« Joementum the "Democrat" | Main | Never Do Today What Can Be Put Off For A Democrat »

July 05, 2006

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b97969e200d83461690569e2

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Libby's Contradictory NIE Leak Stories:

» Some Readings from The Left Coaster
Emptywheel at The Next Hurrah has long been keeping me (and many others) enthralled with her brilliant work. To see an example of why she probably has the best insight into Patrick Fitzgerald's strategy and the Plame case, read this... [Read More]

Comments

so scooter has two different stories, what's new ???

"two men say they're Jesus, one of them must be wrong"

or "oh what a wicked net we weave when first we practice to decieve"

scooter never heard these two gems ???

maybe he really is as stupid as his defense claims

Here's another interesting point, or question.

We know Libby testified to leaking the NIE in both June and July. But it appears he leaked it on July 2 to a journalist that Fitzgerald is just discovering--and that Wells doesn't appear to readily admit. Does that mean Libby didn't identify who the other journalists he leaked to were, besides Judy? Because that would leave open the possibility that he didn't admit to leaking to Woodward. Which would mean Woodward's bombshell may have hurt Libby even more than I think. Though we can't tell, one way or another about that.

EW,

Libby testified that he released portions of the NIE in June and July that directly contradicted the lies Wilson told to reporters and his NYT Op-Ed. During this time, other people in the administration where working on a parallel path to declassify the entire NIE.

What is the dispute?

Libby testified that he didn’t mention Plame to Judy Miller in June. Miller says the same thing.

Where is the conflict?

Now that Matt Cooper’s testimony is worthless (according to Judge Watson), is this some last ditch effort to enhance the Miller side of the indictment?

Also, Woodward said he knew of Plame well before July 2nd, and that Libby was not the source. Have you discovered something new that disputes that?

Are we sure that the go-stop-go sequence doesn't synchronize with the meeting with Woodward (go), then the interim (stop), and then the July 2nd preparation for the meeting with Miller (go)? Or that Fitzgerald's recollection of the six day figure is accurate and ironclad?

Um, jwest, I really find it difficult to give wingers reading lessons online. Read the post. It's fairly clear, maybe not the 2nd grade reading level you're used to, but your assertion 1 is clearly addressed in this post, assertion two is false according to Judy's own testimony, assertion three is a gross exaggeration, and assertion four is completely beside the point of the post.

Any other questions?

Kagro

It doesn't matter. That's Fitz' point. First, because Libby is simultaneously claiming to have been hyper worried about getting authorization for the Judy leak, but not being sure if he had authorization for the Woodward leak. Second, Libby testified in several ways to the uniqueness of his leak to Judy. Uniqueness does not allow for go stop go on the same kind of leak. Either his claims about uniqueness for the Judy leak are false (and there must be some reason, perhaps reflected in his notes, why he testified to that effect). Or his claims for the multiple leaks are false, which we know they're not because we have concrete evidence of them.

The July 2 date may be corroborated, though, by whatever piece of evidence they have that revealed Libby leaked the NIE on that date. But Fitzgerald clearly doesn't intend to raise the date issue in this trial--it only becomes relevant in an IIPA or conspiracy trial.

Are we talking about the same thing here?

Fitzgerald mentions the six days with respect to an authorization "for identification." Leaking findings from the NIE doesn't sound to me like the sort of thing anyone would refer to as an "identification."

"See, Scooter Libby is simultaneously claiming that the NIE leak was part of a larger campaign, a leak he repeated at least six times. And he's claiming that his leak to Judy was a unique event, an exclusive leak."
So so kewl, emptywheel, thanks for all you do.
"Need I point out that--whatever they were authorizing--they were doing it four days before Joe Wilson's op-ed appeared?"
Probably not for most of your readers, but for me, it really helped.

Wheel, you've been circling this point like a buzzard for months now. I'm glad you finally devoted this post to it. Very interesting, as always.

I failed to recognize that you had joined the Hamsher School of Blogging.

Your post tries to infer something sinister in the timing of the release of portions of the NIE, with my comment pointing out that it was a logical progression based on the events of that time. So, as far as assertion 1, I have to assume that once a subject is speculated on by you, the matter is closed for discussion.

On assertion 2, Fitz is charging that the mention of Plame relates to a July 8th meeting, not the June meeting. Since you are sure Judy unequivocally testified that Libby “outted” Plame in June, perhaps you should notify Fitz so that he could amend his indictment.

You claim assertion 3 is a “gross exaggeration”. This is what I would classify Fitz’s indictment as, but there is no need to get into a semantic game. It’s sufficient to point to Fitz’s immediate and total retreat (cut and run, if you will) regarding Rove just after Watson made his assessment of Cooper’s credibility known.

Assertion 4 regarded the timing of Woodward’s knowledge of Plame. Since Woodward knew of Plame far in advance of Libby’s first contact with reporters on this subject, the idea that reporters brought up the name “Plame” to Libby is easily shown.

I’ll work on the reading comprehension and you try to keep an open mind.

KagroX, the term "identification" is, I believe, an error in the transcript. When I first read the transcripts, I couldn't believe all the errors. Surely the DOJ can afford a better court reporting firm?

That's certainly possible. Even these excerpts seem to be somehow off-kilter in a number of places. I just attributed it to the inexactness of unscripted speech.

Are we saying that "identification" is the wrong word, accidentally used? Or that the court reporter misunderstood what Fitz said?

I believe the court reporter either misunderstood or entered the wrong word. The transcripts are TERRIBLE.

Since Woodward knew of Plame, then somehow magically Libby who was holding a seance that day came to know about it, even though Libby cannot point to any reporter who told him about it.

Is this the Voodoo defense?

And furthermore it must have been the voodoo which cause Libby to go back and forth between learning about Plame from Cheney, then forgetting it, then re-learning it through the spirits, and so on. Brilliant.

It should be "declassification."

lilnubber and Kagro

I've always attributed that to a Freudian slip. I think it's a correctly transcribed moment where Fitz was saying what he was thinking, rather than what he was arguing.

jwest--reading comprehension:

Assertion 1: The dispute is that Libby is saying the NIE leak to Judy is unique, while he admits he made the same (and therefore not unique) leak to Woodward, the July 2 reporter, the WSJ, and Cooper. Unique doesn't equal not unique. That is the dispute.

Assertion 2: From Judy's own version of her testimony, referring to the June conversation.

Soon afterward Mr. Libby raised the subject of Mr. Wilson's wife for the first time. I wrote in my notes, inside parentheses, "Wife works in bureau?" I told Mr. Fitzgerald that I believed this was the first time I had been told that Mr. Wilson's wife might work for the C.I.A.

