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November 21, 2005


Thanks, emptywheel, I get antsy and expectant when it's been a while since we've seen something from you. A couple thoughts on how the Woodward conversation could have impacted the Miller one or vice versa. What if Libby knew Woodward had been leaked to and was waiting to hear the info repeated back from him in some form, so he could pass it on to Miller? So Woodward becomes an earlier version of Tim Ruusert, one he didn't have to use earlier in the investigation, because the June 23rd meeting hadn't been revealed yet. Or, on a less explosive note: Woodward told Libby on June 23rd that Wilson was going to go public, and that somehow emboldened Libby to act with Miller?

I'm defining "a while" as anything more than five minutes.

Huh. That's a really interesting scenario, Saltin. Then you could have Libby coming foward to get Woodward to speak, so he could spin his journo scenario at an earlier moment.

I'm leaning toward the belief that Judy heard of this somewhere earlier, though.

Forging The Case For War is a good piece up on American Conservative that raises the possibility that since the administration was obviously overreacting to Joe Wilson's original comments on his Niger investigation that there is quite likely a more nefarious coverup.

This is a theme that has come up a lot on the left it is interesting to see that the Reaganite right is coming to the same conclusions. Philip Giraldi has written a number of interesting pieces in that magazine on the Iraq conflict. All are worth reading.

I would be curious to hear what emptywheel thinks of Giraldi's reporting on the matter. Giraldi's conclusion follows:

At this point, any American connection to the actual forgeries remains unsubstantiated, though the OSP at a minimum connived to circumvent established procedures to present the information directly to receptive policy makers in the White House. But if the OSP is more deeply involved, Michael Ledeen, who denies any connection with the Niger documents, would have been a logical intermediary in co-ordinating the falsification of the documents and their surfacing, as he was both a Pentagon contractor and was frequently in Italy. He could have easily been assisted by ex-CIA friends from Iran-Contra days, including a former Chief of Station from Rome, who, like Ledeen, was also a consultant for the Pentagon and the Iraqi National Congress.

It would have been extremely convenient for the administration, struggling to explain why Iraq was a threat, to be able to produce information from an unimpeachable “foreign intelligence source” to confirm the Iraqi worst-case.

The possible forgery of the information by Defense Department employees would explain the viciousness of the attack on Valerie Plame and her husband. Wilson, when he denounced the forgeries in the New York Times in July 2003, turned an issue in which there was little public interest into something much bigger. The investigation continues, but the campaign against this lone detractor suggests that the administration was concerned about something far weightier than his critical op-ed.

Has Ledeen ever been a source for any of the journalists involved in this?

I am glad you are looking at the new timeframes around June, EW. I am into other projects at this time, yet appreciate your delving. In KagroX style I offer the following miscellany which might be relevant to your interests, maybe.

Here are links to some articles a few of which you probably have skimmed, as you are well informed and likely already know much of the material.

Judy Miller's October 23 post to the NYT B. Calame site in which she names Jill A as her editor for an unpublished July article; some of it may be believable, you would know about veracity and possible relevance; the article is at Calame's October 23 site.

On Sunday Drogin and Goetz published a 13-page feature length LAT article, probably 2500 words, on the peculiar saga of Curveball during 2002 debriefing in Germany by the intelligence service there; the LA Times article. This article begins in 1999, and is thorough.

And the side action by DoJ thru DC court fining Pincus $500./day for the next ten days to coerce divulgation of his sources in the US weapons lab spy case: DoJ, or actually Judge Collyer ruling in DoJ's favor, is saying Pincus has to contact and get specific release authorizations from all sources or head to Judy M's old cell in VA on contempt charges ten days from now; there are several articles and court documents online in this matter. The WaPo's Lane synopsizes very briefly here Saturday; the court site lags behind, showing still only the original Thursday order stipulating 48-hours instead of the extended ten-day timeframe which Pincus obtained the next day Friday.


There is not a demonstrable connection between Ledeen and either of these guys--not that I know of. But there is a clear connection between Harold Rhode--who was in the early meetings with Ledeen on the forgeries--and Judy Miller. Rhode was Chalabi's liaison with DOD for the period when Judy was in Iraq, effectively embedding her military unit with the INC. So he is likely responsible for some of the staged stories she reported on from Iraq.


