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July 13, 2006


Isn't there any way at all for us to have our own television station to compete with the folks at Foxaganda?

Up first: emptywheel's interview with Robert Novak. (It'd be more like surgery, both with a scalpel and a chainsaw.

I know you're not much of a believer in postmodernism, ew, but kudos (again) on your deconstruction of this immaculate deception.

Your last sentence is extremely provocative of thought: perhaps replacing "Armitage" with "Cheney" in your entire post may emerge as the real truth?


Except "Richard Cheney" does not fit in the redacted spaces in Fitz's affidavit. Richard Armitage does.

So Armitage must have been at least one source. I think a better candidate for "immaculate knowledge" and reiterating the OVP talking points would be one Scooter Libby, as EW has speculated before.

Here's a question for ya, e-dub. If, as you've sort of speculated, there was a Libby-Novak conversation about Plame and her status, and it looks like Libby might be the IIPA leaker under orders from the shooter, then why does Joe Wilson reserve most of his vitriol for Karl Rove?

Is it just the "your wife is fair game" statement? Or does Joe really believe that KKKarl was instrumental in coordinating this whole leak campaign?

So you're agreeing, then, whenwego, that Novak has been less than truthful in his media blitz? That's the logical pre-condition for your claim.

I think his early vitriol went after Rove because of the Tweety comment. But I know in his recent appearances here in MI (at fundraisers for Jim Marcinkowski), he emphasized Dick's role.

I'm still wondering why Novak got so worked up about not saying "authorized," as he discussed in his response to Harlow's comments in the Post a year ago. Was he reacting to our blogging talk about the NIE at that time?

Why was the WH so obsessed in 2003 on proving the VP had nothing to do with Wilson's trip?

Wilson has a statement today pointing out that the WH and Novak are still pushing the misleading idea that Plame was responsible for his trip. Why is he focusing on this?

I feel like there's something important there that I'm continually missing. Is it just big egos clashing?


On both the Novak issues, they picked on them because it offered them a way to refute details (some of which Wilson had never claimed) and avoid addressing the substantive claim (which is that Bush went to war using intelligence claims he knew to be false).

Joe Wilson has issued a statement responding to Novak:

Robert Novak, some other commentators and the Administration continue to try to completely distort the role that Valerie Wilson played with respect to Ambassador Wilson's trip to Niger. The facts are beyond dispute. The Office of the Vice President requested that the CIA investigate reports of alleged uranium purchases by Iraq from Niger.

The CIA set up a meeting to respond to the Vice President's inquiry. Another CIA official, not Valerie Wilson, suggested to Valerie Wilson's supervisor that the Ambassador attend that meeting. That other CIA official made the recommendation because that official was familiar with the Ambassador's vast experience in Niger and knew of a previous trip to Africa concerning uranium matters that had been undertaken by the Ambassador on behalf of the CIA in 1999.

Valerie Wilson's supervisor subsequently asked her to relay a request from him to the Ambassador that he would like the Ambassador to attend the meeting at the CIA. Valerie Wilson did not participate in the meeting.

-- Ambassador Joseph Wilson

A diversion, maybe, I still find it curious - and it stimulates my taste for intrigue.

Here's some Plame news, via JOM:

WASHINGTON--(Business Wire)--July 13, 2006--
Valerie Plame Wilson, Ambassador Joseph Wilson and their counsel, Christopher Wolf of Proskauer Rose LLP, will hold a news conference at 10 AM EDT on Friday, July 14 at 10:00 AM at the National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor, Washington, DC 20045, to announce the filing of a civil lawsuit against I. Lewis
"Scooter" Libby, Vice-President Richard Cheney and Karl Rove.


Hmmm. I guess my speculation that the Novak media blitz might be related to a suit might not be far off?

Damn, I'm never going to get anything done this week.

Big hat tip there EW. It has been/will be a fun week.

Damn! I picked a hell of a time to go on vacation. Oh well, guess I'll get caught up next weekend.

