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October 06, 2005


Ah. When my speculation match Murray Waas', my confidence in them goes up.

By waiting until Judy testified, Fitzgerald answered the last remaining question about the dissemination of information (did it go to Judy first and then to Libby and Rove, or did it go to Libby and Rove and through them to all the journalists). Now he's in a position to push Rove for more information on the dissemination of the information.

I think this is dead on target.

Thank you, Swopa. It's getting kind of eerie, that we're agreeing on everything. We must be getting close. Takes kind of the fun out of it, somehow. ;-p

I'm saving the disagreements for my own magnum opus ... 'cause otherwise, you'll scoop me. :-)

Better hurry up. Fitz is breathing down your neck. And sometime soon I'm going to have to do some billable hours.

But what's clear, either way, is that Rove himself is now at risk of prosecution. According to the AP, Fitzgerald has sent Rove's legal team a letter in connection with his upcoming testimony in which the prosecutor says he can't guarantee that Rove won't be charged with a crime. The U.S. Attorneys Manual requires federal prosecutors to issue such a warning before anyone they consider a "target" or a "subject" of an investigation appears before a grand jury. As the manual explains, "target" is "a person as to whom the prosecutor or the grand jury has substantial evidence linking him or her to the commission of a crime and who, in the judgment of the prosecutor, is a putative defendant." A "subject" is "a person whose conduct is within the scope of the grand jury's investigation."

From Salon's war room... I've seen the "letter/no letter thing all over the place.

Best answer to the letter/no letter controversy, IMO, is Lawrence O'Donnell's:

I love Luskin. I really do. He is the best legal curve ball pitcher in Washington. How is the AP reporter supposed to know that prosecutors do not have to send target letters to targets? Mafia lawyers are not sitting around waiting for target letters.

Fitzgerald could have told Luskin verbally that Rove is a target. And because Fitzgerald is not subpoening Rove to testify, he has no obligation to send him a target letter.

Emptywheel, I've been trying to remember if any journalists are on record as hearing the name "Plame" via the White House, or if there is only evidence of this WH dissemination regarding her employment at the CIA, her work with WMDs, and her involvement in the Niger trip?

Is the "Plame" name issue a separate one only involving Novak?

hmmm, is anyone starting to get a little nervous? I mean this is looking big, and these guys play to win in a BIG way. Excuse me while I adjust my tin-foil hat, but what would these guys do to make sure this doesn't go where its looking it might?


I've followed the name issue very closely, and I don't think anyone has acknowledged hearing the name "Plame" from the WH, unless you count Novak's "they gave me the name" remark to Newsday (which wasn't specifically referring to "Plame" vs. "Wilson"). In fact, notice the two key sentences from his July 14th article:

Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction. Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate...

Only the second sentence is specifically sourced to the administration.

The name issue bothers me as well, because it seems to be behind an emerging orthodoxy of blog comments that are just following the "little picture" reported through the news media and unverifiable leaks.

Behind all of these theories is the notion that the White House, acting in a coordinated fashion through Libby and Rove, together, shopped the "Wilson's wife" story in various forms to six reporters. That six reporters received phone calls happened, but the coverage is reporting it as some sort of independent deus ex machina: they all got together, plotted, shopped, picked Judy Miller, and then whoopsie, Matt Cooper and Bob Novak. A step behind that is the mysterious "keeper of the name" underpinning these theories, which again implies that the plotters knew to look for Plame. A step behind that is the actual contact with the intelligence services, and unless you believe these people are omniscient, they are calling about Joe Wilson not Valerie Plame. A step behind that is, do you call just to screw Joe Wilson or do you call because you want to clear your own name from something and then screw him?

Joe Wilson could have gone on forever about how the yellowcake memos were forged. No one was listening. Plus, the administration disavowed the 16 words. What was the source of the problem was that the NYT had (mistakenly, perhaps) fingered Cheney as ordering the trip, destroying his deniability on the case for war in Iraq. Ok, then, is the first thing you do if you are Dick Cheney to convene a meeting of your and the President's primary staff, including NSA, and figure out how to f$ck Wilson? No! Are you f$cking stupid, knowing that all of the arrows will point back to you?! You pick up the damn phone and call George Tenet and ask who the hell ordered that trip. If Cheney already knew, picking up the phone still gives him more deniability, but he didn't know because a) he was in no position to frame Joe Wilson ahead of time, and b) if some NSA staffer told him point blank, do you'd think we'd be seeing all of these contortions? No! Rove and/or Libby would have sourced the NSA staffer, one and done, not tainted themselves and shopped it out to six people who could each screw them both. Meanwhile, Tenet waits patiently to respond until the afternoon of July 11, after Novak's article has hit the wires and the cat is out of the bag. No one is focusing on what event occurred to get Tenet to take responsibility for not excising the 16 words and saying he ordered Wilson's trip. It wasn't Wilson's article! It was Cheney or the White House calling, calling to get the name and background of Plame, which Tenet didn't give them...directly.

