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November 25, 2005



Very lucid; well done and persuasive; one of your best.

I agree - great post. As with your Judy narrative posts, you remind us that there are several strands to be untangled here. I wonder, though, if it is really "curious" that the "I heard it from journalists" line would be predicated of precisely those journalists pushing forward with the Wilson story. This is Rovian "pushback" at its finest, and would surely have worked but for the itch to reach for what you call the "nuclear" option.


I think you're missing an alternative explanation for the early leaks (Miller and Woodward, perhaps others). Those leaks appear to have been an attempt to seed the Washington gossip machine to cover the later leaks. Woodward (wittingly or not) played his part, if somewhat imperfectly. He admits to having tried to spread the gossip to Pincus. And don't forget that Miller's version of her testimony tracks perfectly with the cover story (i.e. I might have heard about Plame from somebody else, I just don't know who or when).

Great post, ew. Boy talk about a bunch of over-reactors. My dogs have better impulse control.


Well said, much better than I could say.


I'd agree with you. But right now my Lab is being an absolute shit to the rentaLab we've got for the weekend, refusing to allow him to share his cushions. Definitely overreacting.

Remarkable, dense research. Just a few Sundays ago, Matthews was telling his viewers how upset Cheney's office got when Joe Wilson was on the show shortly after his op-ed broke. Matthews admitted that the WH pressured NBC and Tim Russert to do something about it.

The NYT article covering this speech was co-bylined by Elisabeth Bumiller

Bumiller is really the quintessential bad NYT reporter (Judy is her own category): neurotically self-important, like the NYT itself. As with Democrats, it's easy to 'play' someone who has no sense of humor about themselves. It's almost routine with Republicans now. (Remember Bumiller having a nervous breakdown trying to get, I think Kerry, to admit to being 'a liberal' at one of those thousands of primary debates before '04?)

Absolutely fascinating post, EW.

Great work. No wonder Bumiller admitted that she was "afraid" to ask the president questions about the decision to go to war.

No one familiar with the history of this country can deny that all of our presidents have tried to be useful, that it is necessary for them to investigate before committing the nation to action. But the line between investigation and action is a very fine one, and the current Bush administration has stepped over it repeatedly. Their primary achievement has been in confusing the public mind, as between internal and the external threats of terrorism.

Now, as a chorus of voices begin to question the policies of this administration, we must not confuse dissent with disloyalty.

Furthermore, we must remember, and all future presidents should be reminded, that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon irrefutable evidence. As a nation, we must not coil and strike out in fear. We must not be driven into an age of unreason.

If we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, we can see that we are not descended from fearful men, men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular. So this is no time for men who oppose the methods of the Bush administration to keep silent -- or even for those who approve.

We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. There is no way for a citizen of a republic to abdicate his responsibilities. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom, wherever it continues to exist in the world, but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.

The actions of President George W. Bush and his administration have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad, and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his. He didn't create this situation of fear; he merely exploited it -- and rather successfully. Cassius was right. "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves."


The threat of loss of access has made it so reporters are more sensitive to complaints from above than below. Perhaps each paper should have a reporter whose brief is to use no off the record or background sourcing. I guess Froomkin to some extent already serves that function?

I think that the bifurcation you point to, the reactive leaks vs. the proactive leaks (i.e., Miller and Novak) is really fruitful. Perhaps we have a couple of distinct motives on the table, and that the same actions recur to different ends over time. Early on, Hadley and Libby are indeed being reactive to news accounts, but by the second week of July the same story is part of the SOTU controversy and the struggle with the CIA over culpability for the SOTU claims. Or perhaps different groups are acting out of different motives: VP is intent on pummeling the press as part of the anti-Wilson disinformation war, while State and the NSA are looking back at the conflict with the CIA over the SOTU. Not that these are unrelated, but rather that each has a slightly different goal, and, as you point out so well, modus operandi.

Thanks for the great post. Speaking to one piece of it, I'm Jewish but not really religious and don't know as much as I should. But I've always wondered if the Aspens connected at the roots business related to Libby and Miller's shared heritage, along with their common fixation on Israel. I wonder if one reason this angle isn't investigated more, or at least brought up, is that it's considered to be impolite, possibly anti Semitic. But it is the most clear example of common ground between Libby and Miller, and, also I think, the least tortured explanation for the use of the word "roots."

Those who still believe that Bush/Cheney never lied about Iraq's WMDs need only look at Cheney's August 2002 statement:

"Simply stated, there is NO DOUBT that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction [and] there is NO DOUBT that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us."

