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July 16, 2006

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And here I was thinking that Novak was going into a Freudian slip using the Wyoming reference and really meaning that his primary source was Cheney. He seemed to be holding on so hard to his secret that it came out Novakspeak when he wasn't looking.

If the Establishment Media was truly interested in upholding its first amendment responsibilities of demanding accountability, they would have folks like you, EW, who know WTF they're talking about, as guest interviewers of tools like Novak. (Pardon me for farting in the cathedral ;) )

Yeah, one could read a Freudian slip in that, couldn't one, mailsail?

op99

Frankly, we're quite fond of farting in this cathedral. Be my guest...

Time for ol' traitor Bob to retire. How many of Plame's contacts got snuffed when her identity was revealed by him? How many didja kill, Bob?

If Mrs. Wilson wasn't "outed," why did the CIA ask DOJ to investigate, Bob? A person with the facts should interview old Bob so we could all watch him flail and whine and lie and blame.

If Novak's source is Armitage, that says a reasonably long-term relationship froze--perhaps even ended--when Novak outed Plame back in 2003. Why?

Either that, or his "primary source" wasn't someone he had a long-term relationship with ... maybe even someone who left government a week later, ending his possible usefulness as a source. ;-)

BTW, Novak has mentioned Armitage by name six times in his columns since July 14, 2003.

Score one for Swopa!!! The dead rise again!!!!

For the sake of balance, there is also one mention of Ari Fleischer:

"A footnote: Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, joining the Republican fund-raising circuit, will appear in Richmond, Va., Monday at a reception for Rep. Eric Cantor. A $1,000 donation is the price of getting a photo taken with Fleischer, a career congressional aide before entering the White House in 2001."

Ha! I knew I could get the other examples out better if I ceded your dead theory is back on track.

Though the Ari reference doesn't entail a visit or conversation.

Do you have the Armitage links? Are they TV mentions?

Also, we could probably rule out a bunch of people with the invite list to that Novak tribute or whatever it was.

"When he announced that Karl Rove would not be indicted my attorney went to Mr. Fitzgerald..."

Did I miss an announcement? There's been nothing from Fitzgerald that I'm aware of.

Do you have the Armitage links? Are they TV mentions?

I was in the middle of a pollyusa-style comprehensive listing, but my browser crashed.

When he says he hasn't spoken to his source since then, I don't think the old fool is to be taken literally.

Assuming Novak is being honest (ha), he and his unnamed source could have been at the same function(s) without speaking, or speaking substantively. Perhaps both are avoiding each other like the plague on advice of the source's counsel?

swopa - while you are researching, how about hadley?

one other thing of interest - Novak:

"And I have said before that if he had called me or if he had put George Tenet on the phone, who I’m sure was aware of what was going on"
if it was no big deal, why would tenet necessarily know what was going on?

For what it's worth, here's Wayne Madsen on the collatral damage from the Plame outing:
After Mrs. Wilson's name and identity of her cover company were revealed by the White House to the media, at least one CIA non-official cover agent monitoring Iran's nuclear weapons program was tortured and executed, according to our intelligence sources. In addition, WMR has learned that covert Iranian backchannels employed by a current member of the U.S. House of Representatives in support of Plame's Brewster Jennings & Associates network were thoroughly compromised by the White House leak. The member of Congress, who, like Plame, had been an earlier CIA "non-official cover (NOC) energy consultant" in the Middle East during the late 1970s and early 80s, and who was familiar with the early weapons of mass destruction proliferation involving the A. Q. Khan network of Pakistan, Libya, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, was compromised and he and his connections to the Brewster Jennings & Associates intelligence network and Iranian government contacts were made known to adversarial intelligence agencies. The staff of the member whose covert Iranian contact network was compromised was targeted and tainted with Jack Abramoff money, putting the U.S. Representative in extreme political jeopardy.

Thought I'd take a peek in here. Hi.
------
Is Novak's quote that PJF "When he announced that Karl Rove would not be indicted..." accurate?

I thought that was Luskin, and PJF has let it stand w/o comment. Maybe I missed it.

Blank Kludge, yes, it was Luskin, but he's quoting from a letter he received from Fitz. IMO, Fitz put a lot of stuff in the letter that is very embarrasing to Rove he cooperated big time, which is why Luskin Rove don't want it leaked. The language in Fitz's letter was that he "does not anticipate seeking an indictment," against Rover. From what others have said, that is classic, "government witness, roll over on your Mom and everyone else to save your own sorry ass," language. As long as you tell the truth, I won't have to indict you.

