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September 08, 2006

Comments

EW, thanks again for all the great info. I am very interested in the Plame leak case, but have neither the time nor brains to follow it as closely as you and a few others.

Here is a question I asked you a few months ago, again. I'd appreciate an update in your thinking: Do you think the odds of an IIPA or other indictment against Cheney have risen or fallen? What do you think the odds are? And, if it came, would it be more likely before or after the mid-terms?

Who's Matt Apuzzo at AP? Seems his story is now wallpapering the internet and traditional media outlets, contains info from a Thursday afternoon interview with Armitage.
http://www.forbes.com/entrepreneurs/feeds/ap/2006/09/08/ap3002530.html

Depending on whether the outlet is merely repeating an AP feed, or reinterpreting the content, Armitage apologizes for being a source...or he says he's the FIRST, as noted in this smallish post from Ireland that does not reiterate directly AP feed:
http://www.rte.ie/news/2006/0908/cia.html

And why yesterday afternoon, of all times?

Yet another Friday dump?

Have fun with your digging, EW!!

Rayne:

See here. But note none of these stories reveal that Armitage admits he doesn't know that he's the first for sure, and that some didn't believe that.

Carl

I don't know. IMO, the quickest way to get to an IIPA violation is to prove that Libby was lying when he claimed the instruction in his notes to leak something to Judy related to the NIE. The evidence Fitzgerald has shown so far pretty much proves everything Libby has said about the NIE leak is baloney. But to make the charge, he'd need to disprove that that notation related to something else (such as the CIA report on Wilson's trip). And he'd have to find some way to present Judy as a credible witness (and get her to tell the truth, which I'm not sure she has), which is a pretty big hurdle. So from that perspective, it doesn't look great.

But Fitz no doubt hasn't shown us all the evidence (he himself hasn't revealed what the NIE lie amounts to). We don't know if Judy and he have revealed all of her testimony. And we don't know who/what the July 2 meeting pertained to (if the meeting was with Judy, it'd be easier to make the case). And that's just the stuff I know about.

Thanks. So on the face of it, you seem to be saying that IIPA against Cheney isn't a short-term likelihood. (Please correct me if I'm wrong). I was hoping for a Fitz press conference on, say, Oct. 15 or so. As Larry Johnson said the other day over at Booman, it seems there's a whole lot of Plame stuff suddenly floating around after several months of quiet. Thanks again.

Carl W

Well, I think Fitz knows that, if he doesn't show the larger picture here by election day, there is a significant likelihood that Libby will get pardoned, and his case will disappear. What I'm saying is, he hasn't revealed that he has the goods to indict on this yet. He clearly suspects it. The question is, is he holding off because he doesn't have the case yet?

Rather old stories...

http://70.57.222.103/ifp/writing/liberationiraq.html

Now wasn't there some sort of brouhaha about USG funds going to INC which were in turn used to propagandize the US(G and not G)?

It's actually very dramatic. Putting aside for a second what a odious character Cheney is, if you are going to do something this close to an election that obviously has a big potential impact, you better have a pretty strong case. I want to believe he does (have a case) and will (indict), but the nagging doubt is that if he did have the goods, he would have indicted already. It simply is that doing something like that so close to the election seems very political. If he did it, say, in May or June--not so much.

Sorry. Here is some context for the "committee", courtesy of the Wayback machine:

http://web.archive.org/web/20030213184925/http://www.liberationiraq.org/climembers.shtml

Thanks, EW, I'd read your earlier in response to the interview. What puzzles me -- and this is not uncommon with AP -- is their posting of feed without attribution, and then posting with attribution. Can't tell whether we are reading one or more stories from one or more sources within AP.

The way the story/ies are evolving certainly appears that they are trying to redirect attention from any other interpretation of "primary".

And they didn't go through their usual smear channels, either. Hence the question about Apuzzo -- looks like he's all over Armitage specifically, for some reason.

ew,

When you start telling this story, don't forget the rather important subplot involving the Iranian disinformation campaign to draw the U.S. into a war with Saddam. Chalabi and the INC folks weren't just on our payroll, they were on the Iranian payroll as well. Lest anyone think that this is just another one of my fantasies, take a look at this quote from James Bamford:

BAMFORD: Another irony is the fact that it was Ahmed Chalabi, the darling of the neoconservatives, that was used to gin up all the phony information to help us get into this war so that they could put Chalabi in there as president of Iraq. And now it turns out that the FBI is investigating Chalabi as possibly a spy for Iran. So the ultimate irony would be if this was a plot all along by Iran, using Chalabi, to get the United States to get rid of their worst enemy, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, and make Iraq very convenient for a new Iranian government, a Shi‘ite-dominated government. And that‘s basically what‘s happened.

WO-

And then hence Joe Wilson's cryptic comment that Iran was the big winner in all this?

How ironic would it be if Plame was on the heels of an Iranian counterintelligence operation before she was outed? In other words, by outing Plame and her unit, they eliminated the only source of intell on Iranian disinformation campaigns.

In their quest to contain their ultimate "enemy" Iran by going to war in Iraq (and in the process destroying our intell capabilities in the region), the neocons may have made it even easier for Iran to get what it wants.

Wasn't chess originally a Persian game?

Rayne

Maybe Apuzzo is a new Rove outlet. Solomon surely is, wrt this. Nice catch, thanks.

WO

I'll remember!

Iran being the big winner in all this is not cryptic at all, in my view. Let's compare known Iranian goals with the outcome of the American invasion of Iraq:

1. Elimination of Saddam's power (check)
2. Shi'ite dominance of Iraq (check)
3. Degrade U.S. ability to harm Iran (check)
4. Independence/autonomy for Kurds (check)
5. Increase Iranian influence over Arab Shi'ites throughout region (check)
6. Become dominant regional power (almost there, just a matter of time at this point)

If the Iranians didn't engineer our invasion of Iraq all by themselves, at the very least, they can claim to be the only ones to come out unambiguously ahead. The Iraqi people are suffering, we've suffered a humiliating defeat, the Arab powers are all worse off than before the war, the Israelis and Turks are slightly worse off.

congrats on your Steelers last night

I missed the game, but saw Joey Porter interviewed. Seems like a fun and reliable guy

Btw,

Just glanced through my copy of Hubris.

It looks to be a good book--but credulous in all the ways you'd think it would be, and definitely written from a journalist's perspective, and with some help from Rove.

They miss some key bits (such as they DON'T get the NIE stuff), and they barely raise any of the big outstanding issues of the case. But it should be a good, quick, read.

Some other items of note--they identify the Iraq Nuclear analyst. (They don't note any of the blank holes in the INR Memo.) And, for Jeff, I'm not satisfied with their explanation of the INR memo ITSELF circulating. We know the circulation sheet doesn't include Powell and Armtiage. They say it went to him.

I have some friends who are Lebanese. One of them is actually related to Chalabi in that extended family connected by marriage kind of way that they place great stock in and we don't.

Anyway.

Way back when the US was touting Chalabi he was telling me how ooutrageoous the Arab street was finding it because of Chalabi's background in bank fraud.

It always made me curious why the government would use this guy who was known and so thoroughly despised by the people in one of their major Muslim allies, namely Jordan.

Is it simply stupidity? For a bunch of stupid guys they have all done pretty well for themselves doncha think?

And if not stupidity, then I am really worried that we have been distracted by the patter and missed what the hands are doing altogether. Not to say the patter, ie the Plame case and all the the other outrages du jour aren't important, just that we've missed something far more important.

Bionic

We work with him for the same reason we work with Ghorbanifar. I'm not sure the reason, really, whether we believe we control these guys (when Iran-Contra proves that Ghorbanifar will screw us in a second)? Or is it from a really warped sense of how we're going to conquer the ME by using these double agents as our proxies?

Printing and reading through Phase II now. One thing of note (Jeff--are you reading?)--they still don't mention the NIO report that the Niger claim was totally without basis. At least not in their main Niger section.

Also:

This report appears to hide the news that the CIA offered Wilson's report to DOD on March 8 as evidence in support of Niger claims--they appear to have taken that reference out.

Also

The CIA issued a report on Obeidi and the EMIS scientist who kept equipment--on January 9, 2006. They admit something I pointed out in my Obeidi series, started in December 2005 (I'm trying to find where I mentioned this).

The scientists were ordered to turn over everything in 1996, after Hussein Kamel defected. Obeidi never made any mention of that. As SSCI2 says:

their efforts ran counter to several official orders reportedly issued to scientists since 1995 to relinquish such items.

No duh. Hey CIA--anytime you want my help, using open sources, to figure out what you figure out at precisely the same time.

Also:

This SSCI includes a cable (I think from Drumheller) basically saying no one should believe Curveball, which appeared in Robb-Silberman. And it addresses a December 20, 2002 cable from Drumheller (I think) to Tenet, about Germany's unwillingness to vouch for Curveball. It notes that Tenet "testified ... that he never saw and was not aware of the existence of the cable or the letter." (33-32) "The Committee is continuing to examine this case."

VERY interesting, need to get a copy of Hubris pronto. Wonder if Jane will put it in the FDL Book Salon soon?

Had a minute to go read some of KK's stuff again. This is one of the paragraphs that nags at me:

"Those who had watched the transition from Clintonista to Bushite knew that something calculated had happened to NESA. Key personnel, long-time civilian professionals holding the important billets, had been replaced early in the transition. The Office Director, second in command and normally a professional civilian regional expert, was vacant. Joe McMillan had been moved to the NESA Center over at National Defense University. This was strange because in a transition the whole reason for the Office Director being a permanent civilian (occasionally military) professional is to help bring the new appointee up to speed, ensure office continuity, and act as a resource relating to regional histories and policies. To remove that continuity factor seemed contraindicated, but at the time, I didn’t realize that the expertise on Middle East policy was being brought in from a variety of outside think tanks."

Umm, yeah. How early was early? and just how thorough was the purge throughout this and other agencies/departments?

Were there "unpurgeables" that could only be negated?

