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October 23, 2006


The more obvious conclusion is that Woodward is protecting Woodward. I have not read "State of Denial", but my impression is that the book is his attempt to recover his reputation as a reporter. The only way to make sense out of his current narrative is to read it as a revision of the narrative of his previous two Bush books. Of course, he's expecting readers who share the Washington press corps attitude of "today's narrative is the way it's always been" (e.g., Bush can get away with saying "stay the course" has never been our strategy).

Perhaps--but it does more than that. How does completely muddling a fairly well-known (and if not well-known, then easily accessible) timeline help Woodward's reputation as a journalist.

Perhaps Woodward games on the lack of engagement of most every journalist who has somewhat covered this story to indeed timeline it themselves. Rather than put this version out there to preserve his historical image, he's still counting on it to revise history to become the new timeline. There's been so little treatment of this Woodward passage in the book by reviewers, it reads more like filler that he was tossing in than substantive media candy he was hoping would sell the book. He treats it like yesterday's garbage, to me another indication that he never really got the importance of this chapter.

It seems to me like Card is Woodward's big source. Is there any way fudging the timing could benefit Card?

Have any of your people ever gone back and corrected/altered/changed/deleted/added to your planner, your calender, your timeline.

I do it quite a bit as I realize things a few days later, and add tibits, etc.

These things are not sacred.


But if you have time and presence of mind...

1. I was puzzled by Woodward's description of what happened the weekend of July 5-6, and I do wonder whether he just got some of the timing wrong, especially given the weird reference to Rice being in Africa. Given that Tenet's July 11 statement was clearly put out sooner than anyone anticipated - consider, for instance, the fact that Novak's July 14 column clearly does not report on it, and probably was finished earlier in the day on July 11 - I wonder whether Woodward got his weekends mixed up. Thus, the plan during the week of July 7-12 would have been for them to finalize a Tenet statement over the weekend of the 12-13th for release on July 14. (As a sidenote, Novak may have intended his column to complement, so to speak, such a statement.)

2. That said, Libby in his filings is clearly pushing the idea that there were extensive discussions between the White House, CIA and OVP that culminated in Tenet's statement, which may of course be efforts to make it sound like all the discussions were geared in a direction they were not in fact. But Fitzgerald has acknowledged that there were drafts floating around OVP of Tenet's statement. So whatever else is the case, that NYT report of what the CIA was saying is wrong. Libby did have input on Tenet's statement. My suspicion is that there is a lot of parsing going on, with regard to what counted as a draft of the statement and that sort of thing. For instance, maybe Tenet's people began drafting a statement on July 9; but maybe they'd already been given a statement by the White House, and they just worked up their own, taking that one into some account.

3. I was floored by Woodward's disclosure that Tenet had intelligence from Sabri or someone in the Iraqi government that there was nothing to the Niger story, and I tried to ask Woodward about it during last week's online discussion at the WaPo. But instead he took hard-hitting questions like, Have you been back to the garage in person? I kid you not.

4. I would guess that the conversation between Tenet and Card, where Tenet told Card about the CIA-to-White House memos for the Cincinnati speech, happened pretty late in the game, like around the 19th, since I doubt Bartlett would have had the press conference he did on the 18th, only to turn around for the one of the 22nd with Hadley, if they'd heard from Card what the CIA had on them. And on the 22nd, the official White House story was that Gerson had found one of the memos in his files over the weekend. So that may be strictly speaking true, but it may have only been after prompting from Tenet via Card. polly and I hashed this out a little at the bottom of this thread.


I wonder how the declassification of the NIE aligns with this. Obviously, OVP's intent was just to declassify the parts of the NIE that helped them. But because of the revelations before and during teh week of 7/7, they end up having to declassify the INR and DOE dissents, which is pretty damning. Was that something CIA forced (not that it helped CIA much). Or was it something that State forced?

Given these somewhat competing stories, I'd also like to return to one of the most curious comments in the original Novak article:

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.

First, Novak only mentions DC and Africa, not Idaho (though that's not a big deal). But it's doubtful his source for this is Harlow--I've always assumed it was either Rove (likely, because it's so insider baseball, it's more likely Rove would share it) or Armi (which would say State was involved in the debates). But mostly, I've been curious why Novak included it.

After a second read through of this post, I've altered my view a bit. Woodward's account has deceptions far more serious than the timeline. First, the idea that low-level CIA people believed the Niger story while upper management was sceptical is laughable on its face. Woodward is heavily invested in the "Clash of the Titans" approach to history. All of his books focus on the interplay of larger than life "serious thinkers" competing to set national policy which is then implemented by lower-level "men of action".

