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November 16, 2005


No. The crime is not revealing that information is classified. The crime is revealing classified information. The Libby indictment states that Valerie Wilson's employment at the CIA was classified information. Revealing that fact, even if you don't say "oh, and by the way, this is classified", is a crime (if you knew it was classified and were in proper possession of the information, which Dick presumably was).

Who's Armando?

why not george w bush. woodward has substantial access to him.

rove may have been cooperating with fitzgerald, including providing him with additional documents

fitzgerald (or someone who looked a lot like him) was reported to have visited the presidents personal lawyer just after the indictment went public

who knows

Cheney was my gut instinct, but you fleshed it out quite a bit. And I generally agree with your conclusions.

I forget the exact rule on the "senior admin official" sourcing convention. It's President, VP, Cabinet and Cabinet-level secretaries/directors, and deputy secretaries of Defense and State, right?

I think John Costello is right here - telling a reporter that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA is legally okay ONLY if the leaker did not know that her status was classified, and surely Cheney *did* know that.

Kagro X --

Armando is a regular poster at DKos.

-- Rick

Who's Armando? I want to know who this Trapper John character is.

John Costello, you're absolutely right. But the burden for Espionage is pretty high (remember Fitzgerald's comments on it during his press conference). It would be much harder to make a convincing case for espionage when the information was passed without treating it as confidential (particularly since Woodward claims this was just gossip). And this wouldn't fit the IIPA restrictions either because it doesn't OUT her as a NOC.

Orion. I thought of that. It's possible, I think. But I'm not yet convinced Bush is involved in this that early. That is, I wouldn't be surprised if he is eventually implicated in this. But I don't imagine him being implicated until the time Rove is involved, which--at least as far as we know--mostly comes later, in July.

One other question I'm wondering about--is Woodward's source the same as Pincus' still unidenfied source? They were told exactly the same thing. And they describe it in very similar terms, someone not leaking classified information. Just random wondering, I guess.

I'm just a simple guy who can't figure out why none of the savvy media types around here will clear up the "s.a.o." sourcing convention.

SAO, I think, is cabinet level, people with secretary in their title (as in, Under Secretary of State for Non-Proliferation) and top aides or cabinet level. But don't quote me on that, unless you attribute it to a former Hill staffer.

if suspicions were convictions
the buggers might...

do time

(can't find the rhymn)

at washington note and anonymous liberal others thought first of the president when they heard this story.

at these sites and elsewhere a troubling current of thought arises that somehow this (wh official speaks to woodward) harms fitzgerald's case -- because libby is not the "first" to have identified plame/wilson to a journalist. i cant see how this matters but maybe others can.

My only caveat with the KhomeiniCheney theory is that I'm not convinced that he would talk freely with Woodward. Has anyone read Woodward's book on the lead up to war? I know that Bush was quite forthcoming with information for Woodward, but I don't remember that Cheney was. I only read the excerpts in the WaPo, so this is more speculation on my part.

I think GeorgiePorgie told Woodward. Georgie wasn't really leaking; he was gossipping. And he was lucky that he said it to Woodward, who wouldn't run with the ball. (I'm trusting Pincus on his memory, I realize. Pincus was really on the story and Woodward was the big picture guy, so a little detail like outing a CIA agent wasn't important to him.)

emptywheel, I think you're right on the money with your speculation that Woodward's source is Cheney, and that his motivation in releasing Woodward to Fitzgerald is his attempt at heading off an espionage charge. It seems like a gamble, because, as you say, it seems to raise the possibility of conspiracy.

What's also interesting is that this story comes out on the same day that it's revealed that Cheney basically sat on his ass while the oil companies lied to Congress last week (or was it earlier this week?). I'm guessing that someone who's not a Cheney fan--Andrew Card, perhaps?, as Bush Sr.'s proxy in the WH--knew the Woodward story was going to break today, and made sure another story got out at the same time that would turn the heat up on the VP.

Maybe it isn't about the case primarily, but just to throw up a lot of smoke and make things so confusing for the public that nobody will blink when bush pardons Libby?

Woodward's source had to know that Woodward would go public about testifying. Heck, maybe that was even a condition of the release. And Woodward bent over backward, according to his own report, not to contradict his own notes and to lead Fitzgerald away from IIPA liability. So Woodward is mostly covering his source, whoever it is, while confusing the timelines.

This is echt Rove-- create maximum confusion in the enemy ranks.

How about Rove for Woodward's source? (Assuming it really is a Senior Admin Official, which Woodward leaves vague.) This would substantiate Rove's general story that HE didn't know the info was classified, HE didn't know all that much about CIA statuses etc. Rove is the other one right now who is twisting in the wind and trying to stay in the loop, whose lawyer is trying every gambit he can. I haven't read Woodward's books, so I have no idea of his feelings about Rove.

