« Why Armitage Doesn't Exonerate Dick | Main | Taking Away The GOP's Other Weapon »

September 13, 2006

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b97969e200d834e623df69e2

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Novak Changes His Story--a Fourth Time:

Comments

Let him flip-flop. Every time he opens his mouth, he risks going back to the grand jury.

Frank

I've wondered whether that was Fitz' strategy. Give these guys some rope. Rove has been good and silent (refusing to look a gift non-indictment in the mouth, I suppose). But Novak is changing his story so often that he can only serve to ruin his credibility.

I've been wondering, too, if by letting Armitage and Novak yap about their roles Fitz is hoping it will shake the tree a bit more and provide new leads. However, I truly doubt that to be the case. It be over.

And I wonder if Novak even has any obligation to be truthful in his columns now that he thinks he's already in the clear. For all we know, his recent column knowlingly contradicts his own testimony. But I doubt that as well. (For starters, why would Novak go out of his way to keep this strange story alive in the media? Then again, this new story doesn't hold up well to his past accounts, so who knows.)

Now that Novak and Armitage are talking publicly, it's long past time that they are subject to a genuine grilling by a journalist who actually knows the ins-and-outs of this case. No more general, vague soundbites. For starters, I'd like to hear Novak reconcile the obvious flip-flops (documented nicely in this EW post) in his own account.

Yep, it's a Novak fake-out, no question about that.

FYI, Though maybe it's not appropriate for the introduction to your book, I believe your identification of the July 8th Armitage story as an early alibi, discredited before Fitz entered the scene, counts as one of the significant blogger "discoveries."

OT I've lent my Hubris to a friend. Do we know when Valerie Wilson travelled abroad to inspect the aluminum tubes? It would seem to me her "energy analyst" cover would be a very good one to get into a customs clearing area, for example, in another country. Some other cover might have even enabled her, or another operative, to take a sample of the tubes, or at the very least to examine them carefully. We're talking covert nuclear non-proliferation operations here....why is it so hard for Novak to see how publishing her name could damage other assets?

Frank

I've wondered whether that was Fitz' strategy. Give these guys some rope. Rove has been good and silent (refusing to look a gift non-indictment in the mouth, I suppose). But Novak is changing his story so often that he can only serve to ruin his credibility.
---------------------------------------
Whoa! I've been following this case pretty closely, and I don't remember anyone EVER accusing Novak of having credibility. What's your source?

I've been wondering, too, if by letting Armitage and Novak yap about their roles Fitz is hoping it will shake the tree a bit more and provide new leads. However, I truly doubt that to be the case. It be over.
----------------------------------
I've heard people declare this scandal "over" more times than I can count. FYI: The Vice-President's right-hand man is scheduled for trial on a five-count felony indictment. That's about as far from "over" as you can get.

Hey EW-
What do you think about using somthing from Libby stupid letter to Judy for you title. "The Aspens Will Be Turning". Or "They Turn in Clusters". "Connected By Roots"
Just trying to help. I love your work. Thanks.

It is truly amazing and worth underlining that Novak can claim that his recollection is more reliable because he wrote the column in July, and yet the July column does not attribute the CPD affiliation to Armitage.

Also, to this

It was an offhand revelation from this official, who is no partisan gunslinger.

But now he claims Armitage deliberately leaked this detail.

He made clear he considered it especially suited for my column

I just want to add that when Novak comes in his column to actually describe how it was that Armitage made it clear he considered it especially suited for my column, it is considerably more ambiguous than that:

he noted that the story of Mrs. Wilson’s role fit the style of the old Evans-Novak column — implying to me it continued reporting Washington inside information.

Huh? The fact that the sentence doesn't even make clear grammatical sense - what is the "it" supposed to be referring back to, the story of Mrs. Wilson's role? - is one tip-off that Novak is doing his usual thing of wishfully interpreting things to his own benefit. Maybe Armitage was implying that Novak should publish, but this hardly counts as making that clear. And given Novak's penchant for interpreting what he hears the way he wants to, let's just say I don't trust it that much.

I left a long comment on Novak's column in the last thread. But I will just add that this is likely to get really fun. Novak is not only accusing of Armitage of misleading the public about what happened between the two of them in July 2003, he is positively accusing Team Powell - not just Armitage, but also Powell himself - of trying to coach Novak's testimony and/or engage Novak in a cover-up in October 2003. I doubt Team Powell will take that lying down. I will further note something I put in my previous comment: Hubris contradicts Novak's account of what happened between him and Duberstein on October 1 2003 when Armitage, reportedly at Powell's suggestion, had Duberstein tell Novak that Armitage's revelation was inadvertent and ask Novak if Armitage was indeed his source. Novak says

Duberstein told me Armitage wanted to know whether he was my source. I did not reply because I was sure that Armitage knew he was the source.

But Hubris p. 326 says Novak brushed off Duberstein not by not replying exactly, but by saying something deeply at odds with the idea that Novak was sure Armitage knew he was the source:

"Why would he think that he's the person? Novak replied, declining to confirm his source to Duberstein.

Note too that 326n tells us

This flurry of phone calls would later draw intense scrutiny from FBI agents and prosecutors who were at first suspicious that the four men might have been coordinating their stories. But Powell and Duberstein maintained they had only been trying to ascertain facts.

Uh huh. Whatever. Well, now Novak is on the record accusing Powell, Duberstein and Armitage of trying to do a cover up. Let the games restart!


This latest column isn't really about Armitage or Novak, its about clouding the waters about everything "Plame" and helping Libby get off when he goes to trial in January.

Fitz is not shaking the tree. IMO, he's letting the principals shake the tree themselves.

Every time Novak opens his mouth, or puts pen to paper, his credibility, and simultaneously Rove's alibi, is lessened.

I think that Novak is doing the Administration's work by making defensive ack ack to throw the public into confusion about an already confusing drama. It helps with the elections and it helps spin the Libby pardon-to-be.

EW: wilver may be on to something to suggest using the Aspen adventure. Aspen groves are the largest living organism, the roots are all interconnected, sometimes they grow dual trunks simultaneously, they protect one another...they have very shallow root systems, they change their colors to follow the seasons. Could be just what you were looking for. As for Novak, I just keep waiting for him to show up on one of NBC's Chris Hanson reports on online predators, hopefully with his clothes still on.

...and said flatly that she recommended the mission to Niger by her husband, former Amb. Joseph Wilson...

...she had suggested her husband's mission

It also appears that Novakula is backing off on Armitage saying that Plame suggested SENDING WILSON on the mission. Note that in the two passages above that Novak is saying that Armitage said Plame only suggested THE MISSION, and not suggesting sending WILSON ON THE MISSION.

That is how I read those two passages.

One good possible reason why Rove wasn't frog-marched out of the White House is Novak's complete lack of credibility.

What is most unusual, however, is Novak's claim that he didn't take notes, and "recalled" what Armitage had told him a week later. (clearly implying that he didn't write up the interview immediately after it occurred either.)

This raises a number of questions and possibilities -- including one that up until this time I'd considered unsubstantiate speculation, namely that Novak knew the whole story before he talked to Armitage...and Armitage confirmed the story.

My first impressions after reading Bob Novak's new 9/13/06 column:

1. Gentle reader warning: Do not buy Novak's fourth paragraph disinformation about Richard Armitage being "a foremost internal skeptic of the administration's war policy" and someone who "long had opposed military intervention in Iraq." Instead, go here:

http://www.state.gov/s/d/former/armitage/remarks/

to read the speeches and interviews Armitage gave in 2002 and 2003 regarding Iraq, starting with his January 30, 2003 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (less than a week before Powell's UN presentation). [I excerpted some of these on ew's recent Armitage as Patsy post here.] No honest "internal skeptic" would be this strident, this consistent, and this public with views that are absolutely in line with, and loyal to, those of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Libby, et al, about removing Hussein and the inevitability and certainty of an urgent WMD threat in Iraq. [And if Novak hadn't met or spoken to Armitage throughout the run-up to and invasion of Iraq what is Novak's basis for claiming this insider knowledge about Armitage as "internal skeptic"?]

Novak seems to be trying in that paragraph to remove the possibility of Armitage learning about Plame from someone like Dick Cheney. Don't let Novak distract our attention.

2. What floor was Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage's office on at the state department? Remember we have an (anonymous) eyewitness account of Novak getting off the elevator that day on the sixth ("intelligence") floor. Novak's new column says they met in Armitage's state department office.

3. This column reinforces my belief that Richard Armitage was knowingly involved in this outing much more deeply than he has admitted. Even Novak isn't buying Armitage's 10/1/03 'innocent realization' story about the "non-partisan gunslinger" language. And the sudden late June, 2003 scheduling of their first interview - apparently at the initiative of Armitage - is very, very telling.

it's not that big a deal to me, since scoundrels and ethics are inherently contradictory but

i thought journalists did not "burn" their sources, ever.

i thought you could put them in the dungeon on the rack and start turning the wheel and there would be nary a peep of i.d. from an upstanding journalist, say, one like robert novak.

didn't he take this line earlier in his testimony to fitzgerald?

so now, unprovoked by armitage so far as i have read,

novak not only acknowledges armitage as his source (since that source has already himself acknowledged that he was the source) - got that?.

but novak is going further by impugning his source in a way that seems rather unique in journalism - or is it?

in fact, novak is, at the very least, saying more than the source has acknowledged he said to novak,

or, at worst, novak is lying about what his source said to him.

hmmm.

que pasa, roberto?

The real question we ought to ask ourselves is this: Which story did Novak tell the FBI in the Fall of 2003 and what did he tell Fitzgerald and the grand jury?

Looking back at Fitzgerald's attempts to keep Armitage's name from the defense, I suspect that Novak's current story is pretty close to the one he told Fitzgerald and that Fitzgerald didn't buy it at all. If Armitage went to the FBI before Novak did (and that appears to be the case), the FBI would be faced with trying to figure out how to resolve the discrepancies between the two accounts. The Libby indictment puts all the facts that Novak alleges that Armitage gave him on July 8 in Libby and Cheney's hands long before that. It is interesting that Armitage's version of his Novak conversation tracks closely with his and Woodward's versions of their own conversation.

More on this later....

zAmboni

Yes, I agree. Interesting parsing going on there.

p luk

Ah, welcome to the slowly expanding "Two Source Agnostic" club.

orion

Well, maybe the old fart is still miffed that Armitage disdained him?

Few of these journalists are really about protecting their source. They're about protecting their power.

Jeff: although horribly worded, I believe the "it" Novak refers to is the current incarnation of Novak's column, which, according to Armitage, continues in the tradition of the old Evans-Novak column. The Evans-Novak column used to brag that every single column contained at least one piece of original, inside DC reporting. Thus Novak interpreted Armitage's words as saying he could use it in a column (being that he's the Novak of Evans-Novak).

