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April 16, 2006


Hello EW. Welcome home.

Welcome back. Bombay is the most extraordinary city, perhaps the most extraordinary place, I have ever been.

Waas' article might be a little confusing, but I think the key to answering the puzzle you've raised is that Waas is not saying that Cheney first authorized Libby to leak the NIE and other possibly classified information on July 12. The point is just that Cheney instructed him on July 12 to talk about the NIE and the CIA report. And the point of Waas' article, it seems to me, is to sharpen the question, "Given the growing body of evidence that Cheney was deeply involved in responding to Wilson, including detailed media strategizing on what Libby should say to reporters on the very day he talked about Wilson's wife with two reporters, what are the odds that Cheney didn't instruct Libby on what to say about Wilson's wife?" Add to that evidence the newly revealed fact that during that crucial week in July Cheney gave voice to exactly the key Plame piece of the attack on Wilson: the trip was a junket set up by her.

So -- with the caveat that I am going to assume that the as yet uncorrected portions of Fitzgerald's filing are accurate and precise -- the basic story is: Libby's testimony is that before July 8 Cheney told Libby he was authorized to leak parts of the NIE to Miller on July 8. It appears that Libby did not testify that he leaked information from the then-still-classified CIA trip report to Miller on July 8 - and Miller testified that he did. (And Fitzgerald notes on p. 23 that the report was then-classified.) On July 12 (and I believe Libby testified to this part), Libby disclosed information from the CIA report to Cooper and Miller. However, Fitzgerald's filing does not specify - and Waas himself leaves the question open - whether the information Libby leaked that day from the CIA report was then-classified, Tenet having released and presumably having had declassified some of the information the day before, including the piece that Libby had already leaked to Miller on July 8, which was the one item in the CIA report favorable to the administration line ("expanding commercial relations" and all that). My assumption is that Libby himself testified that he only disclosed to Cooper and Miller information that had been officially declassified - and recall that the two reports we've had on this jibe with that idea: the Times conveyed Team Libby's claim that Cheney just told Libby on July 12 to refer reporters to Tenet's statement, while the quickly retracted WaPo piece by Gellman, perhaps sourced to Team Libby, perhaps Cathie Martin, said Cheney told Libby to refer reporters to Fleischer's attack on Wilson, which just reiterated Tenet's statement (with the weird distortion of it you've written about). The point is that both reports have Libby just piggybacking on already released information from the CIA report.

It's a further question whether Libby was telling the truth and whether Fitzgerald believes him? Presumably both Cooper and Miller have testified about just what Libby told them on July 12 from the CIA report. But I think Fitzgerald believes in either case that this dimension of Libby's testimony is just another part of the elaborate, false narrative he constructed, since it appears that Libby failed to disclose his leak of then-classified info from the CIA report to Miller on July 8. Two other things to tie up that idea: it appears from Fitzgerald's filing that the Cheney-Bush-Libby secret declassification extended only to the NIE and not the CIA report; and it appears that the official declassification that enabled Tenet to disclose parts of the CIA report in hus July 11 statement had not yet happened when Libby revealed part of its contents to Miller on July 8. But again, that is going on the assumption that Fitzgerald was more precise about this than he was about what Libby said about the uranium claim within the NIE.

All that said, I think the ultimate gist of Waas' piece is just to make more explicit the suggestion hinted at by Fitzgerald that Cheney probably told Libby to leak info about Wilson's wife. Regardless of whether it is provable that they knew her status at the CIA was classified information, the revelation that Cheney was instrumental in leaking info about Wilson's wife would have been mighty damaging politically.

The big question for me at the moment is: does Fitzgerald have definitive testimony on Cheney doing this from Cathie Martin, which presumably it would be sensible to not publicize at this point? In their third motion to compel discovery, Libby's defense said they assume Martin would be a prosecution witness, but she sort of drops out of sight after that as far as legal wrangling goes. Is that because Fitzgerald has given the defense everything he has from OVP, apart, presumably, from the testimony of likely witnesses Martin, Addington and perhaps Cheney?

Welcome back EW!

The timing issue that I don't understand is the timing of Murray's article itself. Did he just acquire this new information? And from whom? And why did this source give him this information now? I mean ... it's speculated that Murray has sources from the pre-Fitzgerald FBI investigation, right? So whatever they knew, they've known since 2003, so it seems unlikely that they'd still be feeding Murray additional facts after all this time. So does each subsequent Waas piece arise from a new source that he's acquired? And how does he acquire them? All the same questions could apply to Leopold. And why those two? Is it that the sources want the information to get out so a select few (with people like EW & Jeff being collateral damage), but they don't want it to get to the general public and they know the corporate media won't acknowledge the existence of Waas and Leopold? And what's to stop Waas himself from going to 60 Minutes with his scoop instead of writing an article?