I consider "Mr. Wilson's wife" to be a mention of Plame. Or does Wilson have another wife I don't know about?

Assertion 3: First, the judge's name is Walton, and Walton said there is a slight discrepancy. I suspect he wouldn't consider Cooper claiming to have heard of Plame for the first time a slight discrepancy. So no matter what that slight discrepancy is, it doesn't negate Libby's claim that he was the first to tell Cooper of Plame in spite of the fact that Cooper, indisputably, heard from Rove first. So I highly doubt Cooper's testimony is "worthless."

Assertion 4: The point of this post has nothing to do with when Woodward heard of Plame. The point of this post is that Libby claimed a reference in his notes referred exclusively to the NIE, but several things (just one of which is Woodward's testimony about his conversation with Libby in which Libby didn't mention Plame) make that claim utterly ridiculous.

Any other questions?

lilnubber

I agree that logically that's what Fitzgerald should have said. But I strongly suspect that this is Freudian slip and not a court reporter's slip. Most of the other errors are in spelling or grammar or whatnot, not completely unrelated words substituted for each other.

You're positive about that? Because the follow-up question is whether it might not be the case that the go-stop-go was with respect to the entire plan, but that the July 2nd authorization is with respect specifically to the identification (to Miller, exclusively) of Plame. The "stop" here would be the stutter-step caused by the monkey wrench issue of the Plame identification.

The explanation here would be that Woodward did indeed identify Plame to Libby, who reported it back at the White House, where it was confirmed, and then handed back to Libby with instructions to pass it on to Miller. Libby then double-checked the legality (clearly hoping that Woodward's prior knowledge would preclude criminal liability), then went ahead.

Of course, that makes it much more difficult to believe that the notes about the Miller meeting refer exclusively to the NIE, which is emptywheel's point. Not impossible, but more difficult. It's plausible, I suppose, that the notes really are about the NIE and not Plame, for which Libby kept only a mental note. But there's still the issue of the testimony that the meeting was to be so sensitive it could only be done outside of the office, where Woodward's meeting had been in his office.

Of course, if the claim is that Woodward brought Plame's name up, then Libby would have had no reason to insist on meeting elsewhere, and would have been caught by surprise, perhaps only then concluding that further meetings should be held away from the offices.

In any case, it should probably be pointed out that Libby's grand jury testimony is admissible in any case, no matter who gets called, so long as Fitz offers the same foundation he's already laid out.

ew,

OK, it's taken me a bit to get off my NIE high horse. For some reason, I considered it the smoking memo and it's taken Froomkin's column today to disabuse me of that notion.

I hate when one of my cherished beliefs goes down in flanes.

Oh, I see what you mean, Kagro. They could offer an out that way. I also think they're arguing that the timing of the Grossman conversation is wrong to try to place it after the Woodward discussion (in an attempt to trace this all back to State).

Then a lot more depends on who spoke to Libby first on June 23--Woodward or Judy.

OK, now I'll backtrack.

On the first page of the transcript, it says, "Reported by Voice Writing and transcribed using SpeechCAT."

Do the court reporters in Fed.Ct. use stenographic machines? Or those voice deals?

A couple of more thoughts, now that France has advanced to the finals.

First, if Wells chooses to take Kagro's advice, then a lot hinges on who that unnamed journalist is on July 2. I think it might be Novak, but that's my own little hobby. But if the journalist is going to testify, it could really be the key damage to the NIE story.

Second, note how Fitzgerald says they didn't follow-up with the NIE. Well, why not, you ask? Why not hammer him on it, so he has another perjury charge. Well, because you don't want to give him the opportunity to recant. Which suggests (only suggests, mind you), that Fitz wasn't really after Rove's perjury all those five times. I really think Fitz used a credible perjury indictment to force Rove to talk.

To be fair, something that seems unclear with me (to be honest, I am nowhere on top of every little detail of this case as others here are) dealing with Miller's article that EW quoted in the comments. The way I read the article, if you go to the previous paragraph, it is unclear just what meeting Miller is talking about when she says that Libby talked about Wilson's wife:

Almost two weeks earlier, in an interview with me on June 23, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, discussed Mr. Wilson's activities and placed blame for intelligence failures on the C.I.A. In later conversations with me, on July 8 and July 12, Mr. Libby, who is Mr. Cheney's top aide, played down the importance of Mr. Wilson's mission and questioned his performance.

My notes indicate that well before Mr. Wilson published his critique, Mr. Libby told me that Mr. Wilson's wife may have worked on unconventional weapons at the C.I.A.

See she starts off talking bout June, then hops to July8/12, but does not specifically say when Libby told her about Wilson's wife. If there are other places where she nailed down when Libby told her about Plame could you point me in the right direction?

Also...Could you please elucidate the importance on why this stuff was happening before Wilson's Op-ed was published?

Just to point out why I think my last post is important (to me at least in understanding all of this), is that I follow the post clearly, but was thrown for a bit when ppl were talking about Libby leaking Wilson's wife to Miller in June.

From what I got from the article above:
1) Libby says the whole time-line of leaking is consistant with the declassification of the NIE
2) Fitz says "no way", Libby leaks to at least two people before July 8th, and then when you go to Miller and say "get your exclusive here", and then check to make sure it is kosher to leak this info....
2a) unique is not unique if Libby only discussed the NIE to Miller, which he had already done earlier (Libby lies in his GJ testimony about this)
2b) The information leaked to Miller on July 8 would become unique if he also first leaked word of Wilson's wife at this time. (Libby lies to GJ about not leaking Wilson's wife to Miller)

This is what I was getting from your post and how you think Fitz will play it. If he told Miller about Wilson's wife in June, then why would the July meeting be unique?

Nevermind, read a bit further in that same article, and she does go on a bit about libby takling about wilson's wife in the June meeting.

But...then why would Miller's second meeting with Libby be "unique", and an exclusive? (Details on where she worked?)

Here's a link that explains Voice Writing http://www.lawlink.nsw.gov.au/lrc.nsf/pages/CP5CHP9 and another link for SpeechCAT http://www.reportersupport.ca/products.cfm

I showed my sister who is a court reporter this transcript and she was horrified by the sloppiness. She suggested though that it might have been a first draft and that a better document might be available to the court.

Thanks for the links, lemon!

Well, I wish you wouldn't put it that way -- that Wells would take my advice.

But if he does: Ted, I bill at $460 an hour.

Very nice post.

