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May 13, 2006


I'm looking at Libby's recent motion, hosted at TalkLeft.

On pg. 10, they bring up Harlow. Libby's lawyers say it was Harlow who told Cathie Martin about Plame sometime in June or early July. That's interesting, as I always assumed Harlow was less of a player prior to the Robert Novak interactions. They seem to suggest that Martin never told Libby that info on Plame was classified, and they want to get info on Harlow to see if they can credibly argue that he never told Martin in the first place that info about Plame was secret. (If not, they make it clear that they will argue that even if Martin was told about Plame being classified, they will say Martin never told that to Libby. Good luck with that defense!) Libby's lawyers apparently have some handwritten notes that Harlow made during June-July 2003, but they think there's more, and they want it.

And they mention the two secret e-mails that Wells produced during the May 5 hearing. I wonder what those are. (I'm sure Fitz is wondering as well!)

Finally, they use Grossman as an example of why they should be allowed wide leeway in getting access to info on Grossman and others. They suggest that "information showing that Mr. Grossman had a close relationship with Mr. Wilson and/or his wife does not necessarily constitute exculpatory or impeachment material, but discovering such information would help the defense develop a potentially fruitful line of cross examination for Mr. Grossman." My question: is the Grossman-Wilson relationship here a hypothetical one, or are they in fact best buds?

Lastly, Byron York got Rove's spokesperson to issue an across the board denial on Leopold's article.


>> I believe the language on uranium procurement goes back to the February 2002 DIA report

Actually, the language goes back to a September 2002 DIA report, which may have been, in part based on the Feb 2002 DIA report. This is an important point to emphasize because the August 2002 CIA report that was also used for crafting the NIE had already dropped the uranium claim. As I've discussed in two or more posts by now, the use of the CIA as a scapegoat was all the more outrageous given that the uranium claim in the NIE came from a DIA report and not from the CIA.

>> The Febrauary 2002 DIA report is treated in the SSCI also. I believe the connection between that report and the October 2002 NIE's section on uranium is escaping me at the moment.

More details on the Feb 2002 DIA report here.


I'm going to have to come back to this if I can find the assertion connecting the NIE's language about uranium procurement directly to the February (not September) 2002 DIA report. But two things right away: that last sentence from Pincus in the excerpt that Somerby goes after is making the connection, and I suspect its removal from Pincus' piece was not because that is incorrect, but because the sentence was misleading in context. The point is that Pincus is saying the language of vigorous uranium procurement started with the February 2002 DIA report, which was the source for the NIE's language.

Note too that the key sentence in the SSCI seemingly asserting that the NIE section on nuclear came from the August CIA report and the September DIA report qualifies that assertion with "largely." (This is completely typical of the SSCI.)


Thanks for stopping by to help out.

Was there a document that resucitated the British claim that we know of? I'm wondering if the Walpole does that. Basically says, "NIE" brought to you by the Brits.

Also, we don't know whether the Joseph/Foley conversation precedes this document or not (actually, I'm glad Garrett asked for teh Bartlett Hadley transcript, bc it's pretty illuminating. They list draft numbers, and imply the CIA didn't get it until later. But we know (from the Bolton testimony) that IN ADDITION to vetting entire speeches, it was practice to send discrete bits of intelligence for vetting. So it is possible (though I have no reason why this is more compelling than anything else) that the scenario went:

Foley debunks Niger claim in SOTY
Joseph say, well, what about the UK claim
Foley agrees
Walpole reinforces that Intell

In other words, it's possible the citation of the Brits was a response to Foley.


>>Was there a document that resucitated the British claim that we know of? I'm wondering if the Walpole does that. Basically says, "NIE" brought to you by the Brits.

As we know, there were one or more people in WINPAC who served as the White's House's stovepipe for the uranium claim. So, it wasn't surprising that WINPAC reports were the only ones that seemed to mention the British claim, even after the rest of the CIA had shunned it because it was bunk.

(a) A WINPAC analyst referred to the U.K. dossier in a write-up put together in response to Iraq's declaration, in a somewhat ambiguous fashion:
"[Iraq's declaration] does not acknowledge efforts to procure uranium from Niger, one of the points addressed in the U.K. Dossier." (p. 60 of SSCI Report)

It was after this that INR and DOE analysts exchanged email complaining about WINPAC. Let me warn you though that the SSCI Report's discussion of the US Govt response to Iraq's declaration is extremely misleading and whitewashed. Can't go into the details here.

(b) Page 70 mentions another WINPAC paper in response to the IAEA's determination that the Niger evidence was based on forgeries. But the SSCI redacted what WINPAC actually said about the British claim.

"A centerpiece of the British White Paper last fall was U.K. concern over Iraqi interest in foreign uranium. Given the fragmentary nature of the reporting [DELETED]"

(c) None of the declassified discussions of other US IC reports in the SSCI explicitly mention any uranium claims which used the British white paper as support. In fact, even the known DIA reports which were perhaps the most bogus (and competed with what those few individuals in WINPAC were doing) did not use the British claim before or after the SOTU - to support Bush's SOTU claim. Which is another telltale sign that the IC knew very well that the British stuff was garbage. Interestingly, sometime in January 03, the CIA clearly contacted the British presumably to discuss the credibility of their claim and based on the information exchanged, Powell did not mention the uranium claim a few days after the SOTU. See here:

If you read the post above, you'll see that the Jan 27, 2003 CIA report mentioned by the SSCI (p. 64) may have been talking about a British allegation in part ("separate foreign government service") - but this could also be a reference to the French. The SSCI Report, again, was deliberately obfuscating what happened at that time and never mentioned (in the declassified sections) that there had been communications with the British prior to Powell's speech.

