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July 21, 2005


Billmon puts the timing question in perspective. And why is CNN so lame?

I happened to watch the Sundance Channel broadcast of Al Franken's show yesterday, and John Dickerson -- who was bending over backwards not to chime in with Al's Guilty-Guilty-Guilty -- made an excellent point: when you're subject to an investigation because of a smear campaign, isn't it a little dangerous to make more smearing (of Wilson particularly) your chief reaction? Dickerson speculated it meant the Bush team was "off its game"...but maybe what it really means is, they have literally no other mode of defense beyond attack-and-distract.

Well, I'm impressed! It only took a day for Plame/Rove to pop back up on the WaPo front page.

As for the lameness of CNN, I'd be the last person to deny it. Still, the question of whether Roberts' nomination was pushed up to get Rove out of the news DID come up within the first few minutes on Inside Politics.

Back to the underlying story, the memo nearly kills the theory that Rove merely heard of Plame's identity from a reporter (Judy or anyone else). Which seems to leave both the coverup AND the initial burning of Plame in the investigative mix.

-- Rick Robinson

Heard her identity from a reporter? Maybe Rove considered Ari Fleischer a "reporter"?

There was an interesting thread on TPM Cafe yesterday with excerpts from a press gaggle during the Africa trip in which Condi Rice clearly tried to steer reporters to Wilson and implied some shifty reasons for his trip. Here's the link. That makes Rove's e-mail to Hadley interesting, as he was hr deputy.

The WaPo story also supports the notion that the INR memo was an internal State memo reviewing the reasons that State disbelieved the Niger uranium theory and only incidently mentioned the Wilsons. That part was written by an INR analyst who attended the meeting at which Wilson's trip was discussed (Feb 19, 2002). This was apparently the one that Wilson attended, although his book does not give the date of that meeting. The Senate report describes INR as being skeptical at that meeting, which fits with the theory that the INR analyst was a straight-shooter within State, not someone like Fleitz. (INR thought Wilson's trip was redundant because they felt the Embassy could get to the bottom of the report, which they already disbelieved.) But the Senate Report notes (pp. 40-41) that a WINPAC analyst thought sending Wilson a good idea. The INR analyst does say that specific details of the reports on the purported deal were discussed at the meeting.

I conclude from this that while the INR memo was a possible source of the info about Wilson's wife, the memo itself was not done for this purpose at all. It sounds like a little more input was needed to turn this into the basis of a smear. Like, for instance, someone to Rove: "see if there is anything to this 'Wilson's wife' angle." Rove to Libby: "Know anything about Wilson having a wife at CIA?" Someone puts it together and off they go, maybe or maybe not realizing that she is covert, because Rove and Libby didn't see the memo until after the trip. Hard to believe Rove's lawyer that he never saw it before the prosecutors showed it to him, though. This supports the Fleischer as "innocent" leaker who talked to prosecuters, though. And it reinforces the theory that Fitz is looking at conspiracy and coverup.

I am amazed that the nomination timing is being publicly questioned at all. It's almost like the press thinks Clinton is still President.....

Wag the Dog.

Crab Nebula, I'd say it goes even further: despite John King's "it's a stretch..." spin, it's now taken as conventional wisdom throughtout most of the press that the court nomination was meant to distract from the scandal.

Which of course makes many casual watchers (and otherwise disengaged press-ies) wonder, Hmmm: just what is it they're trying so hard to squelch? Meaning the ploy was not only a failure, it's been counter-productive.

Here's something possibly of note, from Steve Clemons:

Secondly, one informed observer has shared his view with me that part of the reason that the administration was so resistant on releasing memos, emails, and other material requested by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about Bolton-related NSA intercepts and Syria testimony was in preparation for a battle over minutes, notes, emails, etc. that involve John Roberts. Could be. I'm not sure -- but the link is plausible.

One commenter asked whether perhaps Clemons meant that the Bolton fight was in preparation for a battle over documents involving Karl Rove, rather than Roberts. But our good friend Mimikatz points out that Bolton served in several positions in the DoJ, from which he might well have produced documents that would be of interest to the Judiciary Committee, but which the administration would almost certainly resist turning over, most likely on the claim that the president is entitled to frank and confidential advice his DoJ. Which may well be true. But it won't set up well, after the Bolton fiasco. Nor will it be lost on the Senators that it's a question of executive privilege that they might want to ask, oh, I don't know, let's say, a pending Supreme Court nominee about.

Er, Roberts, not Bolton. Roberts served in the DoJ. Now the possibility that Clemons was mistaken takes on a new clarity for me.

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