1. Nice insight about how Libby's secret declassification deal makes him not a team-member in the White House. It will be interesting to see how Fitzgerald plays the Libby as renegade thing. It's clear that Fitzgerald has committed himself to arguing that Libby was memorably concerned about the Wilsons because his boss was. So, as you suggest, the renegade here is OVP. But that may seem to leave it open for Libby's defense to suggest that Libby was all along just a good soldier or employee following his - hugely disliked - boss' directions. Which in turn may partly explain why Fitzgerald has opted for obstruction-type charges. It's much less sympathetic to argue your client lied to cover up his and his boss' conduct than to argue that your client did a seemingly really bad thing only because his boss directed him, demanded him, pressured him to.

2. Two things worth considering to make a little more sense of Libby's narrative. First, maybe Libby was concerned about the July 2 direction to leak from Cheney precisely because it was a direction from Cheney, rather than Libby taking it upon himself, freelance-style, to leak. So maybe that was why Libby expressed some concerns. Second, though the line from the hearing about it being the first time Libby was going to do a particular quote from a classified document cuts against this a little (and is obviously bullshit, on its own terms), maybe the uniqueness of what happened with Miller on July 8 had to do with showing her the actual document. Or at least, that possibility might make sense of Miller's report that Fitzgerald asked her about a series of documents, obviously including the NIE, and asked her whether Libby had shown any to her. Of course, it would probably be more helpful to Libby if Miller had testified that he had shown her those documents; but she said she didn't think he had, though he whipped something out of his pocket and read from it, she thinks.

3. It seems pretty clear that Addington has testified, right? Addington is also the guy Libby went to right after meeting with Miller on July 8 to ask what documentation there would be at the CIA if an employee was involved in sending (or sent, i can't remember which the claim was) a spouse on a mission. So presumably Addington has been asked about the other encounter with Libby over presidential authorization, though Fitzgerald has so far only publicly referred to Libby's testimony about the matter. But assuming Addington has been questioned, I also assume that Fitzgerald would not talk about the encounter the way that he does unless Addington confirmed Libby's account, right?

4. Though it is unclear how important the NIE business has been to Fitzgerald, it's now perfectly clear that it was important enough for Fitzgerald to ask the President about it, and presumably Cheney as well (though again it's hard to know how large this bulked in Fitzgerald's questioning in either case). Did Fitzgerald not think to ask about specific dates? Doubtful, especially since the whole issue of uncertain dates had already come up in Libby's testimony. Which presumably means that Bush and Cheney were unable to pin down dates on this for Fitzgerald, right? Back in April, I think Isikoff's article dated the authorization to late June, but the very fact that Fitzgerald says he can't pin down a date shows that, to everyone's great surprise, Isikoff was being fed and regurgitated a line that conveniently and falsely covered for the by-then known leak to Woodward. Now he's writing a book on this whole affair. I can't wait.

Speaking of dates, when do you think the OVP became aware that the Wilson column was going to be printed?

I appreciate the work you all provide interpreting this ongoing DOJ investigation. But taking a step back for a moment, can we review what motivations the Administration would have had to initiate the outing of a CIA agent?

I'd guess, like many of you, it was to preserve the Administration plan to prosecute a war in Iraq. But I wonder whether its ultimate goal was to artificially increase the world price of oil by SUPRRESSING the Iraqi oil output. (World domination and attaining so-called 'power' in the Middle East is an often-assumed goal of the Administration, but 'making lots of money' by creating high oil prices is a tangible (and portable good) that seems a more concrete goal for this group. And, oh yeah, obtaining freedom for the Iraqi people.

With today's sad news of convicted ex-Enron CEO Ken Lay's untimely death, I couldn't help wonder whether the Bush team was somewhat relieved to receive the news. I assume Mr. Lay was, as Enron's CEO, privy to pre-9/11 business talks about an Afghanistan oil pipeline and other WH Middle East energy policies.

Given this assumption, did anyone else find White House Press Secretary Tony Snow's attempt at distancing Bush from 'Kenny-Boy Lay' today a little odd? :

the "President has described Ken Lay as an acquaintance, and many of the President’s acquaintances have passed on during his time in office."

Now I know Wayne Madsen has a reputation for being over-the-top and for often using anonymous sources; nevertheless, I found this excerpt from today's Wayne Madsen Report intriguing:

"The mortality rate among those close to various Bush criminal enterprises is extremely high. Lay's death follows by a few weeks that of Phillip Merrill, Dick Cheney's handpicked President of the Export-Import Bank who served in that capacity during a period when questionable loans were made to the Iraqi Coalition Provisional Authority in Baghdad. There will undoubtedly be questions posed about the circumstances of Lay's untimely (or timely?) death. Aspen, Colorado is a vacation playground for some of Bush's most ardent (and richest) supporters and access to the town and its records (including medical examiner records) is strictly controlled. Lay and Skilling were scheduled for sentencing on September 11 but, more significantly, according to Federal sentencing guidelines, Lay was to have submitted a sworn financial statement to Judge Sim Lake by August 1. That statement should have contained all of Lay's financial assets, including any that may have been squirreled away in off-shore accounts or other "partnerships." With Lay's death, his sworn financial statement for the Federal court will be transformed into the filing of a probate will in the Harris County, Texas Court, moving the process from the oversight of the Federal judiciary to a county court in Texas."

Did Mr. Lay's death occur due to a heart attack? or a suicide? as Wikipedia (intermittently) reported. I guess not all the roots of Aspens are connected.

Perhaps Mr. Lay's death certificate will be made public and settle the issue. I do not know the laws governing public access to death certificates in CO. The law in MA where I live follows an 'open' death certificate policy. Cause of death listed on MA death certificates are considered public information and therefore independently verifiable.

A little bit off the topic, NY state has a similar open policy for cause of death reporting. By interesting exception, however, NYC maintains a CLOSED system. Cause of death is NOT public information for deaths that occur in NYC proper. This is a hold-over from the days when dying of cancer was considered a 'moral failing.' Because city officials believed cancer death reporting would improve if doctors knew family members would be spared the embarrassment, cause of death on NYC death certificates was and remains closed to the public.

Great comment, Jeff. Terrific diary, 'wheel.

Did either of you have a problem reconciling Bush's public remarks concerning the selective declassification of documents back in the summer of 2003 (which Bush made in March 2006, if memory serves, after embarrassing revelations in the Libby case), with Waas' account of what Bush told Fitzgerald back in 2004? Why did the President feel obliged to publicly corroborate an alibi in March, if that corroboration conflicted with something he told Fitzgerald a couple years ago? (Or did you notice any inconsistency?)

Here's another question, tangential to what's argued in the diary: please remind me again of what was finally declassified of the NIE. Was it the summary, but not the body of the document itself (80+ pages)? Am I right in asserting that at least some of what Libby was leaking to reporters in the summer of 2003 remains classified (i.e., those dubious claims about uranium which didn't merit inclusion in the summary)?

