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December 12, 2005

Comments

EW,

This is getting too dense to track. You use so many indefinite pronouns, I have trouble following. "They" means either the people Leonning had been talking to for weeks or it refers to the "two sources". I have been reading every word of PlameGate by you, Jane, Armando, etc., but the details are folding back on themselves and, at least for we few merry armchair readers, it is increasingly hard to follow your work, as much as we appreciate it and try to decipher it meaning. A couple of days ago someone suggested a paragraph of conclusions or implications that flow from the speculation. That would be most helpful for part-timers such as I. Thanks, and keep digging. It is important work.

I second ArthurKc

I agree that this is wonderful source of all things Plame but a summary paragragh once in awhile as a wrap up would be very helpful indeed.

Keep up the brillant sleuthing emptywheel, we need ya.

I'm leaning toward Rove as Woodward source anyway. Makes Woodwart even more of a dirt bag has-been.

I sincerely hope Fitz has truly had it with Rove and the DC Presstitute Corp(se)and will nail their godamn lying asses to the floor.

Thanks for the good work. Interesting idea about a possible Luskin line of defense.

I had two thought fragments rolling around my head about the Vivnovka incident as a result of the following:

1. Why would a reporter have a fuzzy memory of important dates when the dates relate to an important story?

2. Why would Luskin think that being told about the Rove/Cooper interaction in January was a good idea?

Here are my thought fragments to answer the above:

1. VivNovka and Luskin are romantically involved. She was more interested in their relationship than the story.

2. VivNovka and Luskin are protecting Luskin in some way.

I wondered in Luskin is in trouble. It is unusual for a defense attorney to testify. Maybe the VivNovka is a pretty cover for Luskin's reason to be interviewed.

I think you're reading too much into the selective waiver pattern. Compare this to how Pincus treated his source. Grand jury testimony is secret. Any responsible source (not that there are any in this story) would say tell the grand jury everything, but don't publish it.

Here, here. I agree with the need for summary. How about a chart that separates known facts from speculation, actions of the players and presumed goals of those actions. Which thread do we watch to get pulled so the whole thing falls apart?

I agree the Novak and Woodward stories are connected, and this seems to me like a good attempt to explore how. My guess is it's part of an evolution that will lead to a tighter working theory. My big issue is that immediately going to Fitz (with the Woodward info) is such a different response from the one Luskin had to Novak (the lengthy stall/search for e-mails--nothing like that happened with Woodward).

One problem is Rove has to forget having told two separate reporters about Plame, Woodward and Cooper. Woodward has to remind Rove. Cooper's testimony also reminds Rove. Then Luskin is so concerned he looks at all Rove's emails in case Rove forgot something else. It sounds like Rove has Reagan's memory not a photographic one.
Also Rove must have known Woodward would speak up eventually. He must have been asked after the Cooper revelation if he was very very sure he didn't talk to any other reporters. I think he would have been better off mentioning Woodward then. Fitz might think that Rove was recanting because Woodward was going to tell Fitz anyway.
Hadley is now also interesting as X. I don't think Fitz would have found this email earlier from Hadley. The search would have been done on one set of email archives which has Hadley's and Rove's emails mixed in it. If he didn't find it for Rove he didn't find it for Hadley.
So presumably Hadley would have denied to Fitz about talking to any reporters about Plame. He didn't mention Woodward otherwise Woodward would have been deposed earlier. He didn't mention any other reporter or there would be another reporter out there fighting being deposed. This is odd though if Hadley really was expecting to be indicted, because what would the indictment be for? It seems that Hadley must have known he perjured himself or obstructed and got caught by Fitz because there is no reporter questioned for him to have leaked to.
So if Hadley expected to be indicted and wasn't he was either lucky, the indictment was postponed or he flipped. What if Rove and Hadley were both in danger of perjury about this email? Then Luskin's play with V Novak saved them both for a time.
For example Hadley might have told Fitz he didn't know about any SAO discussing Niger with reporters. If he had said Rove had sent him this email then Fitz would have gone straight to Cooper and Rove asking them about this conversation. Because Fitz didn't it means Hadley didn't tell him even though Hadley knew about this from the email. So Hadley is being threatened with obstruction.
Fitz was pressuring Cooper to name his source, and all this time Hadley knew from the email the source was Rove. All this time he failed to "remember" the email. So Rove and Hadley may have agreed to forget the email and if Rove was outed as the source the email would be found by Luskin, then Rove would remember and remind Hadley.
The timing could be controlled because Luskin was not giving Cooper a waiver but also pretending not to realise this was holding things up. So he was keeping the option in hand of discovering the email and reminding Rove and Hadley with it.
But then the ploy failed suddenly and Cooper took Luskin's comments as a waiver and testified. Then there was no opportunity for either Rove or Hadley to remember the email, one to remind the other and tell Fitz. It was too late because of Cooper testifying.
So Luskin may have planned a setup with V Novak by bringing up Rove and Cooper to her at drinks. He says oh by the way isn't it a coincidence but I'm Rove's lawyer. By talking around the subject he hooks Novak into being skeptical about Rove and Cooper. Then he says to Novak oh my you think Rove talked to Cooper? So now Novak thinks she made Luskin wonder about Rove and Cooper, which gives Luskin motivation to plan the fake search if needed. Later Novak is deposed and amazingly finds herself the alibi for Rove and perhaps Hadley.
But if Hadley is X there is a big problem. Hadley, Rove and Libby would each have said the nepotism story the same way to a reporter in an off handed way which implies conspiracy. The stories are too similar. Fitz has an email between Rove and Hadley which both claim to have forgotten. So at least one would expect Fitz to depose Hadley again but he hasn't. If Hadley was X though he has been deposed over Woodward and likely asked about the email.
So if Hadley is X 3 of them told the same story to reporters. Three of them supposedly forgot at least part of the story. In all 3 cases it only came out because the reporters spoke out.
To succeed then Hadley and Rove would have to convince Fitz they did forget about the same email. They also came up with the same story as Libby to a reporter by coincidence. If they succeed then they skate.


What if Rove somehow knew that Armitage had told Woodward? What if the Viv Novak tip and the Armitage tip were - in combination - Rove's Hail Mary? Also another question... Did Woodward know of Vivnovka's problem before she interviewed him? Maybe he should practice some journalism and try asking her a few questions.

EW:
You are onto something. Looks like Rove called everyone in sight pre-June 12. Then set up the June 12 calls as a way to implicate the rest of the WHIG in CASE a problem surfaced later. Poor Libby got caught - imagine his anger at Rove today!

" A couple of days ago someone suggested a paragraph of conclusions or implications that flow from the speculation."

Ditto all these comments. This is REALLY interesting, but having the caveats overwhelmed the conclusion. It's great that you separate the guess / surmise part, but then be more definite in that section.

Thanks!

emptywheel, IMO, your analysis is 100% helpful whether or not it is 100% accurate. Also, some readers may have missed your "massive speculation alert," strategically placed in the first sentence. I want to echo, however, what some of those same readers wrote which is how important your articles are. Your analyses are definitely impacting the MSM (although not as much as I would like).

If you get a chance I would appreciate your opinion about how the leaks have appeared to dry up and what this silence tell us. Rover, Libby, Booby Luskin, Cheney, Hadley, Woodward,and the rest of the country club WHIG, their stenographers, and attorneys all read Vivnovka's piece yesterday with avid interest and apparently none of them went to NYT or WaPo with anything. I think their collective silence is deafening given the extent to which they controlled the WaPo and the NYT prior to Libby's indictment. They are all too scared to even get a sentence in about an "overzealous prosecutor." John Casper

EW:
This also shows clearly that all Washington reporters are part of the Rove machine: from Woodward to Vivnovak. Obviously reporting to their editors or their readers is not really important, since that is not how they are paid. How are they paid? Just access, or actual dollars? How many copies of Woodward's books were bought in the Delay islands? What favors did Judy get from the military? We need an investigative reporter!

Good work, EW. For what it's worth, I was thinking intuitively on the same lines, there are too many coincidences with Viveca Novak and Woodward, too many parallels at work with Luskin, so it must have been Rove leaking to Woodward... What a treat to read your analysis.

But what about this? "Woodward said he had tried twice before, once in 2004 and once earlier this year, to persuade the source to remove the confidentiality restriction, but with no success," wrote Vivnovka in her Woodward story (Nov. 18, 2005).

You didn't discuss this revelation above (a mini-bombshell, in my opinion). If Luskin is trying to demonstrate his client's pattern of good faith in coming forward on receiving new information, this would seem to undermine his efforts. So what do you make of it?