Here's a link to a post that Steve Clemons wrote today over at The Washington Note, where he speculates on whether or not Fitzgerald might have a Deep Throat inside the administration who is guiding him through the maze of the Plame leak:


What are your thoughts about the existence of such a friendly source, and who it might be?


Well, obviously that SAO has talked to Fitzgerald. THe timing is very significant--right when the investigation was announced. I think it was a shot across the bow of the Get Wilson crowd that he was going after them.

I've always thought Powell or one of his surrogates was this person (Armitage or Wilkerson??).

And it is a mistake, IMO, to read this article in isolation. Novak's famous October 1 column was almost certainly written as pushback against this SAO.

john lopresti

Both the NYT and Judy seem to have cooperated to hide any mention of Joe Lelyveld in their coverage of this affair. I find that incredibly suspicious--he was clearly in charge for the whole period when this leak was happening. So I think Abramson is getting blamed as the ONE editor, even though Judy clearly had someone senoir to Abramson.

Re: Friendly leaker

My money would be on someone from The State Department. Powell and everyone below him had every reason to be extremely angry at this point since they had more or less been sidelined and treated like $10.00 whores. Having the administration attack a former diplomat following the humiliation of Powell in front of the UNSC and the sidelining of State in postwar Iraq would surely have sent someone over the edge...

emptywheel - A small detail to add to your timeline from the October 12 2003 Pincus and Allen piece:

Wilson said he attempted to increase pressure on the White House the day after the June 12 article was published by calling some present and former senior administration officials who know national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. He wanted them to tell Rice that she was wrong in her comment on NBC's "Meet the Press" on June 8 that there may be some intelligence "in the bowels of the agency," but that no one around her had any doubts about the uranium story.

So Wilson called the administration on June 13.

I was just looking back over that August 25 2005 LAT article, and it looks to me like Wilkerson may have been their background source for the fate of the INR memo in State hands, as he's quoted on the record there pretty extensively as well. Maybe Wilkerson was the source for Allen and Priest as well.

"... and given how much the cia has shared with fitzgerald..."

i would have expected they'd do all they could to help the prosecutor, but i've never seen it put this directly.

how or where can one learn the cia's contribution to fitzgerald's case ?

or is this just common knowledge that i have been oblivious to?


That's a great detail--thanks for pointing it out. But remember, just because Wilson contacted someone in the administration doesn't mean he contacted OVP. I kind of take that sentence to read: "Wilson contacted Brent Scowcroft, Marc Grossman, and XXX who knew National Security Advisor..." I'd bet money on Scowcroft and Grossman. Wilson had been trying to get through to Condi through Scowcroft for 8 months by that point.

And if I'm right and it's Grossman (I say that because they're both career diplomats, they worked together on something in Turkey, and they both went to UCSB, although I'm not sure if it was at the same time), then Grossman talked to Wilson after he briefed at the WH on the INR memo. In fact, I've been wondering whether Grossman could be the SAO for the WaPo. How much did they strategize about their Get Wilson campaign on June 12? Particularly since Mr. X was leaking around then and Libby may have tried to seed leaks with Woodward and Judy not long after, it is possible that the June 11/12 meeting was the strategy session for the leak.

Which would also explain how Wilson knew so much about it.


Actually, I just made that up.

Fitzgerald has interviewed Tenet, McLaughlin, James Pavitt (I think, although don't quote me on it), and Bill Harlow. And there has been some pushback from the CIA about what happened--particular wrt the drafting of Tenet's July 11 mea culpa speech. In addition, the senior CIA offier who told Libby of Plame's identity testified (if he's not one of the ones listed above).

But I seem to recall some reports of Fitzgerald spending a lot of time at CIA in 2004. Which would be a good place to get a lot of this evidence.

According to http://www.ucsbalum.com/alum_dir_plus/notable/politics.html, Grossman and Wilson both graduated from UCSB in '72

Things sure do get murky in June, don't they?

