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July 11, 2006

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» The Phantom Menace from The Heretik
Karl Rove is a confirming source in the outing of Valerie Plame. The identities of three sources the prosecutor already knew about were given up by Robert Novak. Oh, to be constrained as a reporter. So says Robert Novak. The big one who... [Read More]

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Have you finished dinner yet?

Thank you so much emptywheel. With NARAL AND PP endorsing HoJo, this is very welcome news. "Why did it appear on July 11, 2006?" As always, you ask all the right questions.

Have a long dinner. I gotta post to write.

I'm updating the post now--better get going, Swopa!

Oh, crap.

C'mon, you've met me, you really think me and mr. emptywheel have long drawn out romantic dinners? Ha!!

How do i get the whole column, as I'm not a stealth subscriber to Human Events, as emptywheel evidently is - right now they've only got the first two paragraphs online at the link.

To answer the question posed by the column: No, he didn't get away with it. He's been banished to Fox News. And Novak has a big enough ego to realize what a slap-down that is.

Some points on the parsing: He doesn't say whether or not he testified to the GJ after the Libby indictment. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. But absence of proof--especially in the case of Novak--is not proof of absence.

My big question is: Who's the original source? The working theory is that it's the same person who told Woodward. I can believe that someone--especially a Bush appointee--could be dumb enough to accidentally blow a CIA agent's cover once. But twice? It doesn't pass the smell test. I think the original source is in a lot more trouble than anyone's letting on.

Does anyone have a good link to Novak's full column?

Unfortunately, the mere fact of Novak citing "Who's Who" as the source for Valerie Plame's name suggests he's hiding behind an alibi, and giving no credit even to the possibility of a White House smear. Novak isn't telling us how hard Rove pushed the story. Very likely, he didn't tell the grand jury that, either.

Frank

Read my updated post. I think that's why he doesn't address the issue of Plame's covert status here. I think he had learned Plame was covert earlier than July 8, when Armitage (presumably) spoke to him. Which means Armitage may have done no more than say, Plame sent Wilson.

sorry if this is re-tracking old ground, but can someone fill me in (or let me know if this is genuinely puzzling) -- how did Fitzgerald know who Novak's sources were, in order to get waivers from just them, in January 2004? that's a long time ago, it seems to me, and if my googling is right, 10 months before Miller was held in contempt for not giving up those sources which Fitzgerald apparently already knew.

at any rate, the routine of saying "I'll show up with waivers from everyone" and then showing up with only the two (or three) correct ones, is a magic trick I love. "...and was this your card, Bob?"

Okay, I've got a starter post up, just in time to be lapped by EW's second draft. But at least it contains some conjecture she hasn't gotten around to yet.

QS, there's a dKos diary with the full article text. It's under feverish attack by the diary police, though.

He knew it from phone records. We know his conversation with Rove was via phone (and there were phone messages from the day before their call). Presumably, Armitage outed himself, though there may also be phone records.

That's the trick with a possible additional source--if that source either spoke to Novak directly, or if that source also disappeared Novak from the phone log the way Cooper's name got disappeared, then Fitzgerald wouldn't have known. Just as he didn't know of Cooper's earlier call with Rove.

"I've read that the statute of limitations on a civil suit, if the Wilsons were to pursue one, is three years. That means, if they were to sue, they'd have a deadline of Friday (which is the 3-year anniversary of Plame's outing, July 14) to file. I don't know if that information is correct or not. "

Should be an interesting week. Can Novak's original source be sued as a "John Doe" in this case?

"Read my updated post. I think that's why he doesn't address the issue of Plame's covert status here. I think he had learned Plame was covert earlier than July 8, when Armitage (presumably) spoke to him. Which means Armitage may have done no more than say, Plame sent Wilson."

I don't see how this gets (presumably) Armitage off the hook. No matter how you spin it, he (or she) gave Novak enough information to identify Plame as a CIA employee. Ditto for Woodward. And I seem to recall Novak identifying Plame as something along the lines of an agency operative specializing in weapons of mass destruction. That's a lot more than a slip of the tongue.

Did Novak reiterate his claim that his first (known) source was "not in the White House"?

