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March 02, 2006


Here's another question.

Mr. X is either Armitage (most likely, because of Woodward's not at the White House statement) or Fleischer.

Did either of those people know about Plame's NOC status? After all, Woodward was clearly told only what was in the INR memo--that Plame worked as an analyst in WMDs. But Novak, contrary to his October 2003 claims, was told Plame was an operative, covert.

So do we still buy Rove's claim (and Novak's, presumably) that Mr. X leaked the really damaging bit, that Plame was an operative?

Actually, I've thought of one more possibility, and it looks like it might fit:


He'd certainly have more of an incentive than Armitage to leak this. THough I'll keep eating my crow until someone comes along and agrees this might be possible.

OfT: Pulled this off the WaPo political chat with John WATB Harris
"Princeton, N.J.: Wow, is George Will finally admitting it was a grave error to have invaded Iraq? How do you interpret his column?
John F. Harris: I was likewise struck by the column and its skepticism toward the Iraq venture and the rhetoric Bush is using to describe the current difficulties. I don't believe he has ever stated as plainly as you say that the war was an error, though he has previously expressed skepticism about the influence of neoconservative foreign policy ideas in the administration."
Looks like your "neo-feudalist" post has some real traction, if a fourth-rate thinker such as Harris starts writing negatively about the,"influence of neoconservative foreign policy."

That is awesome that you guys are trying to decipher names in the redacted spaces. LOL.

Did you see the article Steve Gilliard put out about bloggers cracking the 1942 German WWII Enigma codes?

Put the word out - get everybody working on it...until the Judge realizes what is going on and starts putting happy face stickers over names instead...

YOu guys rock.

Well, I don't have a lot of confidence that we can say for sure who Mr. X is. But it's clearly not Bush, Cheney, Hadley. Which is worth noting.

Just don't tell the judge. 'Kay??

Damn Jeff.

Hey, when I'm looking to be abused for performing due diligence on Plametc, I post over at Maguire's place.

I am inclined to think the way paragraph 43 starts off, referring to one significant piece of information being withheld from Libby, indicates that Woodward's and Novak's sources are one and the same, although I suppose it is possible that Fitzgerald is saying only one of their sources is significant in this context, and the other not. There's no question the last sentence of that paragraph reads somewhat oddly if the source for both reporters is the same person.

Does that mean Libby shared some details about Plame or Wilson in their June 25 conversation?

No, Woodward's account specifically says that Libby did not say anything on the subject of Wilson or his wife during the conversation (which was June 27, not June 25, by the way). I suspect Libby is characterized as a source because Woodward says it's possible he raised the subject and/or they discussed the still-classified October 2002 NIE (paging Murray Waas on that one).

I meant Damn only in the best way, I hope you realize.

Anyway, it was the phrasing of that last sentence that has thrown me. Though Fitz is totally inconsistent with reference in this filing. (Damn him, while we're at it!) So it's possible.

Also, jbalazs at DKos says Vice President fits in one spot, and Cheney in the other. I'm waiting for viget to come along and do this exercise with some more exactitude.

Finally, ReddHedd pointed out two more possibilities: Matalin and Addington. I THINK Matalin is too short. But like I said, I'd like to see someone do this with more exactitude.

Are you out of your fucking mind?! Are you some sort of forensic genius? Who the fuck ever heard of recreating a document to fit a name. You're a moron. A complete fucking idiot. There is no way in hell that would solve the mystery of Mr. X and you are simply misleading people by suggesting so.

I'd like to know how you can say who Mr. X isn't. How are you so sure who this person isn't?

Great job. I would (somewhat gloomily) note one other point - Fitzgerald promises a detailed description of the broader investigation on pages 2-12, and it is *all* redacted.

For folks like me who think Fitzgerald has come to the end of his game, that is eleven pages I can't quite explain - could it all really be Karl? Or is there enough space to cover Karl Plus [Cheney, Bush, etc]?

As an aside, the ongoing investigation is mentioned as covering conversations in the fall of 2003 (and afterward), so Novak's silence may be explained as well.

HS, I strongly suggest you withdraw your first comment, fast, and issue a very clear, unambiguous apology for it. With respect to your second comment, if you don't understand, then go back and read emptywheel's past posts. It's not emptywheel's job to reexplain a year's worth of posts to someone who, apparently, is simply too lazy to read them.

I am sick to death of self-righteous bloggers who suggest they have the answers to everything. And i am equally sick to death of their cult-like followers like you


I would really challenge you to take the redacted sections and find a way to fit a 4-letter last name in the available space. Not going to happen. It's very very basic. Each letter in a word takes up so much space, and an 8-letter work takes up approximately 8 letters of space (accounting for proportional type, which is why, eyeballing this, I suspect Armitage fits much better than Fleischer, though I welcome someone doing this with more exactitude to correct me), while a 4-letter word cannot completely fill that 8-letter space, unless you're playing some pretty serious tricks with typeface or kerning. Perhaps you haven't looked at the document, which makes it utterly obvious that this is not a 4-letter name? I could be wrong about Hadley. But I'm not wrong about Bush, Rice, Joseph and Bolton, to say nothing of Abrams who was my recent fave.

So no, I'm not a moron. I know that 8 doesn't equal 4. DO you?


I read your comment about his post-July 14 stuff. Sounds to me like he's concentrating on the obstruction of justice to cover-up the outing. That is, Rove and Novak chatting on the phone to coordinate the story they're going to tell investigators. Rove disappearing the emails. THat kind of thing. Libby could well be a part of that, too (though I've always imagined it was Rove, since his story actually did coincide with Novak's madeup one at one point). Add in Abu Gonzales and anyone else who helped out those late September days, and you've got a whole chunk of ongoing investigation.

I suspect (and have always suspected) that Rove will not be cleared to tell his side until Fitzgerald has squeazed the life out of this obstruction charge, because that's probably why Novak talked and that's what Rove would love to ask him about.

Ah, John Casper,

HS appears to be harry shep, the same sock puppet complaining over at Jane's place. I suspect Jane has reason to believe mr. shep is a noted journalist who is cranky that the 250 email story isn't getting picked up. The same journalist would have reason to complain if it were generally accepted (but don't worry, shep, I don't think this is that compelling of proof) that Hadley was not Woodward's source.

