« Billy Graham is a liar. | Main | A New Treasury Secretary »

May 30, 2006


Here's some relevant verbiage from Abu Gonzales' October 3 memo detailing what they turn over:

For purposes of this memorandum, the term "documents" includes "without limitation all electronic records, telephone records of any kind (including but not limited to any documents that memorialize telephone calls having been made), correspondence, computer records, storage devices, notes, memoranda, and diary and calendar entries" in the possession of the Executive Office of the President, its staff, or its employees, wherever located, including any documents that may have been archived in Records Management. However, at this time, you do not need to provide to Counsel's Office copies of the following, provided that they have not been marked upon in any way and are not accompanied by any notes or other commentary: (a) press clips or articles, whether in hard copy or e-mail or electronic form,

I have a feeling Rove's minions knew the terms of "possession" before this memo went out (which, btw, included another day-long delay between the time DOJ informed Abu G and he informed the White House). So if you were Karl Rove and wanted to archive emails somewhere not in your possession, where would you put them?

I wonder whether the CIA briefing to Libby of the consequences of exposing Plame's identity was a consequence of Novak's trip down to the CIA where he was told in no uncertain terms that he should not use her name and Novak gave Rove a call back and a heads up. It would have made for an interesting call if the timing meshed.

Many thanks, EW, for the whole three part series (and maybe more?). It's a chance for all of us to re-read and ponder what we know so far. And the links to the original articles are so helpful -- makes me realize what a valuable tool the internet can be in terms of reporting. We take it for granted -- but how did we ever manage before?
Again, thanks for your outstanding effort.

Thanks for putting this in a visual format, as well. There are so many "players,"even colour-coding would be helpful!

I had forgotten about this:

"'Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge,' the senior official said of the alleged leak."

And, who, are we speculating this "senior official" is? Tenet?

EW: With this series you've reached a new level of narrative craftmanship! You've always been able to churn out brilliant deductions and theories, but this one has a real "page-turner" feel to it. You really need to combine this, the Judy Chronicles, and various other gems into a book timed to be released when everything finally comes to a head.

margaret, EW originally thought that "purely and simply for revenge" was from Grossman, & Jason Leopold has reported that it was Grossman - but it appears that there has been a possible change of heart lately here at TNH that maybe it was Armitage.

Or, if you want the real story about who the "senior official" was, you could always read this (first hypothesized here). ;-)

Wow, EW, that was most excellent and your links provided me with further insight as there were articles that I had either not seen before or simply didn't remember the specifics in context.

I wish more people could read this because it truly causes a "D'oh!" moment. However, with the grace of the internet it already gets a chance to be seen by more eyes than mainstream media would ever afford it.

This is the story they'll be writing after the trials.

Tonight I heard Murray Waas interviewed by Sam Sedar on "The Majority Report". Wass was suggesting that in the next couple of weeks we will definately be hearing more about the 3 months that Attorney General John Ashcroft stayed on the investigation before recusing himself. Sedar said he was going to try to get more info out of Waas on that subject but then ran out of time and didn't. Any ideas as to why we will be hearing more about this conflict of interest and time delays in the "next few weeks"? Just curious if anyone has some ideas...

Great job once again. Several comments.

One of the striking things has to do with Novak's claims, in the immediate aftermath of his column, about being given her name. I've always sort of wondered whether the CIA might not have given him her name, before asking him not to use it, or something like that. But of course it's easy to check, if you're Fitzgerald, simply by asking Harlow, and Fitzgerald undoubtedly knows the answer. There's also Novak's off-the-books CIA source(s), as well as, I suspect, Tenet himself. But the point is, presumably all of this can be, and has been, chased down. Something doesn't fit, since Rove seems to have claimed he didn't know her name before hearing from Novak, and the State Department folks have made a big deal out of the fact taht "Plame" is not in the INR memo. And frankly, with all my suspicion of Armitage, I just don't see him fitting the description Novak gives of his source on Plame's name. It's a puzzle.

Novak's October 1 column really looks pretty amazing, doesn't it?

Here's a question (for polly?): I haven't been able to figure out what Libby is referring to when he writes, in his sonnet for McClellan, that people have made too much of the difference in how Scott descibed Karl and Scooter. What people? Where? I haven't been able to find anything in print, and the only thing on TV I've been able to find are some appearances of Larry Johnson. Though I haven't seen actual transcripts, it's easy to imagine him making a lot of that difference, but it's hard to imagine Scooter thinking that merited a response from the White House spokesperson. So what's he talking about? Just DC chatter, or what?

