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July 23, 2005


The interesting thing about this is that Fitz initially was zeroing in on Libby. He evidently did not realize Rove's role. It was only when Cooper refused to testify EVEN THOUGH HE HAD A WAIVER FROM LIBBY that they began to look again at Rove and realize that Rove was a bigger player.

This makes the recent leaks about Rove's role in massaging Tenet's July 11 press release all the more interesting. Someone here, and it isn't Rove's lawyer, is trying to emphasize Rove's role in all this.

Cheney was always the driving force here on the veracity of the Niger story, but Rove's mission was to rehabilitate his boss's credibility after the fiasco of the 16 words. He was in unfamiliar waters here.

The importance of the 16 words gets us back to the forgeries and the cooked intel, which hopefully Fitz is looking into. And, again, evidence of splits between and among Rove, Cheney and the CIA. No honor among theives, as they say, and that scramble is what sinks many a conspiracy.

And of course that means Rove lied about the extent of his involvement, leading to perjury and obstruction charges.

Here's a scenario about why Bush was so incurious. Of course he could be in on it, given his mean streak. OTOH, maybe Unca Dick, who was behind it, assured him everything would be ok, the reporters wouldn't talk, they could brazen it out like Clinton did, and not to worry. Was Bush lied to as well?


Which story details Rove's Tenet involvement? (I keep trying to print them out, but I've got a stack 3 inches deep now!) Plus, of course, Wilson's 2.5 inch book.

this one:

They had exchanged e-mail correspondence and drafts of a proposed statement by George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, to explain how the disputed wording had gotten into the address. Mr. Rove, the president's political strategist, and Mr. Libby, the chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, coordinated their efforts with Stephen J. Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser, who was in turn consulting with Mr. Tenet.

At the same time, they were grappling with the fallout from an Op-Ed article on July 6, 2003, in The New York Times by Mr. Wilson, a former diplomat, in which he criticized the way the administration had used intelligence to support the claim in Mr. Bush's speech.

The work done by Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby on the Tenet statement during this intense period has not been previously disclosed. People who have been briefed on the case discussed this critical time period and the events surrounding it to demonstrate that Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby were not involved in an orchestrated scheme to discredit Mr. Wilson or disclose the undercover status of his wife, Valerie Wilson, but were intent on clarifying the use of intelligence in the president's address. Those people who have been briefed requested anonymity because prosecutors have asked them not to discuss matters under investigation.

Mimikatz -

I doubt that Bush was lied to; he was just spared the messy details.

Does anyone know just how Fitzgerald got chosen as special prosecutor? Was this a pick made by the career people at Justice, after Ashcroft had to recuse himself? He sure doesn't seem like someone they'd have engineered if they had any say over the selection process.

-- Rick Robinson

James Comey, the Number 2 man at DOJ, made the pcik after Ashcroft recused himself in Decmber of 2003. Comey is reportedly a friend of Fitz, who has a sterling reputation as a prosecutor. he spearheaded the investigation of the Tanzania/Kenya bombings, worked on the Ramzei-Youseff case and the blind Sheik whats-his-name in the first WTC bombing, as well as prosecuting a Gambino family member. He is currently US Attorney in Chicago prosecuting cronies of mayor Daley in his spare time. One guess which case fits this case the best?

Emptywheel--Dem answered your question. I think that NYT article was very interesting because it means someone is trying to highlight Rove's more-extensive-than-previously-thought role and also tying him right to the crux of the matter, which is the 16 words. Remember this is the only mistake the Bushies have ever admitted. Tenet and Hadley took the fall for something that was not their fault, really. Or at least not Tenet's, except that he couldn't cover all the brushfires they were lighting to signal the "mushroom cloud." The article brings Bob Joseph back into the mix, another person (like Karen Hughes) that the Dems passed up an opportunity to question in his confirmation hearing.

Thanks Dem. I'm going to write the majors and ask them to highlight all content from now on that is NOT a Luskin leak, so I can know which to read and which to ignore.


I've been wondering a lot WHAT caused Tenet to quit? He had been taking all their shit for a year and a half, but something that happened when Bush testified convinced him and his deputy to quit (presumably, most people say, so they could testify against Bush without exective privilege problems, although I'm trying to clarify if that reading of executive privilege is correct).

It was really costly for Tenet/CIA. Within a month, for example, a senior ME DO guy, whose intelligence they had intercepted before it could get to anyone important, was fired. As was just about everyone else. Tenet had put great stock in supporting his agents up until this point. What happened that made it worth jumping?

Seems like even Bush water-carrier Richard Stevenson gets that this could be a problem. I suppose this way when indictments come down, the Times can say they were on it.

Ah, contrast this piece from Scott Shane to see why Stevenson can't get no respect.

Whether thoughtless or deliberate, the shattering of Valerie Wilson's cover would prompt the C.I.A. to seek a criminal investigation into the leak. And the investigation would be turned over to a special counsel with a reputation for relentlessly pursuing his quarry.

What had begun as an offensive against a critic would backfire for the White House, setting off a legal and political imbroglio that two years later has engulfed the president's advisers. The leak question has become a cudgel for the president's critics, who have wielded it to attack the credibility of the White House on the fundamental question of why the nation is at war.

The new CW.

DemfromCT, I think you're right about this new central media take, and what it does to the previous CW about terrorism being all-good-all-the-time for Bush. And it's why I think this scandal, regardless of whether it's Worse than Watergate, is unmistakably More than watergate.

I was just out of college when Watergate broke, and I gleefully watched as what I considered a gross injustice (the re-election of a profundly unethical man) was reversed. But I soon learned that it was not a true victory for my side. Kevin Phillips had been right -- there was an emerging Republican majority -- and the stink of Watergate had only masked the true crumbling of the Democratic coalition. Election night 1980 set us straight for good on that score.