Woodward's source has to be Bush in an unguarded or very arrogant moment, Cheney in a very vindictive moment or Rove in a very calculating moment.

A couple of weeks ago I was convinced by the thread to one of your posts that Bush was Woodward's "Mr X" and he said it to Woodward in an unguarded moment. I've also thought at various times it was Cheney. Or Rove. These three (particularly the forst two) are the only ones who would make Woodward say "I wish it WAS Libby" on Larry King.

It is still possible that the leak to Woodward was somewhat inadvertent and a bit independent of the Cheney/Libby/Rove conspiracy to smear Wilson to get the spotlight off the Niger forgeries themselves and the way the Admin had hyped and fiddled with intel and lied us into war, especially in the State of the union speech that all this goes back to. It is possible that Woodward never thought it wa a big deal because he had other fish to fry, and that he was set up or came forward right at the end to help (advertently or inadvertently) to save Rove. Your hypothesis hangs together, but it is so complicated that it is hard to believe people could keep this straight while also running a campaign and, in spare moments, running the war and the government.

A hypothesis advanced in a previous thread by someone whose name I have forgotten was that when Woodward told Downie that he had spoken to Pincus (which Pincus had forgotten), it put Downie and the Post in a bind, because they had negotiated Pincus' testimony on the representation that Pincus had told him and the Post's lawyers everything. Now it looks like Pincus forgot something. They had to go to Fitz. But Fitz could not indict Rove with this potential cloud over his critical witness (on Rove) so he had to shelve Rove for the moment until he could straignten out the Woodward thing, which then took on a life of its own.

And while I can see Woodward thinking that he plays by his own rules so not telling Downie is ok, because after all Bush told him all sorts of classified info, how does Viveca Novak think SHE doesn't have to tell her editors what she knows and, moreover, what she was so stupid as to relate to Luskin. This bunch is way too incestuous and self-important. The involved reporters, in trying to maintain their position in the in-crowd, are letting down their employers and above all their readers. And as with Bush, after we have been lied to a few times, why should we believe anything they write? Viv should be fired, but she's not the only one.

While I have always loved reading the posts on this site, I have a suggestion for improvement (and it applies to most blogs, not just this one). Quit with the stupid-ass nicknames for story subjects. It doesn't take any longer to write Viveca Novak than it does to write Vivnovka. These worthless little attempts at wittiness detract from your article.

The simple rule of journalism is always assume that every article you write may, in fact, be the first time your readers have encountered the subject.

If a reader of this post has not yet heard of Viveca Novak, how in the HELL do you expect them to know who "Vivnovka" is? I assume, since you are writing about political machinations, that you are trying to inform your readers, right? If so, you are doing a disservice. I am tired of reading about "Rummy", "ScAlito", "Tweety" and who knows how many other ridiculous little nicknames. And now you have added yet one more.

Grow up.

And if you can't, at least identify your immaturish brattle much as you would an acronym such as PETA (People for Eating Tasty Animals). At least then your readers would know to whom you are referring through the remainder of the article.


I think Woodward was used by the WH to "out" Woodward's source to the SP.

On Oct 24, the NYT published the article that revealed Libby had learned of Plame from Cheney. Big News.

On Indictment Eve, Oct 27, Woodward and Isikoff are on Larry King Live:

"MICHAEL ISIKOFF, "NEWSWEEK": 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 was behind the whole thing. So, I don't know maybe this Bob's opportunity.

KING: Come clean.

BOB 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 what's 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."

Isikoff getting calls from the WH, Woodward getting calls from the CIA and NYT - somebody with "credibility" was floating this rumor to big media players. Steve Clemons was reporting on his blog that he had been called by a national media figure on this.

After the indictment though, Woodward did have a bombshell. Woodward appeared on LKL again on Nov 21, this time to "come clean". So, why did Bob finally decide to tell his editor that he'd been the recipient of the leak before any other reporter? From the Nov 21 LKL transcript:

WOODWARD "An excellent question. The week of the indictment I was working on something and learned another piece of this puzzle and I told Len Downie about it and I told him about the source and what had been disclosed to me and there was a sense before the indictment, well, this is kind of interesting but it's not clear what it means.

Then, the day of the indictment I read the charges against Libby and looked at the press conference by the special counsel and he said the first disclosure of all of this was on June 23rd, 2003 by Scooter Libby, the vice president's chief of staff to "New York Times" reporter Judy Miller.

I went, whoa, because I knew I had learned about this in mid- June, a week, ten days before, so then I say something is up. There's a piece that the special counsel does not have in all of this.

I then went into incredibly aggressive reporting mode and called the source the beginning of the next week and said "Do you realize when we talked about this and exactly what was said?"

I believe that Wooward was nudged, early in the week of the indictment, by his WH sources (who no doubt had a list of WH approved sources for Woodward's book AND WH records of who and when Woodward interviewed back in Jun-Jul 2003) to check his notes and "discover" he, not Judy, was the first reporter to learn about Wilson's wife.

The source is either someone who had flipped on the team, or someone the WH never really liked anyway. That would make Grossman, Armitage and Tenet plausible sources (all of whom had knowledge of this - Armitage on Jun 13 after the Pincus article was published). In this case, they could have been giving Woodward some of the background on what the CIA/WH intelligence war was about. They may have given this info off the record, never to published.

As to players who flipped, Wurmser and/or Hannah would also have the Plame info, as they worked with Fleitz, who I believe is the senior CIA officer who told Libby on Jun 11.

At any rate, that VNovak was the reporter who got the Woodward exclusive is far too coincidental. When Luskin called her and told her the SP wanted to talk to her, she was none too happy. Did Luskin attempt to soothe her by letting her know that Woodward was going to have a blockbuster story, and that he could get her an exclusive interview? One of Woodward's friends in high places may have suggested they'd really like Woodward to talk to VNovak?

I think the WH did this on the eve of indictment to discredit Fitz’ investigation (how did he NOT know about Woodward, with as VNovak told us, who left a trail of his visits on calendars, phone and visitor logs? They also threw someone under Fitz’ bus.
That’s my take


Patrick McGonegal -

This is one of the few blogs that features polite, civil discourse. Can we keep it that way please? Thanks.

EW
I totally agree with this theory & have been suspecting it for awhile. The thing that caught my eye was Woodward's description of his source's innocent revelation that he might have been a source, and how he immediately rushed to tell the prosecuter right away. Totally echoes & parallels the VivNovak/Luskin sequence.

Only thing is, Fitz is way to smart to fall for any of it.

carot

Actually, Rove would be claiming he had forgotten telling three journalists: Woodward, Cooper, and Novak. He testified at first that he didn't talk to Novak, and then "remembered" that he had been a confirming source for him. But that's his story--that he didn't remember any of these, because he wasn't leaking.

QS

Wow, that's a really good point, the best counterargument to this theory I can think of. That kind of goes along with my biggest doubt about this. What would get Woodward to approach his source a third time, not necessarily asking for a waiver, but pointing out the indictment is wrong in asserting that Libby was the first to leak to a journalist. You could answer my question by saying that Woodward is slightly deeper in this than I'm assuming here (I'm assuming he's just obtuse, but it'd be a lot easier for him to come forward if you asked him directly to do that). How to answer yours though? Perhaps that detail came out between Woodward and Vivnovka (two journalists pretty much screwed by their whoredom for access). And ask Vivnovka realized how much Luskin had screwed her over, some latent journalistic instincts took hold. Not sure I buy that, but it's a first shot.

I think the style here is great. If I don't know something, I try to educate myself. Empty Wheel is very polite in responding to questions. But she is under no obligation to do so. As I venture further into reading blogs and comments on Plame, I'm a bit shocked by some readers' sense of entitlement. These bloggers don't work for us, we are congregating around the ones we like.

Another way the V. Novak and Woodward situations are different is that Novak was talking to Luskin, Woodward was talking to Rove (let's assume). If that's true, then the last (successful) attempt by Woodward to get his source to come forward was the first time LUSKIN heard about Woodward. It's meant to show Luskin's good faith, not Rove's (I don't know why). But Luskin was the one who sat on the Novak/Cooper info for months, "looking for an email (when you could make a case that Rove was in the dark). I don't see a case where the same person (Rove or Luskin) acted in good faith with both Woodward and Novak.

kant

I REALLY REALLY doubt the Armitage story. THe story that says he even read the INR memo is not very well sourced. And there is a well-sourced one that says clearly he did NOT have the memo. Add in the fact that Neocons ROUTINELY blame things on Armitage, and I think it's one giant red herring. Which is not to say I don't think it possible that Luskin was managing the Woodward leak, which was from someone else. But you'd have to explain how Rove knew about it. There'd be no way for him to know about an Armitage leak.