Or Bush, since we know that Bush apparently quite casually disclosed other classified info to Woodward in the run-up to the Iraq war. Fitz could have gotten a waiver from Sharp, Bush's lawyer. I think Rove is more likely.

Woodward says "current or former Bush Admin officials", one presumes deliberately, so I'd put Fleisher as one of the 3, unless he is being coy in including Libby as the "former" since he's resigned too. Cheney is named in other places, perhaps to deflect attention from him being one of the 3, but I think that less likely.

So my guesses for mid June are Rove (or Bush), Fleisher for June 20 and Libby.

Who's Kagro X?

I guess I find the Bush story more compelling than the Rove one. After all, proving that he didn't know this was classified in June does nothing to prove he didn't know it was classified in July, when someone told Novak it was classified.

But I just don't think this rose to the level of Bush's attention yet. But maybe I'm underestimating his nastiness, which you should never do.

I think Ari is strong guess for the second person. Except that Woodward does give an attribution there, and he describes this person as a "administration official." Ari, I think, qualifies as SAO.

Could you please elaborate on Pincus's role in all this, namely why it would be such a hard case to make? Thanks.

Woodward himself calls them all "admin officials" without a "senior" in his whole piece, I think.

As Laura Rozen says, Woodward's constant reference to the original discussions of Plame as "just gossip" (so hilariously detailed by Atrios) are clearly how he himself exopereinced them. He was right there in the middle of it. Laura suggests Hadley, and rererences Novak's "not a partisan gunslinger".

But what if Novak is using misdirection, and it was the original partisan gunslinger, Rove?

I had been of the view that this was all Cheney and Libby, and that Rove got in only for the smear. Now I don't know, since they all obviously knew about it from mid-June on, and gossiped about it.

But whoever FIRST got the name out of the CIA files, or their own memory, surely one of the "three little piggies", or Bolton, he knew she was classified. But, especially if it was one of the piggies and not Bolton, he might not have realized what they would do with the info.

Does Woodward talk to little people? Or does he only pal around the WH with the bog fish? What a self-important, lying hack he turned out to be. As Laura Rozen says, his free rein beggars even Judy Miller's.

bog fish, big fish, whatever. I kind of like bog fish.

I'm with John Costello, I have a hard time believing this exonerates Cheney from Espionage. It is possible, however, that he "forgot" he'd spoken with Woodward when Fitz interviewed him, for whatever reason feared Fitz was getting close to Woodward and decided to head off a false statement charge by coming forth himself.

I don't necessarily think Fleitz told him, I think it's quite possible Woodward was going to do an article that Fleitz was a part of. Remember Len Downie said they first became aware of Woodward's "source" a month ago when Woodward alerted them he might be doing a story (probably the rumor that reached both Steve Clemons and the NYT's ears). That Woodward would at that point be doing a story about Cheney's involvement seems a stretch.

I think it's quite likely that Bolton told Woodward, and of course Fleitz is an integral part of any Bolton scenario. Bolton does count as a SAO, and having never been interviewed by Fitz, would not have mentioned Woodward. I also think it's likely that Rover coughed up Bolton as part of whatever last minute "reprieve" he received from Fitz, which I don't think is necessarily a deal -- I think Rove just very much wanted Libby indicted first, by himself, and was willing to trade some info to sail for a while.

I hadn't read Atrios' collection of Boobyisms when I wrote this. I find these two particularly interesting:

ISIKOFF: No, look, this is the biggest mystery in Washington, has been really for two years and now as we come down to the deadline of tomorrow the city is awash with rumors. There's a new one every 15 minutes and nobody really knows what's going to happen tomorrow. Nobody knows what Fitzgerald's got.

I talked to a source at the White House late this afternoon who told me that Bob is going to have a bombshell in tomorrow's paper identifying the Mr. X source who is behind the whole thing. So, I don't know, maybe this is Bob's opportunity.

KING: Come clean.

WOODWARD: I wish I did have a bombshell. I don't even have a firecracker. I'm sorry. In fact, I mean this tells you something about the atmosphere here. I got a call from somebody in the CIA saying he got a call from the best "New York Times" reporter on this saying exactly that I supposedly had a bombshell. [my emphasis]

Someone in the White House was trying to pressure Woodward to come clean with what he knew on the night of the indictment. Isikoff's source in the WH is usually Rove. I presume the "best" NYT reporter is David Johnston. If it was really Rove on this, was he trying, finally, to bring Cheney down on this? I can't imagine anyone in the WH (that is, not the Old Exec Office Building) pushing this story if Bush was Mr. X.