EW wrote: [Novak elaborated on his old rubbish about using the word operative--which Josh Marshall debunked eons ago. But he added this bizarre rationale.

"I call all kinds of politicians operatives. … Someone’s running a congressional campaign in Wyoming, I call him an operative." ]

---

And I laughed at the end of the TV segment. Before saying "Thank you very much," Novak's last words on MTP today were "I don’t think she was a, a covert operative."
Hey, he used that word again correctly in a sentence.

pdaly

Beautiful catch, I didn't catch that.

lukery

Well, of course there's a logical explanation. Tenet knew because, well, Rove told him they were busy convincing Tenet to take the fall. But really, it was no big deal. ;-p

Presumably this is impossible to disprove, since I am sure Fitzgerald pursued it, but I was intrigued by something Novak says about learning Plame’s name. Despite the fact that he repeats once again that he got the name from Armitage – apparently misspeaking once again – Novak insists he got it from Who’s Who. But for the first time, I believe, he specifies that he turned to Who’s Who after he spoke with his first source (Armitage):

I got the name—because I, I, I realized I didn’t have the name, and I figured out, how am I going to get this name to put in, in the column? So I said, “Maybe it’s in ‘Who’s Who.’” And I looked it up and there it was.

If, as has been reported, Novak spoke with Armitage on July 8, that means that Novak had to decide he was going to use the information, have the thought of looking in Who’s Who, and access the Who’s Who between the time he finished his hour-long interview with Armitage and the moment, in the later afternoon I believe, that he ran into the stranger on the street to whom he identified Wilson’s wife by her first name as he belittled Wilson and his trip. That’s not impossible, of course, but I find it pretty remarkable. I was figuring his story was that he looked up Wilson in Who’s Who when Wilson hit the news and before he talked to any of his sources, just as background research. But evidently that’s not his story.

Kudos to Russert for precision on just what the SSCI said about Plame’s role in his trip.

I’m glad Novak had to make clear on national televnision that he was not misquoted by Newsday. I wish Russert had pushed him on just what he was accusing Waas of lying about in his story, since I have the feeling all Novak will have is a denial that he and Rove participated in a cover-up, not a denial that investigators suspected as much, not a denial that he had a conversation with Rove at the end of September 2003, not a denial that Rove testified as Waas reported he testified, and not a denial – unless a legalistic denial – that the conversation went in essence the way it was reported Rove testified it went. But I guess that issue – of suspicions that Rove and Novak coordinated their stories in a cover-up – was a little too touchy for Russert to touch.

That Novak is repeating the story that when he called Plame an Agency operative, he meant she was a political operative is just incredible. I wonder when Novak learned about the alleged cover-blowing by Ames - if he knew early on, that could go some way toward explaining his terrible conduct.

And Novak is evidently back to his old version of what Harlow told him.

Finally, I'm willing to buy that part of what explains Novak's timing is the Wilsons' suit, as emptywheel has been suggesting. But I also think Novak sincerely wants to clear his reputation, now that he has been washed up on the soft shores of Fox News and knows his destiny is for the first (or, at best, the second) line of his obituary to mention the fact that he blew the cover of a CIA agent. He will not succeed.

Has anyone checked the pertinent who's who? I vaguely remember someone claiming that Novak's statement that he got the name there is absurd.

Can someone clarify something for me. Is her covert name "Valerie Plame," "Valerie Wilson," or either. I've alway assumed it was Plame and if so, does it seem odd that if Novak was told "Wilson's wife sent him", that he wouldn't then print her simple name, "Valerie Wilson?"

Does every reporter hunt down someone's maiden name when they want to identify the wife?

It's like me being told "Bush Sr.'s wife sent him" and I go searching so I can identify her and print "Barbara Pierce was responsible it"

I've just watched Novak for the third time on Meet the Press, his misstatement today that his source "gave him the name" is entirely believable, despite his subsequent correction!

Then, he makes a point I never considered before... "THEY" gave him the name... well, that would suggest that the original source and (Rove? Libby?) gave him Plame's name.

I've been a supporter of Tenet as the original source for some time and I still think this makes sense, how would Fitz know so early who Novak's sources were?

Lastly, while I'm out of the habit, I have to give Russert credit for asking tough questions.

Nomenclature:

In CIA these terms have very specific meanings.

An OFFICER is a trained, more or less permanent member of the CIA. Plame was an Officer. It is a combination of military rank and civil service rateing system.

Agents are assets that work for officers. They are essentially contract employees doing specific jobs, and are trained only in terms of that job. The guy who finds the codes in the embassy file cabinet after the higher-ups have gone home is an agent. Officers recruit agents, and supervise their work -- tell them the requirements of their mission.