From following just what we "know" from the media to date, the name is just out there, waiting to be discovered, and magically, it appears in the White House and VP office, with nearly everyone pointing to the State Department INR report. In these theories, Rove and Libby oil themselves in it, completely destroying their status as conduits with deniability that would allow a Miller story to proceed with an "unnamed source" as the name-giver. No way. Who creates a paper sh!t trail and then rolls in it?

And everyone's backup theory is, "Well, Cheney/Bolton/Hadley/State Dept just told Rove and Libby straight up." Riiight. Based on their knowledge obtained how? From the INR report? Why not just call the CIA director? Unless of course, you did, and he said he couldn't/wouldn't tell you right away, and so you started digging, and started getting fed info from the outside such that you and everyone around you became radioactive. Why not just put some more heat on your CIA director to get moving, or just wait until he tells you the answer?

Yeah, what Swopa said. Swopa and I are in complete agreement from this point forward...

No, seriously, everyone else has specifically said they didn't get the name from Rove. But there were untrustworthy allegations from Clifford May and JimmyJeff her name was out there.

>billable hours

Emptywheel - what IS your day job anyway?

And why aren't CNN, ABC, MSNBC, and CBS bidding against each other to hire you, reddhedd, judy etc. as analysts? It baffles me that this case is SO much juicier than Watergate but can't seem to get any traction in the MSM.

Of course, after the hoped-for indictments, all this could change.

The MSM isn't allowed to print their open secrets. And too many of them (more than one is too many) think Judy Miller is a heroine.

I've got problems with some of the arguments here that tend toward the Either/Or sort of proposition -- excluding other possibilities.

First, while for trial and conviction reasons it is necessary to find out what Rove knew and said about Plame and when -- perhaps he knew much earlier. I am still attached to the notion that after that March meeting in Libby's office where a "work-up" was commissioned, that someone did something super straightforward, and got access to the State Department Personnel Files, and read Joe Wilson's file. They were looking for a construct of who he was -- and the possible pressure points, or places where dirt could be dug. And that is where one would begin, I think. My surmise is that someone at that meeting who was liason to Bolton's staff could have accessed the file. And they might have been able to do it without signing it out. In it, one would find information about Joe's three marriages -- the last one to Valerie Plame would have required a CIA security clearance, and Joe's jacket would include that information.

OK -- so then the question is how to find out about Ms. Plame. Well the NSC has a number of CIA personnel -- maybe you just ask. Someone who wanted to impress Libby or Cheney might have contributed the details. My point here is that finding out about Joe and Valerie would be part of a "work-up" -- and there are many alternative avenues for finding and checking information, and between March and late May, there was no pressure to do it quick, in crisis mode.

We've focused so much on the MSM journalists -- we need to refocus on the Republican Noise Machine types -- the Clifford May's for example, who apparently had a version of the Plame saga before Joe Wilson began to irritate. Didn't that come from the "sork-up" and not from a reporter who informed Libby or Rove?

Put straightforwardly, I think the "work-up" is the source base, and various persons worked off the contents and the constructed narrative in talking to reporters.

(If documents were destroyed as the formal investigation began -- the "Work-up" files would have been high on the target list. If Fitzgerald has flipped anyone -- information about such files would be critical -- obstruction of Justice counts,)

That at least sounds more plausible than INR report.

But it also sounds exactly like the slow motion landslide that was the Nixon White House during Watergate - each day, someone tasked to follow a rabbit trail by a different staffer, no one knows what other people are doing, it gets out of control, everyone retreats and shrinks back into their original alliances and loyalties, someone defects, someone testifies, change it all up, everyone's on a different page. In Watergate, Nixon was in control of the entire paranoid mess until he lost control. Here, if we follow the same theory, the analog would be Cheney, because it certainly couldn't have been Bush and it certainly couldn't have been anyone lower than Cheney (to believe otherwise is to believe that Nixon didn't approve the Watergate break in, and if you believe that, please die).

