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September 23, 2006

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Here is what I think.

That week the CIA and the WH were working up the Tenet Statement. The CIA was not happy about taking the fall. According to press accounts Rove and Libby were working with Hadley on drafts for the Tenet Statement, the CIA says they wrote it including a few edits from the WH. The WH/CIA intersection point was Hadley.

I think people at the CIA and the WH remembered the CIA's forceful move in 10/02 to get the "reference to Iraq seeking uranium from Niger removed".

Here are two possibilities.

Option 1
CIA leaks the October CIA intervention story to Pincus.

The CIA tells Pincus about the communucations between the CIA and the WH regarding the Cincinnati speech. Since Pincus says "Tenet argued personally", Pincus probably knows about the phone call from Tenet to Hadley.

Pincus calls the WH for comment. Since Hadley is named by the CIA as a person "personally" told by Tenet, Pincus would call Hadley for comment.

The Pincus inquiries would explain why Gerson "discovered" the October 5, 2002 memo late friday night, long after the Tenet Statement had been released.

In this scenario the source for "Tenet argued personally to White House officials, including deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley, .... according to one senior official" would be a [senior official representing the CIA version].

The "argued personally" points to this coming from the CIA, the WH would not put this spin on it.

Option 2
White House leaks the October CIA intervention story to Pincus.

The WH is worried that the CIA is going to disclose that they had told they WH in 10/02 to stop using references to uranium in Niger. I can easily imagine someone from the CIA telling Hadley, in the discussions about Tenet Statement, something like "we told you guys in 2002 to knock off the uranium claims".

The WH decides to get in front of the story and leak to Pincus or Allen. Gerson starts looking late friday night (7/11/03) for the memos the CIA sent in 10/02 and finds the October 5, 2002 memo.

Hubris is spinning Option 2, funny how the fact that Pincus was working on an article on the very subject is never mentioned in Hubris.

And White House aides decided that there would have to be another press briefing--so Hadley could come clean. It had to happen right away. Otherwise, the Bush aides figured, the CIA would leak these memos.
Hubris Pg 299

This is the only scenario where I thing the source for "Tenet argued personally to White House officials, including deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley, .... according to one senior official" could be a [senior official representing the White House version].



I think Option 2 very unlikely.

In other words I think the CIA told Pincus about the Cincinnati speech and Pincus would definitely have called Hadley for comment.

1 Hadley refused to comment (which Pincus would have printed)
2 Hadley was unavailable for comment (which Pincus would have printed)
3 Hadley talked to Pincus and is one of the anonymous sources
4 Hadley talked to Pincus but is not quoted as an anonymous source

Pincus appeared on "The News Hour" on 7/11/03 at talked at length about the sixteen words and had clearly done his homework. He makes no mention of the Cincinnati speech.

I'll bet you that the single-source rationale is all that was mentioned in the memo that Gerson had (& which I suspect was shared with Pincus/Allen). So that was treated in the article as an established fact.

According to Hubris Pg 299, " The memo [October 5, 2002] not only questioned elements of the Niger case. it explicitly challenged the Bristish government's position "We told Congress that the Brits have exaggerated this issue"". The quotation in Hubris is lifted directly from the SSCI which says this information is found in the October 5, 2002 memo.

Swopa, I'll take that bet, because I've already showed you the proof that you're wrong.

Again, from the SSCI above, the October 5 memo (that is, the first one) says:

remove the sentence because the amount is in dispute and it is debatable whether it can be acquired from the source. We told Congress that the Brits have exaggerated this issue. Finally, the Iraqis already have 550 metric tons of uranium oxide in their inventory.

Nothing about single source, even assuming they didn't refer to the later ADDI memo, which addresses two sources of uranium. Which also probably means they didn't share this memo itself with Pincus--I assume no journalist worth their salt would NOT mention the British slapdown, given the emphasis on the UK that week.

polly

I'm very very intrigued by the possibility that Gerson went looking for the memo because of Pincus question (Walter Pincus--making SAOs everywhere check their files!). It would make sense.

Interesting Pincus interview, polly--he basically buys the "Condi admitted Niger showed up in an early draft of the SOTU."

WALTER PINCUS: No, in fact, they both can be true because if you read closely what Condoleezza Rice said today she said the CIA signed off after changes were made that the CIA had asked for.

RAY SUAREZ: And what might those changes have been? A reference to a specific country, for example?