Though frankly shep, keep in mind I'm refuting my favorite theory here (that it is Cheney) as well as yours.

Yes. I am a moron. Everyone who knows me knows that.

HS only AFTER you respond appropraitely to emptywheel's really generous response given your obscenity laden, personal attack on her, please enlighten me with all of the mistakes that you have found in emptywheel's posts.

Interesting work. Let me ask a question -- when you were fitting names into the blanks, did you use "Mr." before the last name. It appears from the document, unless a name is a defined term (like "Libby"), Fitz would typically precede a last name with a "Mr.", (i.e., "Mr. Russert," as opposed to just "Russert").


Well, the most compelling substitution (paragraph 52) it doesn't really matter. A Mr. or a first name would both fit on the non-justified right side of the page. So you're pretty much guaranteed that the space on the following line is just the last name (though at DKos jbalazs says "the Vice/President" fits in the space). Then, assuming that Woodward's source remains the same, the space at 43 appears to be (first instance) Mr. X and the second (which is smaller space) just plain X.

Though you're right. Fitzgerald's inconsistent reference to people, by Mr., by first and last, and by last name, does make this somewhat dicey. That's why I mention the Hadley email, which is a good example of the problem.


Sorry, I meant Novak won't be cleared to talk until...

What font is the pdf in? I think the relative spacing of the different letters varies widely.


I respectfully disagree. In paragraph 43, "George Bush" and "Mr. Bush" fit perfectly in the first redaction on line two and the redaction on line four. "George W. Bush" fits exactly in item 52.

Now, here's something that is very puzzling. Item 43 says refers to the one significant piece of information that Libby is not being told is the identity of REDACTED as a source for REDACTED. Why is the reporter's name redacted in that passage? Did another reporter get a leak that we don't know about?

It matches closely with Times New Roman, which is what viget has used in the past for Fitz' stuff.

And yeah, the relative spacing is pretty distinct. That's why I'd bet Armitage first, and then Fleischer and Rummy. Plus, this appears to be a scan of the document, rather than a PDF of it (makes since, otherwise we'd be able to unredact and we'd know Rove is the guy who told Libby about Novak). So there's going to be some distortion there.


You swing the W to the second line of 52? I hadn't tried that.

There is a little inconsistency of the redaction. Note Rove got left in by mistake at one point.

HS sez: "Yes. I am a moron. Everyone who knows me knows that."

Yes harry shep, you're always the last one to know, moronarchist poppets usually are. (Includes sock puppets) I agree with the esteemed true gentleman John Casper that you owe Lady emptywheel an apology.

Lady emptywheel, your diligent work is fascinating and impressive as always!

Sorry for the delay EW. I was at *shock* journal club, doing real work (which I seldom do these days :) ), when this all broke here.

Anyway, I agree with you 100%. It's Richard Armitage. Possibly Rumsfeld, but I put that as a longshot.

The clincher for me is paragraph 39, which you didn't mention, but with which the way the redaction is done gives us a HUGE clue.

Note that there are parentheses that are unredacted around redacted text following: "Mr. Novak has published a brief description of how he learned the information, albeit declining to name his sources". If you notice, there is significant space after "sources" and where the presumptive right margin would be. Given how MS Word does soft returns, that means there is no space character between where the open paren _should_ be (one space after the s in sources) and the margin (so the whole block is wrapped around to the next line). Which means, that the names in parentheses cannot be "Mr. X and Mr. Rove" because Mr. followed by a space would fit on the same line with "sources" and thus the open paren would be on that line, not the following line.

We also know that "Mr. Libby indisputably knows" Karl Rove, and "Mr. Rove" (or "Karl Rove") fits in the second redacted space, which means Rove is one of Novak's sources (not that we didn't already know that).

I would also hazard to say that Libby "indisputably" knows Cheney, Hadley, Bush, Condi, or anyone else at the WH (including Ari). So they're not possibilities for Mr. X. I guess Rumsfeld is technically still a possibility. But Armitage is just obscure enough that it's possible to expect Libby not to "know" him (personally?).

And of course, the clincher, "(Armitage and Rove)" fits perfectly in the first redacted space. Rumsfeld could fit ok too, but the s's in the "sources" line up perfectly there, whereas in the affy, the lower s is slightly to the left of the upper s, as it is when I use Armitage. But there are other typo's we've identified, so an extra space here or there is sort of inconclusive.

In paragraph 43, I have "Mr. Armitage" in the first redacted space, and "Armitage" in the third and fourth spaces (note that the second is that big long blank). There must be some court policy against redacting parentheses though, as again they're there for us as a guide, and help us show that Armitage must fit in that space. I don't know why the Court or Fitz just didn't redact the whole block (this gives you a huge hint IMHO as to who the redacted name could be). Again, Rumsfeld could substitute here too.

Paragraph 52 has "Richard Armitage" in the redacted space (again, Donald Rumsfeld could work too).

Finally, paragraph 46 has two redacted space's for Woodward's source. "Armitage" and "Armitage's" fit perfectly. Again, "Rumsfeld" and "Rumsfeld's" is okay, but does not line up the "u" of "substance" with the "e" of "name" perfectly as does Armitage.

So, if I had to guess, the preponderance of the evidence suggests that it's Armitage. Rumsfeld is a close second, but given the fact that Scooter should "indisputably" 'know' him and the two minor mis-alignments in paragraphs 39 and 46, I'm more inclined to say Armitage is the winner here.

Now the real question: why?

Thanks emptywheel. With respect to you, Mr. Shep, if somebody as internet, blog challenged as I am can figure out who you are, you have put yourself in a disadvantageous position. The last time you commented at TNH under your real name, I wrote you a long comment about how much we needed you and that I was going to give you a second chance wrt your use of "sources." Now you're commenting at both FDL and TNH under an assumed name. The word, "coward" comes to mind very very quickly. You got your ass handed to you over at FDL today, because your comment was so obviously inaccurate. Evidently, you got pissed off and came over to TNH to start using "fuck" in sentences addressed to emptywheel. I had forgotten "Harry Shep," but your comments today caused me to go back and retrieve this comment "Harry Shep" wrote a few ew threads back: "I'd like to take this time to let all of you know if you haven't figured it out already that DHinMI is a fucking douche bag. I swear if i ever have the pleasure of meeting you i will punch you in your fucking mouth. If i am lucky enough to win the lottery i will beat the living fuck out of you then hire the best lawyer with my new found wealth to defend me. you are a piece of shit and a fucking cunt. Have a good day Posted by: harry shep|"
Mr. Shep, you made a threat. It seems to me DHinMI has an "actionable cause" against you, because DHinMI now knows you're real identity.


