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May 13, 2006


I am going to be insufferable on the point that the warning to Libby about the possible damage done by the leak came *after* Novak published.

Never underestimate the power of wishful thinking.

Could be Tom. My money is on July 2, though. Don't miss the discussions of other NIE leaks over on the other thread.

Oh, never mind, Tom, I see where you got that post-leak damage thing from.

But it's still significant, since on July 16 or thereafter, Dick's office told Andrea Mitchell that "Wilson's wife was the story."

You might get Mitchell on the witness stand yet, you know.

Just to make it easy, here are the Wilson lines Dick underlined:

I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.

I was told that it referred to a memorandum of agreement that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake ... by Niger to Iraq in the late 1990's.

While the C.I.A. paid my expenses (my time was offered pro bono)

ambassador told me that she knew about the allegations of uranium sales to Iraq — and that she felt she had already debunked them in her reports to Washington

It did not take long to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place.

it would be exceedingly difficult for Niger to transfer uranium to Iraq.

there's simply too much oversight over too small an industry for a sale to have transpired.

(As for the actual memorandum, I never saw it. But news accounts have pointed out

Though I did not file a written report,

a specific answer from the agency to the office of the vice president (this may have been delivered orally). While I have not seen any of these reports,

The vice president's office asked a serious question. I was asked to help formulate the answer. I did so, and I have every confidence that the answer I provided was circulated to the appropriate officials within our government.

Wow, emptywheel, this is explosive stuff, imo, because it is so accessible. In some ways imo it's better than the film of Bush in Texas being briefed on Katrina, because it has an interactive quality. The sheer brevity makes it easier for the corporate media to pick up. (hope springs eternal) Thanks, as per usual.

To me, the last question is the key one....

This was definitely a "memo to self", and reflects how Cheney wanted to respond to the piece --- by letting it be known that his wife was involved in sending Wilson on the trip --- DESPITE knowing (as of June 12) that Valerie Plame worked for the Counter-Proliferation division (i.e. covert operations) of the CIA.

From MTP transcript 14 September 2003:
"VICE PRES. CHENEY: No. I don’t know Joe Wilson. I’ve never met Joe Wilson. ....I get a daily brief on my own each day before I meet with the president to go through the intel. .....He never submitted a report that I ever saw when he came back."
Deadeye's annotation of Wilson's NYT's op-ed, constitutes the "report," that Deadeye denied seeing.
I suspect that Deadeye's "daily brief" did at some point, prior to Wilson's op-ed did include a summary of what Wilson gave the CIA and what is in his op-ed.
"Turns out Dick doesn't sleep through everything." LMAO.

I should add (in my role as Chairman of the Dept of Redundancy Dept) that there is a lot of good stuff in here for the cover-up conspiracists. But the belated warning to Libby hurts the theory that he knew her status was classified - at this point, Fitzgerald has not offered anyone to say that.

And this may be of interest, since it highlights the Admin spin on the NIE, but - when the WSJ editorial came out, I scoffed at their hint of a special source and demonstrated that they were simply recycling Tenet's July 11 statement. I only remember because that remains on the (hopefully) short list of "My Stupidest Posts Ever". However, I did wrap up with:

UPDATE...As to what is happening, the White House released excerpts from the NIE. Quite possibly, WSJ reporters got a sneak preview.

I find that Cooper segment very misleading, BTW - the July 14 TIME story did not have the complete Libby quote, but it also did not mention Plame. The July 17 story mentioned Plame, but cited "government officials", not WH or sr. admin official, and noted that Novak had run it, too, so Libby might easily have figured Cooper had other sources, possibly including the CIA press office.

And one more thing...

No argument about lots here for the "Get Dick" theory, but... per Waas, Tenet testified that he did not recall his conversation with Cheney about Plame (but, as I have noted, I bet Tenet remembers getting a Medal of Freedom).

Without Tenet, the case agaisnt Cheney gets difficult - even with Libby's notes saying Cheney said she was CPD, there is still nothing we've seen saying that anyone told Cheney or Libby she was classified.

I wonder if we will ever learn anything about what Cheney said to investigators. My hunch is that it overlaps quite nicely with much of what Libby testified to (and is, therefore, full of lies).