And then this one:

Ms. BROWN: Well I think Andrea hit the nail on the head, meaning that everyone on the inside, with the exception of Armitage, was a Cheney guy. Now there is a hitch, and--and we've been talking about this, but Joe Wilson, Ambassador Joe Wilson, has a book that's out now, which goes after Cheney's top guy: Scooter Libby, his chief of staff, who is--also has a long history with many of the other people who have been advising the president. And it--there's an ongoing investigation into who leaked Wilson's wife's name, an undercover CIA agent, to reporters and made it public. And his is pointing the finger at Scooter Libby in his book.

Mr. WOODWARD: Does--does he have any evidence, though? Or is this just a guess, surmised?

Ms. BROWN: It is--he...

Mr. WOODWARD: I wish it was Scooter Libby.[my emphasis]

Why would Woodward wish it was Libby? Maybe he just doesn't like Libby. Or maybe he says this because he knows who it is and wishes it weren't this person. This second argument could support either the Bush or Cheney story. Bush, because I think Woodward genuinely likes Bush and would be sorry if he were in trouble. Cheney, because we know he was in charge of this in some way (and Bush has never been in charge of something).

I've finally gotten around to laying out some thoughts on the Woodward news -- and I think that whoever the SAO was, there's a strong circumstantial case that he/she was revealed to Fitz by Rove's last-minute information to avoid indictment.

I really really really think that before someone accepts the partisan gunslinger comment, they should have to explain why that one statement would be true when everything else in that column is demonstrably misdirection if not outright obstruction.

But then, I never thought Hadley qualified as as "not a partisan gunslinger" anyway.


Pincus is a credible reporter who has done real work over decades. Most of the rest of the reporters on this story are self-promoting lightweights. I just don't imagine Pincus leaking to these people.

And more importantly, Pincus' sources are largely CIA. Which means if he had an institutional loyalty here, it was definitely CIA. If a journalist spread the Plame story, it was almost certainly a journalist who either feared and worshipped the WH or who was institutionally aligned with it.

thanks! any thoughts as to Woodward's timing?

I got a call from somebody in the CIA saying he got a call from the best "New York Times" reporter on this saying exactly that I supposedly had a bombshell.

I also spoke to someone who might be described as "the best NYT reporter" that night and they were trying to track down the Fleitz rumor too, and Woodward put a pin in it with his Larry King appearance.

I also spoke to someone who might be described as "the best NYT reporter" that night...

Whoa, Jane ... after all you've written about her, you spoke to Judith Miller?

(*runs away quickly*)

Ah, I'm beginning to better understand your Fleitz argument, Jane. I'm a little slow today.

But why would Bolton count as a bombshell? Maybe I've been a member of Plamania clubs too long, but it seems like Bolton would be no surprise to those who watched his UN nomination at all.

FWIW, I still firmly believe Bolton has at least been interviewed. I realize Shuster had to back off his claim to that effect. But it was only after some serious State arm-twisting. And there were other articles during the summer (sourced to a Powell ally at state) that said "Under Secretaries" had been interviewed wrt the memo. Which almost certainly has to be Grossman and Bolton.

Armando is an attorney at, KX knows, a 10,000 messages/day website I think in Emeryville; the kind of gent who carries the message of the day like sometimes you all do there and here. He is busy recently weighing in on some lawyerly lurid stuff on a 'moderate' website as well, see worthwhile but sad dialog at where he posts a simple contribution; there was a lot going on this week about short-circuiting the supreme court's enunciated intent to allow habeas rights in Guantanamo and elsewhere, Sen Graham running interference for the administration. It takes a lot to rile Armando, but the drolls who cite USC chapter and verse at his website and Markos' sometimes receive repartee like ReddHedd has been known to use. Atty. de la Vega has helped a lot on the Woodward-Plame affair; I wonder what she is up to today. Sometimes there are good liberal Armando-like posts but all the best websites I have found in law are rarely those of baristers, rather more specialized. Armando has the common touch and is motivated by broad interest in political party organization, I believe, though, of course, yours was a scintilla of humor

One more reason why Bush could be Woodward's source:

Recall that Grossman did more than brief Libby on the contents of the June 10 memo. He reportedly had to go report on it to the White House. So it is possible that Bush got a Grossman briefing on the contents of the memo. And after that he blabbed his mouth to Woodward. I find that scenario more convincing--because it means Bush's discovery of this fact is incidental. And it doesn't necessarily mean Bush knew Plame was covert (the memo suggests she's not).

EW: I agree with you on the dubiousness of the "not a partisan gunslinger", which is why I was suggesting we might as well believe the opposite, i.e., that Novak's source was Rove.