John Casper

Great point. No one really trying to push back on this in the media. I've got one basic explanation: the source of almost all leaks was Luskin. Once Fitz got Luskin under oath, he had him under threat of obstruction directly. So when Fitz told him, in all seriousness, that he would consider leaking ABOUT THIS MATTER obstructive, Luskin got really really quiet.

That'd only work if Fitz intends to keep pursuing this angle, which he may be doing.

Patrick McGonegal, the Next Hurrah exists in a pretty specific context and part of that context is that you have every right to your opinion. For a long time I thought Tweety was Matthews, but now I am pretty sure it is Russert. emptywheel explained in some detail how she developed the nickname Vivnovka over on FDL (www.firedoglake.com). I think it is a pretty clever nickname and although emptywheel did not mention it, I think she gave it an intentionally layered meaning, which might have escaped you, because it certainly escaped me until Vivica' piece in Time yesterday. Vivica is looking less and less like an unwitting pawn to "Booby" Luskin and more like a greedy journalist who put her own advancement way above her professional responsibility to inform the public.
I would invite you to consider that emptywheel is a rare talent who informs Jane Hamsher, ReddHedd, Swopa, HuffPost, and the MSM (main stream media) with her speed of light fast, laser like analysis of massive amounts of data. The "immaturish brattle" IMO is put out by our politicans and the MSM.

If you do not know to whom a nickname refers, this blog allows you to ask. If you feel the nickname is disrespectful, you can blog about that too. The technology changes the rules, "The simple rule of journalism is always assume that every article you write may, in fact, be the first time your readers have encountered the subject."

I would invite you to consider that the quality of journalism at the Next Hurrah plays an extraordinarily important role in the preservation of this great Republic of ours.

If you have concerns about a specific nickname, I would invite you to share those in detail in the blog. If other people agree with you, they will let you know. John Casper

Contradicting my earlier post, the summary is enormously helpful. John Casper

2lucky

Two points. First, I have found no evidence Armitage had knowledge of Plame's identity before July 7 that can't be placed against a better-source piece of evidence that says Armitage didn't have this information. Further, BushCo was peddling a INR memo red herring all summer, trying to implicate Powell and Ari. If they knew they could also implicate someone else, they would have included those people in their red herring treatment this summer. Therefore I think it highly unlikely that this is Armitage, Grossman, or Tenet. Which is not to say I don't think the Woodward managed leak isn't a likely possibility--I think it might be. But that it would be someone internal to the team. Remember, telling Woodward that Plame works for CIA (depending on where you learned that information) is in isolation only a violation of Nondisclosure Agreements. Unlikey that Fitz would indict for that. SO it would be a relatively low risk way of discrediting Fitz.

Similarly, Fleitz is probably not the senior CIA official. First, he's just not senior enough (the director of WINPAC didn't even know who he was when Bolton came asking for him). Also, had he told Libby of Plame's identity, he would have been much more definitive about her identity. Whoever told Libby was reporting second-hand knowledge.

Two things.
One, I understood this post completely (a rarity on here). Two, this theory really gels for me.
I don't know about Luskin being so clever, but this gibes with my information about Rove: his ability to distance himself from his dirty tricks would involve just the kind of maneuvering EW describes.
Think about it---there is no way Rove would out a CIA agent without giving himself cover. We're getting a glimpse of how he did it now.

Oh, and Scooter, if you're reading this now..... does EW's theory seem right to you? Seems like Karl's knife has been planted in you too many times for you not to get a few licks back, you pussy.

Here's one more interesting detail, and another good reason for Time to have placed Vivnovka on administrative leave.

Vivnovka learned she'd have to testify under oath on November 18. But before she told her manager--who was presumably there in the office with her--she posted her Woodward story. Then, she waited two days. And THEN she told her manager.

The Woodward story is ethically problematic, given her involvement in the story. But she hid that ethical problem until after the story was published.

Hmm... Like Mimikatz, my chips are on the big names (leaning toward the Boy Prince) as Woodward's source, and I had an interesting moment with that very WaPo quote about Woodward's source "having testified much earlier." Does that necessarily mean testified under oath, or does it just mean talked to Fitz?

That said, this scenario has Rove looking a lot more plausible, especially the bit where you give credit to Luskin which I think he doesn't deserve. I think Luskin pretty much takes his cues from Rove, because that explains a lot of his otherwise weird and legally counterintuitive behavior. If Luskin's role was not so much "counsel" as "mouthpiece," then it's not hard to imagine Rove orchestrating the (admittedly convoluted and high risk) effort you describe in order to persuade Fitz that he (Rove) is trustworthy. Point being that that's not a legal defense strategy -- it's a straight-up PR strategy. Which is right up Rove's alley and exactly how he would want to tackle the problem.

And FWIW I don't see why Woodward's ostensibly third, fateful, trip to his source requires a special explanation. Why couldn't Woodward simply have feared the reaper? i.e. it's reasonable to assume throughout all this that the kewl kidz know more than we do, right? So why isn't it reasonable to assume that while we all heard Fitz saying that the "first known leak was to Libby," Woodward was reading between the lines (or hearing through the grapevine) that Fitz was still on the trail of earlier leaks? Such as the one that he was privy to...

P.S. Patrick: Boy Prince == George W. Bush

emptywheel - You say

No one really trying to push back on this in the media. I've got one basic explanation: the source of almost all leaks was Luskin. Once Fitz got Luskin under oath, he had him under threat of obstruction directly. So when Fitz told him, in all seriousness, that he would consider leaking ABOUT THIS MATTER obstructive, Luskin got really really quiet.

Not quite right, there is some quite interesting stuff in the WaPo story today where some lawyer(s) keep(s) alive the idea that, contra what Viveca Novak reports Luskin told her regarding his strategy in telling Fitzgerald about their conversation, he's not trying to show that their conversation prompted the search for evidence of the Rove-Cooper conversation:

Novak wrote that Luskin told her the tip set in motion a cycle of events that led Rove and his lawyers to search phone logs and other material to determine whether Rove had talked to Cooper -- and eventually prompted Rove to change his testimony. But another lawyer in the case said Luskin had a different strategy in mind when alerting Fitzgerald to the conversation.

This speaks to the ongoing question of what date for the conversation helps Rove and how, and who is leaking what with regard to this topic. I've inclined toward the view espoused by Armando against that of Jane Hamsher, and though the Novak article made things not look good for that theory, some lawyer (I suspect the same one as above) is keeping that theory alive:

A lawyer close to the case said Luskin has contended the conversation happened before Rove's first appearance before the grand jury in February 2004, when he testified he did not recall discussing Plame with Cooper. Luskin refused to comment. A spokesman for Rove's defense said in a statement that Rove is cooperating and that private discussions with the prosecutor will not be discussed publicly.

Who is this lawyer or lawyers? My suspicion is that it is one of Luskin's helpmates, and there are two possible motives that occur to me: first, Luskin really is pursuing a strategy where the fact of the conversation taking place before Rove's first grand jury appearance in February 2004 is supposed to help him, so it's not a matter of the Luskin-Novak conversation prompting the search for evidence of Rove-Cooper. Or second, Luskin simply wants to keep the public or some other player in the case guessing and confused, for whatever reason, whether because it distracts attention from the fundamental fact that Rove participated in the leak and lied about it (through McLellan) or what. This would fit with his unhappiness with Novak's revelations being sincere, since she reveals his real strategy, which he doesn't want clarified.

The other major possibility, however, is that some other party averse to Rove's interests is pushing this counter-prevailing storyline, and wants the date pushed back to January because it makes Rove look all the more guilty -- again whether that is just for public consumption or in order to send signals to Fitzgerald. The major suspect here would be TIME people who have been reported to be pissed at Novak making it look like one of TIME's reporters was unnecessarily helpful to Rove, and to have pushed back. Deb Orin said something to this effect on Hardball last week - the only trouble is that she said it in reference to the NYT story which put the conversation mighty close to October 2004, not at the other, early end of the relevant timeline.

