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June 04, 2007



Thank you.

My two cents. Cheney feared he was getting caught in a gambit he hadn't fully informed Shrub about, and he had to make sure Shrub followed his lead.

I agree with those who think Cheney runs pretty much the whole WH not under the direct authority of Rove. He knows that only occasionally does Shrub interest himself in any of it. When he does, Cheney's team goes into overdrive to confirm that they control the issue and the way it's framed for Shrub. No independent information should get it to him; if it does, it must never go unrefuted. Signing statements are just the legislative version of a pervasive thought control practiced on a not very curious boy-king.

Woodward and Bernstein are people whose work changed the course of history in our country. These men were motivated to get to the truth of the matter. The facts they revealed gave pause to Americans and as a result, raised the bar on what we expect from our government; government empowered by us to take action on our behalf. Keep digging Emptywheel. Keep digging. Oh yea, and tell your Mom your friends in the intertubes say "hi".

Well, I can say emphatically I have waited with bated breath for this kind of article. In part because, in my humble opinion Bush's admonition that "anyone caught leaking classified information would be punished" seems just as indefensible and hollow as Clinton's "I did not have sexual relations with that woman," statement.

There has been circumstantial evidence (and just pure reason) "suggesting" that the entire cabal, Rice included,
was aware of this strategy from the get go. I am not one who has been willing to let Cheney go down alone, much less Libby. I am and continue to hold out for the whole conspiracy. But I may have to wait a lifetime.

I just think that lying us into a war and leaking a cia officers name to dump the intell that would have stopped the war is as treasonous as a president can get. I know we are a long, long way from proving that point, but many of us have the gut instinct that this is exactly what occurred.

Thanks as usual. Your posts on this subject stand a cut above the rest and while I get frustrated with having to deal with facts, I appreciate that this is what you do, and this is what makes your information so strong. Sometimes I would prefer to just "infer" their guilt and be done with it. But I know that only the truth will bring our country closer to healing.

I'd encourage you to visit whitehouse.gov for the June 17 , 2003, press briefing with Ari F., in which the former press secretary discusses the president's use of the term "revisionist historians":
"Yesterday, in the President's remarks, he referred to -- he referred it to revisionist historians who are seeming to make the case that Saddam Hussein likely did not have, or did not have, weapons of mass destruction prior to the war. And the President bases that on some of the statements that he has heard where people are expressing doubt about whether or not the intelligence that was provided to the administration, as well as to Congress for many years was accurate intelligence information.

The President has every reason to know that it was, indeed, accurate, just as previous administrations have said so, just as he believes so, and therefore, he said so. And so he looks at it and describes as revisionist history those who now seem to cast doubt on the accuracy of the intelligence information that stated that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction prior to the war."

There's more, but I don't know how to link it.

In the wood panelled libraries of justice officials and judges throughout America, how does misuse of the law, major treason violations of the law play. Those of you who spent careers interpreting and enforcing the law must be shaking their heads in disbelief.
My hope is that you all keep turning over the buried evidence that will bring these alleged criminals before the scales of justice. I hope your trip to Washington is to deliver enough evidence to get a special prosecutor on the job. Best Wishes and Good Hunting...the hunter becomes the hunted.

Oh, this is great, just great, congratulations!! I must take a closer look later tonight.

My two cents. Cheney feared he was getting caught in a gambit he hadn't fully informed Shrub about, and he had to make sure Shrub followed his lead.

Something like that has long been my guess as to why OVP got so bent out of shape in July, because it was the first public confirmation of his long reach—and even the Shrub might not have realized to that point how long and independent it was. But be all that as it may,

Wow. Wow.

I'm more inclined to agree with your statement at the end that the activity was related to Walter Pincus asking questions for his WaPo story, but it's very important to keep reminding people of Bush's proximity to the whole matter. Thanks for the post.

I'm with 'dragon and the Earl. Bush gave a general sign-off on the war, but the selling of it was masterminded by Cheney and Rove. Cheney and Rumsfeld agreed on the basics (oil, bases) and the Wolfowitzes and Feiths provided the idealism for those who needed that.