>>> Also, we don't know whether the Joseph/Foley conversation precedes this document or not

I think we do, but you are correct in that the SSCI deliberately hid this information to hide the blatant misleading and bamboozling in the SSCI's discussion of the pre-SOTU period and the Foley/Joseph interactions. But this is also irrelevant for a couple of other reasons.

The SSCI report points out that the Jan 24 fax was sent to help the White House shape the draft of Colin Powell's speech, NOT the SOTU speech. The SSCI even says that the White House added some uncorroborated junk to the Powell speech draft they received from the CIA. The CIA then removed some of the garbage. Yet, the SSCI also claims later on that none of those they interviewed and who were part of the coordination/reviewers recalls seeing any Powell speech drafts that ever mentioned the uranium claim. So, a straightforward interpretation of this would mean that the CIA did not include the uranium claim - and the White House did not add the uranium claim to Powell's speech (if they did, the SSCI was misled) despite the NIE being faxed by Walpole - so, the Jan 24 fax does not have the significance that the WH would have us believe.

Moreover, if the Jan 24 fax was hypothetically sent over AFTER the Foley/Joseph interactions, then it would make no difference since Joseph had been told around the same time, by Foley that the White House cannot use the uranium claim in the US IC reporting. And I don't see why the White House, after elaborate discussions with Foley, would suddenly start reading what Walpole sent for Powell's speech and then somehow believe that they can ignore everything Foley just told Joseph regarding the SOTU draft, without contacting Foley again. It doesn't make any sense. Also see my point below.

>>> Walpole reinforces that Intell
>>> SOTU

As I've explained above, I don't think this is what happened. Further, as the SSCI report claims, the White House speechwriters used both the NIE and the British paper for crafting the uranium wording and picked the British wording (and Joseph claimed that the speechwriters originated the use of the British citation and he also acknowledged that he discussed both the NIE and the British paper with Foley). Why would they need another fax of the NIE portion when they already had it in the first place when they were drafting the speech? Doesn't make sense.

FWIW, I agree with Jim E that the most interesting bit about the Libby motion to compel is the Harlow related passage.

Worth keeping in mind - *if* Harlow told Martin in June/early July that Plame was classified, his story about his chat with Novak becomes even more riciculous:

Harlow said that after Novak's call, he checked Plame's status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative. He said he called Novak back to repeat that the story Novak had related to him was wrong and that Plame's name should not be used. But he did not tell Novak directly that she was undercover because that was classified.

Hmm - maybe Harlow warned Martin but then the tidbit about the status of this NOC slipped his mind, so that when he talked about her with Novak, it was as if for the very first time. That could work.

Odd that Ms. Plame's statis is so forgettable.

I am sort of thinking that maybe Martin's testimony is not, on this point anyway, a big problem for Libby, but the defense wants this as a door to Harlow's notes, so they can pin down the quality of CIA intel on her status.

TM wrote: "I am sort of thinking that maybe Martin's testimony is not, on this point anyway, a big problem for Libby."

Why not? If Martin told Libby about Plame and mentioned she was classified, it seems sort of important.

TalkLeft had a follow-up conversation with Leopold about the Rove denials.


I agree that the Harlow/Martin piece is crucial, but I think your interpretation of Harlow's comment is a bit strained. There's no need to postulate that anything slipped Harlow's mind. Instead, it's at least as likely that, having been questioned about Plame's status twice, he checked with Tenet or others to make sure there had been no change in her status. Seriously, how many calls do you think a CIA spokesperson gets in an average two month period asking about a particular NOC?

I think Martin's testimony is a huge problem for Libby. Why else do they keep bringing up Harlow and Martin (this is the third time, I believe)? Fitzgerald assiduously ignores it each time. The more I think about this, the more I'm convinced that the Martin/Harlow conversation is the reason behind Cheney's replacing her with Libby on this one issue on July 12.

At this point, one could almost describe Libby's problems as "The Attack of the Spokespeople". Fleischer, Martin, and Harlow all refused to out Plame despite Cheney and Libby's maneuverings.

Is it possible that Harlow isn't Martin's source? In the indictment, it is referred to only as a government official. If Libby had doubts--if he wanted to learn what Fitz knew about other people (like, say, Fred Fleitz) talking about Plame, he might request Harlow information as someone safe--so he can get a refutation or a denial. Also, Harlow information would reveal some of the Novak information he no doubt wants.

would be nice if Fitz could hold the charges off until Jan 22,2008 to
prevent Cheneys guaranteed pardon.

Jan 22,2009

Unfortunately, you can't forestall a pardon by holding charges back until after Bush leaves. The pardon power can be used for any past wrongdoing, whether it is charged or not. thus, Bush could simply pardon everyone on his way out the door.
We'll likely see pardons from Bush sometime after the Nov. midterm elections. The timing will be a function of the progress of the investigation -- i.e., its ability to inflict further political harm. Once the Bushites believe that the political fallout from the pardons is less than the political harm from the investigation itself, the pardons will follow. My bet would be on Christmas Eve of this year. I don't think the regime can afford to let Libby's case go to trial.

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