Then you and I are in agreement, that's kind of what I was thinking (though there does appear to be some distortion with the scan, so I'm not 100% sure).

Did you try Ari and Addington? I think Ari is like Rummy. It fits, but does not appear to fit as perfectly as Armitage. By the time I got to Addington, I was just hoping you'd come by because my eyes were boggling.

And your opinion on whether 43 could be two different people?

One more point. The reason Libby indisputably knows Rove is a Novak source is because Rove has testified to talking to Libby about it. So I'm not sure you could say Libby would know about Rummy, though I agree there's less evidence.

My dead Armitage post, btw, basically posits that Armitage would be willing to say, "Oh yeah, they're trying to smear Wilson. They're even claiming that his wife arranged his trip. But that doesn't refute the fact that Wilson knew." Basically debunking it, not supporting it.

DHinMI, thanks a lot for the very helpful response you made to my question about the Federal Election Commission.

Just idle gossip between Army and Woody?

Oh, one more thing, viget.

I did "Armitage and Rove" for the redaction at 39, which IMO also fits.

I'll repeat what I said earlier, Damn, I wish Fitz would be consistent. How are we supposed to read through his redactions!!!


Fleischer=Rumsfeld in space, so what goes for Rumsfeld goes for Fleischer. But I don't think it can be Fleischer because Libby "indisputably" knows him as per paragraph 39 and per the fact that Libby has admitted to talking to Fleischer, but not mentioning Plame(did he testify to this?). Of course that is predicated on the fact that I think Mr. X is the same for Novak and Woodward (which I'll get to in a moment).

Addington doesn't fit in paragraph 39 (spacing is off), nor does he fit in the parentheses at the end of paragraph 43.

Now to the question of Woodward and Novak's source being one and the same. I think under the second redacted space of paragraph 43, the first sentence is finished with "Woodward and Novak." There's a second redacted sentence which I have no clue as to what it says. Could be something along the lines of: Given the ongoing investigation, this source wishes to remain anonyomous and the substance of what he said is already in the public domain.

Obviously the above's too long to fit into the redacted space, but something like that is probably there. In any case, what Fitzgerald is doing with his last sentence there is being legally precise. He is explicitly naming what a) has been provided to Libby (a redacted transcript of Woodward's interview with Armitage) and b) Novak has previously published (an account describing the conversation with his first confidential source). It's imprecise to say that Novak published an account describing the conversation with Armitage, because neither Armitage nor Novak has publically acknowledged that Armitage is the source. Hence, the need for parentheses, because Fitzgerald KNOWS this because Novak told him (presumably).

So, short me, I think Armitage is the same source for Woodward and Novak. And paragraph 43 only refers to Armitage, since it's "the one significant piece of information that Libby is not being told."

One thing I like about wheel is that she doesn't pretend to know more than she does. It's not forensics to use process of elimination to figure out whose names could and couldn't be behind the redactions. It does sound tedious though, and I'm grateful someone else is doing it. Clearly, HS was hurt very badly by another blog, most likely in his youth, and now he's taking it out on us. HS, I'm sorry if that blog from your youth was callous or indifferent, but that's not wheel's fault. She's nice. On another note, Libby's memory defense has got to be the worst defense I've ever heard of. I've served on juries, with smart people and stupid people. No one would have gone for that.

Here a a few technical notes for those who want to join the fun (and yes, I do this sort of stuff occasionally in my day job, don't ask). All of the documents produced by Fitzgerald's office that I've studied are produced using a relatively recent version of Microsoft Word (and I'm pretty sure it's the PC version, but I don't have a Mac for testing). They use a 1 inch left and right margin. The font is Times New Roman. If you have access to a copy of Word, you can recreate individual paragraphs with these settings. This document also requires formatting each paragraph using .5 inch indentation for the first line.

One thing you have to watch out for is that the PDF files are pretty poorly done. It appears that the documents are printed on a laser printer (and they need to change the toner cartridge pretty soon, you can see striations in the letters) and then scanned to PDF (notice that dust on the copier/scanner causes four dots to appear in the upper left hand corner of each page). The scanning introduces some slight variations in the spacing which makes our job a little harder. Even worse is that the fact that the documents are clearly produced very rapidly and contain some obvious typos (like Libbby with three "b"s).

Another oddity that's unlikely to interest anybody else is the variation in the redaction stamp. I can't figure out what's up with that, but I tend to think that there's been multiple passes at the redaction.


Yeah, I have to do some of this in my day job, too, William, plus some book/publishing history in grad school! I always laughed during the 60 Minutes conflict over people claiming to be experts on "fonts," even going back to the 1970s. (When of course fonts were typefaces.)

But the thing is, I'm absolutely impatient with this kind of detail. Hate it. That's why I rely on people like viget to be really meticulous.

You should see my desk. No meticulous here, that's for sure.

Re the different Redacted stamps, might it differ on the method of the redaction? Some of this was obviously redacted by hand (note the scribble over the number of witnesses on page 2). Using liquid liquid paper, which is pretty remarkable; I don't even thnk they're using those handy pens (or they've got a mean case of the shakes).

ew- I got it. I should overcome my aversion to saying ;) or whatever.

I just lost a post, but the basic point was that the 10 page redacted description of the investigation doesn't necessarily cover only the ongoing investigation. So there is no question it includes descriptions of the investigation of Libby both on obstruction-type charges and on potential underlying crimes. I'm not sure that much can be read into the length of the redacted description. Also, are we sure that the "conversations" referred to as taking place post-July 14 must have outside the context of the investigation? That is, my first assumption was that the relevant later conduct Fitzgerald was talking about had to do with how various subjects conducted themselves when being interviewed in the investigation, maybe even testifying before the grand jury.

From Fitzgerald's filing yesterday, to which the affidavit was attached, it's clear that the affidavit has gone through multiple rounds of redactions in order to be fit for publication. The weirdest one for me is where, at the end of the description of what they gave Libby on Woodward's testimony, there is a "name redacted" printed. I suspect that was an earlier redaction which they forgot to just blank out. I take it that passage reads "that part describing the substance of his conversation with his other source, Armitage, with Card, and with Walter Pincus."

