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July 28, 2005


It does seem clear that there were two different iterations of the "INR memo". That happens often in government.

But Miller could have been the source for Plame's identity, as DemfromCT theorizes, and people at Kos discussed over the July 4 weekend here. Ironically, that makes Rove telling the truth that he heard it from "a reporter". But who told her? Bolton might be someone she would call to find out about Wilson.

Yup, absolutely. I think the INR memo is interesting not for it's content--it CAN'T be the sole source of Plame's identity, since it doesn't give you her maiden name. Rather, it's interesting because it establishes a chain of communication.

Consider. Pretend that the AG skimmed off the most interesting contents from Condi's briefing book, things like a memo to Hadley naming Plame AS Plame. What was left was a bunch of largely innocuous documents. Except that it included an INR memo which was NOT the one Powell had in his hand. Hell, they may have put the briefing book together BEFORE Armitage would put his memo together, which would prove they got the memo first.

In which case it's clear evidence that someone was sharing information on Plame--information outside of the need-to-know circle. And that someone was sharing it before July 7, when Rove might credibly claim he learned of Plame's identity from Miller. So it undermines the claim that the first the WH learned of Plame's identity was from Miller; because they were circulating this INR memo before then that noted her status. (Note, this is why Rove has been so adamant that he never SAW this memo, because it undermines his claim that he learned of Plame's identity from Miller.)

So then you figure out which version of the memo everyone saw. Powell and Ari? They saw only the INR memo (and it's not clear Ari did; he denied it). So they're not part of the conspiracy.

But everyone else, with that June 10 memo in their hand? They're members of the conspiracy, pure and simple.

I should say, Powell and Ari may have seen just the Powell version of the memo.

I just stumbled on to something, so I thought I would share it here. In a July 11, 2003 report, CNN had this;

Bush has refused to be drawn into the controversy over the discredited allegation that Iraq had tried to buy uranium from Africa. Bush used the claim in his State of the Union address in January. (Full story)

A Bush administration official said the president not would have included the information in his speech if his advisers had known it was false. Other U.S. officials said the White House had a report citing a former U.S. ambassador confirming the intelligence was bogus.


If there were any justice in the world, somebody would leak both (all?) these memos to you, emptywheel, so you could stop lying awake pondering who, which and whether.

As always, great job.

Well, my dog has a bit of an allergic reaction lately, so he's up all night nursing his itches. So Wilson's book and this stack of newspaper articles, that's the welcome relief. Thanks MB.


Do you think that implies OVP had the report? Or Condi?

re: OVP and Condi,

I'm not sure. The CNN reporter's source did not mention Wilson by name (or, the reporter failed to use it). Perhaps the memo is the one Walter Pincus wrote about on June 10.

emptywheel, I have a question.

It seems the second INR memo was requested by Armitage on the 6th. Air Force One didn't depart until the evening of the 7th. Why was the memo faxed to AF1 instead of handing it to Powell prior to departure? And when was it faxed? Do you have any insight?

Condoleezza Rice at the Center of the Plame Scandal
Submitted by davidswanson on Thu, 2005-07-28 09:58. Evidence
Condoleezza Rice at the Center of the Plame Scandal
The Source Beyond Rove
Former NSC staffer
worth a read

Yes, I found the Roger Morris article yesterday, and think it a very useful review of a body of the evidence weaving the known activities of Condi into the whole scheme. Marris does an admirable job of taking the process "way back" into the very early days of fashioning the argument and "evidence" for invasion, and placing Condi in all those contexts. In this respect, he has a detailed timeline of all the public statements and actions related to Condi, or Condi and Bush beginning with very early 2002 statements -- matters that correspond with Wilson's dates for the planning of his Africa Mission.

It got me to thinking that perhaps the timeline ought to be extended even further back to November, 2001 when we know from Woodward's book, Bush first asked Rumsfeld to brief him on Iraq invasion planning. Also, perhaps we need to beef up the evidence we have regarding Bush's meeting over Xmas in Texas with Tommy Franks when he first reviewed Franks initial military planning effort. In otherwords we do have dates for the first Presidential orders to begin planning on the part of the military, and that predated by several months the beginning of a public campaign designed to achieve public support for an invasion policy.

(Along side this -- for interest sake -- we need to look at decisions taken to reduce military assets in play in Afghanistan. The decision not to use the 10th Mountain Division to close the Pakistan border during the bombing at Tora Bora, the failure to bomb the al-Qaeda convoy leaving Kabul, and the very limp commitment of assets in March, 2002 during the Anaconda operation.) All these decisions become relevant in light of ongoing planning for Iraq, something Condi was very deeply involved with at least from early 2002.

