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July 29, 2005


And on the topic of articles volleying back and forth? Here's the first line of Pincus' Nieman article:

The traditional government concern about leaks of information has taken a new turn.

And the title of Jehl's piece?

Case of C.I.A. Officer's Leaked Identity Takes New Turn

Also a few words about what that Tenet reference might have been doing in Novak's article.

Jehl's article goes out of his way to suggest that Pincus' source might be someone in intelligence:

Both Mr. Pincus, who covers intelligence matters for The Post,

Now, recall that the two most common guesses for the identity of Allen's source are Tenet or Powell. Both had reason to be angry at the Plame leak and both might have been privvy to the planning of the push-back.

So if you take Novak's column as a direct response to the original WaPo article, I think Novak may either know or suspect the source was Tenet. So by saying Tenet didn't ask for an investigation, you cast some doubt on his motives for leaking.

Further, I've long suspected that Novak's "not a partisan gunslinger" was a deliberate attempt to set the stage to later (that is, now) cast suspicion on someone else. Who better to cast the suspicion on than the administration source who is bound to be the chief witness as to the intentionality and maliciousness of the original Plame leak. In other words, I think Novak may have used the "partisan gunslinger" comment to set up an effort to later cast blame on Powell or Tenet. Which would almost be witty, if it were intended to incriminate Powell. Gunslinger? A former general? Hahahahahah. Good one, Novak.

Cooper on MTP: More than 2 sources
MR. RUSSERT: The piece that you finally ran in Time magazine on July 17th, it says, "And some government officials have noted to Time in interviews, (as well as to syndicated columnist Robert Novak) that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. These officials have suggested that she was involved in her husband's being dispatched to Niger..."

"Some government officials"--That is Rove and Libby?

MR. COOPER: Yes, those were among the sources for that, yeah.

MR. RUSSERT: Are there more?

MR. COOPER: I don't want to get into it, but it's possible.

MR. RUSSERT: Have you told the grand jury about that?

MR. COOPER: The grand jury knows what I know, yes.

MR. RUSSERT: That there may have been more sources?


Thanks, pepsi, I thought Cooper had made the three (or more) sources more direct, but I didn't have a link.

You know, one possibility is that one of the other journalists bylined on the original Time piece (Massimo Calabresi and John Dickerson) have their own sources for the story. The syntax says Time found out, not Cooper.

I will admit that I got the same impression as Laura Rozen, and I do think Hadley, who seems to be have been part of a trio with Rove and Libby during that crucial week launching the twin attacks on the CIA and Wilson, was involved. But regardless of that, it's pretty definitive that Pincus' source was not Libby, though Pincus did talk to Libby. Here's a recent piece from Editor&Publisher, which includes this:

Pincus said that Fitzgerald asked him about Lewis (Scooter) Libby, chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby, a source in the case to Russert, Kessler, and Cooper, signed a waiver giving them permission to testify.

"Libby was not my source but was someone I spoke to on a confidential basis," Pincus said. "I had written about Wilson's trip [to Africa] and spoke to everyone involved in it." Wilson is Ambassador Joseph Wilson, husband of Valerie Plame.

And here's the WaPo from November 2004:

One current or former administration official has told Fitzgerald that he or she had a conversation with Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus on Saturday, July 12, Pincus has said publicly. Pincus also has said his source was not Libby. Pincus has previously said that an administration official told him that day that Wilson's trip to Niger was set up as a boondoggle by his CIA-employed wife.

(both via Tom Maguire)

If you look at Pincus' and Allen's article from July 13 2003, it seems pretty clear that he was talking to a lot of people on the 12th (a lot of them perhaps interested in responding to his article of the 12th), including, I suspect, Tenet and Hadley.

Ah, cool, thanks Jeff.

I don't doubt that Hadley is involved. But then, I wouldn't consider him non-partisan, by any means.


I wonder if they trying to pin this on Tenet? What better way to get out of revealing a CIA spy's identity than to blame it all on the DCI?