Well, there was doubt, lots of it. And Cheney knew it. So he chose to lie about the existence of the doubt, since the doubt was politically so inconvenient.

Good work, EW. Among other things, I hadn't seen that Smerconish column... nice catch. Lots of grist for the mill here. Thanks!

you have a talent. it is a shame that you have so little raw material to work with

the personality analysis is convincing

but the story line is too plain vanilla because we do not have the documents that would reflect the day to day concerns that drove particular choices

Fitz could use you. I hope Fitz has his onw EW on his staff

The 2 Bob's and the 2 Novak's: Time Magazine's Viveca Novak is "cooperating" with Fitzgerald in regard to her discussions with Novak.
Yahoo News Link
Viveca Novak, a reporter in Time's Washington bureau, is cooperating with Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, who is investigating the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity in 2003, the magazine reported in its Dec. 5 issue.

Novak specifically has been asked to testify under oath about conversations she had with Rove attorney Robert Luskin starting in May 2004, the magazine reported.

Novak, part of a team tracking the CIA case for Time, has written or contributed to articles quoting Luskin that characterized the nature of what was said between Rove and Matthew Cooper, the first Time reporter who testified in the case in July.

Kudos again to EW.

Your first Woodward quote well reveals Libby's guilty conscience, which was quite guilty very early on. He was paranoid about having the Iraq War pinned on the Neocons and/or Israel. He much preferred to manipulate from behind the scenes.

Tim Russert didn't earn any points with the Neocons when, just prior to the Iraq War, he put this direct question to Richard Perle:

"Can you assure American viewers... that we're in this situation against Saddam Hussein and his removal for American security interests? And what would be the link in terms of Israel?"

For Neocons like Libby & Perle, this sort of thing is fullblown anti-semitism. Perle looked stunned in stammering his response. Meanwhile, in the intervening years, Tweety has been guilty of far more flagrant honesties. Which have been noticed, most assuredly.

Tom Maguire ever-so-gently begins to point out the obvious. If America is to be saved, we're going to need a lot more of that. From the Internet grassroots, however, not from either party's hopelessly bought-n-sold-n-well-controlled politicians.

In a 1989 Senator J. William Fulbright essay on the Middle East, he writes of AIPAC: "The lobby can just about tell the President what to do when it comes to Israel. Its influence in Congress is pervasive and, I think, profoundly harmful -- to us and ultimately to Israel itself."

Indeed, increased honesty can help save Israel as well. It is America's job to do that. To restore some sorely needed sanity.

For SaltinWound, re: Aspen Roots, here's an interesting quote from Newsweek magazine, reporting on an AEI conference in the mountains of Colorado:

Newsweek, 07-15-2002
By Dan Ephron and Nora Lipper


Sharansky is hoping he had a hand in reshaping U.S. policy. At the conference, he says, he spoke privately with Cheney for more than an hour Saturday, two days before the Bush announcement. "More than half our talk was devoted to what would be said in the speech," he says. Later Saturday, Sharansky and Wolfowitz were due at a dinner reception, but as an observant Jew, Sharansky said he couldn't drive on the Sabbath. Instead, he and Wolfowitz trudged through a forest on foot to get to the dinner, their bodyguards in tow. "It gave us a chance to talk about everything--Arafat, international terrorism, Iraq and Iran and, of course, Jewish history, our roots and so on," Sharansky says.

Great as always EW. I think you're spot on.

And I'll just reiterate my belief that what Russert and Libby were actually discussing was a telephone conversation betweeen Libby and Tweety, prompted in part by Mrs. Greenspan possibly "gossiping" with Tweety re:Wilson's wife and the CIA.

Tweety was trying to confirm this rumor with Libby, and when Libby wouldn't take the bait, went on Hardball with his description of Libby's and OVP's role in pushing for war.

Then Libby calls up Russert, enraged over the use of his name on Tweety's show. During the conversation, he also brings up the fact that he previously talked with Tweety about Plame, and that he wants NBC to lay off the Wilson story (especially the connection to OVP).

It makes perfect sense in light of what you've laid out about Libby's name (not) being used in the press before. He was a virtual unknown prior to the Plame affair.

Plus, this conversation with Russert may have been the genesis of the "reporters told us" meme. In a sense, Tweety had told him, but it's a lot easier to pin the blame on Russert, because Russert was probably easier to manipulate. Tweety had previously indicated that he'd be willing to tell the truth if asked. Oh, and Libby could always claim the "I mixed up the two" defense as well.

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