Jeff, my willful refusal to use emoticons has caused much hurt and confusion. I'm serious, but that's not why you're not seeing an emoticon. It's because I'm willful. I wonder if HS ever wishes he could just redact the pain and make it go away.

A few random observations.

Paragraph 2 indicates that Fitzgerald is investigating a cover-up.

The scan of page 9 is noticeably worse than the other pages. There is more warping of the letters in the footnote than anywhere else in the document. Also, the letters are much lighter than elsewhere in the document. There appear to be three distinct dots lined up in a row in paragraph 22. These aren't dust because they don't show up on other page. I'm guessing they are parts of letters that are imperfectly redacted. Maybe they changed their minds about redacting paragraph 22 and that footnote.

What's up with footnote 3? Dickerson made a big deal about not being contacted by Fitzgerald and that column shows up in a footnote. Things that make you go hmmmmm.....

Looks like they included one more sentence about Cooper's testimony, then went back and redacted it. (that is, there's the big REDACTED stamp redaction, for most of 22, then the second one, of which the three dots are remaining bits).

Why is the affidavit dated February 16, 2006?

I appreciate the efforts people are going through to figure out the redactions. Very interesting.

Yet aside from the length of his name, I don't get Rummy as a candidate. I don't recall anyone even speculating that he would have been Novak's and Woodward's source prior to today. He's politically aligned with the rest of the main actors (Cheney, the White House, etc), but why would he have been in the loop about Wilson, Plame and Niger? Is it just the length of his name that is making him a prime candidate, or is there something previously revealed about his invovlement that I'm missing?

Is Grossman excluded as Mr. X? Would he make any sense?

Jim E

Rummy's there for length of his name exclusively. Though, to me, he makes more sense than Armitage. Rummy was as involved in gaming the intelligence as was Libby. Armitage was not at all. Still, though, I think the odds on favorite is Armitage.

Grossman is slightly longer than Armitage (must be the G). So I think he's a possible, but not great candidate (it appears his name takes up as much space as the 9-lettered Addington). But he is a possibility.

I was more interested in this, btw, for who it appears to exclude: Bush, Hadley, and Cheney. All favorites of this list. But a lot less likely given the spacing.


I think that's when he wrote it. It took this much time to release, presumably because of the redactions.

I've thought it was Armitage for some time now. I think that Woodward was interviewing Armitage and asked him why State sent Wilson on the trip to Niger to verify the yellowcake info, and Armitage answered casually (offhand as Woodward described it) that State didn't send Wilson to Niger, that CIA did and his wife, who works for CIA, was the one who recommended him. Armitage would have been trying to keep blame for the Wilson affair from being placed on State by revealing the CIA connection. I have a feeling that the Armitage leak to Novak was just as casual, perhaps taking place at the June 19, 2003 party for the 50th anniversary of Novak's column, although I haven't been able to confirm that Armitage attended that party. Rove did, and it would not be surprising if it turns out that Novak, Armitage, and Rove all talked together about Plame at that time. One interesting unanswered question is why Novak was so positive that Bush knew about the leak by Armitage, assuming it is Armitage as the leaker to Woodward and Novak. Maybe Novak assumed Rove told Bush about what Armitage had told them about Plame at the party, if he did.


You are one of the people I'm preparing my crow (does one eat crow in front of the people who knew better? does one serve it?)

But I'm still waiting for a compelling story of Armitage. Yours is close, getting closer. But I don't buy that State and CIA perceived their interests to be so disparate in this matter.

I'm just guessing like everyone else, so no crow is necessary. I've enjoyed your speculations and insight. :)

Armitage was really trying to insulate Powell more than State, imo. Powell and Tenet were estranged by that time.

Still voting for Richard Clarke. He had the motive, means, and opportunity.

Just to follow up on that - Woodward said t something to the effect that "everyone would know it wasn't a conspiracy once everyone found out who leaked." That's why the leaker X probably is a Dem.

Sylvia - Nice try. Armitage fits perfectly too. A rock-solid Republican, but not one likely to conspire with the likes of Rove and Libby. I'd be willing to bet almost a substantial amount of money it wasn't Richard Clarke.

Two other things from the affidavit. Paragraph 38 on reporters who knew Plame was CIA says

Mr. Pincus has published that he learned on July 12 and filed an affidavit when litigating his subpoena.

To my knowledge, Pincus has not actually published that he learned about Plame on July 12 (although the NYT said that he had). But the fact that Fitzgerald is saying so presumably means that that is what Pincus has indicated to him. Interesting only because one rightwing talking point is that Pincus just must have learned of Plame from the Wilsons themselves.

Second, paragraph 39 evidently endorses Novak's published description of how he learned Plame was CIA. This must mean at least that Novak's testimony is consistent with his admittedly brief description, which I assume comes from the October 1, 2003 column. Not huge news, but given Novak's penchant for being unreliable, it's interesting to note this.

I find the Armitage gossip theory extremely hard to swallow. One, the "Plame-leak-as-gossip" has been the spin of these jokers all along. And we're supposed to believe that it actually did happen? Alongside a clearly orchestrated campaign to out Mrs. Wilson's CIA affiliation involving many, many Admin figures, one that was deliberately set up from the beginning to use journalists as the medium and to use "Beltway gossip" as the cover -- alongside this conspiratorial campaign it just happened that one uninvolved fellow actually did inadvertently spill the beans to journalists as a bit of gossip?

And then we're supposed to believe he did it, not once, but twice?

Two unmotivated slips involving classified info by a guy who in the course of his career has worked for the DIA and very probably the CIA?

The second time, to the very journalist who actually publishes the article outing Plame and igniting the whole firestorm?

RD, maybe I'm missing something, but I'm still not sure what Armitage is supposed to be insulating Powell/State from. What's the harm to Powell/State from people thinking that State did send Wilson? What exactly is the "blame for the Wilson affair"? From whom and for what, exactly?

Again, State was right about Niger. And Powell deliberately left Niger/"Africa" out of his UN speech.

The main reason I have a hard time with Armitage as Woodward's source (Mr. X) is that Mr. X refused to go back and notify Fitzgerald about his conversation with Woodward when Woodward went back and asked him to twice. That doesn't strike me as something that Armitage would do -- especially since Woodward never published his information.