I'm still dying to see the full column, but it's clear from some of the coverage that Novak is pushing the completely misleading idea that he actually had three sources, with the third source being Harlow. It's true that he talked to Harlow about Plame, but of course Harlow was not one of the two senior administration officials who pushed the idea that Plame had suggested, authorized, whatever, her husband's trip. Plus it's not news that Novak talked to Harlow, as the coverage seems to be suggesting - it's just an effort to muddy the waters in order to obscure Rove's, and the administration's, role here. And he'll get away with it too, most likely.

This continues a strategy he's been pursuing since 2003. I've always been bothered by this sentence from Novak's October 1 2003 column:

The published report that somebody in the White House failed to plant this story with six reporters and finally found me as a willing pawn is simply untrue.

This is a classic rhetorical trick much beloved of the Bush administration: deny a distorted form of a claim no one has ever made. But I only now realizes exactly why this bothered me so much. What this bizarre denial of a non-existent accusation does is to appear to deny White House involvement while in strict fact allowing for extensive White House involvement, just as the WaPo 1x2x6 story had claimed.

Also, I cannot believe he is actually asserting that he learned Plame's name from Who's Who. But I guess that's what he told the grand jury, so that's what he has to stick with. The reason I cannot believe it is because Novak would have learned from Who's Who that Wilson was married to Valerie Wilson, whose maiden name had been Valerie Plame. And then there's the intriguing fact that Miller says she had heard the name Valerie Plame - indeed, recollects only having heard that name and not Valerie Wilson, which she wrote a botched version of in her notebooks. I suppose she could be referring to references to Plame post-Novak; but I doubt it.

I learned Valerie Plame's name from Joe Wilson's entry in "Who's Who in America."

Maybe so. But where did he learn Valerie Flame's name?

Novak's tone seems very cautious. (Thanks, Swopa, for the link.)

The published report that somebody in the White House failed to plant this story with six reporters and finally found me as a willing pawn is simply untrue.

This is classic "parsing" in action, since the WH tried to "plant this story with the six reporters" after Novak had been leaked to.

And then there's the intriguing fact that Miller says she had heard the name Valerie Plame - indeed, recollects only having heard that name and not Valerie Wilson...

Oh, man, do I have a bank-shot theory about this. In fact, it's so convoluted EW is probably writing it up already. :)

Maybe so. But where did he learn Valerie Flame's name?

Or maybe I meant QuickSilver. Oh, well, there goes my exclusive.

Oh, man, do I have a bank-shot theory about this. In fact, it's so convoluted

Swopa, I'll look for it in September, 2015. Unless QuickSilver's got it.

QuickSilver has indeed got it.

I just had new (to me) brand of happy chicken: "FreeBird."

So do you have to raise a cigarette lighter in the air if you want seconds?

Also, I cannot believe he is actually asserting that he learned Plame's name from Who's Who. But I guess that's what he told the grand jury, so that's what he has to stick with.

Yup, precisely. He has to stick with the Who's Who and the "not a partisan gunslinger," even though both are almost certainly wrong (unless Armitage turned Democratic while I wasn't looking).

That's the thing I'm most curious about, with the appearance of a last-minute media binge here. How much vetting did Hamilton do?

Yessiree, Swopa. And wear dingy jeans.

Told you it wasn't a romantic dinner.

Oh Swopa, I've been working on the Valerie Flame angle for at least one Friedman (along with others of course)!! That's my explanation for Novak's storming off the set: Mr. Mary Matalin was going to ask Novak why he used "Flame" in his first draft of his October column, when he certainly didn't get that from Who's Who.

EW: I know -- that's why I figured you'd be onto the same theory, if QuickSilver hadn't beaten us both into print.

Didn't we talk through all this at YearlyKos? It's not my theory, in any case. When Libby blew Brewster Jennings in October 2003, he also blew her "Valerie Flame" cover, the one that (curiously) comes up with Judy and Libby together in the June 23rd, 2003 meeting.

The name "Valerie Flame" was found "floating" in Judy's June 23rd notebook. Judy can't recall where it came from, although not from Libby, she says. (OT, Judy's curious choice of words always reminds me of the "floating" Knesset she discovered in the Mukhabarat building.)