Operatives referrs to anyone who has a mission and is "operational" -- that is is actively engaged in a mission. Thus when Valerie was tooting around Iran on her Motercycle disguised as Susie Smith wearing a red wig, using a voice altering device, and toteing her AK47 under her Burka while looking for the Iranian Nukes -- yea, then she was operational, and would want you to deal with her if you met her, as red-headed Susie Smith.

When she was in DC having babies and perhaps doing an occassional consulting trip, she may well have been operational, as her cover was her actual life, much of which was not in the shadows.

What Novak did in his article was very sly for those who understand the nomenclature -- he suggested political intent to her passing a message to her husband (CIA would like to talk about African Yellowcake), and used the term "operative" about it -- suggesting to those who understand the lingo that she was indeed operating politically.

By the way when reading CIA histories and journalism, one can always tell whether the author knows what they are talking about if they use these terms properly most of the time.

I think Novak intended to misuse the operative term -- he had a particular audience in mind.

Well, that was interesting Sara. Thank you!

Ok, a real question (now that my brain is waking). Are you saying that Novak misused the "operative" term for a specific audience to blur HIS understanding of her position, to blur her status, or to speak to a specific audience? (perhaps there are more alternatives I haven't considered?) BTW, you sound like someone with an interesting background....

Novak, that ole shill...no emptywheel-there's been no announcement only more spin spawned from Rove's spokesliar. But he's been caught lying for other clients in the past-it shan't be difficult to catch him up in this one too. Hope Patrick Fitzgerald charges him for that too.

Speaking of liars shilling for Bush -in the House and Senate that also happen to hold law licenses...

"ABA, where are Yoo?"

That picture doesn't do her justice, actually.

I just bumped into an old interview that Novak gave on MTP:
http://msnbc.msn.com/id/3131258/

Oct 2003:
"Novak: No, I didn’t commit a crime by publishing her name. If she is a covert operative and the person who gave me the name knew that, which I’m not sure, I’m not sure she’s a covert operative, Tim."

Here again Novak says he was given a name by someone (not whos-who).

Chalk it up to another "misstatement".

FDL quotes: "Novak says he testified under oath that he was not given Valerie’s name directly from his primary source."

Yet in the same MTP interview I linked to earlier, Novak referring to Royce and Phelps says: "Novak: That was an interview right after the column appeared. They were the only—in July. That isn’t very artfully put. What I was trying to say was that I didn’t do an investigative report in the CIA going into the bowels of the CIA, talking to agents, trying to find out. What I meant was that the senior official had given me her name. Just as I’ve told you, there’s no inconsistency between those two."

Kim, if you know CIA nomenclature, saying someone was an "operative" means they were on a mission. For most folk that means little, but for anyone who has boned up on stuff like this over the years -- Novak said in his article, in lite code, that Plame was on a political mission.

And no, I am not now nor have I ever been a witting officer or agent of the CIA. I did get recruited through the National Student Organization back in the early 1960's to do some work for the International Secretariat, which in 1966 we found out was funded mostly by the CIA. It made me very angry that what had been a very nice well paid gig in early grad school -- running a holiday conference for foreign students -- actually was a CIA operation. Not only was I mad, I had been tricked, but one of our student leader participants -- from Nigeria -- got killed because revelation that his scholarship (to study agricultural engineering) was partially from a foundation the CIA used as a pass-through, became public, and as a result he was offed. (Killed by Nigerian Political enemies using the scholarship as rational.) When Senator Mondale was appointed to the Church Commission in 1975, -- I put the case together and danced the tu-tu to get Walter to raise the matter with CIA -- and he did, and in 1976 compensation was paid to the family. Afterall our Student thought he was getting a Ford Foundation grant to study in the US -- and did not know about the CIA pass-through. Such an experience does lead you to read up on all sorts of related topics -- pay attention to the news and all, and above all read good spy fiction -- which is where you will find much more truth than elsewhere.

Notice I used the term "witting" -- that is also nomenclature.

Today on Russert Novak says that (Armitage) didn't give him the name.

How come Russert does not remember what Novak said to him last time?

Sorry, Russert does remember what Novak said last time on Meet the Press, and nails him.

You need to look at the Plame story from a media narrative point of view, lets put this in context of the infortainment world we live in.