In any case, whoever is pushing this line that Luskin is pursuing a strategy that involves January 2004 as the conversation date was pretty obviously the source (or an ally of the source) for the Dec. 3 WaPo story, which offers a very similar version. So whoever that is, is pushing back. And looking back at the Dec. 3 story and putting it together with this latest one makes me believe more strongly that it is coming from Rove's people -- which again is not necessarily to say that they are really pushing the idea with Fitzgerald that the Luskin-Novak conversation happened in January and is not prompted the search for evidence. But they do seem to be pushing it with us, for whatever reason.

I'm not seeing anything here that leads to the conclusion that Rove is Woodward's source. I think QuickSilver's objection is hard to overcome. Besides, I still think Bush was Woodward's source and I don't there was anything inadvertant about the leak.

That aside, there are just so many questions about Woodward's story. First, what did Woodward learn that made him confess to Downie? Was it simply that Pincus didn't remember the supposed conversation about Wilson's wife? Second, what is it about Libby being the first leaker that convinced Woodward and his source to talk to the prosecutor? Why would that be significant? Third, why did Fitzgerald talk to Bush's personal lawyer on Indictment Day? Sure, I have no way of knowing if it's connected to Woodward's story, but I just can't believe that no one is speculating about that very public act by the special prosecutor.

Jeff

I stand corrected. Excellent points all around. FWIW, I'm not averse to the Luskin pushing January theory at all. His argument might be something like, "Vivnovka tipped me. I asked Karl. He still said he didn't remember. I did a review of the phone logs. Still nothing. THen, when Matt got subpoenaed the second time, I remembered that Vivnovka tip and looked through Karl's emails. I just wanted to make sure that Rove came forward with any involvement he had in this affair." It would be no more or less convincing than a story starting in May (but less convincing than a story starting in August).

William

I'm keeping the Bush conversation in mind. Keep in mind, too, the rumor of the questionnaire Dick Cheney was given slightly before Fitzmas (although this is less well documented). I think it highly likely that Fitz is still mulling IIPA or Espionage charges, as well as conspiracy charges tied to that charge.

Keep in mind, we still don't know the person who committed the IIPA violation. Everything we know of so far pertains to passing Plame's employ at CIA, not her covert status. (We know Libby knew she was DO, but so far, we just have well-grounded suspicions he may have told Judy of Plame's covert status). I think the scene will change rapidly if and when we learn who willfully passed Plame's covert status.

EW,
I love your writing and I hope this isn't too much off topic. All this corruption stuff in DC has just overloaded my circuits.

I was just looking at Vivnovka's bio at http://www.time.com/time/columnist/novak/bio.html and found it impressive.

Her reporting background in campaign finance scandals and lobbying suggests that she has been around long enough to know the hardball power game that is played in DC.

So what happened to Vivnovka? Did she get sucked into one of the many sewers in the WH and Congress that we find today? Is she a decent person who trusted a "friend", made a couple of bad decisions and now finds her career ruined? Or was she a willing participant in the hardball power game who got caught when the ante was raised?

Plamegate has sucked in reporters from 3 of the largest media companies in the country.

Delay, Abramoff, Cunningham, Wade, Wilkes investigations look like they might pull in half of Congress.

Where does it end? Anyone else think that almost everyone in DC needs a refresher course in ethics? I used to think a "throw the bums out" approach would work.....but how do you throw out the MSM, the lobbyists, staffers, etc. It is depressing!

EW -

I'm not married to the idea of Armitage (although I don't know which article to which you refer that says Armitage didn't have the memo prior to Jul 7). I do think however that the Woodward "discovery" was orchestrated by the WH and was aimed at someone outside their team. Woodward tried to get his source to come clean twice before - but he wouldn't. If the source is caught up in the probe amidst evidence of guilty intent, I don't think the WH would want that out. You look more guilty by refusing to come forward all along.

If the source however, mentioned Plame (as an analyst) to Woodward to explain a bit of the CIA wars and trusted this info would never get out, the case for coming clean with Fitz but not the public would be embarassment. Suppose Armitage didn't have the memo before Jul 7, but did hear from Grossman (Armitage supposedly tried to keep tabs on what the "crazies" were up to, in order to protect Powell). I'm curious about him because there were very few players in mid-June who might have learned about Plame "innocently".

As to Fleitz, the WINPAC official didn't know about him, but Bolton sure did. He was a trusted player, working along side Wurmser (late of OSP) and Hannah (the guy who bragged about working directly for Libby). It wouldn't surprise me if Libby called a trusted CIA guy to get the lowdown on Plame from him. You may be right on Fleitz, though. There's not much in the indictment on this guy.

2Lucky

Here's the article I was talking about. It is sourced to "a retired department official" and says:

Armitage called Ford after Wilson's op-ed piece in The New York Times and his TV appearance on July 6, 2003 in which he challenged the White House's claim that Iraq had purchased uranium yellowcake from Niger.

Armitage asked that Powell, who was traveling to Africa with Bush, be given an account of the Wilson trip, said the former official.

[snip]

The June 2003 memo had not gone higher than Grossman until Wilson's op-ed column for The New York Times headlined "What I Didn't Find In Africa" and his TV appearance to dispute the administration.

The LAT story that says Armitage did have this memo doesn't cite how its source knows--and certainly doesn't source it to someone at State (therefore, someone who would know). It appears to be one of the vaguely sourced flurry of stories about the INR memo that, with hindsight, appear to be red herring articles planted to impugn Ari, Powell, and Armitage. I'll take this as definitive until someone can convince me that Armitage leaked Plame's name maliciously and therefore was establishing his coverup in this article.

My point about the WINPAC director is that, if your second or third level boss doesn't know who you are or what you do, then the claim you're a senior officer is pretty ridiculous. Elsewhere in the Bolton testimony, Fleitz is called "a relatively senior officer," so its not outside the bounds of possibility. But I doubt it.

SteveH

I firmly believe everything I've heard about Vivnovka's commitment to the good fight. But she also showed a remarkable lack of judgment. Perhaps it's because she trusted friendship would trump legal maneuvering. But she still ought to be held responsible for basically treating news gathering like one treats gossip. I mean, if you don't take notes and don't keep track of time and dates, then what separates you from the local gossip? That doesn't produce good reporting and it leads this this kind of exposure. In other words, I think she got screwed; I don't think she intentionally got herself into this position. But it happened because she was sloppy.

So for the logically challenged then, does the Quicksilver objection - if unanswered - eliminate Rove as a possibility? Who does that leave in the field then? Thanks, as always.

umzuzu

Hopefully QS will wander back here and offer his take on it.

I'd think it'd make the ploy less convincing. But then, I never thought the ploy was all that convincing in the first place, just a last minute hail mary, as many people call it. And I do think it possible that Vivnovka wasn't supposed to publish that bit. But then, I'm sure Fitzgerald asked about it, too.

I think it makes the alternate theory--that Luskin was managing the Woodward revelation with the knowledge of his leaker, who is not Rove, more likely. But the argument against this is that it would be Libby's lawyer, not Luskin's, who'd have an interest in pushing back against the Libby as first leaker.

If Woodward told Fitzgerald what he told the rest of us, then his testimony is that he asked his source to be released from confidentiality in 2004. If Woodward's source is an employee of the White House, he (or she) can surely expect to be charged with obstruction of justice. I don't see how that would help Rove at all. Is he to claim that he forgot about speaking with Woodward, even though Woodward reminded him twice?

William

I don't think that's true. Even after Libby didn't release Judy a year after he had released three other journalists, Fitz was only just threatening him with obstruction. Further, the WH waiver was designed to allow people to testify to Fitz, not publish their information. What Woodward was asking for was to write about their conversation, not testify to Fitz.

I raised the objection, but I haven't ruled out Rove as Woodward's source. SaltinWound makes a valid point: it's very possible Luskin is trying to cover his own legal bases now, and the "new information" prompting Woodward to come forward may relate to Luskin knowing about Woodward for the first time (Rove having kept him in the dark before). Fitz's legal pressure on Luskin, and his efforts to isolate him from Rove, is clearly the work of a prosecutorial virtuoso. We just don't know the tunes everyone is singing...

My own speculation is that Woodward almost certainly got his leak about Valerie Wilson before the whole journalists-as-cover-story smear was fleshed out in detail. Whether he got it from Rove or Cheney or Bush, I don't know...the stage business related to Viveca Novak and Luskin certainly makes Rove a strong circumstantial bet. As for the plot itself, I believe Libby worked out the legal aspects, having long entertained notions of exploiting First Amendment journalistic privilege to such effect. Rove plotted and planned which journalists should be told. The scheme was presented to both Cheney and Bush, who explicitly approved and followed the plot as it progressed from June into July 2003 (and beyond).

