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February 19, 2007


Nite ew. Thanks for all you do.

Hells bells, EW, what the heck does this mean?

May 14: Craig Schmall, Libby's briefer, responds to a request from then-OVP Deputy National Security Advisor Eric Edelman for any evidence that Cheney asks for more evidence to support the Niger claims in March 2003, after the IAEA declared the forgeries to be such. Schmall explains there hadn't been a Cheney tasker, but there was one for Rummy. The report generated in response to the tasker references the report on Wilson's trip in support of the Niger claims.

Too dense!!

Love the July 10th ditty. Weirdly similar to the Nixon: "Well, we could pay them hush money, but that would be wrong."

Quite the timeline! Thanks again for your great work.

I am not following all the details, but I am getting a sense of things different from my earlier sense.

To me, it is helpful to keep in mind that Cheney and Libby knew damn well that the nuke PR in 2002 and early 2003 depended a lot on the Niger story, and that the Niger story was bogus. They knew that. They may have believed in their heart of hearts who knows what else, but in terms of the PR blitz, they knew that was based on a lie. So none of the events that unfolded in May through July were about that.

I think what had Dick's Spidey sense tingling in May was the idea that the bogus nature would be revealed, and someone was setting him up to take the blame.

This is what I never had a sense about before. Cheney had a strong sense, early on, that there was a plot afoot.

All that "is this how things are ordinarily done" stuff was a way of trying to flush out the people plotting. Identify departures from bureaucratic routine that would reveal impure motives.

Partly out of fear, but mostly out of pride in his own ruthless in-fighting ability, Cheney was determined to uncover the plotters, and punish them.

He used Libby. But I doubt that he used Libby only.

I do not know how the WH would have been involved. I am sure they had their own concerns about Wilson, but the timing and fervor might have been different. Also, I am not sure Cheney would have trusted the WH, or shared completely with them. Especially, not at first.

I feel sure today that Cheney honestly saw himself responding to a plot against him.

Maybe he was. People in various agencies must have been aware of some things during May and June as the Wilson iceberg approached.

Plame was outed on purpose for a purpose. But I suspect that the details of why are not known, and perhaps not even guessed at.

I think Cheney was operating with a lot more info that Libby.

Anyway, that is my hunch tonight.

July 11th Add ins:
Hohlt faxes Novak article to Rove.
Rove calls Libby ["Official A"].

21. On or about July 10 or July 11, 2003, LIBBY spoke to a senior official in the White House (“Official A”) who advised LIBBY of a conversation Official A had earlier that week with columnist Robert Novak in which Wilson’s wife was discussed as a CIA employee involved in Wilson’s trip. LIBBY was advised by Official A that Novak would be writing a story about Wilson’s wife.

yo, jwp, here's a theory to explain your suggestion:

This is what I never had a sense about before. Cheney had a strong sense, early on, that there was a plot afoot.

maybe dead eye dick knows about the Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg Verdicts

criminals are always worried about who could expose their crimes, and Starting a War Of Agression is listed as the worst war crime of all in the Nuremberg rulings

dead eye might have been a little paranoid. But maybe he had a good reason to be paranoid

it kinda reminds me of a situation from the movie "Casino"

remember when De Nero warned Pesci about being listed in the FBI Organized Crime book, and Pesci says "There's only two names in that book, and one of them is still Al Capone"

later, when Pesci's character was listed in the book, De Nero says "What can he say, his name is in a book with with Al Capone"

maybe cheney didn't want to put his name in a book with Adolph Hitler


Maybe, but I doubt that Dick thinks that way. In fact, I doubt that he ever thinks of himself as guilty of anything. Even now.

Dick is used to bureaucratic in-fighting, and leaks to the press.

If he saw bad press coming, his first question would be who is doing this to me and why. His second question would be how can I screw them to the wall.

Tomorrow is shaping up to be more of a Cheney Day than I expected, between this, this, this and a side of this.