I think we need the cast the net further out and at least keep on our lists all the people Wilson named, and comprehend that we should be working with a timeline considerably longer than just the early July 2003 period.

If you look at this as a head to head conflict between Wilson and the WH -- and then go back and look for origins, it seems to me you have to begin with the early March dates -- when Wilson appeared on CNN and made the point the WH had considerable evidence contradicting the Yellow Cake claims -- and had evidence prior to the UN IAEA revelation that documents were forged -- that countered the whole Niger/Yellowcake story. The WH response to Wilson's CNN appearance was to set up in Libby's office in the OVP, the "get Wilson" work-up group. Again this was early March, pre-invasion, 2003.

At this point, the "sides" of the conflict are set -- Wilson notes that the participants in that meeting, including Newt Gingrich, Mary Maralin, Elliot Abrams, John Hannah and David Wurmser -- began offering up material to the Republican Noise Machine. He specifically mentions Clifford May.

On Wilson's part, he was backgrounding reporters -- including Pincus of the Post, and Kristoff of the NYTimes. Much of what he had to say was critical of the case for war made by Bush/Cheney. The conflict gradually heats up over this period, particularly after no evidence of WMD is found in Iraq during and just after the invasion.

It is only on July 6 that Wilson comes out of the background and takes ownership of his own story -- though it has been "out there" for a time.

Thus the response (Slime Wilson and his Wife) from the White House. Can't counter the message, even after the invasion, so you have to go after the messanger. All this is part of the roots of the conspiracy.

Again, I think the Morris article is correct, we need to thread Condi through all this, (She had some interest in protecting her Metiphorical Mushroom Cloud), and we also need to add to the mix that what happened shortly after the leaks took place is equally important.

I am not all that Certain Rove was in the midst of planning say in March, but assume he became involved when PR responses were being considered. Apparently Rove and Libby had a falling out over this, Rove being blindsided that leaking information about CIA officers could be illegal. Thus you not only have a cover-up -- you also have a process of shifting the blame within the administration.

Novak's October column thus looks to me to be Rove's shifting and defense posture. Given what his lawyer has put out in recent weeks, I think he is sticking to it for the time being.

But as to who talked to the press, I think we have to add Gingrich, Abrams, Matalin, Hannah and Wurmser to the list of potential sources. -- and I would also add Ari, Card and Condi. (And perhaps John Bolton in the case of Miller, and I would assume Pincus would have multiple possible CIA sources.) Remember, Wilson was a background source for Wilson all through this period, and Wilson certainly had the ability to refer Pincus to others.


Yes, I think you're right on. I guess I was trying to imagine who Novak/Rove was trying to impugn with the October column. If "partisan gunslinger" is, as I suspect, as much a hoax as the rest of that article, then what's the hoax.

Condi: Yup. If we can get this to trial, I suspect Condi will be in the position of a GHWB, able to claim stupidity or some such thing. But boy does she lie badly, worse than anyone else in the Administration.

And as you listed that list off, I was reminded of something. Recall that May said a former government official had told him of Plame's identity before she was leaked? At the time I thought that would have been Perle, mostly because Perle is such an asshole. But what if it were Newt which, knowing what we not know, would make more sense? And Newt wants to run for President...

Can we talk Frist?

What happened? Has he been reading DemFromCT's and Page's posts about stem cell research? Did he do a poll and realize the fundies aren't going to win an election the next time? And before you answer, consider how much more irked Scottie McC is than he was over the Rove revelations:

Q The Republican Party appears to be moving away from this President on this issue. How does he react to that?

MR. McCLELLAN: I think that there are many Americans that share the President's view that we need to continue to explore and advance science, but we need to make sure that we maintain ethical standards. As I said, these are decisions that have far-reaching consequences. And that's why the President worked to find common ground on this difficult issue.

Q Okay, let me just interrupt. Most Americans --

MR. McCLELLAN: Hang on, hang on.