Cheney was in danger of being exposed as having known before the war, and while there was time to stop it, that the WMD evidence was bogus. Or else he was in danger of being exposed as someone who believes in what conforms to his policy in the face of expert opinion and evidence that it is not so. And, in either case, of selling Bush on disasterous policies with no grounding in reality.

Gods, how I wish this Admin was over.

FWIW, I think Rice actually said that "someone down in the bowels of the Agency might have known [about the Niger forgery]." (I haven't found a video clip though I have seen it) I suppose it's possible that she learned of Plame before this interview.

Did the trial provide any information on how often Libby met with Bush (could it be daily?) and what his responsibilities were?

I think we have reached the next level... The same one that Woodward and Bernstein faced when Deep Throat said something to the effect that the stakes always went up when the P was mentioned. Regardless of whether Bush went into it all with both eyes wide open, or he was misled by certain parties who had their own agendas, he is the "P" (although he refers to himself as the "decider").

I sincerely hope that I am around to read the definitive history of the Bush/Cheney regime to fully understand how these two worked (or didn't, as the case may be).

Thanks for a great writeup!

thanks again for all of the work EW, you are one of the very best reporters we have.


Yes, that is what it is--but the transcript introduced into trial evidence doesn't include that bit

June 17, 2003, Press Briefing with Ari Fleischer where he mentions "revisionist historians."

May 2, 2004, Condoleeza Rice on Meet the Press, "Maybe someone knew down in the bowels of the agency, but no one in our circles knew that there were doubts and suspicions that this might be a forgery."


I had the opportunity to give your book away yesterday. While flying home and puddle jumping through El Paso I sat next to a lawyer. He asked me me what I thought of it and off we went for the next 90 minutes. I was thrilled to pass it along to someone, and ordered another copy today.


Very cool--glad to hear it. And thanks for passing it on.


What in this post is new? It has now touched Bushie. But weren't Libby's notes released a while ago?

Great post, as always. Just wondering if I missed something.


The notes were released in the trial--and I have pointed to the June 9 date before, though I don't know anyone else who has.

So you're right, mostly all that's new is putting it together, and showing that the document dump that Fitz mentioned prominently in his suggestive indictment came after Libby got an earful abotu Bush's involvement (which presumably came after Condi's statement).

I'm doing it today for two reasons. 1, because while I expect Dick to get mentioned tomorrow, I don't want Bush to feel lonely. And 2, because I'm going to do some followup on some new materials that relies on a better understanding of the dynamics of that week.

Which is another way of saying this is a post I meant to write on April 19, but got distracted.

Pay attention young lady. Don't be distracted by shiny objects. Or them fancy shoes you and Jane sport on the DC Circuit. Else things meant for April 19 arrive on June 4!

Fancy shoes? I didn't even know what Jane had on her feet last time we were down here. I can assure, you anything that doesn't come from a walking shoe store (you know--that sell nothing but Keens and birks and those kind of shoes--yes, I do live in a college town where that is considered appropriate dress).

But it was also sparked by where I'm going later this week or next.

I know, and I know you know I was joking. But really, wasn't there some rumors of you two and some expensive high falluting designer shoes?

No no, you've confused "you two," and "Jane." Jane does have high falluting shoes. Which I didn't know until egregious clued me in. I thought Jane was talking about some expensive ethnic dish, but she was apparently talking about her famous shoes.

Eh, I repent and apologize. Heh.

I really feel stupid asking this, but Underscore "P" with a line above means "the President" in Libby's shorthand? And if it is the SOTU being discussed, could he have been talking to the person writing the SOTU, Micheal Gerson, I assume, not Bush himself? Because deep down I really don't believe Bush is more than a puppet, choking on crackers while he watches baseball games. Lets see, what game was on June 9th, 2003.....


No, he was talking about the President--it is consistent with the rest of his notes.

I would caution people against accepting the idea that Bush is just a puppet. He is a vacuous bully, but he enjoys the idea of being in charge of vicious operators like Cheney and Rove. Like most bullies, he's captive to his own insecurities. Unlike most bullies, he has the entire U.S. military at his command to satisfy his bloodlust.

Dear Emptywheel,

Have you already explicated the "who sent Wilson?" thing somewhere? Last week I visited the site for supporting their civil suit, and it has a news ticker, which referred me to this article alleging that VPW herself has provided conflicting explanations:


Sorry if this is very old news, I was out sick last week, and thanks so much for your great work!