In other words, we have a President who claims to have insta-declassified material back in 2003 -- material which, in fact, remains partly classified today. While it may be a component of someone's well-plotted alibi, it's rather ridiculous in light of the embarrassing leaks the White House is otherwise so angrily indignant about.

Couple comments, first off on the topic of reading comprehension. Consider the following:

THE DEVELOPER REVISED THE CODE.

Now ask two people what that means, and make sure Person #1 is a homebuilder, and Person #2 writes software code. Person #1 will interpret it as something along the lines of: "THE housing DEVELOPER REVISED a section of THE municipal CODE [dealing with housing setbacks from a sidewalk]." Person #2 will interpret it as something along the lines of: "THE software DEVELOPER REVISED sections of THE programming CODE [that created errors within the install procedure]." Assume that both readers are smart, reasonable, sane people. They bring different contexts to the passage. Get over it.

Context is meaning. And some reading comprehension research suggests that context accounts for up to 70% of the meaning that any reader takes from a passage of text. Reading researchers refer to this as the "Reader/Text Interaction." We read what we are. Get over it.

jwest, Assertion 1: "...[the] post tries to infer something sinister in the timing of the release of portions of the NIE..."
Ummmm....the timing was summer of 2003, a month or two after the US President had 'flown' onto the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, and (in full flight rig) told the US the Iraq War was over, and the "mission" had been "accomplished?" The same period in which the WMD that had been the premise for war in Iraq were not turning up? Note to jwest: given the CONTEXT of the timing of the NIE leak, "sinister" works for me.

jwest, Assertion 2: "...Fitz is charging that the mention of Plame relates to a July 8th meeting, not the June meeting. Since you are sure Judy unequivocally testified that Libby “outted” Plame in June, perhaps you should notify Fitz so that he could amend his indictment."
Ummm... red herring. The post explicitly states "It's not the timing of the authorization that proves Libby is lying about what unique leak he gave to Judy Miller. It is the two stories Libby tells, that directly contradict each other." It is interesting that you want to divert attention from the post's thesis. Touchy nerves?

jwest, Assertion 3: "...Now that Matt Cooper’s testimony is worthles..." But you don't want to get into 'semantics,' while claiming that Fitz 'cut and run' by not indicting Rover. No 'semantics' in those 'worthless, or 'cut and run' memes, eh?
Your efforts to imply that Mr. Fitzgerald and his group lack courage are moderately entertaining. However, Fitzgerald is unlikely to adjust his behavior in response to anything that either you or I might write in blog comments. Get over it.

jwest, Assertion 4: "...Also, Woodward said he knew of Plame well before July 2nd, and that Libby was not the source...."
Ummmm... this provides a good example of the significance of CONTEXT in shaping MEANING. Before July 2nd, Cheney had already been asking around about Wilson. Before July 2nd, Cheney and Bush had both spoken to Woodward. Before July 2nd, the bogus pretext for war based on WMD was unraveling. Before July 2nd, most Europeans had refused to join the US in invading Iraq b/c they suspected things were amiss. Your suggestion that Woodward's earlier knowledge lets Libby off the hook is entertaining mostly b/c you fail to see how it sinks Libby (and Cheney) deeper in mire. Get. Over. It.

jwest, you also slam EW for not being open minded. Which is interesting, b/c anyone who knows much about reading comprehension, about problem solving, about any number of interesting topics, knows that it takes a subtle, inquisitive mind to ferret out odd details and put them under different types of light and examine them from more than one angle. Which EW obviously does. These posts are hardly the result of close-mindedness.

EW, I apologize for feeding the troll. I don't generally do so, but I simply couldn't resist this time. The blog is yours; you are obviously free to delete this comment should you wish to do so.

jwest, you really shouldn't try to lecture other commenters here about topics on which we know far, far more than you. Reading comprehension is a complex and important topic, and blogs are a great way to think more deeply about that topic. Lest I lose myself in a sea of citations about neural networks, semantic networks, cognitive development, and reading research specific to legal writing and legislation, I'll simply stop by pointing out that I have never met EW, and never expect to -- but it's a pleasure to read such detailed, thoughtful, analytical observations. EW, many thanks.

While reading OfTeaLeaves, I would like to reflect from Laura Rozen there may be more about the quality of evidence. LR's post on W+P provides a few links to possible developments in the matter of the ~forged MoU.
While throughout the development of the Libby indictment story I remained fairly in agreement that Fitzgerald would avoid IIPA turf based on its stringent requisites, reading thru some other recent depictions of the administration as it began to rely increasingly on the signing statement in 2002, the latter link takes a while to display, the former in one passage describes how few lawyers there were in the top posts in the administration; these contexts made it seem more likely to me that advice was coming from numerous perspectives; certainly the Mayer article, linked, reveals the influence of Addington increased around that time and those issues; but I can see Rove being part of the equation, based on his political moxie. All this made the stopgo more credible, though it is a classic fuzzy defense almost as effective as graymail. Some interesting comments about chronologies appeared in this thread, ew et al.
J.

Scratch my question #1, there's no contradiction between the newest Waas and what Bush said in March. (There's just jet lag.)

I find it peculiar, however, that although Bush says he ordered high level intelligence disclosures back in 2003 to discredit Wilson, he ordered the disclosures done "after undergoing the formal governmental declassification processes," which are yet to be performed for the documents in question. Why have we not seen the particular passage from the NIE which Libby claims he sought Presidential permission to share with Miller on July 8th?

tryggth

Oh, I don't know. How about July 2? That's a little early, but it is the Wednesday before the long weekend, equivalent of a Thursday on a normal week. One thing I'd love to do is figure out when Dick left for Jackson Hole that weekend and when he returned.

QS

There's this for declassified NIE. It does conatain the "vigorously pursuing" passage that Libby was insta-declassifying.

Jeff

I suspect Addington, Cheney, and Bush knew enough not to commit on authorization. After all, that would, to some degree, commit to what they were authorizing. I'm amenable to the notion that the NIE authorization took place (at the Cheney level, with Bush authorizing the general smear) in June. And then the Judy authorization took place on July 2, when the learned the Wilson op-ed was coming out? Though if they really did know on July 2, why not give it to Judy then? Was that the go-stop-go, and it became go again after the op-ed appeared? And wasn't Judy busy writing her Stephen Hatfill article for July 2, presumably talking to some of her buddies in DC?

One point....

Bush told Fitz that he authorized the discrediting of Wilson. Leaking portions of the NIE does nothing to discredit the conclusions found in Wilson's column, which was that Bushco ignored evidence contrary to Bushco's desired conclusions.