We have this growing mountain of facts that you guys are doing such a brilliant job of organizing and analyzing, but where are these facts coming from and why are they bleeding out in accordance with such a tortured timetable?


Those are excellent questions. Leak timing and target have been critical to this story from the very beginning. Here's my take. Leaks to the NYT, WaPo, and the major news magazines are mostly official leaks. That is, they are generally the result of deliberate decisions by major players to control the narrative of the unfolding story. Waas and Leopold, on the other hand, have to work very hard to cultivate sources to get at the truth. Journalists for the major news organs have to buy into what Jay Rosen calls pressthink. Waas and Leopold are driven by the much older journalist's creed: Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.

EW - Welcome Home

Excellent observations and questions. Timing is everything. Do we yet know the date that Bush "declassified" the NIE for Dick?

Also note from the indictment on page 5 that Libby talked to Judy on June 23rd and mentioned that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA.

So how do you imagine a day in the life of Murray Waas? Is he actively cajoling sources, trying to squeeze out the next drop of truth? If so, what is he doing to try to get them to part with the information? Or are the sources coming to him? In which case, whoever they are, why do they choose Murray? Have they gone to WaPo etc. and been sent packing? Are they afraid WaPo etc. will blow their cover, given the cozy and unethical relationship between the administration and the corporate media? And what of the motivation of the sources? Are these people who hate Bush and want to nudge the story along? Are they Karl Rove plants, trying to control the underground narrative or send below-the-radar messages to other former co-conspirators?

I just wish I could get a sense of how the information flows on a daily basis.

WRT your question, obsessed, some of the timing is driven by court filings. Both Waas and Leopold are getting people to confirm and expand on things revealed in court filings at this point. But that's why my questions are relevant, I think--Waas is presenting a view slightly different from the filings. As Jeff points out, this could be a question of inaccuracy. But it could also be something else. I'm still trying to clear my head, but I did want to raise the questions...

One more comment on this--this begins to explain why the negotiations between Libby and Hadley and Tenet are so important that week. If they got Tenet to effectively declassify the NIE and the trip report, then there are probably some pretty explicit negotiations in that correspondance. And remember that Tenet tried to deny having negotiated with Libby. And, of course, Libby is trying pretty hard to get those negotiations.

I've thought for a while that Waas and Leopold are printing things a lot of people in DC know, but no one will go with. The New York Times and Washington Post have to know more than they've ever printed, since they're both part of the story. So it's sort of a scoop for Waas to say it's Grossman who gave the 1X2X6 story, but it wasn't news to the Post.

I'm still working through the ramifications of the following, but in general terms, I think the confusion here is caused by the box Libby created for himself with the Russert story. I'm assuming Libby's goals are roughly these:
1. Avoid an IIPA or Espionage Act conviction
2. Protect his boss(es) from the same legal trouble
3. Neutralize the political scandal

Unfortunately for Libby, he was well known to be a rather compulsive notetaker. He couldn't destroy his notes because too many people knew about them. I'm betting that he couldn't selectively destroy specific pages either, because he probably had an excellent numbering and ordering system. He had to come up with a cover story that explained away the numerous incriminating details contained in his notebooks. For whatever reason, he (and I suspect Rove as well) used the "I heard it from reporters" dodge. I've always felt that this cover story was conceived before the actual outing, but I'm not so sure any more. In any event, once he decided to use this cover story, he had to decide which reporter to finger as his original source. He couldn't use Woodward or Miller because of his June contacts with them. He desperately wanted to keep the investigation away from looking too closely at his activities in June. His patsy had to be somebody he talked to long after the early June conversation with Cheney to make his Steve Martin defense (I forgot!) seem believable. He also needed to claim that his patsy told him about Plame before the second Cheney conversation that Libby recorded in his notes. This is the new information from Fitzgerald's 4/5/06 filing:

At some point after the publication of the July 6, 2003 Op Ed by Mr. Wilson, Vice President
Cheney, defendant’s immediate superior, expressed concerns to defendant regarding whether Mr.
Wilson’s trip was legitimate or whether it was in effect a junket set up by Mr. Wilson’s wife.

Fitzgerald doesn't say directly that little nugget came from Libby's notes, but where else did it come from? In any event, Russert became the reporter that Libby decided to finger. After that decision is made, Libby has to weave his narrative around his notes, the date and time of the Russert conversation, and whatever other records and testimony the investigation was likely to uncover. Of course, he had to hope against hope that no reporters would ever testify.

