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April 17, 2006



You're misreading the document I found. It is the original June 10 memo (with the Feb 19, 2002 meeting notes attached). I believe that first page is related to the declassification process. You can actually compare the July 7 version with the June 10 version side by side. So far, the only difference I've found is that Ford removed the part about one analyst being on leave.

Hmmm.... compare the initials by Carl Ford's name on July version with the ones on the June version. What's up with that?

Oh, shit you're right! I thought the second doc was just the addition of the INR analyst's notes.

The cover memo makes sense--Fingar was acting head when this was declassified. But you're right about the initials.

No wait, it doesn't make sense. This was declassifed now. Fingar is long gone. As is, I believe, Silver.

Holy shit. That analyst mention is HUGE. That's almost certainly the Iraq nuclear analyst (who was on leave when the Iraq forgeries were passed out). Note he is not named.

This has, from time to time, been speculated to be John Kokal who died in a mysterious suicide at precisely the time the INR memo was first leaked and when the SSCI was fighting over documents, in November 2003.

Those names must reflect folks who worked the memo up the chain to Ford. Gotta love State's documentation strategy.

Ockham and emptywheel -- you two are having a conversation here that's flying way over my head. I've looked at the two versions. I see the different cover sheet. I see the different initials (can't read them in either case). I'm missing how any of it's "HUGE." Huge because Fingar is on the cover sheet and he's gone now? There's no date on the cover sheet--what's to say it isn't as old as the rest of the papers? Or is "Approved INR/PDAS Thomas Fingar" supposed to mean he approved of the declassification redactions recently?

Tiny update, please? Sorry to be so needy and slow.

Oops. I missed, "So far, the only difference I've found is that Ford removed the part about one analyst being on leave" in W. Ockham's first comment above. Still a little confused, but less so.

Okay, here's what is going on, I think.

We have two copies of the INR memo. I knew there were two copies from the Jane Harman quote. But I've always expected there to be substantive differences between the two.

Instead, there are only two differences:

  • Someone besides Carl Ford signed his initials on one of these memos--without even trying to make it look real; I'm guessing it was Fingar, on the June 10 version, who became acting Assistant Secretary of INR after Ford resigned on October 3, 2003. Also, Ford was having health problems, so it may be that he was just absent around June 10 when this was finalized
  • The mention of an analyst has been removed; I'm guessing that this analyst is the Iraq nuclear analyst mentioned in the later parts of the memo and mentioned repeatedly in the SSCI

So far, no big deal.

Add in this bit. The June 10 version of this was declassified at some earlier time--I'm guessing after October 3, 2003, but before whenever Fingar and Silver moved on (at different times in 2005, I think; both are still in their roles when the testify on the Bolton nomination). We don't know if they're portraying the declassification to be current or not, because the Sun didn't want to publish it. But in any case, the June 10 version had already been declassified (note Fingar has his INR title, not his NIC title) before this declassification.

Thing is, if I'm right and the second analyst is the Iraq nuclear analyst, he was still around in July 2003. He was apparently interviewed by SSCI at least once (though there are several redacted caveats surrounding his mention in the SSCI).

Then there's the fact that the narratives have always described the INR analyst notes being attached to the July 7 version and not on the June 10 version.

Then, finally, there's the discrepancy between the Pincus leak and what we're looking at. It may be that Pincus' sources were just plain wrong. But it's worth noting.

So there's something funny about these two INR memos, beyond just the detail of the INR analyst being removed.

The current person in charge of SPM (Strategic, Proliferation, and Miltiary) is Douglas Spelman. And the title Fingar has listed, PDAS, is Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, which was his role throughout the run-up to war. Looking for his details after Ford left; I don't remember whether he was officially made Assistant Secretary.

A minor point perhaps, but there is one more page on the NYSun web site that does not show up (at least on my computer). It is the cover memo for the July 7 version: http://www.nysun.com/pics/31062_2_0.jpg

This one is approved by a William Wood rather than Thomas Fingar and also has one more line -- Distro: S, D, P, PA

Also - this may be more important - Cecil Turner, commenting on Tom Maguire's blog, noted there may be some significant redactions that have not been marked with boxes. Specifically, it looks like the word "TOP" has been deleted from the space before "SECRET" in many places (though not the appended 2/19 memo). Before paragraph 4, there is a one-letter space between the opening parenthesis and the letter "S", where a "T" has probably been removed.