Since I really don't know that much about Armitage...well not as much as some of the people around here do anyways..why do I have a hard time trying to imagine that Armitage would tell Novak about Wilson's wife, and that she worked for the CIA. If it was Rove, Cheney, Libby, Hadley and a slew of others, I would say yes. But it doesn't seem that Armitage would be throwing that type of information around.

BTW....emptywheel, call me stupid or unobservant, didnt even realize that you were from Michigan. Howdy neighbor! :)

Re: Wilson lawsuit.

I thought I read somewhere that this Friday would be the last day (statute of limitations) that Wilson could file a lawsuit over this matter. Was wondering if there would be something coming about that this week :)


Where in MI are you?

Two comments about Novakula's dissembling, stuttering & silly distortion of previously admitted or proven "facts." 1. The old guy has been lawyered up from day 2 or 3 & he is at a small degree of risk for publishing Plame's name--if he actually knew she was an "operative," (and to many of us it's clear that he did KNOW), then R. Novak outed a working undercover agent. 2. He inadvertantly exposed another area of knowledge, heretofore unbeknownst to the world at large: he denies that Ambassador J. Wilson is an agent--tell us, emptywheel, whoever for a moment thought that he was, until know??? If Amb. Wilson is or was an actual operative, ol' Novakula is in double deep shit.


Well, that shooting that happened on Sunday night. I live two blocks away. :/. Didn't hear any of it.

Does anyone know how the notes from Cheney were obtained (... is it normal for an amb to be sent...?) My guess is that Cheney or someone put them out themselves as a continuation of the ridiculous cover story about Wilson's trip being a boondoggle. That story if you ask me, was fabricated as an attempt to hide the fact that they deliberately outed a covert agent, Plame, an act of treason, to get revenge on Wilson (I again am reminded of Tweetie's comment to Wilson that Rove told him that "your wife is fair game).

ps Emptywheel, are you from Michigan (you mentioned Marcinkowski)? I am from Birmingham. I would love to meet you.

So, the Wilsons are going to pull the trigger on a lawsuit -- good on them. As I related elewhere, I don't have a lot of hope that the suit could ultimately be successful (see ridiculously long and atrociously formatted comment here) but I do hope they get somewhere -- at least get a chance to take some depositions of Novak, Rove, et al. My earlier analysis was entirely seat-of-the-pants but I'll be interested to see how the complaint compares to the various possible claims I mooted out there. Since then, I've realized that the Privacy Act has a two-year statute of limitations, so that would appear to be off the table. Similarly, if the Wilson seek to invoke DC law, any defamation-related claim (including intentional infliction or invasion of privacy) likewise appears time-barred. I'm not sure what Maryland law prescribes on the limitations front. (Maryland being another contender for the jurisdiction that might supply the substantive rules for any non-federal claims. There certainly are fairly interesting choice-of-law issues -- and thus both opportunities and pitfalls -- in such a case.)


Yes, I'm equally cautious about the outcome of this suit. But, as you say, if they get to depose these guys...

Katie and zAmboni

I'm in A2. I've been meaning to try the new Corner Brewery in Ypsi, so maybe we should all meet for a beer?

Ooops. Please substitute "libel, slander, or false light" for "intentional infliction" in the post above.

Indeed. Keeping fingers crossed. Novak under examination, without the ability to control things, give evasive answers with impunity, etc. would be faboo. I understand that the Wilsons have hired Proskauer rose lawyer Chris Wolff, who successfully sued USANEXT for using a picture of a gay couple's wedding, without permission, in its hatesmear a while back.

Emptywheel, I would be up for that...Hopefully I can drag the wife out of the house also :). I had no idea they were opening a new brewery in town until I decided a different way to drive through town (I usually drive home Geddes from A2). Saw the Corner Brewery and said "just when in the heck did they build that?." We usually hit Aubrees in Depot Town (they have Oberon on tap ++), but we will have to check out the new place.

If Armitage is the original source, then who authorized him to release such sensitive info? It is hard to believe that he could be such a brainless imbecile as to reveal the identity of an agent as someone working in CPD twice in the span of one month. Libby was very careful to obtain auhtorization for even the NIE leaks. Armitage leaking the info without authorization is very strange.