But one thing is clear: the plot against Wilson was already hatched, and the ball was already rolling toward the exposure of Wilson and his wife. Wilson's July 6th editorial was an effort to defuse the White House spin (the "clandestine guy" stuff) that seems to have already been bubbling up through the journalistic grapevine.

Put a little differently, Wilson's Op-Ed didn't prompt the leak, as the mainstream media tells it. Instead, the Op-Ed was written in the midst of the leak, in part as a way of preventing the leak from going forward on the White House's terms. Although the mainstream media is yet to frame it this way, this seems to me the only way to understand it. Thanks for doing the spadework, emptywheel!

And if you haven't picked it up already, be sure to read Woodward's PLAN OF ATTACK....

Would the OVP people have strategized so openly in front of Grossman? It seems like they would have attempted to use at least some discretion, so that State wouldn't have such concrete evidence of their plan to out Plame. But, hey, maybe Cheney, Libby et al. were so filled with hubris at that particular moment in time that they said to themselves, "Well, so what if Powell and company know about this? What can they actually do about it?"

Also, wouldn't Grossman have some kind of notes from that meeting, and perhaps some that he might have jotted down afterward, and wouldn't Fitz have been able to use these in bringing conspiracy charges against the group, at the same time when he charged Libby? Or to bring conspiracy charges, would Fitz need a corroborating source in addition to Grossman, and perhaps he's working on that now? (Assuming, of course, that Grossman is the SAO in question.)

Just thinking out loud here.


I can't remember where I've read this one detail, but it always stands out in my head. In conjunction with what Jeff pointed out, I thought I remember reading that Rice got word back to Wilson, in response to his calls, that if he wanted to tell his story, he should do an op-ed....

If this is true (and I'm looking for verification somewhere) they clearly knew that he was coming....weeks before his op-ed appeared.

Found it....from the Vanity Fair profile:

"Wilson immediately called a couple of people in the government, whose identities he will not divulge-"They are close to certain people in the administration," he says-and warned them that if Rice would not correct the record he would. One of them, he says, told him to write the story. So at the beginning of July he sat down to write "What I Didn't Find in Africa.""

The tone/substance of this refutes my earlier suggestion that Rice "got word back to him." I thought I read that before, though I may be having a false memory.

As I was looking for the "why don't you write an article" cite, I came across this in the Vanity fair profife, and it is pretty interesting....Leiby calls to talk about Wilson's 91 experience, for no apparent reason, so it seems. That call pre-dated Wilson's article...Apparently, he just called out of the blue to talk about 1991. OK?!?

And, the part about Novak saying that something was a non-story on July 6 (before he is apparently writing his article)is interesting in and of itself. By the way, when did Novak first get leaked to? Could that be why he said "non-story"? One July 6, what would be his basis for making that comment?

"While he [Wilson] was working, he says, he received a call from Richard Leiby, a reporter at The Washington Post, about his role in the 1991 Gulf War. Wilson told him about the Times article he was writing, and the Post, in an attempt to keep up, ran a story about Wilson on July 6. That same day Wilson appeared on Meet the Press; so did Senators John Warner (Republican, Virginia) and Carl Levin (Democrat, Michigan), who had just returned from Iraq. Both Warner and Levin commented that Wilson's article was of interest, as did Washington Post columnist David Broder. Only Robert Novak, in a separate segment, said that it was a nonstory."


Great find. Thanks for that.


Yup, I'm reading Plan of Attack. Paid more than the $.35 paid for hers, though.


Here's how Wilson describes the Leiby arrangement in his book:

Now Rich wanted to profile me regarding my work during the first Gulf War [note, Leiby had already written about the hostages from it, which may be why he called]. When he called, I told him that I'd welcome a profile, because an op-ed piece detailing my trip to Niger would be appearing in a Sunday edition of the New York Times. He knew about the trip, as his Post colleague Walter Pincus was one of the journalists I had spoken to on background in the months since the president's sixteen words.

And yes, I assume Novak was a plant at MTP (perhaps Bumiller, who was also on) to counter Wilson. I speculate here that Libby may have spoken to Novak before the week of July 7; perhaps he's Novak's first source but has never been discovered as such since he didn't speak to him during the week of July 7.