I think CT is correct. One reason - note the presence of an underlined leading space before "Secret" in several places. Unlike underlined trailing spaces which are common with word processors, that's not something that is likely to happen by accident.

Okay, Fingar was named Assistant Secretary in July 2004, so the June 10 version had to have been declassified between June 10, 2003 and July 2004. Still working on Silver's dates.

I'm more confused than ever. And more determined than ever to drive to Las Vegas for the Plame panel!

The July 7 memo would have had to have been declassified some time after November 27, 2004, and now. Wood was not yet PDAS in 2004, and now he is already gone from INR.

SaltIn, I'll try to put together a better explanation but I'm still trying to pinpoint the dates on these.

Wheel, honestly I think you're doing fine. I'm just coming up against some of my own limits in terms of keeping all the pieces in my head at once. It's a little frustrating, because I would have been very good at the puzzle aspect of this about twenty-five years ago. But I'm still keenly interested and hoping to make a surprisingly vital contribution at some point and really am coming to Vegas.


Good catch. I think you're right. This doc was orginally Top Secret, but for whatever reason, the declassification authority is trying to hide that info (and I should note, not doing it in a way consistent with FOIA, as there are no exemptions given for the redaction).

Also, there is a HUGE white space between SECRET and ORCON,NOFORN. My limited research into classification markings indicates that these may be sensitive compartamentalized information markings that are missing. Interestingly enough, the fact that the doc is marked ORCON means that it had enough info on sensitive sources and methods that its dissemination needed to be controlled by the originating authority (presumably INR in this case).

The only place that I could see being top secret is in, interestingly enough, the entirely unredacted fourth paragraph that details the info about the NIE. There is clearly some white space before the S (and also a bunch before the ORCON too). This, I would submit is the SCI that only certain people would have been cleared to see. Presumably this is because it relates to the NIE and to the Italian Secret service (sources and methods, and the overall sensitivity of the NIE).

What is strange though, is that the paragraph about Valerie is not given the same sort of SCI control. Which suggests to me that just knowing she worked at CIA and was Joe Wilson's wife wasn't enough to blow her cover. And that Rove found out about it some other way. It just brings us back to the big question, where did Novak get "Valerie Plame" from?

viget, thanks for that. I think you're right, that they're hiding this document's declassification.

But at the same time I'm struck by the differences between the Pincus article and this memo. If we buy the Pincus article, then either more information appears in the first paragraph (pushing the Plame mention onto the second page) or the redacted portion of the second paragraph has been greatly shortened, and one metion of Plame has been removed. Either someone gave Pincus a whole lot of very specific, almost but not quite correct information (they got the second paragraph right, but not the page on which Plame appears, and possibly not the right number of mentions of Plame or sentences), or this has been altered.

Add in the fact that Ford didn't sign off on both of these, and something's very fishy.

Niger-rien : "Niger-nothing"

In French "rien" means nothing.

Waas made the same "mistake" in his recent article, I'd bet there are more, my guess would be that it is deliberate.

Ah, once again I am the idiot. Never mind....

Let me see if I have this straight.

On January 12, 2003, INR, "expressed concerns to the CIA that the documents pertaining to the Iraq-Niger deal were forgeries."

(U) On January 13, 2003, the INR Iraq nuclear analyst sent an e-mail to several IC analysts outlining his reasoning why, "the uranium purchase agreement probably is a hoax."

CIA received copies of the foreign language documents on January 16, 2003.

Yet Bush used this bogus info in the SOTU on Jan 28th? WTF? Didn't they claim at one point they didn't have copies of the documents until March, after we started bombing Iraq? Clearly, this analyst saw them, since the "funky Emb. of Niger stamp" is mentioned.

This may be common knowledge to those of you following this closer than I've been (I'm trying!) but I'm amazed how clumsy this administration's lies are, once someone bothers to look at them.