One thing we have all lost sight of is the overwhelming evidence of Rove's guilt that's in plain sight: Matt Cooper's e-mail to bureau chief Michael Duffy on July 11, 2003, and the extraordinarily difficult task of reconciling Rove's testimony with it (Luskin has already tried) and the fact that Rove/Luskin worked so hard to deny Cooper a waiver. To my mind, Rove is guilty beyond question, and Fitz is using these weeks before charging him to tease out more details in the case, and build up specific charges based on the lies in all four grand jury appearances. Giving Rove more rope to hang himself, in other words... But make no mistake: Fitz's quarry is the man upstairs, the man who is ultimately responsible for the crime.

I still keeping going back to the statement that Woodward only talks with the top guys ... which keeps Cheney in front line.
Another thought, since blogging is a unique form of freedom of speech for the willing, do you ever wonder when the Patriot Act or whatever will dismember our access to facts? Am seeing more and more internet censorship.

emptywheel,

You mistake my meaning. In 2004, Woodward reminded the source about the conversation. His source was obligated to go back to Fitzgerald and tell him about the conversation. I'm not a lawyer, it sure looks like obstruction to me. How does Woodward's source justify not correcting his testimony in 2004?

William

I understand what you mean. I disagree about Obstruction, but here's where I see there being some legal jeopardy.

Woodward's source would only be obligated to report the conversation if there was a document related to it (per the first subpoena--and contacts about Woodward were never specifically subpoenaed). The phone records and log in sheets with Woodward in them had to be turned over--which they were (according to Vivnovka's article on Woodward). Therefore, Woodward's source is only in two kinds of legal jeopardy:

1) He is guilty of violating his nondisclosure agreement. That could lose him his security clearance, but probably wouldn't.

2) If he was asked about this, then he is guilty of some kind of false statement. But we don't even know what that would be. If it were Bush or Dick, then it would probably be false statements, since neither testified under oath. But remember, they testified in mid-2004, before at least one and possibly both of Woodward's attempts to get a waiver. If it were Rove and he was asked, "are there any other journalists you remember telling this to" in his testimony this year or October 2004, then he'd be guilty of perjury. And we don't know when the other possibilities (Hadley) testified, and under what circumstances. In other words, there are many many cases where this person would be under very little legal jeopardy. Even with Rove, he would only be guilty if he were asked about journalists after Woodward asked for a waiver. And at least by October 2004, Rove had backed off his claim that he hadn't talked to any journalists before this came out.

This is totally crazy speculation, but I think deserves a mention.

It's based on trying to tie up two loose threads that Jeff and 2lucky have been commenting on:

1) Assuming the Jan 2004 date of the Vivak conversation is coming from Rove's defense team, and common sense seems to say this doesn't help him beat the perjury rap, who is Luskin trying to fool here and why? Certainly not Fitz. (Jeff's astute observation)

2) The idea that someone in the WH "outed" Woodward as a source, possibly through Rove/Luskin (and possibly the genesis of the "gave Fitzgerald pause" bit). (2lucky's contribution)

If we take these interesting nuggets along with Mimikatz's supposition that X has to be either Bush, Cheney or Rove, I'd like to make a strong case for X being Cheney, and that Rove's/Luskin's shenanigans of late have little to do in reality with helping Rove get out of trouble, but more to do with the _appearance_ of helping to get Rove (and by extension Bush) out of trouble.

My scenario goes a little like this, week of the indictment, Luskin's desperate to get his client off. He can't offer to flip, because Rove knows too much that could get Bush (and other power players in President's office) in trouble. But he also wants to avoid indictment at all costs too. So, the hail mary Novak/Luskin ploy is concocted. Luskin offers this bone to Fitzgerald in one of those late-night meetings, but Fitz sees right through that and says, no deal. Luskin, panicky by now says, alright, I'll tell you who the first leaker was, but we can't have a formal deal. My client will accept the false statements charge in return for this info. And he's not going to be a witness at trial.

Luskin offers up the Cheney/Woodward nugget. In return, Fitzgerald and he work out a mutually beneficial arrangement whereby Fitzgerald _appears_ to be investigating Rove, but in reality that's all so much smoke and mirrors. In reality, Fitzgerald's working Woodward for information, and investigating that angle in preparation for a Cheney indictment.

It's truly crazy, and possibly unethical for a prosecutor to ignore plain evidence of a crime (perjury) in return for backroom cooperation, but if it helps him get Cheney....

But it does have the advantage of why Luskin's pushing a seemingly nonsensical story, and is mad at Vivak for telling the truth to Fitzgerald. It also helps Rove and the Bush administration get rid of their 800 lb. gorilla, Darth Cheney and his ilk, while at the same time make it look like they're publically defending him. And it allows Fitzgerald (and the CIA, by proxy) get "their man."

It has the downside of allowing Karl Rove to walk fairly scot-free, and not discrediting Bush too much, so that may play to the Republicans long-term advantage. I certainly hope the Dems would be able to pin the Cheney corruption angle on Bush still (and the Republican party in general).

*If* Rove was Woodward's source, I find it VERY hard to believe that Rove's team would have offered forth that information in an effort to help Rove avoid indictment. I just don't see how that bit of information would help Rove more than it would hurt him. He was surely asked in both his FBI interviews and his grand jury appearances whether he spoke to any other reporters about Plame prior to Bob Novak's article. If he was indeed Woodward's source, that would clearly add a few potential counts of perjury and false statements that Rove's lawyers would have to defend against. Moreover, as another commenter pointed out, Woodward claimed in the famous "Vivnovka" article that he tried to get the source to come forward on multiple occasions, including back in 2004 (and there's been no pushback on that point from Luskin or anyone else). That's a hugely damning piece of information for Woodward's source. It makes it very difficult for that source to assert the "I forgot" defense.

2Lucky is right. If Rove's team was pushing the Woodward information to Fitzgerald, it's almost surely because Woodward's source was someone other than Rove. Armitage makes the most sense. Plus, if it's not Armitage, why hasn't he denied it? He's the only one that hasn't, and he was all but fingered by the Times. That silences speaks volumes. I'd love to believe that Rove was Woodward's source, but this is an Occam's Razor situation. Armitage is the much simpler explanation.

One more point. When Fitzgerald held his press conference the day of the Libby indictment, he clearly didn't know about the Woodward leak (or at the very least didn't know the date of the Woodward leak). If he had, he wouldn't have said that Libby was the first known leaker. That makes it very unlikely that the Woodward info was offered as a part of Rove's "hail Mary" defense. It's possible that Rove's team tipped Fitzgerald to the existance of the Woodward conversation pre-indictment, but didn't know the exact date. If that's true, however, it makes it very unlikely that Rove was Woodward's source. Why would Rove's team give Fitzgerald such incomplete information? How would embarrassing Fitzgerald help their case?

AL (and everyone else who buys the Neocon tripe that this is Armitage)

Armitage is accused by neocons of doing nefarious things every day. Really. I've been reading through Ledeen's articles, and accusing Armitage of shit is like required punctuation for Ledeen. Armitage doesn't deny these accusations. He ignores them.

No one has yet provided convincing evidence Armitage had this information to offer that effectively counters the article clearly sourced to State that says he didn't. No one has yet offered an explanation of HOW Rove would have learned that Armitage (or any other OVP/WHIG enemy) leaked to Woodward. No one has yet explained how, if Powell was going to be a big source for Fitzgerald, he didn't clear up with his best friend Armitage Armitage's own involvement first. No one has yet explained Armitage's MOTIVE--Tom Maguire's depiction of State trying to get back at CIA (when the leak hurt one of theirs, Wilson, too, and when State and Plame's side of CIA were natural allies) is ludicrous and shows absolutely no understanding of the dynamics going on, which pitted State and PROFESSIONALS at CIA against OVP and DOD.

I mean, maybe I'm wrong. But I've never heard an argument that this is Armitage that sounds even remotely logical, much less convincing.

emptywheel,

I don't think anybody's going to be charged with obstruction for not complying with the subpeonas. Libby was charged with obstruction for lying about how he found out about Plame and who he told. To quote from the indictment:

A major focus of the Grand Jury Investigation was to determine which government officials had disclosed to the media prior to July 14, 2003 information concerning the affiliation of Valerie Wilson with the CIA,and the nature, timing, extent, and purpose of such disclosures, as well as whether any official making such a disclosure did so knowing that the employment of Valerie Wilson by the CIA was classified information.