I agree that Novak is a slippery fish, and that his current column is a deliberate and dishonest attempt to distract attention away from Rove. If one were to only read today's column, one would think that Rove was completely uninvolved in the Novak column or any other piece of Plame reporting. In addition, Novak has that little problem of flip-flipping about whether this was idle chatter or whether "they" gave him the info, which strikes me as a big deal. (He's still mum on the name "Plame.")

With that said, I have to say, however reluctantly, that I think Novak, however slippery, is being honest about Armitage's lack of candor about all of this. I believe Novak when he says Armitage was more specific and forceful than what Armitage now claims.

Some of the parsing about whether Wilson's wife "suggested" the trip, or whether she "sent Wilson" aren't terribly mind-blowing to me. (I'd be happy to be persuaded otherwise to how central those words are.) That is, if Novak uses those interchangibly, he might be a tad sloppy, but it might not mean anything of terrible importance. It's pretty clear that reporters are sloppy about such particulars, or change their emphasis of certain facts--perhaps unintentionally--with repeated retellings. (Isn't COoper alleged to have changed certain things across different drafts?) I'd suggest that the same might be true with respect to Plame and CPD and NNP. But again, I'd willing to be persuaded otherwise, particularly if I'm missing the earth-shattering difference between CPD and NNP.

Lastly, I pretty much totally agree with Novak's take on how it is BS that Armitage claims Novak's Oct 1 was the first time he thought he might be a source. Does anyone here believe Armitage's explanation? Anyone? If not, then you'd have to say on this one point Novak is more credible than Armitage.

All these different versions.

Smoke mirrors and obfuscation. Probably works to someone's advantage to change and or muddle the story yet again. He's got to know there are inconsistencies and that they will be noticed. But I've got to kinda wonder if Novak isn't trying to remove himself from the witness stand by making himself an incredible witness in the literal sense of the word.

Self-correction: the actual phrase is "no partisan gunslinger."

Here's one excerpt from the only on-the-record interview Richard Armitage did the week following his conversation with Bob Novak. It was with Radio Sawa the next day, July 9th:

"QUESTION: Has the acknowledgement by the White House that the President and Secretary Powell used -- inadvertently used inaccurate information in their speeches, does that hurt American credibility in the region?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Well, I continue to believe that at the end of the day, we'll have a much more full understanding of the weapons of mass destruction program that Saddam Hussein was involved in. Clearly, there is no doubt in the President's mind that Saddam Hussein was involved in a program. I don't think there is doubt in the minds of most of the leaders of the coalition.

The fact of the matter is that we even recently have uncovered some information which leads to, I think, bolstering the comments made by our friends and others about a nuclear program, the engineer -- scientist -- excuse me -- recently came forward to show where he had buried the centrifuged parts in his backyard, in a rosebush, I believe, is witness to that.

So I think as the documents are exploited and people continue to come forward free of fear of a reemergence of Saddam Hussein, then the full dimensions of the program will be made known.

QUESTION: There is almost silence in the Arab world concerning discovery of mass graves in Iraq. What's your reaction to that?

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: I am as horrified by these discoveries. I am very angry about it. I thank God that the coalition forces moved when they did because that will at least eliminate any other mass graves being prepared for future victims of Saddam Hussein.

And I'm also a little embarrassed that many people who kept silent or actually supported the regime, the Iraqi regime, now have to face the full dimensions of their inaction when faced with the sorrow of families who are now reclaiming their loved ones, whose face were unknown until the discovery of these mass graves."

A month earlier, at a June 9 press roundtable for Japanese journalists in Tokyo during a conference, here is part of one answer Richard Armitage gave to a couple of good questions:

"QUESTION: I would like to focus on the unilateralness of the Bush administration. Since the war ended, I've watched the unilateralism of the Bush administration. Many people criticize it right now. For example, today's article in the New York Times, some analysts of Iraq traitors reject germ arms, and American/British intelligence analysts with direct access to the evidence are disputing claims of the mysterious traitor found in Iraq for making deadly germs, so this is my....

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: Are you talking about the vans...DIA analysts?

QUESTION: Yes. Dr. Rice tried to explain that the U.S. and British armies are going to find evidence of weapons of mass destruction sooner or later, but so far I'm not convinced hearing what Dr. Rice has said. On the contrary, your friend, Joseph Nye, the Dean of the JFK School of Harvard, emphasized that the U.S. needs to use soft power, especially in diplomacy. Can you evaluate the situation of the Bush Administration, whether or not the Bush Administration is taking the unilateral way or not? If you can explain well, maybe I'll be convinced.

[snip]

DEPUTY SECRETARY ARMITAGE: ...Now on the question of where we find, and whether I can convince you. Sir, I'm not sure I can convince you, but I'll tell you several things. Before the war, did Saddam Hussein exist? Yes. He did. And we haven't found him, but we know he existed. Before the war, did weapons of mass destruction exist? Well, of course. He used them. He used them against Iran, he used them on his own people. We haven't found them yet, so keep that in mind. We'll find it. On the question of the vans, the bio-vans which I think the DIA folks may have been referring to or maybe it was something else, Secretary Powell was very interesting when he was asked this yesterday. He was asked if the vans were really biological and used for biological weapons. He said yes, of course. First of all, they match perfectly the intelligence that we had, and that he presented on 5 February. Second, he said, and I thought quite interestingly, that if these vans were not used for biological weapons, but rather were used for making hydrogen gas or fermenting beer, the Iraqis would have come forward on 6th February and showed that the United States was being silly. But they didn't, because these were biological weapons vans. I would submit to you that, just like the building of coral, that's what our forces in the British and coalition forces are doing now, getting information. The vans were part of it, and over time we're going to build that coral, and some day we'll see that there's a whole structure of BW and CW weapons in Iraq."

[I think the jet lag was getting to Armitage on that last answer. It's a more absurd sounding answer than most of his statements in interviews with the press that I've read, which are generally very practiced and smooth.]

There's one more you forgot.

"they gave me the name and I used it."

vs.

"I looked it up the Who's who directory"

Well Novak? Which one was it?

Another self-correction: The state department's 2003 interview chronology site omits a key on-the-record interview that Richard Armitage did in the week after his July 8th interview with Novak: Armitage's Fox interview with Greta Van Susteren, which angered Andrea Mitchell (and which I excerpted on the Armitage as Patsy post thread). That interview took place on July 14, 2003, but it is not included on the state department web page. I wonder how many other interviews are skipped in that chronology (other Greta interviews with Armitage are listed).

Attempt at logic: Does this new Novak column prove that either Bob Novak definitely had another key source for his 7/14/03 column's information re 'operative' (undercover status) and 'Plame' (career name at CIA) [and that Joe Wilson never worked at CIA] or that Richard Armitage was in on the plot, contrary to his public comments, or both? Is there another possibility that I'm overlooking?

Jim E

I largely agree with you about Armitage's timing. I've got my own beliefs about Armitage's timing (which I'm reserving for now). But his excuse is lame, and it appears clear Armitage said something more than he claimed.

But he still had to have said less than Novak is now claiming (or he wouldn't be wandering around). The CPD claim, in short, is a lie, because Fitz has apparently determined Armitage didn't know that information. (I don't know if he has determined if Rove did--though at this point, the Ari testimony would become important to Rove, too. It is all but accepted that Libby told Rove. And if he told Ari Plame was covert, he may well have told Rove.

I do think the NP v. CPD designation is important--though we may not know how, yet. NP, in the CIA, is the department where Fleitz worked before they made WINPAC in 2001. I'm not sure, but I think it was analytical. But there's also a NP department in State. And in June 2003, it was managed by John Bolton.

In short, the NP designation, if accurate, lends to the analytical versus operations interpretation. And it also may be a reference to some other department that may have significance. But it's definitely not the same as CPD.

pow wow

I think both are possibilities (and there's a third--that Rove is the other source, but that he spoke with Novak earlier on the day on July 8).

I really don't think Armitage is the fall-guy. If he were the willing fall-guy, this case would have been settled in November 2003. There is no way that there is a credible case that Armitage really was behind the leak, or he'd be in jail and this wouldn't have proceeded so long. (And to pre-empt Maguire's hoards if they show up, there's some reason Fitz couldn't convict Armitage on the Novak leak, so the Woodward one is irrelevant.)

Which suggests there's another source.

But I've got to kinda wonder if Novak isn't trying to remove himself from the witness stand by making himself an incredible witness in the literal sense of the word.
-----------------------------------------
I believe it's a poor legal strategy to remove yourself from the witness stand by placing yourself in the defendant's chair.

John McLaughlin is more plugged in than I realized.

On last week's 9/8 show, he asked his panelists:

Do you buy Armitage?

All four of them said they did, which also made sense to me. But then McLaughlin chimed in:

I think we're going to get another round.

I thought he was just being senile, but he either has the best sources in town, or the best intuition...

Yes, I count Rove acting as a more significant Novak source than has been admitted publicly (such as earlier on July 8th) as part of the "another key Novak source" scenario.

As to Armitage being a fall guy, willingly or otherwise: First, Armitage would have to be part of the original conspiracy to play that part, wouldn't he? If he was really an 'innocent bystander' at heart, he couldn't play the role of willing (or unwilling) fall guy in a way that would seriously damage anyone else, or save anyone else for their role in a separate conspiracy [except by saying something that would unknowingly contradict Novak, say, if Novak tried to lie about what Armitage said to him - but that's a scenario imposed by others, and only 'he said, she said' evidence]. Meaning that if Armitage did play the role of a willing fall guy in October, 2003, that too would be as a result of the plot, and would be Armitage acting out what he considered to be his most viable avenue of escaping charges. [At the moment that's what I'm assuming has happened.] And it is Armitage's fall guy role (of fake, partial cooperation) that has so far safeguarded Armitage, because the investigation has not been able to seriously crack his cover story - or else Armitage would be in very serious legal jeopardy indeed. Which is my explanation for why Fitzgerald hasn't prosecuted Armitage on either the Novak or the Woodward leaks to date (basically, because of a lack of independent, credible evidence that would hold up in court).

Petey

Nice catch.

I think it's probably just instinct. But Armitage gave a really good performance on CBS. And given that 1) this is a dress rehearsal for any trial, and 2) Rove can't speak for himself, we were bound to get Novak again.

what i was getting at was not ethics violations per se but something along these lines:

if novak were a mafia guy who had been caught and convinced to turn state's evidence, i could understand his turning on one of the gang -- rich armitage - and accusing him of being responsible for all that happened.

but novak has not been caught - at anything.

no prosecutor is twisting his arm about armitage, so why turn on armitage?

well

1)maybe armitage is not one of the insiders that novak has been running with. if so, novak risks no retribution from his "gang" by turning on armitage.

2)maybe armitage is not one of novak's serious sources so novak can kick his can around and later claim not to have violated any "journalistic ethics".

3)maybe novak is helping out the gang he runs with by further "incriminating" armitage in the public eye as the guy who gave up plame and the cia wmd iraq program.

all of these suggest that, whatever is right-wing foreign policy credentials, armitage was an outsider to novak and whatever group of right-wing insiders novak was running with.

