I found something nifty today when I was playing around in all my Libby Trial evidence. It's either evidence that Libby knew Plame was covert ... or it's evidence that OVP went to some lengths to protect Dick and Bush. This involves a rethinking about the exchange from the Libby trial when Fitzgerald questioned Addington about the bogus stamp OVP used on lots of Libby's notes. Here's the passage in question:
Q Now, I wanted to talk now focus on the stamp above it that says "treated as crossed out, declassified." Now, is there such, first of all, I want to come back to "treated as," but do you know what it says underneath treated as?
A It says treated as top secret/S.C.I. all in caps...
Q What does S.C.I. stand for?
A Sensitive Compartment Information is information that deals with intelligence sources and methods in the President's executive or classification. Executive Order 12958 authorizes the Director of National Intelligence to put specially sensitive information in a Sensitive Compartment Information. It has entire controls for dealing with that type of information. Fewer people have access to it.
Q Now, the words "top secret" or "S.C.I." are those classifications that are assigned to classified documents?
A Top secret is a classification, and the Sensitive Compartment Information is special access rule. It is not technically a clearance.
Q What about, have you seen documents, can they be properly classified as treated as top secret/S.C.I.?
A I had never seen a stamp treated as top secret/S.C.I. before documents were produced to me with that stamp on it.
Q Is that in fact a proper classification?
A The present Executive Order on classified national security information doesn't use that phrase. [my emphasis]
This part I've treated before. Fitzgerald has basically gotten Addington to admit that this "treated as" stuff is a bogus classification. Fitzgerald then points out that, on the letter he wrote accompanying this document, Addington explained that the note came to him with the stamp, "treated as Top Secret/SCI" on it.
Q When you transmitted this document to the Government, if could bring up Government's Exhibit 507, Page 2, Page 1, sorry. If we could focus down to the last paragraph of the page and just, and does that describe the document we just looked at Page 002919?
A I think that was the document number on it, yes.
Then, Fitzgerald tries to get Addington to quantify how many of the documents turned over to investigators included the treated as Top Secret/SCI stamp. Addington refuses to do so.
Q Do you recall seeing any other document in that production that said "treated as top secret/S.C.I.?"
A I don't recall, but I don't know how many documents. I wouldn't necessarily remember sitting here.
Reverting back to his prior line of questioning, Fitzgerald gets Addington to provide details about who was stamping these documents with the bogus stamp.
Q Just a question yes or no, did you put that marking in there?
A No, sir.
Q Do you know when, how and who did from personal knowledge?
A On this particular page, no. But I can say that, in the course of production, there were situations in which I received in production copies of handwritten notes of Mr. Libby's that were marked treated as top secret/S.C.I. or treated as secret/S.C.I., various stamps saying treated as some particular classification. That one, the government came back later and said give us the originals and the originals were produced. They would not have that marking on it. From that I would conclude that the documents were taken from his file, provided by his staff, Xeroxed and stamped. However, this one looks like it was stamped right on the original by someone. [my emphasis]
In this passage, Addington notes it was Libby's staff that stamped these documents. But he also notes something I hadn't thought about before: Libby's staff was stamping these documents over with a variety of classifications, not just Top Secret. So someone was either evaluating the contents before distinguishing between, say, Secret and Top Secret. Or those stamps were really supposed to communicate some kind of different treatment accorded the documents. And note, of course, Addington's point that SCI is a designation used to protect intelligence sources and methods.
Which led me to go back and review how Libby's notes were stamped--and to try to come up with an answer to the question of how many documents were stamped with the "treated as Top Secret" designation, the question Addington didn't want to answer.
The following documents were designated as "treated as Secret/SCI":
- Libby's June 3 notes, including a notion about an earlier Pincus article that had complaints from CIA about OVP pressure
- Libby's June 9 note--copied over from his daily diary--recording that OVP had not requested information on Wilson's trip
- The notes including the July 8 senior staff meeting where Rove talks about Wilson and the question and answer to Addington about presidential insta-declassification
- The notes from Libby's July 10 conversation with Mary Matalin
- The notes from the July 10 meeting, attended by Hadley, Cheney, and Libby, to discuss Tenet's statement (note, this note also includes a reference to the President, being "comfortable," which may relate to Tenet's statement too)
- The talking points Cheney dictated to Libby aboard Air Force Two were designated "treated as Secret/SCI"
Of all the other Libby notes submitted as a Grand Jury exhibit, only one was stamped as "treated as Top Secret/SCI": his notes from June 9, which include (among other things) the notation about the President's interest in the Kristof Niger allegations.
There is one set of talking points, stamped with the "The Vice President has seen" stamp, that has a TS/SCI handwritten in the corner. The notation looks like it could be Cheney's writing and he, after all, has the ability to classify materials, so I presume he insta-classified this as Top Secret at some point.
Perhaps most curious, Libby's July 8 notes, which have the instruction from Cheney telling him to leak something to Judy Miller, was originally stamped, "Treated as Secret/SCI," but then someone wrote in "TOP" before the word secret.
The June 12 CPD Note
But then here's the interesting bit. The first copy of Libby's notes from the conversation with Cheney where he told Libby that Plame was CPD--the one that was a copy of the original, which was used before the Grand Jury--was stamped "treated as Secret/SCI." So was the transcribed copy. But the original was stamped "treated as Top Secret/SCI." This may be what Fitzgerald was after in his questioning of Addington (which surely set up questions Fitzgerald would have asked if Jenny Mayfield or Libby himself testified). He was pointing out that Libby's staff had changed the designation on this document as soon as they were asked for the original. And they changed it to a designation that is inconsistent with their other stamping practices--unless whoever stamped it knew Plame was covert.
Treated as Top Secret/SCI
In other words, there are three documents submitted at the trial that Libby--or his staff--labeled as "treated as Top Secret/SCI." Here's what they record:
- Bush expressing an interest in the Kristof/Niger allegations on June 9
- The original copy only of the note recording Cheney passing along the information that Plame worked in CPD
- Using hand-written notation, the note showing Cheney telling Libby to pass along something to Judy Miller
Now, in truth, it isn't as simple as all this. Libby could argue there are other details from his notes on June 9 or July 8 that contained actual Top Secret information (such as details on an F-16 sale that he exhibited great discomfort about in the grand jury).
But that is not true of the note recording his conversation with Cheney. Much of that information consisted of talking points for the press (ostenisbly for Walter Pincus)--which were designed to be public and therefore not secret at all. There are details of Joe Wilson's trip. But these details show up in other documents that are classified as "treated as secret"--and by the time this was stamped in December 2003, all that information had been declassified anyway. In other words, the single piece of information that was not formally declassified at the time Libby or his staffer stamped the document was Plame's status.
This suggests one of several things. Perhaps whoever stamped the document was indicating--truthfully--that the note had been treated with the greatest secrecy. Perhaps the altered stamp indicated only that Libby was trying to protect Cheney. Or perhaps someone accidentally told the truth, indicating the information Cheney passed along was top secret.
Now that Libby's sentence has been commuted, I say we haul his ass before Congress to explain what these changing notations mean.