Morris's argument boils down to Condi's very effective use of the Metaphor of the Mushroom Cloud, something that seems to have been "market tested" and which, beginning in the summer of 2002, Bush and Cheney adopted in slightly different forms. Morris's point is that the Niger "story" may have been the prefered evidence sustaining the Metaphor. But he also makes the point that Condi knew from the beginning that the story was essentially baseless.

Morris, by the way, goes way way back. He worked at NSC during the Johnson and early Nixon Administration, resigning over the bombing of Cambodia.

That Roger Morris piece was interesting, especially since he is ex-NSC (as was Wilson, btw.)

You know, Condi at the center of this would make some sense. She had no intel background at all, only "sovietology" and a minor stint at the NSC, when she was probably an analyst. She isn't a lawyer. She doesn't always watch what she says and gets things wrong. She ios passionately loyal to Bush.

In fact, every theory sounds good, as there are so many bad apples in this Administration--Cheney, Rice, Rove, Libby, Hadley, Bolton, Fleischer, Hannah, Joseph, Fleitz--all of them seem plausible as the leaker(s), and maybe the truth is they all were involved in some fashion. I just hope someone is singing so we can all know the truth. If it is classified for the next 25 years I will be dead before it all comes out.

By the way, next week Josh is going to have Wesley Clark blogging at the Cafe -- and maybe this is an opportunity to boil down some of the political-Diplomatic-military questions researchers have, and put well structured questions to someone who can probably answer them, or at least be enlightening. Yesterday I pulled Clark's two books out with the intent of seeing if I can find "points of departure" for such questions. But I am also mired in a re-read of Salman Rushdie's "Shame" -- the book that got him essentially banned from Pakistan long before he wrote Satainic Verses. Watching the coverage of the London Bombing it struck me that the real beginning of all this was the British Muslim response to Rushdie's book, and how slow on the uptake everyone was as to the meaning of it all.


I don't know if it's clear how the memo got to Powell.

The Bloomberg article says:

Powell asked for it on July 6, 2003, the same day Wilson published an opinion article in the New York Times revealing his trip to Niger and his conclusion that there was no evidence to support the claim that Hussein was seeking uranium there. Wilson went on to accuse the Bush administration of ignoring his findings and similar intelligence to make a case for war in Iraq.

The current and former government officials say that the report reached Powell sometime on July 7. It said Wilson had been approved for the Niger trip by mid-level CIA officials on the recommendation of his wife, a counter-proliferation expert at the spy agency.

But this WaPo article says this:

The memo was delivered to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell on July 7, 2003, as he headed to Africa for a trip with President Bush aboard Air Force One.

Slightly different takes, but neither of those seem to indicate faxing. Whereas Condi's briefing book seems to arrive, by fax, later in the week.

While I was going back and re-reading these, I realized that the Bloomberg story seems to be speculating some of the stuff I am:

A key question will be which officials received the report and when. The special prosecutor has subpoenaed telephone and fax records from Air Force One and the White House.

Inner Circle

Fleischer, who saw the July 7 memo, wasn't part of Bush's inner circle during his tenure as press secretary, while Rove was at the heart of it. Given those facts, it seems highly doubtful that Fleischer would have acted on the information in the memo without the knowledge or approval of Rove and other top-level White House officials.

The July 7 memo was largely a reproduction of an earlier State Department report prepared around June 12. Another key question that Fitzgerald is interested in, according to the grand jury witness and the lawyers familiar with the case, is whether Rove or Libby learned of this earlier report and, if so, shared its content with reporters.


Like a lot of things about this, there are conflicting reports about the memo. The NY Times said;

When Mr. Wilson's Op-Ed article appeared on July 6, 2003, a Sunday, Richard L. Armitage, then deputy secretary of state, called Carl W. Ford Jr., the assistant secretary for intelligence and research, at home, a former State Department official said. Mr. Armitage asked Mr. Ford to send a copy of the memorandum to Mr. Powell, who was preparing to leave for Africa with Mr. Bush, the former official said. Mr. Ford sent it to the White House for transmission to Mr. Powell.

This indicates that Powell was already on his way. Ford would not have sent it to the WH if Powell was at the State Dept.

It seems that it was delivered on the 7th, but that would have been later in the evening. According to The American Prospect, Powell was in a meeting with Bush on AF1 discussing North Korea. Perhaps the memo arrived during the meeting? It is also interesting to know that Powell was not on AF1 on the 8th; via Talk Left

Bush flew into Pretoria on Air Force One but a second jumbo jet carried Powell, Kansteiner and 300 other administration officials and staff.

I love puzzles.

I guess Powell had been kicked off AF1 for refusing to play along.

No, really, that's a great catch, Coldblue.


back to November, 2001 when we know from Woodward's book, Bush first asked Rumsfeld to brief him on Iraq invasion planning.