This, IMHO, is more evidence of the WH crisis, OVP opportunity explanation of l'affaire Plame - that is to say, the Wilson op ed presented a fire to put out for the WH (especially Rice and Hadley, who looked for scapegoats, and produced Hadley and Tenet) and it presented a chance to strike a real blow against heretofore non-cooperative (re Iraq) or threatenly honest (re Iran) elements at CIA. Deadeye's annotations on the Wilson op ed may in fact be the smoking gun - or at least the smoke that points to OVP and minions elsewhere in govt seizing that opportunity. Deadeye knew, at the latest by June 12, that Valerie was NOC. Wilson's NYT shot across his bow immediately had him connect Joe and Valerie in what we can reasonably assume to be his thoughts on a pushback strategy. Therefore, I feel reinforced in my early-on assessment that the primary target in the Novak betrayal was Valerie - precisely because of what she was perceived to be able to do to put a spoke in the wheel of further imperial designs.

I am particularly interested in the surfacing of the Oct 2003 Hersh article in the context emerging with this post. Another thing Hersh lets on in that article, aside from what EW has eluded to, is with respect to views within the CIA re the provenance of the Niger forgeries. I'll append an extensive quote from the Hersh article below, and simply add that I have for sometime thought that what Hersh reported (see below) was an alternative "explanation" that Deadeye and friends were setting up to provide for public consumption the "real" reason why and how Joe and Valerie hated America - and will we now see this stroy get news legs, or has Fitz craftily cut off this means of escape for Deadeye and the Gang that Can't Shoot Straight?:
On to the Hersh quote:

Who produced the fake Niger papers? There is nothing approaching a consensus on this question within the intelligence community. There has been published speculation about the intelligence services of several different countries. One theory, favored by some journalists in Rome, is that sismi produced the false documents and passed them to Panorama for publication.

Another explanation was provided by a former senior C.I.A. officer. He had begun talking to me about the Niger papers in March, when I first wrote about the forgery, and said, “Somebody deliberately let something false get in there.” He became more forthcoming in subsequent months, eventually saying that a small group of disgruntled retired C.I.A. clandestine operators had banded together in the late summer of last year and drafted the fraudulent documents themselves.

“The agency guys were so pissed at Cheney,” the former officer said. “They said, ‘O.K, we’re going to put the bite on these guys.’ ” My source said that he was first told of the fabrication late last year, at one of the many holiday gatherings in the Washington area of past and present C.I.A. officials. “Everyone was bragging about it—‘Here’s what we did. It was cool, cool, cool.’ ” These retirees, he said, had superb contacts among current officers in the agency and were informed in detail of the sismi intelligence.

“They thought that, with this crowd, it was the only way to go—to nail these guys who were not practicing good tradecraft and vetting intelligence,” my source said. “They thought it’d be bought at lower levels—a big bluff.” The thinking, he said, was that the documents would be endorsed by Iraq hawks at the top of the Bush Administration, who would be unable to resist flaunting them at a press conference or an interagency government meeting. They would then look foolish when intelligence officials pointed out that they were obvious fakes. But the tactic backfired, he said, when the papers won widespread acceptance within the Administration. “It got out of control.”

Like all large institutions, C.I.A. headquarters, in Langley, Virginia, is full of water-cooler gossip, and a retired clandestine officer told me this summer that the story about a former operations officer faking the documents is making the rounds. “What’s telling,” he added, “is that the story, whether it’s true or not, is believed”—an extraordinary commentary on the level of mistrust, bitterness, and demoralization within the C.I.A. under the Bush Administration. (William Harlow, the C.I.A. spokesman, said that the agency had no more evidence that former members of the C.I.A. had forged the documents “than we have that they were forged by Mr. Hersh.”)

The F.B.I. has been investigating the forgery at the request of the Senate Intelligence Committee. A senior F.B.I. official told me that the possibility that the documents were falsified by someone inside the American intelligence community had not been ruled out. “This story could go several directions,” he said. “We haven’t gotten anything solid, and we’ve looked.” He said that the F.B.I. agents assigned to the case are putting a great deal of effort into the investigation. But “somebody’s hiding something, and they’re hiding it pretty well.”


