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December 16, 2005


I see a pattern here. As I suggested last week re the Hadley email and Cooper "welfare reform" and the unlogged phone call were almost certainly about fingering Robert Joseph (a Perle protege) for the16 words. The September welfare reform article is a belated cover up at about 300 words. The July 28 article about Joseph is a failed attempt to pin it on a "zealot." Clearly several tracks were being pursued

It suggests a Hadley Rove attempt to pin the 16 words on NSC staffers (prior to Hadley biting the bullet) while also pursuing the Plame-Wilson-CIA track.

This is a link to Pollyusa's analysis on the email search.
This is her post on Talkleft:
Specifically I am wondering about:
"Apparently the WH used an electronic search and then gave printed copies of the email to investigators.

The lawyer says it's because an electronic search conducted by the White House missed it because the right "search words" weren't used. Newsweek 10/17/05
The White House turned over call logs relating to the case, along with stacks of printed e-mails, at the request of federal investigators. WaPo 7/15/05
The 9/30/03 document request did not specify Cooper. The 1/04 GJ subpoena did specifically name Cooper. Rove had to know the Hadley email would be picked up in an electronic search."
It seems likely the WH search in fact succeeded in finding the Rove Hadley email but because there was so many other irrelevant emails it was lost in the chaff. Since they were printed then there would have been huge stacks of emails and someone might have not read it properly before going on to the next one.
So who was reading the emails to winnow them down to the relevant ones? If they were partisan they could hide the email at that point. Also if Fitz found it he might not have said anything to use it as a perjury trap.
Luskin searched printed emails. These would contain many unrelated emails with classified information. It would be unlikely Luskin would be allowed to take them home.
Therefore he would have searched the same printed emails the WH delivered somewhere. So his story hinges on being logged in and out for specific times at a government repository, and whether these times are enough to make finding the email plausible.

"... this story is not new spin from Luskin"

timely enough and worth the wait, thanks

about spin from Luskin... have any "messages" been confirmed as coming from Luskin since he was deposed? are we sure he's still Rove's attorney?

I completely agree that Waas' story was not particularly Rove-friendly (for reasons specified below). I also agree that he is pointing in the direction of the OVP, at least with regard to Townsend, and he's somewhat more assertive on his blog this morning characterizing the story, saying

The OVP and I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby were behind leaks to discredit Townsend

But I can't imagine that Fitzgerald would leave out the Novak-Libby conversation from Libby's indictment, if there were one. At this point, wishful thinking takes over, so I'll leave that there.

The other thing that struck me about his article was the strange way it treated the Rove-Novak conversation, and I can only imagine that Waas is implying that Fitzgerald remains suspicious that Rove and Novak might have conspired (presumably Sept-Oct 2003) to concoct a false cover story. That's the only way I can make sense of the fact that Waas reports both that

Both Novak and Rove have told federal prosecutors that it was Novak who raised Plame's name

and that

on the issue of Valerie Plame, prosecutors have been unable to determine whether in fact Novak was the one who first broached the subject, and whether Rove simply confirmed something that Novak already knew.

I doubt that Waas is hanging a lot on the issue of whether Novak gave Rove Plame's name specifically, as distinct from info about her more generally, so it appears that Waas is implying that prosecutors are not sure whether they believe the consistent account provided by both Rove and Novak. As for that last clause, we know that on the afternoon of July 8, Novak was spouting quite a bit of knowledge about the Wilsons to a stranger (who turned out to be Joe Wilson's friend) on the street -- unless there remains some uncertainty as to the date of the Rove-Novak conversation. Barring that and it's nailed down as the 9th, it seems pretty clear that Novak already knew most of what there was to know about Plame, at least as far as Rove was concerned. So the doubt in that last clause must fall on whether Rove confirmed as opposed to provided anew himself what Novak already knew.

I followed the link to the WaPo article you cited, and while it does suggest Plame's name may be more of a specific issue here than I just suggested, I am inclined to stick to my interpretation. But the more interesting thing I noticed is that that article contains a downright falsehood at the end which suggests that one of the reporters on the story (and I have a very good idea of which one) was peddling, almost certainly misleadingly, the spin of someone. The article says

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, has also testified before the grand jury, saying he was alerted by someone in the media to Plame's identity, according to a source familiar with his account. Cooper has previously testified that he brought up the subject of Plame with Libby and that Libby responded that he had heard about her from someone else in the media, according to sources knowledgeable about Cooper's testimony.

