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April 21, 2006


The only real news in Novak's comments I can see, and it is barely news, is that Novak pretty clearly confirms that he testified before the grand jury, and almost certainly did so early on in the investigation (all of which has been reported, of course). We knew that Fitzgerald learned who Novak's first source was in early 2004 (which makes it years ago), and i strongly suspect Novak talked after his source, Armitage, acknowledged being the source to Fitzgerald and released Novak from his confidentiality pledge. (Do we know when Armitage talked with Fitzgerald?)

I am still deeply puzzled by Novak's insistence that he can't talk about the case because of advice from his lawyers, and can't resist the idea that that puts him in a different category from the rest of the reporters, though of course it could just be covering for Armitage until the case is closed. I agree that Novak's comment about being astonished if Bush didn't know who his first source was remains puzzling. But maybe it was just a comment on the fact that within the administration it was no big secret, and it's hard to imagine Bush wouldn't have found out by now.

As for Waas, I've said it before, but I really don't think Waas is hinting that he knows that Cheney directed Libby to leak about Plame, only sharpening the question of whether he did in by showing the increasing improbability that he didn't in light of newly revealed, but public, evidence - Cheney's highly unusual role in micro-managing media strategy in relation to the 16 words and Wilsons' trip in July 2003.

If the President leaks it it's not a crime?

Maybe so, I've wondered if Tenet leaked something it's not a crime. I've also read that Congress has to approve declassifying NOCs identities., to avoid these things getting wrapped up in WH politics (Congressional politics being marginally better).

Yesterday I was thinking Bush could have been the source, it would explain why he's not dealing directly with the public about the story - and in his case perhaps it wasn't a crime. While doesn't fit the "no partisan gunslinger" description it would explain why Novak says Bush knows the ID of the leaker.

I'm enthused thinking Cheney would do it.

Interesting also about the FBI leaking to Waas.

I suspect that this was a pretty well-coordinated, multi-stage project with bits and pieces leaqked out. "Seeding" the leak is a good metaphor. Fleischer did a bit, sending Novak to Armitage was probably a part, until someone (Rove?) actually gave Novak a couple more dots for him to connect to "Wilson's wife who works at the CIA sent him to Niger as a boondoggle; it had nothing to do with the VP and he never knew the results." Remember the Wilson smear is just part of a larger, well-coordinated strategy to deceive the people about the threat posed by Iraq and then covering up that fundamental deception. Large numbers of people in the Exec Branch were involved in this enterprise.

I think Novak's hints that Bush must have known mean that he got leaks from Libby that Libby said were authorized by Cheney and from Rove.

Obviously, Novak's source was Cheney:
1. Cheney says Bush authorized him to "declassify", meaning "Bush knew" as Novak says
2. "No crime was committed" bcause it was an insta-declassification
On to the constitutional questions regarding indicting a sitting VP who claims the Prez made him do it!

By the way, 3. "Vice-President" is quite a long name for the Fitz filings...

I think people here (and elsewhere) are reading way too much into Novak's statements. Novak's claim that there was no crime in the leak is pure bluster and spin. There is simply no way he can know that, but it is incredibly important for him to spin it that way. No one has ever been prosecuted for violating the IIPA and its authors certainly never envisioned the possibility that someone acting in the interest of the President (whether or not the President actually authorized the actions) would reveal the identity of a NOC operative for political revenge. A prosecutor as careful as Fitzgerald isn't going to even contemplate making that charge until he has the whole story. Libby's rather blatant lies, together with Rove's machinations, made it impossible to prove what actually happened. I wouldn't expect to see any charges relating to the actual outing until after Libby's trial. If Fitzgerald charges Rove for perjury and/or obstruction, we will have to wait until that one is over too. In the end, there actually may be no way to prove there was an IIPA violation.

A little off topic..nah
Rove indictment RUMOR: yesterday 4/20/6 during his show, I only heard a minute of it, but Ed Shultz said Jason Leopold said Fitz had announced somewhere that Rove was going to be indicted.
Searched goog for Leopolds writings..nada.
Hours later after work, I expected to see stories all over...nada.
Jason..I've heard the rap. But Ed went with it I think...and it wouldn't be the first time he's gotten the breaking news before it broke either.
Anybody hear that? What about it? (Maybe I dreamed it..hah)(may have been a repeat show..I don't think so)
Good writing EW, you even make it look easy. Thanks again.

Slightly off topic question, but does Waas have a regular schedule of publishing articles? Like, does he publish a new one every other Thursday? Something like that?

Nice one ew- I thought that the Novak article was basically self serving. He wants the world to know that he is deepthroat II and not obsolete. The weird line about Fitzgerald leaking was so off, even as a smear, that I thought he had gone dotty.

Your point is a bulls-eye and puts both Waas and Novak's line that no law was broken in perspective. He knows that his testimony was leaked and he thinks that it is Fitz. The only way Novak can make such a complaint is if Waas' early reporting on Novak is accurate. Which would suggest his current reporting may also rely on Novak testimony.

Fitz will serve justice by sticking with the simpler charges and stay away from the leak charge. Once the dems take back congress we will be able to sort out the unitary leaker and chief as well as the veep. To many worms for Fitz to open that can.

Novak's comment about the likelihood of Fitzgerald's informing the press [if N had sought protection of the fifth amendment] was a supportive comment related to Libby's strategy to suppress or crimp the flow of information. Jeralyn covers the latest very well today and just added a link to Jane's view; it is about the current contention between Libby and Fitzgerald regarding Walton's pending gag on both prosecution and defense. The most recent indiscretion was Libby's folks caught releasing a document before the court clerk had published it.

Excellent post, thank you very much!

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