At the end of the day, these conspirators are relying on a whole lot of "I can't recall." But I do think Fitz managed to deliver Libby as Novak's (unnamed) source, very possibly through the mention of that Flame alias.

EW

Sorry to sound so sour but I listened(on the radio) to Bush's press conference in Chicago where he was asked about re-appointing Fitz. While I'm not a mind reader or possess some sixth sense, it was very plain to me that Fitz is done, cooked, asta la vista baby

My opinion on this matter was formed not only by the words spoken by Shrub, but also by his tone and the answers GW provided to other press conference questions, especially those responses to questions about Richie Daley.

It is a well known fact that Daley hates Fitz, and would cut any deal to send his AUSA's ass back to New York. It's also well known that the only Dem tighter with Bush than NoMoJoe is Richie. Added together and the death knell for the fitz has been struck.

Additionally, I have pontificated over at FDL that Abu Gonzales personally intervined on Rove's behalf and either killed Rover's indictment, or more likely negotiated Rove's cooperation agreement. I say more likely negotiated the agreement because it didn't stink to the point of prompting Fitz's resignation.

One final thought. As someone who worked the streets, one of the first things I learned was to never trust a lawyer. Even when crashing through the corrupted gates, I always kept my ass covered, until the last time when I had the judge by the nuts, and he ended up killing me.

I've read the whole column now, and I've got a few thoughts.

1. As far as the substance of Novak's role in the investigation, this column is actually less informative than what he's told us before, and adds very little that is new. Unlike, say, Cooper's two articles or MIller's article, we learn very little about what actually happened back in summer 2003 from Novak today. (And I've already followed emptywheel in noting that one of the things we do learn - that Novak actually is claiming he learned Wilson's wife's name from Who's Who - is patently false.) Instead, it's mostly bs self-justification on Novak's part for the role he played in testifying at least four times in the context of the investigation itself, plus a little disinformation - breaking news: Novak had a third source at the CIA! - thrown in for good measure. Otherwise it wouldn't be a Robert Novak column, would it? And note that at the end, Novak refers to Rove as "the second administration official" instead of as "Rove," just so people not paying close attention won't focus on Rove. Oh yeah, Novak also tries to shift the responsibility for all the questionable judgments off himself and onto his lawyer. I hope he got paid good money. But Novak fails anyway: picking up an example emptywheel noted, it's totally damning that Novak takes the fact that Fitzgerald knew who his sources were as some kind of specific waiver. Or is the idea that Fitzgerald himself conducted the investigation differently because he saw Novak positioned differently from the other journalists?

2. I take it this means both Rove and Armitage really are off the hook, although I suppose I could hold out the idea that Armitage still faces obstruction-type problems for withholding the Woodward interview. But I now tend to doubt that. Another sort of new piece of information is this:

After the federal investigation was announced, he told me through a third party that the disclosure was inadvertent on his part.

First off, what a load of crap. Inadvertent? What does that mean? How could it have been inadvertent? A mistake, sure. A thoughtless act quickly regretted, fine. Armitage is a jackass who doesn't know when to exercise discretion, okay. But inadvertent? That said, what is this business about communicating with Novak through a third party after the investigation was announced? I would bet Fitzgerald knows about this - maybe he is the third party, and Novak is just trying to run down Armitage here - but the only reason I put it past Novak to try to screw Armitage now is that Novak knows it would just be more trouble for him.

3. The headline should be, Novak's role in the investigation over; column leaves more questioned unanswered than addressed.

4. For nearly the entire time of his investigation, Fitzgerald knew -- independent of me -- the identity of the sources I used in my column of July 14, 2003.

Is this a gesture toward the fact that he had more relevant sources, he just didn't use them for the column, per emptywheel's far out speculation? Or is the idea that Fitzgerald didn't know Harlow's identity? He almost certainly knew about Armitage and Rove as soon as he took over.

5. The other was by presidential adviser Karl Rove, whom I interpret as confirming my primary source's information.

This is an allusion to the fact that Rove is pinning his legal and - incredibly - his political innocence on the idea that he did not think he was a source for Novak, even though Novak did. He talked to Novak about Plame, but he didn't think he was a source for Novak's article. A truly astonishing illustration of what things have come to with the administration promising to bring honor and dignity back to the White House.