What does appear to "discredit" Wilson (or at least Pincus's version of what he was told by Wilson) would be Wilson's debriefing (Pincus wrote that Wilson reported that the documents were forgeries), and the "State Department" memo (which has Plame "suggesting" Wilson for the trip).

In other words, EW's speculation that what was authorized to be disclosed to Miller is something other than the NIE butressed by what Bush has said.... Bush wanted Wilson discredited, and that meant leaking something OTHER than the NIE.

Excellent point, p luk

I've always wondered two things:

1) How big of a threat would CIA consider the leaking of the report on Wilson's trip? Obviously, Tenet himself provided extensive detail from it on the 11th (after Ari had introduced it on the 9th).

2) Has Libby's team ignored the problem with declassifying this? I rather think the TNR discussion with Edelam in late June may have referred to the debriefing, not Plame. In which case it might be part of the problem for Libby.

emptywheel - I'm not sure I understand your point about not committing on authorization.

I also think that both you and pluk are a little bit artificially isolating the perceived Wilson problem for the White House from the larger perceived legitimacy problem over wmd intelligence. Wilson was a part of it, but it wasn't only about Wilson - and nor was Wilson disconnected from the larger problem. So it's doubtful Bush was talking to Cheney about Wilson in isolation from the larger strategy to respond to their legitimacy problems, to say nothing of what falls between the large problem and WIlson - the CIA more generally.

At the same time, pluk, leaking the Niger section of the NIE would, from their perpsective, respond to Wilson's column by showing that in October 2002 the authoritative judgment of the intelligence community and the CIA stood behind the Niger story. So in fact the leak of the NIE was in fact in part a response to Wilson, though again it was also a response to the larger crisis of legitimacy.

emptywheel

Maybe the July 9 public discussion of Wilson's trip report was what got Fleischer in trouble with Fitzgerald? And led to the presumed cooperation agreement?

Jeff

If I were Cheney, and I had authorized the leaking of still-classified NIE in June and I had authorized the leaking of Plame's identity in July, and someone asked me, "Did you authorize the NIE leak in July?" I would say, "I don't recall." So they couldn't, later, get me for false statements for misleading which authorization had happened when.

You raise a good point about the larger campaign against CIA, which is where the early work on this came from. But to some degree, Wilson provided an opportunity--a name to hang their entire counter-attack on, one that put them on a topic that was marginally safer than the aluminum tubes. Remember, sometime around this period, Hadley had admitted that Bush had no business using the aluminum tube story in SOTU. Better to focus on Niger, as if that were the total substance of the nuclear argument, as a way to draw attention away BOTH from the aluminum tubes more generally, and from the more definitive warnings against the Niger claims they had received. (In that sense, Wilson was a gift, they thought, because they could claim CHeney hadn't known about his visit; they probably couldn't claim the same about the Pollari involvement or Tenet's earlier warnings.) So I think the rebutttal after Pincus' article was largely focused on Wilson as a target.

Though the NIE was a cheap and easy way to justify the 16 words, which is again where this had gotten narrowly focused.

I think Ari was exposed for two reasons--the July 9 comments about the CIA report, and the July 12 misrepresentation of Tenet's statement. Plus, maybe, his hints to Dickerson and others.

What I don't understand about Libby's desire to argue he was part of the team is the Bartlett and Ari hints late in the week. They were clearly working off a talking point. So Plame clearly shows up in talking points. How are the talking points going to help Libby?

SWIFT damage probe went the same way as the PLAME damage probe.

No damage.

I think everybody is losing sight of a rather obvious point. Libby's NIE story is total hogwash. He made it up to cover up the incriminating information in his own notes (and Addington's testimony) that indicate the outing of Plame was part of official administration policy. Libby didn't need any special authorization to leak the NIE. He had been doing that all along. He leaked the aluminum tubes story to Judy Miller while the NIE was being put together. Well before the supposed authorization or the Hadley-led official declassification of the NIE, Woodward had the whole NIE for "Plan of Attack". Every single thing that Libby testified to about the NIE is demonstrably false.

Well, not me, WO, that's kind of the point of the post. The NIE story is important only insofar as it is discredited, and with it Libby's lie about the instructions in his note.

Though, actually, Judy is NOT the one who received the aluminum tube leak. It was her co-author on that article, Michael Gordon (by his own admission), the co-author of the book Cobra II. But the rest of that article (which I'm sure Judy was largely responsible) is basically a rough draft of the NIE minus the bits on missiles and AQ-Iraqi ties.

emptywheel,

Thanks for the correction on the aluminum tubes bit. I misread your last comment and thought you were backing off your conclusion about the leaking of the NIE. I see on second reading that you were leading that comment with a hypothetical for Jeff. Sorry about that.

emptywheel

Thanks for the clarification. I basically think we still know far too little about the NIE part of the story, and who said what about it exactly, to be as sure as Ockham is, though I do think the issue of what authorization and what leaking happened when has raised Fitzgerald's suspicions in just the way you suggest.

By "the Pollari involvement" I assume you are connecting the October 2002 meeting with Hadley with the Niger story, maybe the forgeries, right? I assume you are watching closely what is happening in Italy right now, right? The craziest bit is that Sismi had a full-own asset or whatever acting as a journalist, and it's that journalist who put out the story that Rocco Martino was doing it for the French. Boy, do I hope that story goes somewhere.

What I don't understand about Libby's desire to argue he was part of the team is the Bartlett and Ari hints late in the week. They were clearly working off a talking point. So Plame clearly shows up in talking points. How are the talking points going to help Libby?

It's a good question, but I suspect you're making a leap in assuming there were actual talking points reduced to writing on the Plame bit. When you're talking about such central players as Libby, Fleischer and Bartlett, I imagine you don't necessarily need talking points, and if you know there's an item that is supposed to be hush-hush, I assume you keep it out of the talking points. Of course that means that those on the outer rings don't get, and hence can't retransmit, the message. But in this case, that was just the point. And Fleischer got it from Libby, he could quite easily have transmitted the story to Bartlett in Africa, for the purposes of leading the press on. But I doubt it had to happen that way: Bartlett seems to have been the key guy from the political team on this whole set of issues, so he was probably in on whatever discussions were going on about Plame. In fact, having just reread the always amazing press conference Bartlett did with Hadley on July 22 and some of the coverage from June and July 2003 - in particular Pincus' July 13 piece, for which Bartlett is a major on-the-record and, pretty obviously, a key White House background source - I have to re-up Bartlett's standing as a contender for being Pincus' source. He was once high on the list for me, then got demoted, but I can't remember why; so until I figure out that reason again, he's up there.

Two points.