Corner brewery is owned by the same couple that owns Arbor Brewing in A2. They're both great Democrats. And Matt makes great beer (particularly if you like things hoppy). They're also bottling beer over there.

Emptywheel, as always, your work is much appreciated. In this case, your attention to detail may not be the best tool to appraise Novak. He seems like a hack, and a literal interpretation of his words gives him too much credit as an accurate, precise writer.

As Whenwego mentioned, replacing "Armitage" with "Cheney" makes a lot more sense (in fact, it makes a TON of logical sense to me). In response to EW's explanation that "Richard Cheney" doesn't fit the redacted affidavit, I wonder if "Richard B Cheney" fits any better. ;-)

Last, I wonder if anyone can clear this up for me, from Am. Wilson's recent statement. He says that someone-not-valerie suggested him as a potential envoy to send to Niger. I always thought his wife put his name on the table (and this has been misrepresented as "she was responsible for getting him the job"). I even have a memory of reading a phrase from her about him having lots of contacts with Niger officials...


Been to ABC bunch o' times (wife loved their burrito when we went there last), tracked down some info on them several minutes ago. Looks like they are light on the food, but I'm pretty sure I could put a big dent in their wing inventory :). We usually have the weekends free if ya wanted to head on over there sometime. I can be reached at zamboni_at_comcast.net.

BTW: Is the A2 chapter of drinking liberally active? I remember looking into it on the DL website and it didn't look like there was too much actiong going on there.

I'd like to add a few things to mix here.

If Novak's source is Armitage, he got played by the Cheney cabal in a particularly egregious manner. Say what you want about Armitage, if bureacratic in-fighting was basketball, he'd be Charles Barkley. In this case, he didn't just get boxed out, he was at the wrong end of the court.

Bob Novak must be getting senile or something. Every time he opens his mouth about his discussion with Harlow, he digs himself a deeper and deeper hole. There's is simply no way that anyone who's been in Washington for 50 minutes (and Novak's been there for 50 years) would interpret what Novak says Harlow said as anything but evidence that Valerie Plame had once been a covert operative. In fact, except for one small detail, I'd be willing to buy the following story:

Novak was on a "democrat enemies within the Bush administration" kick (Beers, Townsend, Joe Wilson). That much makes sense in Novak's bizarro world. So, he finagles an interview with Armitage and needles him about why this partisan democrat and career foreign service guy (which are pretty much the same thing to the loony right), Joe Wilson, got a job with the CIA. Armitage, based on a quick read of the INR memo, says, no Joe Wilson doesn't work for the CIA, he just did this one mission for them [This, by the way, is a perfectly ok thing to say based on Wilson's deal with the CIA]. Novak pesters him about how it looks bad, the CIA going out finding some democrat to do this. Looks like that the Cheney folks are right, the CIA was trying to undermine the President's policy. Armitage says, no that's not it at all. Wilson was qualified. Novak retorts something about, but how did they just happen to find this democrat. Armitage gets exasperated and says, look, his wife works at the CIA and they asked him to help out because he has contacts in the region. There's no democrat plot. That's just silly.

Novak, thinking that she's an analyst, calls up Rove and says, look I'm trying to figure why you keep letting all these democrats work for the Administration. This Wilson guy, I heard his wife recommended him. Rove says, you heard that too (and thinks, bingo, I gotta go tell Scooter that somebody's gonna print that story he's been pushing).

Now, Novak calls up Harlow and runs the whole thing by him (this is almost a surprizing bit of journalistic responsibility on Novak's part). Harlow does what he always does when somebody asks that kind of question. He says I'll call you back. Harlow goes to investigate and some serious alarm bells go off in the Agency. Somebody tells Harlow that they can't just play this one by the book (the usual no comment, etc.). They don't know exactly how much Novak knows, but itt's obvious that Novak has gotten too much information. Harlow is given a very specific script to use to warn off Novak. He's supposed to give him enough information to make it clear to Novak that Joe Wilson's wife was a covert operative without actually confirming that information. He's supposed to make it very clear to Novak that he should NOT mention Wilson's wife in the article. He tells Novak that he can say that officials in the CIA's non-proliferation section chose Wilson.