Q Most Americans don't support the President's decision, according to polls.

Does anyone have an explanation? How did the guy who diagnosed Schiavo via a videotape cause such a stink? And what will the stinky Tennessean do when Bush recess appoints Bolton?

Don't you hate when you've just hit post, and you realize you're in the window with the wrong thread open?

Sorry about that.

I'm an idiot, and not because I'm posting in the wrong threads this time.

It seems that Novak's comment about Tenet:

The Justice Department investigation was not requested by CIA Director George Tenet.

May also be a response to the Allen-Priest article, which says,

Administration officials said Tenet sent a memo to the Justice Department raising a series of questions about whether a leaker had broken federal law by disclosing the identity of an undercover officer. The CIA request was reported Friday night by MSNBC.com. Administration sources familiar with the matter said the Justice Department is determining whether a formal investigation is warranted.

An intelligence official said Tenet "doesn't like leaks."

I'm still not sure I understand why WH/Novak are working so hard to deny CIA concern. But anyway.

I think what is missing from this discussion is the question of why the Jehl piece was written in the first place. The answer might be found in the five paragraphs close to the end, which 1) return us to the matter of who Novak's source might have been, 2) transitions to the liklihood that there were "others" beyond Rove and Libby, then 3) IMMEDIATELY NAMES Judith Miller, names her boss (Jill Abramson), and the fact that she has been promoted to ME, then 4) names HER BOSS (Keller) and his lawyer and notes that everyone in management stonewalled questions from their own reporter.

This is truly a remarkable sequence of paragraphs:

"But the identity of Mr. Novak's original source, whom he has described as "no partisan gunslinger," remains unknown.

"Mr. Cooper of Time magazine, who wrote about the matter several days after Mr. Novak's column appeared, has written and said publicly that he told a grand jury that Mr. Libby and Mr. Rove were among his sources. But Mr. Cooper has also said that there may have been others.

"Ms. Miller never wrote a story about the matter. She has refused to testify in response to a court order directing her to testify in response to a subpoena from Mr. Fitzgerald seeking her testimony about a conversation with a specified government official between June 6, 2003, and June 13, 2003.

"During that period, Ms. Miller was working primarily from the Washington bureau of The Times, reporting to Jill Abramson, who was the Washington bureau chief at the time, and was assigned to report for an article published July 20, 2003, about Iraq and the hunt for unconventional weapons, according to Ms. Abramson, who is now managing editor of The Times.

"In e-mail messages this week, Bill Keller, the executive editor of The New York Times, and George Freeman, an assistant general counsel of the newspaper, declined to address written questions about whether Ms. Miller was assigned to report about Mr. Wilson's trip, whether she tried to write a story about it, or whether she ever told editors or colleagues at the newspaper that she had obtained information about the role played by Ms. Wilson."

Jehl all but names Miller here.

But why would Abramson let something like this get into the paper? No ME would embarass herself or the paper by printing the fact that the management is refusing to answer reporters' questions on legitimate news points unless it served some other purpose.

To me it has all the earmarks of a pre-emptive story, the exact nature of which we can't know. Was it a response to Ariana Huffington's strong speculative piece that all but outed Miller? Was it to prepare the reader for Miller's outing by Fitzgerald? Was it intended to pacify a really pissed-off staff?

On the last point, see the level of trust between news staff and management at The Miami Herald in this astonishing story. They are close to outright revolt. :




You've put that differently than others--who have said this story was meant, again, to exonerate Miller, which doesn't make sense to me, for the oddities of the story that you point out.

I don't think it's related to Arianna's post either, though. Arianna's post adds just a little to a lot of discussion that was already out there. The difference is primarily stature (and the allure of seeming first-hand gossip), rather than content.

Does Jehl know that Miller's source is the same as Pincus'?

Otherwise, I think your suggestion--to placate pissed off staff--makes some sense. Although this still has Stevension and Johnston writing, which suggests the WH is still getting some spin of their own in.

Insightful comment, thanks.

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