This has left me very reluctant to buy into subsequent scandal chases (including Iran/Contra): they represent a search for a quick fix, when a party needs to more substantially connect with the electorate for real success.

Why, though, do I think this scandal is different? Because it's not a sideshow, as even Watergate to some degree was (the burglary and even cover-up there were not significant factors in Nixon's '72 win; had all come to light before November, he'd have won anyway, on the merits). But the idea of the Iraq war as vital element in a war on terror -- one waged in absolute sincerity by an administration devoted above all to our safety -- was not only a key element in the Bush '04 re-election...I'd say it was the only thing that kept him from significant loss (given how close it was even with huge numbers of voters believing in Bush). The collapse of not only belief in success in Iraq, but also the validity of the mission and the honesty of those who got us into it, accounts for the major drop in poll approvals that we're seeing this year (considering that economic numbers remain, at least on paper, moderately decent).

If this scandal makes clearer to more people that these people are not great patriots, but ruthless peratives, and far more concerned about selling the mission than determining whether it was necessary, the entire rationale for this administration can collapse like a houase of cards. Which would likely have huge political consequences, and make this one of the more significant political scandals in American history.


Don't know where to post this so maybe I'll post it here since this diary is about Fitzgerald. Wrote a legal analysis of the IIPA. Rove is indictable under it; I feel certain.


demtom, with this scandal comes a major "branding" opportunity for D's. I think luck has a huge role -- if the recession of the late 70s wasn't so deep, and Iran didn't happen, D's might have been able to create a new majority through Carter. The recession wasn't his fault. Timing created Reagan as much as his political talent. (or, how about how unlucky it was for Ford to forget about Poland? Say Ford wins in 76, and again in 80, do you see Reagan getting elected for the first time in 84 at a diminshed age 72?) Or say Ford wins, and Iran and recession happen...that's also a nice setup for change. Or, say JFK lives. Or, Jimi Hendrix gets his stomach pumped and lives, and...well, you get the idea.

Now, the lucky stars may be lining up for D's. The housing bubble is insane, looking like it cannot NOT break in time for '08, and '06 very likely. The other fundamentals of the U.S. economy are not great with no improvement in sight. Jobs and health coverage are slowly slipping away from more people. And this failed war and it's failed attendant policies create an opening for the D's to redefine their position on defense/security, take advantage of the associated WH ethical issues, and make hay on reform with domestic Congressional ethics. That's the new Trifecta. It's a great opportunity. If we pull off one out of those three I'll be satisfied.

Frank Rich:

PRESIDENT BUSH'S new Supreme Court nominee was a historic first after all: the first to be announced on TV dead center in prime time, smack in the cross hairs of "I Want to Be a Hilton." It was also one of the hastiest court announcements in memory, abruptly sprung a week ahead of the White House's original timetable. The agenda of this rushed showmanship - to change the subject in Washington - could not have been more naked. But the president would have had to nominate Bill Clinton to change this subject.

When a conspiracy is unraveling, and it's every liar and his lawyer for themselves, the story takes on a momentum of its own. When the conspiracy is, at its heart, about the White House's twisting of the intelligence used to sell the American people a war - and its desperate efforts to cover up that flimflam once the W.M.D. cupboard proved bare and the war went south - the story will not end until the war really is in its "last throes."

Oh. Rich is on.

David, thanks for posting that. Interesting. Plus, the added bonus of Rove tweaking his nose, right in the middle of serious legal analysis.

demtom, I like you have been trying to figure out how this ends up as a short fix. If they recycle Ledeen or Bolton one more time, I'm not sure our country can take it. But I also wonder whether what I suspect will be some very significant setbacks (the 70s just brought temporary gas shortages, the 00s are going to bring permanent gas shortages, for example) aren't going to have the opposite effect.

We all saw, I suspect, the news that Cheney's got the war drums going for Iran. Now, I certainly don't think that's imminent, although I have said that I really do think these nutcases will go after Iran. But that war isn't going to be a walk in the park like capturing Baghdad was. It will almost certainly devolve into Total War. And I do worry that, just as the indictments come down, these m-f-ers would start it up to hold onto power. What happens then? These guys are like vicious animals anyway, what happens when we wound them?

Back after a lovely day in the sun with friends. War with Iran seems impossible.

There is a story that when the House was voting the articles of impeachment against Nixon, James Schlesinger, the Secretary of Defense, told the military not to accept any direct orders from Nixon. They were afraid he might try some last ditch military maneuver. Too bad now we are left having to rely on Rumsfeld. LOL.

That highlights one difference between this and Watergate--Republicans were more independent then. Some put country above party. The Bush cabal seems to have got everyone so beholden to them and afraid of them that they have no independence. It really is worse because of that. But with everything that is coming out now, it is hard for me to believe we could be stampeded into war again. Surely the press would be just a tad more skeptical, especially of Judy Miller stays in jail. That is what a loss of credibility means.

Why did Tenet quit? Either Bush admitted the Plame leak was a WH conspiracy or Bush asked him to do something that was too much even for him. He said he would keep his mouth shut, but that he had to quit. The Medal of Freedom was a reminder of Tenet's promise. But I hope he had his fingers crossed too. At least that is my guess.

Schlesinger's still alive. He's not above calling Rumsfeld if it comes to that, and reminding him. Scowcroft and Poppy, too, for that matter. Hell, maybe even Henry.

We have a whole bunch of been there, done that senior pols who won't say a peep in public but might just do so privately. I am reminded of Sara's comment on the previous threat about the Establishment having its 'ways'.

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