Glad to see you pointing to Bush. After all, Wilson's op-ed made Bush look bad, the State of the Union was Bush's address, Bush's show. He is vain, but dependent on his underlings. Bush sees himself as God's righteous warrior in the pantheon of American presidents. Wilson directly accused Bush of presenting false claims, in an historic address. Bush is nothing if not petulant and vindictive, and for all the focus on Cheney as evil mastermind, he is demonstrably obsequious towards Bush. Remember the interplay between the two when the mikes were on for the "big time" quote. And Cheney could be construed to be directly responsible for the fuck up that made Bush look bad: he gave the impetus to send, of all people, Wilson to Niger. That explains to me the brouhaha among administration sycophants over the "Wilson said Cheney sent me to Africa" nonsense. The President is pissed, Cheney is covering his ass and acting to rectify his mistake at the direction of the President. This is already clear from Rove and Bartlett's involvement, they don't work for Cheney, their loyalty is to Bush. What's remarkable and saddening is that there is no Republican and no journalist with access to the inner circle who, looking at apparent treason, does not have the integrity to choose country over party and president and bring a smoking gun to light.

I agree with William Ockham in that Bush is not a puppet.

One real problem the Democrats have made for themselves is the downplaying of Bush's capabilities.

Hey he beat the Democrats twice. Do you want to say that he is an idiot? What does that make the Democrats? It doesn't compute!

Bush gets people around him that can do the job, and then he sets them to it. But never believe for a moment that he is not in charge.

"But never believe for a moment that he is not in charge." I never-for-a-minute forgot during the Libby trial.

Dear Jodi,

Yes, bush the brush farmer beat the Democrats twice. But I know and you know, even though I don't think you will admit it, that bush CHEATED!

Cheney could be construed to be directly responsible for the fuck up that made Bush look bad: he gave the impetus to send, of all people, Wilson to Niger. That explains to me the brouhaha among administration sycophants over the "Wilson said Cheney sent me to Africa" nonsense. The President is pissed, Cheney is covering his ass and acting to rectify his mistake at the direction of the President. This is already clear from Rove and Bartlett's involvement, they don't work for Cheney, their loyalty is to Bush. - anatomist

Of course! Great deduction.

There is an ancient legal principle called:

Respondeat Superior

(n) Doctrine of Respondent superior implies the responsibility of the superiors on the actions done by their employees, agents, subordinates etc when they are doing such actions during their assigned duties. So when an accident happens while handling an explosive involved in the work assigned to such person, The master is responsible for such loss. The Latin word (rehs-pond-dee-at superior) means 'let the master answer'


IIRC, it goes back to a case in the 1300s where a jeweler's apprentice was a thief. Ancient.

All these people "serve at the pleasure of the President". They break laws left and right, but mostly right, right, right, and even further right.

Bush appoints them.

They are Bush's employees and agents.

Except for where they are Cheney's staffers of unknown number and job title.

Why can't we use this principle to hold Bush and Cheney personally responsible for what their people do, on the job, whether or not there is hard-copy evidence of an order such as a document or video or tape?

If Gonzales and Card shove their way into a hospital room to get an illegal process signed by a person under opiates, do we really need to have Bush's signature on their marching orders?

Libby worked for both Cheney and Bush (2 hats) at the time he deliberately spread information about Plame and Brewster Jennings, and much of the OVP's office was involved for week after week in "damage control" and "ass-protecting" working from their employee desk and employee computer and employee blackberry. Even without a direct order, surely Cheney's handwriting on that newspaper is sufficient evidence to remove him and his entire suite of minions from office!

If the boss discovers wrong-doing (whether accidental or intentional) and acts immediately to correct it, he is still responsible although damages may be mitigated. When people such as Rove still have security clearances and jobs despite their own testimony of breaching security, the irresponsibility and inaction of the boss makes the damage worse.

We can't afford to wait until 2009 to bring justice back into government.