I admit the Cooper stuff is not decisive. But it is important evidence, as I'm sure whatever notes there are about Libby's complaint about the partial quote. The whole line of argument also rebuts Rove's latest, that he wouldn't leak to someone as new as Cooper.

Also, as to the classified stuff:

But the belated warning to Libby hurts the theory that he knew her status was classified - at this point, Fitzgerald has not offered anyone to say that.

Well, you've got Dick telling Libby Plame was CPD, Libby telling Edelman that (I'm arguing) the Wilson trip report was off limits, Libby telling Martin that Plame was off limits, and Libby telling Ari that Plame's identity was hush hush. Are you sure you want to argue the Libby didn't know theory? I suspect the warning may be important wrt the Andrea Mitchell comment, after the fact (which may, in turn, be the import of the Ford invite list, as I'm sure you know better than anyone). So the specific warning, followed by more leaking, strikes me as gravy to the IIPA argument.


Tenet testified that he did not recall his conversation with Cheney about Plame

We think Tenet told Dick because Libby recorded a reference to the CIA in his notes. But we also have reason to suspect that then CIA employee Fred Fleitz knew of Plame's identity--and the interest in her--well before June 12.

In other words, given that LIBBY has made the Tenet claim, having Tenet refute that does not, IMO, do a thing to the Dick tells Libby narrative.

Jim E

I get the feeling that Fitz, perhaps out a sense of deference or perhaps because of agreements negotiating executive privilege, won't ever let us know what Dick said. Though, like you, I'd imagine Dick (and Bush) said much the same as Libby. Isn't that what Wells' insistence that there's testimony that helps Libby suggests?

Fitzgerald didn't touch on whether Libby knew that Plame was covert before being chewed out by the CIA man because that fact isn't important to the specific charges. What is important is that on that date Libby was made aware of the gravity of Plame's outing, and so it makes it far more likely that he deliberately lied to the Grand Jury--that is, he couldn't possibly have "forgotten."

Fitz could have other evidence that Libby know beforehand that Plame was covert, but Libby hasn't been indicted on those charges, perhaps deliberately, because that could involve dealing with classified information, giving the AG's office an excuse to shut down the case, especially since Judge Walton is known to be sympathetic to government claims when it comes to classified information. So Libby's prior knowledge of Plame's status is not germane to the case, as Fitzgerald noted in his refusal to turn over certain documents that the defense requested.

One more point about the warning.

The scenario may go:

Novak column
CIA person alerted to it
CIA person talks about damage
Libby hassles Cooper for partial quote, makes no mention about Plame

Not that that is definitive, either. But it does raise some interesting timing questions.

Can I just say how much I appreciate Fitzgerald's art of the unintentional leak? I mean, at some point the MSM will presumably catch onto this (HELLO! PRESS! DOES JEFF HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING???). And it'll presumably cause enough stir to cause Dick Cheney to shoot another man in the face. And poor Jeffress will be ordered to chase down discussions of this to make sure they stay honest.

But what can they say? Fitzgerald was clear he was going to release the annotated article. Ted Wells, you want to know what I'm going to submit? Well, there you go.

First, I'd like to respond to Tom M.'s argument about fitzgerald not yet producing evidence that cheney/libby knew that plame was covert. That seems to be correct. There have been articles out there recently talking about how she was covert and working on iranian wmd programs. but there has been no link to any knowledge by the probably soon to be indicted co-conspirators (see below).

One of the hardest things to prove in criminal law is state of mind, i.e. whether an act was intentional, knowledgable, reckless, etc. This usually has to be proven based on circumstantial evidence or the surrounding circumstances. It is rare that there is direct evidence. My guess is that fitzgerald, being the powerful and extremely thorough prosecutor that he is, has plenty of direct evidence of the probably soon to be indicted co-conspirators' (see below) knowledge of plame's covert status. just look at the way that fitzgerald has, with each filing, presented more and more damning evidence.

if i was a prosecutor (which i am not, i am the exact opposite actually), i would feel pretty secure in my circumstantial case about these guys' knowledge of her covert status, just from what we know. i think it is clear that the manner in which they tried to secretly put this out in the media is pretty damning and says it all. i am feeling a bit lazy on a saturday morning to put all of the evidence together.