Although Fitzgerald had been almost deferential in his questioning of reporters (in accordance with his view of the relevant Justice department rules), I doubt he's been soft on the WH employees. Whether or not Woodward reminded his source before or after the source was questioned, the source had an obligation to testify truthfully when he was inevitably asked about talking to reporters about Plame. I don't see how it can be anything other than obstruction. Of course, I don't know why the Libby indictment would set Woodward off (unless he really believed that there would be no indictments in the case). The issue was never who leaked first, but rather who all leaked before July 14, 2003.

EW,
I don't think the speculation about Armitage can fairly be labeled "neocon tripe." Speculation came to focus on Armitage not by way of overt accusation, but by way of a fairly innocuous process of elimination in which virtually every other "Senior Administration Official"--including Armitage's colleagues at State, Colin Powell and Marc Grossman--issued denials. Maybe Armitage really is just "ignoring" the accusations, as you say, but Powell and Grossman felt compelled to offer denials. Why hasn't Armitage? I don't think you have to be a neocon sympathizer or a gullible fool to suspect Armitage is source (I'm certainly not the former and I would hope not the latter).

As for motive, I don't see why there really has to be one. There's no reason to think that Armitage knew Plame was anything more than an analyst and there's also no reason to suspect that he shared the information in the hopes that Woodward would print it, at least in the near-term. In other words, if he was the source, Armitage was probably not sharing the information in an effort to out anybody, but simply, as Woodward says, as a colorful bit of gossip to a reporter that was not likely to print it (at least not for quite some time).

If this is true, it doesn't make it any less likely that the other leakers acted with more sinister motives. This may just be an unfortunate sideshow from the real issue.

viget:
of course, hence the "end of Fitzmas", bcos nobody will be charged: not Rove, not Libby ("I was not the first"), Cheney will deem Exec Privelege, and its on to 2006 elections!

tensions rise among the cast of this print soap opera.

not necessary.

like any puzzle involving human behavior, the "answer" will be surprising.

and it will only be manifest when we are allowed to learn just axactly what was said and done and when. right now we only surmise and speculate and
that's what we are doing.

but it's just for fun. none of us are sybils.

with a feed back system like a human being (not to mention dozens of them), keen observation,and careful analysis will only take you part of the way.

the number of choices the players could have made are very large and probably less based on rational behavior than we would like to think-- even at this high level of government, or perhaps i should say especially at this high level of government activity.


For Viget: "It's truly crazy, and possibly unethical for a prosecutor to ignore plain evidence of a crime (perjury) in return for backroom cooperation, but if it helps him get Cheney...."
Not so! Prosecutors can 'ignore' all sorts of peripheral lesser crimes...IF they are subordinate to the original investigation. Fraud, perjury, tax evasion, any crime that comes to light during a GJ investigation can always be referred to the Justice Dept. afterwards if it is deemed important and serious enough to pursue separately. Fitz must have acquired a massive Santa-size bag of extra 'goodies' after 20 months on the job with this crew. I'm certain that the other shoes will be falling for years after the full round of indictments on this case come down. No...Fitz has his eye on the prize! The smoke and mirrors is giving me a slight headache, tho.
Something that bothers me.....how does Rove's attorney get into the WH server when the Justice Dept. can't? Am I missing something?

Emptywheel -

Thank you for the link on Armitage.
1) Yes, the admin is always after Armitage - I'm not basing my speculation on that. Nor am I arguing he's it.
2) I'm speculating that Armitage may have learned from Grossman the Libby request. Armitage's role at state was to keep his eye on the "crazies" at State - to protect Powell from what they were doing, and to find out what they were keeping from Powell.
3) Woodward says he learned something in the week leading up to the indictment (the Tenet->Cheney->Libby revelation rang a bell?). He goes back to his notes for Jun and lo and behold, he finds in his notes references to Wilson's wife in the context of interviews with Card, Libby, and The Source. He calls Libby - do you remember this conversation - my notes say I was going to ask you about Wilson's wife on June 23 - the same day you talked to Miller.
How'd you learn about Wilson's wife, Bob? Well, I can't reveal my source, but I had this information on June XX.
4) This starts the WH tracing Woodward's name on phone, visitor, e-mail logs, etc. Again, I'm sure the WH knew who Woodward was talking to back in June, 2003. Lo and behold, they find records of Woodward talking to The Source on June XX. This is good news for Libby. They start leaking that Woody's got the original source of the leak.
5) Armitage motive: didn't have one. After a long interview, when he thinks he's completely off the record, gives what he knows about the budding Wilson flap - that the guy's wife works at the CIA and maybe had a role in sending him to Niger. I would assume he's shedding a little light on the CIA wars. Not malicious, not intended for publication. That may be why Woodward is so adamant his source wasn't transmitting info meant to harm anyone. (but his dismissal of the case in its entirety damages his credibility on this point.
6) Powell - good point - he would not be happy.
7) Armitage, as far as I can tell, didn't deny being the source, but did issue a no comment. But, maybe he always issues a 'no comment' to everything unless he wants to talk about it. Dunno.

None of this proves anything, and I'm not saying Armitage is the source (although I don't think it's ludicrous - Grossman was covering while Powell and Armitage were away. Grossman could have briefed him verbally on what went on in his absence).

Furthermore, the FTimes article states that "The June 2003 memo had not gone higher than Grossman until Wilson's op-ed column". It may not have physically gone higher, but the indictment indicates that Grossman passed on to Libby information contained in the memo on June 11/12.


Shttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Armitage Since when is Armitage not part of the "Cabal?" I am confused. Any thoughts?

Armitage signed the PNAC letter to Bill Clinton.

EW:

I know you don't want to entertain that Armitage is Woodward's source but I really think you need to give it more consideration.

On Saturday's thread Swopa pointed to the LA Times article that you cite (and don't believe) above and this article from TIME

----------------------------------------------------
That's incorrect -- this is from Time magazine on Jul. 31st (the August 8th issue):

"... Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman asked for and received a memo on the Wilson trip from Carl Ford, head of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Sources familiar with the memo, which disclosed Plame's relationship to Wilson, say Secretary of State Colin Powell read it in mid-June.

Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage may have received a copy then too."

Posted by: Swopa | December 03, 2005 at 16:14
----------------------------------------------------

Here is what I am hearing.

1) Armitage is Novak's source, tells FBI and Fitz right away after investigation is underway.
2) Fitz has Armitage come in and give his statement. Fitz says we'll get back to you.
3) At the end of one of Woodward's interviews with Armitage, he asks about the Niger stuff. Armitage tells him what he has heard from the memo.
4) Woodward knows Armitage has told him this information and he considers it "offhand"
5) When indictments come out and Woodward reads the details, he realizes that Armitage hasn't told Fitz about his conversation. Armitage only volunteers the Novak conversation.
6) Woodward calls Armitage and wants to write a story about this - he realizes it's big news. ("Gets his investigative reporting juices flowing".) Armitage tells him to take a hike and says he'll call Fitz.
7) Armitage calls Fitz and admits he is the Woodward leaker as well. Fitz is fit to be tied.
8) Armitage doesn't want to be identified by Woodward.

I totally agree with AL that this might not even be a deliberate leak. It just means it's a sideshow. It does NOT detract from the issues with those with more sinister motives - like Rove and Libby.

Here's my theory - following up on Steve Clemons post here - http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/001099.html

Armitage is Fitzgerald's Deep Throat. He talks about Plame in an offhanded way to Novak and Woodward, which is why Woodward doesn't think it was a big deal. When he first testifies to Fitz, he realizes that Rove and Company have been agressively pushing this story to punish Wilson, which wasn't Armitage's original intenion. That's why he spills the beans:

"Yesterday, a senior administration official said that before Novak's column ran, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife. Wilson had just revealed that the CIA had sent him to Niger last year to look into the uranium claim and that he had found no evidence to back up the charge. Wilson's account touched off a political fracas over Bush's use of intelligence as he made the case for attacking Iraq.

"Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge," the senior official said of the alleged leak.

The fact that Armitage leaks to Novak and Woodward (unintentionally) doesn't mean that he isn't upset when Rove and Libby do intentionally for the wrong reasons.


I'm still betting on Hadley as Woodie's source. I can't see how Armitage just coincidentally executes the Wilson smear according to the WHIG marketing plan. I can see Powell or Armitage denounce the Wilson smear, though.

Armitage was odd man out with the smearers.

There are a number of very strange details with Woodward.

