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July 24, 2005

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Isakoff has to be enjoting this after the WH screwing of Newsweek over the Gitmo Koran story. Put that in perspective with the suppresssed Abu Ghraib photos. Sometimes the media brings their troubles on themselves, but there's always hope for redemption.

Gergen and Dionne on This Week: increasingly, this is going to be about the president. Did he know and doesn't care or did he not know? either way is bad.

Confirming an important suspicion here, Newsweek's source says IIPA was not an element of CIA's initial referral to DOJ. (Note: the adjective "initial" sticks out like turtle on a fencepost.)

DemFromCT: I was wondering about the very point that Gergen and Dionne made. Rove and Libby, two political operatives from different sectors of the executive branch, came up with the idea of smearing Wilson all by themselves and without the knowledge of their respective bosses?

And I wonder what Fitzergerald makes of the "Sources close to Rove" who keep leaking? Could Fitzergerald ask the judge to have everyone(i.e. the lawyers) keep quiet about the case? (I'm not lawyer so I don't know if he can) If so, why doesn't he do it? Is he keeping quiet because he's getting some new angles for questioning from the leaks?

RonK

I just saw that yesterday. I wonder if my speculation--that Novak's publication of Italy--was also an illegal leak.

here's a fun rendition of the story from Australia's the Age. Always interesting to see how we are seen.

Bush's 'brain' in danger of lobotomy EYE ON AMERICA Michael Gawenda July 25, 2005

The President's political adviser is snared in a spy scandal.

Karl Rove, Deputy White House Chief of Staff and George Bush's closest political adviser for more than three decades, is fighting for his political life.

He must be wondering whether he can survive the so-called Plame Gate scandal involving the "outing" of Valerie Plame, a covert CIA operative.

Plame Gate is a bizarre scandal. The main players are all flawed in one way or another and some of them are just plain weird.

...

There are reports that Fitzgerald is now looking at possible perjury and obstruction of justice charges against Rove and Cheney's chief of staff Lewis Libby for allegedly giving false evidence to the grand jury for failing to reveal that they had discussed Plame with reporters.

Most experts agree neither Rove nor Libby broke the law when they talked to reporters about Plame — neither of them actually named her, nor did they reveal that she was a covert agent. And her covert work ended almost six years ago.

This should have been a nothing scandal, another political storm full of sound and fury but with no real substance.

That Rove, Bush's closest adviser over more than 30 years — the man many believe is Bush's "brain" — may be destroyed by it, speaks volumes about Washington's political culture and about the relationship between the media and government.

At a time of war.

Imagine politicizing 9/11 or war. Our friends overseas still don't grasp it, anymore than some remaining Bush supporters (the rest are happy he did).


If Novak's publication of Italy is a problem, what about Dana Priest and Karen DeYoung, who published this is a WaPo story on March 22, 2003? What abot Seymour Hersh's March-April articles in the New Yorker that identified Italy as the source of the forgeries?

I do think that Bush is in a real mess here--he's caught in the "stupid or incompetent" trap that seems to get those who try to maintain plausible deniability. And it seems clear that a few of the leaks, especially the ones to Newsweek, are coming from the CIA side, perhaps retired former officials familiar with the case.

That tidbit about the IIPA is interesting. Maybe the Espionage Act? I think we can't discount how ticked off the CIA was about not just Plame but Brewster-Jennings being outed. And having to take the blame for the bad intel when Cheney had pushed them to just that purpose. And so much more. This won't die.

IIRC, the original citation listed only "illegal leaking of classified information" or some such thing, not espionage.

As I understand it, here, as with Plame, the crime is in the leaking (therefore violating the agreement you sign to get a security clearance), not in the publication. So Hersh and Priest and Novak are all innocent. The question is, is their source innocent?

Priest's source, I'm almost positive, is. Her source is someone with the UN, someone who would have signed a different security agreement, someone who quite likely was in Vienna at the IAEA when he leaked. Besides, I fully trust the IAEA could have sniffed these out at Italian themselves, in which case it was never classified for them.

I'm not sure about Hersh's source. I'd have to check (although, he, too, seems to be working IN Italy).

But if Novak source leaked the Italy information (say, by passing a memo that included it to Novak), then it'd be a crime.

The SSCI still treats this information as classified--they redacted the word Italy throughout, a full year after Novak's column. Why would they do it?

Ironically, the logic is the same as the logic for journalists. If you burn a source, they're not likely to share information with you again. This was redacted in SSCI as a sources and methods piece of information, I strongly suspect, not because it was secret anymore. But because they had told SISMI they'd keep it a secret. So even now, they can't publish it.

I suspect it'd be hard to prove that Novak's source leaked this information. Unless they can point to a classified memo specifying Italy as source. But heck, if they do that, it might mean another few years in the slammer for Scooter Libby.

I think you are right that the original referral was based on the violation of the security clearance agreement. I suspect there is some catch-all statute that would make that a crime.