As for what Bush knew, it's worth noting there was a pretty obvious, though odd, rebuttal to that Waas piece in the NYDN not that long after.

Finally, whatever Rove learned then from Ashcroft, you can bet he knows all about it now, thanks to his own spokesperson, Mark Corallo, who was Ashcroft's in the fall of 2003.

Thanks, Swopa, for the links regarding my question, earlier. After reading them, and after my own recollection, my gut feeling, too, is that Powell made the comment about the leaks being "for revenge."

What a sorry business this all is. How sad for the Republic we have such disgusting people working in the White House.

Waas was suggesting that in the next couple of weeks we will definitely be hearing more about the 3 months that Attorney General John Ashcroft stayed on the investigation before recusing himself.

I don't know if this is what Waas means, but it's always struck me that even though his sources have implied Ashcroft was forced to step back due to Rove's involvement in the case, the DOJ investigators also had Libby's notes implicating Cheney (which seem like an even more obvious red flag that a special prosecutor was required).


I think this is what is happening:

Fitzgerald found emails from July 2003 and September-October 2003, the ones that had been moved out of the WH possession to hide this conspiracy. And those emails provide evidence of these attempts to cover-up. It is probably not an accident that Scotty (who apparently issued denials to cover up the crime) and Andy Card (who was responsible for the 11-hour stall--though not the more important 4-day stall) just got ousted from the WH. Those two could corroborate whatever is in emails. And they probably could make the rest of a case against Novak and Rove. And, quite possibly, Ashcroft and Abu Gonzales. I suspect there may be proof that Ashcroft did close the feedback loop to Rove, to help him fine tune his story.

In other words, to prove his perjury case against Rove, Fitzgerald may be forced to prove the larger conspiracy. And that might even mean we get to see Novak go to jail!!


Thanks for the reminder to the NYDN.

I think Libby was just pissed that Scotty didn't respond at all to questions about Libby. Libby almost always scolded journalists for mentioning him AT ALL, even for minor things. And we know he chewed Russert's ear off for Tweety's comments in July. So I suspect this is more of the same, but directed internally. I'm just amazed that it seems like EOP resisted issuing more of a denial for a while.

And yes, I didn't list the about 5 important lower-level conflicts of interest, Corallo and Comstock (as I think you were one of the first to point out). It was basically Rove's team investigating him.

What about the French figuring out in 1999 that there was working of abandoned uranium mines in Africa, and a thriving illicit market in uranium had developed?

There was a turning point for Scott's strategies, somewhere in the week there was a renewed request for an investigation by a congress person sending a legation of people to the White House bearing a few cartons containing (?several hundred thousand) signatures on a petition. Beyond that event, Scott took the 'no comment on an ongoing investigation' tack.
Questions for Larry J and Murray W: simply ask them Friday of next week, if you all are there at the discussion. I got to take care of the ranch then. Give me an email if you are in the area. I hope Markos puts most of the formal material online. It looks like EW has an excellent first draft here now.
There is a lot yet to appear. As Jane observed, what happens if a certain fab reporter ends up with a bee in her bonnet in early 2007. Does Comey do a sworn deposition this summer to help open the door to the events around the Ashcroft recusal. There is a lot of hyperbole out there, though I am glad Rep. Conyers was involved so vociferously at the important juncture at which Ashcroft bowed out; as ew has observed, a lot of exposure occurred when that surprise recusal removed some but not all of the camouflage; and the found emails likely helped Fitzgerald prioritize discovery with a neat cache of information based upon which to construct some interesting interrogatories.
While Gonzales sensibilities of what is proper government are themes throughout many of this administration's policies, and even given Gonzales' historic critique of Priscilla Owen's ruling in one TX case long ago, I expect Gonzales is relying on some other very bright people to blend theory and do the due diligence, to wax onomatopoeic here alliteratively. I doubt Sensenbrenner's maybe scheduled hearings with Gonzales in attendance are likely to elicit much, but it would be nice to see what Gonzales thinks about the theories when forced to defend them in direct aggressive questioning; I appreciate that most of the legal matters about those hearings are in negotiations, though overlain with hype in the press and in the hustings speechmaking. Maybe they will schedule it for the same schedule as the AkosEvent hoping for less notoriety.