Woodward now saying that Card was one of his sources, per WAPO. Wrong again.

Rawstory says Hadley told Woodward about Plame.

Raw Story is now reporting that Steven Hadley, when he was Condi Rice's assistant, was Woodward's "senior Administration official" source.

Raw Story has not been very reliable on this. But assuming they're right on this (they're going out further on a limb than they have before), Hadley is interesting. Is it Hadley who made a deal right before Libby got indicted, and not (or in addition to) Rove?

But again, this doesn't do much for or against Libby's indictment. Hadley may have learned from the June 11 or 12 meeting at the WH where Marc Grossman reported the contents of the INR memo--that's all that Hadley revealed to Woodward. And I can believe that Hadley is Pincus' source and perhaps even Novak's first source.

But if all he told people is that Plame worked in WMD at the CIA (and he didn't tell them she was covert), then it's not a crime yet. Unless, of course, Dick or Libby shared the DO info with Hadley.

So is Woodward going to be checking into the Judith Miller Suite at the federal prison? I thought we sort of settled this issue the last round, that it's not kosher for a reporter to protect a source if the reporter became a witness to a crime by listening to that source. Does the claim that the source didn't know Plame was covert exempt Woodward from having to name the name?

Hadley has been the Admin point man lately on the whole Wargate story, trying to push back on the war lies. And then there are the emabrrassing revelations about Pollari and SISMI and when, exactly, Hadley knew the Niger story was a crock.

And if Hadley knew, Condi must have as well, from the beginning.

This is what Fitzgerald said at his press conference.

Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer. In July 2003, the fact that Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer was classified. Not only was it classified, but it was not widely known outside the intelligence community.

He deliberately used the word "officer" to emphasise the fact that the crime lies in linking Mrs Wilson to the CIA.
"Analyst" versus "operative" versus "nonofficial cover" is a red herring.

I'm not a lawyer so I'm easily confused here...but why does saying she's covert matter? Saying she works at the CIA on WMD...when her contacts believe she works someplace else...wasn't that what did the damage? Nobody had to say she was covert. Nobody was supposed to say ANYTHING AT ALL. I thought.

Untangle me?

Now I get it!

Cheney ordered each member of WHIG to pick one reporter to leak to.

And just like other neocon and Rupuglican talking points, the stories were "oh, so consistent!"

What a bunch of traitors.

Emptywheel, I have a question about Jeffress. He's Matalin's lawyer as well as Libby's now.

Can a lawyer in that situation use his experience with one client's testimony to shape another's defense?

An interesting circumstance to be in as Matalin and Libby were both WHIG members and connected with the press.

FYI-Woodward statement says "current or former SAO" which opens the door to many people...

How informative was this Julian Borger paragraph, printed in a July 17, 2003 article in the Guardian (four days after Novak's column)?

"The OSP absorbed this heady brew of raw intelligence, rumour and plain disinformation and made it a "product", a prodigious stream of reports with a guaranteed readership in the White House. The primary customers were Mr Cheney, Mr Libby and their closest ideological ally on the national security council, Stephen Hadley, Condoleezza Rice's deputy. In turn, they leaked some of the claims to the press, and used others as a stick with which to beat the CIA and the state department analysts, demanding they investigate the OSP leads."


It's not a question of the effect the leak had. It's a question of what it can be proved Hadley knew. Given what we can speculate about how he learned (I'm suggesting via the Grossman briefing), we'd have a hard time proving he KNEW she was covert. So while we could slap him with a violation of his nondisclosure agreement for not checking with the CIA before he spread the news, we can't indict him for espionage or IIPA.


I didn't know that. Do you have a link on the Matalin representation? It's probably a question for ReddHedd, though.


Yeah, and don't forget that Borger is one of the first people to have done a story on who the leaker probably was (IIRC he said Libby).

"Washington lawyer William Jeffress was also present as part of the Libby defense team. Likewise, he is well known for white-collar criminal defense work.

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald acknowledged during the session that Jeffress had represented another client during the grand jury phase of his investigation.

That client, Mary Matalin, a former adviser to Vice President Cheney — whose name was not mentioned in court — had told Jeffress that she had consented to his representation of another client. Fitzgerald said he did not object."


I guess Fitzgerald's aware of all this anyway, I'll try asking ReddHedd.

Thanks kim. As soon as Jeffress got picked, I assumed he was picked to pass messages through James Baker to Bush. If Matalin also used him, that might bolster the argument.

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Emptywheel, I have a question about Jeffress. He's Matalin's lawyer as well as Libby's now.
Can a lawyer in that situation use his experience with one client's testimony to shape another's defense?

An interesting circumstance to be in as Matalin and Libby were both WHIG members and connected with the press.

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