I just can't see why Cheney, fully cognizant of the lessons of Watergate, would follow such a plan. In my estimation, he would do something far simpler at the outset. The fact that it later came back to bite the entire staff in the ass might be interesting, but it's not where the big fish swims. Then again, Nixon only went down for obstruction in Watergate, and maybe that's what will happen to Cheney here and everyone will pat themselves on the back thinking "Oh, that's all that really happened," ignoring the logical consequence: It takes the main actor out of their primary role as director/approver/establisher of deniability. It's like saying Nixon didn't know about Watergate but tried to cover it up. Maybe that is the inevitable consequence of being leaked facts that most people try to fit into the most clear cut charges, like IIPA, perjury, and obstruction.

Watch the clock tomorrow, my friends....After 5PM EST, my guess is this story is going to become a lot more clear as someone leaks a patened Friday afternoon bombshell in hopes of buying some time...My guess is the WaPo, or maybe Reuters....Just keep hitting the refresh button, bitches....


hmmm, is anyone starting to get a little nervous? I mean this is looking big, and these guys play to win in a BIG way. Excuse me while I adjust my tin-foil hat, but what would these guys do to make sure this doesn't go where its looking it might?

I am taking up a collection for Fitzgerald kevlar vest.

Sara, I've got to say, you have a better sense about intelligence restrictions than I do. So I think your suggestion is a distinct possibility. I guess I just don't understand about exactly how they comparmentalize NOC identities.

I do know that Bolton was a big fan of making sure his folks got intelligence they wanted, and that he had a particularly difficult time keeping his SCI documents secured the way they were supposed to be. So I suppose it would be par for the course if he found Plame's identity in Wilson's file and just forgot to keep it in the SCI safe.

From what I heard on Hardball, asking to testify in these circumstances is done to try to talk the GJ out of indicting. Evidently Chuck Robb did exactly that in Virginia--talked them out of indicting him. On the other hand, it would seem like a real setup for a perjury trap.

I still think that the plot originated in the VP's office, was designed to keep the press from investigating the bogus WMD claims and the fact that the WH, especially the VP's office, knew in advance the WMD claims were bogus but continued with them all the same. And to deflect attention from the Niger forgeries. Rove was the spinmeister, but substance came from Cheney and his minions.

Libby says (supposedly) that he heard Plame's name from someone. Who was that? Many candidates. People who could have looked it up, as Sara says. The name itself wasn't important; rather it was the fact that Wilson's wife was at the CIA. Once you know that, I would imagine the actual name was easy to get, since there was no secret Joe was married to Valierie. Go ask the neighbors, for example, or Who's Who. How did they find out the wife worked at the CIA? INR memo, most probably, or someone at CIA who knew her. I like Sara's idea of little Mr. Helpful showing off what he knows.

THINK SPIN, first and foremost.

Please understand that the answer to this question has to be taken in the context of the fact that this is ROVE we are talking about.

Rove is the least likely person to bend over for anyone, and one has to include Fitzpatrick in that.

IMHO, Rove is doing one of three things - attacking, spinning or deflecting. Any suggestion that he is "being cooperative" seems to me to me unfathomably Pollyanna, in the face of his history of going for the throat when he or his clients are behind the 8-ball or losing ground.

(I am writing this after hearing about the "Terrorism alert" B.S. in NYC, which one should be skeptical about its validity. Remember 9/11 happened when Bush was tanking in the polls. Since his slide with Katrina, this alert was a high probability. With the penchant for diversion or calling up the fear factor, this has Rove's signature all over it, given the timing.)

Rove has never found any resaon to use the truth when a lie would do, so why should we think he is telling any truths now? If it is his own idea to go before the Grand Jury again, one can only speculate that he has some angle - likely arrived at in a conspiratorial kaffeekaltch - that he wants to play that he thinks will get him off the hook.

The only other possible REALLY legitimate purpose (from his POV)is that he is there is to turn on his boss, or to finger someone else in the White House, probably the designated fall guy. Rove is NOT going to go down without pulling all the tricks out of his bag.

The idea I hear here is of Rove being a pussycat in the lap of Fotzpatrick. My money is on dissembling.

Everyone has been wondering the past day or so about Rove's whereabouts. It has of course occurred to everyone that he has been planning (conspiring) some devious way of getting out of the shit he is in. The follow-through on that line of reasoning - if correct - MUST be that they DID come up with a plan, and that Rove is trying to implement it by his going before the Grand Jury again.


It sounds like you are mentally pulling your brain through the neck of a Klein bottle in order to explain how someone other than Libby and Rove would be responsible.

The main point being made in Plame's outing was that somehow her being involved in Joe Wilson making the trip for the CIA to Niger made his trip illegitimate. The outing was an incidental thing. They wanted to make it look like nepotism or that Wilson needed his wife to get him work or something in that direction.