The highlight from the Times piece is:

The evidence in the trial shows Vice President Dick Cheney and Mr. Libby, his former chief of staff, countermanding and even occasionally misleading colleagues at the highest levels of Mr. Bush’s inner circle as the two pursued their own goal of clearing the vice president’s name in connection with flawed intelligence used in the case for war.

And be sure not to miss the precis of the Waas piece from crooksandliars, which nicely brings out the point that is more or less implicit in the article itself:

After Scooter Libby knew he was going to be questioned by the FBI he devised a cover story. And who did he share it with? You guessed it: Cheney. Why? Because knowing that Cheney was going to be questioned, too, Libby wanted to be sure both of them were on the same page, telling the same cover story.

It also expresses the possibilities in a more sharp manner:

If Libby is convicted, expect Fitzgerald to vigorously pursue whether Cheney knowingly allowed– or worse– even encouraged Libby to lie to the FBI and a federal grand jury.

Hmmm...just remembering some events that occurred across the big pond in Tony Blair's neighborhood:
Jul 13 - David Kelly, a British weapons expert testified before the House of Commons Select Committee on Foreign Affairs. He was outed as the source of an accusation by the BBC that the British govt had doctored intelligence findings to convince the public to support the Iraq War.

Jul 18- His body is found, a reported suicide.
Jul 19 - Judith Miller reports on Kelley's death for the NYT.
Ya think in exchange for bogus British intelligence on yellowcake, Cheney gave Blair some hints on how to take care of the pesky little "critics" like Wilson and Kelly?

Building supposition upon supposition upon supposition is not a six sigma process, but it seems to be how Cheney took us to war.

Cheney knew how unprecedented was his direct and personal push for cooperative intel on Iraq. He succeeded in "developing" intel and in erasing qualifications about its reliability, just as he brewed even more resentment against him. Cheney didn't care; he was the bureaucracy's master and could manipulate it at will.

That process would have reinforced his perception that the CIA was inherently unreliable and at best a fair weather supporter. Among other reasons, it was led by Tenet, who, unlike Feith, was not a member of Mr. Cheney's coven. The upshot was that Cheney would have automatically assumed that any negative press on intel matters was orchestrated by passive-aggressive bureaucrats out to get him.

Nailing Plame, and indirectly, her network, her division, and the CIA generally, were all nice to haves when nailing Wilson. Cheney hubristically assumed he could get away with it, never suspecting he would have to contend not with a simple-minded, malleable Ashcroft, but a modern Eliot Ness.

By the time of Fitzgerald's appointment, the Iraq occupation was going badly and Cheney had even more reason to lie or arrange lies about his campaign against the Wilsons and his role in going to war. All of which gave Mr. Libby abundant reasons to lie, regardless of whether Plame was covert or whether his leaks outted her. (Both of which were probably true, but can't formally be considered by the jury.)

Separately, the Times front-page piece today on Cheney is journeyman stuff. It gives too much credence to Cheney's claims that he had valid reasons not to agree with the findings about Wilson's trip. (Which would have reinforced similar findings by at least two others.) Too anxious to describe Cheney's role in the White House, the article dismisses the charges against Libby as just "narrow perjury". It thereby undercuts the charges and the larger point about Cheney's role. Bottom line: it fails to connect the dots between Libby and Plame and Cheney, which would have reinforced the main point. Let's chip in and send Tim Rutenberg a No. 2 pencil so he can do that.

I'm still waiting for Fitzgerald to collate these separate but orchestrated disclosures - and confirmations - about Plame's role in the CIA. There seems to be strong public information suggesting she was indeed covert, and that the White House outted her. If not a violation of one statute, it may violate another, or breach the tight non-disclosure agreements these "top men" have signed. If not a crime, where is the hue and cry about damage to national security and demand that security clearances be yanked? (Sandy Berger was raked over the coals and had his clearance yanked for much less.) Or, will that take place after Mr. Bush attends his first military funeral at Arlington.

If Fitzgerald is hoping for a conviction, so that he can leverage it in hopes that Libby will talk, it would seem a forlorn hope He would have leverage only in the unlikely event that Cheney and Libby lack at least an implied understanding that Bush would pardon Libby, most likely shortly before leaving office.