CIA labels Plame as Counter-Proliferation (CPD)

I don't think Novak's first column 7/14/03 precisely identifies Plame as an employee of CPD.

Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report. The CIA says its counter-proliferation officials selected Wilson and asked his wife to contact him.
Novak 7/14/03

The CIA identifies the department that selected Wilson as CPD.

Novak identifies Plame as "an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction" who was asked to contact Wilson.

Novak never says Plame is a CPD employee, nor does Novak claim that the CIA said she was a CPD employee in his first column.


I saw that with McLaughlin too. It was interesting.

Does Hubris deal with Duberstein's recollections, not at the point of the Oct "revelation" but in connection with setting up the meeting between the two players originally?

The stories don't seem to jive, but Armitage says Duberstein set it up for general foreign policy matters. Who approached whom? Novak to Duberstein, Duberstein to Armitage? That seems to be what Armitage is saying.

"I believe it's a poor legal strategy to remove yourself from the witness stand by placing yourself in the defendant's chair."

Hadn't realized that writing syndicated columns full of lies was illegal. The jails should be more crowded.

I wonder what Armitage's next move will be. The best-case scenario for him is that he mistakenly blabbed Plame's idenity--twice--to reporters. In other words, in the BEST light, he's an utter moron. I wonder if he got played by Rove--i.e. if Rove sent Novak in to talk to him knowing that Armitage wouldn't be able to keep his mouth shut about Plame. That seems a little too devious even for Rove, but I'll bet Armitage is wondering if that's what really happened. Can't wait for his next interview: "Mr Armitage, the Douchebag of Liberty says that you're a bald-faced liar who deliberately revealed Valerie Plame's identity to him. How do you respond?"

If I understand the situation correctly, Armitage told Novak that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA (not Plame), he could have done this not knowing she was a NOC - and hoping that fellow Iraq-war-opponent Novak would follow this lead and write an article critical of the war's rational.

If Woodward let the WH know Armitage had talked with him about Mrs. Wilson's employer, Rove could have alerted Novak to get this info from Armitage. I'd be interested in whether Armitage invited Novak (if that's how things occurred) before or after he met with Woodward.

polly

You're right. They don't specify, do they. Nice catch.

Mark the date…. on sale October 30th

from Publisher’s Weekly,

Inside Bush’s White House: The Second Term by Bob Woodward by S&S, 750,000 copies…

Any bombshells from Booby?

Jack

"That seems a little too devious even for Rove, but I'll bet Armitage is wondering if that's what really happened."

Frank, watch or read Bush's Brain and you will put nothing and I mean nothing past Rove. He's clever and devious. The guy bugged his own office so he could blame it on a political opponent. Note also that Rove was shitcanned by Bush41 for leaking to Novak back in 1992 - these guys go back a long way.

I speculated a while ago that Rove put Novak up to seeing if he could get Armitage to gossip about Wilson's wife, knowing in advance the questions ask and answers to seek and then conveniently forget what Rove told him and make Armitage the primary source.

I think some of the sloppiness of the players is attributable to the fact that they thought Ashcroft would make it all go away after paying lip service to the investigation; the FBI they were all lying to is part of Justice.

orion

I think number 3 is right on the money:

3)maybe novak is helping out the gang he runs with by further "incriminating" armitage in the public eye as the guy who gave up plame and the cia wmd iraq program.

I strongly believe that, between October 2003 and October 2005, Rove learned Armitage had spoken to Woodward, or Libby set him up in the first place). And one of the hail maries Rove threw during Indictment week was to get people (like Isikoff, who totally ignores this role in the book) to hassle Woodward, in hopes the Armitage detail would come out. It did, which totally discredited Armitage as a witness. Now, Fitz can't compellingly argue which person leaked to Novak, because they're both suspicious witnesses.

Which would say Armitage is just dumb, really was separate from Libby's conspiracy, and has been set up so Rove can get off.

But Novak's job now, after having testified far enough to incriminate ROve somewhat, is to save his reputation publicly.

I don't see why everyone discounts the possiblity that Armitage was up to his armpits in the Whitehouse conspiracy. If Novak is telling the truth -- this time, this seems likely .

i thought you could put them in the dungeon on the rack and start turning the wheel and there would be nary a peep of i.d. from an upstanding journalist, say, one like robert novak.

Hmm, so what does that make Matt Cooper, who nearly gave himself a heart attack sprinting from his grand jury testimony to his typewriter to the set of Meet The Press?

And the sudden late June, 2003 scheduling of their first interview - apparently at the initiative of Armitage - is very, very telling.

Well, Novak would be the right righty to go to for a State pushback against the neocons, which was hapening then. But maybe there is even more to it than that!

With that said, I have to say, however reluctantly, that I think Novak, however slippery, is being honest about Armitage's lack of candor about all of this. I believe Novak when he says Armitage was more specific and forceful than what Armitage now claims.

I agree with that, althoughI don't trust either one.

However - I vigorously dispute the notion that Novak changed his sotry five times om the question of Ms. Plame's employment. I don't think that being silent on a question is the same as changing your story; maybe thta part of the story just did not seem important in that context.

SOby my count:

1. Novak's column has the weird "no source" for the first sentence, "his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction" (and he promised Armitage that he was on "deep background"). Armitage is certainly not *excluded*as being the source.

2. The Oct 1 column - he specifically got the info from, we presume, Armitage.

3. July 2006 column is silent on her employment.

4. The contemporaneous Brit Hume interview has her in an area that might well be CPD, as you note (Novak said "nuclear nonproliferation", which is not a million miles from "Counterproliferaton", especially on live TV.)

5. The current column has Armitage putting her in "Mrs. Wilson worked in the CIA's Counter-Proliferation Division".

I can't take seriously the notion that he is changing his story on this point.

And as a benchmark, Woodward's story was that Armitage mentioned that Ms. Plame was "... worked for the CIA on weapons of mass destruction as a WMD analyst."

So it is not as if those words never passed Armitage's lips.

As to Armitage's state of mind, I hypothesize there is a continuum between "chit-chat" and "planned disclosure" (quantum mechanics may disagree...).

On Oct 1 2003 it was an "offhand revelation" and Novak "did not receive a planned leak".

The current version is that "[Armitage] made clear he considered it especially suited for my column."

Thos do not have to be inconsistent. Armitage may not have given any thought at all to Joe Wilson or Niger when Novak entered the room. After Novak asked about Joe, Armitage says, "Oh,I don't have nuch for you, but wait - this is the sort of insidery gossipy stuff that is perfect for your column - the wife..."

Is that "planned"? Sure, *maybe* Armitage is that good an actor.

Or maybe it was just chit-chat dressed up a bit, thereby rising all the way to "offhand revelation". (And isn't "offhand revelation" a bit contradictory? "Revelation" normally connotes some sort of surprise or Big Deal, yes? So how could it be "offhand"? Whatever...)

IF Armitage added the detail that it would work for Novak's column, then Novak's point is that the disclosure was not totally idle - Armitage must have given a bit of thought to how Novak might use it, for example. But that hardly means Armitage gave it a lot of thought, or planned it when he set up the interview - three seconds reflection might have been enough to elevate this above "idle chit-chat".

Of course, he may have planned it. And we are trying to rely on Novak's self-serving account of his own attempt to read Armitage's intentions, when Novak has never previously met Armitage - how reliabe is that going to be? But subject to that, these two stories just aren't that different.

For all we know, Fitz had a decent case against Armitage, but he didn't bring charges because he anticipated that Novak's murky dealings with Rove would've crippled his case at trial.

And, for all we know, Fitz had a compelling case against Rove that was unravelled by Novak's interactions with Armitage.

Perhaps Novak is the evil genius in all of this.

Actually, joking aside, I agree with EW: the important revelation is how f'ing incompetent Armitage has been shown to be. And I'm so sick of hearing how so-called bureaucratic "masters" like Armitage and Powell were the adults in the administration trying to prevent war. Really? Because all I've seen from Team Powell was the single-most important effort to successfully bolster liberal support (UN presentation) and a demonstrable lack of political and bureaucratic savvy in both the run-up to war, and in this Plame debacle. Seeing Armitage's role in this only confirms the impotency of Team Powell.

Armitage may have buttered people-up with his CBS appearance ("Look, ma, no lawyer!"), but this is yet another instance where Armitage just got his ass handed to him in the PR battle. Armitage is such a dolt, I find myself semi-defending Novak in this thing.

Buzzflash interview with Joe Wilson that someone posted over at the firedoglake. Good interview if anyone is interested in reading it. http://www.buzzflash.com/articles/interviews/033

Cripes, does this mean TM and I are in general agreement??

(Your "Armitage Interviews 'Obscured' The Truth" was the first post of yours in a long time that had me nodding my head...)

1. Novak's column has the weird "no source" for the first sentence, "his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction" (and he promised Armitage that he was on "deep background"). Armitage is certainly not *excluded*as being the source.

2. The Oct 1 column - he specifically got the info from, we presume, Armitage.

3. July 2006 column is silent on her employment.

4. The contemporaneous Brit Hume interview has her in an area that might well be CPD, as you note (Novak said "nuclear nonproliferation", which is not a million miles from "Counterproliferaton", especially on live TV.)

5. The current column has Armitage putting her in "Mrs. Wilson worked in the CIA's Counter-Proliferation Division".

1) No, Armitage isn't excluded. But that's kind of the point. Right now, he wants to make it clear who said CPD. Back then, no. That is a difference in his story.

2) Agree

3-4) I'm sorry, nuclear non-proliferation is distinct from CPD. And it's important precisely because, when Novak first started talking, he did not explain every piece of data in his original column, choosing instead to hide behind his "operative" BS. Whether you want to treat these the same or separately (as I have documented before, his story was changing as soon as he started talking, which is why I list these two separately), it's still a siginificant difference from the Oct 1 column. Taken together I would GUESS they're an attempt to imply a WMD connotation without requiring Armitage to have said CPD.

5) Agree

And as a benchmark, Woodward's story was that Armitage mentioned that Ms. Plame was "... worked for the CIA on weapons of mass destruction as a WMD analyst."

But that's the whole point!!!!! A second source says Armitage said nothing about CPD. The "analyst" would exclude that, largely. So right now, Novak and Woodward are telling two different stories. It wouldn't be significant (that is, maybe Armitage learned Plame was CPD in late June), except that Novak's story has swung back and forth from having Armitage say Plame was CPD. And because reports say Fitzgerald says Armitage had no way to know she was covert/operations. (I'd discount this as Armitage's buddies making him look good, except that Isikoff and Corn include both Armitage associates among their sources and current government employees, one of whom appears to have access to Armitage's quoted testimony (that is, probably FBI).