Another interesting point here: If the 7/22/2005 David Johnston NYT article is to be believed, Fitz didn't realize Rove's role until Cooper continued to clam up even after Libby gave hiom clearance. They realized there was another leaker (maybe the other "senior administration official"), and went after Cooper and Miller to try to find out who.

But if Fitz didn't know Rove had been doing things out of his job description like massaging Tenet's July 11, 2003 press release on the 16 words, is it possible that Tenet himself did not know? The article also said that they worked by e-mail and did not meet face to face. When Ed Rollins was asked by John Podesta on Hardball on Friday whether he, as Reagan's equivalent of Karl Rove, had ever worked on Bill Casey's press releasaes, he laughed and said no.

This goes back to the question you asked yesterday: Why did Tenet resign abruptly on June 3, 2004? We know it was just after Bush and Cheney got lawyers, but what was the timing of Fitz' subpoenas to Cooper and Miller in relation to Tenet's resignation?

"They" in the previous comment being Rove, Libby and Hadley. Libby and Hadley are logical, but not Rove.

I'm not sure I buy that NYT story, for two reasons.

First, if you believe Murray Waas (and his source seems to be someone tied to the FBI) then Fitz was suspicious of Rove's testimony in Fall 2003. So I don't see ANY reason for him to be surprised when he learns that Cooper had another source (particularly since Cooper initially cited "some" officials). Moreover, today's Russert story makes clear (as I believe the stories on Cooper's original testimony did, too) that Fitz was satisfied at that point to ask what the journalist said, not vice versa.

Second, I don't think Fitz is missing the dates I'm playing with: memo dated June 10, Bolton involved in memo, possible earlier story late June. Which means he is likely just working on proving Rove and Libby to be liars.

Which means we could have quite some time before we get indictments.

If the end result of all this is that Rove and Libby get indicted for perjury, that is indeed a nothing scandal.

Which means we could have quite some time before we get indictments.

In the meantime, Time, Newsweek and the late night comedians are paving the way for the public to accept and understand why the indictments are happening.

Imagine the reaction if they came out of the blue a year ago. I would have preferred indictments before the election, no doubt, but at least now there's no question that the public will have been prepped to accept them. And there's a greater chance they'll be the key to exposing the Iraq debacle for what it is, built on lies, bad judgement and poor performance.

Answering my own question, Cooper was subpoenaed on May 21, 2004. Cooper moved to quash on June 3, 2004, even after the prosecutor had agreed to narrow its scope to cover only conversations with a specific, named individual. Denied on July 6, 2004. Cooper then testified, presumably about Libby. But then further subpoenas were issued to Time on August 2, 2004 about Coioper's July 17 article and to Cooper on September 13, 2004 for conversations prior to July 14 concerning the Wilsons. These were not complied with and led to the appeal just concluded. Miller was subpoenaed on August 12 and 14.

The Court of Appeal opinion, from which these facts are drawn, says the investigation related to unauthorized disclosure of identity of a covert agent citing, e.g., the IIPA.

If the end result of all this is that Rove and Libby get indicted for perjury, that is indeed a nothing scandal.

Not so. The detailed report as to what they were accused of and the political fallout would be large. But it might be bigger than that, so we'll have to see about the obstruction of justice/conspiracy thing.

Watergate was all of the above, but the context is not so different tham this. Nixon's goal was political victory, this is about war. The context matters both times.

Very true. The Court of Appeals opinion "Background" section states that according to the briefs and record, the underlying controversy "began with a political and media controversy over a sixteen-word sentence" in the SOTU. That is right. The focus must be on what they were covering up--the lies that led us into war, particular the "mushroom cloud" lie, and then the smear of someone who dared to call it, essentially, a premeditated lie.

A source close to Karl Rove, who requested anonymity because the FBI asked participants not to comment publicly,

This line from the Newsweek story is the kind it's pretty easy to blow past. But the FBI caught my eye. The line since the WH decided to go dark on this has been that the special prosecutor asked them not to talk. So, what is this about the FBI asking participants not to comment? Is this source digging back to admonitions received well before Fitzgerald was even appointed? Or does the FBI has some on-going role here?

The FBI asked.

Well, I think the FBI interview rules are way less strict than the Grand Jury ones. So Karl could have brought his love-buddy along to hold his hand. And unlike Luskin, who doesn't know exactly what Karl is saying to the GJ, Karl's love-buddy may know exactly what Karl is saying.

Murray Waas' sources, I suspect, largely go back to this period.

DfCT, I'm not sure I disagree with anything you've said, but it seems like if the final report touches on the things we think are important, then there simply must be something indictable about it. If the investigation turns up lies about pre-war intelligence, but there's nothing criminal about it, will those facts even make it into the report? I'm not sure. This is supposed to be a criminal investigation, not the 9/11 Commission report.

Thing is, people who actually have an open mind about the administration's veracity already know they intentionally exaggerated the nuclear threat from Saddam. If the investigator produces one more document establishing that, without more, I don't know if it really provides the ironclad proof we're looking for. On the other hand, if people actually go to jail as a result, that's something Mr. and Mrs. Middle America will get, as opposed to the "scandal" of a couple advisors they never heard of getting into trouble.

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