WO,
Although I wouldn't put it past Libby making up the whole story about the "special authorization, I think you can differentiate leaking intel and the leaking of Plame. With intel leaks, if push comes to shove, they will always have the insta-declass defense. But as EW has pointed out, one would think Plame would need to know her name was going to be revealed to argue it was a legitimate declassification - much less defensible. My point is, I think Libby knew the difference.

Jeff,
The administration may see the NIE as a source of defense to it's legitimacy problems, but discrediting Wilson, I think, was CRITICAL in that defense. Its not the facts that matter, its putting a face on the opposition so you can attack their credibility, and thereby cloud the issue. Wilson was that perfect face. It's their MO.

Here's another question in this area: who was the cutout for Libby's transmittal to the Wall Street Journal of the NIE, along with the substance of the Januar 24 2003 NIO-to-NSC bs, for their July 17 2003 editorial? And when did the transmittal to the WSJ happen? Could that have been the July 2 event, or is that too early, do you think? Assuming it happened later, did Libby testify that he told the cutout know about the presidential authorization business, and what did the cutout testify to, assuming s/he testified?

I also am still curious about whether and when that January 24, 2003 document, the third that was being worked for declassification via the normal process, by Hadley, Tenet and Bartlett apparently along with Libby, was actually declassified. Hadley gets asked about it, seemingly by Sanger, at the Julyt 22 news conference, suggesting it had been declassified and released, perhaps along with the NIE on July 18, and Sanger and Miller dutifully write it up with appropriate White House-friendliness the next day. But that's it, as far as I can tell. Wouldn't it be great if it had not been declassified, and Sanger and Hadley were having a quasi-private conversation on the basis of a leak of classified info to Sanger?

But I doubt it had to happen that way: Bartlett seems to have been the key guy from the political team on this whole set of issues, so he was probably in on whatever discussions were going on about Plame.

That's part of the reason I think Ari must have had another relevant conversation with either Rove or Libby. The strategy to encourage reporters to ask who sent Wilson was consistent between the two of them, and Bartlett definitely was in on it. That's a little different from what we know Libby said early in the week, and there is a delay until Thursday before they use it, which suggests they were encouraged to use that. Though you're probably right that it came in a conference all or something, not a talking point.

I suspect the WSJ leak occured later, possibly even after the NOvak article. (And since Bartlett was back in the country, he could have been the cut-out--Ari couldn't, though, unless it was the last thing he did as a WH employee.) Keep in mind, too, that Gigot at WSJ was one of the reporter's contacts subpoenaed in 2004. Which might be how Fitz found the cut-out.

there is a delay until Thursday before they use it

They use it with Dickerson on Friday - which just strengthens your point - but do they use it with someone else earlier?

And since Bartlett was back in the country, he could have been the cut-out

The WSJ appears to rule that out, though the way they phrase it is a little ambiguous. After quoting from the NIE, and in the midst of discussing it, they say

This information, by the way, does not come from the White House, which to our mind has handled this story in ham-handed fashion. But we are told that language identical to what was in the NIE is what the CIA presented to the White House last January 24 in preparation for President Bush's State of the Union address.

Though "This" could be taken to refer to the January 24 document, I suspect this is all rather a set up: whether the person was from OVP (Martin or whoever), State (Bolton (sp?), say) or Defense (Wolfowitz) or even CIA, I bet the source encouraged the WSJ to make clear that it wasn't coming from the White House, just as Libby got Miller to agree to identify him as a former Hill staffer.

As for a wider point, I'm just not sure that White House was so focused on Wilson to the detriment of the larger siege. I agree Wilson was a useful target for them, but they had a much larger set of questions to answer as well, as I think the press coverage from even the post-July 6 period shows, where Wilson sort of fades into the background. I do think the White House deliberately overreacted to Wilson in order to try to draw as much attention to him as possible. But they had to know it wouldn't necessarily succeed, as in some ways it did not.


This information, by the way, does not come from the White House, which to our mind has handled this story in ham-handed fashion.

Oh yeah. I was thinking this sounded like a Ledeen figure, not only not in the WH, but not in government officially. Or Perle or Gingrich (who was very active slamming State in editorials just a few weeks earlier).

But then it could be Dougie Feith.

Assuming you guys have seen the latest transcript posted over at talkleft via truthout?

Just finished reading it. Nothing new in it at all. The most curious thing is that Jeffress refers to a subpoena to CNN. I'm guessing it has to do with David Ensor and not Novak, but it might refer to a later Novak article.

I am making my way through the transcript, for which we should thank Leopold, all else aside (129 pages of transcript is expensive). It does seem to me we get a more substantial preview of some of what the defense will argue than we've gotten thus far. I am also intrigued by Bennett's suggestion, on p. 21, that there were basically three meetings or three conversations; though the "basically" qualifier means it counts as no sort of answer as to whether Libby leaked the NIE, but didn't talk about Plame, to Miller on July 2. But that's as far as I've gotten so far. And I truly don't even have a TV at the moment to watch the L-L debate; not that I think I would have even if I had access to one.

Sorry Marcy but murray waas DID NOT break this story. Leopold did three months ago at truthout. Its time for you to stop playing favorites and give proper credit when its due.

You all have maligned leopolds reporting on this story. But you know what? I just read all of his stories and I can't understand where he has been off other than rove. Please explain what I am missing and where.

"Bush at Center of Intelligence Leak", Welcome to the party Murray

By Marc Ash,

Tue Jul 4th, 2006 at 07:12:05 PM
We were amused to see Murray Waas writing for the The National Journal Monday "break" the news that George W. Bush in fact authorized Dick Cheney to respond to Joseph Wilson back in 2003 when Wilson's Op-Ed first appeared in The New York Times. Waas's piece titled, "Bush Directed Cheney To Counter War Critic" is causing quite a stir in digital politics this holiday weekend.

It's nice that another journalist has belatedly covered this story, but it was Jason Leopold writing for Truthout nearly 3 months ago who first reported Bush's involvement in his piece titled, "Bush at Center of Intelligence Leak".

Not the first time. In January Leopold reported for TO that, "Bush Authorized Domestic Spying Before 9/11". Over 6 months later, on June 30th Bloomberg finally checked in with their report confirming Leopold's, "Bush Authorized Domestic Spying Before 9/11".

We are often asked, 'why is Jason Leopold so far out in front?' Or, 'how come no one else is reporting this story?' We think those are excellent questions.