I'm just amazed that it seems like EOP resisted issuing more of a denial for a while.

I agree. At various points - in Wilson's book (though it's always hard to know how reliable his sources are on this stuff), and perhaps especially in the run-up to the end of the first grand jury's term, probably as a hedging strategy just in case Cheney was either indicted or named some kind of unindicted co-conspirator - there have been reports of the tension between EOP and OVP over the Plame stuff, and the botched prewar wmd argument, with the President (obviously being protected) pissed at Cheney for what had happened and its consequences. But we've gotten very very little on this, so it was really rather remarkable to see Fitzgerald exhibit a clear instance of it. I presume there is some combination of the following two explanations for why the White House was hanging Libby out to dry, even a little. First, it was to a considerable extent true to the facts: OVP was the center of gravity in the concerted attacks on Wilson and the CIA. But this raises the question of who at the White House resisted Libby's efforts to clear him, and whether they actually knew about his and OVP's role, given that Fitzgerald tells us that Bush did not know of Libby's role in disclosing Plame's CIA employment. (Presumably, that is based principally on Bush's testimony, which is intriguing; I wonder what other evidence there is.) Second, just as 1x2x6 focused attention on the White House, perhaps in a deliberate effort to draw attention away from the State Department, so McLellan's statement was presumably designed to draw attention away from the EOP and toward OVP, for whatever problems there were going to be. I should also throw it that it's quite amazing that the basis of McLellan's claim about Rove was probably the piece of casuistry that Rove was not involved in the leak because he talked to Novak about Plame but wasn't - or didn't know - or claimed he didn't know that he was a source for Novak.

What about the French figuring out in 1999 that there was working of abandoned uranium mines in Africa, and a thriving illicit market in uranium had developed?

Ohmigod, how scary! If that's true, Saddam could have reprocessed the uranium in his mythical enrichment facilities based in the clouds over Iraq, staffed entirely by unicorns and fairies!

Careful Swopa. We do a good job not feeding the trolls here.

Actually, "Kim====" isn't so much a "troll" as a member of the Loyal Opposition over at Maguire's joint, with the off-the-wall uranium comment being ... errr ... just one minute example of the well-intentioned but often ludicrous reasoning that goes on over there.

I think the instaDeclassification-reclassifiedNow policy may have been a Bush Rove carte blanche policy enunciated to Cheney; whereby the vice president could have told his key person very early they could select the 4Ws of what to leak, who, what, why, when, where. I think Jeff's comment in that regard resembles some of ew's early constructs about that dynamic. Libby may have taken DickC at his word, alright if you have a plan (worked out with Karl's broad knowledge) leak it now to Judy, or whomever was first. Thing was, Libby was exposed by personnel changes. Nearly every president wants a second term, but the alibis likely get very byzantine by the seventh year. Reminds me of the way Bush-1 compartmentalized communications to insulate Reagan from 'knowing'; except Georgie Bush-2 is more of a decider, which makes some compartmentalization a little more elaborate.


I think I figured out what Waas is getting at.

It matters, slightly, whether Rove gets feedback on his own testimony from one of his friendly friends at DOJ. But it matters a lot more to get feedback on Novak's testimony. Let's pretend they interviewed Novak first. In fact, let's pretend Rove encouraged him to talk, look all cooperative and everything. Rove would know, via his DOJ grapevine, what Novak had testified to, including what he had said about their collaborative conversations. So Rove could feel confident saying, "well, gosh, that was a funny conversation," because he knew Novak hadn't said anything. Imagine, too, if Rove had learned what Ari and Scotty and Card and Libby had testified to.

He would know exactly what he could say, to match up to what others had said. And magically, that's what happened, until Matt Cooper came along and (as Byron York said), "burned Rove."

Here's one more point about this strategy. Rove had moles within DOJ telling him what everyone had testified to. And he had a mole within Time, telling him what Cooper would testify to.

Do we know that Novak testified to DOJ investigators before Fitz took over, though? It's almost certain, given the DOJ guidelines, that they wouldn't have talked to him before they talked to Rove.

And regarding Cooper, all he knew was that Cooper would say he talked to Rove (which, obviously, Rove knew already).

To some degree it doesn't matter--Rove probably got interviewed twice, just like Libby. Plus, if Rove encouraged Novak "to go forward," then the DOJ guidelines wouldn't come into play (as they didn't with Woodward).

