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July 10, 2005


What about David Wurmser? I made a clumsy timeline of this entire thing last weekend. I have been printing off articles about the administration since 2000, and I went through as much as I could between 2001 & today, wrote down what looked relevant with dates where I could find them. It basically follows your line of reasoning, but I was also interested in the aluminum tubes argument, the INC, and the forgeries.

As I typed it up, I just dropped things into it as I went, and I dropped "Wurmser moves from State (senior adviser to Bolton) to Cheney's office, under Libby" into September 2003.

I suddenly realized what that could possibly signify when I saw that the investigation started the same month, and then I found an article that said there were hints there would be an investigation in August.

All of it is here and as I said, it is quite rough, and mostly so I could try and figure it out.

My list of those suspected by outside observers is by no means exhaustive. Purely top-of-my-head. I have been staring at this entry for days, limping along in "draft" mode, and am still unsure of where I'm going with it.

Wurmser's wife and Judith Miller are both represented by Eleana Benador, who this Guardian article refers to as "a sort of theatrical agent for experts on the Middle East and terrorism, organising their TV appearances and speaking engagements."


Littlesky, your explanation of events mirrors one I saw recently in a diary at Daily Kos, and which I found plausible. That is, that the intent of the White House/administration officials in connecting Wilson to Plame wasn't necessarily revenge, intended to "out" her and destroy her career, but rather an attempt to discredit Wilson by tying him to a member of the naysaying crowd at the CIA.

The particular problem it's causing me is that the neo-cons clearly considered INR among the chief naysayers. Why, then, INR would make itself the source of the first written accusation that Plame was responsible for securing Wilson's assignment, I have no idea.

Except, of course, to speculate that INR didn't really draft that memo.

This plot is too damned thick for me. I rely on people like you guys...

In the meantime, Digby has a little tidbit about everyone's favorite asshole, James Sensenbrenner, pressuring a Fed. Appeals Court (and AG Gonzales) to change an opinion about a sentence given to a drug courier. Really. Seems that the complaint to the AG was a 'query' as to why Fed. Prosecuter Fitzgerald's office didn't demand an appeal to the sentence (the courier in question got 97 months instead of the mandatory (?) 120 months). Why would Old Sourpants complain to the AG about Fitzgerald's office? Hmmmmmm? Geez..

I'm not a lawyer, and don't play one on blogs. But regarding the severity of perjury as an offense, might it depend on the circumstances? Not to put too fine a point on it, perjury about a consensual blowjob between adults is one thing, perjury about outing a CIA agent is another.

Fitzgerald might not be confident of making a case on the underlying act, but feel he can nail Rove for perjury, like sending up Al Capone for tax evasion.

-- Rick Robinson

It takes a lot less than perjury to bring the hammer down.

Recall Clinton's HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros was prosecuted aggressively for lying to an FBI agent (about the magnitude of embarrassing but otherwise-lawful payments to a former mistress).

today's WaPo spits hairs:

Lawyer: Rove Didn't Out Plame

White House aide revealed the role, not the name of CIA agent, his attorney says.

If I identify your wife but don't name her, is that like keeping her identity secret? Fucking lawyers.

Kagro X, that's assuming we're talking about a drafted 'memo', rather than notes from the meeting where Plame suggested sending her husband. INR would have either copies of, or access to, what came out of that meeting. The meeting itself has been described as a meeting between intel agencies, and INR would have been a part of it.

My assumption is Libby asked for whatever Bolton or Wurmser could get on Wilson's trip, that one of them gave, or showed the file to Libby.

IOW, INR as an agency wasn't making the accusation, Libby saw it as something that would make a good talking point, a way to make the case against Wilson.

After the leak, it took about 2 months before the CIA made any reference to the 'memo' or INR, and it was around the time the investigation was announced. Another assumption is the CIA spent those 2 months tryng to figure out how the WH got Plame's name, and once they did, they threw a few crumbs out to further the investigation.

The key for me was finding Wurmser in Bolton's office, seeing his ties to both the neocons & Libby/Cheney, and then the move from State to OVP where it would be easier to protect him.

There's one other possible source - Bolton has/had a CIA agent assigned to him, Fleitz, but I have a hard time believing an agent would take this kind of risk for a political op like Libby, I don't think a necon op like Wurmser would think twice about it.

