Even if the Armitage revelation created a compelling public interest in them—and it
is unclear to us why, as Dow Jones asserts, the Special Counsel’s knowledge that one individual leaked Plame’s identity calls into question the validity of his continuing investigation into others who may have unlawfully leaked this same information—this is irrelevant given that there is no First Amendment right of access to secret grand jury matters.
The Appeals Court judges are basically telling the AP and WSJ the same thing I said months ago--they're being dumb when they claim that Armitage's involvement in the leak touches on Libby and Rove's guilt at all.
The new stuff unsealed in the opinion, however, is frankly less exciting (as it was bound to be, given the pointlessness of this request given grand jury rules) [Thanks to Jeralyn for passing it on--click through for her post on it]. The opinion mentioned Cheney's dictated talking points to Libby from July 12:
Libby testified that while flying back from an event in Norfolk on Air Force Two, Vice
President Cheney dictated several statements relating to the sixteen words controversy, some to be given to reporters on-the-record, others on background and deep background. (I-193-201.) After landing,
It also mentioned Libby's admission, at his first FBI interview, that Cheney may have ordered him to leak Plame's identity:
Also, though Libby now claims not to remember Cheney telling him to discuss Plame’s
employment, he told the FBI during a preliminary interview that it was “possible” that he received such instructions. (I-201, 391.) Perhaps indicating the issue was on Cheney’s mind, the vice president’s copy of Wilson’s op-ed, which Cheney cut out and kept on his desk, carries the following handwritten note: “[H]ad they done this sort of thing before[,] send an
ambassador to answer a question? [D]o we ordinarily send people out pro bono to work for us? [O]r did his wife send him on a junket?” (I-308-12.)
This suggests in the last round of unsealing, Fitzgerald fought to hide Cheney's close involvement.
The opinion also included details of the Novak leak--that we already know:
the special counsel has demonstrated that his testimony is essential to charging decisions regarding White House adviser Karl Rove. (See 9/27/04 Aff. at 22-23). Although uncontradicted testimony indicates that Novak first learned Wilson’s wife’s place of employment during a meeting on July 8 with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage (see 8/27/04 Aff. at 18), Novak said in grand jury testimony that he confirmed Plame’s employment with Rove (II-153-54), a longstanding source for his columns (II-121-22). According to Novak, when he “brought up” Wilson’s wife, “Mr. Rove said, oh, you know about that too” (II-154) and promised to seek declassification of portions of a CIA report regarding the Niger trip, which Rove said “wasn’t an impressive piece of work or a very definitive piece of work” (II-158). In an October 2003 column describing his sources, Novak identified Armitage’s
comment as an “offhand revelation” from “a senior administration official” who was “no partisan gunslinger.” (II-20.) He referred to Rove simply as “another official” who said, “Oh, you know about it.” (II-20, 209-11.) Upon reading Novak’s October column, Armitage recognized himself as Novak’s source and, as he told the grand jury, “went ballistic.” (II-859-60.) He contacted Secretary of State Colin Powell to offer his resignation (II-862-64) and spoke the next day with FBI and Justice Department officials investigating the leak (II-878-79). “I was very unhappy at myself,” Armitage testified, “because I had let the President down, I’d let the Secretary down, and frankly, I’d let Ambassador and Mrs. Wilson down. In my view inadvertently, but that’s for others to judge.” (II-860.)
About the only interesting bit there is Armitage's phrase "went ballistic." Not a surprise, but just more good Armitage color.
The unsealed portions include a reference to the INR memo:
and Armitage’s testimony identifies a document referring to Plame as a “WMD managerial-type,” wording Armitage considered “strange,” though he “assumed she was another analyst” (II-783 -84, 809, 815-16).
Again, we know Armitage thought the phrasing was "strange"--it doesn't say much for Armitage's intelligence, I guess.
What is most interesting, though is what remains redacted, Tatel's argument for why Rove was suspected of perjuring himself on the Cooper conversation. The passage directly follows the long Armitage passage above, consists of about two pages, and ends with the point that Cooper's testimony will provide key evidence as to whether or not Rove perjured himself. I'm going to come back to this redaction in a separate post.