Novak's point about this made no sense to me, from the beginning. What the hell difference did it make? It did to them, and that appears to have made all the difference, my dear Watson. They were apparently trying to ridicule Wilson on something off the subject of whether his facts were correct or not. It is a tactic they have used many times in the past: kill the messenger, or attack the messenger's bonafides.

This time it backfired on them.

The fact that it was spread to SIX reporters is also typical: they had plans to ambush the public with it coming from all sides, making it seem all the more legitimate - everyone knows that if you hear it from several sources, anything is easier to believe. The trick - maybe a common ploy with them - was to turn ONE source (whether Rove, Libby or someone else) into several sources, as far as the public is concerned. Of course, though, neither Libby or Rove would set it up where it was attributable to them as the one source. So, they gave themselves (they thought) "plausible deniability", and at the same time set up a crossfire with the six reporters.

Giving it to the six reporters was a similar tactic to the morning "talking points" faxed out to GOP talking heads every day: if people hear "lots of people" saying something, their first reaction is to accept it as true.

As to how the insiders - whoever they were - got access to the Plame information in the first place, there are actually TWO requirements for a person to have access to any secret information, written or otherwise. First, they have to have a sufficient level of security clearance, in this case they needed a "SECRET" clearance. But they ALSO had to have A NEED TO KNOW. Their JOB or ASSIGNMENT had to require them to have access to the information. Without the need to know, NO ONE HAS ACCESS IS PERMITTED TO GIVE THEM ACCESS TO IT. To do so is a violation of the law, and is, in fact, a felony on the part of the revealer - just as is the case here in the Plame outing.

The name is NOT "just out there, waiting to be discovered". SECRET documents do not just lie around. The person who has come into their possession has a serious and complete responsibility to safeguard the folder it is in, and let no one have access to it without that caretaker vetting them and their need to know. It just doesn't happen that way. These people were required to sign a document before ever entering into their White House jobs, affirming their understanding of how to handle classified information. After signing that, it is used against them in case of any failures of security in that regard.

If, as Sara suggests, there was a "work up" done on Wilson that included Plame's identification as being SECRET, then that "work up" itself would have to be labeled SECRET. And then IT would have to be treated the same way as the source memo.

(BTW, Sara, doesn't the memo itself constitute a "work up"? Am I missing something there?)

ALSO, NHL, you say "Joe Wilson could have gone on forever about how the yellowcake memos were forged. No one was listening. Plus, the administration disavowed the 16 words."

But that was not true at all. Chronologically, you may have this confused. Bush's people did not retract those 12 words until AFTER Wilson's Op-Ed piece ran. If I am not mistaken, they retracted them the very next day after the piece was run. So it is not true at ALL that "no one was listening." Hell, the White House itself was listening.

Also, Joe Wilson bit his tongue for weeks after making the report on his trip, and all that time - up until his Op-Ed piece ran - White House spokespeople, including Bush, continued to repeat the essence of those 12 words: Saddam Hussein was trying to buy yellowcake in Africa. It was wrong every time they said it, and he let it go for only so long, before he FINALLY said, enough is enough, and wrote the piece.

It was not WILSON who could have gone on forever. It was the White House that could have gone on forever. Until Joe Wilson said "No more; the country has a right to know that these statements are not correct, and Bush and all of them need to stop saying that they are true."


My scenario does not require that Rove roll over. In fact, it's very likely that his first strategy will be to lash out at Libby. In other words, when Rove last lied to the gj, it was a lie they thought would minimize the problems. After Cooper testified, that fell apart and Rove knew he would be charged no matter what (unless he pulls a Chuck Robb, but in this case he'd have to imcriminate others to do so). Now (post Judy's testimony) getting off will even further require incriminating a lot of people. Which may be what Rove is planning. Remember, he holds Libby responsible for fucking up this little rat fuck.

Also, your points about Need to Know are right on. But there is plenty of evidence in the Bolton nomination testimony to say Sara may be absolutely right in her Occam's razor suggestion. First, as I describe here, when Bolton and Hadley want to smear someone they do put together a memo. They call it classified. But they don't always guard it that carefully. And apparently, they don't code it as classified (Stuart Cohen mocks the notion that the Fulton Armstrong document is classified, even though it certainly has classified information in it).

Second, in a post I have yet to write, I will show that one of the big bones of contention between INR and Bolton was Bolton's sloppy use of Secure Comparmentalized Information. Not only did Bolton insist on (and get) direct access to SCI that previous Under Secretaries had never gotten. But he/his office was incredibly sloppy about their handling of SCI. In particular, they were not very good at checking it in and out of safes which, as you can imagine, could make it easy for this information to get misplaced. So while you are right about the Need to Know retrictions on Plame's identity, it is also true that Bolton broke those Need to Know restrictions.