Here's a passage for lukery, which explains how they buried the Jefferson Project report:

A CIA scientist, who had participated in the inspection of the trailer, sent an e-mail to his CIA colleagues with the content of the executive summary. According to one of the CIA BW analysts, the executive summary's findings were discussed at meetings where CIA managers were present. The DIA-led team produced a more extensive report, which had the same conclusion as the summary, in late June 2003. According to DIA, neither the executive summary nor the report was formally disseminated outside the DIA, until the report was posted on the Intelligence Community intranet in 2004.

Uh huh. Like that info-sharing, bury the proof that your claims are wrong. I'm curious how the release date of this (they don't give month or date) coincides with the time BushCo stopped claiming they had found MBLs.

Also the CIA provided a report to Condi on June 6 (yup, right when Judy's revising her story), saying their conclusions had not changed. So they basically reinforced the White Paper conclusion, even after they had gotten a definitive refutation of it.

ew,

In part 2 of your series on Obeidi (published to the web on 12/31/2005), you said this (after quoting extensively from the Duelfer report):

So in 1996, Saddam ostensibly demanded all documentation be turned over. Which might lead you to assume that, even if Obeidi had been ordered to keep his documents in 1991 and 1992, he might turn them over out of fear for his life in 1996. It also raises questions about why the same report that says Obeidi hadn't been contacted about his secret archive after 1992 also says all WMD scientists were contacted and told to hand over any secret archives. Either they included Obeidi in this order, or they told him he was an exception, which would itself count as new contact about the archive.

Here's the FU to Santorum:

An addendum [to the ISG report] on residual pre-1991 chemical and biological stocks in Iraq said:
The ISG assessed that Iraq and Coalition Forces will continue to discover small numbers of degraded chemical weapons, which the former Regime mislaid or improperly destroyed prior to 1991. The ISG believes the bulk of these weapons were likely abandoned, forgotten, and lost during the Iran-Iraq war because tens of thousands of CW munitions were forward deployed along the frequently and rapidly shifting battle front.

In April 2006, the National Guard Intelligence Center (NGIC) published a report which noted that coalition forces have recovered another 500 filled and unfilled degraded pre-1991 Gulf War chemical munitions since the ISG completed its work. The discoveries are consistent with the ISG's addedum assessment.


Thanks for finding that, WO. I've got three documents open right now (Hubris, SSCI2, and work), so I'm a little distracted.

But hot damn!! I beat the CIA, using only open sourced materials, by 10 days!!! Booyah!!


You are probably familiar with Bob Graham's account of the NIE, but it is a useful reference point amid the many conflicting discussions that one hears.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/18/AR2005111802397.html

Thanks for that Jim--I knew Graham's version from his book--but I listened to it on MP3, so I don't have anything to cite. That helps a lot.

Okay, now I'm dabbling with the INC stuff. And I have to admit--I missed an important framing issue. You know how I've been talking about how Roberts limited the INC investigation to stuff used by officials? That is, he excluded stuff leaked to Judy Miller?

Well, he also excluded anything after 3/18/03--the start of the war. It admits they kept paying INC "to use and fund the collection of INC information for over a year after the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom."--until Chalabi have sigint to the Iranians. But it doesn't look what they got for their money.

And, for Jeff, I'm not satisfied with their explanation of the INR memo ITSELF circulating. We know the circulation sheet doesn't include Powell and Armtiage.

I too am trying to multitask and just started Hubris; haven't gotten to the INR memo, but I''ve been wondering whether I should give myself a minor pat on the back in light of the fact that Armitage says he learned of Plame from the INR memo, which must have happened basically on July 12 or earlier on the 13th.

I haven't gotten to the pre- v. post- WMD part of the SSCI yet. I did a quick read of the INC one. There is a wonderful quotation from Tenet way towards the back, in one of the addendums, saying he was wrong to make a statement on October 8 2003, at the request of the administration, to the effect that there was no inconsistency between McLaughlin's deflationary recent letter on Saddam's threat and the President's important Cincinnati speech the day before. And get this: it's from testimony Tenet gave the committee on July 26 2006. Has Tenet finally, at long last, taken the gloves off, realizing that he was played up and down for a fool by the White House, including Bush himself?

There is very little in that part of the report on the Niger story. Is there anything in the other one?

In the WMD--no, not really. I like the two comments that the FBI is STILL investigating.

I think (and this is not entirely speculation) the source of Armitage's knowledge is complicated. I'm more sure than I was that, if Armitage got the INR memo, he was supposed to have it. The thing is SCI, and doesn't list him, for example (and I was right in interpreting that Neil Silver wrote the document, so I am definitely reading those cover pages correctly).

Or let me put it this way. If I'm right, the INR memo got circulated inappropriately. And that's one of the things that DON'T show in the indictment, but is probably very significant.

Sorry--Armitage was NOT supposed to have the INR memo.

And that part of the Corn/Isikoff is fuzzy. It's a good book--better than I thought it'd be. But it's fuzzy in all the places you'd expect it to be.

Yes, I'm looking at the accuracy part of the SSCI, and there's not much catching my eye; and it is annoying and rather misleading that they end the reassessments in March. Also, the NIC memo, if there is such a thing, is excluded because it's not properly part of any of the intelligence agencies, as far as I can tell. It's its own thing.

Worth noting, on p. 22 they cite a CIA nuclear retrospective dated as late as January 6 of this year.

Not sure I get the implication of Armitage seeing the INR memo. Or is the point that if he was seeing it when he shouldn't have, others probably were as well? But I thought we were finally settling on seeing the INR memo as indicative of lesser suspicion on the part of those who saw it. Oh well.

I don't know if this has been noted before, but Rohn, the author of the memo underlying the INR memo, not only has never met Valerie Wilson, but she was not even present when he arrived after the meeting started and didn't understand who had done the organization work for the meeting. Hence his use of the word "apparently" which of course disappeared in the INR memo itself. (Yes, there is still a question of why he referred to Valerie Wilson at all; presumably he heard from someone else that she'd introduced him at the meeting.) Hubris, 94. Damn.

Rohn turns out also to be the author of INR's March 1 2003 report "Niger: Sale of Uranium to Iraq is Unlikely."

Four trivia points from Hubris caught my eye:

(1) Isikoff/Corn are pretty clear that Armitage and Powell got the June 10 INR memo, which contradicts the circulation list and the dramatic TIME (Newsweek?) story about how the whole memo was re-addressed to Powell for his Africa trip. Maybe they aren't clear themselves.

2. LOL - when Armitage needed a personal lawyer in 1989, he hired.. drumroll, please... I. Lewis Libby. (p. 242)

Add Armitage's signature on the PNAC letter calling for the liberation of Iraq, and what have you got?

3. The Vanity Fair article had a vague pronoun reference when it reported that Kritsof met for breakfast with Wilson and his wife (Whose wife? Ms. Kristof is also a journalist). But yes, Valerie was at the conference that weekend when Nick and Joe got together.

4. NO mention of Robert Grenier telling Libby about Ms. Plame in June; no appearance of Grenier in the index. C'mon, that is in the indictment for heaven's sake.

5. I will be available for autographs at a secure undisclosed location - John Maguire is a CIA covert operator and a star of the book (I first appear on p. 4. OK, no relation, but that won't be my story at cocktail parties).

6. The anti-semitism thing with Libby and Matthews ought to strike people as quite odd. (p. 267)

Re the IIPA:

We don't know if Judy and he have revealed all of her testimony.

Well, a recent court filing which we kicked around said that the defense could take Judy's published account to the bank, and that it squared with her testimony.

As a memory jog, the same ruling noted that their was an auto-discrediting problem for Matt Cooper and some of his drafts - apparently his story changed in some large or subtle way from one version to the next.

And back to Judy - there is the famous footnote in which Fitzgerald says he needs Judy's testimony because he has yet to gain any "direct" evidence that Libby knew Ms. Plame was covert.

Sorry to chime in, but if Larry Johnson really can't figure out why there is so much Plame buzz just now, he really needs to walk into a bookstore and take a look around. (Actually, when I did that there was nothing to see - I had to chase a clerk into the stockroom to open a box and display the six books available. But I stand by my point!)

There are NIO reports, so that one should be in there too.

Not sure I get the implication of Armitage seeing the INR memo. Or is the point that if he was seeing it when he shouldn't have, others probably were as well? But I thought we were finally settling on seeing the INR memo as indicative of lesser suspicion on the part of those who saw it. Oh well.

Well, kind of. That is, if someone saw it, that by itself doesn't mean someone had enough information to leak Plame's covert status.

But first of all, any circulation beyond Grossman MAY HAVE violated SCI rules--so the actual circulation, not the viewing per se--would be the problem.

ALso just imagine if Libby got an illict copy of the INR memo. I don't think that adds much to his knowledge--except that (say) he'd have an understanding of what Armitage had seen.

I had suggested that Rohn was almost certainly the author of the Iraq: Sale of Uranium Unlikely. The document is marked AA (Africa), there are just a fwe AA people, and probably no one else had the first hand knowledge of the Iraq deal.

Tom

See my note above. The INR memo's circulation cover says clearly that only Grossman received the June 10 version. Armitage may have gotten "it"--but if so, it may have violated SCI (which is something Bolton was reknowned for). And the two memos clearly show that it was readdressed to Powell (and that a reference to whom we now know to be Simon Dodge--who doesn't show up in Google at all--was removed).

I'm aware of that filing about possible impeachment evidence. Also aware that the discrepancy with Judy is larger, by all accounts, than the Cooper one. Also aware that your readers love to turn the Cooper one into a huge differential, counter to the comments about it.

But wrt Judy, that only refers to her testimony wrt a Libby perjury trial. And testimony gained in her two GJ appearances.

I think your Grenier point supports Jeff's curiosity that Grenier is not listed in Fitz' August 2004 affy on the case. There's some reason he's not getting listed all the time. I already found one more name of interest that doesn't show up, but I forget who it is. I'll have to check back on it.

I think your Grenier point supports Jeff's curiosity that Grenier is not listed in Fitz' August 2004 affy on the case. There's some reason he's not getting listed all the time.

I would say so. But he is not even with the CIA now. Baffling.

More trivia:

We should put Andrea Mitchell's picture on a milk carton and file a Missing Person report - she barely appears, which breaks my heart.