With Cooper I think it's more important to know how Time was handling the first subpoena. Cooper's lawyer was quite adamant about not approaching Libby first. If Rove knew that, then Rove knew Cooper wouldn't testify in August 2004. He might have thought he had gotten away with it.

Correction for emptywheel. You wrote:

"In addition, Wilson describes how after a July 22 appearance on the Today show, in which he noted that the leak may have violated the law, the media's inquiries regarding Plame abruptly stopped."

However the Wilson quote that follows states not that media inquiries stopped, but rather that what stopped was the media citing the white house as the source for the story.

Great timeline BTW.

After all these months of reading and reading, it is finally starting to really make sense...you are all too quick and brilliant for me. Thank you so much, ew, for your tireless efforts! I'm almost ready to take the exam...

Easy first question. When did Mueller's crew ask questions first

Fascinating NYT article about the intervention of our friend Mark Corallo in a case involving the subpoena of reporters, objecting to Gonzales' willingness to subpoena reporters and contrasting his own attitude as Ashcroft's guy at Justice back in the day. The key takeaway:

Mr. Corallo said he had used a different standard, one rooted in Justice Department policy.

"It has to be a matter of grave national security or impending physical harm to innocent people," he said, "not just, well, this is the only way we're going to be able to get this information."

Tom Maguire very aptly nails the significance for us:

Someone ought to ask him whether he thinks the Valerie Plame case counts as a matter of "grave" national security - there are certainly plenty of reasons to think it does not. (An obvious "Someone" would be Jeralyn Merritt, who has Mr. Corallo's contact info).

And if it does not, then might Rove and Libby have presumed that Ashcroft would not be issuing subpoenas to reporters? One might wonder if they were calculating that, absent reporter's testimony, the case would just drift away.

Now, there is an obvious circularity to this argument - *IF* the national security implications were not significant, then why bother with a cover-up at all? Well, the avoidance of political embarrassment would be the obvious motive.


Of course, you don't need to take a position on whether in fact the Plame leak was a matter of grave national security to appreciate Tom's point. All you need to ask - and the question almost answers itself - is whether the Republicans in the Justice Department at the time considered this a matter of grave national security, and whether Rove and Libby would have had a sense of where they stood on this. Troubling indeed.

Jeff - touché

One more thing about the Corallo article--he's dead wrong. As I keep repeating, Ashcroft's DOJ secretly subpoenaed the phone records for John Solomon (he of the shitty Reid story fame) in a political scandal story. I think it was in the Comstock era (that is, before Corallo). But still, there's no way of arguing that the Torricelli case related to national security. Therefore, there's no way of arguing that the Aschroft DOJ didn't subpoena journalists.

Btw, I'm heading to the woods in a few hours, until Sunday night. Probably no posting on Monday. On Tuesday I'm going to try to finish the "Anatomy" series, to get it done before YearlyKos. And then Thursday I'm off for that. So I'll be posting not at all (the next 3 days) or lightly (between then and June 12) for a while. But I hope to meet some of you in Las Vegas.

happy travels EW.

Fortunately, the ToraBoraBuster test scheduled for today, was stopped in the courts by the Winnemucca tribe and others, though the mushroom cloud would have dissipated by the time the conference opened four days later and 85 miles away. Difficult to believe the energy department would test it on radioactive soil. Barry Goldwater would have enjoyed the show. Amazingly some of the principals involved now have names like Lloyd George, the judge, and Darwin, one of the litigants. I was glad to see the panel at Akos is wider; MurrayW is a perfect selection. Our place is like Muir woods but nicer, and 900 miles from Las Vegas as the ungainly condor flies, reportedly.

In the spirit of copnstructive criticism I am going to pull out the red pen, set the snark-o-meter to minimum (which is not, regretably, zero), and make a few points:

1. Sept 26, "NBC leaks news of investigation". Yes, that was an Andrea Mitchell report, presumably not based on White Houise sources ("NBC News has learned" is pretty vague.) She was following this story all along, and I will come back to her shortly.

2. The 1x2x6 leak - care to bring us up to speed on how well that held up, who the likely leaker was, and what their motive might have been? I would say "Not well", "Grossman", and "Push attention away from Novak's primary source, Armitage".