Once you realize that Libby has to account for his notes, you can start to figure out how his false narrative was constructed. The stuff about Cheney and the NIE must have been in his notes. If, as I suspect, his notes are ordered, but not dated, he has some flexibility in describing when things happened, except when the events can be tied to specific days (like the AF 2 conversation). Look at all the stuff that Libby lied about for no apparent reason. He misrepresented the Cooper conversation. He claimed he told Kessler when he really didn't. He claimed that the NIE leak was a once in a lifetime thing. None of those lies, at first glance, seem to have anything to do with case. They are there to explain things in his notes. The confusion over the timing of the alleged declassifications comes from the timeline twisting that Libby was forced into by using Russert as a patsy.

All this stuff about the timing of the "declassification" would be nothing but a red herring, except that it obscures the more sinister truth that is obvious to anybody who's really paying attention. Long before the war on Wilson, the administration has repeatedly used the classification system as a political tool to punish its opponents (Paul O'Neill, Richard Clarke, and especially Jonathan Randal).

William & Saltin - Leopold recently described the art of cultivating sources in the comments here
"Cultivating sources is an art form. I can tell you first hand that journalists–be it those who work in the indy media or for mainstream publications–don’t just sit around waiting for a source to drop something in their lap."
"Sources by and large could give a shit about who or where the story is appearing. Unless it’s a planned leak or the source has an axe to grind that is the only time they approach a large media outlet like the NYT."


Good point, there are a few dates any admissions by Libby would pivot on. He may have even portrayed the NIE leak permission as taking place on July 12 to hide the fact that Dick got involved in June, back when Plame's DO status was fresh in their minds. Though I would switch your number 1 and 2--as I pointed out recently, the specific form of the Cooper leak (and, probably, the Kessler leak) served to hide Rove's involvement in this, and basically assisted Rove in his attempt to obstruct justice (the phone log, the email).

So you're saying there's what Libby has admitted to (which, for reasons of the Lie and his notes, he has dated July 12). And then there's the larger admission, that Cheney authorized all of this, including the Plame leak.

Which would say Cheney probably authorized the Wilson CIA report, NIE, January 24 document, and Plame ID back in June, when Libby first spoke to Judy.

I'm still trying to figure out how Fitz knew that the June 23 meeting included Plame leakage. That's one of the real bombshells, and Libby's people don't seem to be going after that evidence. For that matter, they don't seem to be preparing an attack on Cathie Martin (as distinct from Grossman, Ari, et al).


The question about whether Libby was covering for Rove depends on when Fitzgerald found out about the Libby-Rove conversation. Libby didn't testify to that, but we don't know if it was in Libby's notes or Rove admitted to it later in the game.

I'll have to dig this back up, but I'm pretty sure that Fitzgerald didn't even know about the June 23 meeting with Miller until after Miller's first day of testimony and her "discovery" of her notes. I still suspect that somebody at the NYT with the initials DJ actually ratted her out to Fitzgerald.

Cathie Martin's testimony is not really that damaging to Libby. She remembers telling him sometime between June 2003 and July 8th about Plame. That's just vague enough not to hurt his story.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding, but Fitzgerald's filing is perfectly explicit more than once that Libby testified that he secured Cheney's assurance that the President authorized his disclosure of the NIE to Miller before the July 8 conversation. See pp. 19-20, top of p. 23.

I'm still trying to figure out how Fitz knew that the June 23 meeting included Plame leakage.

You mean before Miller testified, right? If Fitzgerald did know, I wonder whether he has testimony from one of Miller's other sources, whose identity she claims she could not remember.

For that matter, they don't seem to be preparing an attack on Cathie Martin (as distinct from Grossman, Ari, et al).

That could be, but I suspect they are, and we're just not hearing much about Martin in the filings because she is in OVP: I looked into this and found this on p. 15 of Libby's third motion to compel discovery, a footnote appended to the list of potential witnesses Team Libby wants document discovery on:

In addition, numerous witnesses from the OVP may testify at trial. We do not include witnesses from the OVP on this list because in light of the government's representation that it has produced all responsive documents from the OVP, we assume that the government has already produced documents from those witnesses that are responsive to the requests in this motion.

Thus the OVP folks are not being argued over in the context of discovery. The question remains of how damaging Martin's testimony will be. There are two distinct issues. I don't know why Fitzgerald uses the formulation of Martin telling Libby about Plame no later than July 8 but possibly as early as June, when it appears he's confident she told him after July 6. But beyond that, there's the question of whether Martin witnessed and is testifying to really damaging conversations between Libby and Cheney. Gellman's October 30, 2005 story noted that Martin was the only official beyond Libby and Cheney known to have been on Air Force Two on July 12. What did she hear, witness, and testify to?