And the 1x2x6 story gets trashed. Apparently Isikoff trashed it back in Oct 8, 2003 but now they have the details.

In brief - an editor added "before Novak's column ran" to clarify the prose, but had misinterpreted what reporter Mike Allen was trying to say. Apparently that day's early edition is a collector's classic because it went out without that phrase.

The result:

Yesterday, a senior administration official said that **before Novak's column ran**, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife.

They do note that the following day the "senior administration official" was downgraded to an "administration aide", and that the WaPo pondered a correction. (Andrea M does get mentioned here as one of the "Six" who got a call *after* the column came out.)

And Adam Levine of the press office was a buddy of Mike Allen's, had spoken with him repeatedly the day before that came out, and wondered if he was the "One", although he is sure he did not use the word "revenge".

I don't know what the rule is for protecting sources, but couldn't Levine just call Allen and ask?

Rove buffs will like this (p. 401), which was news to me - Luskin claims that his chat with Viveka Novak, where he said Rove did not have a Cooper problem and she said "That's not what I hear", was in *Oct 2003*.

That raised my eyebrows because, IMHO, "Matt Cooper" was the answer to a trivia question in October - he didn't appear on a document request until Fitzgerald took over.

Anyway, Luskin launched a new file search based on the news that Rove *did* have a Cooper problem, got a folder full of print-outs of emails dated Nov 23, 2003, and... sat on the Hadley email. (The pharse "screwed up" is used here, as in "Luskin admits he may have...").

And Viveka dated the chat to Jan 2004 at the earliest, which conflicts with the dates on the emails.

Well, Fitzgerald listened to all this, and who knows what he believed?

Some mighty interesting Hubris "trivia" Tom - thanks.

Yes, that anti-semitic accusation by Libby against Matthews definitely struck me as very odd already, just reading the snippets about it here.

And Mr. I.L. Scooter Libby served as Mr. Richard Armitage's personal attorney a decade or so before this infamous affair transpired... That sure says something, but I don't know exactly what.

On the attempted trashing of the 1x2x6 story: the version of events in Hubris doesn't seem to explain why the same "before Novak's column ran" (or equivalent) language was repeated in subsequent stories by Mike Allen/the Washington Post if that was just a silly editor's error in September, 2003. Which was done, at a minimum, in the very good October 12 article by Pincus and Allen, and I believe in the July, 2005 article co-written by Allen which started referring to the #1 source as a "senior White House official" (which is also how Richard Armitage described #1, minus the 'senior,' in his interview with David Martin/CBS this week).

Here's the 10/12/2003 language from Pincus/Allen:

On July 7, the White House admitted it had been a mistake to include the 16 words about uranium in Bush's State of the Union speech. Four days later, with the controversy dominating the airwaves and drowning out the messages Bush intended to send during his trip in Africa, CIA Director George J. Tenet took public blame for failing to have the sentence removed.

That same week, two top White House officials disclosed Plame's identity to [at] least six Washington journalists, an administration official told The Post for an article published Sept. 28. The source elaborated on the conversations last week, saying that officials brought up Plame as part of their broader case against Wilson.

"It was unsolicited," the source said. "They were pushing back. They used everything they had."

One other name that didn't appear in here is Mahdi Obeidi. I know--just my personal favorite. But one that would have tied up some of the intell claims. Sorry about Mitchell, for you Tom. If I had to guess, she got some instructions from Dick at the Ford birthday party, and therefore is bound to silence by Fitz. So she's not blabbing like Armitage.

Btw, it stuns me the degree to which they've protected Dick in this. Even your Scooter Libby as Armitage's lawyer bit--that's almost always told as a story about Dick NOT defending Armitage, which is the source of their animosity. But ... no mention.

I keep wondering whether Allen has been lying all this time about 1 being a "current" SAO. It would make so much sense if it was Ari. And note--Ari didn't agree to an interview with these guys.

Ok. First, ebooks are annoying. Second, Matthews, Corn and Isikoff make an unattractive trio (on the inside).

p. 250: Were I ever to write a book on this matter, I would be tempted to call it "Get it out." It's the fundamental ambiguous statement at the heart of this thing. Isikoff and Corn (IC) evidently talked to Cheney's or Bush's lawyer, who characterized Bush's declassification of the NIE this way: "The president declassified the information and authorized and directed the vice president to get it out." Of course, IC continue,

How that would be done - who should leak the information and to which reporters - was left entirely up to Cheney, the lawyer noted.

This is news: 259: "Powell later recalled sharing the memo with Rice."

This is nicely put on p. 260 regarding Libby's July 8 with Miller:

He would be feeding sensitive information to a reporter whose stories had bolstered the WMD case for war - and who had an interest in defending the prewar claims. It was, one senior administration official later said, "Scooter's black op."

I agree, by the way, that IC are not particularly focused on the NIE question, as they should be.

I am impressed that IC muster this regarding "Valerie Flame" in her notebook:

Later, Miller would say - somewhat improbably - that she didn't believe the "Valerie Flame" information had come from Libby, although the entry was in the same notebook as her notes from the Libby meeting. She claimed she had heard the "Valerie Flame" name from another source. She couldn't, however, recall who that source was.

I think that's just right. Oh well.

It's too bad IC seem hesitant to avail themselves of Waas' reporting. It would have made their narrative more coherent and compelling in various spots. More later.

262: How did Adam Levine know to refer Novak to Scooter or Karl for questions on the Wilson thing? Specifically, how did he know to refer Novak to Scooter? It appears that Levine was probably a source for some of the reports on Rove going nuts on Wilson inside the White House. Likewise, 265 suggests Levine, with Cathie Martin, were sources for reports of Libby going nuts that week over Wilson.

263: IC have Armitage determinately revealing to Novak that Wilson's wife "had suggested her husband for the mission to Niger." But they say this was in the INR memo, which it wasn't, at least in redacted form. IC then go on to say

It was the same information Armitage had already shared with Woodward.

But the bit about her suggesting her husband for the mission is not to be found in Woodward's account, as far as I can tell. Maybe he included it elsewhere, just not in his canonical account. But if not, that's interesting.

265 is more emphatic than we've heard on where Rove got his Plame info:

a source close to Rove suggested that the White House aide had "probably" learned it from Scooter Libby.

271n asserts that Novak talked to Wilson after he had talked with Harlow the first time on July 10. 271 seems to suggest that the followup conversation was on July 11.

271 has Harlow asking Novak not to name Plame for reasons different from the way Novak described it:

Harlow replied that she would "probably" never again be stationed overseas, but exposure of her name "would make it difficult for her to travel overseas or conduct other business for the agency."

This is, of course, Harlow's version. But the clear import is that while Plame would not be stationed overseas on an indefinite or lengthy assignment, she would be traveling overseas for CIA work and that and other agency business would be "difficult" if she were exposed. But note that Tatel's opinion, p. 38, which IC cite, gives a substantially different version from Harlow (and it's hard to tell if it's Novak's or Harlow's).

271 also makes it sound like Novak looked up Wilson in Who's Who after all these conversations, on July 11. That would mean he must not have used her first name with the stranger on the street, as Wilson indicates in his book; or he got it somewhere else.

274: A fuller version of Cooper's account of his conversation with Rove, from his files for the article.

278 says the Post and other outlets received Novak's story on July 12.

Well, emptywheel be thankful you have the time to read a book. I will work all weekend except for little short periods of mind stretching on email and blogs to relax.

Senator John McCain and Ahmed Chalabi were hand in hand. That is one reason Chalabi got so much traction. My dad and brother usually don't say much about the bosses in Washington, but there my brother was pretty vocal. Chalabi is a fraud. And it could come back to McCain in 2008.

jodi

They also BELIEVE that Libby would hesitate to leak the NIE, after writing a whole book about how Judy kept getting leaks of highly classified stuff (though they, like everyone in the world, believe Judy never met Yankee Fan, missing the fact that she basically admits to participating in the misnaming him as a scientist). And as I point out--they ignore the leaked White Paper to Judy, right in the middle of this.

One more really important revelation these guys seem to miss the import of:

They reveal Plame was traveling under assumed names when she went overseas. But they don't consider whether the two names Judy wrote during interviews with Libby might be names she traveled under.

Btw, there is some place they say the Novak column was on the wire on July 11, though I didn't check to see whether that was sourced to Steno Sue or not.

298: We've already heard this from Corn, but it's worth a repeat. Rove told Matthews the Wilsons "were trying to screw the White House so the White House was going to screw them back." Ah, honor and dignity.

317: Fasinating to see that Adam Levine was having drinks with, among others, Mike Allen when Levine got word of MSNBC's story on September 26 that the CIA had asked Justice to investigate the leak.

317f: As for 1x2x6, the story IC tell is weird in a couple of respects. IC focus on Levine, but ambiguously: on the fateful day of September 27, 2003, the day Allen and Priest got the 1x2x6 story, Allen and Levine communicated several times, but Allen already knew about White House officials calling some reporters, mentioned Rove, and also - IC tell us, perhaps to provide cover for Levine, perhaps not - wanted to talk to McClellan, though later in the day McClellan is depicted wanting to knock down Allen's emergent story, which would appear to rule him out. Indeed, McClellan, according to Levine, wanted to push back hard and say that the White House's top aides had played no role in the disclosure. (Could that itself be cover?) Rice learns about what's going on from Levine. And on that same day - September 27 - McClellan told Levine that he'd spoke to Rove and Rove had assured him he had had nothing to do with the CIA leak.

319 has Levine reading the 1x2x6 story and uncertain on whether he was 1. "He had confirmed some of the information Allen had told him. But he later said that he had never used the word 'revenge.'" I'm inclined to think it must be Levine, since any ambiguity would have been cleared up when 1 got back in touch with Allen for the October 12 story. At the same time, Levine wonders about the CIA pushing back.

320 IC say, as Tom notes, that an editor at the Post added the qualification "before Novak's column ran" to the crucial 1x2x6 bit, which obviously makes a difference. According to 321n, perhaps prompted in part by Isikoff and Hosenball's October 8 2003 story pushing back against 1x2x6 and suggesting most if not all of the calls were made after Novak's column

Within the Post, there was concern about the first article and discussions about whether any correction was warranted, according to Post sources. But no action was taken. The editors and reporters involved, one Post correspondent subsequently said, "had no real desire to let people know we fucked this up." A year later, the Post ran a piece by reporter Susan Schmidt noting that government investigators had been trying to confirm the allegation in Allen's story but had failed to do so.