There is a story that is probably where the truth lies (because it's the easiest way to explain Fitz', Armitage's, and Novak/Rove's behavior. Armitage said Plame was involved with WMDs--but didn't say she worked in CPD (and he may have implied she was an analyst). But Novak's changing story occasionally sticks to that story, and occasionally wanders from it.

And finally, need I remind, again, why this is important. Novak seems to be attempting to simultaneously suggests Armitage said Plame was CPD (therefore covert) but claim he wasn't told she was covert, and he didn't even out her really. For a complete idiot, you could believe CPD didn't entail operations/classified, but not for Novak. If Novak's current story didn't have a glaring internal contradiction, his wavering story wouldn't be so interesting.

One likely reason for Novak's inconsistent behavior is that the wingnutosphere has launched only weak arguments against Corn/Isikoff's description of Plame's role. All of a sudden, 3 years of myths about Plame being an analyst are really falling apart. But that means someone needs to take responsibility for the CPD stuff in Novak's column.

Back in July, when Novak first started speaking, that little wingnutosphere myth still had adherents. But now that it looks fairly likely that Plame was not only covered (and still transitioning from being a NOC), but she was fighting the battle we're all supposed to be fighting, all of a sudden Novak is returning to his CPD story.

Or let me make a more simple point.

When Novak started talking in July, he told, more strongly than he had before, his story about using operative "to refer to a political operative from Wyoming." That is, he felt the need to explain away the references to Plame being covert.

Now, by insisting on the CPD identitification, he is instead insisting that he was told she was covert (CPD). That's a tremendous difference, not least because it makes the difference between an IIPA charge or not. What Novak told in July was completely consistent with neither of his sources leaking a covert officer's identity. Now he has changed his stance, arguing one of his sources did leak a covert officer's identity. Now, Novak doesn't need his "operative" story, because he's asserting loudly that Armitage, for all effects and purposes, told him she as an operative. Something has changed in the last two months that makes Novak want to reclaim the notion he received a leak of a covert officer's identity.

At this point, the question is does this evanescent story of Novak's tell us anything of sustance about the C.I.A. leak or is it just two fools bickering and covering their respective anatomies. I doubt that Armitage was in the Cheney/Libby/Rove thread that was brewing at the time. The State Department was in the "out group." He may have seen Wilson/Plame as a threat to his pal, Colin Powell, but that doesn't seem likely. I'm guessing that the ethos of the White House was everyday conteptuous devaluing of any criticism of the war. The question, "Where are those promised W.M.D.'s?" was on everyone's lips at that time, including ours. They hadn't yet gotten together to plan a strategy to explain or ignore their absence. They weren't yet aware of how badly things were going to turn in Iraq. They were still in their devaluing the C.I.A. period.

So, I guess I think that Armitage fired off a round half cocked - prematurely initiating a plan that was brewing throughout the executive ranks. I'm always struck with Novak's comment to Wilson's friend, "Wilson's an asshole" - going on to imply Wilson's wife sent him on a boondoggle. The music of that comment had to have come from Armitage. So Armitage was passing on the White House "Wilson's an asshole" rumblings in a less careful way than the more devious insiders might have liked. But, it was everywhere. On Air Force One, Ari already was giving 'hints' to reporters about Plame.

I wonder when Cheney, Libby, Bush, and Rove knew that Armitage had been the "leaker." Was it not until October, when he went to the F.B.I.? Whatever or whenever, it's increasingly impossible with such a widespread knowledge that Wilson's wife was C.I.A. that they didn't know she was couvert, particularly in light of the Hubris revelation of what she actually did at the Agency.

As long as we're trying to parse the various stories, does everyone understand what Rove was getting at in his email to Hadley, "I didn't take the bait..." I've never understood that one at all...

I also agree with Jim E. that Armitage has not been candid. But for whatever reason, Novak is trying to nail Armitage now, and someone is lying. In addition to the difficulty of reconciling the notion of an offhand revelation with the idea that Armitage was making it clear that it was especially suited for publication - and I remain unconvinced by Tom's effort to square that circle - the fact is that we have two utterly contradictory accounts of what Novak responded to Duberstein on October 1 2003, and on the difference hangs a good deal of how plausible Novak's clear implication that Armitage et al were engaged in nefarious activity on October 1 2003 is. I'm not saying who I believe - I have no idea - but someone is clearly lying and lying badly.

emptywheel

One thing: the information that Plame worked at CPD is a crucial bit of information, but it's not quite as strong as you make it out to be. That is, it does not by definition mean that she was under cover and so on, it just makes it much more likely, and all the players involved - Armitage telling Novak, Cheney telling Libby - would know that.

The only "political operative from Wyoming" that I know of is Dick Cheney. Anyone else think that "political operative from Wyoming" is an odd turn of phrase? From Chicago, maybe, or from the back alleys of Boston, or even from the Deep South. But Wyoming? Why, there are barely enough people there to have political parties, never mind operatives! I think old Novakula made a Freudian slip with that one.

If Armitage is such a dolt, though, Jim E., how do you explain him walking away unscathed from blowing the cover of an undercover CIA agent - twice? With the knives of everyone else in the administration allegedly out to get him, if only to save their own hides? In general, Armitage strikes me as a very savvy and smart operator. But, nevertheless, I definitely take your point.

I'm starting to wonder if Novak is writing these columns specifically to communicate with his source(s). The October 1, 2003 column pointed out to his main source, presumably, that he planned to say that the leak was "offhand" and "not planned." So then why did Armitage's pal Duberstein feel the need to call and tell Novak on 10/1 that Armitage's leak was also "inadvertent" (in spite of Duberstein's own involvement in arranging the unusual and special interview in which this information was conveyed)? "Inadvertent" is not that different from 'offhand and unplanned' after all, and the charged circumstances would have argued against contacting Novak at that time. And now, having discovered what may be the version of Armitage's story that Armitage told the grand jury (in addition to CBS), Novak and Rove may be none to pleased to learn that their kindness in covering somewhat for Armitage was apparently not returned by him in full [although I thought it was returned at least with Armitage's efforts to claim the "initial and primary" role for himself as Head Novak Leaker], thereby presumably leaving Rove (and ?) open to further probing and/or legal jeopardy from Armitage's apparent testimony.

I think I finally grasp the point ew has been making about Armitage's viability as a witness being diminished by the Woodward revelation -- meaning that the credibility of Armitage's sworn testimony about the specifics of his own conversation with Novak as compared with Rove's sworn testimony about the specifics of his own separate conversation with Novak would have been reduced accordingly. Because if the versions conflict - who do you believe? And who has more credibility, etc.

It certainly seems as though both Armitage and Novak are partly telling the truth and partly lying. Armitage to protect himself (meaning his role in a full-knowledge with intent leak, presumably), and Novak to protect Rove (and Rove's role in a full-knowledge with intent leak, presumably). In an effort to further protect Rove, Novak may have also fudged things to protect Armitage to some extent, but that veneer may now be starting to wear thin for Novak and Rove. How thin it gets may be a function of how much information they know Armitage has and may yet reveal to their serious detriment.

To me, the really interesting question is who set up the interview between Armitage and Novak. I know that Hubris says it was Duberstein, but gee, it happened at just the right time, didn't it?
I still keep thinking about the successful smear jobs that Rove has pulled off or advised from a safe distance (in this case, through the WHIG or maybe just advising the VP and his incredibly loyal half-Aspen Libby).
The hallmark has to be deniability. You have to distance yourself in some form or fashion from direct responsibility.
So how better than to commission the internal report (INR), sow it widely enough to ensure that enough people would see it, and then throw sufficient opportunities for the right people to encounter it in a deniable way. Scooter tried to use Judy as a cut-out, but maybe Armitage, with his baggage of being a gossip and his status as "no partisan gunslinger" was a perfect second opportunity. Woodward would have even been better, but he kept his counsel.
There was a huge shift in strategy today, with Novak's column moving from the "silly Armitage" to "purposeful Armitage." OK, so that nails Armitage with responsibility, but doesn't that automatically invite a pushback? With Armitage on the stand in the Wilsons' civil case, won't he tell all he knows now?
And what it means to Fitz' case, all I can do is wonder.
I wish I were a better chess player.

Ok, apart from the strawman-bashing, here are some of the things Novak does in his column to basically suggest that Armitage was acting much more nefariously than he suggested:

1. Novak implies that Armitage suddenly decided to see him, after rebuffing Novak summarily and with disdain, for two years, because of the Wilson matter. In other words, Novak is suggesting that Armitage blew Plame's cover with major forethought and malice.

2. Novak says Armitage made clear he thought the Plame bit especially suited for his column, thereby suggesting not only that Armitage was not expecting it to be published but that Armitage positively encouraged publication of the information.

3. Novak accuses Armitage of lying now, and presumably to the investigation, when Armitage claims he only realized he was Novak's source on October 1 2003. Even more damning, Novak strongly suggests that when Duberstein called him on October 1 2003, it was not because of Novak's column but because it had just become known that Justice was investigating the leak.

4. In other words, Novak is suggesting that the entire scheme to get in touch with him on October 1 2003 - which we know from Hubris was actually initiated by Powell and undertaken by Duberstein with Armitage's sign-off - was some kind of obstruction effort, whether it was an effort to coach Novak's testimony by indicating to him that Armitage's story was that his leak was inadvertent (whatever that is supposed to mean), or rather an effort to broach the possibility of a cover-up, or rather still an effort to see if maybe after all Novak had other sources along with Armitage, giving Armitage a possible out.

All in all, then, for whatever reason, Novak is trying to nail Armitage on much more than just current misleading statements like his silence on whether Plame suggested Wilson for the trip or not.

This is Laura (War and Peace) Rozen's take:
"Novak's message is that Armitage is a far more canny and calculating bureaucratic infighter who sought to curry favor with the Bush administration (by discrediting Wilson for talking on background with Kristof), even while not a true believer in the cause of the war intelligence or the war. Novak wants this exposed, to salvage his own reputation on the right, which wants to delegitimize the whole Fitzgerald investigation, prompted by his column. I do remember reading somewhere years ago that for a time Armitage hoped to be appointed the top dog at the Pentagon or CIA under Bush (maybe in James Mann's excellent Rise of the Vulcans)."

Here is an intriguing first look at Armitage's response to Novak, courtesy of Jeffrey Smith's WaPo article for tomorrow, not yet available at the Post online, but discoverable through devious means (google news):

Armitage, in an interview Wednesday, said he stood by his account and disputed Novak's.

Keep it coming, Team Powell.

At some point in time, when trying to judge the truthfulness of two people you have to start looking at their underlying character.

Armitage is definitely not a partisan, in the Rove / Libby / Cheney mold. Is he conservative? Oh yes. But after spending most of the evening, tracking down his background, the story that emerges is of a relatively decent guy, who has had some brushes with questionable things, but all-in-all seems to acquired some wisdom as he’s aged.