#1. Valerie Plame is HOT, and she is a secret agent and is therefore a superpatriot. She is hot enough to make People, Time and many other magazines, and people will comment on what outfit she has. She is also important and intelligent looking. Joe Wilson is also good on TV, they make a great couple. Most people don't follow politics closely. If people don't remember anything else, they will remember that Valerie Plame is hot, and is a kind of like Jennifer Garner type CIA agent.

#2. Novak, Cheney, Rove and most of the rest are ugly and they are all politicians and are therefore debased and filthy. If you need a Cheney double for a made for TV movie, a cyborg can stand in just fine. They make ideal villains.

Lets summarize, Valerie Plame is a hot, ass kicking, CIA agent, and the Bush team make great made for TV villains. It is a perfect narrative. Perhaps this won't be reaching the level of Michael Jackson, but it is up there above runnaway bride for sure. "Hot secret agent stabbed in back by thug politicians", "dashing husband seeks vengence", its perfect. This is a durable story. Just look at the cover story images, my god, its genious!

Emptywheel, just so I have this right: Novak presumably testified that his primary source told him Wilson's wife was in the counterproliferation division (CPD) at CIA. Novak also testified that Harlow confirmed her CPD assignment, even though it is not very likely he did.

In other words, Novak probably got her CPD identification from another (unnamed) source, and this is something he is now trying to obscure. Correct?

EW
charisma derives from his dark creepiness - Priceless!

I just loved the part where NoFacts plead "financial burdens" as a leading factor in his decision to "cooperate."

boy did he get ticked off when confronted with the fresh Harlow quote.

Digya notice: everybody is wrong: Harlow, Royce, etc., everybody him.

Here is another Novak quote from 2003: "But the indication given to me by this senior official and another senior official I checked with was not that she was deep undercover."

Does Harlow qualify as a "senior official" (and I doubt if Harlow would give such an indication)? Nor does give such an indication what Novak now says Rove said to him.

Sara

Just to be clear on the implications of your very informative comment, you're saying Novak was trading on the ambiguity in the meaning of the word "operative," using it to indicate that she worked for the CIA and was indeed on a mission, which is what the CIA does, but in fact it was a political mission to get the Bush administration, right? So on your interpretation, it is actually true - though it is only half the truth - that Novak was using "operative" in the political-operative sense, but that only makes sense because he was also using it in the CIA nomenclature sense. Is that the idea? And I suppose this interpretation leaves open whether Novak knew or believed that Plame was or might be a CIA operative; though I strongly suspect that Harlow told him that she had done the sort of work that qualifies her as an operative, on my understanding of what you say about the nomenclature, in the past.

Oh, and when I suggested Novak's obituary would say he blew the cover of a CIA agent, i was of course cleverly suggesting the obit writers would misuse the nomenclature, I was not myself misusing it. Of course, of course. You believe me, right?

Sara

I don't buy your reading of the word "operative."

Why? Because we know Plame was still doing operations at the time--as you said, her life was part of her cover. But she was an operative.

And second? Novak does not use the term operative to describe political operatives. That's one big lie, as proven by Josh Marshall. So the connotation of the term for Novak is and only is the intelligence meaning. Even supposing he wanted to telegraph to people that hers was a political act, that wouldn't do it for him because he simply hadn't established that meaning of operative in his own prose.

Jeff

If, as has been reported, Novak spoke with Armitage on July 8, that means that Novak had to decide he was going to use the information, have the thought of looking in Who’s Who, and access the Who’s Who between the time he finished his hour-long interview with Armitage and the moment, in the later afternoon I believe, that he ran into the stranger on the street to whom he identified Wilson’s wife by her first name as he belittled Wilson and his trip. That’s not impossible, of course, but I find it pretty remarkable. I was figuring his story was that he looked up Wilson in Who’s Who when Wilson hit the news and before he talked to any of his sources, just as background research.

Great point. Though of course he claimed to Russert that Who's Who was the first time he learned her name as Valerie Plame. Given the number of names Judy had heard by around this time (presumably all four) that might be significant.

Kudos to Russert for precision on just what the SSCI said about Plame’s role in his trip.

But he didn't. He gave up halfway. He forced Novak to back off of the conclusion line. But then didn't force him to admit that the "majority" opinion was actually only shared by a "minority" of the "majority." I'd actually love to have someone ask, say Saxby Chambliss why he didn't concur with that opinion, as he did concur with some of the other tripe the political three wrote.

fireback

I'm not sure we know for sure what name(s) Valerie worked under. She was "Valerie P" to her classmates at the CIA. It has been said that she worked under the name Plame in her cover, which if it looked like she went into BJ might make sense. But then there were those two other names floated: Victoria Wilson and Valerie Flame. I'm particularly curious by the Valerie Flame, as it's one Judy was given and one of Novak's column used, at the samr time as he was exposing Brewster Jennings but good, which suggests it might be a different cover name.