Given that likelihood, perhaps Fitzgerald hopes that a conviction would allow him to continue his investigation or make formal recommendations about pursuing others, either criminally, or for civil violations of their non-disclosure agreements, or at least recommendations to withdraw security clearances. Perhaps he feels that, absent a conviction, there isn't enough support for taking action against these "top men".

Reading this makes me think two things.

First, Craig Schmall was asked--repeatedly--about Wilson. But he says he doesn't remember it. I suspect he may know more than we heard him say on the stand.

Second, I don't believe anymore the canard that Cheney and Libby never told Hadley what they were doing.

My reaction upon hearing Armitage and Woodward was that Rich was pushing WH talking points in early June, "his wife sent him" for instance - it's odd that Armitage is covering for the OVP then.

Your timeline shows Edelman asking about OVP origins of Wilson's trip in mid-May after Kristoff's article, Rummy also did this before the Armitage-Woodward meeting, WHIG had been active prior to May, and Wilson had been on CNN in April and had gone to Congress about the yellowcake well before July.

I'd say someone like Libby talked with Armitage before he met with Woodward. It also seemed to me that Woodward knew about the Wilson's before he talked with Armitage, their conversation seemed canned.

I also agree with the person above that David Kelly's demise during this time period is quite suspicious.


One thing I didn't put in here is that 1) Libby met with Armitage on June 6 and--if I have this right--he also talked to Woodward. I think it likely that Libby seeded the leak.

But the other thing that is clear is that Armitage was speaking from a position hostile to Dick and NSC. He was clearly siding with CIA and his own State. Which makes it much more likely that he was set up than that he was passing WH talking points (consciously).

It is intruiging about the tensions between State and CIA, I don't now if that comes across in the excerpt we've heard. Isn't there also some historic alliance between Libby and Armitage?

Any ideas about Woodward's prior knowledge? Woodward: brought up Wilson with Armitage, said "(why does) that have to be a big secret?, Everone knows," said "But why would they send him?" and said "Oh, she's the chief WMD?" - he's leading the conversation from my perspective.


Armitage's position is "clear" how?

What is generally true is not always true in a specific circumstange. And we do not know all the circumstances directly at play on Armitage at the time.

If Cheney is forced out (the only way he'll leave), will Jorge try to replace him with Jeb? (I have one worry after another with these hoods in power.) I'll wager Babs has been thinking along these lines. And probably Poppy, too.

Sally and jwp

I take the "CIA is totally clean in this" as unequivocally placing Armitage (at State after all) in the position that was obvious at the time--with State and CIA pitted against OVP on the intelligence issues. There is a lot of evidence to support that (take a look at Suskind, for example) that was consistent over time.

Armitage does have a history with Libby (Libby defended him back in the 1980s), but more recently they had a history of really nasty bureaucratic fighting--much of it relating to the war.

And yes, I do think Woodward was leading the discussion. I think--but haven't gotten the real transcript to verify this yet--that he spoke with Libby on June 6, which would offer an opportunity to be coached on this question. Tweety has accused Woodward of protecting Cheney in this, too.

As to who would replace Dick as VP, whoever it is would need congressional approval. I doubt Jeb would get that.

One more point--all this DOESN'T mean Armi wouldn't take the fall, after the fact, to save Bush. WHich is to say, in the scope of the hot bureaucratic wars in June/July 2003, it seems clear he was in an antagonistic relationship with OVP. But he is a loyal republican, so if someone like Duberstein asked him to protect the President et al, he might well do it.

I still get a laugh out of Cheney's "junket" comment, which of course was dutifully used to smear Wilson in the press. Only someone like Dick Cheney would think that traveling to the poorest nation on earth was a "junket".

Sorry, EW I misread your reply - TM had something a few days ago about Armitage and tensions between State and the CIA and I was thinking of that.

