As part of my new practice of reminding journalists that even my dog--McCaffrey the MilleniaLab--knows more than them about the Valerie Plame leak, here he is, ready to walk a journalist or two around the block.
For example, McCaffrey knows that Marc Grossman did not write the famous INR memo. Rather, someone in INR did. According to the memo's cover sheet, Neil Silver drafted the memo and Beth Frisa
cleared it. But the NYT's Neil Lewis has either forgotten the difference between the words "for" and "by," or he doesn't know much about this case.
In the accounts by the lawyer and associates, Mr. Armitage disclosed casually to Mr. Novak that Ms. Wilson worked for the C.I.A. at the end of an interview in his State Department office. Mr. Armitage knew that, the accounts continue, because he had seen a written memorandum by Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman. [my emphasis]
Similarly, McCaffrey knows that the INR memo, dated June 10, was not written in response to a Libby inquiry, which was in turn a response to Pincus' article, dated June 12. Rather, McCaffrey would point out, Libby's inquiry came in response to Pincus' reporting on the article (and two earlier articles), as the dates would suggest, rather than the article itself. Lewis, however, fails to make the distinction that would explain away his chronological magic.
Mr. Libby’s inquiry was prompted by an Op-Ed article on May 6, 2003, in The New York Times by Nicholas D. Kristof and an article on June 12, 2003, in The Washington Post by Walter Pincus.
Now perhaps McCaffrey, who has little patience with the stupidity he has seen in this case, is just being overly picky. He does wonder, however, what happened to all the guys who had been covering this story for the NYT--David Johnston or Richard Stevenson or Adam Liptak--who at least had a sense of the plot. And given Lewis' apparent unfamiliarity with the plot, McCaffrey wonders at the attribution for the lawyer named in the headline.
First Source of C.I.A. Leak Admits Role, Lawyer Says
The attribution, you see, is to a "lawyer involved in the case." Not, "Armitage's lawyer," but a "lawyer involved in the case" and "the lawyer." and when Lewis covers the Woodward leak, he cites "lawyers."
You see, McCaffrey only raises the question because just about every other time someone uses the description "a lawyer involved in the case" in this case, it really means, "a lawyer who would like to spread rumors on behalf of his client, who may be implicated in the case." Which in this case certainly would describe Armitage's lawyer, but it'd also describe a bunch of other lawyers as well.
McCaffrey also notes--comparing this lawyer with others reporting on Armitage--how Corn...
In pegging Armitage as Woodward's source, Hubris cites five confidential sources--including government officials and an Armitage confidant.
And Isikoff ...
According to three government officials, a lawyer familiar with the case and an Armitage confidant, all of whom would not be named discussing these details, Armitage told Woodward about Plame three weeks before talking to Novak.
... refer to who confirmed that Armitage was a source for Woodward. You see, "a lawyer involved in the case" has a cousin, "a lawyer familiar with the case." And that cousin appears to be one of Corn and Isikoff's sources--though Corn either doesn't acknowledge that fact, or this lawyer is one (perhaps Abu Gonzales or William Howard Taft IV, whom they mention elsewhere in their articles) who is both a government official and a lawyer. That's obviously not uncommon, to have a government official with a JD, but it pays to keep track of all these lawyers popping up as anonymous sources.
Mind you, McCaffrey is not disputing the central assertion in the article: Armitage was a source for Novak and for Woodward. McCaffrey knows that because emptywheel covered all that almost six months ago.
But given the sloppy details and the lawyers floating around this article, McCaffrey just took note of some of the spin in the article, such as when Lewis described the White House (not OVP!) motive for researching Plame.
White House officials wanted to know how much of a role [Plame] had in selecting [Wilson] for the assignment.
(Though this assertion is not attributed to anyone). Or, more importantly, the certitude with which the article declares Armitage to be the one and true
god source for Novak.
But the lawyer and other associates of Mr. Armitage have said he has confirmed that he was the initial and primary source for the columnist, Robert D. Novak, whose column of July 14, 2003, identified Valerie Wilson as a Central Intelligence Agency officer.
That description, in particular, got McCaffrey's attention because with all the hullabaloo surround the Isikofff and Corn "scoop" (if you can call six month-old news a "scoop"), people seem to have forgotten the implications of the scoop. All the reporting thus far explains that Armitage didn't know that Plame was covert. Yet Novak referred to her as an operative, a term he uses to describe covert intelligence officials. So that means the real culprit--the one who told Novak about Plame's status--remains out there, still unrevealed.
Now, McCaffrey's not really great with the English language (though he does know the difference between "by" and "for," particularly if it involves bones "for" him). But in his opinion, the guy who gave Novak Plame's name and revealed her classified status--that guy is Novak's "primary" source. And McCaffrey--who's really a pretty sharp dog--kind of wonders how Armitage would know if he were Novak's primary or first source, beyond what Novak (who, at least according to Novak, hasn't spoken to this source since the leak) has said publicly.
Then again, maybe McCaffrey's just being picky.
Update: Apparently, CREW's doggies are smarter than a lot of journalists, too. They point out that Armitage's role in the leak doesn't affect the coordinated campaign launched by Dick and his minions.
Despite all of the unfounded right-wing rhetoric, the allegation this week that Richard Armitage was the initial source who told both Bob Novak and Bob Woodward that Valerie Plame Wilson worked for the CIA does not affect the lawsuit that Valerie Plame Wilson and Joseph Wilson have brought against the White House officials responsible for leaking Ms. Wilson's identity as a covert CIA operative. That lawsuit is premised on the deliberate and unlawful actions of top White House officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney, his former chief of staff I. Lewis Scooter Libby, and Karl Rove, to publicly discredit Mr. Wilson and retaliate against him for his public statements regarding the administration's justification for going to war against Iraq by deliberately disclosing to selected reporters the classified CIA identity of Ms. Wilson.
Mr. Armitage's conduct in no way alters the fact that Vice President Cheney, Mr. Libby, and Mr. Rove were engaged in a concerted effort to violate the rights of Valerie Plame Wilson and Joseph Wilson that they should be held liable for their actions.