Now, pow wow is right to note that the October 12, 2003 story, which went back to 1x2x6, repeats the idea that 1x2x6 said 2 blew Plame's cover before Novak's column. If the concern within the Post was before the October 12 story, as appears to be the case, it's hard to imagine the October 12 story would have said that the source told the Post that the week of Wilson's column - i.e., it would seem, before Novak's column - the two White House officials disclosed Plame's to six reporters.

On the other hand, let me note that the October 12 story then goes on to recount what White House-reporter contacts were known, and is clear that some of them were before Novak's column (Pincus, apparently Novak) and some after (Mitchell, Matthews) and some unclear (Time). The point is, that might be a kind of silent correction.

However, let me add a note of caution. Isikoff has an investment, presumably, in his October 2003 being right. No big deal there. But my real caution comes from their reference to Schmidt's 2004 article - almost certainly her November 26, 2004 story. That story does not really convincingly make the case that by that late date investigators had still failed to confirm the allegation in Allen's story, exactly, and it appears to be sourced almost entirely if not entirely to lawyers for witnesses in the case. So I suspect some of that is both outdated information, and administration-friendly spin. In fact, I more than suspect it. In at least one case, I know it. Schmidt writes:

Time reporter Matthew Cooper has told prosecutors that he talked to Libby on July 12 and mentioned that he had heard that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, a source knowledgeable about his testimony said. Cooper testified that Libby said he had heard the same thing from the media.

Cooper crucially testified, of course, that LIbby said he had heard the same thing, but not from the media. That is Libby's version. So if this is not deliberate disinformation from Cooper or the prosecutor, as I suspect it is not, it is a flat-out lie both on the part of the source and on the part of Schmidt, in the sense that this source could not be knowledgeable about his testimony in this regard since it wasn't his testimony.

That's not to say the entire story is bs. It just makes me wary of it. And let me add that Schmidt wrote a string of stories with a more administration-friendly line than the other reporters at the Post. So if Schmidt is the Post's unnamed correspondent cited by IC in that footnote saying the Post didn't want to let people know they fucked up, color me skeptical.

Obviously, IC have better sources than me, especially in the character of Levine, apparently, so they may be making a case with great confidence whose basis they cannot fully document on the record. In fact, I strongly suspect that some of the 6 contacts with reporters did happen after Novak's column. It's worth noting that IC have slightly but notably altered the basic claim from Isikoff's original October 8 2003 pushback article. The 2003 article said government officials were saying that "most, if not all, of these phone calls were made after the Novak column appeared." (emphasis added) But the book only says "much (but not all) of" the White House's anti-Wilson campaign "had occurred after the Novak column was published."

emptywheel - The book says on 278 that the Post and other outlets received Novak's column on July 12.

325 appears to indicate that Duberstein was the Armitage confidante who tried to coach Novak's testimony in October 2003, though the context presented is that Powell thought maybe Armitage wasn't really Novak's source and put Duberdog on the case to find out. Novak is described as brushing Duberstein off, saying, "Why would he think that he's the person?"

Check this out from 325n:

This flurry of phone calls [among Powell, Armitage, Duberstein and Novak] would later draw intense scrutiny from FBI agents and prosecutors who were at first suspicious that the four men might have been coordinating their stories. But Powell and Duberstein maintained they had only been trying to ascertain the facts.

So much for the idea that the investigation bought the purported Wilson-Corn "White House revenge alone" theory from the outset, eh Tom?

Jeff,

Great work, as I was reading along, I was thinking "Well, Isikoff clearly has bad blinders in this case, particularly since Rove pretty transparently seeded that story with him in October 2003 to try to kill the entire conspiracy story, even though a conspiracy did exist" (that is, Rove knew about the smear at least in time to confirm Novak, which the Isikoff story would lead one to completely discount as a possibility). The Isikoff story was almost as important a part of Rove's attempt to cover-up his role as the Novak October 1 column. Short of a reassessment of his story, I don't think we can trust the 1X2X6 reporting very far here--because one of the key misrepresentation peddled by Isikoff's earlier reporting on this--which is now clearly identifiable as spin attempting to pre-empt legal proceedings.

And then I kept reading and said, "well Sue Schmidt! That sounds like another line coming from Libby's lawyers, just like her printing of the Judy-coaching details." THough I should say, Schmidt partnered with VandeHei on the Judy-coaching story, so it's unclear whether Schmidt or VandeHei is the chump who published those details.

I will say this, though. The original 1X2X6 story presents known contributions from Wilson using different attributions, perhaps to make it look like they had more sources for the story than they did. I'm inclined to believe the October 12 story, I'm definitely convinced the list of six is something like Novak, Cooper, Kessler (incorrect, but what Libby would have you believe), Russert, Matthews, and Mitchell. In short, if it were Levine, he might have a distorted sense of who actually got the leak (though he would know some of the names because he was taking phone calls for Rove at the time).

And one more point. Given Levine's centrality in this book, it's worth remembering that he testified again post-Indictment. Luskin always said he testified about an email to Rove sent at the same time, but that strikes me as BS (it wouldn't make Rove's case stronger), unless Fitz used that as a way to get an index that might lead him to the missing emails. But there was VandeHei reporting in the "Rove is being indicted" phase that said one or more of Rove's aides had testified about conversations they had had with Rove--including about what Libby had said (the aide had basically said, "yeah Rove was involved in this, but Libby was the real mastermind." I'd bet money that Levine is one of the aides, and that he got asked questions about what Rove said, as compared to what Libby is known to have done. Further, I have suspected that this is the conversation Libby's lawyers were after during the May 5 hearing.

Which presents the distinct possibility that Levine 1) is 1 in 1X2X6, and 2) he has recently fine-tuned that story for Fitz, to accord more of the blame to Libby, and that 3) that is one of the reasons Rove got off--because Levine told a story that either really did exonerate Rove (by revealing earlier unknown Libby work) or simply spun the Novak stuff as Rove being ditzy (right).

327 indicates that Armitage's initial answer as to how he learned of Valerie Wilson was that he wasn't sure. Now he seems quite sure it was the INR memo. Some investigators thought he was not explaining everything. Let me just say that my confidence in my response to Armitage's interview - that he's very credible - has been somewhat lowered. Maybe he's just a really really good liar.

How he got off from obstruction-type charges for the Woodward omission is utterly beyond me.

Not sure if we knew this already, but 333 says Eckenrode questioned Rove three days after Novak in October 2003.

333 confirms Waas' reporting that investigators suspected Rove and Novak of coordinating a cover-up - this is the claim on the basis of which Novak called Waas a liar on national television. As usual, too bad for Novak. His obituary is not going to be pretty, and he knows it.

More in the eh, Tom? category. According to 333, in his initial interview with Eckenrode on October 14, Libby didn't mention his conversation with Cheney. Of course, IC also say Libby didn't mention anything about the INR memo - which Fitzgerald says Libby never saw, so no duh (except I believe on Hardball last night IC stated that Grossman read it to him over the phone or some such).

Jeff

If you're using an electronic book, can you search on "AP wire"? I'm pretty sure there's a line that says it was posted to the AP wire on the 11th, though they don't know when. But maybe I've invented that?

Armitage's changing story about the INR may have been an attempt to hide illicit circulation of it within State before July. The document was SCI, and Armitage is not on the circulation list for the June 10 memo. So he shouldn't have had the memo, period, unless there's an amended circulation cover that hasn't been released. So either he said he didn't know, because he didn't want to reveal he had seen it earlier (and that SCI rules had been breached), or maybe he saw something related (Rohn's notes) to support his June leaking, but didn't have a good reason to explain why he was referring to them.

Man, I gotta do dayjob stuff. But here's an interesting reference, 291:

...Dan Bartlett, just back from Africa, talked about redirecting the Wilson bashing. It was unproductive and demeaning, he suggested. Bartlett, according to Adam Levine, was "against the idea of the wife as a talking point."

Bartlett would have learned about what transpired while he was gone from Levine (if not from more general discussions). And here he is, suggesting the Plame leak was stupid. And, he would fit all the known descriptions of 1X2X6.

A question. This quote comes from a post by Larry Johnson yesterday on truthout. Is the statement at the end of the quote true..?? Checking for info or misinformation?

"The April 5 court filing says I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley were two of the key figures who were involved in conversations and meetings at Cheney's office in which White House officials discussed ways of striking back against Wilson's criticism of the administration's war effort. Karl Rove was also involved in the discussions.

The court document Fitzgerald filed in April did not name any other White House officials who were involved in the Wilson smear campaign, but it's well-known that Vice President Cheney, Libby and Rove led the effort. Rove told Novak that Plame worked at the CIA on July 8, 2003, the same day Armitage spoke to the columnist. Evidence has not been produced that proves Armitage spoke to Novak first."

Just wondering about whether or not this statement holds up??

I got nothin' on "AP wire." Nothing for "wire" either.

352 has Rove before the grand jury in February 2004 denying he had spoken with anyone at Time (but no source for the claim, as far as I can tell).

362 identifies June as the time when Cheney was questioned by Fitzgerald, though again that looks to be unsourced and may be sloppy use of published reports. Neither Bush nor Cheney was put under oath, they say; there's been some inconsistent reporting on that issue.

Eh, Tom? 366: Russert "would later tell colleagues that 'not one word' Libby had attributed to him was true." From an interview with Russert. I quibble with IC's description of Russert as a witness who "was about as credible as they come."

367 repeats even more emphatically the story about how Fitzgerald was sure Libby was Cooper's source until Cooper testified. I'm still a little skeptical about that. But if it's true, the clear implication would appear to be that Fitzgerald really didn't have the Rove-Hadley email at all until Rove handed it over in October 2004.

Wow. 373:

Cooper could have done the same with Rove [as he'd done with Libby] - and put the White House strategist in the same box. The magazine's editors and lawyers discussed this option, yet they chose not to pursue it - a decision that had the effect of protecting Rove and the president.