I think a little waterboarding session could be in order, especially for those who seem so eager to "validate" it for others.

ew, if this Congress cannot stop a war, or lessen its damage, I have little confidence it can do much of anything. The corporate media and the Republicans damaged by Jorge, along with the usual suspects, would jump on the Jeb bandwagon. God knows thus far there is not a viable Republic in the presidential race. Nevertheless, I hope I am wrong and you are right. Looking forward to your participation in the blog world today.

Remembering that Hadley owned up publically to a part in letting the original 16 words into the SOTU it would make sense that he had paid his dues to be brought into Cheney's inner circle then if not before.

If Cabinet-level officials cannot be related to the President, it is reasonable that it is also illegal for the VP to be his brother. If I am George Bush, I select McCain for that job.

If Cabinet-level officials cannot be related to the President, it is reasonable that it is also illegal for the VP to be his brother. If I am George Bush, my first thought is McCain for that job. McCain has shown great loyalty in terms of supporting the war. If Democrats do not want to support a McCain presidential bid, I would select a Ford-like figure from Congress who has supported the war, but is well liked.

Hmmm... Lieberman comes to mind... Not that he's well-liked, but some dems might have a hard time voting against his confirmation. And Bush could use some nonpartisan BS to suggest that he's the best candidate. He'd certainly pick up on the war where Cheney left off.

Luckily for the D's that the organizing resolutions for the 109th Congress on the Senate side are set in stone at this time, so control of the Senate cannot tip back to the R's even if Lieberman's Rethuglican governor appoints an R to take his Senate seat.

4..4, when did "reasonable" and "legal" ever make it into the Bush world? Quite the contrary.

A non-elected VP has to be confirmed by BOTH houses of Congress. Jeb Bush is no Gerald Ford. The Dems would probably be better off leaving the job vacant and Nancy Pelosi the next in line. OTOH, that might be such a frightening prospect to the GOP (talk about losing your protection!) that they'd agree to someone who was actually acceptable for the job.

Mimikatz, I can't see that the Dems would leave the VP slot vacant. Any guesses as to the person the GOP would agree to as "actually acceptable for the job" (would have to be acceptable to both Dems and Repubs)?

Was this a reference to Cheney also not remembering?

[GJ testimony: Keeps columns for a while. I don't know when he wrote them. You have to ask him about them. F You're saying these would happen much later. L ONly that part about the wife, that wouldn't occur that week. The part about the wife, I don't recall discussing with him, prior to learning again, about the wife. ]

Isn't that remarkable that he can remember that far back what he didn't talk about. The wife, He can remember that they didn't remember.
EW at Firedoglake 2/20/07

Empty wheel, early on their was talk that Fitz would indict on conspiracy charges for the whole crew. (way early and by way not credible folks). At the time, it seemed there was a discussion about the legal threshold for conspiracy as opposed to outright violations. It seems obvious to me, that the entire crew, pres, included conspired on this plan. Why can't he indict on conspiracy charges?? on some other violaton of ethics or oath or whatever??

It just seems that the only chance this country has of becoming a democracy again is to out the whole group. And I have to say that from the beginning Bush has appeared to be a dangerous authoritarian figure running criminal mob of war profiteering. Bush lied to us about reasons for war... I know that this is not Fitz's case, but doesn't this feed into the larger conspiracy to cover that lie?? And is there any legal way that the path could be laid to prosecute such a crime. I know sometimes fitz has taken his time waiting until folks are out of office and power...would that be possible??

Is there anyway that you can see, any path whatsoever that would lead us to the conspiracy to mislead the country into war...?

From EW's liveblog of Fitzgerald's summation (and you should definitely read the whole thing):

There is a cloud over the VP. He wrote those columns, he had those meetings, He sent Libby off to the meeting with Judy. Where Plame was discussed. That cloud remains because the denfendant obstructed justice. That cloud was there. That cloud is something that we just can't pretend isn't there.

ew: every time I come on here to make a comment, I ask the same general question, and no one has ever even acknowledged it. Some time ago, Fitz showed 3? indictments. 2 were open, the 3rd remained sealed. it read unknown vs unknown. the other 2 were said to not connected with the libby case. the 3rd, by implication was. I have this daydream that it a sealed indictment of the vp to be delivered if/when libby is convicted. except that it is not "u.s. vs unknown. " fitz is way ahead in his planning - and you are likely in tune with it. so perhaps you can look into your crystal ball and put me out of my misery and say what you think the indictment is for. i know this is not all there is....