We will know in a few days how deep the indictments will go...O'Donnell beleives 3-4 high wh officials directly indicted and a couple unindicted co-conspirators...Fitzgerald is an ethical with a moral compass that many don't understand....he has no time for the rich and priviledge, especially those who abuse their positions of power.....what happens may be the tip of the iceberg with ramifications leading to other investigations and indictments

Simple thought to all of brilliant analyses thus far:

I find it amusing that this administration thought to paint Wilson as a "wimp" because his wife got him work. Considering the cronyism and nepotism rampant at the WH, doesn't this seem silly?

Back to my regularly scheduled lurking...

The "Work-Up" should not be confused with the State Department Memo (I think of it as the Grossman Memo) that was circulated around on Air Force One during the July 2003 Africa Trip that Fitzgerald is, apparently, using with the Grand Jury.

The "Work-Up" was a decision made in a meeting in Libby's office in Early March, 2003. The immediate cause of this was Wilson's comments on CNN regarding the fact the Niger papers were forgeries -- released at the UN by the IAEA. Wilson said the White House had intelligence casting doubt on the Niger Saga for at least a year, but he did not mention his trip.

Wilson lists some of the people at that meeting in his book. We have Hadley, Matalin, John Hannah, David Wurmser as well as Libby -- and probably a few others. They talked about the Wilson problem (he was off the Reservation) and decided to do a "Workup" == and over the next few months that transpired. What I imagine it was, essentially, was a file on the computer system where the activists on the committee posted the fruit of their digging into who was Joe Wilson, and where is the dirt with which we can smear him, if necessary.

The State Department Document is something quite different. It seems to have been constructed and sent to Marc Grossman then Deputy for Political Affairs -- and it deals with the background of State's dealing with WMD/the Niger suspicion in 2002. It seems to have been called for when Kristoff's op/ed appeared in May, 2003 -- an op/ed clearly informed by Joe Wilson, but not noting that source.

I should note here -- Grossman and Wilson are friends. When Wilson was Ambassador to NATO in the mid 1990's, Grossman was Ambassador to Turkey, and they had many many issues they had to work together regarding NATO's use of Turkish Bases for the protection of the Kurdiah or northern part of Iraq. I don't know how relevant this information is or what it means -- just a detail to keep in the back of your mind as this thing rolls out. Grossman is now retired from State, and has been interviewed by Fitzgerald. Anyhow -- for State this memo was essentially CYA -- and when Wilson's article was published, they just changed the address on it and handed it off to Powell so as to update him on the history of it all from State's perspective.

So -- two different things. The "Workup" is a special group under Libby's auspices in the White House, that assembled a pot of facts, and the Grossman Memo that was readdressed to Powell is a State Department Document.

And yea -- on Security matters -- for many who are CIA, and indeed many of the FSO at State -- they do have to have marriages, and even long term affairs vetted. It is all about avoiding Honeypot problems. I am not sure it works -- but just imagine being the personnel officer at CIA or State in charge of Marriages and Affairs!!! Your job is to find out whether or not the partner or proposed partner is a security risk!!!

I don't buy any of your premises. First off, if Joe Wilson doesn't go the Niger on a legitimate government order, whether it comes from his wife or not, it just invites more scrutiny of the Rome meeting where the forged documents were ultimately passed. That's not only a no-win for the administration, it's as toxic for everyone involved as this scandal is going to be.

Second, making phone calls to six reporters did not set up a crossfire, especially because the only one who ultimately broadcast it was out of the loop the longest and ultimately made the most egregiuous error by stating Plame's status as a fact, causing him to have to get his story straight after the fact with the WH. It is Matt Cooper's job to know what Bob Novak is doing?

Third, I was mocking the idea that the name was just "out there, waiting to be discovered." Learn to detect sarcasm.

You also miss the point about Joe Wilson going on forever. I acknowledge that the White House disavowed the 16 words. The point is what happened after that, and the problem is, nothing else happened after that. I mean, is there any debate? Was anyone not on the left calling for Bush to be impeached from July 7 to July 22, when Hadley repeated that the 16 words should be deleted? Their position didn't even have to change!!! They say on July 7 the words are wrong, two weeks later, they say the same thing. Don't you think if there was any real pressure that the WH would have significantly beefed up their story line? We were already in - mission f!$cking accomplished - they were feeling no pain.

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