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May 15, 2006

Comments

We still don't know enough of what was going on in January 2003, so at this point I would find it believable either that 1)the NSC got Walpole to launder the NIE in the form of a fax to make it seem like the intel community stood behind the Niger and/or uranium from Africa story more firmly than was the case - especially if, say, the White House got wind of the NIC's declaration that the Niger story was baseless on, say, January 24, first thing in the morning; or 2)somebody (say, Hadley when he was doing the July 2003 review of the whole process, or meticulous Libby) rediscovered the January 24 fax, presumably meant for Powell's prep, and recognized that it could be deployed in summer 2003 to make the case that right before Bush's January 2003 SOTU the intel community was still standing by its Niger/uranium story, absolving the White House of guilt, which is what I still see as its basic argumentative function in summer 2003, and which is how the WSJ uses it. Glossing over the fact that the January 24 fax may have had no causal role in the SOTU, it is still supposed to be an emblem of the fact that the intel community was giving the White House no contrary signals. Which, again, is why I'm interested to know whether the January 2003 NIC memo the WaPo recently reported on was in fact sending the White House just those contrary - diametrically opposed - signals.

I'm just curious how Libby and Hadley, in particular, could claim the NIO-NSC memo didn't affect the SOTU. Did they segment off the intell saying, "this is BS, let's save it for Colin"?

I don't know whether we'll find out what happened in January. They're not telling, and they're not having over the documents, either.

I am curious, though, if the SSCI looked at the NIO-NSC document itself. It seems like they did. Which I guess would rule against my suspicion that it referenced the Brits.

FYI, Rove's talking at the AEI right now on C-SPAN.

I don't want to get sidetracked by this, but can I just observe that the left has a very long way to go to catch up with the right in terms of how important the expectations game is in politics, and how to play that game, and how to do political strategy more generally. The blogosphere should be abuzz with the fact that the Vice President of the United States was writing notes on Wilson's op-ed detailing the key item of the pushback against Wilson that stepped over the line and led to the entire investigation. Instead, everyone's expectations about Rove having been raised sky high by a report, now everyone is spending all their time on the fact that no one can confirm one ounce of that report. Having invested in it, the failure to confirm it will be a blow. That's silly. The default expectation should be that Rove is not going to get indicted. Now it will be perceived as a downright vcitory for Rove over the left, whose blogosphere will suffer a blow to its credibility, if he is not indicted this week. That's crazy.

EW,

Nice post as usual, but as you have hinted, I don't buy this Walpole theory.

Also, we need to remember that Walpole was at the NIE coordination session where the dissent on the uranium claim was aired and where the decision was made to keep it out of the key judgements. He also testified to the SSCI on Oct 4, 2002 - supposedly conveying INR's view - that the British claim was not considered credible. (SSCI Report p. 54). His talking points were probably also used in a CIA fax to the WH on Oct 6, 2002 (p. 56) after Tenet intervened. So, for him to ignore all that and peddle the British claim again on Jan 24, 2003 would have been rather dangerous and wouldn't have made him look good in Tenet's eyes.

Jeff:

Good point - we shall see. If the WH knew there wasn't going to be an indictment would they have leaked that there would? If there is going to be one, the timing isn't as critical if it's next week or this week, but if there isn't going to be one, you're right.

Jeff,

I did my part!! I cross-posted my Smoking Guns diary. (And you'll note that the MSM is catching up, having only taken about 24 from your discovery of Cheney's notes until it made Newsweek and NYT and the like.) But I agree, we've totally wasted the spin on Cheney's notes in favor of getting sucked into a credibility war with Rove's minions.

eR

I'm not sure I'm all that invested in this Brits theory, just trying it out for size. I am, however, trying to explain why Libby wanted to declassify it. Declassifying just because it repeats the NIE doesn't seem enough. Though I am rather suspicious of the timing/impact on SOTU.

The Leopold story does seem to have been a plant by someone eager to either divert atttention from Cheney or discredit the blogs or both. The fact that some major blogs didn't fall for it is lost in the shuffle. But it has had the desired effect, as Jeff points out.

How about Bolton or the others at State for the WSJ leak?

I did my part!!

Oh I totally agree, and I was taking it for granted that any website that is hashing over, in exquisite detail, the causes and effects, the uses and abuses, of the January 24, 2003 NIO-to-NSC fax is exempt from my criticism of the left blogosphere. Speaking of which, why isn't my suggestion enough - that Libby et al wanted to declassify that fax because they could offer it as evidence for their claim, "See, not only was no one from the CIA coming in to tell us we were wrong to use the 16 words in the SOTU, a mere four days before the SOTU, the CIA was officially standing by the very claims and intelligence we were basing ourselves on." It could be used this way regardless of whether the fax was prompted by questions for Bush's SOTU or for Powell's UN.

Okay, this is pure speculation (and may have long since been discussed here):

But we haven't, to my understanding, ever seen a copy of the NIO-NSC document. It is described simply as, "contain[ing] the information from the October 2002 NIE" in "language identical to what was in the NIE."

Another possibility is that the NIO-NSC document contained "language identical to what was in the NIE," just not all the language from the NIE. That is, it was a way to "sanitize" the NIE of contrary opinions in an effort to get Powell to use more of the patently false administration talking points, perhaps leading to his much-reported "this is bullshit" outburst.