The slow grind of actual policy-making, the blundering of incompetent leaders, and the principled stands of people like Joe Wilson just don't have any real place in his narratives. I think he screws up the timeline simply because it is not important to him. The actual order of events, the centrality of the Wilson op-ed, and the total falsity of the Niger claims aren't really meaningful to Woodward. He's more than willing to blur all that so he can get to what's really important, Rice giving Tenet the shiv and Tenet striking back.


Interesting perspective. Though I think the lower level/higher level stuff is code for "WINPAC the shills" and "the rest of the credible intelligence community."


I don't think there are very many people who would read it that way, outside of the folks on this board. I think it is pretty funny the way Woodward implies that Sabri was the reason Tenet was sceptical. The NBC reports on Sabri had it the other way. The CIA was sceptical of Sabri because he didn't back the Agency's (or Adminstration's) view of Iraq's nuclear program.


My sense is this: the formal declassification process would have to culminate in a decision by the head of the relevant agency, and I take that to have been Tenet, at the time, since the NIE is produced by the NIC, which at the time fell under his umbrella, if I'm not mistaken. State may have had input, but I think the decision would be made by Tenet (though again that could be incorrect). Hadley was involved, we know, and Libby talked with Hadley about it, apparently in the days following July 8. Novak's column also obviously shows awareness about the White House effort to have the CIA declassify the report based on Wilson's trip, which seems to have been part of the same effort.

I have always thought that Tenet, perhaps with prodding from State, perhaps not, would have wanted to get the dissents and that stuff out there, all of which made the administration look pretty bad. I think that same double edge is apparent in his July 11 statement. So as far as I can tell, State could not have forced a declassification through the regular process any more than OVP could.

I don't know about that line from Novak.

Read about the Idaho retreat here http://mail.indymedia.org/mediapolitics/2003-July/000434.html. Why doesn't the presence of Tenet at a information company lovefest surprise me? Sounds like more Aspen and Jackson Hole. Reason enough not to mention it.

Read about the Idaho retreat here http://mail.indymedia.org/mediapolitics/2003-July/000434.html. Why doesn't the presence of Tenet at a information company lovefest surprise me? Sounds like more Aspen and Jackson Hole. Reason enough not to mention it.

One thing to add. It's worth noting how Libby's defense frames the discussions among OVP, White House and CIA in the week of July 6-12 in their 10-2-06 filing. They claim part of why they need the Niger/Wilsonn documents is because they'll show

there was extensive discussion among the OVO, the White House, and the CIA of a factual rebuttal to his charges, culminating in Director of Centrial Intelligence Tenet's statement on July 11.

That makes it sound like - though it avoids actually asserting that - the extensive discussion was all geared toward producing Tenet's statement. It was probably less obvious where things were going for all the participants earlier in the week. But as emptywheel has suggested, the idea that it was all geared to Tenet's statement serves as a convenient excuse for whatever discussion OVP and the White House more generally were involved in.

That said, I still think that the CIA denial of White House involvement is a weak denial.

For all those keeping score at home, the government did in fact today file its specific objections to classified information Libby wants to introduce as evidence, as it had proposed to do, but not surprisingly the filing is sealed. This appears to have to do with Libby's testimony as proferred at the CIPA hearings already held at the end of September and beginning of October, and the highlighted documents that were attached by the defense in their letter to Fitzgerald on October 5, right after that round of hearings ended. Both had to do with Libby's Memory Defense. I'm not sure if this also has to do with the Wilson/Niger documents, on some of which the judge is also going to have to make a decision.


A few observations that actually delayed bedtime.

The process here is interesting which is one reason I have hung around though my own opinion solidified sometime ago. But only one.

The sleuthing on this topic is amazing.
The constant sifting, and resifting.
The constant tracking, and retracking.
The constant press for more information from the Prosecutor, the Defense, the Judge, the participants.

The amount of energy!

I have a question though.

Usually when we find the answer of a perplexing problem, is it because of the tiny, tiny little bits of information, or is it something larger, more easily digestible?

Point, you are searching the sands of the beach for a "diamond."

But historically isn't the usable "find" something larger?

Or puttng it again, perhaps more in your terms, emptywheel, are you facing increasingly diminishing returns for your efforts? And does that indicate that nothing is left? At least until some new revelation occurs.

Of course that doesn't negate what you already have and whatever that means.


Your efforts remain valuable. Carry on.


You may have a point. Whether or not what Cheney, Libby and Rove did was illegal may be questionable. That's what we are all looking to prove. However, you are correct that with the facts already available it is clear that this administration has very little respect for the american people and it's institutions. Bush/Cheney have shown very little regard for human life and the example of Valerie Plame is just a small example of the larger more pervasive problem with this administration.