As you dig through his background, trying to get a sense of the man, then find yourself comparing what you’ve learned to the Libby / Rove / Cheney / Novak’s of the world, you realize that the latter are not really immoral, just amoral. I find amorality far more disturbing and threatening than immorality.

I found these quotes about Armitage illuminating:

“….He is very tough, he is very blunt. He is very conservative, but also, on social matters, like Colin Powell, quite moderate, and is pro-affirmative action. And something he just refuses to talk about, and only because I knew him fairly well in Washington do I know that he‘s actually got a heart of gold. He and his wife have either adopted, become foster parents to, or been very magnanimous toward a U.N. of kids, kids from all over the world, including some crack babies….”

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14555881/

and

“QUESTION: (Inaudible) from The Washington Post. Recently, your old friend, Anthony Zinni, noted that none of the leading (inaudible) Iraq have (inaudible) military service. As a combat veteran from Vietnam yourself (inaudible)?

Well, of the observation I make that Tony Zinni is still my friend and Tony Zinni still is a consultant to us and has performed admirably and well, and I certainly trust he'll continue to in the future. Whatever opinions I have about people serving or not serving are my own. I will only note that there are lots of reasons people didn't serve in the Vietnam War. There were people of conscience who went to other countries, who inconvenienced themselves for their view. I personally have a great deal of respect for that. There are other people who became CO's [commanding officers], who for their views inconvenienced themselves. I have a great respect for that. But as my view, I will just keep that to myself and watch interestedly from the sidelines as General Zinni sallies forth.

(Laughter.)

http://www.useu.be/Terrorism/USResponse/Sept0502ArmitageConflictIraqTerrorism.html

And

“…"I'm disappointed that Iraq hasn't turned out better. And that we weren't able to move forward more meaningfully in the Middle East peace process."

Then, after a minute's pause, he adds a third regret: "The biggest regret is that we didn't stop 9/11. And then in the wake of 9/11, instead of redoubling what is our traditional export of hope and optimism we exported our fear and our anger. And presented a very intense and angry face to the world. I regret that a lot…."

If I was a speech writer, I couldn’t have come up with that last line. Yet, its just right.

Zealots never admit error, ambiguity or doubt. Folks, this guy is not a Zealot. I’d wager my first-born male child, that he was not “in” on this, nor is he covering for anyone.

The simple explanation is the right one. He either (a) did something really, really stupid, or (b) got set up beautifully by the masters of deception.

Isn’t Karl Rove involved in this?

Not to mention the fact that in June 2003, Armitage is smacking Bolton down over Syria. I'm sure that went over well.

So who am I going to believe? I guy who shelters crack babies or reporter/vampire who rises from his crypt every night?

Btw

“…Then, when it all threatened to come undone and American soldiers were dying at the rate of three or four per day in Iraq, Cheney poked his finger in Powell's chest outside a principals meeting in the White House, according to a senior administration official, and yelled: "It's all YOUR fault. If you had let us put Chalabi in charge none of this would have happened…."

Whether you like Powell or no, guys like Armitage and Wilkerson have been quite loyal to him. For the Cheney / Rumsfeld side “you’re either with us, or agin us….”

http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/news/special_packages/galloway/13242995.htm

A little bit more from the actual WaPo story. The Post got a little bit from Fitzgerald's letter to Armitage, which they pin down to February 24 of this year. It reads, in part,

absent unexpected developments, I do not anticipate seeking any criminal charges against you.

This is the most interesting item:

Armitage said he could not recall whether he identified the CIA division where Wilson's wife worked.

Hmm, persuasive. Other than that, each of them pretty much just repeats their talking points.

The article ends with a testimonial:

Lobbyist Ken Duberstein, a friend of Armitage who helped arrange Novak's meeting with him, said yesterday that Armitage's account precisely matches what Armitage told him in October 2003.

So Armitage told Duberstein in October 2003 that he couldn't recall if he identified where exactly in the CIA Plame worked? Just kidding. But while maybe this is what happened, it's also just what you would expect Duberstein to say if they were covering up.

Again it comes down to who to believe.

Duberstein, for those who don't know... was Ronald Reagan's chief of staff after Nancy sacked Don Regan. And, it is because of that position that he has a unique perspective on the Mark Felt/'Deep Throat' saga....

Otherwise smart Republicans... in lashing out at the liberal/media lionization once more of Woodward and Bernstein's greatest moment, they feel the need to character assassinate Mark Felt and portray a Richard Nixon that never existed.... For... them, presidential lying is no big thing... what's wrong with a few 'dirty tricksters' in the White House?...

The answer to that sentiment and that question can be found in the words of Ken Duberstein.... I called Duberstein's office. He graciously took my call and said, that his statement was that 'Felt is a hero.' In not-exactly-easy circumstances, 'He put America first.' (I eventually found the original quote; it's right here.) Duberstein said that, in reading all the media reports of the last few days, he put himself back in his shoes as White House chief of staff. He thought, with the information Felt had in front of him, 'What options did he have?' 'He couldn't go to the White House Chief of Staff (Haldeman or Ehrlichman); he couldn't go to the Justice Department (John Mitchell); he couldn't go to the White House Counsel (John Dean). He did something responsible. The congressional committees hadn't been formed yet. What do you do? Felt put America first.'...

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2005/06/in_praise_of_ke.html

Now go read what Novak said about Felt.

http://thinkprogress.org/index.php?p=1008

or a few more...

http://www.perrspectives.com/blog/archives/000185.htm

I've heard the foster children story. I've heard the Mark Felt/Duberstein anecdotes. But I can read the man's own words, rather than those of his defenders. And watch his demeanor on television in an interview. His words about Iraq when it mattered were appalling. 20/20 hindsight now is great, but Armitage only "regrets it" as though he wasn't involved? That's like his non-apology apology to the Wilsons on CBS. No real remorse comes across, except maybe for getting caught. We all know what Novak is; Armitage's true character is simply not known to us, and we're left to judge what we can of it from his actions.

Thanks for the links to the new article in the Post, Jeff. A very competent recap and reporting job by Jeff Smith. This is bizarre. Three years in, and the two people at the absolute heart of the act of disclosure of our CIA Agent are having a war of words on the pages of the Washington Post [for which the corrupt editors can only summon up a Page 12 placement]. And neither of them appear to be in any legal jeopardy. Simply surreal.

At some point in time, when trying to judge the truthfulness of two people you have to start looking at their underlying character.

I am completely skeptical of the idea that we can have any reliable access to the underlying character of such public figures as Armitage and Novak. To say nothing of the problem that our preconceptions are likely to color how we make those judgments of underlying characyer. Plus, I don't think they're necessary in order to go forward in making judgments.

This is bizarre. Three years in, and the two people at the absolute heart of the act of disclosure of our CIA Agent are having a war of words on the pages of the Washington Post [for which the corrupt editors can only summon up a Page 12 placement]. And neither of them appear to be in any legal jeopardy. Simply surreal.

Completely agree, except for the part about the corrupt editors in this case.

DCgaffer - I agree with you, not only on the matter of character, but on the actions taken post-leak by Armitage and the WH. Armitage went to DOJ on Oct 1 w/o a lawyer, the WH stalled, parsed and hedged to the point of letting journalists go to jail for them. I again point to the quote from the Dec 03 (after the FBI investiation had begun) Financial Times in which senior White House, not Admin, official said "we have let the earthmovers roll in over this one."

Who's naughty and who's nice?

Whether Armitage was set up to use his weakness for gossip or not (and I certainly think Libby has shown himself to be quite devious), his story sounds like one of a guy who screwed up, Novak's conveniently-timed changes to his story sound like lies.

Further, Armitage comes across as an absolute straight-shooter in the CBS interview. Not a false step, IMHO. I found two things he said in the interview to be important:

1) He's out of legal jeopardy "as long as he continues to tell the truth.
2) If everybody involved had just told the truth and turned over the materials the investigation would have been over a long time ago.

He asked if he should apologize to the Wilson's and said "I think I just did", when saying he felt terribly that he had let the Wilson's down. He was asked if he should apologize to the President and he replied that he had cooperated with the investigation as the President had asked, and that he a loyalty to both the President and the justice system.

If I had to judge this on coming-out media appearances alone, Armitage wins, hands-down.

As to Armitage summing up Bush's response to the attacks: exporting fear and anger instead of hope and optimism, well, I wish Bush possessed an ounce of the the humanity that Armitage displayed with that statement, it would be a better world.

Iran-Contra was an abomination, and I have no patience for its apologists. We're either a nation of rule-of-law, or we're not. Armitage lying about it - no excuse. But, his generosity towards foster children, of all stripes, earns my respect and speaks of a generous soul, which sets him apart from the soul of this no-mercy administration.

An aside: Novak's "offhand" comment about Bush knowing who the leaker is makes me now wonder if Fitz's indictment day visit to Bush's personal, criminal attorney has to do with the cover-up, and what Armitage might have added to the case against him.

Jeff

Yes, I know CPD is not absolute. But if Novak's investing everything in the "operative" dodge, then he doesn't need to explain where he learned she was CPD. But if he's saying he did know she was CPD, then he doesn't need the (thoroughly implausible) dodge.

FWIW, I think both Novak and Armitage are lying. Novak is probably lying about the specific content of Armitage's speech (I'll posit again that the most likely scenario is that Armitage said she worked in WMD, which is what Woodward says he said.)

But I think the October 1 story is implausible. I don't think he really was trying to obstruct justice (and I frankly could believe that Armitage believed he wasn't "one of the two sources," because he didn't fit Novak's description to Phelps and Royce. But the time to have Duberstein ask Novak if he was his source was in July.

One note--remember that some versions of the Waas talk about multiple Administration officials calling Novak. That probably refers to the Duberstein call. If so, it's not like the FBI ignored this call.

But I'm trying to imagine a scenario in which they would conclude that Armitage and Rove were coordinating the same coverup story. Because I don't understand why Armitage would go forward as he did, as part of a cover-up involving Rove. Unless he was protecting Bush.
He wouldn't do it to protect Libby's and Dick's handiwork.

WRT Duberstein as a character witness to Armitage. Yes, that is questionable. But I don't think Ford is--Ford came into this Administration with a lot of respect for Cheney, and seems remarkably independent minded. So when he says Armitage said he was unsure but thought he may have caused the whole thing, I do believe that's an accurate description. Which is not so say Armitage really was that surprised. But that Ford at least believed he was.

Oh--and I think Armitage's CBS appearance really downplayed what he said. He was trying to give the flavor of his contribution (real or not) rather than the details.

FWIW, I think Novak's description of Armitage saying WMD (generic, so therefore possibly analyst) makes sense. Which of course still leaves him with the "operative" problem and, to some degree, the source of his CPD detail. We know Rove said more than Novak lets on (or he has another source, because someone at the WH was leaking details of the CIA report). And we also strongly suspect Libby--who knew Plame was CPD and was telling people her ID was hush hush--told Rove.

pow wow:

Respectfully, I’ll just have to disagree, though you may well be right.