But then, there's the whole point: on July 8, Novak had Valerie Wilson. Why not use (or not use) that name, depending on whether you take warnings from the CIA?

One thing I was most struck by in this interview is that he said--one of the few things he didn't stumble on--that he testified that he learned of PLame's name from Who's Who. In the past, he hasn't asserted that point as strongly (and not at all, most of the time). That could suggest he lied under oath to protect someone. And that someone might not be Armitage.

Could it even be possible that Rove and Libby told Novak so much about Plame, that Novak did not initially pay much attention to the offhand remark of (Armitage).

Until later when he needed a cover story.

Novak's interview to Newsweek seems to suggest so (sources came to him and gave him the name).

Sorry I meant Newsday, not Newsweek.

Pete

One scenario I think it possible is this:

June 15, Armitage blabs to Woodward
June 27, Woodward lets on to Libby that Armitage blabbed
July 2, Libby seeds a Wilson smear with Novak, telling him Valerie Wilson is a CIA operative, and encouraging him to talk to Armitage
July 8, Novak talks to Armitage, and gets him to reveal details of Plame, but not as much as he knows he needs
July 9, Novak checks the story with Rove and gets the proper spin
July 14, Novak publishes, believing his sources are Libby and Rove
October 26, Novak learns of the investigation and realizes Rove is primarily responsible for the details of Plame's job, he calls Rove and tells him he will protect him (which he'd have no reason to do if he didn't think Rove had done something wrong)
October 27 (estimate), Wilkerson calls Novak and lets him know that Armitage has come forward to the FBI, telling them his mention of Plame was inadvertant, Novak sees an opportunity

Novak can now completely pretend his first source, Libby, was not a source for the article in question, because he knows he can use Armitage as the second SAO in question. Plus, he can pretend Rove did nothing more than confirm the Armitage point. Since no notes or tape of the Armitage interview exist, even though Armitage testified (I'm making this up, of course) that he said only that Valerie Wilson worked at CIA, it's a case of he said, he said. And, once Luskin forced Woodward to come forward, Armitage's credibility took a blow, seriously damaging the Rove perjury case, not to mention the proof that ROve is the one who provided the operative and Plame details for the column.

This scenario would fit all known facts in this case, I think (though I expect Jeff will find two or three that it doesn't). Which is more than Novak's story current does, fit the known facts.

I wonder if Novak's interviews prior to Oct 26 will provide some damaging clues.

Here is what he says to Russert on Oct 5:
"No, I didn’t commit a crime by publishing her name. If she is a covert operative and the person who gave me the name knew that, which I’m not sure, I’m not sure she’s a covert operative, Tim."

Here he says that he published her name and that the name was given to him. It seems pretty unambiguous.

Lending credence to those suspicions was that a U.S. government official questioned by investigators said Novak specifically asked him whether Plame had some covert status with the CIA. The official told investigators that Novak appeared uncertain whether she was undercover or not. That account, on one hand, might lend credence to the claims by Rove and other Bush administration officials that they did not know Plame was a covert CIA officer. Conversely, however, the fact that Novak asked the question in the first place appeared to indicate that he might have indeed been told Plame was a covert operative, and was seeking confirmation of that fact.
Waas 7/12/05

Royce and Phelps of Newsday have always stood behind their reporting of Novak's coments and context, '"I didn't dig it out, it was given to me. They thought it was significant. They gave me the name and I used it."'.

I wonder if investigators saw Waas 2/14/04 article on Novak, which stated they stood by their reporting. It may explain why the SP never issued a subpoena.


The two officials told investigators they warned Novak that by naming Plame he might potentially jeopardize her ability to engage in covert work, stymie ongoing intelligence operations, and jeopardize sensitive overseas sources.

[...]

Moreover, one of the government officials who has told federal investigators that Novak's account is false has also turned over to investigators contemporaneous notes he made of at least one conversation with Novak. Those notes, according to sources, appear to corroborate the official's version of events.

[...]

Then Novak started to backtrack, giving the impression that the leak was more the result of his own initiative than from a White House source. He also claimed the Newsday reporters quoted him out of context, an accusation both reporters deny. (Full disclosure: Royce is my longtime friend.)