1) Rove claimed he heard about Plame via journalists. What name was all over phone logs and building sign-in sheets during the June-July timeframe--WOODWARD. Yet, he was never questioned? Even Woodward found this strange.
2) If I remember correctly, Woodward called his source when Woodward was contacted by the FBI. The FBI said they had heard through the grapevine that a big story about him and Plamegate was about to come to light.

So how could a prosecutor who is know for being so thorough be so sloppy?

He's not. He is using the strategy he uses when he busts the mob. He knows the story, but needs to get the facts surrounding the CONSPIRACY. With the mob, prosecutors use wiretaps on a few players. Since it is probably hard to get a tap on the Bush admin. Fitz has limited players that are wiretap accessible. So go to the sources. Since Rove claims he heard the Plame info from journalists--keep an eye on the journalists. What journalist name is all over the phone and building sign-in logs--WOODWARD. Tap Woodward and eventually he will talk. Then as the end nears, the FBI calls and asks Woodward, "What's the scoop." Woodward calls his source and says, "Games over." My guess--Fitz is going for conspiracy and Woodward is part of it. V. Novak's part--unknown.

EW,

Summary is not what we need from you.

We need a narrative.

You are out snowshoeing, and break a shoe. The snow is deep. You spot some smoke, struggle in that direction, and find a cabin. An old woodsman and his wife live there, and have no tv.

What can you tell them about Washington? In the broadest terms, what is it about?

Doubt that will be complicated enough for you. So, what are the two or three theories competing to answer the question. What evidence seems most compelling?

What do we know about the bureaucracy? What impact have "outsiders" (oil companies, Ledeen, AIPAC) had in driving events?

What should the Hollywood writers be getting ready to trivialize in an engaging way?

In short, we need you to try to write what you do not know. Guess

Scary as it is, your incomplete knowledge is more than the rest of us (except Left Coaster) know or ever will.

First, I have found no evidence Armitage had knowledge of Plame's identity before July 7 that can't be placed against a better-source piece of evidence that says Armitage didn't have this information.

is it really essential for mainstream stenographers to establish armitage (or other alternatives) "had" specific access to physical documentation discussing plame's employment prior to july 7 when, after cheney-to-libby on june 12, anyone might've heard such information, including armitage? armitage was *not* a get-wilson consiprator; but armitage was a gossip, a known woodward source and as such, a tool turning the wheels of another tool -- woodward -- to spread word about plame. these weren't energy commission minutes; this was information certain parties *wanted* in the public domain.

next, the issue of woodward's confidentiality agreement could apply to any source who contributed to "bush at war" or "plan of attack"; it would not, necessarily, imply a key role played by woodward's source in the plame investigation (unlike miller/libby). that woodward twice asked to be released from confidentiality, along with woodward's uncertainty whether the source had even "spoken" with fitzgerald ("I'm not sure. It's quite possibly not the first time." ) plus woodward's boastful, vaguely bullying tone in his pre-disclosure chronology with said source does not suggest someone woodward still needs, respects or even fears, i.e., someone like armitage.

that said, there's still much to reap from ew's sleuthing with/without the identity of woodward's source (woodward's claim to primacy non obst). consider the "phone logs," for example, which keep recurring like the living dead. if: a) raw story's recent piece re raltson ("Rove instructed her not to log a phone call Rove had with Cooper about Plame in July 2003") is accurate, and b) luskin's curiously reflexive, first proof for rove's non-contact with cooper was, as vnovak claims, the phone logs ("There's nothing in the phone logs"), then the approximate date of vnovak's conversation may indeed become another stake in rove's heart.

lol

Armitage looks like a Neocon on paper. And may have once been. But he was always more of a multilateralist than the neocons. And there was a break at the beginning of the Bush I administration that, for Armitage, is unbreachable.

Armitage was nominated for Secretary of Army. Perot was on a campaign against Armitage, claiming Armitage was involved in drug running and organized crime in Vietnam (probably tied to his CIA activiites there). Armitage went to (Secretary of Defense) Cheney and asked him, basically, if he had his support to fight what Armitage saw as frivolous charges. And Cheney wouldn't fight. Armitage blamed Cheney for not supporting him. Armitage was later considered for Deputy Sec Defense under GWB, and wasn't really taken seriously because Armitage was considered a member of the other camp.

2Lucky

Hey, that's the best job anyone has ever done of arguing this is Armitage. Congratulations! My response:

First, Woodward has said he "wishes" Libby was the guy who leaked Plame's identity. Which says he'd rather protect his source than Libby. So it makes zero sense that he'd give Libby details (like the date of his conversation) that he won't give us. He's a master at protecting sources, remember, and he knows giving such dates would reveal his source. Also, it is still really unlikely that Armitage would reveal this, even on background. He is intensely loyal (and in this case, it means he's going to protect Wilson, who talked to at least one person at State--I think Grossman--before going forward). And he's not going to give anyone any evidence that would hurt one of his people. He knows this is about a fight between OVP and State--he knew it at least as early as April--he's unlikely to reveal any information that would hurt his side. Finally, if you really believe Armitage is the enforcer (which I agree with), then you'd understand he's probably the most likely to understand Bolton's role in this, if any. Which means he'd see the malicious aspect of this. Which makes it even LESS likely he'd leak this.

MikeinDC

Basing your speculation on that Steve Clemons article doesn't do you any favors. Read it closely. Clemons tries to solve a big mystery, but then goes to the wrong person--Priest--to figure out the solution. Priest may know who SAO is. But SAO is Allen's source, not Priest's. Allen wrote another article sourced to SAO 10 days later without Priest. So your theory starts out on really shaky grounds.

Further, explain to me why you'd believe this Time article which does not name or describe its source over one that describes its source sufficiently so that you can narrow it down to one of 5 people--and you can verify that the person has a way to know what he's talking about? This Time article appeared at the same time when the articles, equally poorly sourced, appeared trying to impugn Powell and ARi by saying they were looking at the INR memo in July (and which, given the details in the Libby indictment, have been largely discredited). You see, I'm asking for people to find me a more credible source. You have not done that. You've pointed to something that--for all we know--is more Luskin and Tate spinning.

Also, consider the implications of your theory. Either Rove is lying (demonstrably, if you believe Armitage has been forthcoming) about what he told Novak, or Armitage is guilty of the IIPA violation. Someone told Novak that Plame was covert, and Rove says he didn't tell Novak. And whoever did tell Novak is in really deep shit, much deeper shit than Rove is. If Armitage is the one who leaked Plame's covert status to Novak (which is what you're arguing), then he'd already be indicted.

AL

Really, I think until someone has a plausible explanation why Armitage was gossiping about someone who would fit under the crowd of people he (Armitage) would be protecting, I really do treat this as neocon tripe. You're arguing based on Armitage's lack of denial. But at the same time, you've got Hadley's non-denial denial. You've got Cheney's denial, issued by someone unrelated to his office. And you've got someone I suspect to be Murray Waas telling Laura Rozen that Woodward's source denied he was Woodward's source. Given the number of other possible candidates this opens up, I revert to considerations of logic and motive. And you're making an argument about Armitage that is totally out of character and motive for where he was in June 2003. As I said, Armitage knew well in June 2003 that the Wilson affair was a part of the larger fight between State and OVP. I think it unlikely (not impossible, but really unlikely) that he would willingly reveal details to anyone that hurt his side.

Emptywheel -
Thanks - I don't think it's Armitage, I just didn't find the idea impossible.
You should check out FDL - Vandehei said on Hardball tonight that Hadley was Rove's source.
It looks like he either accidently revealed a bombshell, or slipped and said Hadley, when he meant Libby.

Also, consider the implications of your theory. Either Rove is lying (demonstrably, if you believe Armitage has been forthcoming) about what he told Novak, or Armitage is guilty of the IIPA violation. Someone told Novak that Plame was covert, and Rove says he didn't tell Novak..