Like you I was stuck on the INR connection, wondered who and why for a while, and didn't even know that Wurmser was at State, let alone working for Bolton. A necon like Wurmser had every reason to want to discredit both the CIA and the INR, every reason to want to help Libby and help protect Cheney.

That's one of the real unanswered questions, this memo. The lingering confusion about it even extends to whether or not anyone who has reported on it has actually seen it. There's a whole subchapter to the "Jeff Gannon" saga that centers around whether or not he ever saw or received this memo, and if so, why he would have been granted such a privilege.

Really, though, one wonders why a Bureau like INR, which had established itself as among the most cautious (and therefore, in this context, the most accurate) of the intelligence agencies when it came to WMD, would file away notes -- written by someone who didn't attend the meeting -- speculating on what happened there, in a way that undermined their general case about yellowcake.

I think that they wouldn't.

As to whether or not perjury charges are serious enough, the question is: serious enough for what?

It's not that perjury itself isn't particularly serious. My question was whether Judge Tatel thinks perjury alone is serious enough to overcome the journalistic privilege he was trying so hard to recognize. Everyone agrees that the underlying crime that we suspect the leaker of committing perjury to hide is serious enough. But if perjury is the only charge that gets leveled, then it's not even true that the perjury proves that underlying crime, and the question of whether or not it would likely overcome what Tatel sees as a first amendment-based privilege starts to look very different.

Let's not forget Cheney's unprecedented visits to CIA headquarters to intimidate analysts. If Valerie Plame was big-time on the CIA's WMD team, she may very well have attended such a meeting. If Plame had knocked holes in the VP's "theories", imagine how Cheney might have reacted when her husband wrote that op-ed for the Times.

Someone from INR would have been at the meeting, and agencies routinely keep summaries or minutes of such meetings. I don't think it's a stretch to think that someone that wasn't at the meeting could have gotten access to the minutes, especially if it were the senior aide to the Deputy Scecretary of State for Arms Control.

As to Gannon, if you read his account of the 'memo' it's almost verbatim of the account written by David Cloud (WSJ) who says he never saw the 'memo' but had sources that were 'familiar' with its contents. The sources were trying to impart the WH line that the Wilson trip was a boondoggle set up by Plame, the same line that Rove gave to Cooper and Pincus. I think Gannon just stole it from Cloud and made it sound as if he was in the loop.


Nice find. I've been assuming the Fleitz angle is important for a while. You raise a good point that a CIA analyst wouldn't out one of his own, but all Fleitz would have had to do would be to pass on the identity. Believing, foolishly, that Bolton/Wurmser would keep it quiet. But with Wurmser it becomes a lot easier to get it over to OVP.

The Brewster Jennings thing was easy to find, after you knew Valerie Wilson was a NOC. Apparently Novak found it by looking up the Wilsons' donations. Wilson gave $1000 each to Bush and Gore. Then another $1000 to Gore. When he discovered he was over the limit, he took back the $1000 and Valerie donated it, under the employer name Brewster Jennings.

Finally WRT the actual charge. I think we're focusing too finely on Rove. Novak said, for example, that he first started working on this story on July 7, so before the July 11 round of Rove calls. I think it's pretty clear IIPA has been violated, but I doubt it was violated primarily by Rove. But then there was a concerted effort to use that information, which makes BushCo open to a whole range of charges. John Dean, for example, suggests BushCo may have violated Federal conspiracy laws.

So I think we'll end with someone like Wurmser or Fleitz having violated IIPA, and everyone who took it from there to Novak's ear guilty of violating something else.

Oh, one more thing. Apparently there was a meeting of the White House Iraq Group (did these guys purposely name this group WHIG?) on July 10 which Fitz has gotten Libby's notes from. It seems highly likely this is either where Rove first asked for dirt on Plame, or where news of her position was passed on (or both). Which, if the dates are right, mean the real "conspiracy" to out Plame may have started on the 10th and anything thereafter (such as the call to Cooper) is evidence of that conspiracy.

I don't doubt that someone from INR was at a meeting which could have produced notes indicating that Plame discussed sending Wilson to Niger. But apparently, Wilson and the CIA have indicated that there's a name associated with the production of the notes/memo, and that that person was verifiably not present at that meeting.