And Time intervened, almost certainly decisively, in the election of 2004. What a bunch of immoralists. Look at this:

Time Managing Editor Jim Kelly and other editors feared that any approach by Cooper could put the magazine in the position of influencing events. And Time didn't want to be in such a spot, especially during an election campaign.

Yes that is precisely what they did, influence events. They altered their behavior - the proof of that is their departure from pursuing the same conduct they just had with Libby - on account of political considerations, thereby influencing the course of political events. Of course, it would have influenced political events to act the same way with Rove as they had with Libby. But the point is that being non-political would have meant following the same course as they had with Libby. It's revoltingly lame conduct.

Katie

Rove has never committed to whether the conversation happened on the 8th or 9th (and there's a comment in the Hubris notes still dodging the question). Which suggests he may well be right--that Rove spoke to Novak first. It would ruin the claim that Rove just confirmed Armitage's story. So it would either ruin their overall story, or suggest there is a known prior source.

Jeff

I think some of those--particularly the Cheney story--may be just really sloppy reporting. There is reporting that Cheney testified EARLY in this, and the reports that he HAD testified (which all came out in June 2004) put no date to it. These guys clearly have an incomplete grasp of the details (even on some of their sourced reporting, I'm hearing), so I wouldn't take any detail that's not sourced as necessarily valid.

This book clearly shields Dick's involvement. But it also shields the culpability of reporters--even downplaying Judy's implication in all of this (and other reporting). All the more reason for one of us (hmm, okay, I'll do it) to write a book. The press clearly enabled BushCo in both the leak and the investigation stage. But rather than accepting culpability (Hey Mikey--why don't you mention that you were used in October 2003???), they bury it.

I don't know if this makes it worse or better, but the one way the book doesn't downplay the press' culpability is with regard to - surprise - the atrocious conduct of the competitor of Isikoff's employer.

EW -

But they don't consider whether the two names Judy wrote during interviews with Libby might be names she traveled under.

I've wonder about that, and its variants, myself. Val/Joe probably won't say anything about it for a couple of reasons.

Who knew? Dan Bartlett has a principle or two, and a conscience... If that anecdote about him in Hubris is true, my money just went on Bartlett as the #1 source of 1x2x6 fame.

Also, if Rove did in fact deny speaking to anyone at Time in front of the grand jury in February, 2004, that seems pretty conclusive evidence that the Viveca Novak conversation had yet to take place, seems to me (unless Rove just said he "didn't know"/"couldn't remember" if he'd spoken to a Time reporter). Because if Luskin had learned that Viveca knew back in October, 2003, Rove would have manufactured an extra little cover story to allow for the fact that Time gossip (at a minimum) might otherwise put him in jeopardy about a flat Cooper denial. In addition, they must have known that Hadley hadn't turned over the Cooper e-mail to Fitzgerald either, if a flat denial was given in February...

Yeah, the behavior of our vaunted "free press" in this affair is one of the blackest periods of its history, pretty much any way you look at it. Even with Hubris, the access these journalists had thanks to their day jobs was used not to break and report the news as it came to them, but was instead saved up for a personal profit-making book. Of course, their editors or corporate publishers may very well have refused them space for much of their reporting on this investigation, in which case I'm very glad that they took the time to put it all into a book instead.

Jeff

Yeah, when Matt Cooper (who definitely shares the blame) gets primary blame, and all the inaccuracies/changes in Novak's story are buried, that's pretty damning.

Though, actually, the Time/Cooper refusal to ask Rove is the only example where this was reported in the popular press. I need to look and see whether they even looked at the filings on the journalist subpoenas. In other words, they may blame Cooper because they could read about it in the press, rather than because they're suppressing the Russert shit having discovered it.

pow wow

There is another logical explanation. Libby said he was Cooper's source. So if Rove knew that, then he had two defenses already in place--the fact that Libby had taken the fall already for the Cooper leak, and the minimal (supposingly) likelihood that Cooper would have to testify. In February 2004, the only journalist who had testified (besides, Matthews and Mitchell getting interviewed by FBI) was Novak, and Rove was thrilled he had testified, since he was lying for him. He probably thought Cooper wouldn't testify, in which case he was safe.

377 - Emphatic confirmation that in February 2004 gj appearances Rove had outright denied talking to Cooper, as well as that Rove handed over the email to Hadley on the very day he testified before the grand jury in Ocober 2004 (the notes even say he turned it over during his appearance). No word on the important question of when Rove scheduled his grand jury appearance, before or after it was clear Cooper was going to testify.

Wow - if a flat Rove denial came in February, especially if Luskin had already spoken with Viveca and printed out the Cooper e-mail as a result, the only explanation left for that testimony by Rove is perjury, isn't it? A bad memory (then and later) would have hedged with 'I don't recall speaking to Cooper/Time' in testifying to the grand jury - but a cover story one was confident of on two fronts (Libby's lie and Cooper's "first amendment" refusal to testify firewall, not to mention the obstruction of withheld e-mail evidence) would be the only explanation left for a flat denial of the truth, as far as I can see. And if that is indeed what happened, Fitzgerald has had Rove in his sights for a long, long time.

According to Viveca Novak, in her story about Woodward's history with his then-secret source (Armitage), she reports: "Woodward said he had tried twice before, once in 2004 and once earlier this year, to persuade the source to remove the confidentiality restriction, but with no success."

But in Hubris (I'm getting this from TM, but I think it's a paraphrase), they report that "Woodward's approaches were cut off in the first sentence by Armitage with something like 'Don't go there or I'm hanging up'."

Can anyone shed some light on what Hubris actually says about this specific point? Because it would seem that Woodward's claim to V Novak is a tad off. In the Time story, Woodward makes it sound like Armitage was repeatedly reminded of their talks about Plame.

I wondering if this is a repeat of Woodward's performance with Pincus whereby Woodward thinks/claims he's made a clear point with someone else while that someone else says it's not the case.

Any thoughts about this? (Or did I miss this in the discussion above?)

OK, in fairness to V Novak, her reporting on this point is suitably vague and open to interpretation. Still, I'm wondering if Hubris has anymore than what TM wrote on this point.

Jim E

That's the point I made in the "Some Questions" post--Woodward's testimony contradicts that of other witnesses twice now.

I need to look at the details of Hubris. But first, I need to go use up a peck of perfect peaches.

Thanks.

(Hey, ever tried grilled peaches over vanilla ice cream? I use a little melted butter mixed with a lot of brown sugar and coat peach halves. I start skin side down for 3-4 minutes, spoon on some more stuff, then flip and grill for another 6 minutes with the lid down.)

Luskin's story about the Rove-Hadley email, which got Rove off the hook in October 2005, is even more unbelievable than I had thought. Luskin says the conversation with VNovak occurred in October 2003, and around that time he ordered Rove's aides to check Rove's computers for any emails containing a reference to Cooper or Time. It was only then that the Rove-Hadley email showed up (somehow it had been missed earlier). Luskin was given a folder by Rove's aides with emails in them, apparently by the end of November 2003.

But somehow Luskin missed the email until October 2004.

There's just no way.

How fat could that folder have been? How many emails? How could Luskin have missed it for almost a year?

This is maybe the part of the whole thing that makes me most straightforwardly depressed. Who knows what Luskin gets out of it - the death-defying glory of getting Public Enemy #1 off? Who knows. But if this story is anywhere near the truth, it is so patently impossible to believe, I can only imagine Luskin knew that the sheer audacity to pull off such a thing, complete with his own appearance as a witness under oath to Fitzgerald, would defy Fitzgerald: after all, how would it look if all of a sudden Fitzgerald indicted not just Rove but his lawyer too? That would look like an unfair effort to cut the rug of judicial fairness out from under Rove.

Plus of course VNovak was sure that the conversation with Luskin took place in 2004; though presumably her power as witness was somewhat undercut by the fact that she couldn't pin down just when in 2004 it happened.

If that's really the story, it's just amazing to me they got away with it. I guess it must speak to what a strong case Fitzgerald must think he has against Libby.

While we're whacking Isikoff, though he is happy to talk about his own role in breaking stories, there is no mention, as far as I saw, of what he was learning from other reporters and the White House about Woodward having a bombshell right before the indictment. Surely that is a relevant part of the story.

it does appear that we were right that the thing that triggered Woodward's confession to Downie about his source was learning that he did in fact share a source with Novak. (406)

I never get around to grilling peaches. I make the world's best pies (well, probably not, but last week I was told I made the best pie ever, and it was a fairly pedestrian one in my book). So they never get to the fire.

This one won't be so good because the pipe just backed up, and it's hard to make good pie when you have no running water.

Sorry, too much for me to look through just now, but the July 2005 1x2x6 reference was:

But in late September, a senior White House official was quoted as telling The Post at least six reporters had been told of Plame before Novak's column, "purely and simply out of revenge."

Hmm - that is how he was quoted all right. Very weird non-correction.

Anyway, in related news Captain Ed is hosting converted .pdf files for the new Senate report - these have been converted to text so they can be can be searched and copy/pasted.

Off topic, but hey, I can't help myself. Given the prominence Corn gives Mylroie, it fun to go back and read this Peter Bergen Dec. 2003 piece.

Walton says jury selection starts January 16. Motions in limine regarding any evidentiary issues due October 26.

OT also, but David Sanger's piece about Cheney's loss of power has this:

Without the help of his closest adviser, I. Lewis Libby Jr., who resigned last fall after his indictment in the Central Intelligence Agency leak case, Mr. Cheney has lost the early warning radar that gave him and his staff such command over the federal bureaucracy. Administration insiders said Mr. Cheney and his aides were now having to fight to maintain positions that a few years ago he would have won handily.

So we have Pat Fitzgerald to thank for that!

Thanks Jeff.

I guess I'd better get busy.

This is news: 259: "Powell later recalled sharing the memo with Rice."

Hallelujah! One of my theories (which has taken on so much water folks don't even know it *is* my theory) is that Condi Rice's embarrassment on the June 8 talk shows (with her comment about the Wilson report circulating in the "bowels of the agency") led her to pound the table and demand answers about "Who is Joe Wilson?"