BTW, I'd never heard of John Kokal before today. How the hell could the media have ignored that story?

The more I read about this case the more confused I get. That's not a complaint about the writing here (or the other fine blogs studying this), it's just that every time the pieces start to fall into place, there's a whole 'nuther hunk of bs to figure out what to do with.

I am both confused and, mostly, unilluminated by the documents published today, so I'm happy to hear I am confused on the following point. But I was thinking that while I've yet to get much added insight from the documents, it's interesting to see where this whole mess may have started, and in particular with the ambiguity in the INR analyst's notes, not just the "apparently convened," which is already doubly ambiguous thanks to the "apparently" and thanks to the fact that "convened" can mean both "organized" and just "called to order" (or even "covered preliminaries before the real meeting"), but on top of that the "with the idea that" which can be read as Valerie Wilson's idea or rather the more general point or idea of the meeting. In fact, I read it the latter way. But obviously it was read the former way.

But then, thanks to pollyusa, I noticed that the quotation of the INR analyst's notes in the SSCI report is significantly different from what we've got, and irons out precisely that latter ambiguity. What is the deal with that? The INR analyst's notes appended to the INR memo that we got today reads:

Meeting apparently convened by Valerie Wilson, a CIA WMD managerial typ and the wife of Amb. Joe Wilson, with the idea that the agency and the larger USG could dispatch Joe to Niger to use his contacts there to sort out the Niger/Iraq uranium sale question.

The SSCI report p. 40 has this, with internal quotation:

An INR analyst's notes indicate that the meeting was "apparently convened by [the former ambassador's] wife who had the idea to dispatch [him] to use his contacts to sort out the Iraq-Niger uranium issue."

Similarly, the quotation from the INR analyst's notes further down on 40 differs slightly but significantly from what we got today, leaving out "complete" before "control" in describing the French's control over the entire (a word that is also absent) process.

But the point is that unless this is some other document, it appears that the SSCI simply and flatly misrepresented the INR analyst's notes to make it seem more definitive that it was Plame's idea to dispatch her husband.

might be something of interest here:



the "with the idea that" which can be read as Valerie Wilson's idea or rather the more general point or idea of the meeting. In fact, I read it the latter way. But obviously it was read the former way.

Yeah, I think it was probably meant to be read as the the latter (the more general point or idea of the meeting), but the SSCI not only actually misquotes the INR anaylists meeting notes but does it is a way that could total change the intended meaning.

I looked up convened as well... the word ambiguous was invented for words like this, add apparently and as you put it so well it becomes doubly ambiguous.

Good catch on the other mis-representation of the INR meeting noted in the SSCI report. Certainly interesting.

Side note, I always wondered if Libby wanted Miller to source him as a "hill staffer" hoping that people would think the leaks came from the SSCI investigation which began in June 2003.

I'm not an expert, and I'm not sure this is helpful, but to add to viget and tortoise.

I found this off the document (not sure if obsolete by now): "Security Controls on the Dissemination of Intelligence Information"
http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/dcid17.htm There's a list of several markings and their definitions that could be in that redact at the top and bottom of each page.


And particular interest to me relating to Cheney's ability to declassify is 10.1.4.

"10.1.4 As this (ORCON)is the most restrictive marking herein, agencies will establish procedures to ensure that 1) that it is only applied to particularly sensitive intelligence and, 2) timely review of requests for further dissemination of intelligence bearing this marking. This marking may be abbreviated "ORCON" or "OC.""


It looks like some of that space after "secret" is for "control systems/codewords" as per the Guide to Marking Documents


IMO the thing the SSCI most egregiously left out was Rohn's incredulity that they thought Niger would ship 10 trucks of uranium across Sudan. It's really a testament to how desperate those in CIA were to make this float--and how much they ignored basic logic to make their case.

EW, what's your impression these days of divisions/disagreements among the WMD analysts at the CIA re:Iraq (or Iran if yo?

EW, what's your impression these days of divisions/disagreements among the WMD analysts at the CIA, re: Iraq or anything else you might be thinking about?