In the transcript of the May 16 hearing, an interesting and sort of funny thing is comes on p. 77-78. Jeffress is arguing that he needs Kristof's notes from his interview with Wilson in order to show that Wilson told him things that were inaccurate, in order in turn to bolster Libby's case that he was responding to Wilson's innacuracies on the merits. (I actually have some sympathy with the gist of this argument, though I don't think it would work out the way Libby would hope if he got the stuff.) Walton is unsympathetic, and Jeffress explains (transcribing):

YOUR HONOR, I THINK IT IS CERTAINLY MORE LIKELY THAN NOT THAT MR. LIBBY, OR OTHERS IN THE WHITE HOUSE, WOULD HAVE DEVELOPED THIS SUPPOSED PLOT TO OUT HIS WIFE TO DISCREDIT WILSON IF THERE WEREN'T THE FACT THAT THE RESPONSE TO WILSON WAS IN THE WORDS RECORDED BY ANOTHER WITNESS OF THE VICE-PRESIDENT, "IT WOULD BE A SERIOUS MISTAKE TO DO ANYTHING LESS THAN FULL DISCLOSURE."

There is probably a little punctuation missing that would make it clearer that the point here is that this is a statement of the Vice President as recorded by another witness. I'm curious who that witness is, and in particular whether s/he was in on knowledge of Plame, whether s/he talked to the press, if so whether s/he leaked about Plame, whether s/he knew anything of what Libby was up to, and whether Libby was also present when Cheney made this statement. But the interesting and sort of funny thing is that at this May 16 hearing Jeffress does not realize that - as Fitzgerald will make clear in his May 24 follow-up reply to Libby on the use of the articles, which is where Fitzgerald draws on Libby's grand jury testimony - Fitzgerald is going to use precisely those sorts of statements from Cheney to inculpate Libby. For Libby, on Fitzgerald's theory, the direction from his deeply troubled boss for full disclosure meant disclose Plame's role in Wilson's trip.

Jeffress himself immediately goes on to make the connection between this quote from the Vice President, reported by another witness, and Libby's own understanding.

AND THAT'S WHAT MR. LIBBY WAS ABOUT, ABOUT GETTING OUT THE TRUTH.

Ordinary auditors at the hearing on May 16 would not have known that Jeffress is alluding to Libby's own testimony, though Jeffress does go on to indicate that the jury is going to hear that from Libby's mouth - it's unclear if he means by that that the jury will hear it in the form of evidence from Libby's grand jury transcript or in the form of Libby's testimony at trial. But a week later Fitzgerald submits his filing, and attaches the grand jury transcript where Libby repeatedly emphasizes Cheney's use of that and/or related phrases about getting it out, getting all the facts out, and so on. But where Jeffress is going to try use that part of Libby's testimony to claim that Libby was focused on the merits of the case, Fitzgerald is suggesting, and presumably will argue, that Libby took it to mean that Cheney wanted the fact of Plame's CIA employment out, among other things.

Apart from the way Fitzgerald's May 24 filing sort of funnily trips up Jeffress here, it is just extraordinary: if anyone ever writes a good book about this whole matter, I suspect the phrase "Get it out" and variations thereof will star. The fundamental ambiguity at the heart of that, which Jeffress and Fitzgerald are interpretively tussling over, is part of what's extraordinary - plus, as Waas underlined in his recent piece, it was in just the same terms that Bush appears to have talked to Cheney about the whole matter. (Waas - like several reports back in April, when news first broke (broken very first on this very site), of Bush and Cheney's role in authorizing Libby's leaking the NIE - gets an anonymous, obviously Bush-friendly source saying that Bush told Cheney "Get it out," or "Let's get this out; and Waas additionally gets someone with direct knowledge of Bush's interview with Fitzgerald to say that's generally consistent with what Bush told Fitzgerald, though that source won't confirm those exact words.) What's more, Waas reported that when Cheney directed Libby to leak the NIE, he said something like, "The president wants this out."

The point is not that Bush was necessarily directing the outing of Plame via Cheney. On the contrary, the point is that it appears that at the heart of testimony about what went on, there's this amazingly ambiguous set of phrases that were open to interpretation and misinterpretation at each link in the chain of direction and action. Who knows how much of it is bs, and by whom; it is the perfect cover story designed, above all, to protect Bush first and Cheney second (if push comes to shove, Libby takes the fall on the basis of his misinterpretation of his orders), and Libby after that, as we will see unfold in this trial, as his defense apparently will argue that Libby himself understood full disclosure to mean only what he knew from Cheney and that didn't include Plame, but rather the accurate truth against Wilson's inaccuracies.

Jeff,

I noticed exactly the same thing you did and was writing up a comment pretty close to what you wrote. In fact I made a comment on Wednesday about the importance of the phrase "Get all the facts out". Contra your last sentence though, the real problem for Cheney is that there is plenty of documentary evidence to show that "all the facts" included the Wilson-Plame relationship. In fact, it was central to the biggest of the "four lies" that Jeffress prattles on and on about: Wilson's claim (at least as reported by Kristof) that Cheney sent Wilson.

One more comment about the four lies. Kristof and Wilson both agree that at least one of the lies is due to Kristof's error. The others are of mixed merit. But Wilson has a Kristof note in the preface to his paperback with Kristof admitting that Joe made clear he hadn't seen documents.

Joe, thanks for that nice note. it finds me in salt lake city, where i'm driving through red states and talking to people about issues (here, they care about guns and abortion, but not about wsj attacks). don't worry. i remember you saying you had not seen the documents. my recollection is that we had some information about the documents at that time--e.g. the names of people in them--but i do clearly remember you saying that you had not been shown them.

Psst. Jeffress--read the public record.

emptywheel

This might be unnecessary detail (not that that's ever stopped me before), but I actually think in the real world, the case against Wilson as an anonymous source is stronger in at least one regard than Jeffress makes out; and the case against Kristof in a fundamental respect is stronger. But Jeffress can't make that case in the legal world, because to do so would require focusing not on the May 6 article but on the June articles, and it appears that Team Libby can't do that, presumably because then Libby's actions before June 12-13 (the dates of Pincus' and Kristof's articles, respectively) are harder to describe the way they want to, as responses on the merits to inaccuracies. Here goes, with Jeffress' four alleged falsehoods:

The article suggests that the Vice-President was responsible for sending Mr. Wilson to Niger. Not so.

Not so indeed. The key word here is "suggests," which shows how weak Jeffress' claim is. And even that is incorrect. As I've argued before, in retrospect it is remarkable how little focus there is on OVP in Kristof's May 6 piece, and how much critical attention there is to State and Powell in particular, along with Bush. In fact, the only mention of OVP is the one Jeffress is depending on for his claim. From Kristof:

I'm told by a person involved in the Niger caper that more than a year ago the vice president's office asked for an investigation of the uranium deal, so a former U.S. ambassador to Africa was dispatched to Niger. In February 2002, according to someone present at the meetings, that envoy reported to the C.I.A. and State Department that the information was unequivocally wrong and that the documents had been forged.