Novak made another statement about his column during a September 29 broadcast of CNN's Crossfire. "Nobody in the Bush administration called me to leak this," he said. "In July, I was interviewing a senior administration official on Ambassador [Joseph] Wilson's report when he told me the trip was inspired by his wife, a CIA employee working on weapons of mass destruction. Another senior official told me the same thing.
Waas 2/14/04

Nuts, Pete

Those October dates should be September dates.

he claimed to Russert that Who's Who was the first time he learned her name as Valerie Plame.

Very good point, I hadn't thought of that. The sheer number of times - even now, even as he knows the trouble his past purported misstatements on that count have gotten him into! - that Novak asserts that he got the name (whichever one it was) from a source, a person, and not Who's Who might make you think he's compulsively revealing the truth. But maybe he's just deeply neurotic or confused. In fact, he is so all over the map (whether deliberately, compulsively or thoughtlessly) that I'm seriously tempted to give up trying to make sense of anything he says. (For instance, I think I'm giving up on the idea that Novak's comment that Harlow said something about Plame and Europe specifically, rather than just about her going abroad, is significant.)

As for your scenario, I actually don't know of any facts in the case that don't fit, and it makes rather elegant - nice but also super-speculative - work of the ones we do know. It is, though, pretty implausible for several reasons: 1)it asks us to believe that Woodward either genuinely doesn't remember telling Libby about Plame and Armitage - which I find doubtful - or would hide it from Fitzgerald, which I also doubt, since he would have to think it would be seriously helpful to an indicted man. 2) the combination of the setup of Armitage that works like a charm in summer 2003 and then the sudden usefulness of Armitage for the purposes of the elaborate cover-up in fall 2003 just seems pretty unlikely. 3)I'm skeptical that Novak was willing to engage in such a high risk, elaborate cover up with multiple people, knowing that he was almost certainly safe from harm if he just tells the truth, but runs all sorts of risks if anyone cracks. A one-on-one coverup with a trusted pal like Rove is another story. Now, it's true that in one of his stories on this dimension of the case, Waas mentioned suspicions aroused by fall 2003 telephone calls between multiple people involved, not just Rove and Novak. But there's never been any other reporting on contact between players other than Rove and Novak. 4)If Fitzgerald still had reason to believe anything like this, I find it hard to believe he'd declare Rove clear, even if he wasn't feeling confident he could indict yet (although maybe Fitzgerald's hand really was forced by Walton).

All that said, it does become interesting just when Armitage's pal called Novak and essentially indicated to Novak what Armitage would be telling investigators. According to Waas, Novak and Rove had their suspicious discussion on September 29. For your theory to hold up, Novak would have to have heard from Armitage's pal sometime between September 26 (at the very earliest) and that conversation with Rove on September 29.

I also think the official story of Novak's telling Rove that he would protect him makes sense even if he wasn't talking about illegality: the story is that Novak wanted to keep Rove from being fired.

You're right about Russert. But I still give him credit; I have never seen another journalist specify that when the main text of the SSCI uses language about Plame suggesting Wilson, that was just an indication of some evidence, not a conclusion, and that the conclusion was rejected for inclusion in the authoritative body of the text. It's live TV: when Novak tries to fudge things, I wouldn't expect Russert to really go into the nitty gritty of it.

Not only is it the Dark Prince of Stupidity vs. an American Blonde Beauty, but she can probably put three into a three inch circle at 100 yards and she's a mom. What a package. Being on the side of Truth and Light is icing on the cake.

well said, daniel robinson

Jeff

As for your scenario, I actually don't know of any facts in the case that don't fit, and it makes rather elegant - nice but also super-speculative - work of the ones we do know. It is, though, pretty implausible for several reasons: 1)it asks us to believe that Woodward either genuinely doesn't remember telling Libby about Plame and Armitage - which I find doubtful - or would hide it from Fitzgerald, which I also doubt, since he would have to think it would be seriously helpful to an indicted man.

I'm not sure I understand you here, but isn't there a third possibility, that Fitzgerald has asked Woodward to obscure this in any public comment, as he presumably did with the date of his conversation with (presumably) Armitage? It would be in Fitz' interest for Libby not to know Armitage's testimony until and only if he calls him to testify, and I suspect that's one of the reason Fitz is postponing the Jencks discovery. If Libby knows Woodward testified to that clearly, calling Armitage presents certain risks.

2) the combination of the setup of Armitage that works like a charm in summer 2003 and then the sudden usefulness of Armitage for the purposes of the elaborate cover-up in fall 2003 just seems pretty unlikely.

Yeah, admittedly. It's more likely Libby, knowing Armitage had already leaked Plame's CIA affiliation, tried to set him up as a cut-out simply by giving Novak the questions to ask (as he seems to have done with Judy).