Yet she is the Invisible Woman in this Plame story - kind of odd for the NS Advisor.

Well, if Powell showed or shared the memo with her, that is a whiff of oxygen for me - that'll hold me through the winter, I'm sure.

Later, Miller would say - somewhat improbably - that she didn't believe the "Valerie Flame" information had come from Libby, although the entry was in the same notebook as her notes from the Libby meeting. She claimed she had heard the "Valerie Flame" name from another source. She couldn't, however, recall who that source was.

So help me out - she heard "Flame" from Libby but is lying because it connects him too closely to the Novak column? I suppose.

My *guess* - she got "Flame" from wherever Mitchell got "operatives", which might be where Novak got "Plame". I think there are sources Fitzgerald did not uncover.

In toto - I am reasonably confident that Fitzgerald missed sources, and reasonably confident these folks aren't wholly credible.

This is, of course, Harlow's version. But the clear import is that while Plame would not be stationed overseas on an indefinite or lengthy assignment, she would be traveling overseas for CIA work and that and other agency business would be "difficult" if she were exposed.

I had a friend in the Justice Dept (years ago) who was advised to carry two passports - the cool Government Employee Diplo Immunity one, and a generic US citizen one - the latter was in case he was part of a hijacking or kidnapping and didn't want to become a priority victim/hostage. Traveling overseas as a known CIA officer is risky, whatever your job function - people don't universally like/admire the CIA. Harlow did a miserable job here.

Btw, there is some place they say the Novak column was on the wire on July 11, though I didn't check to see whether that was sourced to Steno Sue or not.

I don't have a link handy to the July 11 "on the wires" date but - a careful reader (even a casual one who is looking for it) can tell the Novak column was written *before* the Tenet statement came out late Friday. For example, here is the third paragraph:

Reluctance at the White House to admit a mistake has led Democrats ever closer to saying the president lied the country into war. Even after a belated admission of error last Monday, finger-pointing between Bush administration agencies continued. Messages between Washington and the presidential entourage traveling in Africa hashed over the mission to Niger.

That Monday walk-back is stale - where is the Tenet news?

298: We've already heard this from Corn, but it's worth a repeat. Rove told Matthews the Wilsons "were trying to screw the White House so the White House was going to screw them back." Ah, honor and dignity.

But are they quoting Rove, or Matthews paraphrasing Rove? In the next paragraph, Matthews precedes the "fair game" line with "And I quote".

Its a nit-pick - clearly Rove was telling the host of Hardball that he played hardball, too, regardless of how decorous his language might have been.

So much for the idea that the investigation bought the purported Wilson-Corn "White House revenge alone" theory from the outset, eh Tom?

OK, they waited until Day Two. But seriously, all these suspicious phone calls amongst Armitage, Powell, and Duberstein, Armitage not remembering how he learned aboot Plame (p. 327) despite being asked about the INR memos, the non-disclosure of Woodward - geez, what would non-cooperation look like?

Which suggest they bought the WH Revenge theory and ignored the State Dept Screw-up Cover Up theory (which I have not fully developed, but I'm sure it will be compelling.)

More in the eh, Tom? category. According to 333, in his initial interview with Eckenrode on October 14, Libby didn't mention his conversation with Cheney.

Well, I am not going to start defending Libby now - I never liked his story and I hate his attitude and his lawyer.

The guy had a notebook, for heaven's sake - what happened to "I don't recall but I will attempt to refresh my memory with my notes, that is why I keep them"? What happened to reviewing the notes before giving testimony?

Judy Miller was a model witness (from her lawyer's prespective) - if her mother's name was not in a notebook Judy would not have remembered it, for a grand jury anyway. Libby was, at a minimum, an arrogant fool with a miserable cover story (if he was covering up, WTF happened to "I forget"? Instead, he comes up with a story that looks like a stupid cover-up - brilliant.)

That said - I have always wondered when he 'fessed up to the notebook content, so this is good.

Bartlett would have learned about what transpired while he was gone from Levine (if not from more general discussions). And here he is, suggesting the Plame leak was stupid. And, he would fit all the known descriptions of 1X2X6.

Love this game. Is a consensus emerging that The One was in the WH press office - someone who could deliver a body count (Why Six - lucky guess?) and have an opinion about motive and results (The One talked about how the Plame leak was ineffective, not so much about how it was wrong).

Eh, Tom? 366: Russert "would later tell colleagues that 'not one word' Libby had attributed to him was true."

Russert has stuck to his story and NBC has stuck to him. I'm sticking to mine - Mitchell knew, and told him. Prove that, and whether he actually told Libby is irrelevant - his cred will be gone. Which is one reason NBC won't let that be proven, but I can sit here and guess.

Yes that is precisely what [TIME] did, influence events. They altered their behavior - the proof of that is their departure from pursuing the same conduct they just had with Libby

Well, maybe standard corporate procedure is to cooperate with prosecutors in off-years and stone-wall in election years. Maybe there is even a memo explaining that.

Otherwise, TIME are jokes (my quick reax).

That said, would TIME have been willing to have Cooper testify and then STFU? Unlike Pincus or Novak, Cooper did not exactly distinguish between permission to testify and permission to try for a TIME cover story following his testimony - he nearly had a heart attack running from the courtroom battle to protect his source over to Meet The Press to talk about his source.

And if Cooper had testified and shut up, would Fitzgerald have handed down indictments that fall? Would Judy have cooperated? TIME will not tell.

Rove has never committed to whether the conversation happened on the 8th or 9th

Wouldn't phone records show time *and duration* of calls (even through the WH Switchboard)? If the call on the 8th was one minute (of phone tag) and the 9th was twenty minutes, what was Fitzgerald supposed to do?

Of course, their editors or corporate publishers may very well have refused them space for much of their reporting on this investigation, in which case I'm very glad that they took the time to put it all into a book instead.

Grr - these guys were saying "wait for the book" when asked about Armitage last June (Isikoff on Matthews). I bet that was newsworthy - they thought so at hype-time.

Oh, well - it is because there are ways to capitalize the value of information that folks devote resources to acquiring it.

Can anyone shed some light on what Hubris actually says about this specific point? Because it would seem that Woodward's claim to V Novak is a tad off. In the Time story, Woodward makes it sound like Armitage was repeatedly reminded of their talks about Plame.

Well, the TIME story says that "Woodward said he had tried twice before, once in 2004 and once earlier this year, to persuade the source to remove the confidentiality restriction, but with no success".

It does not say how hard he tried.

From the book:

Each time Woodward brought up the subject, the reporter later said, his source had quickly cut hinm off after one sentence. Woodward had asked questions along the lines of "What about the Fitzgerald investigation? I heard you testified before the grand jury". But the response from his source, he said, was abrupt: "It was, Boom. End of conversation. Not going there."

So, what did Woodward remind him of, really, if he only got one sentence like that out?

Is there a prize for longest comment ever?

Tom

It's kind of hard to beat Jeff and me for longest comment. But welcome to the club!!

Later, Miller would say - somewhat improbably - that she didn't believe the "Valerie Flame" information had come from Libby, although the entry was in the same notebook as her notes from the Libby meeting. She claimed she had heard the "Valerie Flame" name from another source. She couldn't, however, recall who that source was.

So help me out - she heard "Flame" from Libby but is lying because it connects him too closely to the Novak column? I suppose.

My *guess* - she got "Flame" from wherever Mitchell got "operatives", which might be where Novak got "Plame". I think there are sources Fitzgerald did not uncover.

The NYT and Judy Miller explained that, when Libby "cleared" Judy to testify if she would exonerate him in Fall 2004, she decided that because she had the names in her notebook, she couldn't testify as he wanted her too. She strongly implies there (but not so she'd be held to it in a court of law) that Libby gave those to her.

Btw, there is some place they say the Novak column was on the wire on July 11, though I didn't check to see whether that was sourced to Steno Sue or not.

I don't have a link handy to the July 11 "on the wires" date but - a careful reader (even a casual one who is looking for it) can tell the Novak column was written *before* the Tenet statement came out late Friday. For example, here is the third paragraph:

It's not a question, for me, whether it was written before the Tenet statement. It's a question of timing wrt the Rove-Libby conversation (and, if you believe Jeffress' Freudian slips, a second Libby-Novak conversation).

So much for the idea that the investigation bought the purported Wilson-Corn "White House revenge alone" theory from the outset, eh Tom?

OK, they waited until Day Two. But seriously, all these suspicious phone calls amongst Armitage, Powell, and Duberstein, Armitage not remembering how he learned aboot Plame (p. 327) despite being asked about the INR memos, the non-disclosure of Woodward - geez, what would non-cooperation look like?

Non-cooperation might look like not coming forward, even though every journalist in town believed you had a role in the leak. Non-cooperation might look like talking to a journalist you had been known to leak to--with damage--but then not come foward. Non-cooperation might look like not turning over relevant emails based on the claim they weren't in your possession. Non-cooperation might look like telling one story on October 14 which is blatantly proven false when DOJ receives your notes. Non-cooperation might look like not revealing how you learned the information for over two years, and then kind of half-assed.

You see, everything Armitage did, Rove and/or Libby did, but much worse.

Claims that DOJ should have investigated Armitage more aggressively (though we don't know how hard they did) all rely on Armitage's non-revelation of the Woodward leak. But you have yet to explain why Fitz also didn't check into all contacts Rove and Libby had with journalists (the July 2 reporter, Cooper?) either. In short--DOJ appears to have investigated Armitage as aggressively as they did Libby and ROve. THe difference is that with Armitage, his story started to cohere. Rove's and Libby's just kept getting worse.

More in the eh, Tom? category. According to 333, in his initial interview with Eckenrode on October 14, Libby didn't mention his conversation with Cheney.

Well, I am not going to start defending Libby now - I never liked his story and I hate his attitude and his lawyer.

The guy had a notebook, for heaven's sake - what happened to "I don't recall but I will attempt to refresh my memory with my notes, that is why I keep them"? What happened to reviewing the notes before giving testimony?

One of the greatest untold stories of this case is how Libby went from testifying as if his notebooks would never be turned over (thus the Russert lie) to having to backtrack immediately when they were. Did someone turn over Libby's notes for him?