6. I declined to answer when the questioning touched on matters beyond the CIA leak case.

I would bet that one - and the crucial one - of those matters was that Novak column back in 1992 that got Rove fired from Bush I's re-election campaign, and I bet the question was, Was Rove a source for that column that got him fired?

That said, what is this business about communicating with Novak through a third party after the investigation was announced? I would bet Fitzgerald knows about this - maybe he is the third party,

I suspect strongly Fitz is that third party, and that that's part of the reason Novak feels justified in speaking to this (and he likely also wants to explain why Armitage isn't going to jail). There is the (unlikely) possibility that inadvertent means, "Novak tricked me." More likely, though, it goes to explaining that Fitz had reason to believe that Armitage wasn't deliberately outing Plame. And it may have to do with the kind of knowledge he had about her identity. Though I still believe he had to have known she was classified, at least.

For nearly the entire time of his investigation

How about this: Novak testified in November that Rove wasn't his source. Then, when pressed, he said, oh, well, he may have confirmed it for me.

I declined to answer when the questioning touched on matters beyond the CIA leak case.

Also curious because it would astound me if Fitzgerald didn't ask Novak about the Townsend story--it's Rove's alibi. Though, with my Libby theory, I kind of think Fitz has either asked--or Novak has reason--to make sure that Libby doesn't know of other testimony.

More likely, though, it goes to explaining that Fitz had reason to believe that Armitage wasn't deliberately outing Plame.

Maybe Armitage wasn't acting with malice, and maybe he didn't know that Plame was a covert operative. But the inadvertence defense is still total bs, since it seems to refer to the disclosure that Wilson's wife suggested him for the trip, and it makes no sense to say that was inadvertent, unless Armitage is claiming he's a hotheaded guy whose passions got away from him, tricking him into saying something he was under no compunction to say.

I think Novak testified from the getgo to the content of the Rove conversation as his second source; though it's an intriguing thought.

Also curious because it would astound me if Fitzgerald didn't ask Novak about the Townsend story--it's Rove's alibi.

My guess is Fitzgerald asked, Novak answered, and that makes sense because, since it was Rove's alibi, in Novak's mind it is not a matter beyond the CIA leak case.

But more importantly, on your Libby theory, is Novak going to be involved in the trial?

I'm not positive it'd be Libby, the source to Novak. It could be Dick, which would explain Novak's indiscreet, "Ask Bush who my source is."

But in any case, I don't know. Part of me thinks they'd need to go through Libby, an IIPA, to get Dick on conspiracy. But then maybe he would indict at once. But in either case, if he went further, he'd be drawing on all those people who haven't testified or been named. Including, possibly, Armitage. Particularly if Armitage thought he had damning information on Rove, but it was really damning information on Cheney or Libby.

Ok, with Novak's sources on the record (maybe all maybe not) I am going ahead with my Rove is Pincus's source theory.

Here is my thinking;

I read this 4/22/04 Waas article to say that Pincus and Novak share a source that revealed Plame. Waas points that way several times in the article.

If Pincus and Novak share a source, it's either Rove or unidentified. The Pincus source was definitely in the WH and therefore cannot be Armitage.

So the Pincus source is Rove or the unidentified Novak source is not Armitage. I think Rove is Pincus's source.

But the official [Pincus's source] just as adamantly denied to the federal investigators that he had ever told the Post reporter, Novak, or anyone else that Plame was a clandestine CIA operative.

[...]

Later, when administration officials, such as the one who spoke to Pincus, admitted to investigators that they had told reporters that Wilson had been sent to Niger only as a result of his wife's purported nepotism -- but did not know she had ever been a clandestine operative -- the investigators came to believe that Novak and his sources might be misleading them.
Waas 4/22/05



Additionally Waas has the Pincus source testifing to telling others as well.


[The Pincus source]told a federal grand jury that he made the claim to the Post reporter and others in an effort to undermine Wilson's credibility
Waas 4/22/05

It seems that the Plame investigation is basically done. Most of the conspirators have missed the Fitz bullet. Now only Libby and his mounting defense fund remain. The moral of this story to me is that those in power can throw enough sand in the eyes of a good prosecutor and get away with it.

Interesting that Rove has been so very public for the last week.