WALTER PINCUS: The reference to Niger was taken out, also a reference to the so-called amount that they were looking to buy. Also added, although it wasn't attributed to the agency people, was that the information was attributed to the British, and not to the U.S. Although, within the same speech there are eight other references to intelligence, and they're all referred to as U.S. intelligence.

Though as I said, I think he may have been on the WaPo team that debunked the backtracking the next week (I think with Dana Milbank--I'll try to look for it).

WaPo, 27 July 2003, Milbank/Allen, with Pincus contributing:

In Rice's July 11 briefing, on Air Force One between South Africa and Uganda, she said the CIA and the White House had "some discussion" on the Africa uranium sentence in Bush's State of the Union address. "Some specifics about amount and place were taken out," she said. Asked about how the language was changed, she replied: "I'm going to be very clear, all right? The president's speech -- that sentence was changed, right? And with the change in that sentence, the speech was cleared. Now, again, if the agency had wanted that sentence out, it would have gone. And the agency did not say that they wanted that speech out -- that sentence out of the speech. They cleared the speech. Now, the State of the Union is a big speech, a lot of things happen. I'm really not blaming anybody for what happened."

Three days later, then-White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said Rice told him she was not referring to the State of the Union address, as she had indicated, but to Bush's October speech. That explanation, however, had a flaw: The sentence was removed from the October speech, not cleared.

In addition, testimony by a CIA official before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence two days after Fleischer's clarification was consistent with the first account Rice had given. The CIA official, Alan Foley, said he told a member of Rice's staff, Robert Joseph, that the CIA objected to mentioning a specific African country -- Niger -- and a specific amount of uranium in Bush's State of the Union address. Foley testified that he told Joseph of the CIA's problems with the British report and that Joseph proposed changing the claim to refer generally to uranium in Africa.

Which also probably means they didn't share this memo itself with Pincus--I assume no journalist worth their salt would NOT mention the British slapdown, given the emphasis on the UK that week.

Pincus doesn't mention any memos just that Tenet had "argued personally to White House officials" (which by the way implies Tenet talked to someone besides Hadley). I think Pincus would have reported on the memos if he had known about them.

I think the CIA source was giving Pincus general information about the October intervention.

Three days later, then-White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said

Monday July 14th, which is when the gang back at the WH is got the second memo from the CIA and according to Hubris they were planning their damage control.

Then on monday evening, after the White House had told Tenet that it had come across the October 5 memo, the CIA had located a follow-up memo sent to Hadley and Rice on October 6, 2002.
Hubris Pg 299

Senior Bush aides said they do not believe they have a communication problem within the White House that prevented them from acting on any of the misgivings about the information that were being expressed at lower levels of the government.
WaPo 7/13/03

Looks like the Bush aides are saying Tenet is at a lower level of government.

BTW Fleischer is mentioned in the 7/13/03 Pincus article. In the form of a quote from the 7/12/03 gaggle in Nigeria.

Behind the scenes, the White House responded with twin attacks: one on Wilson and the other on the CIA, which it wanted to take the blame for allowing the 16 words to have remained in Bush's speech. As part of this effort, then-national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley spoke with Tenet during the week about clearing up CIA responsibility for the 16 words, even though both knew the agency did not believe Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger, according to a person familiar with the conversation. Tenet was interviewed by prosecutors in the leak case, but it is not clear whether he appeared before the grand jury, a former CIA official said.
WaPo 7/27/05

Could Tenet himslf be my CIA guy "I can easily imagine someone from the CIA telling Hadley, in the discussions about Tenet Statement, something like "we told you guys in 2002 to knock off the uranium claims""

Swopa, I'll take that bet, because I've already showed you the proof that you're wrong.

Should've made me put some money on it. Just goes to prove that you're a Democrat.

Is there a source besides Bartlett, when he gets confused in that briefing, that alleges Foley was involved in the Fall discussion?

No, I was confused. The official story became that Foley might have confused the SOTU with his discussion with Joseph in preparation for Negroponte's speech in December. However, there's no issue with regard to taking out specific amounts there, as far as I can see, only the issue of changing "Niger" to "Africa." So I have no idea what's going on. And as you say, Rice's alleged explanation for her confusion is very weak and incoherent.

polly

Like I said, you gotta get Suskind's book. pp. 243-248. An account of Rice's phone call (from Africa) to Tenet in Idaho in the wee hours of the morning of July 11 - before her press conference blaming Tenet. Tenet ran through the chronology with Rice (just as you were speculating with regard to Hadley), including the episode with Hadley in October. Suskind depicts Rice's press conference as preemptive action against the facts Tenet had that shared blame with the White House. Suskind probably somewhat misleadingly makes it sound like the entire statement from Tenet was crafted on July 11, though it's probably true to say a lot of work on it was done that day. Suskind also makes it clear that Tenet's minions couldn't take it and leaked the particulars of the Cincinnati incident over the next week.