"Armitage is guilty of the IIPA violation." not necessarily. woodward, amplifying his ignorance, repeatedly conflated "covert" with "analyst" in more than one lkl appearance where he discusses plame. woodward also said his source described plame as a "CIA analyst on weapons of mass destruction" -- presumably referring to plame's non-covert assignement at winpac. plame's covert assignment was her counterproliferation work under d.o. as a result, woodward's source could conceivably be charged with unauthorized disclosure of classified information (e.g., plame as cia employee, winpac analyst), but unless he disclosed plame's actual status as a d.o. noc to someone without authorization -- not under iipa.

meanwhile, rove's description to cooper (works at the "Agency on WMD.") *is* consistent with the description provided by woodward's source "analyst on weapons of mass destruction"; while neither rove-to-cooper nor woodward's source mention plame as a covert agent, noc or "operative."

p.s. for a few good reasons, armitage may be viable as woodward's source (plame the wmd analyst); but for many more reasons, we don't and can't see armitage as bob novak's leaker (plame the "cia operative" or noc).

a late note for Patrick McGonegal and John Casper

hey Pat, if you don't like the nicknames, the internets are full of other sites you could patronize

and Hey john Casper, you've got it all wrong. Tweety is chris mathews (note the resembelance to a certain cartoon character. Potatohead is the russert man (also called punkin head)

if ya can't stand the heat, stop lookin in the pot

reticulant

Yeah, as you may have figured out, I was referring to the Bob Novak leak. The Novak leak is qualitatively different than any other leak (save Judy's, which she is lying about, I think), because Plame was leaked AS a covert operative.

2Lucky

For the record, I don't think Armitage is impossible either. I'm just saying every argument that he is that I've seen fails to account for the abundance of evidence against it.

EW, I think much of this is plausible - especially considering Vandihei's "news" on Harball. TalkLeft has some good comments up also.

I'm interested that VNovak's article says Woodward went to his source in 2004 and 2005 trying to get a release from confidentiality: why would he do this (to push the gossip idea?), did they specifically discuss release regarding Wilson (hard for a source to forget this), why wouldn't the source give a release (the story wouldn't hold up)?

Maybe Woodward reasoned it all was gossip, even on Larry King, until he saw the source had mislead Fitzgerald, and now Bob and the Post were more seriously involved?

A point in favor of Bush is Woodward's excessive insistence on how trivial and inconsequential the leak was.

kim

I'm leaning toward Hadley to Woodward is a Luskin orchestrated leak.

If it's Rove, we know he was hiding any involvement in this until finally 'fessing up this year. And if it's Hadley, he's probably hiding any involvement with anyone but Pincus and Novak. Although that would be stupid. If he admitted he told Pincus and Novak, why not admit Woodward? A timing issue?

EW

I agree with reticulant and 2lucky - I'm not sure why you are dismissing both the Time magazine AND LA Times articles or why you need to see other documented proof from the "stenographers" that Armitage had access to the information at that time.

Also see reticulant's argument about IIPA violation. I agree that Armitage is guily of unauthorized disclosure of classified information.

And do you really find it incredible to believe that Rove is lying?

My issue is that you are keep dismissing Armitage as "neocon tripe" and want to see a good reason why he might smear Wilson. Many of us are arguing that Armitage (known as a gossip) leaked this information early, off the record and NOT meant as a deliberate smear.

When Rove and Libby (and the others) started the deliberate smear campaign and the shit hits the fan after Novak's article came out, he realized he was one of Novak's sources and was being lumped in the same category as Rove and Company. He goes to Fitzgerald and tells what he knows (but NOT about Woodward because he doesn't think Woodward will say anything and doesn't want to get himself into more trouble).

My information says that Armitage was expecting to be indicted and breathed a big sigh of relief when he wasn't. When Woodward called him when the indictment came out and Woodward realized he had heard the information first, Armitage panicked and called Fitzgerald to fess up to talking to Woodward, which then caused Woodward to be called in to testify.

EW - You are trying to deduce all of this based on the evidence that is out there in the press that you consider "well sourced" and are dismissing other evidence that doesn't fit your theory.

I'm telling you that there are a number of folks in DC who KNOW the source was Armitage, don't have any neocon motives and want nothing more than to see Rove and Libby (AND Cheney) rot in jail. You and Jane and others are doing the hard work of trying to figure out how the puzzle pieces fit together. I don't want you all to discard an important puzzle piece because you don't think it fits because of a bad motive.

I just don't want everyone to be taken off guard when it comes out that Armitage is Woodward and Novak's source. I know it will be spun as a victory for Karl and Libby. (Heck, as Atrios points out, Luskin would spin a recorded phone call with Rove telling Novak that Plame was a NOC as evidence that his client was innocent!) I just want us to have our arguments in place as to why Armitage is the leak doesn't change in any way Rove or Libby's guilt.

MikeinDC

The reason I distrust Time and trust the AP story, quite frankly, is because the Time story came out at a time when vaguely sourced stories spotted Powell and Ari holding the INR memo, which have since proven to be irrelevant or outright lies. It came out at a time when there were red herrings flying fast and thick, almost all now identifiably from the direction of Tate or Luskin. Given the atmosphere, I have long assumed any leak that didn't carry some kind of identification as to who and how the source knew was disinformation. Which, in almost every case, has been proven to be the case.

I guess I look on it this way. If you got contradictory evidence from two sources, and you had to choose between trusting Marc Grossman or trusting Luskin, who would you trust? I choose Grossman. You apparently choose someone who is so unwilling to state how he knows this information that he won't identify himself as anything more than "sources familiar with the memo." Hmm. That could be Bolton, who probably saw draft language on the memo, but who doesn't want you to know what he's saying is not trustworthy. It could be Libby. It could be fricking JimmyJeff Gannon, who claims he is familiar with the memo. Would you trust these guys over Grossman? It could be any number of people, because the person telling this story isn't even asserting he knows how the memo got circulated within State. The person spreading this story isn't even presenting himself as a knowledgeable source. Do you see the difference? Find me a source who agrees to be named as "someone who was involved in the circulation of the INR memo within the Powell side of State" (which is effectively what the AP identification intimates), and I'll trust the Time source more than the AP one.

I understand you know people who KNOW Armitage was the leak. Well, then they haven't explained the how and why of it sufficiently for you to make any sense when spreading the leak. Like I said, I'm not discounting the Armitage leak. I'm waiting for someone to tell it to me such that it is credible. Someone who sounds like he knows the littlest thing about the background of this leak, the fight between State and OVP.

And you misunderstood my Novak point. Here it is slowly.

Novak received two leaks.

At least one of those leaks is an IIPA leak, as opposed to a nondisclosure violation leak (and note, this IIPA leak cannot have learned of Plame's identity exclusively through the INR memo; the memo doesn't include that information, nor does it include her name.

Rove says his leak to Novak was a nondisclosure violation leak.

Therefore, either Rove is lying (which I'd believe, sure, but then Fitzgerald would have ROVE on the IIPA charge, plus on lying--hell, maybe he will, within a week), or the remaining leak is an IIPA violation, a leak of Plame's NOC status.

And if Armitage is the other leak, as you suggest, then he is guilty of an IIPA leak (and he got the covert information and Plame's name from a malicious source).

Oh, and if Armitage was the first leaker to Novak, it would dramatically change Rove's and Libby's guilt. Because if, as you're suggesting, Armitage is the one who leaked Plame's covert status, then there IS no crime. We'll just wrap Libby and Rove up in some NDA violations and send them off to bomb another oil-rich country.

Let me make what, to me, would be an utterly credible assertion.

Cooper received a leak from Libby and Rove. But there must be another Time reporter who received a leak (either before or after Novak's column), otherwise Fitzgerald wouldn't have limited his May subpoena to Libby (he'd still be looking for the second administration source). Let's say that Armitage told Calabresi or Cooper or Dickerson or hell, even Novak--who came to him asking why Libby and Cooper kept harping on Plame--that they were trying to discredit Wilson with the information about Plame. That they were launching a war on Wilson. That would explain the extra source, why that source hasn't been the subject of subpoenas or indictments, and why Byron York claims Cooper burnt Rove. It would also fit into Armitage's MO, which is that he protects his mother hen (Powell) and any chickies associated with that mother hen (which, in June and July 2003, would definitely have included Wilson). See, that leak is utterly, thoroughly plausible. But your version of the leak, I'm sorry, simply isn't, not as you're telling it. (And note, if this scenario is true, then it would explain why the neocons have their favorite "it's all Armitage" line back out, because it is rooted in a grain of truth, and would allow people to believe it, even though the underlying assertion is false.)

"Novak received two leaks.

At least one of those leaks is an IIPA leak, as opposed to a nondisclosure violation leak (and note, this IIPA leak cannot have learned of Plame's identity exclusively through the INR memo; the memo doesn't include that information, nor does it include her name."
Not necessarily. Novak says he mispoke by saying Plame was covert. He rang the CIA to check on this, and they didn't tell him not to publish. He would have assumed that Plame was not covert from this, so he may be telling the truth. If so then there may be no other leak than from the memo.

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