Essentially, all we’re left with is “he, said, he, said.” There is no way to cut the Gordian knot without looking at the individuals involved. The whole point of ew’s post was that Novak’s story keeps changing. One cite not discussed, I believe, was Novak’s interview with Brit Hume in July:

..NOVAK: ....Whether it was inadvertent or not, I don't believe that it was a conscious leak. He always said a couple times in the column, I said, this is not a political gunslinger, this official was not known as somebody who did a lot of political manipulations. He is more of a substantive person.

HUME: More of a policy person?

NOVAK: Yes.

http://talkleft.com/new_archives/015304.html

As compared to:

…First, Armitage did not, as he now indicates, merely pass on something he had heard and that he thought might be so. Rather, he identified to me the CIA division where Mrs. Wilson worked, and said flatly that she recommended the mission to Niger by her husband, former Amb. Joseph Wilson.

Second, Armitage did not slip me this information as idle chitchat, as he now suggests. He made clear he considered it especially suited for my column…

http://www.suntimes.com/output/novak/cst-edt-novak14.html

The other telling item is that in the “Wilson friend “ encounter, where he conveyed his 'newly learned' information with some degree of animation and animus, i.e., “…Wilson is an asshole…”

Now think about this. He just had a first ever meeting with Armitage, w/o notes, and remembers all the pertinent details of this particular revelation (maybe a minute or two out of a hour long conversation and who knows what other juicy tidbits he got to compete with the Plame stuff in the forefront of his mind) and conveys them back perfectly, with a certain amount of heat. Since we now know the timing of the Armitage meet, the Wilson friend encounter must have happened immediately after he left State. Under normal circumstance he’d digest it first, look for confirmation, before blabbing it on the street to a perfect stranger. Worse still, he’s immediately blabbing information derived from a source he finally met for the very first time? Incomprehensible.

Yet his column just days later conveys no heat, is almost respectful. Nice cover.

And “yes, I heard that too” is not confirmation. In Washington World, that fact alone makes Novak’s story BS. But then again, there is one unlikely or unbelievable statement or action after another. It’s a childs’s tetering block tower.

Sorry, I certainly couldn’t prove it in Court, likely Fitz can’t – but Novak was the Pitcher. Someone game him the ball – before Armitage. Armitage’s big mouth is setup, or serendipity, in the grand scheme it doesn’t matter which.

Absent any other evidence I’d believe Armitage, but given the above, I’m damn confident Novak knew, before he met with Armitage.

Is Armitage a Boy Scout? I don’t believe that for a second. But harkening back to my post, I don’t see amorality. I trust my nose. Will there be Justice? Gosh I hope so. But, I think the odds are long (perhaps a little better today than yesterday). All IMHO

Didn't Novak originally claim that the Plame info was given to him by a stranger as he was walking down K St.?

emptywheel

Burning the midnight oil on the book, eh? I get it now on CPD and operative. One major thing that, I think, now points to Armitage having shared this detail is that he told the Post he can't recall whether he identified the CIA division where Wilson's wife worked. That appears to be DC for, Yes, I told him, and I'm embarrassed to admit it. (Cf. Tenet on the slam dunk comment.) But futher, Armitage has been very emphatic about what he didn't know and therefore couldn't tell Novak: that she was an operative, and that she had this name "Valerie Plame." He gives the Post no such denial that he knew where she worked.

You're completely right, though, that if Novak learned that Plame worked in CPD, his story about where he got "operative" from becomes even more implausible.

I agree that Ford probably accurately reports what he experienced. But I wouldn't expect him to be a part of the cover-up; he may just have been an addressee of the effort, Armitage's comment planted with him for later credibility purposes. The relevant cover-up would have been conducted by Powell, Armitage and Duberstein, with perhaps an assist from Taft (though I doubt it).

I am assuming that what Armitage, Powell and Duberstein might have done in October 2003 would have been covering for themselves, not for a larger effort. But you're right to suggest that if investigators believed the State folks were not being truthful, and that Rove was not being truthful, about their interactions with Novak, it wouldn't necessarily be immediately obvious to them that they were looking at two distinct cover up efforts.

It just occurred to me that if there's anything that might have made Armitage doubt that he was one of Novak's sources, or believe he might be able to get away with it, it was the 1x2x6 story. After all, it's plausible to imagine that three days after that story, Armitage would be struck anew by Novak's "not a partisan gunslinger," since it would be unlikely to refer to a top White House official. But at the same time, there was this story that pointed to all sorts of White House activity.

What remains extraordinary to me now is that Novak is positively insinuating that Armitage was deliberately trying to get Novak to publish about Plame, perhaps with forethought. It's not persuasive as it stands, but the very fact that Novak is doing it is really surprising.

too lucky

"Whether Armitage was set up to use his weakness for gossip or not (and I certainly think Libby has shown himself to be quite devious), his story sounds like one of a guy who screwed up, Novak's conveniently-timed changes to his story sound like lies.

Further, Armitage comes across as an absolute straight-shooter in the CBS interview. Not a false step, IMHO. I found two things he said in the interview to be important:

1) He's out of legal jeopardy "as long as he continues to tell the truth.
2) If everybody involved had just told the truth and turned over the materials the investigation would have been over a long time ago."

I think EW and pollyusa identified the difference in Novak's July 2003 and October 2003 columns that caused Armitage to haul ass to fess up to DOJ in October- - and that is the assertion that Novak's source identified her as CPD. That would have been the crime and Armitage certainly would have known that.

". . . Wilson had been sent by the CIA's counterproliferation section at the suggestion of one of its employees, his wife."

I think he was able to demonstrate convincingly or prove to DOJ in October and later Fitzgerald that he couldn't have been the source Novak referred to in October, perhaps based on documents or materials referred to in your post.

Actions speak louder than words, especially those which are motivated by self preservation. SOMETHING caused him to run to DOJ. If not this then what.


I hesitate to judge character. Armitage is a neocon notwithstanding he likes kids. He was a hawk on Iraq

See the PNAC letter to Clinton in 1998 - http://www.newamericancentury.org/iraqclintonletter.htm

One additional point

Based on the pollyusa rereading of the July 2003 column, Novak may well have been able to argue as a matter of law that he was in the clear (his column does not reveal her employer was CPD) and the CPD status had probably come out in other ways by the time he wrote the October 2003 column.

Which means that everything written after July 2003 by Novak has motives determined by something else.

I was thinking last night that by June 2003 Armitage might have had an animus toward the CIA after Powell's UN speech and Tenet's subsequently backing away from most of the WMD claims made then.

Jeff

Yup--I do my best work from 2-5. Lucky for me my schedule over the next 2 months will allow that.

In general I buy everything you say. But I think Armitage may well NOT know whether he said CPD. Particularly if he really learned of Plame's ID through the INR and prior documents (Rohn's notes), he'd walk away thinking she might be CPD, but not knowing for sure (knowing, however, that she was a managerial type in WMD). So while he probably thinks he said something similar to what Woodward said, since Plame's ID is so vague in the INR, it's possible Armitage's own description wandered around a bit.

Btw, now that you raise the 1X2X6 story, I think it even more curious that Isikoff didn't reveal his own role in that. If 1X2X4 (not 6) is true, than it would still say there are two others besides Armitage, and they were involved in a planned smear (which Rove's and Libby's behavior supports in any case). But by dismissing it the way he does (and not talking about how the push back worked in Fall 2003), Isikoff makes it possible that Rove really was just a confirming source.

Nice work, Mikey.

Interesting that the date of Armitage's letter from Fitzgerald was the same day as the 2/24/06 Status Conference in the Libby case.

Official One [Armitage] is mentioned extensively in that transcipt.

The letter to Armitage comes just before the 3/1/06 redacted Exparte affidavit from Fitzgerald. That is the affidavit where Armitages's name fit so well into the redacted spaces.

Huh. I just realized something else. I don't know what to make of it exactly, but I highly doubt it was a coincidence. The Post gave us the date that Fitzgerald let Armitage know he was off the hook: February 24. Fitzgerald let Rove know he was off the hook June 12. Both days were days that hearings in the Libby case were held.

The most minimal explanation is that Fitzgerald just has his selected days that he devotes to the CIA leak case, so he clears out stuff that needs to be taken care of on those days. Another explanation is that the timing of those letters to Armitage and Rove was keyed somehow to developments in the Libby trial. Not sure what that would be with regard to Armitage. There was lots of talk at the hearing that day about protecting both innocent accused and the secrecy of the ongoing investigation with regard to subjects of that investigation; but I'm not sure what difference it would make which category Armitage fell into that day. There was also lots of talk about Armitage in his guise of official one; but again, I don't know what different it would make what his status was that day.

I see polly and I are thinking along the same lines this morning. I would just add that the Fitzgerald affidavit was released on March 1, but it was actually submitted by Fitzgerald on February 16. There was much back and forth about it at the beginning of the February 24 hearing, but I'm not sure whether it is connected to Fitzgerald's actions regarding Armitage that day.

Thanks for pointing that out polly--I had made the connection with the court hearing but not the transcript.

Jeff

It's possible that the rest of both letters (what we know of both are identitical, after all) details their ongoing cooperation. That is, they both got the all-clear, even though both are telling limburger-stinky stories, when they arranged how they would testify in the Libby case and beyond.

But that would require that Armitage had information of use to the Libby case (Rove clearly would).

But I'll repeat to you my past arguments. Libby's lawyers, in the Feb 24 hearing, argued they needed all the details on Armitage. I argued they needed it to determine whether they COULD call Armitage to the stand, or whether his testimony would screw up their narrative about the NIE (And other things--what if Libby or Dick is the one who told Woodward Wilson was the envoy?)

And I argued that Libby's lawyers spent a lot of the May appearance arguing they needed conversation between officials about third conversations (If I had to guess, now, I'd say they were after conversations Rove had with Levine about Libby's role in this, and particularly about what went on in the July 11 conversation.) Levine has said to Isikoff and Corn (and, I'm fairly sure, has been reported to have said to VandeHei) that Libby was more involved in the leak than Rove. And that Libby knew about Plame--you need to ask Libby about that.

So perhaps Armitage and Rove BOTH fit under the speculative description Jeralyn described, witnesses who were definitely implicated, but who have not been charged to make them better witnesses for a larger case.

Armitage may have buttered people-up with his CBS appearance ("Look, ma, no lawyer!"), but this is yet another instance where Armitage just got his ass handed to him in the PR battle. Armitage is such a dolt, I find myself semi-defending Novak in this thing.

Wow, that is doltish!

Cripes, does this mean TM and I are in general agreement??

We are both feeling the fear...

Right now, he wants to make it clear who said CPD. Back then, no. That is a difference in his story.

Well, I would say it is a difference in the points meriting emphasis - he may have had the same fact pattern in his head the whole time, and would have presented as consistent story to anyone who asked (as with Brit Hume, although that link did not work for me).