IIRC (now we'll have to conjure pollyusa's presence for the appropriate links!), Novak gave much more detail this summer. In a description that avoids some of the obvious lies of the October 1 column. (Though I've been thinking of how, if this is Armitage, Novak might have meant his "partisan gunslinger" comment, since Armitage is as conservative as anyone else--in Rove's funny little world, though, anyone not "with" us is against us, which includes the conservative Armitage and Powell.) In any case, I wonder if those parens don't include a comment about what Novak had said publicly, something like, "on Reliable Sources"). Or (and lied through his teeth).


Yeah, I'm still noodling that (I think I'm as much of an Armitage skeptic as anyone out there). I'm going to try to resucitate my Armitage post, with comments. But my theory there is that he was set up to say this. That is, that people kept sending journalists to Armitage as a source. Keep in mind, too, that Powell has apparently been very forthcoming with this, and that Powell never lawyered up. Not sure that's consistent with his best friend blabbing his mouth like this.

p luk

Yup. That's another thing I've been thinking about (though it would be perfectly consistent with Rummy; even though I think he's an outside possibility, THAT action sounds most like him). Why would Armitage want to hide his first conversation with Woodward? Embarrassment? To hide he had found out about Plame's ID in some way he wasn't supposed to, like SCI?

p luk

You know, not wanting to go back and admit to the Woodward leak is something that might be very consistent with Ari. Imagine he arranged a nice cozy immunity deal early on, based on testimony of his conversation with Novak. Fitz almost certainly didn't ask for the earlier time frame (he has with few people). But Ari wanted to hide it because, the first time, the conversation was gossip. His "story" is that he leaked to Novak at Libby's or Rove's directions, and if it gets out that he also leaked to Woodward, it would discredit his story.

It would screw up Fitz' case somewhat (or Ari's credibility as a witness). But it would fit the schmuckiness of ARi to a T.

From today's WaPo recapping the affy: Libby's publicist, Barbara Comstock, declined to comment on the affidavit.

That's a first.


A "casual" Armitage leak about Plame that happened alongside the organized "clandestine" smear campaign being run by Libby out of the VPs office could be the reason this got out of control in the first place.

People, people, people. Don't buy into the cover story. Nobody, and I mean nobody, casually leaked the name of a CIA NOC. That makes about as much sense as saying somebody accidentally left the nuclear football in a McDonald's. Whoever Woodward's source is, that person is guilty of an astounding breach of security. Woodward is a complete and utter slime for protecting him/her. Anybody who was told (before Novak's article) that Plame was merely a CIA analyst had an obvious duty to come forward as soon as it was clear what had happened. If they didn't, they are gutless cowards. Say what you want about Armitage (and I would say lots of harsh things about him), he's not a gutless coward.

This is all quite fascinating. I have a question as several people here do this redaction-analysis professionally, what's the possibility that name-spacings in Fitz's filing are deliberately misleading, like "Libbby" or something else like AriFleischer or Mr. A Fleischer or GW Bush or some combination of these? Are there court requirements on the filers writing style as well as the redactors? Do prosecutors try to game redaction analysts?


Nice catch. I think Fitz basically pre-empted much of the subpoena journalists strategy by releasing trasncripts of the few that would make a difference.


That makes about as much sense as saying somebody accidentally left the nuclear football in a McDonald's.

LOL, William, that's pretty funny.

I don't think that the game of redaction goes that deep. The document was surely not created with a later partial disclosure in mind -- it was created as an ex parte affidavit to submitted under seal. There was no telling at that point in time which portions, if any, would become public. Thus, I think the single instance of the spelling "Libbby" for example is just what it appears to be a fairly easy-to-make and easy-to-miss (if you're in a hurry) typo. The rather indiscriminate use and non-use of "Mr." does bollocks up efforts to figure out what's in the redactions, for sure, but my guess is that that, too, was just a case of a document generated in a hurry without a lot of proofreading.
I observe one oddity of the document that maybe someone who knows more can explain. As ew notes, it is pretty clear from the way this pdf looks that it was scanned rather than "distilled" straight from the MS Word document. (Indeed, the only way that the signature and stamp at the end could be captured is by scanning. However, unlike any other scanned document I've dealt with, this one does allow one to select text -- even those little "redacted" stamps. Is this just a really good scan that allows character recognition or is there something funky about that? (I imagine this made it quite a bit easier to re-create the document.)

Here's a gigantic problem with my whole Armitage speculation.

The leaker is repeatedly referred to as an "Administration official." Present official. If that's right, then it couldn't be Armitage. Couldn't be Ari either.

Of course, it could be Rummy...

EW, what's the source for "current official?" Woodward has said his source was either current or former administration official.

I think we've dismissed Jefress's characterization of the source, no?


If Armitage was basing his knowledge on the INR memo, he would not know that Plame was undercover from that, but simply that she worked at CIA. Novak was the one who checked with CIA and was told not to use the info about Plame, and then used the word "operative" that set this whole thing off.

ew -

On Novak, I assume you are referring to his August 1, 2005 article. But that article goes into detail on his encounter with Harlow at the CIA, not his two confidential sources. And Fitzgerald's affidavit specifically describes Novak's description as brief.

But where is the leaker referred to as an administration official? I missed it.

One other thing: all the business about the investigation bearing on conversations and conduct from fall 2003 may just mean 1) at one time Fitzgerald was looking into a coverup, and that part of the investigation is not meaningfully open any longer; and/or 2) that is mainly a reference to Fitzgerald's pursuit of 1x2x6, which we know occupied a good deal of his investigation, according to the 8-27-04 affidavit. Fitzgerald had to track down 1 and try to verify the story. As we know, at most he came up with 4 reporters in the relevant time-frame. I wonder what the status of 1x2x6 is. And what is Armitage is 1? A well-known bureaucratic battler. Just a thought.

I know this goes against the tide, but I have a hard time imagining how Woodward's and Novak's source comes out of this without a plea or charges, at least on obstruction-type crimes.

I should be clear. I just don't buy the Armitage gossip theory. But with great reluctance I do admit it seems Armitage is Mr. X.

I'm no technical expert. But as soon as I read this post (there were barely 5 comments then), geek that I am, I immediately set to recreating EW's MS Word experiment. And I've got to say, despite the fact that I considered the Armitage theory laughably improbable, and despite some small discrepancies, I can't really see that it's not Armitage -- both as Woodward's and Novak's source.