Yes, that is part of my confusion with Waas' article. Here's the full chunk from p 19-20:

Defendant’s participation in a critical conversation with Judith Miller on July 8 (discussed further below) occurred only after the Vice President advised defendant that the President specifically had authorized defendant to disclose certain information in the NIE. Defendant testified that the circumstances of his conversation with reporter Miller – getting approval from the President through the Vice President to discuss material that would be classified but for that approval – were unique in his recollection. Defendant further testified that on July 12, 2003, he was specifically directed by the Vice President to speak to the press in place of Cathie Martin (then the communications person for the Vice President) regarding the NIE and Wilson. Defendant was instructed to provide what was for him an extremely rare “on the record” statement, and to provide “background” and “deep background” statements, and to provide information contained in a document defendant understood to be the cable authored by Mr. Wilson.

This passage says pre-July 8, Cheney and Bush authorized leaking the NIE, then on July 12, Cheney instructed Libby to "provide information contained" in the CIA report. But then Waas uses the word "authorized" to describe the leaking of the CIA report:

The new disclosure also raises the question whether President Bush or his aides knew that Cheney may have been deciding on his own to authorize the leaking of classified information. Senior government officials said that top Bush aides -- including then-deputy National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley and White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett -- were not aware that Cheney had authorized the disclosure of the CIA report on Wilson's Niger mission. These officials raised the possibility that Bush himself was unaware at the time of Cheney's action.

Maybe this is just semantics, but the filing does not discuss the NIE and the CIA report on the same terms (and, I suspect, it may be because of the involvement of Tenet). Authorizing is not exactly the same as declassifying. And there is no hint of Cheney asking Bush to declassify the CIA report (though I'm sure you could argue that if Dick wanted it leaked, it had been declassified).

Further, even if Cheney authorized Libby to leak the CIA report on July 12, we know Libby had already done so on July 8. So if Cheney did in fact authorize that leak on July 12, he can't be held responsible for authorizing the primary and most damaging leaking of this, which happened on July 8 (unless he authorized that too and Libby just didn't admit it because there was no written evidence or Martin evidence of the fact). And this timing is pretty nonsensical anyway, since we know Libby was backing off the claims he made about the CIA report on July 12, at least with Judy; he was basically trying to retract some of his claims about the CIA report, including the authorship of it.

WRT the July 23 meeting, recall that it was reported that Fitz reminded Judy of her June 23 meeting by showing her the sign-in log from the EOB. But that's not enough to refuse to release her from contempt. He had to have known some other way about the general content of that meeting. It may be that (as William points out) that Dave Johnston knew of it and told Fitz. But I don't think Johnston would do so strictly on hearsay, even directly from Judy (and Judy wouldn't share that info with DJ willingly, either). So my main question is--did someone who was involved in that meeting tell Fitz about it? Did Cathie Martin know about it, for example?

Or to simplify my confusion a bit. Waas' article is being treated as if it asserts that the NIE and the CIA report were treated the same (first Cheney-declassified, then leaked). That's not the case, at least not as far as we know. The NIE was Cheney-declassified, then leaked (though it's unclear whether the Woodward leaking was authorized/declassified or not); the CIA report was leaked, then authorized (which may or may not include declassification), then leaked again. The difference seems rather significant.

To clarify my point about the June 23 meeting. I think either Douglas Jehl or David Johnston had access to Judy Miller's notes while she was in jail. Remember she "discovered" them at an NYT office after she got out. I think that one way or another somebody from the NYT forced Judy's hand on that.

I also think the focus on the July 12 meeting on AF 2 is probably misplaced. The decision to out Plame happened sometime between June 12 and June 23.

ew -

The point of Waas' article, it seems to me, is not to assert that BLC treated the NIE and the CIA report the same. I think the point is simply to observe that the treatment of the CIA report -- whatever the precise nature of that treatment -- is further evidence that Cheney was deeply involved in the use of highly sensitive information to respond to Wilson. What Waas may not emphasize enough is that on July 12, most of the CIA report remained classified, but it is not clear whether Cheney told Libby to leak parts that were still classified or only those parts declassified in connection with Tenet's July 11 statement. (That, by the way, is why Waas says that "Cheney may have been deciding on his own to authorize the leaking of classified information.")