but if these guys did not think there was anything wrong with putting plame's name out there, they would have simply had fleischer do it directly. remember how arrogant these people were at that time? they had no compunction with attacking their enemies directly. here they did not, but worked on this odd whisper campaign, while at the same time desperately scrambling to do other things more directly to contain the fall out from wilson's op-ed. the circumstantial evidence is, if not overwhelming, much stronger than many state of mind cases that i see.

standing alone is there an argument that this is a reasonable doubt as to intent/knowledge? yes. does it allow people to argue right now, "they didn't know. nothing shows that they knew"? absolutely. as a defense attorney, i do this all the time. but i think anybody who says that knowledge really is not a strong point of contention right now has safe ground to believe that.

more important, I think fitzgerald just dropped a 1000 ton bomb.

Fitzgerald just put out to the public documentary proof -- in cheney's own handwriting -- that he was part of the conspiracy to respond to wilson. directly, intimately involved. he uses the words that come up each time - wife, junket, etc. [as an aside that pro bono question irks me beyond belief. don't these guys believe that somebody could do something without renumeration in order to serve their country? or does every single act have to be for personal gain? demonstrates their unwavering belief that their personal interests rise above that of society]

the reason why this is so damning is simple. assuming knowledge of covert status, we are simply two steps away from a conspiracy to commit the iipa violation, i believe -- (1) the agreement to (2) tell people she was an operative. he has shown that dick/libby/karl/hadley(?) got together and came up with the strategy. all we need is the agreement to make this strategy public. but this goes hand in hand with what i discussed above -- i believe that circumstantially all of this is there (they actually followed through, didn't they?), but fitzgerald probably has more direct evidence of that (can we say c.martin?). or am i missing something? what of the other elements have not been shown through the information in the indictment and fitzgerald's filings?

in my mind, fitzgerald has put a lot, but far from all, of the main course on the table. i am pretty convinced that the thanksgiving feast will occur. but then gwb -- like he has done each year in office -- will pardon the turkeys.

But the belated warning to Libby hurts the theory that he knew her status was classified - at this point, Fitzgerald has not offered anyone to say that.

pure nonsense. If I tell you that someone is covert, and later someone else tells you that outing a covert agent is dangerous, it doesn't mean I never told you someone was covert.

. Deadeye knew, at the latest by June 12, that Valerie was NOC.

not true. "covert" and NOC are not the exact same thing. One can have "official" cover, and still be covert.

What we know that Cheney knew is that Plame was "covert" -- that she worked in the "covert operations" division of the CIA -- we don't know if he discussed the exact nature of her cover (which, I would be willing to be, was not NOC in June 2003 -- my theory is that as of the time she married Wilson and got pregnant, she was given a "State Department" passport as the wife of a diplomat. She was still "covert", and because she apparently travelled out of the country on at least one occassion after she moved to virginia, she was still covered by the IIPA.)

Can I float a possibility we've floated before? The possibility that Dick is Pincus' source? Dick had testified by June 5, before Pincus testified. We know Pincus fought mightiliy against testifying, even though his source apparently released him to testify. We know Pincus hasn't yet appeared in any narrative of the story. We know Dick discussed Plame on July 12, the day of the Pincus leak. And we know that Pincus' leaker called the trip a "boondoggle," not far off calling it a "junket."

I just had a thought that raises some really interesting questions.

(1) How does Fitzgerald know that this is Dick's handwriting on the op-ed?

(2) How does Fitzgerald intend to admit this evidence at trial?

(3) Did Fitzgerald have this document when he interviewed dick or was this one of the recently released documents?

My initial thoughts. As to the last question first, I think it is nearly impossible to know. but i am dying to know whether it was recently revealed.

The first and second question run together. Fitzgerald probably verified that this was Dick's handwriting through somebody who was intimately familiar with Dick's handwritten prose. Maybe Martin. Maybe Addington. Probably not Dick himself. but possibly. i am sure fitzgerald did not simply do a comparison with other handwriting. he probably got an affirmative answer from somebody.

