I wasn't going to do this. I contemplated letting the whole Plame thing go. But hell, if Novak can blab on about it forever, then I think I ought to take the time (we're talking a four-part series, I think) to show that Novak is a lying douchebag.
I know, I know. That Libby is a certified (by 11 jurors) liar is old news. But I think I can demonstrate that Libby--and the Douchebag of Liberty--both lied about their conversation on July 9. I'll start by showing that Novak almost certainly lied about whether Libby told him anything "useful" leading up to Novak's July 14 column.
Here's how Novak described his conversation with Libby:
RN I was trying to find out more information about Wilson's mission to Niger and VP's connection. Most memorable about call, I asked Libby if he might be helpful to me in establishing timeline in 16 words. When they came in, who proposed it, sort of a consecutive account that I could put in column. I interpreted him as saying he could be helpful.
W In context of talking to Libby did Wilson's wife come up.
RN I don't remember exactly, I might have raised that question, I got no help, and no confirmation on that issue. The reason I'm fuzzy is that I talk to a lot of people in govt an politics everyday and a lot of them are not very helpful and I discard unhelpful conversations in my memory bank.
No matter. For the moment, Novak's line is that Libby didn't give him anything helpful and so he just wiped his conversation with Libby clean from his memory bank. Poof!
But if it was so damned unhelpful, then why is there one of Dick's favorite talking points right in the middle of Novak's column?
The White House, State Department and Pentagon, and not just Vice President Dick Cheney, asked the CIA to look into it.
The story that State and Defense were also interested in the Niger allegations was a talking point OVP was pushing all the way back around June 2003 (we think--though I will come back to this question in a later post). From Robert Grenier's testimony, we learn that when Grenier told Libby about the genesis of Wilson's trip, Libby's only response was to request that CIA find a way to say that State and Defense were also interested in the information.
Told him that it was true, CIA had sent Wilson.
How much else I said I don't recall. I may have mentioned debrief was written up.
Second major point I made the people had verified that not only OVP, but also requests as well from State and Defense.
What was his response to hearing that State and Defense had also been interested.
Asked if CIA would be willing to release that publicly.
Libby's only response was asking whether CIA could reveal the interest of State and Defense publicly.
Told him I had to ask Director of Public Affairs. He was in the meeting I just left. I may have said I could get him right away. I led him to believe I could get access to Director of Public Affairs right away. Director of Public Affairs was Bill Harlow.
I believe I hung up-did not keep him on hold.
Whispered to Harlow I needed him to come out, asked whether we could reveal it publicly to the press, he thought yes we probably could release it publicly to the press. We can publicly work something out. Work out language that CIA would be able to use with the press.
Now ostensibly, Harlow and Cathie Martin got on the phone to strategize just such a statement. Though she didn't testify to it at the Libby trial:
H First was pleasant [emphasizes] I had never spoken to him before, talked about press reports, I was asking him, "we didn't send him." so I was saying to him, you must have sent him, who is this guy, what are you saying to the press, they're not taking my word for it. I remember him being, I didn't know who he [Wilson] was either, but apparently his name is Joe Wilson he was a charge in Baghdad, and his wife works over here. I understand charge to be diplomat who works overseas. Had been a charge, former is my recollection of what that meant. Has notes, but the notes don't have a precise date. Asked to see VP and shortly thereafter told him and Scooter was there as well, told them what I had learned. It was the same day. I remember going into VP's office Scooter was there which was pretty normal. He told me Ambassador's name and apparently he was a charge and his wife works at CIA. Don't remember any specific response.
And it doesn't appear in her notes from that conversation with Harlow.
Whether or not Harlow pushed that talking point, Scooter Libby tells us Cheney did--and he's got the note to prove it. In a note that, Libby dubiously claims, was written around June 12, Cheney told him that Plame worked in CPD, then gave Libby the following talking points:
4) OVP and Defense and State -- expressed strong interest in issue
1) didn't know about mission
2) didn't get report back
3) didn't have any indication of forgery was from IAEA
Bullet point 4 (which has been written after the first three and then boxed) gets added to the three more milquetoast bullet points. And then Cheney tells Libby to "hold" and get the agency to answer that (that OVP and Defense and State had a strong interest in the Niger intell). And Libby makes a note to that effect. Whenever it was that Cheney and Libby had the conversation Libby records here, the talking point about State and Defense was Cheney's top priority.
And the talking point comes back--in the form of Cathie Martin's July 10 [corrected per WO] suggestions for George Tenet's mea culpa, which he would eventually deliver on July 11. In the middle of a list of bullet points about Joe Wilson, Cathie writes:
MANY agencies in gov
hadwere interested in intell but nothing specific triggered Wilson [illegible]
So it was a talking point OVP appears to have been pushing from mid-June to the time of Novak's column.
Only, as far as I can tell from the available evidence, they never got CIA to share that information, as Cheney instructed Libby to do in the note. Pincus' June 12 article (to which the note is supposed to pertain) includes no mention of State and Defense. Nor does the June 19 Ackerman and Judis article. And finally, in spite of Cathie Martin's apparent suggestion to include the talking point in Tenet's statement, that doesn't include mention of Defense and State either. So it seems likely that neither CIA nor Hadley's NSC bought off on including the talking point. which would suggest that neither Novak's CIA source, Harlow, nor his White House source, Rove, would have shared the talking point with Novak, either. Indeed, it's particularly unlikely to have been Rove; why would Rove say that the White House was also interested in the intelligence?
Now, there are alternative possibilities, which I'll return to in a later post. But for now, so what? Who cares whether Scooter Libby got Novak to use one of OVP's favorite talking points, that other agencies were interested in the Niger intelligence, too?
Well, quite simply, because if Novak's lying about having received one of OVP's talking points, how do we know he's not lying about the other talking points?