As to Gannon, I have always believed that he simply learned about the memo from the WSJ report. But that report doesn't identify the memo as having come from INR. In his interview with Wilson, Gannon apparently does. It's now pointed out that the Senate report investigating the pre-war intelligence failures claims that this memo came from INR, and that it's possible that Gannon combed those 500+ pages and dug out the INR reference. That's a big maybe, but it's there.

Also a maybe: Novak digging out the Brewster, Jennings information. Her political donations were listed under "Wilson." He outs her as "Plame." Still, he knew she was married to a Wilson. But what made him speculate that there was no such firm as Brewster, Jennings in the way he did? He stood by his assertion that she's a CIA operative. He also says he didn't know she was undercover. But then the next thing he says is that he's found that she's listing the name of a company, he gives the name, and then starts blabbing about how he thinks it doesn't exist.

Does he think he's nailing her on a campaign finance law violation? What's he doing? And why? What's his basis for saying Brewster, Jennings doesn't exist? That's not in the FEC report.

Re: Gannon. THe INR information was available from another contemporaneous source, I think the WaPo story. So it wouldn't take much for Gannon to have figured that out.

Re: Brewster and Jennings. First, I think the address gave it away as fake. IIRC it's either a mail box or a known CIA front.

I assume Novak found it because 1) he was looking for verifiable evidence that Wilson was partisan (the same way we all would look for evidence about campaign donations). While there, he found the double dip ("Ah, a campaign finance violation, proof Wilson liked Gore more than Bush!" Novak says). But he also found the Wilson entry, at the same address as Joe Wilson.

I think the Brewster and Jennings thing is actually one of the easier mysteries to figure out.

Kagro: What do you think of Mark kleiman/s theory that the Espionage Act applies (see my links at the Rove/Nixon thread.)

Also, Fred Fleitz, who was detailed to Bolton, was in the non-proliferation group at the CIA (WINPAC). Steve Clemons and his posters have discussed this. He seems to have been more a partisan than a "company man" judging by what I remember from Clemons.

It's not how Brewster, Jennings is found that bothers me, it's the sequence of events that goes: Novak learns about Wilson's wife (but allegedly not her name); Novak outs Wilson's wife as Plame; Novak defends self by saying Plame wasn't undercover; Novak reveals Plame's cover.

The mystery, then, isn't so much whether there are alternative methods by which Novak could figure Brewster, Jennings out, but rather what would motivate him to announce his findings on television after being told by the CIA not to publish her name, and then defending himself by claiming she wasn't under the very cover he was now announcing.

If I had been in his position and had backpedaled from the outing by claiming she wasn't undercover, it would take some very specific assurances from some very connected people for me to decide to undo my own "defense" by further "outing" Plame and all her associates. It doesn't by itself prove there were such assurances, but it surely makes me wonder whether there were.

Seriously, "she's not undercover, and to prove it, here's her cover?" What's that supposed to mean?

It can't even really be that he thought the amounts donated constituted a serious violation. Reattributions are a routine function when a donor maxes. It is technically a violation, but one so easily and routinely undone (bet the farm that it happened in the Bush filings), that it'd be ridiculous to try to hang one's hat on it. Not to mention the fact that the "violation" would be easily enough reported without mentioning the name of her firm and speculating on whether or not it existed. The best he can hope for is to say that the "violation" is misrepresenting her employment status. But that would be just another tacit admission that he was wrong about her undercover status.

As to the Kleiman theory, I haven't really reviewed it since someone commented that there was an updated version of the Espionage Act that may change things. Off the top of my head, it seemed plausible enough, though it didn't give any specific reasons why Fitzgerald would insist on actual testimony from Cooper and Miller. Still, it doesn't have to. If I were Fitzgerald and had the charge he does, I would continue to follow everything that seemed related until I couldn't go any further, and if my plan all along was to prosecute under some statute that had lesser requirements, I could always double back and do it.


One thing I've wondered since the specific language of Cooper's email was released. Rove specified that he should not source to the White House. And in his article, Cooper named "some administration officials."