Nice conclusion regarding the SOTU, p. 248: "Tenet knew it was not plausible that Rice, and probably the President, didn't know exactly what was happening." But Tenet remained a sucker for Bush. We'll see what he has to say in his book.

Swopa

It's alright. I won a quarter from mr. emptywheel on football bets yesterday. I'm rich!

polly

Could Tenet himslf be my CIA guy "I can easily imagine someone from the CIA telling Hadley, in the discussions about Tenet Statement, something like "we told you guys in 2002 to knock off the uranium claims""

Yeah, I think he must be, unless it's Harlow. Of course, that's the article that was a direct response to the NYT article claiming the Rove and Libby wrote Tenet's statement. So it's designed to slap down that kind of crap.

Suskind also makes it clear that Tenet's minions couldn't take it and leaked the particulars of the Cincinnati incident over the next week.

I'm thinking they leaked the generalities to Pincus by 7/11/03.

I'm off to the bookstore tomorrow

EW

Yeah, I think he must be, unless it's Harlow

Why Harlow? The article says Tenet talked to Hadley.

So the government's response to Libby's filing from Friday on admissibility of classified info and so on is up. As far as factual matters go, the only interesting thing I found is this, which fits with something I think i was wondering about. Arguing that Libby's notes were for his own use and not regular practice in OVP, Fitzgerald notes

Indeed, much of defendant's notes are in a short-hand format that he alone used and that only those familiar with his particular short-hand could decipher.

I wonder if Libby thought, when he handed over his notes, investigators would not be able to tell what they said. I further wonder whether Libby's note on Cheney telling him about Plame in June was in the short-hand. I wonder how investigators deciphered his notes. And I wonder again whether Libby volunteered or acknowledged the fact that Cheney told him about Plame in June, as his notes indicated, during his first FBI interview.

Why Harlow

Only because he has been involved in leaks from that week, and possibly the drafting of Tenet's statement.

Libby's notes

I keep wondering whether someone like Martin deciphered a page of the notes for them. And I wonder whether they've double checked Libby's own deciphering

polly

Just note that in this comment, those are actually two successive Mondays, not the same one. The CIA located the October 6, 2002 memo on Monday, July 21 - and the next day Bartlett and Hadley held there press conference where Hadley took responsibility for himself and, sort of, Rice in convenient absentia.

Jeff,

in response to Bartlett's presser on the 18th that the CIA struck back with the documentation of their intervention before the Cincinnati speech (though to be fair it's possible that speechwriter Gerson genuinely just found the documents faxed from the CIA over that following weekend), leading to the shamefaced press conference of July 22 with Bartlett and Hadley

Hubris has Bartlett finding his memo on the night Tenet's statement was released 7/11/03.

Late that previous friday evening [7/11/03]--hours after Tenet had issued the double-edged statement accepting responsibility for the sixteen-word mistake--Mike Gerson, Bush's chief speechwriter had discovered in his files the memo that been sent to him and Hadley by the CIA on October 5, 2002
Hubris Pg 299



The CIA located the October 6, 2002 memo on Monday, July 21

I think you're right here. I thought it was the 14th based on this passage from Hubris.

But the White House was in turmoil, bracing for the worst day yet in the never-ending yellowcake affair. Late that previous friday evening--hours after Tenet had issued the double-edged statement accepting responsibility for the sixteen-word mistake--Mike Gerson, Bush's chief speechwriter had discovered in his files the memo that been sent to him and Hadley by the CIA on October 5, 2002, requesting that the White House remove the uranium claims from the Cincinnati speech. The memo not only questioned elements of the Niger case. it explicitly challenged the Bristish government's position "We told Congress that the Brits have exaggerated this issue." Then on monday evening, after the White House had told Tenet that it had come across the October 5 memo, the CIA had located a follow-up memo sent to Hadley and Rice on October 6, 2002.
Hubris Pg 299

Timeline?