What I don't accept is that Armitage -- or anybody, for that matter, but especially an ex-intelligence guy -- did this by accident or offhandedly. And sure as heck not twice. And not as one of Novak's two sources, and his original one (it seems?) to boot. I'm completely with William Ockham when he says "Nobody, and I mean nobody, casually leaked the name of a CIA NOC." There was no gossip here -- either from or to reporters.

So, unlikely as it might seem, IMO Armitage must have been an active participant. Dunno ... a PNAC thing?

RD, I can interpret your "the reason this got out of control in the first place" in many ways. One interpretation (but not the one you mean, I think) is that Armitage's "casual" leak provided the springboard for the campaign; the cabal used it as an opportunity to launch the organised outing. But then how/why does Armitage casually leak twice? And why on earth is Armitage's secret preserved until the final days before the Libby indictment, when IIPA and/or Espionage were certainly imagined by all to be on the table?

The same problem haunts EW's theory. Again, I could see the cabal steering journalists to Armitage in the hopes that he spills the beans at some point, thereby giving the cabal the break it needed. But then why does the cabal wait so damn long to out Armitage? This is a serious problem for anyone making a case for Armitage's role in this case whereby (a) Armitage and the cabal aren't on the same page (e.g. Armitage leaks "casually" or accidentally) and (b) the cabal knows or very strongly suspects that Armitage leaked. Plus, there are other problems with the idea that the cabal from the outset determined to create their own scapegoat in Armitage. I find it hard to believe that Armitage wouldn't catch on, or become suspicious, when reporters keep coming to him. That would make him even more guarded. (And once again, why the second leak?) Moreover, why would the cabal even think he'd be likely to leak Plame's CIA affiliation in the first place? My original objection to RD's theory applies directly here: if we assume the cabal and Armitage are at cross-purposes, it's the cabal, and not Armitage (State, Powell, etc.) that is threatened by Wilson's trip and "needs" Plame's identity to come out to counter that threat. If he has no compelling reason to point out her work for the CIA, why then would the cabal send reporters to him? Then there are still the same problems with a guy like Armitage treating classified info (an NOC identity!) so offhandedly, etc.

RD: "If Armitage was basing his knowledge on the INR memo, he would not know that Plame was undercover from that, but simply that she worked at CIA."

I don't think it matters. Anybody who's ever dealt with classified information -- let alone a former DIA/CIA guy -- would know that the fact her CIA employment was classified information means there's a chance she's NOC. If Novak knows enough to check it up, so (a fortiori!) does Armitage.

Jeff: "I know this goes against the tide, but I have a hard time imagining how Woodward's and Novak's source comes out of this without a plea or charges, at least on obstruction-type crimes."

I agree. Quite possibly on more than just obstruction-type crimes.

I agree that Army doesn't seem to type to treat classified info offhandedly, particularly if he knew that a tape recorder was going. But more important I take the point that the "idle gossip" meme comes from the Rove or Libby camp (whose is it really?)

Where is there a good timeline of all of the leaking and reporting to date?


So you think that Novak, just thinking that he knew the whole story, decided to name Plame as a covert operative because of the CIA's reaction? Is Novak actually smart enough (or dumb enough?) to come up with this on his own?

Don't you think if that were the case, he'd have gotten a lot of phone calls post-haste from the CIA saying, "shut up NOW before any more damage is done." And then he outs Brewster-Jennings on his own? I can't believe, even as arrogant as Novak is, that he would be stupid enough to knowingly out a covert agent and worse, her covert association without getting the green-light from someone in the admin. I sure as hell wouldn't want to cross the CIA, would you?

Which makes me think that Rove concocted this whole thing with Novak (possibly without Libby's knowledge), using Armitage's "off-handed remark" as cover. Something along the lines of Rove saying, "we really need to neutralize Wilson." And Novak says, "you know, Armitage did tell me his wife worked at the CIA, maybe she is covert." And Rove says, "yeah, go with that, I've heard she might be covert at CIA." And, typical Novak, he inflates what Armitage said to him to make it seem like HE gave him the covert information.

It could also be that Rove and Novak were paranoid enough about the CIA, and thought that maybe the admin was on the receiving end of a CIA op to discredit the war intel, and Plame was part of the conspiracy, therefore it was "okay" to out her because they were just protecting the preznit and his admin.

I'm pretty sure that Rove specifically green-lighted the "covert" language. And that's why he desperately doesn't want to be indicted.

One thing that still bothers me about Armitage (in addition to EW's and others voiced concerns) is that Larry Johnson has specifically said that during the spring of 2003, Plame was transitioning from NOC status to official cover at State. Meaning she ostensibly held a State job with a bogus title and pseudonym. And I'd think that Armitage was high enough in the chain of command to know this, and know her true identity (though I could be wrong). So in revealing her CIA-association, isn't that technically "outing" her? Unless, he was relying on the fact that no one knew who Wilson's wife was and that the State department person who looked just like her (with a different name) was actually the same person?

In sum, I just don't see Armitage as a "leaker" with malicious intent, more as an information provider. He should have known better than to tell Novak, though.

I also have a feeling that Miller was the primary choice of Libby et al to be the snitch, but the NYT editors would have none of it without more solid proof that the CIA was actually out to "get" the administration. (especially after so many of Miller's articles exploded in her face)


It's possible that Armitage is an active player in all of this. He has Iran-Contra ties to Eliott Abrams, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director on the National Security Council for Near East and North African Affairs during the Plame leak period. Joe Wilson named Rove, Libby, and Abrams as the possible leakers in his book. Maybe Armitage swapped information and tactics with Abrams, who knows? I do believe there was a conspiracy to discredit Joe Wilson operating in the VPs office and in the White House. Perhaps Armitage was still trying to jockey for favor by being part of the conspiracy. Maybe he saw Powell was on the way out and wanted to be his successor.


Keep in mind, along with everything else, Armitage and Powell are best friends. They're described to be similar to chattering school girls, who (still) have to call each other every day, several times a day, to catch up.

I'm leaning towards Armitage having a different motive each time he leaked the name (if indeed it was him). With Novak, I still think there's a counter-leak aspect to it. Novak called, Armitage said, "that's a piece of shit. The CIA is just saying she's the source of the trip."