But Novak clearly sourced to the White House. Granted, this was before Rove gave Cooper instructions NOT to source to the White House. But I am wondering about the discrepency. Did Novak violate Rove's request not to source to the White House? Did he figure he could anyway because he had a second, earlier source? Or did Rove not give Novak the same warning he gave Cooper? If not, why not?

My initial guess is that in the WHIG meeting purportedly held on July 10 (Novak was already on the story but it was before Rove called Cooper), they may have realized the danger of outing Plame--but it was too late to get Novak to change his sourcing. Or, Novak could have just been being a jerk.

RonK asks in the next thread if anyone has any ideas as to why Ashcroft would recuse himself from the case. If the realization comes too late that outing Plame carries legal implications, but does in fact come, does it come from Ashcroft?

I would have thought such a warning, if it came at all, came from Gonzales, but who knows what the question might have been?

IIRC, Rove had worked for Ashcroft's election, so at the point he realized ROVE was involved, Ashcroft felt he had a conflict. But you point is that A. had to have realized that Rove (or someone) had a problem beyond just the fact that the DOJ was investigating.

This may go back to what the CIA told DOJ. They had to have pretty clearly told DOJ there was a crime or the wholething would have stopped. Unless Ashcroift brought Fitz in to "wrap it up" but then Tenet unloaded to Fitz . . .

This is just toooo addictive.

And, of course, we can;t forget that this makes Scotty's statements about "no involvement" by Karl Rove (and Libby) a lie.

I just finished reading littlesky's timeline. One thing that stuck out was this summary, I think from Wilson's book:

Wilson spent the weeks following the Novak article talking to members of the press in an attempt to figure out what was going on. Many of the reporters spoke to him off the record. Wilson was told that Libby or the VP's office had started a "workup" on him following this CNN appearance. He was told Elliot Abrams may have been involved in the workup. He was told Libby began speaking openly about Wilson, calling him a fucking "playboy", that he's gone on a "boondoggle arranged by his CIA wife" and that he was a Dem and Gore supporter to boot. According to the reporters the info was shared with Rove, who then began to circulate it through the administration and neocon circles. Two of the reporters told Wilson that when Rove learned of the Corn article outlining the illegalities Rove turned on Libby and Cheney, saying they were responsible for the mess.

(emphasis mine)

That may answer my question from the other day--why would a "White House friendly lawyer" admit that the White House was worried about Rove getting indicted. If Rove and Cheney are trying to blame each other for this, then perhaps Cheney's (or Libby's) lawyer leaked that quote, to create the CW that Rove was the sole leaker.

Wouldn't it be funny if this thing turned into a battle of assholery as to who was the biggest clusterfuck, Cheney or Rove? And wouldn't it be funny if Rove--alleged to be a genius--was currently losing the PR battle?

Oh, and my last comment was meant to respond to RonK's point. Maybe December is when it became clear that not just Libby, but also Rove, was guilty.

Oh, and one more thing. It might explain the timing of Rove's appointment as whatever the hell his title is.

I've always thought that was a CYA move to give Rove some executive privilege protection. The timing would make sense if Ashcroft told Bush/Rove, at the point when he recused himself, that Rove was going to need that protection.

Emptywheel, that is the best explanation yet for this fiasco--a fight between Cheney and Rove over who f*cked up the worst.

Just before I read that, I was thinking that it seemed to be coming down to Rove or someone else becoming the fall guy, and if the other leaker was Bolton, maybe that is why the deafening silence on his nomination. But your theory makes much more sense. And the quote pretty definitively id's Libby as the source of Pincus' "boondoggle" quote. Which wasn;t in Novak's article.

So someone leaked to Novak. Rover taklked to Cooper. Cooper talked to Libby, as did Pincus and many others. And Rove spread the smear as well, until it seemed to be getting out of control.

And it goes back to the core issue: They needed to show why the WH hadn;t paid attention to the Wilson report because Wilson proved they were fixing the intel and knew there was no WMD program, let alone WMDs.

And who forged the Niger documents? I have always thought Chalabi, because Jane Mayer's New Yorker profile of him mentioned an INC forging shop up there in northern Iraq or somewhere. Could this somehow be Judy Miller's connection to the story? Or when she when she read Wilson's op-ed, did she just call Rove to ask wtf?

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