Weren't there briefings before that? Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the Susskind/O'Neill book have an episode with a meeting (in the Situation Room?) about Iraq invasion plans well before 9/11? I'm on the road and don't have the book handy, but I could've sworn there was a meeting with Dick and Rummy and Powell and Bush (and O'Neill) before 9/11.

BTW, excellent point about Rushdie's 'Shame'.

O'Neill's book describes (PP.70-82) a NSC meeting on January 30, 2001, ten days after the inauguration. The subject is the Middle East. Bush says, "What are we going to talk about?" Condi says, "How Iraq is destabilizing the region." After the meeting he opens a memo from Rumsfeld describing his strategy for maintaining American dominance.

There is another NSC meeting on Feb. 1, 2001. (Pp. 82-86.) The briefing materials are all about going after Iraq. Rumsfeld says the objective is not regime change but going after the WMD. It goes on from there.

I think the meeting jonnybutter was asking about was the first one, when O'Neill is astounded to find everyone talking about getting Iraq (or Saddam). That was publicized a great deal when the book came out.

Thanks mimikatz. I guess that first NSC meeting is quite a bit different from one about actual war plans. I haven't looked at the book since I read it (all in one day!) around the time it came out. I guess I conflated what I remember as O'Neill's description of the meeting as very staged - very rigid, non-collegial, not a 'discussion' at all - with the fait accompli of it all. I wasn't trying to nitpick, but rather was just bringing back to mind the fact that the war WAS a fait accompli, and now we're dealing with what Wolfowitz famously, and fairly insouciantly, called 'the issue we could all agree on'.

What I was referring to was Bush's request for War Plans in November 2001. We know that Iraq was discussed early and often -- but calling for war plans from Rumsfeld is a decision. On 911 and in the days immediately afterward we have all the efforts by Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz to shoft attention to Iraq, but it was at the Camp David meeting the weekend after 911 that Bush decided he had to "do" Afghanistan first and then return to Iraq later, even though Rumsfeld claimed he could find nothing to bomb.

It is in November 2001 that Bush made what in my mind are totally inconceivable military decisions. First, Al-Qaeda left Kabul in a 4 hour long Convoy going east on the Jalalabad Road, The Convoy was not bombed even though the road would offer the perfect setting for a turkey shoot. Then, Bush had the 10th Mountain up in Northern Afghanistan with transport to close the border with Pakistan -- and they sat on their duffs. In the meantime one of the Pakistani militant groups active in Kashmir tried to shoot up the Indian Parliament in Delhi -- and the Pakistani Army went on full alert, and pulled troops off the border in case India invaded. It is this whole sequence I want explained. Bin Laden got out across an essentially unprotected border.

My guess is that Bush faced three advocates. One, Tommy Franks. You want to do Iraq, I will need these troops to do Iraq. Second, Musharraf, Looking at his India problem, he was making a choice and thinking he could handle a few thousand Arab warriors. Third, The Saudi's and Bandar -- who probably knew that more than half of the fighters with bin Laden were Saudi's. So what did Bush get for not closing with and destroying the enemy which is, afterall, the point of a military action?

I know I point this out a lot. But the Niger embassy break-in was in the first few days of January 2001. Significantly before Bush had even been inaugurated. Which, at least puts the first pieces into place to craft the metaphor of the mushroom cloud.

Jonny--When you can, look again at O'Neill's book. The briefing papers for the Feb 1, 2001 NSC meeting have tabs like "Executive summary: Political-Military planning for Post-Saddam Iraq Crisis." It doesn't deal directly with war, but they were clearly on track here to remove Saddam one way or the other.

The book's index isn't particularly good, but there don;t seem to be references to iraq before the Camp David meetting. O'Neill does say that rumsfeld and Wolfowitz are more confortable talking privately with Bush and NOT with the others around. Then other interesting thing per 'wheel's questions is his report of a September 13 meeting (Thursday), when Tenet is hot to trot on Afghansitan, but Rumsfeld raises the question of Iraq.

The funniest thing from the camp David meeting is when the O'Neills are sitting with Bush at dinner and Bush says how much he likes the food at camp David--real comfort food. Nancy O'Neill asks what kind of comfort food he had growing up and Bush says, "You got to be kiddin'. My mother never cooked. The woman had frostbite on her fingers. Everything right out of the freezer."

Thanks mimikatz and Sara and all. I will take another look at that book for sure. As I said, I really raced through it - couldn't put it down, but at the same time found it all so heartbreaking that I pushed through it quickly, as it were reading through my clenched jaw, tight chest, etc.

"The woman had frostbite on her fingers. Everything right out of the freezer."

I don't know about you all, but I know WAY more than I want to about this family. And I don't mean to fault writers like Suskind, but rather the family itself for projecting its overweening mediocrity onto history, forcing the whole world to take note of their second or third rate character. Verp !

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