Whereas before (with his buddy Woodward), Armitage really was just gossiping.

One thing that does ring true about this is the line from the (again, presumably) Armitage interview where he says something to the effect that "everyone knew." Libby's folks are saying he was referring to Plame, Fitzgeralds folks are saying he was referring to Wilson's identity. I can see how "everyone" at State may have known of Wilson's trip by mid-June, independent of the INR memo (which is what the full quote in question referred to, I recall). So Armitage may have meant "oh yeah, Wilson's our guy, but we didn't send him, CIA did. His wife works over there." Former CIA guy to CIA-affiliate Woodward, taht doesn't feel too damaging.

And then, much later Novak calls and says "this is what I've heard. Heard anything about it?"

Two more important bits.

1) OVP was chatting to Plame earlier in the week about Frances Fragos Townsend. I still think it likely that one of them was talking about Plame, as well.

2) We still only have Rove's word that Rove didn't provide the all-critical bit, that Plame was an operative, not an analyst.

EW, if Armitage isn't at some level in cahoots with the conspiracy, then why didn't the cabal out him? Even if they didn't know about Woodward, why wouldn't they have outed him as Novak's Mr. X? And per p. lukasiak (and many others), why did Armitage cover up the Woodward leak?

(Note also that Armitage could have said things exactly as you imagine and yet have been deliberately outing Plame. Just because it may have come across to Woodward as idle gossip doesn't mean it really was.)


I think you raise really good questions (in fact, I meant to say as much about your entire previous post, where you first raised these issues).

The answer is, I'm not sure. I've long believed they tried to implicate Fleischer and Powell on this, but never thought any of it was directed against Armitage. But I do think it possible that they want Armitage to remain quiet about something else, or about some part of this.

Honestly, I'm still pondering. Will let you know.

EW, in your previous post to RD you wrote "chatting with Plame" when you meant "chatting with Novak."

I have nothing constructive to add. I just wanted to compliment KM's recent contributions. They clarify the thoughts, doubts, concerns regarding all things Armitage that I've been thinking about, but could never articulate as nicely as KM. I was nodding in agreement so much with KM's points that I just wanted to pass along my thanks. Everyone is making excellent points, but KM reflected what I've been thinking so well.

Jeff's comment sent me back to Novak's October 2 column. The pertinent graf:

First, I did not receive a planned leak. Second, the CIA never warned me that the disclosure of Wilson's wife working at the agency would endanger her or anybody else. Third, it was not much of a secret.

Point one fits Armitage being the leaker. ("That hottie wife of his works at the agency.") In Novak's second point, he lays blame for the outing of a NOC on the CIA instead of on himself. It would have been more honest of Novak if he had written, "I called the CIA to ask if Plame worked there but they wouldn't verify." Why should they? His third point is the cover up meme.

I'd like to point out that it's illogical to say that it wasn't a secret that Valerie Plame was in the CIA. If everybody knew about her, what made her newsworthy?

ew - So you are positing that when Novak talked to Armitage, Novak already knew? It seems to me that doesn't fit with what we know, including the the bit of Novak's October 1 account, which Fitzgerald has now apparently endorsed.

Ok folks - I just got an email from the court reporter that the transcripts from last Friday's hearing as well as from the public part of the Feb. 3 hearing are now available. Trouble is 1)the guy needs a check before he can email them out; 2)they're expensive - about $100 bucks altogether, as it's a total of 130 pages. Anyone in DC want to run over there, I'd chip in for them, how about 10 people at $10 each? Or are we going to just wait for some lousy MSM outlet to post them for us?


I'd be willing to chip in $10. Do we have to have someone physically go to the DC Circuit Court clerk's office, or can we just mail in the check?

One thing still puzzles me. Why would Novak be so positive that Bush knows the identity of the person who told Novak and Woodward about Plame? That part doesn't seem to fit Armitage.

I'm a little surprised that everybody is accepting the Armitage theory based on the redaction experiment. I pointed out early on in this thread that you "George Bush" can fit the redactions and the evidence for his participation in the scheme is much stronger. I'm not saying that it proves that Bush is the Woodward leaker, but the possibility remains. If I have time this weekend, I'm going to perform the following experiment:

1. Take a list of the proposed suspects (anybody want to collate that for me?)
2. Drop the various permutations of names (the document refers to individuals by last name, Mr. or Ms., first and last name and the Bobs are sometimes Roberts) into the redaction holes in paragraphs 43, 46 and 52.
3. I'll create screenshots from Word and email those to emptywheel.

No guarantees on getting this done, I do have a life, you know. If anybody wants to volunteer to take certain names and do the experiment yourself, post here. I'm also open to suggestion for ways to improve the experiment.

I'd be willing to chip $10 for the transcripts, but it'll have to be cash via snail mail.

Thanks for sticking with that, William Ockham. What I don't like about the Armitage theory, what I've never liked, is that it's not elegant. I suspect that's part of what bugs you, wheel. I can help pay for paperwork too. The key seems to be having someone in Washington willing to do the legwork.

Well, if it's George Bush, that would explain Barbara Comstock's silence, for sure. And it would explain Fitz's visit to Bush's lawyer the morning Libby was indicted, which coincided closely with Woody's revelation. And it would certainly tie in with Novak's point that Bush knows damn well who the leaker is. And it's just the kind of dumb ass thing that Georgie Boy would do--"not a planned" leak--just a stupid one. Once Libby and Rove realize that the prez has leaked Valerie's name to Woodward, they have to start the "every body knew it" meme and get it out to several other reporters. Oy.

I'm happy to chip in $10 bucks. Perhaps Pachacutec could do the leg work?

Just to be clear, the only legwork that needs to be done is getting the guy the money. He can email the documents out, which will be a lot easier than getting them and scanning them.

Looks like we've already got $40, so I think it's likely we could scare up the rest - the only issue is whether there's any chance of getting him the money today or over the weekend.

One other technical note. The feature that allows you to copy and paste text from this document is the result of OCR software that was run on the document after the redactions. You can occasionally notice mistakes in the text that only an OCR program would make.

Why I think EW's and my method works...

Whatever is done to the orignal document in the process of scanning, faxing, redacting, converting to PDF, etc., is done to ALL text equally. That is, it is obvious from trying to print out a "recreated" doc on MS Word that it doesn't scale to the printed out PDF of the affy, but what *is* still preserved is the internal landmarks.