Now, this does suggest that OVP triggered the trip. The trouble for Libby's defense is that that appears to be true. But it does not suggest that OVP was responsible for sending the ambassador. Indeed, in two ways it suggests the contrary: if OVP was asking for an investigation of the uranium business, they were asking someone else, and the suggestion is that that someone else responded by sending the ambassador. And second, the fact that the envoy reported to the CIA and State Department, as the next sentence reports, suggests that CIA and State Department were, in effect, that someone else. (Indeed, if you ask me, part of the point of the INR was to deny this suggestion of Wilson's with regard to State, or INR at least, which accounts for the tone of pique, even contempt, toward Wilson and the CIA.)

So on what is perhaps, as Ockham suggests, the central purported lie to which OVP was responding on the merits - that Cheney sent Wilson - Kristof's May 6 column doesn't cut it for Libby's purposes. Kristof's June 13 column is another matter; but there the claim that OVP was supposedly responding to was so obviously a screwup on Kristof's part that he actually contradicted it in his own column. In the opening paragraph of that item, Kristof refers to the Niger story as

something that had already been flatly discredited by an envoy investigating at the behest of the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.

This is the best, perhaps only print, evidence Cheneyphiles have for the Cheney-sent-Wilson claim, and it hinges entirely on the insufficiently precise word "behest." But even if you grant the Cheneyphiles that it makes it sound like Cheney sent Wilson, the very idea is belied by the actual account in Kristof's very own piece a few paragraphs later:

Italy's intelligence service obtained the documents and shared them with British spooks, who passed them on to Washington. Mr. Cheney's office got wind of this and asked the C.I.A. to investigate.

The agency chose a former ambassador to Africa to undertake the mission, and that person flew to Niamey, Niger, in the last week of February 2002.

Leave aside the irrelevant telescoping of distinct foreign intel reports in the first sentence. The simple fact of the matter is that Kristof gets it right, and in no way suggests that Cheney sent, chose or even behested Wilson, on any meaning of "behest." Kristof is categorical and accurate. Cheney asked the CIA to look into it, and the CIA chose Wilson. The only possible problem here is that it doesn't specify that the very idea of such a mission was evidently also the CIA's, and not OVP's. But, first, that is so obviously not Wilson's problem, and second, it doesn't add up to the sinister suggestion that Cheney was responsible for sending Wilson to Niger.

Pincus' article on June 12 won't work either. If anything, it's overly generous to OVP. But regardless, the article that OVP could get most upset about, before Wilson's own, which didn't claim Cheney sent him either, was Kristof's June 13, not his May 6, article. But that won't work for Libby's narrative, since he was asking Grossman back in May, and hearing from him, from the CIA, and from Cheney himself about the Wilsons all before Kristof's June 13 piece came out.

Rest of the long story short, the other really weak claim by Jeffress is this

Finally, Mr. Kristof's article reports that the envoy's report, according to the envoy, was passed around the administration and it was known to President Bush. False.

This is just beneath the dignity of a lawyer of Jeffress' evident skills. Here is the bit of Kristof Jeffress is evidently relying on:

The envoy's debunking of the forgery was passed around the administration and seemed to be accepted -- except that President Bush and the State Department kept citing it anyway.

We've never gotten a real accounting of just what happened to the report based on Wilson's trip. However, we do know that it was indeed passed around the administration, though it appears that it was not very well flagged by the CIA and hence didn't get as much attention as Wilson, through a combination of good experience-based reasoning and more than a dash of self-importance, clearly thought it must have. Fitzgerald, for instance, seems to accept that neither Cheney nor Libby himself knew about the report until summer 2003, even though the report went to OVP and elsewhere. And there is probably an assumption on Wilson and Kristof's part that the widespread acceptance that the Niger story was bs meant Wilson's own report was accepted widely. But that said, the report did get a normal and wide distribution in intel and policy channels, as Tenet himself admitted. And the sign that Jeffress is on weak ground here is that he has to add in the claim that Kristof's article claimed that Bush knew. Kristof is quite sharply raising the question of how Bush could keep making the uranium claim in speeches if it was known in the administration to be false, and of course that means it's possible Bush knew. But there is no hint that that is the explanation, and the gist of the article is to suggest otherwise. Not so with Powell, since the article, with Wilson's help, points a very direct finger at State as being in the know and as having received the intel directly (which appears not really to have been the case, except insofar as Wilson briefed embassy folks back in Niger).

Moreover, once again this whole claim about the administration knowing won't do the trick for Libby, since the inaccuracy would be that Cheney himself knew about the results of Wilson's trip, and I don't believe anything approaching that claim gets made until Wilson's own July 6 column - and what's more, he is clear in claiming what should very well be the case, based on his extensive experience in government, and of course he was on good grounds in the assumptions he makes, even though there was a miserable failure somewhere along the way and in fact Cheney apparently did not, at least not officially, learn the results of WIlson's trip (something I still find almost too difficult to believe, but it appears to be so).

The other two allegations by Jeffress are actually, to my mind, less substanceless, though they are also not in the least specifically directed at OVP. Frankly, and despite or even in part on the basis of Kristof's email to Wilson, I do think that Wilson deliberately led several journalists, not just Kristof but also Judis at the New Republic and maybe Pincus, believe that he had debunked the forgeries directly, without actually lying about, but fudging what was known when and by whom, piggybacking on the IAEA declarations in somewhat misleading fashion. That said, I also believe that part of what is going on is that Wilson learned more about the documents from CIA telling him about the verbatim report they had than Wilson himself can really let on. I also think it's possible that Wilson was more emphatic about the significance of the names that should be on any documents with his debriefers (or his February 19 interlocutors) than ended up being reflected in the report.

Finally, as for the idea in Kristof's report that the envoy reported that reports of efforts by Iraq to obtain uranium in Niger were unequivocally wrong, I suspect that one is a combination of, again, possible differences between Wilson's own oral report to debriefers and what they wrote up and, to some extent, a matter of reasonable interpretive disagreement over how to read a report. I assume such reports are rarely as categorical as Wilson was with Kristof. But I also suspect the conventions of the genre are such that Wilson could claim he was unequivocal even though the words "unequivocally wrong" were not in the report. (Here I think the INR memo provides a good example. That thing is such an unequivocal document, yet a willfully literal-minded reader could find something equivocal in there.)

Pretty lame on Jeffress' part, both in reality and in the way it shows up the dilemma Libby's defense faces.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Where We Met

Blog powered by Typepad