Bartlett would have learned about what transpired while he was gone from Levine (if not from more general discussions). And here he is, suggesting the Plame leak was stupid. And, he would fit all the known descriptions of 1X2X6.

Love this game. Is a consensus emerging that The One was in the WH press office - someone who could deliver a body count (Why Six - lucky guess?) and have an opinion about motive and results (The One talked about how the Plame leak was ineffective, not so much about how it was wrong).

I'll probably continue changing my vote on this about every three hours. But I gotta say, Bartlett sure looks like a great candidate from Hubris.

Eh, Tom? 366: Russert "would later tell colleagues that 'not one word' Libby had attributed to him was true."

Russert has stuck to his story and NBC has stuck to him. I'm sticking to mine - Mitchell knew, and told him. Prove that, and whether he actually told Libby is irrelevant - his cred will be gone. Which is one reason NBC won't let that be proven, but I can sit here and guess.

Andrea Mitchell is almost certainly one of the journalists whose name is redacted in the main journalist filing. I don't doubt she knows, but they very likely have a clear idea when she learned it. If it was after the July 10 conversation, it doesn't matter.

Rove has never committed to whether the conversation happened on the 8th or 9th

Wouldn't phone records show time *and duration* of calls (even through the WH Switchboard)? If the call on the 8th was one minute (of phone tag) and the 9th was twenty minutes, what was Fitzgerald supposed to do?

Unless they met on a street corner, as ROve is apparently wont to do.

Tom

Thanks for all the responses. emptywheel got to most of them. I want to just reemphasize this, because it is so nicely put and because it is the real Armitage news coming out of Hubris (unlike the identification of Armitage as Woodward's and one of Novak's sources):

In short--DOJ appears to have investigated Armitage as aggressively as they did Libby and ROve. THe difference is that with Armitage, his story started to cohere. Rove's and Libby's just kept getting worse.

I would only add that all that talk of Armitage cooperating has come from Team Armitage, and Isikoff and Corn make it sound like from start to finish, investigators kept him under suspicion. Yes, I remain puzzled he wasn't charged with obstruction-type charges. But I remain puzzled that Rove wasn't either - even more puzzled.

But as for this:

Well, I am not going to start defending Libby now

Oh please. Not only would this be more credible if you spent as much time disputing the zany and zanier defenses of Libby ("He was describing his state of mind of lying, not lying!" "His story is too accurate, a cast of thousands of others are lying, all part of the MSM-State-France-CIA-Democratic Hate American Cabal!" and so on) one finds one the right and at JOM in particular, but surely you know that your "Libby's story is so stupid it can't be a serious effort at cover-up" is a defense.

And again, Libby's story is completely coherent, and even with its voluble lies draws fire to himself rather than his boss over a rather long period of time, and perhaps forever.

Plus there is the question emptywheel raises: just how did the investigation get its hands on Libby's notes, and what were Libby's expectations with regard to what they would find? Because take out the discovery that Cheney told Libby Plame worked in the clandestine section of the CIA, and Libby's gregarious cover story suddenly looks a lot less high-risk.

With regard to Miller, I don't doubt that at some point she had other sources, and Fitzgerald did not get to them. But at you say, she admitted the bare minimum she needed to, given her notes. That served to protect Libby quite well, I suspect kept him from being charged with underlying crimes, which is not bad, all things considered.

emptywheel

Remember, as far as Fitzgerald knows, Mitchell did not know about Plame before Novak's column.

I've got a question related to Robert Grenier. Pretty much all the info we have on him regarding his role in 2003, apart from the role he apparently plays telling Libby about Plame on June 11 2003, comes from a Washington Post article when he was fired or whatever back in February. (There's also an NPR interview with him earlier this year, but it's not really about him per se.) Grenier was head of the Iraq Issues Group around that time. But what was the Iraq Issues Group? What about its relationship to the Iraq Operations Group? And what about its relation to the Joint Task Force on Iraq that Plame was apparently involved in at CPD? Anybody got anything on the Iraq Issues Group?

A note about Andrea Mitchell. Andrea mitchell was the person reporting on the t.v the night that my first thought of a bush conspiracy, (to out plame) came to mind. She said something in her reporting that planted the seed that there was a conpiracy and that the conspiracy could "quite possibly" go all the way to the top of this administration. It was very early on. The odd thing was, in retrospect, that she never uttered another peice of info that was new or interesting in regard to this story. I carefully watched her interviews looking for nuances because my gut was that she knew so much more, and she had told it to me in vague terms. It drove me crazy because she never said another word about it. She wasn't reporting that she was one of the reporters and I know I just thought she had gotten the leak. I don't think she referred to her part in it at all.

Did anyone else have that experience?? Anyone else have Andrea Mitchell's words make them start wondering about a conpiracy?? Anyone else have the feeling from the beginning that she would deliver the news (and then find themselves totally disappointed???). I did. It seems it would have been around the late summer/fall of october 03. It seems it was during the time that the ashcroft controversy was in the news. It made me really look to that story because I knew that if ashcroft did not recluse himself, we would never hear the truth. I have tried to google searches to uncover what exactly that she said that night, but didn't invest as much time and energy as I could have. But I was that curious about what she had said, and when she said it.

TM wrote: "Well, I am not going to start defending Libby now."

Geez, that's the second time this weekend you've said some such thing (over here, anyways).

There's some commenters on a website ... er, what's it called? ... what is that website that spends a little time on Plame-related happenings called? ... Umm, oh yeah: there's some folks at a website called JustOneMinute whose heads would collectively explode if you were a little more explicit in your alleged non-defense (*cough*) and dislike of Libby. Hell, even Libby's lawyer has obtained sainthood in your site's comment threads, so your "hate" for him would probably go over like a lead balloon over there, too.

Jeff

As you know, I strongly suspect that Mitchell got told some more details on Plame on July 16, when sitting next to Dick at Ford's birthday party (the sitting next to is speculation). Which would explain her later comments and the reason the FBI interviewed her, but also why she is not included in the 5 journalists. But she may have been encouraged to ask Armitage about the reason for the trip, without having been told about it--we know she was calling Armitage during leak week. But my point to Tom was just that--while she may have had info, it almost certainly won't affect Russert's credibility.

A stray thought as I run out (soory if it is off topic): How did the One know about Pincus when he leaked on Sept 27? There was a hint of a Pincus leak around Sept 30 (IIRC), and a revelation on Oct 12.

Seems to support Pincus' modified claim of a White House source.

Further it makes a press office source for Pincus more likely (since *that* they would know about, if Bartlett/levine is The One).

I still like Ari Flesicher for Pincus, so I like this notion.

I'm not sure One DID know about Pincus. The October 12 story introduces Pincus as he gets added to the byline. Yet there's no confirmation that Pincus is one of the 6 from One in that article (or in the first 1X2X6 article). So once you add in a bunch of post-Novak column converstations, you could probably get to six pretty quickly.

One of the greatest untold stories of this case is how Libby went from testifying as if his notebooks would never be turned over (thus the Russert lie) to having to backtrack immediately when they were. Did someone turn over Libby's notes for him?

I thought the one unambiguous Clinton-Whitewater legacy was that notes can be subpoenaed - Libby had to know that.

Maybe the investigators took a special dislike to Libby because he was too arrogant to even invent a plausible story. That had to be a slap to their intelligence and pride.

Well, I am not going to start defending Libby now

Oh please.

Well, obviously I defend Libby a bit... I don't think he and Cheney orchestrated some grand "Revenge on Wilson" by deliberately outing his known-to-be-covert wife. But I think he cobbled together a story to cover his NIE leak and Plame leak, one of which he had known to be classified when he did it (esp. Libby-Woodward-NIE). So I think he is in obvious trouble on the specific charges. But I still can't figure why, if this was a plan, it was such a bad one.

Because take out the discovery that Cheney told Libby Plame worked in the clandestine section of the CIA, and Libby's gregarious cover story suddenly looks a lot less high-risk.

Well, yes, if you also take out Grossman, Grenier, the CIA briefer, Addington, Martin, Fleischer, and Judy Miller. Did he really think none of those folks would remember (or are they all mis-remembering?

I have tried to google searches to uncover what exactly that she said that night, but didn't invest as much time and energy as I could have.

For date-specific searches, Lexis al la Carte is great, and the searches are free and do not even require registration (unless I have acookie I don't know about); results cost $3 each, but sometimes the Lexis result can be piggy-backed into a very specific Google search.

there's some folks at a website called JustOneMinute whose heads would collectively explode if you were a little more explicit in your alleged non-defense (*cough*) and dislike of Libby.

It is Libby's story I dislike; as to the reaction at JOM, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" is a widely observed unwritten rule at my site - e.g., let me know the next time you see a post where I sing Bush's praises.

Hell, even Libby's lawyer has obtained sainthood in your site's comment threads, so your "hate" for him would probably go over like a lead balloon over there, too.

So now I "hate" everyone I don't defend? Who knew I was so bi-polar. Anyway, I think there are lots of reasons and ways to defend Libby. I also think his particular story is, hmm, not fully truthful, but I don't think the real truth would be particularly damning.

But my point to Tom was just that--while [Andrea Mitchell] may have had info, it almost certainly won't affect Russert's credibility.

Well, Andrea had the story about the misplaced INR dissent in the NIE back in June 2003 (and as best I can tell, she had it first.) That tells me she was working the Iraq-nuclear story and probably had good INR/State contacts (Gee, she covered State, go figure.)

She also interviewed Wilson on MTP on July 6.

So she was working "that" story (Iraq-nukes segues pretty quickly to "Who is Joe Wilson?") in June with State Dept contacts and by July 20 had a public spat with Armitage, who was no longer returning her calls.

If she found out about Ms. Plame before July 10 I would not be surprised. But I would be thrilled just to see her get grilled on this (every other time she has been asked, she has delivered a comedy classic).

TM wrote: "So now I 'hate' everyone I don't defend? Who knew I was so bi-polar."

Relax, TM. Just pointing that your own regulars--and probably Instapundit--don't know your actual views about things you write a lot about. Mildly peculiar, that's all.