An example would be for you to type out a 100% unredacted portion of the affy, for example, paragraph 1, and then print it out and compare where letters in the lines above and below a particular reference fall. You'll find out that the letters match up exactly with where they do in the original. Therefore, if you've properly guessed on the redactions, the same will be true.

AFAIK, "Armitage" is the only name that seems to do this 100%. It's possible that we haven't tried all the permutations, but I think EW's tried the most likely, and of those, I can tell you that none of them fit as perfectly as Armitage does in ALL the redactions.

I don't know 100% that Armitage is definitively "it." And there are many open questions about his motive that have been already addressed in this thread. I'm certainly as perplexed as many of you as to why he would have done it (and given the statements that reporters have made regarding who knew what the source said, etc. Armitage doesn't necessarily make sense).

But he certainly seems to be the leading candidate from what we've seen so far....

Thanks for the kind words, Jim E.

EW: "the line from the (again, presumably) Armitage interview where he says something to the effect that "everyone knew." Libby's folks are saying he was referring to Plame, Fitzgeralds folks are saying he was referring to Wilson's identity."

A propos of nothing, just noticed the following today, from this 4-month-old article, which I'd gone over while looking for something else:

The IoS [Independent on Sunday] was told by a source [before 27 June 2003] that someone in the US knew the truth about the "Niger uranium" claim. The source felt honour-bound not to reveal his name, but said we could easily find out in Washington. He was right: to those familiar with the issue, Joe Wilson's mission was common knowledge.

I'm good for $10


I agree that your technique works. Are assuming that Woodward and Novak share a source? Although I'm not completely convinced of that, for that scenario Rumsfeld is a better fit, typographically and politically. In paragraph 39, where the first redaction is almost certainly in the form (Lastname and Rove). Rumsfeld seems to fit slightly better than Armitage. By the way, the second redaction in that paragraph has to be (Karl Rove). The fact that they redacted the parentheses there makes the whole enterprise a little dicier.

Also, if the third and fourth redactions in paragraph 43 are the same name (and for the single Mr. X theory, they would have to be), Rumsfeld fits slightly better than Armitage.

Can anybody make sense of the redactions from the description of Woodward's deposition in paragraph 46? It seems to suggest that there was a third party present at Woodward's interview with Mr. X.

Again, in paragraph 52, I think "Donald Rumsfeld" fits better than Richard Armitage.


I'm pretty sure I tried Rumsfeld and thought it didn't fit as well as Armitage. But I'll try it again.

One other thing of note, there are extra spaces (i.e. more than one after a punctuation mark, and more than two after the end of a sentence) in certain spots.

* In paragraph 39, after the period of "Mr. Libby" in the second to last line, there are two spaces, not one.

* In paragraph 52 after the period ending the sentence "...Mr. Woodward to protect the identity of (redacted) as his source.", there are 3 spaces instead of 2.

If you make these changes, maybe then Armitage fits better?

I noticed the extra spaces also. It'll probably be tomorrow before I have a chance do a side-by-side compare.

Just an update: I've got an email in to the court reporter just making sure the transcripts can be emailed, and finding out about getting them asap, since soon enough presumably they'll be published. But I really think it would be nice to get our hands on them first. If I can get them really soon, I'll go ahead. In the meanwhile, maybe you can ask your Plameologist friends (ew - maybe over at fdl?) for more contributions to make up the difference between the $40 we have now and the $100 needed.

Evidently, NBC News has gotten its hands on the transcript.

Okay, I am going to solve the whole thing for you all now. .

We know that Woodward and Novak had an original source. Both their sources are probably the same guy. Novak described X as being a former no partisan gunslinger Admin official. Woodward said if we found out who X was, we'd all KNOW it was no conspiracy. If it is Armitage- he doesn't fit the 'no partisan gunslinger' mold and we don't necessarily KNOW there is no conspiracy if we know it's him, as he was a hardball Republican and a hawk.

However Armitage is in the unique position of having this kind of special knowledge and having not denied he was the source as have ALL other players (Fleisher, Tenet, Powell, Rice, Hadley, etc.). Now while they may be lying about not being involved, I find that unlikely, as Fitz knows who he/she is and so no need for this person to publicly lie about it and further damage their rep.

So if not Armitage, who then? This person must be a former senior Admin official. Right there that cuts the list WAAYYY down. How many former senior Admin officials are there? Not many. How many former nonpartisan officals are there? Not many. How many former admin officals are there who didn't deny it? Not many. How many former senior nonpartisan admin officals who didn't deny it had ACCESS to both State Department info about the trip and CIA info about who was sent? Only the National Security staff. Who does that leave? Richard Clarke.

Richard Clarke was Joe Wilson's next door office neighbor when both worked at the White House. Wilson specifically mentioned Richard Clarke and how the White House trashed him too in a letter he wrote complaining about his wife's unmasking. Richard Clarke is also good friends (forget the name now) of a political guy who used to work at CNN with Bob Novak. Richard Clarke as the terrorism expert must have known Judy Miller, as the terrorism reporter, well. Woodward was talking to Clarke around that time as Woodward was researching his latest book on the White House and terrorism.

What more do we need?

Oh and one more. This Mr. X was not in any trouble at all, as was Libby, in telling Novak FIRST about Plame. According to Fitz, no problem at all for blabbing about Plame, not even a lesser pleading. Why is that? How come this first source got off scott free?

It must have been because there was no way this senior, administration official, X, was part of the conspiracy. And the only way that could have been possible was if X was a Democrat.

Except there's no way that "Clarke" will fit where "Armitage" currently does in the redacted spaces. So it can't be Clarke. Whomever it is, their last name is at least 8 letters, possibly nine.

Grammar police! Step away from the "m" sir. That's "Whoever it is..." of course.


Is your email address still your handle at e a r t h l i n k d o t n e t? If so, please check your email.


I've also sent you an email to the address you use here.

Okay, the writer was wrong about the font used in the document. It is not Times, fontsize 12, it is Palatino size 10.

Try taking the last paragraph (with no redacted parts) and copying it into a document. The words don't match or line up. Now change that selection to Palatino 10 and they match perfectly. I haven't figured out how that changes things yet. Will in a sec.

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