Oops, forgot to turn off the blockquotes.

jus tightening up the timing a little bit, woodward on larryking: "I learned about this in mid-June, a week, ten days before (june 23)"

he's obviously still trying to hid the date...


Total coincidence then that Leiby calls Wilson while Wilson is working on the NYTimes piece? Maybe Leiby passes on to Wilson that the Post is working up a piece on him related to non-91 events. The timing is crazy.


Well, no, not a coincidence. I think he was working on the 91 profiles because of the Iraq war. And it sounds like he had learned from Pincus that Wilson was the mysterious envoy, so he knew he was back in the news.


Yup. Has to be after the 12th. Later Woodward says he asked after the Pincus interview appeared.

EW -- just a set of archival matters that might be useful.

On Grossman -- he was Ambassador to Turkey while Joe Wilson was Chief Diplomat to NATO -- 95 & 96, and much of their involvement centered on the Northern No Fly Zone over Iraq flown out of Turkey, and matters related to Kurds to which Turkey had allergies. It also covered the deployment of Turkish Military to Bosnia -- Wilson was in charge of legal details. They were friends, and it was during this time that Valerie and Joe were dating and putting their relationship together, and I don't find it incomrehensible that Marc Grossman might not have known what that involved.

OK on Ledeen. Remember that Sidney Blumenthal sued him over the charge that appeared in Drudge regarding his beating Mrs. Blumenthal, which was false. Sidney sued Drudge and Ledeen and posted the depositions on the net, and they might still be there. They were interesting. Mrs. Ledeen was big time in Concerned Women of America -- a Scaife funded outfit, with which Ann Coulter was involved, and there was much more of that sort of thing. Anyhow dear Sidney did a great service by taking it to court, and doing the fact finding in depositions. All the financial connections are there, and I assume deep in google, the transcripts are still available.

OK -- my own much earlier research on Ledeen -- not using the net because it did not then exist. Ledeen was a cohourt of Ollie North in Iran Contra, and in looking at Iran Contra I took a different kind of look (largely because I was traveling that year.) Do you remember "Ollie's Navy?" These are the ships he chartered from Denmark in the mid 1980's to move arms to Iran (Tow Missles) and Polish arms from Poland to Hondouras and Panama. (And I suspect he was also very much involved in moving Polish arms to Pakistan for the Afghanistan War.) Anyhow, the Senate-House committee did an awful job of investigating this end of it all -- but I have some lovely tapes broadcast on Danmark's Radio of the Old Bearded Sea Captain telling all his tales of doing these shipments (plus the sea chanties in Danish about the sailings. Of course the Sea Captain speaks and sings in Danish -- but since I was an exchange student there years ago, I understand and all that. For 20 years he had done CIA stuff -- and Ollie North and Ledeen blew his cover, and he was mad, and was talking and singing.

I have no idea how many ships Ledeen and North chartered, but one was beached in Panama with half a load of Polish weapons as Ollie's cover was blown, and the test of that load had been off-loaded on an Island off Houdouras. The other ship was discovered in Korser on the West Coast of Funen -- also filled with Polish arms. There may well have been several others.

The Danish Seaman's Union sued North and Ledeen in Svendborg Naval Court, and won. The trial was something of the Danish Version of the OJ trial, though of course we never heard of it in the US. North and Ledeen were convicted in abstensia for the seaman's wages, interest and all -- and another judgement to the ship owners. I don't think North and Ledeen will willingly put down in Denmark given what they owe given the judgement.

I know this does not help with the task at hand -- it is archeology. Americans have little access to it because it is all disguised behind the legal wall of the Danish Language. I have enough of it (and I read, speak and understand Danish) to know it is there -- and should be part of the story. I tried to get a reporter doing Hondouris stuff to use it in the mid 1980's -- not with any success. American reporters do not do well when they have to migrate to a different language.

Anyhow -- this is part of Ledeen's past.

I don't think Woodward was preparing to write a story in June, for the simple reason that Woodward hasn't written a newspaper article in decades. He writes books, and then gets them excerpted in the Post. Nothing about Wilson was going to come out from Woodward until his book came out.

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