I read this 4/22/04 Waas article to say that Pincus and Novak share a source...

Which, if it was Ari Fleischer (as some of us believe), isn't surprising.

It's a little more problematic if you think Novak's source was Armitage, and Pincus's source was Dick Cheney Cathie Martin the tooth fairy someone else. ;)

Additionally Waas has the Pincus source testifing to telling others as well.

Again, no surprise according to some theories of the leak. Other theories seem uninterested in accounting for this...

Was Novak more willing to testify about his sources because he didn't have a big institution like Time-Warner or the NYT to back him up and pay the legal fees?

I actually don't think the Who's Who is so incredible on its face. It is a logical inference that, since her service with the CIA long pre-dated her marriage, Valerie used (and still used) her maiden name. The "Flame" is the intriguing part, assuming she had used that alias as well. Novak seems to have had a more gossipy source once he got the basic story, someone who knew some of the details, perhaps from having been there at or reported to about the meetings with the CIA and INR folks.

I suspect the recent word-i-ness of Rove and Novak has much to do with trying to convince Joe and Valerie Wilson not to file a Civil Suit, if indeed the Statute of Limitations tolls on the 14th.

Hopefully, if that is indeed the date (someplace I thought I saw that it was 5 years not 3 years) I hope they file for civil damages. While I realize they would have to litigate standing and all -- if they prevailed, they could do depositions under oath regarding all in the record, official and stuff in the press. If they don't file, they take the chance of letting this whole matter fall into a footnote. I am one of those who, in 2002-03 remembered Joe Wilson going to see Saddam with his own version of a noose around his neck in 1990 -- and I hope he has the same instinct with regard to this crowd.

The question asked of Bush in Chicago last week is profound -- and while he may have dissembled, he understood exactly what it was about. Do you want me to allow a take down the Democratic Chicago Daley Machine, or do you want me to remove the "monster" and let it stand. Reappoint Fitz and he will stay the course and take out Daley. Appoint a compliant Democrat, end of problems.

Of course I think what should happen is that Fitz should be sent back to Southern District of New York to try the case against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed on the indictment he secured during the Clinton years which would not involve any evidence collected post 9/11, but would involve evidence that has already convicted a number of al-Qaeda who are in super max for life in Colorado. Why not finalize KSM? I suspect he would give investigators a little useful information about this and that if the Colorado cell had a few extras now and then.

Swopa,

If you believe what Kristol said on FNS, Fleischer can't be Novak's unidentified source. Which leads back to Rove.

KRISTOL: Well, because it turns out the person who leaked to Bob Novak was not part of the Cheney-Rove-right-wing conspiracy. He was someone from the State Department who was actually rather against the war in Iraq.
FNS 6/18/06

There's something else that might die on the vine if a compliant Machine Saver was brought into clean-up after Fitz....

The shellacking of Our(Canuckistani) 'Lord In The Crosshairs'.....Conrad Black.

Which would be a great pity, indeed.

.

Polly (and Swopa)

I think it's possible that Rove was PIncus' source, though I doubt it, and I don't think the Waas article provides that much support for the idea. It does seem to support the idea that Pincus' source talked to other reporters, which we have heard nothing else about and which is interesting. But it is consistent with any number of people being PIncus' source.

One more comment about this passage:

That Fitzgerald did not indict any of these sources may indicate his conclusion that none of them violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act.

I still think this is parsed. But it might be parsed for a different reason. Novak may be--as Rove seems to have done--avoiding any mention of his sources not breaking the law. That is, Novak doesn't now say his sources didn't break any law. He says they didn't break IIPA.

If you believe what Kristol said...

As a dedicated Plameologist, I suppose I can't just ask why I should bother reading the rest of that sentence. :) But really, that's what I'd do if it were any other subject.

... the idea that Pincus' source talked to other reporters, which we have heard nothing else about...

Harrumph.

What about this Novak quote from July 21 2003 before he had a chance to make up a cover story:

Novak, in an interview, said his sources had come to him with the information. "I didn't dig it out, it was given to me," he said. "They thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it."

http://foi.missouri.edu/voicesdissent/columnistnames.html

Swopa - I of course meant we have heard nothing else about it in published reports; I was excluding brilliant speculations.

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