May was interviewed by the FBI and apparently found not to have known Plame's identity. In other words, May seems to have fibbed about his knowledge of Plame. JimmyJeff GannonGuckert told the same fib later in the Fall. In other words, at least two hacks with clear ties to the Republican party started peddling a fib that conveniently cast doubt on Plame's covert status.

Perhaps Polly can correct me on this, but I'll bet ,a href="http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/2005/02/know_why_did_th.html">a cup of coffee that Guckert was investigated because he gave the appearance of having received the INR memo. The reality seems to have been that he read the Wall Street Journal, but who knows? In any case, I don't think anyone found him claiming to have known about Ms. Plame prior to her outing, which is the point being offered here.

4. "I'm most fascinated, though, by Scotty's insistence that the White House had not been officially notified of the investigation."

On Oct 1, McClellan said that Gonzalez was officialy notified 8:30 PM on the 29th, so as of the press appearance on the 29th, he was officially in the dark.

Gonzalez did not notify the staff until Tuesday AM, so Schumer and others screamed about the twelve hour cover-up.

Of course, given his vast DoJ contacts, Rove had to have known for months that this referral was kicking around. It was even reported in the press in July.

5. Note some important features of this story: they didn't call Novak, he called them, a complete reversal of his explanations to Corn and Phelps and Royce in July."

His July story was that they gave him the info, not that they called him. I suppose it hinges on "come to him" in this:

"Novak, in an interview, said his sources had *come to him* with the information. "I didn't dig it out, it was given to me," he said. "They thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it."

Do you really think Armitage called Novak to leak about Plame? I don't.

6. As Novak "did not receive a planned leak," Judy "had not been at the receiving end of a concerted effort, a deliberate organized effort to put out information." Does anyone find it remarkable that these two deny they received a planned leak just after it became clear DOJ was investigating a possible IIPA violation, which punishes planned leaks of covert identities? Do all these coincidences seem rather remarkable to you?

Well, following the WaPo 1x2x6, it was not a coincidence that they were being asked.


New Murray Waas: What Ashcroft Was Told

Interestin Waas article, but I am not distracted:

7. Novak, in seeming coordination with the White House, did one more thing--on October 3 on a television broadcast, he used the excuse of Wilson's political donations to reveal the name of Plame's cover firm, Brewster & Jennings. The following day, he repeated the revelation in his column. And the WaPo quoted two administration officials confirming that Brewster & Jennings was Plame’s front company, using her W-2 information as evidence.

Seeming, how? Pincus does not cite any White House officials in his story. An alternative view - Novak mentioned Brewster-Jennings on air, and reporters (well, Pincus) called their intel contacts to see what was up. What is the evideence of a White House connection?

In my world, this could just as well buttress the story Novak peddled about his intial motive for writing about Joe as a political partisan (following his "Enemy Within" theme about Townsend). - he may well have done all this research prior to the July 14 column, and decided to sit on it.

8. Note the parsing here--Libby adopts the technical "did not leak classified information" and he denies leaking to Novak, but he never denies being the primary mover on the smear campaign.

Let's recap - Armitage leaks to Woodward, then Novak.

Libby leaks to Judy Miller, who never publishes.

Novak calls Rove, runs story past him.

Cooper calls Rove, gets a leak.

Cooper calls Libby, runs story past him.

Someone (Fleischer?) calls Pincus. Fleischer learned about Plame from either Libby or Air Force One / INR memo.

As a "primary mover", Libby is pretty successful with a passive-aggressive approach. Thank heaven Armitage picked up his slack.

8. Forgive me for finding this stunning. A year before Karl "found" an email that might incriminate him, Scotty appears to have asserted that White House employees would not be responsible for identifying or turning over any evidence they had already (tried to) destroy, or evidence no longer at the White House.

Huh? Is it your theory that Rove had reviewed his cover-up strategy with McClellan? Why would he do that?

Another view - McClellan was giving an obvious answer to a silly question - yes, the WH has an archival system, yes the SysOps folks will retrieve stuff even if the busy officials have deleted it from their personal computers. No kidding.

9. If you are going to mention "operative" and Andrea Mitchell, you should at least acknowledge that she used that precise word on July 8, well before the controversial Novak usage on July 14. We have ,a href="http://thenexthurrah.typepad.com/the_next_hurrah/2006/05/reading_novak.html#comment-17525521hashed that over, as you know.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Where We Met

Blog powered by Typepad