Fitzgerald is then going to need to introduce this evidence through somebody, other than Dick, that this is his handwriting. he would probably not do it through dick because that is too risky. he will need to make sure that the witness is going to say yes. dick may be evasive. thus, this means that he will probably do it through a cooperating witness. martin, addington. who knows?

but, setting that theory aside, the more tantalizing possibility is that fitzgerald learned that this was dick's handwriting because cheney circulated this document among the co-conspirators and one of the co-conspirators told fitzgerald that cheney wrote it and he intended this to be the talking points with the media.


I stand corrected re:

Deadeye knew, at the latest by June 12, that Valerie was NOC.

not true. "covert" and NOC are not the exact same thing. One can have "official" cover, and still be covert.

But, I think in the context of the case this is a distinction without a meaningful - legally relevant - difference, which you pretty much say in the rest of your post Paul.

In the larger context of the theory of the case I find plausible - WH crisis, OVP opportunity, ergo outo Plamo - I can't help but think that if what we have heard about Valerie's portfolio is true - that it involved WMD and Iran, and may have involved dodgy shipments of planted WMDs in Iraq - that Deadeye hadn't heard of her before from his moles in the CIA, such as Fleitz. I suspect that Dick may have learned that Valerie was Joe's husband only once Joe started presenting himself as a threat, but that he had "heard" of her before, as that hot blonde with too much on the ball for his liking.


Interesting comments.

Regarding the VP's handwriting, could it simply be that an official memo was circulated--with the annoted Wilson article attached--around the office with the title" "From Cheney"? If those were talking points, Cheney would have wanted eyes to see what he'd written.

And I wonder who else saw Cheney's annotations. I wonder if there's evidence that they made it to Rove's desk. Unless Cheney were to claim, incredibly, that his annotations didn't take place until July 14, it would seem that they are the genesis of the post-July 6 talking points. Of course, we're still in the dark about the specific Plame name.

The annotations, assuming they were written on July 6 or 7, pretty much puts to rest the idea that Libby and others were hearing this from reporters--not that most of us here were ever inclined to believe that in the first place. It just makes it harder for the conspirators to claim they wouldn't take to heart things personally written and distributed by Cheney (assuming the annotations were in fact distributed).


In one of the recent requests for information, Libby's lawyers say that everything from OVP comes with strict details about who turned them over, where they got the materials from. This almost certainly includes this article. So Fitz may have gotten validation that this was Dick's from the start.

Interesting courthouse observations and Gonzales speculation at Wayne Madsen, Abu stopped by briefly to hear of Rove indictment and question jurors?

The annotated "What I Didn't Find in Africa" is the semen stained dress.

Semiot, I agree with the analysis of Deadeye's take on Valerie Plame: that hot blonde with too much on the ball for his liking. I've always thought that it was male chauvinist pigism that got these guys into trouble over Ms. Plame. In their minds she couldn't be a valuable asset, despite the fact that the USG had invested years of training in her. She could only be a "manager type," which is shorthand for assistant or secretary, not hard core "spy."

Chatty Cathie certainly gave Hersh some interesting information in 2003. I suspect that she has been a source for Fitz since early 2004 as well. That would explain a lot.

The Cheney annotations are a bombshell in that they definitively place him at the center of the conspiracy. And the fact that this was all done surreptitiously is evidence that they knew this was something they couldn't do overtly, either because of Valerie's covert status or because they knew the Niger stuff was bogus from the get-go. think about Cheney's underliniations and annotations from the perspective of someone who knew the Niger stuff was phony and only asked the CIA to follow up because he wanted to be in a position to give it greater play.

I really think we have to constantly look at the bigger picture: this (Niger) operation was part of fixing the intel around the policy of going to war. Wilson threatened to expose it, and maybe even get someone to look closely at the provenance of the Niger info. That's why it had to be shut down. Remember, this is spring 2003, right after the invasion, when nobody, but nobody, at the top foresaw that we would still be in Iraq with 150,000 troops three years later. They must have thought they could shut this down, it would all go away in the post-victory euphoria of low gas prices. So why not take some chances?

Cheney as Pincus' source also explains some loose ends.

The annotated "What I Didn't Find in Africa" is the semen stained dress.

You think that's why they got rid of Goss, because he promised an investigation if we handed him the semen-stained dress?

Re: Madsen. I wonder if Madsen can even be trusted for something that should be easily verifiable (particularly since none of the other journalists camped out saw Abu G). But if Abu G was at the court house, I'd say it's more likely related to his role as WHite House counsel, skimming off evidence before handing it over to Fitzgerald. Good thing the courts have recently reaffirmed the legal basis for Fitz' position.