Then there is the further issue that, regardless of the answer to that question, Libby in fact leaked classified information from the CIA report to Miller on July 8, and apparently did not admit to that in his testimony, even as he did testify that Bush-Cheney had authorized the release of the key judgments of the NIE. Did Cheney know that LIbby had disclosed classified info from the CIA report to Miller on July 8? Did he instruct him to do so? We don't know the answers to those questions at this point.

Obviously, part of the difficulty is untangling what is bs in Libby's (and presumably Cheney's and perhaps Bush's testimony) from what is true. But in any case, you're right that Waas is being misread if the article is being interpreted as asserting that the NIE and the CIA report were treated the same.


Agree that is where Waas is going. I think the point is that there is abundant evidence Cheney authorized everything Libby did that week, either before or after the fact, except for leaking Plame's identity. Which suggests that he authorized that too.

I just think the dates introduce a level of doubt or flux into that theory. For example, if Cheney only authorized the CIA report leaking after the fact, did he do the same with Plame's identity? That kind of weakens the conspiracy case.

ew - I agree all around, except I don't quite think it's clear that Cheney authorized everything Libby did that week, and the reason I mention that is because it's important not to assume - as William Ockham is of course constitutionally inclined to do - that all of these somewhat related actions form one event or one big, simple action. Maybe Cheney instructed Libby to tell reporters about Plame on July 12, but didn't know that Libby had already told Miller about her on June 23 and July 8. Maybe he knew about July 8, but not June 23. And so on.

To take one example, Fitzgerald's filing tells us that - at least according to testimony - Libby never told Cheney about his conversation with Rove about Plame and Novak, so that Cheney did not know that Libby was aware of (that) White House involvement in the leak at the time (fall 2003) that the White House had publicly staked its credibility on the White House not being involved (or no known involvement, or whatever). Again, this may be Libby lying in his testimony to cover for the fact that Cheney did in fact know of White House involvement in fall 2003. But that's not the way Fitzgerald presents it.

Beyond this, it's clear there was a lot of activity in the Bush administration over the Wilsons, and not all of it was part of the same action: the best example, of course, is that it appears pretty clear that Armitage's leaks to Woodward and, perhaps, Novak were not part of the same effort as Libby's leak to Miller. It is this fact - along with the specific fact that what seems to me to be Libby's special effort to target Miller to publicize Plame failed - that gives a certain comedy of errors dimension to the whole story.


I think you're overlooking a couple of very important issues. First, we only have a small part of Fitzgerald's case (i.e. the parts that have direct relevance to Libby's perjury and obstruction). We don't know anything about his case against Rove or others in the White House. I think it strains credulity to think that there is some explanation for the facts at hand that doesn't involve an organized effort to punish Joe Wilson for speaking out and that outing Valerie Plame was an integral part of that effort.

Second, I completely disagree that the leak to Novak wasn't part of the same effort as Libby's leak to Miller. The Libby-Rove conversation and the leaks to Cooper put the lie to that statement. The leak to Woodward is, to my mind, the most interesting. If it weren't for the fact the leaker also leaked to Novak, I would be willing to entertain the possibility that the Woodward leak wasn't part of the plan. Woodward had been given so much access to highly classified material that it is possible that a leak to Woodward wouldn't have been perceived as a leak at all, but nobody talks to Robert Novak unless they want to perform a very public political hit. Rather than a comedy of errors, I see the an increasingly desperate effort to regain control of the debate over the war.

If you don't assume that Cheney and Bush approved everything that Libby, Rove, Hadley et. al did in June and July 2003, how do you explain their actions since then? Ashcroft got regular briefings on the investigation during the last quarter of 2003. If Bush and Cheney didn't know what was going on that summer, they certainly knew by December.

I think it strains credulity to think that there is some explanation for the facts at hand that doesn't involve an organized effort to punish Joe Wilson for speaking out and that outing Valerie Plame was an integral part of that effort.

I agree that there was such an effort. But that doesn't mean that all of the facts at hand were a part of that effort. Was the Rove leak to Novak? I suspect so. But Armitage? Not clear to me. And Woodward? I doubt it.

If you don't assume that Cheney and Bush approved everything that Libby, Rove, Hadley et. al did in June and July 2003, how do you explain their actions since then? Ashcroft got regular briefings on the investigation during the last quarter of 2003. If Bush and Cheney didn't know what was going on that summer, they certainly knew by December.

First, there's no reason to assume approval from both Cheney and Bush, Mr. Ockham. But in any case, I agree more was known by December. But everybody knew it would be damaging for information to come out, even if, say, there was not a big criminal conspiracy back in June-July 2003. I'm not saying dogmatically that one didn't happen - but it's not clear enough yet that it did.

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