As to Woodward saying WMD analyst but Novak citing CPD specifically - OK, that is a difference. Maybe Woodward de-jargonized it for us, maybe Armitage found out her specific post later, but my basic point was that Armitage was not shy about giving job specifics - he went beyond "the wife is at the Agency" with Woodward.

Novak seems to be attempting to simultaneously suggests Armitage said Plame was CPD (therefore covert) but claim he wasn't told she was covert, and he didn't even out her really. For a complete idiot, you could believe CPD didn't entail operations/classified, but not for Novak. If Novak's current story didn't have a glaring internal contradiction, his wavering story wouldn't be so interesting.

I agree that Novak has a problem here, and pinning the tale on Armitage may be his attempt to contrive a solution.

One likely reason for Novak's inconsistent behavior is that the wingnutosphere has launched only weak arguments against Corn/Isikoff's description of Plame's role.

Yes, our response to the many Times/WaPo/TIME/Newsweek articles on this has been paltry. Oh, wait... if Valerie Plame's resume fell in the forest but there was no one to hear it, did it make a sound? (ANS: Yes - the sound of one hand clapping.)

Now, by insisting on the CPD identitification, [Novak] is instead insisting that he was told she was covert (CPD).

That is actually a pretty impressive level of detail to describe a converstion with no notes that took place more than three years ago.

Why is he sure that Armitage did not say "WMD analyst"? Does he have ex-post notes detailing the meeting, for example, and did Fitzgerald see them?

Or lacking that, wouldn't he be a bit of a joke as a witness?

FWIW, I don't see any public pressure on Novak to come up with any story at all, and he has already talked to Fitzgerald. SO I think hs is just annoyed with Armitage.

Armitage said he could not recall whether he identified the CIA division where Wilson's wife worked.

He doesn't remember, but Novak is wrong for saying so. Classic.

Lobbyist Ken Duberstein, a friend of Armitage who helped arrange Novak's meeting with him, said yesterday that Armitage's account precisely matches what Armitage told him in October 2003.

Matches precisely! Word for word, because Duberstein has notes *and* taped it! C'mon, please, I'm begging now... gimme a break.

Three years in, and the two people at the absolute heart of the act of disclosure of our CIA Agent are having a war of words on the pages of the Washington Post [for which the corrupt editors can only summon up a Page 12 placement]. And neither of them appear to be in any legal jeopardy. Simply surreal.

Excellent point. We will achieve Surreal Plus when Judy Miler and Valerie Plame appear in a Lite beer from Miller commercial... never mind.

..NOVAK: ....Whether it was inadvertent or not, I don't believe that it was a conscious leak. He always said a couple times in the column, I said, this is not a political gunslinger, this official was not known as somebody who did a lot of political manipulations. He is more of a substantive person.

OK, jeff doesn't buy my circle-squaring, but I think a leak could be "not-conscious" as in "not planned in advance", but still have a reasonable level of detail. SO ai am not hung up on that "change" in the Novak story.

As to Armitage:

- He had Libby as a personal lawyer in 1989;

- He was in the Aspen Institute (but the site has been updated, so that is hard to verify), so think about Ms. Miller;

- He signed the 1998 PNAC letter to Clinton (but oddly, not the one to Gingrich/Lott) calling for regime change in Iraq.

- He leaked to Woodward and Novak; the Woodward leak is either inadvertent or a long term invetsment in a covered posterior, becuase it won't make immediate news.

Now, think about Team Powell:

- annoyed by the CIA bellyflop on Powell's UN speech;

- annoyed by the way the CIA misplaced the INR nuclear dissent in the 2002 NIE 9 (As best I know, Andrea Mitchell broke that in late June 2003 - one might infer State pushback on that point as well as Andrea Mitchell interest in the nuclear/uranium/Wilson story).

- annoyed by the whole Wilson trip (per the SSCI, State and others pointed out that the trip was redundant (a general and an ambassador had been there), and would probably be inconclusive.

So, why not a little State group trashing the CIA by mocking the Wilson trip? Grossman would not be a logical member, but...

Think of the drama about the re-dated INR memo - Armitage calls Ford on July 6, tells him to send the memo to Powell for the Africa trip; Powell visibly marches around the plane brandishing the memo.

Obvious message - Powell knew nothing, NOTHING, about Wilson prior to July 6. Uh huh.

Yet Armitage must have seen the June 10 version, even though he is not on the circulation list.

One wonders - did Fitzgerald really probe for a State "conspiracy" to out Wilson? Maybe Armitage does belong in that civil lawsuit.

Put that on the list of "Frequently Unanswered Questions".

As to Woodward saying WMD analyst but Novak citing CPD specifically - OK, that is a difference. Maybe Woodward de-jargonized it for us, maybe Armitage found out her specific post later, but my basic point was that Armitage was not shy about giving job specifics - he went beyond "the wife is at the Agency" with Woodward.

Sorry, this makes all the difference in the world. First, remember that Woodward has tapes of their conversation. So he is likely saying something close to precisely what Armitage really said.

Second, if the INR memo is the source of Armitage's info (I don't think it is, and I think Hubris only suggests it is out of sloppiness and some basic ignorance of the memo(s), but that's for another post), then it would be news if he asserted the CPD background--since he wouldn't have known it.

But the difference between saying "analyst" and saying "CPD" is the difference between no jeopardy for an IIPA violation and distinct jeopardy for it. It may not make a big difference to the viewers following along at home, but for Fitz, and for the guys trying to avoid prison, it makes quite a bit of difference.

Oh, and Tom?

Your attempts to make it look like Armitage was at the heart of the neocon cabal are less effective than your prior attempts to make it look like Novak was Armitage's buddy.

I think a leak could be "not-conscious" as in "not planned in advance", but still have a reasonable level of detail.

Another thing that makes the circle-squaring unpersuasive to me is that Novak does his best to insinuate now that Armitage did act with forethought. Of course he can't come out and say that because it would be such an outright contradiction of his earlier statements no one - not even you - could rally to his defense. But the fact that that is the context for his comment about Armitage encouraging publication makes me think it also is at odds with Novak's earlier statements.

That said, I have been suggesting something along the lines of

a little State group trashing the CIA by mocking the Wilson trip

for a while. Grossman almost certainly does not belong in that group. But it's not clear he was ever on Team Powell.

But I suspect you all at JOM are going to have to give up your indignation over the rhetorical question

did Fitzgerald really probe for a State "conspiracy" to out Wilson?

If investigators vigorously investigated whether Powell-Armitage-Duberstein-Novak engaged in a cover-up in fall 2003, as Hubris reports (and that is the real Armitage news in the book), surely they must have pursued that which they were suspected of covering up. Hubris also mentions that Armitage came the closest to being charged with IIPA. Maybe he still will be - if Novak is saying anything new and is willing to go under oath on it! I won't get my hopes up.

Who needs to choose when you can have bad actors in both the State Department and the White House?

Will Libby's lawyers have access to Armitage's complete GJ testimony?

Jim E

To the best of my understanding, as of right now, no (unless Fitz has informed Libby's team that he will call Armitage after all). If Fitz calls him, then he'll release the GJ testimony, though I suspect he's got some doozies in the GJ testimony (in general, not just as it relates to Arm), because he has said he won't release it until just before a witness testifies.

That's one of the big tensions at this point, I think. If Libby's team decides to call Arm and Rove, they may be walking into a big old trap, because Fitz doesn't (unless Walton has adjusted his rulings on this) need to reveal everything they said (Or Levine said, for example) if Libby is the one that calls them.

Your attempts to make it look like Armitage was at the heart of the neocon cabal are less effective than your prior attempts to make it look like Novak was Armitage's buddy.

Armitage would have been at the heart of a separate "Protect Powell" conspiracy; I deliver these conspiracy theories free of charge, knowing how some folks like them.

My prior attempt to hook up Novak and Armitage continues to puzzle me (for folks just tuning in, Novak has Armitage walking on water in several columns going back to Jan 2001)- laugh if you like, but the columns were written, and both Armitage and Novak were war-skeptics (or at least, Armitage played one on television), so they should have been sympatico. I do think Armitage agreed to the interview in June 2003 because Novak was a sympathetic anti-war righty, not specifically to leak Plame dirt.

My current guess is that Novak's columns were source-greasing "interview wanted" deliberately friendly mentions. I am still waiting with unbated breath for someone to find some talk show where Armitage and Novak both appeared. (Hmm, I see that my link carries over to the argument that Armitage would never have leaked to Novak; lots of old theories that didn't work out so well, I guess.)

But I suspect you all at JOM are going to have to give up your indignation over the rhetorical question

"did Fitzgerald really probe for a State "conspiracy" to out Wilson?"

If investigators vigorously investigated whether Powell-Armitage-Duberstein-Novak engaged in a cover-up in fall 2003, as Hubris reports (and that is the real Armitage news in the book), surely they must have pursued that which they were suspected of covering up.

One might think so. But, for example, when did Fitzgerald get possession of Armitage's date book? The timing was obscured in some article, but if investigators had it in October 2003 with Woodward's name there (right next to Tom Cruise), how did they not ask about that?

Remember, "my" State conspiracy hinges on the re-dated INR memo creating the illusion that this was all new to Powell as of July 7. And the 1x2x6 leak pointed to the White House (OK, from a WH official), so maybe the investigators headed that way early and never really pushed the "State in June" connection until much later, or never.

Instead, investigators poke at the Armitage-Novak leak, don't see any coordination of stories or coached testimony, and move on. They don't find Armitage-Woodward, Armitage-Mitchell, Armitage-Miller, or anything else.

And by November 2005 when Armitage went back, he had a good idea of Miller's story (from the press) and of Mitchell's (from the indictment, it is pretty obvious that Russert is denying knowledge of Plame, from which it follows that Mitchell at a minimum didn't pass that along, and at a maximum claimed ignorance. Also, Russert and crew rehearsed their whole story on the Tim Russert show in late Oct 2005.)

SO, Armitage waited until he had everyone's story in sight and then 'fessed up to the minimum, Woodward.

I would say that that theory is roughly as substantial as the "Cheney orchestrated everything" theme. The main difference being, no one seems to have investigated State.

Just to be clear - I don't know how much of that I believe (Armitage did beneift from waiting until Nov 2005, he talked with Mithcell until they had a spat in July, Mitcehll was working the story, Miller had other sources - some of this I like, but as a conspiracy, not so much).

If Libby's team decides to call Arm and Rove, they may be walking into a big old trap...

If it is that dramatic a trap, why wouldn't Fitzgerald just call them? Does he get extra latitude in cross-examing a hostile witness, or what?

An obvious alternative view - by the time the jury hears about how Armitage leaked twice and forgot once, and Rove leaked twice and forgot once, both without being indicted, they will wonder WTF is going on.

Offhand I don't see what their testimony might add to the prosecution that overcomes that (although Rove and Libby talked pre-Russert,so that is awkward for Libby), so if I were Fitzgerald I would not want to hear from them.