3)I'm skeptical that Novak was willing to engage in such a high risk, elaborate cover up with multiple people, knowing that he was almost certainly safe from harm if he just tells the truth, but runs all sorts of risks if anyone cracks.

If I'm even remotely right, I think there are two possible stages of a cover-up. First, would Novak be willing to deny that Rove had given him lots of details about Plame, including her covert status? Yeah, I think he would on that account, particularly since he has invented a counter-story that is almost certainly false, but that can only be disproven if either Novak or Rove talk. Plus, this would jibe with everything Waas has reported.

Then there's the question of how far Novak would go to protect Libby. And that's where Novak's strong assertion that he first heard of Plame's name via Who's Who struck me. I don't think Novak would engage in an elaborate lie to protect Libby. But I do think he, like Judy, would be willing to make it very difficult for Fitz to charge on IIPA. I'm stewing on a post of what I think Novak's media blitz means in terms of the possibility that Rove and NOvak cooperated some (assuming Kornblut is right, which she may well not be). And I think that's where I may end up, speculatively. That Novak might have provided evidence that hurt Libby, but stopped short of giving Fitz evidence of IIPA.

Jeff,

I think I read on another thread that you feel Novak is claiming that Harlow talked to Tenet between phone calls with him. I don't remember Novak making that claim.

He did say this which seems to me that Novak thinks Harlow didn't talk to Tenet. However, Novak by his own admission has made many mis-statements so it's hard to tell what he is saying.

If they really were strong about this and competent, they would have done at least that. I know George Tenet, the director. They would have put him on, and he would have said, “Novak, don’t write this,” and I would not if this woman is in danger.
Novak MTP 10/5/03

polly

I think he made a claim like that on Brit Hume last week. Something like, I assumed Harlow checked with Tenet, or something like that. Haven't seen a transcript of that yet, though.

Here is the partial transcipt, so he guesses ...great reporting Bob.

NOVAK: I called him, he said, "I'll get back to you" and he talked to somebody — I just guessed he talked to the CIA director, George Tenet, I had no idea if that's true. He came back to me and he told me yes, she worked for the CIA in the Office of Weapons of Mass Destruction and he told me that Mrs. Wilson did not suggest the mission by her husband, but she was asked to get him to do it by other people in the CIA.
Novak on Fox 7/06

So Novak "specifically asked him whether Plame had some covert status with the CIA" and when told she did have covert status decided to print he name anyway.

I think the "covered" in quotes comment from Novak's 10/1/03 column is key. No one (Novak or Harlow) has said he talked to the "official contact" at the CIA after July 10th so it is very likely he got this from Harlow in July.

While the CIA refuses to publicly define her status, the official contact says she is "covered" -- working under the guise of another agency.
Novak 10/1/03

Which agency? State?

polly

emptywheel is right: it was with Brit Hume last week. Here's the bit from the (partial or cleaned up) transcript:

HUME: You said you talked to Bill Harlow at the CIA, the public information officer. A lot of this has been out for a long time around town. What was the nature of this? You called him expressly to confirm this?

NOVAK: I called him, he said, "I'll get back to you" and he talked to somebody — I just guessed he talked to the CIA director, George Tenet, I had no idea if that's true. He came back to me and he told me yes, she worked for the CIA in the Office of Weapons of Mass Destruction and he told me that Mrs. Wilson did not suggest the mission by her husband, but she was asked to get him to do it by other people in the CIA.

I think Novak's point is that he took Harlow to be speaking for Tenet. So the other point Novak has made about Tenet on numerous occasions, one of which you cite, is not that it would have been significant just to have Tenet on the phone, but that it would have been significant if Tenet had said publishing about Plame would endanger her. So Novak's argument is that Tenet himself neither got on the phone to say that, nor did Tenet's main man Harlow - whom Novak presumed had spoken to and therewore was speaking for Tenet - say that.

Also, I've always taken the government official referred to in Waas' July 12 2005 piece to be Harlow, not Armitage. I still think that's more likely, but it would be more interesting if it were Armitage.

emptywheel

I think Woodward was pretty clear that he testified that he had no recollection or notes of telling Libby about Plame, though it was possible. But that seems pretty clear. It seems like we agree that a cover-up by Novak and Rove alone seems plausible, from what we know; but one bearing on Libby is more far out. I suspect Kornblut stands by her reporting on Novak's new testimony - which, it's worth noting, was only reported to have taken place after Rove's October 2005 grand jury appearance, not necessarily (even if possibly), after Libby's indictment. If Novak cooperated to Libby's detriment, it doesn't look like it's evidence that's going into Libby's trial (or anything else, it looks like). I basically think Novak was called back either to check some Rove stuff, or deal with the implications of Woodward's testimony about Armitage. And Novak's done, and now he's mainly trying to salvage his own reputation, which he's not doing a very good job of.