Hauksdottir - You don't know how it pains me to say this, because in principle I agree with this thought completely, but respondeat superior is a creature of civil law; not criminal. Criminal law generally, and presumptively, contemplates scienter, or knowledge, for criminal culpability to accrue. The only real deviations for this, historically, are specifically codified "strict liability crimes". There are variations on the degree of scienter such as reckless, wantonly and grossly negligent, etc.; but the general rule holds. None of this suggests that, if Bush were a better man, he shouldn't take moral responsibility; but, of course, there is a better chance of aliens landing tomorrow with cocktails and chocolates for all.

Bush is not at all an idiot. He is a calculated politician, he is making sure somebody else take the big fall for him. And he gets plenty, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Libby, Rove, etc

"Hey he beat the Democrats twice."

No, the GOP, Cheney, Bush, Rove, et al stole two American elections through Felony Voter Fraud and Theft including caging Diebold, recount supression, Baker and the U.S.
Supreme Court, stacked by Reagan and Bush I.

"Do you want to say that he is an idiot?"

Yes. And a traitor who rather than leading has intentionally stolen and abused office to profit from and encourage tyranny, repression, suffering death and pollution, who has sold out America to China and plundered 56 trillion dollars in current debt, or 9 trillion if corporate accounting is not used, who is planning with to escape to Paraguay to now monopolize the world's largest freshwater aquifer. Cheney plans to vacation with him or move to Dubai where Halliburton is moving, because he is they are so patriotic and care so much for America and peace.

"What does that make the Democrats?"

Decent Human Beings and Americans unwilling to sell out their nation, with more actual values, honesty, integrity, patriotism and responsibility in one of their fingernails than the entire twice-unelected maladministration, and the winners of the 2000 and 2004 U.S. Presidential Elections, and the American House and Senate in 2006.


Excellent point.

The odds that both Gonzales and Card sprinted to the hospital in the middle of the night to obtain that signature, without the DIRECT ORDERS of POTUS himself, are precisely zero. Card was the ultimate YES man, and he only answered to Bush.

Speaking of the SOTU...

Who remembers this Asbestos-Laden little gem in his State of the Union speech in 2005?

"To make our economy stronger and more competitive, America must reward, not punish, the efforts and dreams of entrepreneurs. Small business is the path of advancement, especially for women and minorities, so we must free small businesses from needless regulation and protect honest job-creators from junk lawsuits. (Applause.) Justice is distorted, and our economy is held back by irresponsible class-actions and frivolous asbestos claims -- and I urge Congress to pass legal reforms this year."

Could this be why?

WTC was an asbestos bombshell. For years, the Port Authority treated the building like an aging dinosaur, attempting on several occasions to get permits to demolish the building for liability reasons, but being turned down due the known asbestos problem. Further, it was well-known the only reason the building was still standing until 9/11 was because it was too costly to disassemble the twin towers floor by floor since the Port Authority was prohibited legally from demolishing the buildings.

The projected cost to disassemble the towers: $15 Billion. Just the scaffolding for the operation was estimated at $2.4 Billion!

In other words, the Twin Towers were condemned structures. How convenient that an unexpected "terrorist" attack demolished the buildings completely.



Just how deep and wide is this conspiracy?

anonymous, ditto.


Civil only? deep sigh

Hmm... Perhaps Plame and others who have civil suits against members of the Administration can use that principle to help allocate ultimate responsibility. Although suing government is arduous and expensive, her career and retirement were ruined and her colleagues put at risk for their lives... so I suspect that the will power is there.

My year of law school was back in '74-75... we couldn't afford to have both of us going at the same time, so I dropped out. I loved reading case law: real people and real companies doing the most incredibly stupid or greedy things until some judge hauled them up short with a finely detailed and often erudite opinion. So I remember carbolic smoke ball and Rosie the cow and Mrs Brown vs Chevrolet and hairy hands... and how property law really hadn't changed much since feudal times. Glittery bits and general principles. With the constant migraine, I have a brain like flypaper, with edge torn off, but at one point, it was a good brain.

So, does Congress always have to act as though a case was a criminal case? Are all the investigations and hearings about matters which may be against the criminal codes? Example: Halliburton bills the government for food or supplies which were not delivered and it comes to several millions of dollars. Some oversight committee investigates. This seems to me to be a matter of Contract law (money for service), where the terms of the contract were violated. Does the involvement of the federal government automatically criminalize an issue?