7/11/03 Tenet Statement released (evening)
7/11/03 Gerson finds 10/05/02 memo (later that evening)
7/12/03 Pincus receives leak
7/13/03 Pincus publishes on the CIA warning
7/18/03 Bartlett? press briefing (NIE)
7/21/03 CIA sends 10/06/02 memo to WH (evening)
7/22/03 Barlett/Hadley prees briefing

And given the likelihood that Allen or Milbank was talking to Bartlett, that would reduce the likelihood that Bartlett was Pincus' source

Milbank was in Africa with Bartlett, so he obviouly could be talking to Bartlett. I don't think Allen on the Africa trip. Do you have another reason for thinking Allen would have been talking to Bartlett instead of Pincus?

Milbank was in Africa with Bartlett, so he obviouly could be talking to Bartlett. I don't think Allen on the Africa trip. Do you have another reason for thinking Allen would have been talking to Bartlett instead of Pincus?

My logic on the article is based on the attribution and the known beat/sources of each.

Pincus gets top billing. He has legendary sources in intelligence and good security sources. Either his only contribution is Tenet, but it was such a great scoop he got top billing, or there's another contact. I can't prove that that's Hadley, but I think it likely.

Allen gets second billing. He has good sources in the front end, communications side of the WH (Hubris implies he's close with Bartlett and Levine). If the sources for the story are all named, then his sources are definitely Gerson, possibly Bartlett.

Milbank gets a "reporting from Africa" billing. That's usually given for stuff taken from your existing reporting and dumped as boilerplate into this story. For that reason alone, I think his is just the paragraph on Bush's reaction, not anything else. If Bartlett were his source, he would have been named in the byline.

My logic on the story (again, going with Hadley, though I grant there are good counter-arguments here) is this:

Pincus is working the Tenet-Hadley dispute, primarily working off a CIA tip. But he does call Hadley for comment, and something in the article comes from Hadley. So, the top half of the story is his--the conflict between CIA and WH.

Allen is working the "how are they responding to this crisis" story, and has quotes from the Comm side of the WH on the genesis of the SOTU. He has quotes from Bartlett and Gerson on that process.

Milbank's boilerplate on Bush is used as a better read on Bush than the comments of Bartlett.

polly

I'm almost positive Hubris just botches the detail about when Gerson found the CIA memo, getting mixed up about Friday July 18 and the previous Friday when Tenet issued his statement - unless they're breaking news without noting it, which I doubt. The July 22 press conference explicitly says that Gerson found the memo the evening of the 18th.

Now, just to be clear, that's the White House story. Some good portion of it could be total bs. Until I heard your theory about Gerson looking in his files in response to Pincus' inquiries, I was thinking that it was driven by the CIA who basically said something like, Find the files and release them or we will.

Also, you can take the question mark away about Bartlett giving the background press conference on July 18. It was him, as he acknowledges on July 22.

Finally, worth noting is that Hubris quotes John Gibson - though with reference to discussions with Gerson - saying something along the lines of a knife fight with the CIA. This seems to have been a White House line. John Dickerson has one of his sources in Africa, probably Bartlett or Fleischer, saying much the same:

"Remind me to take something more than a knife to a gun fight," one senior administration official on the trip said to me, referring to the spat.

Also, you can take the question mark away about Bartlett giving the background press conference on July 18. It was him, as he acknowledges on July 22.

Yep, I saw that too. I can't beleive the WH publishes a press briefing and doesn't put the name of the senior administration official doing the talking. What is the deal with that?


Here is the reference from the 7/22/03 press briefing. I think you're probably right Hubris screwed up. I don't think I knew before that the memo was from Tenet himself.

and to make sure that we're being as responsive as possible, we have now found memos relating to the Cincinnati speech -- not to the State of the Union speech, but to the Cincinnati speech -- that was found over the weekend by Mike Gerson, who shared this information with Steve. And in the memo, itself, it is a memo from the Director to Mike Gerson and Steve Hadley.
7/22/03 WH Briefing

I agree, it was a nasty fight. The CIA definitely won that round.


EW

Thanks for your thinking on Allen, Pincus and Milbank.

polly

Note that later in the briefing Hadley clarifies that the memo was from the CIA generally, not from Tenet specifically. I think the SSCI has something on this as well.

Thanks again Jeff, I missed that.

Hey polly

I doubt anyone is still looking here, but I've got Woodward's book, and his account of the discovery of the CIA memos for the Cincinnati speech, looking to get the Niger story cut, attributes both of the discoveries to the CIA, which had been my sense, though your theory about Gerson finding one in his files while looking in order to respond to reporters' questions is plausible. But Woodward makes it sound like CIA found both of them and got in touch with the White House - I presume the idea is that the White House then fabricated a storyline to make it sound less like they were being screwed successfully by CIA.

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