Well, that is the poker game, I guess..

The timing was obscured in some article, but if investigators had it in October 2003 with Woodward's name there (right next to Tom Cruise), how did they not ask about that?

Wow. Love you Tom, but this is getting tedious.

First, if you're going to ask about Woodward (who did not show any outward signs of involvement in this), then why not ask Rove about his conversation with Cooper (earlier during leak week), or Libby about his pre-July 7 conversation with Judy? Those are both people who, unlike Woodward, had known connections with the leak (at least once Fitz got Libby's notebook with his Judy notation. But Fitzgerald apparently either didn't ask, or Libby and/or Rove lied about the conversation (which is admittedly a possibility with Armitage, either in response to a direct question about Woodward, or a general question about other Plame conversations).

And once you answer that, maybe you should ask about some of the other conversations that have proved to be important, but which Fitz didn't investigate--conversations like the July 2 conversation.

You see, no matter how many times a JOM person raises this issue, it will not change certain facts:

  • We don't know whether Fitz asked Armitage about earlier conversations, so we have no evidence besides Armitage's non-indictment that Fitz didn't pursue this
  • We know there are other, even more suspicious conversations which Fitzgerald shows no outward signs of pursuing until very late in the investigation
  • We have at least empirical evidence that Fitz pursued only those journalists who could be proved to have a likely connection to their leak, based on their reporting, which would rule Woodward out
  • Barring subpoenaing every journalist in a date book--which would violate DOJ statutes--you can't get to journalists unless you have some evidence of their involvement
  • Fitz' diligence (or not) appears to have been applied equally across all known leak participants--Rove, Libby, and Armitage

In short, the reason why he didn't get the Woodward conversation is because it didn't fit (not even remotely) Fitz' search criteria of known leak recipients.

Of course the clearest example of a conspiracy is with Rove, Libby, and Cheney, in the White House; Armitage... always been a diversion.

I would say that that theory is roughly as substantial as the "Cheney orchestrated everything" theme. The main difference being, no one seems to have investigated State.

Nice straw, Maguire. The "Cheney orchestrated everything" doesn't exist. The "Cheney authorized Libby to leak Plame's identity" is based on Libby's own testimony, and doesn't rely on the suppositions for events--like an Armitage-Mitchell or (even less plausible) Armitage-Judy conversation--that your little State conspiracy rests on. It is Libby that has put Cheney squarely at the center of this, not some blogger making crap up.

f Libby's team decides to call Arm and Rove, they may be walking into a big old trap...

If it is that dramatic a trap, why wouldn't Fitzgerald just call them? Does he get extra latitude in cross-examing a hostile witness, or what?

I think you're missing the point. There are two scenarios:

A Fitzgerald calls Rove and/or Armitage, must first release any relevant testimony, and therefore Libby can prepare for any big surprises they might testify to. This is not going to happen, because Arm and Rove doesn't give Fitz anything necessary, and there may well be things Fitz would prefer LIbby not to discover right away.

B Libby calls Rove and/or Armitage, Fitz doesn't have to release all relevant testimony, so Fitz can get information that Libby may not have wanted to reveal revealed without him preparing for it. This was how Walsh got some key testimony in Iran-Contra, btw, (I believe from Ollie) though not intentionally. In this case, Fitz has it easy. He can either not call them, which doesn't take anything away from the core perjury case. Or Libby can gamble and call them, in which case Fitz may be able to introduce even more incriminating information into court. Just as one example, Levine (and therefore by extrapolation, Rove) seems to have had a good sense of Libby's understanding of Plame's role. That's not necessary for the perjury case. But if it were introduced, it would add support for an IIPA charge, perhaps in the future.

FYI, Jason Leopold was on the radio just now in Seattle and he said he is going to break big news this afternoon with someones ON THE RECORD who is well known saying the investigation is definitely continuing and that the person also has the copy of the letter Fitz sent to Luskin outlining Rove's deal. Leopold sounded happy because he believe it will vindicate him.

Also, Robert parry has an excellent column up on Novak's column. www.consortiumnews.com

Lots of detailed analysis in a thread that has been alive for days.

Between the Libby memory defense and the blame Armitage game (and whatever comes next and I think there will be at least one more whatever comes next) I think we may be seeing the beginnings of the process of setting up plausible (note I didn't say factual) but threadbare political cover for a post-election pre-trial presidential pardon of Libby.

After years of blowing off Novak and then dropping these little nuggets in his lap, what could have motivated Armitage spend some quality time with Novak?

"...and both Armitage and Novak were war-skeptics (or at least, Armitage played one on television)..."

Tom - I would love to see evidence of that, because so far I have found none. I have found a war-promoter-extraordinaire in public appearances by Richard Armitage, from 2002 into late 2003.

"Vindicate him [Jason]"? It would blow the lid off this story if an actual letter outlining a Rove cooperation deal is published... Thanks for the information, robbie c.

I just saw CNN's Bob Franken do a live piece on the Novak/Armitage dustup on Headline News. He didn't have anything new to report, but during the live chat with the anchor, Franken did add that the investigation continues and that it remains to be seen if anyone else will be charged. And then he reminded viewers that Libby's trial starts in January.

It was probably boilerplate language by Franken to say the investigation continues. Aside from the blogs, though, I don't think I've seen it reported in such a declarative way (and in a way that implicitly distinguished the continuing investigation from Libby's trial) in many, many months. It reminded me of last winter and spring.

Anyways, Franken probably knows nothing more than the rest of us, which means it is likely there is no active investigation at this point outside of Libby. Still, I thought it worth passing along what he said.

To clarify for Tom:

The evidence I'm looking for is with regard to "...or at least, Armitage played one on television..."

I do buy that Novak was some sort of war skeptic publicly. [Which raises a complex moral question for me: What's worse - using your high government office and its public trust to promote an illegal, unnecessary, and disastrously violent invasion of a sovereign nation, or outing a CIA Agent and her network of preemptive WMD-trackers when it is handed to you on a silver platter by high government officials...]

robbie c

Was Leopold asked on the radio show whether Rove was charged? Because that was Leopold's (and TruthOut's) claim, that Rove was the subject of a secret, sealed indictment five months ago. Nothing short of proof on that can "vindicate" Leopold, at least in my book.

Many of us have speculated about the reasons why Luskin won't actually show the letter Fitz sent to him, which Luskin claims clears Rove. (For what it's worth, the "not a target" language occurs in different contexts, and words to that effect were spoken by Fitz in front of the grand jury during Miller's second appearance; at least as I read Miller's account, it's a signal to her co-conspirators that she is cooperating with Fitz on certain subjects. I've blogged about this before, here and elsewhere, so I know Leopold is familiar with the argument.)

But as for Rove, only the actual letter Fitz sent to Luskin will shed any light on the issue, because every word Leopold writes or says on it -- every paraphrase, interpretation, and contextualization -- is highly suspect. And it's perfectly possible Leopold could be set up with a fake letter; it wouldn't be the first time such a disinformation technique had been employed. So Leopold better produce it -- otherwise this is just another pathetic, foolish, narcissistic bid for attention.

Anyway, there's only about a half hour of afternoon left.

A fascinating excerpt from the new Robert Parry piece robbie c highlighted:

"A well-placed conservative source, who knows both Armitage and Rove, told me that the two operatives are much closer than many in official Washington understand. Armitage and Rove grew to be friends when they were negotiating plans for bringing Colin Powell into the Bush administration in 2000, when Armitage represented Powell and Rove stood in for Bush.

After the administration took office, Rove and Armitage remained in frequent communication, becoming a back channel for sharing sensitive information between the White House and the State Department, the source said.

Beyond these relationships, there is also evidence that Armitage was part of a classic Washington scheme to slip Plame’s identity into the newspapers, albeit with plenty of deniability for all involved."

[ed - on the East Coast - but Leopold's on the West Coast.]

Programming for Friday, 9/15/2006:

LIVE on C-SPAN and C-SPAN Radio WATCH
7am ET · Newspaper Articles & Viewer Calls
· Michael Shermer, Skeptic Magazine, Publisher
· Robert Novak, Syndicated Columnist

lots here new and of interest to me.

dcgaffer's comments am 1:03(?), 1:36, and 3:45 and t. mcG's comments as 10:35 are interesting.

as for novak and armitage fussing publicly.

if i were those boys, right now, fitzgerald would be the last of my worries.

my worries would be that i would have to pay the wilson's a very large sum of money to settle a civil suit, possibly prior to trial.

in fact, beyond the procedural, what major barrier is there to both of these guys having to do just that - they did identify plame.

maybe they are disputing to see who will get to pay the wilson's the least.

novak probably has deeper pockets to protect.


as for armitage alone,

his recent Mae culpa went something like this :" there hasn't been a day go by that i have not felt that i 'let down' (that's public english for 'betrayed') my country, my boss/state, my family, and the wilson's."

these do not sound like the words or sentiment of a man who merely said to novak:

"wilson's wife? oh, she works at langley on wmd"s."

that said, dcgaffer's point that armitage is less vicious a partisan than rove, novak, cheney, libby, et al is important to consider.

any one of us can pull a trigger once in our lives at the wrong time and hurt others and ourselves, but

the odds are that the cheney/rove team would have been more likely to do this than the armitage/? team.

moving right along:

novak's comment that "neither of us took notes" sounds just a bit odd, like the coaching that scooter libby tried to do with judy miller. what's the point of novak volunteering that info? he doesn't know what notes armitage took generated later.

maybe it's a gambit related to novak's defense - publicly stating there were no notes to see if armitage will respond.

shadows on the wall...

Speaking of ‘character’, what does it say about Woodward’s character, or role, that BushCo gave him total access?

Hmmm... All quiet on the western front..? [I do hope Leopold and Company are considering the motive(s) of those allegedly giving them this scoop, as well as its bearing and impact on the ongoing investigation, before they proceed.]

I've been rereading the February 24th court hearing transcript. All about the "family jewels" - otherwise known as the Presidential Daily Briefings - and how the urgent need to focus on those "family jewel" briefings allegedly distracted Scooter Libby from other far-less-important parts of his job, such as that back-channel chatter about the wife of Joe Wilson and her duties at the CIA.

Well - if documents and intelligence from United States spies are the "family jewels," what does that make the actual spies themselves, and those who run them? The "crown jewels"?? And will Scooter Libby really try to convince a jury that in focusing so intently on the family jewel intelligence documents generated in part by the country's crown jewels, he carelessly (or otherwise) let one of those crown jewels be carried out the door by nefarious actors behind his back...?

I am IM'ing with Leopold right now and he said he and his supervisor interviewed someone in the case very well known today and they are going to break the story next week after giving the person time to respond. But he said he is sure the evidence he and his people have and the on the record information will vindicate him.

he said they have a team of attorneys and document specialists they are working with and that this is the story he has been working on for five months.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Where We Met

Blog powered by Typepad