Thanks for the clarification re: disclosures from OVP in Libby's filing. It definitely suggests that Fitzgerald could reach the conclusion without verification. But it still remains as to who he would introduce these documents through at trial. it would have to be a cooperator, either martin or a co-conspirator.

also, going off on wild speculation, there is a possibility that fitzgerald received this document originally from another source. due to the missing e-mails, anything is possible.

one other thing: is there a reason why fitzgerald attached this document to a public filing? was it necessary for him to do that right now? it does not appear to me that it was. has he been doing that with his other filings? did walton ask him to file the actual articles with the court? i mean, is the question here their admissibility or just what he intends to use? if the former, i can understand. but if it is the latter, then there was no reason to submit it. also, was may 12 the deadline for this filing? or did fitzgerald have more time to submit this affirmation?

oops as i was typing this, ew put up a new entry that answers my underlying question here: is this all a message from fitzgerald?

ew's answer is clearly yes.

It is a message from Fitz, yes. He is dribbling his evidence against Dick out slowly (perhaps to entice some cooperation form elsewhere?).

But he ALSO had to submit the annotated document. He had to submit the documents he was going to introduce, so they could begin their discussion of redactions or (if necessary) allow some discovery of underlying evidence so Libby could refute this. A central argument at the hearing was whether Libby was entitled to all materials on Wilson's trip, which he argued he had to get to be able to argue against the stuff that appears in the articles Fitz was going to submit.

But then this was doubly required, because Fitz wants it submitted WITH Dick's annotations. In which case, Walton and Wells have to look both at the content AND at the annotations.

What was masterful (IMO), though, was the way Fitz talked about the annotated article. I thought it was the New Republic article, not Wilson's op-ed. So Wells may not have known what he was asking for when Fitz offered to submit this.

>Cheney as Pincus' source also explains some loose ends.

Um, Joe? This is Walter Pincus. I can't tell you who I just got off the phone with, but they are really coming after you.

This is interesting.

In addition, there will be evidence that the defendant [Libby} discussed aspects of the Novak article at other relevant times after July 14 but prior to his FBI interview and grand jury testimony.
Filed 5/12/06

On the Cheney annotations, besides Fitz stating explicitly that Cheney wrote the annotations he also has this

The annotated version of the article reflects the contemporaneous reaction of the Vice President to Mr. Wilson’s Op Ed article

I think he must have testimony from someone on the annotations.

>>Cheney as Pincus' source also explains some loose ends.

Picking up the theme I think, would one reporter casually brag to another about a big scoop he was about to have published?

Cheney in the LEFT column: Have they done this sort of thing before? Send an Amb. to answer a question? Do we ordinarily send people out pro bono to work for us?

Cheney in the RIGHT column: Or did his wife send him on a junket?

EW, you wrote that you don't hear Cheney's inflections, but I don't seem to have that trouble at all. Try looking at Cheney's annotations less as four separate talking points, but simply as they appear on the page. On the left side, we have a set of three rhetorical questions to be spoon-fed to journalists, in an effort to lead them to the point of asking who sent Wilson on his trip. (And note that Ari did exactly that in his African press gaggle, the one the White House later censored from its website.) On the right side, you see the question that Cheney is leading journalists to ask, and which he will later claim that Novak asked on his own: did his wife send him on a frivolous mission to Niger?

To my eye, the layout itself implies that Cheney knows the three questions on the left are permissible, and the one on the right contains explosive, damning, classified information. The goal, of course, is to put that classified information out into the world, leaving no fingerprints.

This is Dick Cheney as architect of the smear, and it's one hell of a smoking gun.

so Karl Rove told tweety that Valerie Plame was fair game when ???

begin to see how that warning to scooter and the shooter on july 14th becomes important now ???

damning indeed

keep a tight grip on that soap Karl

geez, I thought polly was good

where did you come from quicksilver ??? (didn't see you the first time)

and to EW, and the rest of the gang around here, if I ever piss you guys off, call me, we can work it out

I don't want you guys digging thru my trash

trust me, I'll be willing to deal

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