I totally agree that Bush/Cheney should be pilloried for the aftermath of the Iraq War.

And further I think (and did so before the war) that more thought should have been given into why we were going into Iraq. What was the hurry? Yes I know what the immediate hurry was because of the time of the year they were going in, the season, for my brother and my father were being suited up. My father delayed retirement because he wanted to help and now he worries over the wounded that will be with us a long, long time. I had another brother in Afghanistan at the same time.
But there is always next year. No one, no one had an idea that the Iraqis were going to produce an Atomic bomb in a year. What was the hurry? Only political leanings. And so Bush/Cheney came up with a laundry list of reasons to go. Some of those reasons are worthy, but not for 3,000 US deaths and counting. Counting, counting, .... Not for 2 Trillion (USD). Not for , ... Not, not, ...

The thing that is most henious in my mind is that the Army Chief of Staff was pilloried for saying that more than 300,000 men would be needed on the ground. [[But that wasn't convenient to the idea of a war and a tax cut.]] That is pure politics that have resulted in the loss of thousands of American lives.
These politicians didn't operate in a vacuum. Even now they have stacked the deck with Military Leadership that they have selected that is pliable. Sometimes though even their lap dogs turn on them. And you should see it more and more.

Bush and Cheney didn't see this Iraqi War as a sacrifice that must be borne by all. Rather they saw it as a POLITICAL GAIN for themselves and their cronies!!

For all the above, Bush/Cheney deserve to be hung upside down on a wall in the Mall. And let little children throw rocks at them, and dogs bark at them.

Plame? I know the feelings here about that issue. I won't say any more about it now.

I need to study the timelines, an interesting topic, when I have a moment.
I appreciate pg's resourceful link to the media pow-wow Tenet attended; there is a similar yearly fling in a private resort about sixty miles from our place, though instead of media orientation the mix primarily is politicoes of Republican affiliation, and often includes a few notables from overseas; the gathering usually is picketed by a few stalwarts, from afar.
On the bookwriting, the latest estimate for the Tenet version is February 1, 2007.
It is poetic justice, that the college professor in nowSecy Rice blurted out the firebrand specifics about the speechwriting preCincinnati.
Somewhat more O.T.: a followup article on Carl Schmitt with expanded context. I remember ew wrote earnestly a long time ago about some (misguided) folks in the neo-postModern coterie. The author Horton has several passages discussing how to report history accurately.

In the media world in 2003 FCC was still waiting patiently to undo the Clinton era rule on UNEs, the so-called unbundling of network elements; finally the court processes in early 2004 cleared the way for a Bush era rewriting of the rule, and by 2005 the Powell chairmanship at FCC closed. This shift in policy relates to the network neutrality discussion.
Still following pg's thoughtful link to the description of the goings-on at the media leader gathering attended by Tenet, also around the 2003 timeframe a private company produced television footage without attribution on government funds, an issue which settled for a nominal penalty this past week. I recall ew writing about a public relations firm which outsourced information services, I believe the writing ew did was in one of the background articles on Judy.
I suppose the media relationship to the intell service is fairly mundane, a necessary part of the job for Tenet, as well as for other outward facing officials of various agencies. We know this administration waxed innovative with ways to utilize media, and somewhere peripherally perhaps, this figures in the Plame story and its consequences. Only these ruminations, distant perhaps from the alibi construction which is very central to the divergent timeline fables which are the center of the post ew elaborated, above; yet, media was important as an administration initiative and 2003 clearly was a time when the strategy was nearly fully deployed; only FCC lagged, based on the court's deliberate pace.


What intrigued me about Woodward's book was his apparently very well sourced reconstruction of the process by which David Kay was brought onboard by Tenet beginning June 5, 2003, to take over the WMD search. (Look at Chapter 21). By the time the Niger matter emerged in July, Kay had been read into all of the WMD intelligence, and spent a good deal of time with Tenet pointing out huge holes in the intelligence as well as the analysis on which he had depended. I think it might be useful to line up the described Tenet-Kay conversations with the Libby-Cheney-Wilson-and full cast of characters, largely because it is possible Tenet's subsequent actions were more influenced by what Kay was reporting to him openly and privately from Iraq. At the same time Tenet was being pressured to fall on his sword for the story line about pre-war WMD analysis and intelligence, he was also learning from Kay precisely how flawed all that was -- and the Kay Mission was in many ways an orphan -- Rumsfeld had declined to assist in sponsoring it, and eventually Cheney and his group would act to perhaps derail it. In the end it was Kay's efforts that mostly knocked the pins out from under the WMD matter.

You guys'll get a grin or two out of this description of Fitzgerald cross-examination of Libby's memory expert hack.


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