I think you earlier talked about a faction that were supporting Bolton's crowd.

After finally seeing the INR memo and looking through some of the old articles on the INR memo, here is what I think.

1. Some INR analyst was at the 2/19/02 meeting probably Rohn who authored the Notes - Niger/Iraq uranium Meeting CIA, 2/19/06 .

2. The analyst notes, Notes - Niger/Iraq uranium Meeting CIA, 2/19/06, attached to the INR memo were probably written in the same time period as the INR memo.

3. Jeff is probably exactly right here

I take it the INR analyst (Rohn or whatever) wrote up these notes, possibly on the occasion of the generation of this very memo, but was not present in June or July 2003 to contribute more actively to the understanding the INR memo was supposed to produce.

I think the original CIA claim:

the agency officer identified as talking about Plame's alleged role in arranging Wilson's trip could not have attended the meeting.
12/26/03 WaPo

probably refered to Ford as Jeff suggested. Whoever talked to Allen and Milbank probably were told that Carl Ford was the author of the INR memo. I'm guessing that the CIA source for the WaPo article hadn't actually seen the INR memo but was told that Ford was the author. Note the way the quote is phrased, "the agency officer identified as talking about Plame's alleged role".

Note that in the 12/26/03 article the quote refers to "the agency [INR] officer" not the INR analyst

Here are the accounts in the press regarding the INR analyst.

The NYT has it this way

The memorandum was prepared at the State Department, relying on notes by an analyst who was involved in meetings in early 2002
NYT 7/16/05

Pincus has it this way in his 7/21/05 article, maybe at this point Pincus was only hearing about the body of the INR memo and not the attached analyst's notes.

The material in the memo about Wilson's wife was based on notes taken by an INR analyst who attended a Feb. 19, 2002, meeting at the CIA where Wilson's intelligence-gathering trip to Niger was discussed.
WaPo 7/21/05

Pincus puts the author of the Notes - Niger/Iraq uranium Meeting CIA, 2/19/06 at the meeting in the 10/18/05 article.

Attached to the letter were the notes from the INR analyst who had attended the session
WaPo 10/18/05

The LA Times article

After a June 12 Washington Post story made reference to the Niger uranium inquiry, Armitage asked intelligence officers in the State Department for more information. He was forwarded a copy of a memo classified "Secret" that included a description of Wilson's trip for the CIA, his findings, a brief description of the origin of the trip and a reference to "Wilson's wife."

The memo was kept in a safe at the State Department along with notes from an analyst who attended the CIA meeting at which Wilson was suggested for the Niger assignment.
LA Times 8/25/05

This is an interesting aside, the 7/20/05 AP has this on the INR memo

The June 2003 memo had not gone higher than Grossman until Wilson's op-ed column for The New York Times
AP 7/20/05

If true then Armitage didn't see the memo until well after Woodward was told. However the LA Times article quoted above indicates that Armitage recieved the INR memo in mid June 2003.

One last point...where did the NY Sun get Rohn's name? It doesn't appear on the attachment.

Ok one thing more.. It is great to be able to actually link to something when I reference the INR Memo, simple pleasures.


You asked if the INR Memo was decribed differently in any other articles, I ran across this, Pincus is less specific here.

The letter to Grossman discussed the reasons the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) did not believe the intelligence, which originated from foreign sources, was accurate. It had a paragraph near the beginning, marked "(S)," meaning it was classified secret, describing a meeting at the CIA in February 2002, attended by another INR analyst, where Plame introduced her husband as the person who was to go to Niger.
WaPo 10/18/05


My mistake on the next thread (the cover letters are original, not declassification related) supports the idea that Armitage did not receive the INR memo until July. The June 10 does not include any distribution list. But the July 7 includes S (Powell), D (Armitage), P (Grossman), PA (Boucher).

But then, that claim in the LATimes was never very well sourced (it wasn't a quote, and the whole article was multiply sourced) and the one earlier article referencing Armitage didn't make that claim. Someone who sounds like Armitage, though, did say they were arguing about this for quite a while and therefore knew via other means.

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