I'm just trying to think like a Straussian here -- if lying to the people to achieve "correct" goals is a virtue, then lying to people in your own administration who are unwilling to do the same must be as well.

One other question in connection with the WSJ leak: did the person who leaked to the WSJ know that the NIE had been declassified by Bush's authorization? Would it even matter - was there nothing in the WSJ article that was not in Tenet's statement from the 11th? Did the WSJ see more, and just not use it? If the answer to both of these questions is no, then Libby didn't actually use the cutout to transmit parts of the NIE that depended on Bush's authorization for leaking, right? The fax is another story, though.

I'm sticking to my theory. The whole NIE leak (and the Jan. 24 document) is a red herring. The only reason Fitzgerald will bring it up is to suggest that Libby's notes which apparently say "leak to Judy Miller" aren't about the NIE at all, but about Plame. That's why Fitzgerald was so surprised by the Libby/Miller June 23rd meeting. It predates Libby's official go ahead to leak about Plame.

I was thinking as part of the CIA IG office reviewing the Tenet mea speechcrafting, McCarthy may have found notes of Libby and Rove conversationsDemands, faxes, or cut and paste from a wide range of documents not yet available in the public realm, not to congress; like the NIO-NSC document referenced in this diary. Fire McCarthy; end the investigation.

I keep re-reading Cornyn's frendly questioning at Gonzales' NSAwiretap hearing about how the DIA, NSA and other agencies (not CIA) have their own IG based on congress' passing a law 1998 creating an IG for those other security agencies; and, wondering what happens to an investigation when the firer and firee quit are fired.

Ah, Redshift, now you're talking! It's the new and improved NIE, with the marginalia turned into key judgments! With that, Jeff, I'd take the leak as sufficient.

William

I think you're right, the most important aspect of the NIE story is the way it disproves Libby's excuse for the July 8 conversation. But there is additional classified information (such as Wilson's trip report) that will be corroborating evidence that these guys broke the law. And, I suspect, there is record of a fight between Libby and Tenet over whether Tenet would use Libby's favorite word, "vigrous" (comes from writing pedophile/bestiality novels, you know).

Mimikatz

Yeah, I kind of like Wurmser for this leak. Particularly given the reference to Wohlstetter in the article. The only one who loves Wohlstetter more than Wolfowitz is Wurmser.

Yes, and the other possibility is Hannah. And probably not someone at State, since Fitzgerald makes it sound like no one at State knew what was going on with regard to the pre-July 18 declassification of the NIE. And although strictly speaking it's possible that someone at State could have done it without such knowledge (if, as I wondered above, the WSJ's leak was only of portions of the NIE already declassified in connection with Tenet's July 11 statement), I doubt Fitzgerald would put things the way he has if that were the case. So I think State is ruled out. What does that mean with regard to Wurmser - didn't he have some funky loaner status or something?

For what it's worth, independent of all that, while the Post reported out of the blue last fall that Hannah was reportedly worried about being indicted, I've come to believe that those old reports of Hannah and Wurmser copping pleas and cooperating were probably bs floated by people who just didn't like them. Sorta like the people who were pushing Hadley as Woodward's source.

The Wurmser on loan notion was floated by the same folks who floated some other unverified stuff. So, no, he was DOD, then State, then moved in mid-September 2003 to OVP.

If it's not state, then I saw DOD. Why not Wolfie, since I pointed out the Wohlstetter love?

DoD seems like a real possibility, along with OVP (which the WSJ might not consider part of the White House, for their purposes) or perhaps someone from Congress. I see no reason why it couldn't have been Wolfowitz, but I think we would have heard about him testifying, and we haven't, have we? I am assuming the person who did this leak has been interviewed in the investigation. So are you saying that Wurmser was at DoD in July 2003, or had he moved to State by then? If the latter, again, I think that might rule him out. I'm going with Hannah as my guess (and nothing more), for the moment. It could just as easily have been Martin, or Cheney.

Wurmser was at State in July 2003.

Via Atrios, it looks like a new Waas article is coming our way shortly.

In this interview -- when Waas is asked about his next article, he says:

It's another story about the level of knowledge among high-level administration officials about attempts to discredit Wilson and when they knew about it. [emphasis mine]

Waas is the man, but I doubt that article will say much. Elsewhere in that same interview linked to by Atrios, Waas says that there are virtually no sources for the Plame investigation and that most of his reporting comes from public documents that other reporters ignore.

most of his reporting comes from public documents that other reporters ignore.

I find it hard to believe that there are any public documents that the heavy hitters here don't give the full forensic treatment within hours of their availability. Of course, maybe old Jack Anderson taught him how to find the ones that never make it online.

obsessed

I still take Waas' scoop on the NIE as a good example of what he's got at this point. I actually reported that Libby's superiors had authozied his NIE leak (I think) before anyone else--a full 9 days before Waas. Because I'm a blog, I also felt free to speculate, "Libby's superiors ... gosh, Bush and Dick are his superiors." That's what I'll get out of a document like that.

Well, Waas was able to call sources at WH and say, "what's the deal with the NIE?" and expand that data point into one that encompassed the previous Fall. I don't work the phones and I don't have sources, Waas does, which means he combines the obsessiveness of us here with some additional hard work to make bigger stories.

Fitz has updated his site with a rash of documents. Maybe something you guys haven't fully devoured??

Fitz Link

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