Not only is this not an accurate account of Cooper's testimony, the point on which it is inaccurate has turned out to be one of the key points in Libby's indictment. This makes me extremely skeptical that the reporter got this characterization of Cooper's testimony from someone in Cooper's camp. The only other plausible possibilities, it seems to me, is that the reporter was retailing deliberately false information put out by the investigation in order to mislead Libby on his exposure; or retailing deliberately false information from the Libby camp to mislead the public and also other potential players in the case. I will add this: though I don't have the patience at the moment to go through similar reports right after other prominent testimony, I have a distinct recollection of Leonnig on TV doing what turned out to be exactly the same thing with regard to Miller's testimony. Right after Miller's testimony, she was on TV suggesting that Miller provided an account largely consistent with Libby's, whereas we know that not to have been the case at all. I have other reasons for suspecting the reporter to be overly friendly to Libby's camp; but I am also willing to give the benefit of the doubt. I bet you'll find other similar instances, in any case.

Very nicely put. It brings to mind a bit of (admittedly shaky) speculation I was playing with earlier, namely that Libby could be Novak's source and that Fitzgerald could have kept this out of the Oct. 28th indictment in order to use it later in a conspiracy charge.

Of course, one problem with this is Novak's recent claim that he thinks his source may have also been Woodward's source, which I think we can safely assume wasn't Libby. But I'm not sure how much credence to give Novak's comment on the matter. In any case, it's a fun thought.

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My first impression was that Waas was probably summarizing Rove and Novak's agreed-upon cover story for their July 9, 2003 conversation. Novak would have had an early conversation that day with Rove to make his wire service deadline for his July 10th column. If memory serves, Novak's syndication deadline is early. It is early to make the wires for inclusion in the following day's newspapers, and early enough that the Plame/Wilson smear was already in circulation in newsrooms on July 13th, 2003. I'm sure Fitz is aware of this. Let's hope he has checked the time Novak's Townshend column was actually filed on July 9th....

Anybody know something about this?

My 2 cents:

If not because of her spousal connection to the Yale good ol' boys network, why did Bush approve and order Rove to defend the Townsend appointment? What would make Bush select and stick up for an appointee from the opposition party, especially one who had already been judged too partisan to fill other postiions?

Withiout sound reasons for why Bush would do this, my skeptics voice has to ask if the Townsend appointment was some sort of blind, a kind of "leak-laundering" scheme for "casually" passing along the Plame/Wilson smear at the end of conversations apparently focused on Townsend talking points.

I speculate some sort of Tinker-to-Evans-to-Chance scheme:

1.Bush names Townsend, setting up a perceived split between his office and Cheney's.

2.OVP puts out opposing signals, including contacting Novak and dropping some mention of Plame along the way.

3.As anticipated by the schemers, Novak calls Rove on the Townsend story.

4. Either Novak, thinking he's being cagey, brings up Plame at the end of his conversation w/ Rove;

5. Or alternately, Novak doesn't bring up Plame so Rove has to, since the ultimate purpose of the phoney Townsend flap is to use it as a vehicle to leak info on Wilson and Plame.


I responded to some of these comments but it got eaten by Typepad.

Anyway, that's a great catch, Jeff. Yes, I think we could probably do a study of Leonnig's reporting on this and find that she had evened out the inconsistencies.

I agree that there's almost no way Fitz left a possible Libby/Novak conversation out, if it dealt with Plame. At first I thought, "well, if Libby told the TRUTH about a conversation with Novak, then it wouldn't be included in a perjury indictment." But if he had a conversation with Novak in the July 7-8 time frame, it, too, would serve as a piece of evidence that he knew of Plame before his conversation with Russert. Plus, yes, we know Libby is not Woodward's source (Although Rove could still be Woodward's source).


Yeah, I think there's still a possibility that this is a cover story. Which would mean Fizgerald hasn't flipped Novak as sufficiently as we would think.


I don't entirely disbelieve the Edmonds story. But there's a problem with the notion that B-J was investigating the Turkish American Council. Plame's husband, and his colleagues in his anti-Bush lobbying Marc Grossman and Brent Scowcroft, were very active in the Turkish American Council. So Plame was investigating her husband?

At least now I understand why Murray Waas is about the only person doing real reporting about the Plame affair:

If you're too young to remember Jack Anderson, you'll never understand how far Washington journalism has fallen. Here's hoping Josh Marshall can help us recapture a little bit of that muckraking spirit.

Let me pose a related puzzle - I had the mad idea that, by checking other stories about Ms. Townsend (especially hit pieces) we would get some clues as to who else Libby/OVP were speaking with.

However - I can't find any, other than by Novak himself (and the press release announcing her ascension), in the date rabge from May 1 2003 to July 17, 2003 (She was appointed on May 21.)

The rear-guard action Novak describes must have been playing out around water-coolers or in his own mind, or my poor man's Lexis must be missing a gear.


One other person they normally go to for stories like this is Judy Miller (Bolton went to her to introduce evidence against Syria and Cuba bypassing normal channels, and they went to Judy in their campaigns against Baradei and another non-proliferation official).

But we know Judy wasn't allowed to publish this kind of thing (not until August 2003, when she got another Bolton leak). But if they gave this to Judy (and it was one of the things she was trying to hide from Fitz) then it might explain why Judy might know of a Libby conversation.

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