So you are suggesting, emptywheel, that Libby set Novak up with questions to pitch at Armitage? I definitely buy that possibility, given Novak's immaculate knowledge going into that Armitage interview (notably that Wilson himself wasn't CIA). We're assuming that Novak-Armitage interview happened on July 8th, 2003. That's very interesting timing, since it's also the date Libby is also setting Judy up with questions at the St. Regis.

What are Cheney's notes, except a blueprint of the kind of leading-but-permissible questions to be planted with journalists (in Cheney's left column), leading to the question he ultimately wanted journalists to ask (right column, 'did his wife send him on junket')? Sure seems as if Libby had his marching orders.

QS

All excellent points. I've been hung up on the possibility that Libby and Novak met on July 2. But if they met on July 8, geez, that might explain why Libby telegraphed testimony to Judy to say that Libby hadn't spoken to Novak. That is, if Libby said, "Geez, Judy, it's been nice, but I've got to run for a meeting with Bob Novak." it might explain why he'd include that instruction.

Jeff

Woodward is more ambiguous than that, but he does seem to be telling exactly how he testified.

When asked by Fitzgerald if it was possible I told Libby I knew Wilson's wife worked for the CIA and was involved in his assignment, I testified that it was possible I asked a question about Wilson or his wife, but that I had no recollection of doing so.

Novak wants to do to Plame what the hangman did to Esmeralda.

Re: Jeff's hypothetical about placating an irascible Walton.
Maybe something Novak said to Fitzgerald made in camera proceedings a necessity for Fitzgerald to understand the efforts of some of the principals who promulgated the smear to Novak and to others journalists. I wonder if you all, or even Jeralyn, might have a record, if one exists, of when such proceedings occurred throughout this entire two+ year process with Fitzgerald at the helm of the investigation.

EW

"I had no recollection of doing so." ~ Woodie

How PATHETIC. Sirica rolling over.

Woodie is just another Bud Krogh.

Speaking of perjurers, digya see the ghouls attached Abrams to "peace" delegation.

Yeah, I saw that. But everyone wants to believe the Neocons have no dog in this fight. Uh huh.

EW, sometimes I tend toward less complex scripts, and this is one occassion. I tend to believe Novak was led by the nose to the information Cheney and Libby wanted put out as a disinformation campaign designed to discredit Wilson's NYT op/ed. The column has two messages, one, Cheney's construction that Wilson's trip was a boondoggle set up by the CIA wife. The essential story contains the lie that Wilson was sent by Cheney -- not the truth, namely that the CIA was responding to a Cheney question, and it was up to them to determine how to gather the essential intelligence. Into that false story, Novak inserts the term "operative" -- which most people would just skip over -- but for those who understand CIA speak, it means something quite special -- it means she was on a defined mission. If you are doing disinformation, as opposed to just standard journalism, this can be understood as offering up the new tune to be played by the mighty whirlitzer. I think that was the intent of Novak's article as a whole, and the audience he had in mind using the term "operative" was perhaps retired intelligence officers who might comment in the press (I think there about 70 thousand of them), and others who would recognize the flag. In a sense, Novak (whom we sometimes call no-facts) was putting out a press release about the construction of the (Cheney) response to Wilson.

Anonymous Liberal has his take on the Plame Civil Case up. Definitely worth your time.

Sara,

Your take on the raison d'etre of Novak's original article is very compelling. I would only add that the entire operation was associated with black propaganda ops (e.g. the Niger uranium story, and likely the other nuclear stories, like Khan, etc.), and so was and still is surrounded with an aura of false, partially true, and other distorted leaks, plants, and bogus information. The effect is to so obfuscate the truth that the real truth will never (seem to) surface. This is also the message Fitzgerald was sending at his news conference, IMHO, re "sand in the face", and the reason for the Libby charges.

It is a sad, but true aspect of following this case -- and I'm double sure for those who report or analyze it deeply, as you, EW, Jeff, etc. -- that the red herrings and selective leaking, whether to cover one's ass, or to deliberately mislead, makes all the speculation after awhile very tiring. My hats off to EW, you, and others for doing your best to pry your way through all the (calculated) garbage. But I would like to see more affirmative mention of the role planned disinformation plays in our trying to understand what the hell's going on.

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