any portion of the NIE. I just continue to wonder why Libby believed Addington's blessing (and Cheney & Bush's direction) could protect him from liability for leaking the NIE and other "classified" info, but NOT protection for leaking Plame's ID. Why would Libby tell "the truth" to the Grand Jury about the origin of one leak, but not the other? Could it be that there is no even remotely credible legal theory which could protect him from criminal liability for leaking Plame's ID? Or, is it because leaking Plame's ID is simply too POLITICALLY problematic so he had to lie about that and wait for his pardon?

Interesting discussion. If I follow, for the January 24, 2003 possiblities there are the following:

1. DIA memo (who prepared it and what is the sourcing o and was content favorable to Libby's attempts to spin the President as relying on info he was getting from Intel sources for the 16 words?)

2. Robert Walpole packet of info (NIO-NSCinfo), ostensibly being faxed for Colin Powell's review for his UN speech. Is this definitely the "same" as the Walpole "memorandum" of 1-24-03 referred to in the Sanger/Miller July 23, 03 piece?

3. The newly mentioned January, 2003 NIC memo(WaPo, Gellman/Linzer 4/9/06)(The council's reply, drafted in a January 2003 memo by the national intelligence officer for Africa, was unequivocal: The Niger story was baseless and should be laid to rest. Four U.S. officials with firsthand knowledge said in interviews that the memo, which has not been reported before, arrived at the White House as Bush and his highest-ranking advisers made the uranium story a centerpiece of their case for the rapidly approaching war against Iraq.)

4. Draft of the SOTUS.

Of these, it seems as if #3 would not likely be what Fitzgerald produced, in that it would not be particularly helpful to Libby's position.

I wonder who at State put the Uranium claim in the 12-19 "fact sheet" and who at the Pentagon made the request (and the content of the actual request) to the NIC? I wonder, in particular, why the report has never been released, kind of like why the Jefferson group report on the mobile labs has still not been released. Oh well.

Jeff, re two earlier posts, for: Posted by: Jeff | April 10, 2006 at 15:45, remember that much of what Fitzgerald has in that brief is what LIBBY said in the GJ, not what Fitzgerald is offering as "the truth." IOW, if he says that Libby said Cheney told him xyz, that is not the same as Fitzgerald saying that Cheney DID say xyz. fwiw.

Also, re: the new correction - I think you are being a bit harsh. It sounds as if Fitzgerald has been very fast to get a retraction on the language and I would tend to think that it was a mistake. The brief was filed very late at night and there is a BOATLOAD of stuff going on in Chicago re: the Ryan trial and the brief was not short, and he is also managing the whole of the ND IL office, which has all the Daley, Black, etc. litigation as well. A mistake, that quickly corrected, is a mistake, but I don't think you need to be "skeptical" of Fitzgerald, fwiw, although it never hurts to give any story/revelation a day or two of breathing room b4 taking it as gospel, to see if anyone does jump up and down over errors.

Again, all fwiw


I think you are being a bit harsh. It sounds as if Fitzgerald has been very fast to get a retraction on the language and I would tend to think that it was a mistake.

I have no doubt it was a mistake, and I agree that Fitzgerald acted as quickly and responsibly as possible in correcting the mistake. But prosecutors have a lot of power, and Fitzgerald in this case all the more so, and he knows very well that he is writing for the public as well as for the court; so he has extra responsibility for what his team produces. And in this case his filing gave rise to several stories in the country's most important newspapers, as well as other media outlets, that broadcast the idea that Libby lied about the government's most important intelligence product on one of the most important topics of our lifetime (the war and its justification). As for my skepticism, I will at least try to remind myself that any claim made on the basis of what Fitzgerald files depends on it being accurate.

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