Besides, if I misinterpreted your words earlier, I don't think it's my fault. Not sure what I got wrong from what you wrote: "I hate his [Libby] attitude and his lawyer." Uf cors, I gess I doe-nt reed gud.

I don't think he and Cheney orchestrated some grand "Revenge on Wilson" by deliberately outing his known-to-be-covert wife.

Well, how about: Cheney and Libby devised and sought to carry out a non-grand plan to get in the public realm the fact that Wilson was literally and figuratively sleeping with the enemy in the battle between the White House and the CIA - and both either knew Plame was under cover or knew enough (specifically, that she worked in CPD in the DO) to know not to ask. The key element of the plan was leaking the fact that Plame was CIA to Miller, encouraging her to report on and publish such information in the vaunted New York Times.

As for Libby's story, it was probably part desperation - he probably knew he risked losing his security clearance, tantamount to losing his job, so he had to source it to reporters - and part banking on the investigation getting buried, as it looked like it would in fall 2003, so that investigators would never get to those CIA folks or even State folks, much less the reporters. Plus, of course, insulate Cheney to the degree possible, and defer things as long as possible in any case - as worked. As for Libby's notes, I have no idea what happened. Maybe they're written in a kind of code - which would explain how, on the one hand, Woodward could write in his book that Libby was a very neat writer and how, on the other, Fitzgerald could refer to his writing as a kind of hieroglyphics which it takes work to decipher - Libby figured investigators wouldn't or woulnd't bother to figure out. I'm half serious at most, but who knows. Maybe the damning note for June 11 or thereabouts read: BFFTMVPWWCPD and he figured they'd never know that meant Cheney had told him that Valerie Plame, Wilson's wife, worked at CPD.

I hate his lawyer? If I wasn't re-reading it myself, I would never have believed that I said that.

The relevant bit was this:

I never liked his story and I hate his attitude and his lawyer.

The guy had a notebook, for heaven's sake - what happened to "I don't recall but I will attempt to refresh my memory with my notes, that is why I keep them"? What happened to reviewing the notes before giving testimony?

What I "hate" about his lawyer (in that passage, for which I am now pleading hyperbole) is the idea that someone let Libby testify without reviewing his notes first - that looks like amateur hour (although Libby is a high-priced lawyer himself, so maybe his lawyers had a fool for a client). But by and large, I think his team has delivered good value.

Well, how about: Cheney and Libby devised and sought to carry out a non-grand plan to get in the public realm the fact that Wilson was literally and figuratively sleeping with the enemy in the battle between the White House and the CIA - and both either knew Plame was under cover or knew enough (specifically, that she worked in CPD in the DO) to know not to ask.

Knowing not to ask is hard to skate around, but unless Libby (or someone) told Rove, that actually makes Rove look better (as Libby's dupe) and Libby look worse (tricking poor Karl).

As to Cheney, he should not have needed to say to his chief of staff "Don't break the law" - I just don't see Cheney as conspiring in any meaningful way (asking questions and wondering about Wilson is not "conspiring" to punish him or anything else).

And Libby? Here we go (and this is not bad for a non-defense): Think about Joe Wilson's curious behavior whenhe learned about Novak from 'Sidewalk Guy' on July 8 - he called Eason Jordan and traded calls with Novak until July 10, but only on July 10 did he warn his wife. His excuse the whole time? He assumed the CIA press office would handle it.

OK, I happen to think that is BS - if my wife's work and the lives of her and my kids were at risk, I would never spend two days keeping it from her and "assuming" anything about the press office. However, Libby can spend the other side of that same coin - he leaked info whose status he did not know to a big-time reporter with an on-again, off-again security clearance who dealt with classified info all the time.

So if Wilson can asssume that the CIA press office had it covered, maybe Libby can, too - my notion is that his "plan" was that he did not know himself what Ms. Plame's status was, but if it was sensitive, Judy would find out and not publish it. One might argue that the experience Dickerson had in Africa had the same motivation - sort of, "We don't know what her status is, why don't *you* figure it out?"

And someone (Pincus, IIRC) eventually pointed out that the goal (of his source, anyway) was to *end* the Wilson stories, not create new ones; e.g., if Cooper had never mentioned Wilson, Rove might have figured "Mission Accomplished". I think Libby would have been satisified if the press had covered Wilson a bit more skeptically and never mentioned the wife at all.

I also take pretty seriously the notion that Libby figured "anti-neocon" equaled "anti-Semite", so he had his own grudge with Wilson. That makes his "I Forgot" story even less plausible, but makes a "Lone Gunman", rather than a Grand Conspiracy, more plausible. (Are we looking for the word "Neo-conspiracy"? "Neo-conspirators"? Google tells me that those words had been coined already.)

Anyway, I think Libby was sloppy with info the status of which he should have checked, but I don't think he knew she had classified status and didn't intend to "punish" Joe by ruining his wife's career - he thought she was a legitimate part of the story, as a sign of Joe's partiality and as an answer to "Who sent Wilson if it was not Cheney?"

But it is easy to believe he felt guilty about something, or why the weird story? But his NIE story was also weird, so I don't know. And two CIA guys knew of his interest in Ms. Plame without warning him off - what does that mean?

unless Libby (or someone) told Rove, that actually makes Rove look better (as Libby's dupe) and Libby look worse (tricking poor Karl).

Yes, and?

I just don't see Cheney as conspiring in any meaningful way (asking questions and wondering about Wilson is not "conspiring" to punish him or anything else).

The key phrase is, "Get it out" and variations thereof. Look at Libby's testimony. Compare almost all the reports of what Bush told Cheney with regard to the NIE and, perhaps, with regard to Wilson. That is the official story, anyway. It's called plausible deniability. Compare Libby's notes, as reported by Fitzgerald in one of the hearings, "Tell . . . Miller." (Fitzgerald, according to the transcript, inserted "me" between those two words, but I think that was just misspeaking, or was misheard by the court reporter.)

my notion is that his "plan" was that he did not know himself what Ms. Plame's status was, but if it was sensitive, Judy would find out and not publish it. One might argue that the experience Dickerson had in Africa had the same motivation - sort of, "We don't know what her status is, why don't *you* figure it out?"

The trouble with this account is that 1)if Libby gave enough thought to the issue to figure that Judy would find out if her status were sensitive, you've pretty much implied my own above account - that Libby knew well enough not to ask, which he could have and should have; 2)you don't know Judy (and this addresses any concern one might have about the CIA press office intervening); 3)Libby raised Plame with her three times; 4)immediately after the meeting with Miller on July 8, Libby was asking Addington what evidence there would be if a CIA spouse was involved in sending her spouse on a mission; 5)the non-parallelism with Dickerson with Fleischer and Bartlett in Africa is that they did not identify the wife as involved at all.

And someone (Pincus, IIRC) eventually pointed out that the goal (of his source, anyway) was to *end* the Wilson stories, not create new ones; e.g., if Cooper had never mentioned Wilson, Rove might have figured "Mission Accomplished". I think Libby would have been satisified if the press had covered Wilson a bit more skeptically and never mentioned the wife at all.

Yes, but now I think you're not paying close enough attention to my theory - the non-grand conspiracy was on the part of Cheney and Libby specifically to target Miller for Plame info. Of course OVP was not going to try to use Pincus - not exactly a friendly reporter, you know? - to launder the Wilson-Plame connection. Given Pincus' perspective, the smartest thing would be to try to get him to stop writing about Wilson as much as possible. Does the same go for Cooper? Unclear, and that may have changed once Rove told Libby (if he did) that he'd said too much to Cooper. Also, Cooper was new to the job; maybe Rove hadn't gotten a bead on him and his Dem strategist wife, maybe he had. Back to Pincus: it makes perfect sense that Libby wouldn't mention anything about Plame to Pincus; he'd sensibly judge that Pincus would pick up on it much the way Cooper did. Unless it turns out that Cheney is Pincus' source, which I sort of doubt these days, remember that Pincus' source couldn't even get the hit-job talking points straight, and implied that the White House knew all along about Wilson's mission and its results, ignoring them because of the nepotism dimension. Now that's off message.

I also take pretty seriously the notion that Libby figured "anti-neocon" equaled "anti-Semite", so he had his own grudge with Wilson.

Sure, and I suspect the same can be said about the aged ball of rage and resentment who goes by the name Martin Peretz, who joined the Libby 5 Million Dollar Defense Team and who dedicated his first substantive post of his new, hilariously named blog to attacking the Wilsons with as few facts as possible. It may well be that Libby started off acting on his own - specifically the June 23 cover-blowing with Miller - and then let Cheney in on it, and the went from there, for instance.

Anyway, I think Libby was sloppy with info the status of which he should have checked, but I don't think he knew she had classified status and didn't intend to "punish" Joe by ruining his wife's career - he thought she was a legitimate part of the story, as a sign of Joe's partiality and as an answer to "Who sent Wilson if it was not Cheney?"

It seems to me you are a little bit falling into a trap I find most of your commenters do, painting the options too much in black and white, as though thinking she was a legitimate part of the story is inconsistent with punishing Wilson. I agree with Fitzgerald that it can certainly be both. (Moreover, it's not at all clear to me that even if Libby was acting solely because he thought she was a legitimate part of the story, doing what he did wouldn't have been a major legal, to say nothing of moral, problem.) And again, the very idea that he gave as much thought to it as you suggest belies the idea that he was being sloppy. Plus, by all accounts I am aware of of Scooter, at least before he got into such trouble and people started looking for excuses, Libby is the furthest thing from sloppy. He is a precisionist, meticulous, detailed, on top of everything.

I should mention, by the way, that even if Fitzgerald is completely convinced that Libby's fundamental motive for lying was to protect Cheney, I doubt we'll be hearing much about it at Libby's trial. It's too much of an opening for Team Libby: Libby had the worst boss in the world, who everybody hates, so can you blame him for anything really?

And two CIA guys knew of his interest in Ms. Plame without warning him off - what does that mean?

That those two CIA guys took it for granted that Libby would ask responsibly and didn't need to be warned off?

Such a presumption, of course, can no longer hold. Is that damaging or beneficial to national security? A good question.

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