I can't help it, I am going to feed the .... Somebody stop me!!!

Bush is in charge the way every good drunk is "in charge." Have you ever known an alcoholic that wasn't "in control" of everything and everybody around him...except for the details of their own life?? No ability to be held accountable, but extremely adept at blaming and scape goating others, and making everyone else "believe" that they are in control.

And in that regard, Bush is guilty because I am certain he was not capable of NOT playing that role. Which meant he was a control freak and knew every thing (with as much detail as he could stand). No alcoholic likes secrets. They hate them.

He knew. He participated and he will go down eventually, whether it happens in history books or before my very eyes.

There are some patterns of human behavior that are very predictable. Like how I have to feed the troll.

Hauksdottir - Man, these questions are getting harder. In short, no; there are many ways fro Congress to bring their will to bear. But, with a group like this, money doesn't matter; their liberty is quite another thing. As we were discussing a criminal investigation, and that is the only maodality I even come close to trusting anymore (and that was BEFORE all this US Atty mess); I framed my answer in that manner. Traditional civil suits, like the Wilsons have brought, are incredibly difficult and unsatisfying methods to address this level of wrongdoing. Trust me on that; governmental misconduct and Section 1983 civil rights litigation was a large part of my practice for over 15 years. Sovereign immunity is a very steep hill to climb, and I fear it may end up being a mountain to high for the Wilsons in the end. Respondeat superior doesn't help much if they are all immune...

Hmmm... after reading through these comments (several of which give me hope that the erudite among us are on board to push for impeachment), I note a distinct absence of Condi's name. Ms. Rice is complicit in these myriad crimes committed by Bush, Cheney, Rove, Wolfowitz, et al. Let's not forget she is an active member of this cabal.


Thank you for even considering tough answers to tough questions. Maybe we can think of it as "Continuing Education of the Layperson". Doctors and lawyers aren't the only groups who need to keep learning!

Sovereign immunity would apply only to wrongs committed as part of the job? Included in job description?

If the Lord High Executioner killed the wrong man, he wouldn't be liable, because his job is executing people... and someone else signed the order. If Cheney had killed the lawyer, he would be liable because the VP's job is to show up at funerals, not initiate them?

Goodling's job title was White House Liaison, but the Order from Gonzales gave her a sharp hatchet and decision power as to whom to cut. None of those lawyers fired for "disloyalty" or "insubordination" have recourse, even in a profession where reputation is everything, because her job was career-killer?

So, the SS has the job of protecting the lives of Bush and Cheney, and authority to do whatever is necessary to keep them alive. Does anybody have the official job of protecting Bush from embarrassing himself? Of protecting Cheney from drowning in a stream of his own lies? Killing news stories is one thing. Killing careers is one thing. But putting lives at risk (how many people were associated with Brewster-Jennings?) may be something else again. Does anybody in the Administration have the authority to destroy lives merely to protect Bush's ego or Cheney's feelings? Was "the loyal soldier", with authority to kill, part of Libby's job description? Part of Rove's duties?

"He insulted me, and so deserves to die, and all his family to the ninth generation" isn't exactly a tenet worth sovereign immunity, even if we were governed by kings.

By the way, I do agree that imprisonment is the ONLY real punishment that will mean anything to this crowd.

With a 5 million dollar defense fund, that fine won't hurt Libby a bit. Goodling, Gonzales, Doan, and all the others know that very deep corporate pockets will keep them from suffering financially, and there are always private sector jobs as lobbyists.

I guess I was right that Bush wouldn't pardon Libby, reason I gave was that then Libby would be relieved of his 5th amendment rights. But as you point out, this middle ground relieves Libby of any pressure to talk, and keeps the 5th rights.

But couldn't congress still call him up and ask him to talk? If he is pushing his appeal, the reason is that he thinks he is not guilty. If congress gives him immunity, could that relieve him? Seems worth the try now. I wonder what areas congress could ask about.

Great job with this diary, emptywheel, which I missed.

I am so grateful for your blogging, for your bearing witness, your teaching.

Another blueprint for impeachment right here, in fact—if they only had the will to follow it.

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