Novak, being Novak and knowing which side his bread is buttered on, decides to just run with the story. And the rest is history.

The one small detail that makes me doubt this scenario is what emptywheel had identified. Novak's column just tracks a little too closely with the Cheney team's talking points.


The scenario has been confused by a lot of the shitty reporting on the SSCI. The scenario, as I understand it is:

Feb 12: CPD says, "how can we shut Cheney up" and one of them says, "I know. Remember in 1999 we sent Ambassador Wilson to Niger to answer some questions about the uranium industry? Let's send him." Plame's supervisor agrees and asks her to write a memo outlinging his qualifications (which she does, that day), and asks her to ask him to attend a meeting on February 19.

Feb 19: Plame introduces Wilson at the meeting and then leaves.

The only basis for "she suggested" him comes from the memo she wrote--and a bunch of partisan hackery with the SSCI report.


The thing I like best about Arbor's food is that it's all humanely produced. I haven't gone to a Drinking Liberally event here. Maybe we should pick a Drinking Liberally event and meet there? Here's the details;

First and third Thursday of each month (next meeting July 20), 7:30 pm onward
Dominick's, 812 Monroe St (map)
We'll have tables reserved. Check the signs at the entrance for location within the venue.
Hosted by John Redmond and Jenay Karlson, annarbor (at) drinkingliberally.org


That sounds like a good idea. Since it is a weeknight I doubt I can get the wifey to come (would take way more than a crowbar to get her out of the house on a weekday night :) ). The 20th wouldn't be a good night to go though since that is in the middle of Art Fair Hell.

I just fired off an email to see if they still have the DL thing going and if they didn't mind a few new attendees. If we can get a date set, I think with a bit of advertising on the site (and posting to several other blog's comments) I bet we could get a bunch of MI liberals to pack the place!

emptywheel and zAMBONI, If you pick a date to meet in Ann Arbor, will you e-mail me and let me know? I am out of town on vacation but I'll be back at the end of this week.

Armitage says, no that's not it at all. Wilson was qualified. Novak retorts something about, but how did they just happen to find this democrat. Armitage gets exasperated and says, look, his wife works at the CIA and they asked him to help out because he has contacts in the region. There's no democrat plot. That's just silly.

How does this square with Novak's previous statement:

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."

What proof is there that Joe Wilson is a Partisan Democrat?

Or let me put it this way, what proof is there that Joe Wilson was a partisan Democrat before he found out that the current batch of Republicans were quite willing to lie the country into an unncessary war and when he critized them they attacked his wife's career?

I bet since 84 his voting record looks something like


He's probably a moderate republican in the Chuck Hagel mode. He is probably not that far from Brent Scrowcroft in his foreign policy stand. He seems to very much respect George H. W. Bush and that's why I think he may have voted for W the first time.

The scenario, as I understand it


I am particularly interested in nailing down what happens on February 12 2002. Is there evidence for the idea that there was some kind of CPD brainstorm on February 12 in response to hearing about Cheney's interest in the Niger story, where that person came up with the idea of sending Wilson? Two parts to this question: was this the first thought of a Niger mission in CPD, or had it been conceived before, perhaps on the basis of other questions from State and/or DoD? Second, a lot has to happen on the 12th, which i don't find that hard to believe, but I'd like to nail it down: the DIA thing published that day is briefed to Cheney, Cheney (or OVP) asks CIA briefer about it, word makes it back to CPD that Cheney is interested, CPD brainstorms the idea of a mission to Niger and the idea of sending Wilson, Plame's supervisor asks Plame for a rundown of Joe's qualifications and she produces the thing in response.

So what's our evidence? One piece of indirect evidence is that the SSCI is rather obscure on the timing of some of the crucial pieces, making me believe that it falls out in exactly the Cheney-centric way they want to downplay.

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