I think it's time that everyone woke up to the fact that Jason Leopold was more right than he wasn't. Sealed v. Sealed? that's from Leopold. Cheney in the spotlight? Leopold again from more than a year ago. This is friggin ridiculous. THis trial has proven Leopold to be more than right, even if Rove story is wrong. Truthout has Leopold's entire archive of articles. I think there are 52. He reported things way before anyone did especially about the NIE. there's no way leopold took stuff from blogs like that person who comments here said. Why? because he wrote the story first before it appeared on blogs. i think his sealed vs. sealed story is correct.

leslie: I saw a post on fitz's page and a graphic showing the 3 indictments. He was being cryptic, as I thought. And I've been waiting for someone to refer to them now that this trial is ending. I know absolutely nothing at all about them, I assumed Fitz was having fun. I need someone to give me the abc's so if you know anything, please let me know! I've only just come to this whole scene and I've had a lot of catching up to do!

Doing some surfing now... what do we know is the mechanism of the OVP request which triggered the Feb. 2002 expedition? Was it shooter himself generating that req.? Sitting there are something? Who actually gave the job number that was used for the tickets?

Who gave Novak the name "Brewster-Jennings" and detailed it as a CIA shop?

I STILL think Ms Plame, and her operations, was the real target and that Mr Wilson was the collateral damage.

I also STILL think that Mr Kelly's death was covered up too quickly and too conveniently to be suicidal.

If there needs to be a new VP I feel certain that Pelosi and Reid will simply tell Bush that the votes will not be there for a Partisian, or anyone looking toward an electorial future. Thankfully they have the votes to walk right in and tell him that point blank. I realize Bush does not know many like that, but I am sure if necessary, we can come up with some names.

Former Sen. John Danforth of Missouri is the absolute best man to replace Dick Cheney. He's a man of great integrity and stature, knows how Washington and the Congress work, is current and well-read on the major issues of the day and more importantly, he is a moral leader for uncertain times.

The only problem is whether the current President would accept such a moral man as his Vice-President.

EW, Thank you, great job as usual. Today was amazing for all who joined in the liveblog. Thank you for all your hard work. lolo

If Fitzgerald wants to use this chronology to indict Cheney, he can be my guest.

Is that like open source prosecution? :)

1. Until they criminalize note-taking retro-actively, this indicmtment is missing a crime.

2. IANAL but I doubt Libby is jailed until his appeals are exhausted, so the day of leverage is a long way off - I suspect that Libby thinks he has plenty of interesting appeals to file. (Setting aside the obvious pardon card)

3. My eerie prescience tells me that Cheney's interview with Fitzgerald went along the lines of "Please ask me about something important, which excludes Valerie Plame - I just don't remember discussing her, but I may have, along with discussing the weather and the Orioles."

Hard to pull a false statements charge out of that. And could he have forgotten his own annotations in the op-ed? FWIW, I have read blog posts obtained via Google and not realized until the second paragraph that I wrote it (that's good when I am laughing, bad when I am thinking "who wrote this tripe"?

Whatever. I have some vicious, mean-spirited commentary on your Raw Story interview coming shortly, but that will be at my blog.

Phew. I thought it was just me that laughed or winced at random stuff I'd forgotten I'd written. But, and this is important, I always remember when I retro actively take a note to cover my ass. Yes sir.

I would like for Dick Cheney to be impeached for the outing of a CIA agent, Valerie Plame Wilson. He is the outer and instigator of the whole thing. He also trumped up the false information on the first strike on and invasion of Iraq. What a mass murderer. Please impeach him.

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