What Fresh Hell Is This?

July 22, 2005

Deep Doodoo

Looks like the Miserable Failure's White House is neck deep in it. Guess nominating that Big Jar of Mayonnaise for SCOTUS isn't taking the heat off Traitorgate like they thought it would:

1. Rove and Libby Lie to Special Prosecutor?

Bloomberg News:

Two top White House aides have given accounts to a special prosecutor about how reporters first told them the identity of a CIA agent that are at odds with what the reporters have said, according to people familiar with the case.

Lewis ``Scooter'' Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, told special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he first learned from NBC News reporter Tim Russert of the identity of Central Intelligence Agency operative Valerie Plame, the wife of former ambassador and Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, one person said. Russert has testified before a federal grand jury that he didn't tell Libby of Plame's identity, the person said.

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove told Fitzgerald that he first learned the identity of the CIA agent from syndicated columnist Robert Novak, according a person familiar with the matter. Novak, who was first to report Plame's name and connection to Wilson, has given a somewhat different version to the special prosecutor, the person said.

These discrepancies may be important because Fitzgerald is investigating whether Libby, Rove or other administration officials made false statements during the course of the investigation. The Plame case has its genesis in whether any administration officials violated a 1982 law making it illegal to knowingly reveal the name of a covert intelligence agent.
2. Possible Conspiracy Between Libby and Rove (and who knows who else)?

New York Times:

At the same time in July 2003 that a C.I.A. operative's identity was exposed, two key White House officials who talked to journalists about the officer were also working closely together on a related underlying issue: whether President Bush was correct in suggesting earlier that year that Iraq had been trying to acquire nuclear materials from Africa.


They had exchanged e-mail correspondence and drafts of a proposed statement by George Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, to explain how the disputed wording had gotten into the address. Mr. Rove, the president's political strategist, and Mr. Libby, the chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, coordinated their efforts with Stephen Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser, who was in turn consulting with Mr. Tenet.

At the same time, they were grappling with the fallout from an Op-Ed article on July 6, 2003, in The New York Times by Mr. Wilson, a former diplomat, in which he criticized the way the administration had used intelligence to support the claim in Mr. Bush's speech.


The effort was particularly striking because to an unusual degree, the circle of administration officials involved included those from the White House's political and national security operations, which are often separately run. Both arms were drawn into the effort to defend the administration during the period.

In another indication of how wide a net investigators have cast in the case, Karen Hughes, a former top communications aide to Mr. Bush, and Robert Joseph, who was then the National Security Council's weapons proliferation expert, have both told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that they were interviewed by the special prosecutor.
3. Ari Fliescher Lies to Grand Jury?

New York Times:

Among those asked if he had seen the memo was Ari Fleischer, then the White House press secretary, who was on Air Force One with Mr. Bush and Mr. Powell during the Africa trip right after Mr. Wilson's article appeared. Mr. Fleischer told the grand jury that he never saw the memo, a person familiar with the testimony said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the prosecutor's admonitions about not disclosing what is said to the grand jury.

But according to Bloomberg:

On the flight to Africa, Fleischer was seen perusing the State Department memo on Wilson and his wife, according to a former administration official who was also on the trip.
4. Memo Taken to Africa Trip by Bush Naming Wilson's Wife Was Marked "Top Secret."

Daily Kos (and I heard this myself on Countdown with Keith Olbermann last night):

Olberman reporting that there will be a piece in WSJ tommorow stating that the Memo was marked "Top Secret", and that it was not to be shared with other nation's intellegence agencies, no matter how how friendly.
5. Waxman to Co-Chair Hearings Today with Ex CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency Officials on How Leak Negatively Impacted Our Intelligence Network.

Rep. Waxman at Daily Kos:

First, I want to iterate a point that I hope we can all keep in mind: the leak of Ms. Wilson's identity is a serious national security breach. There is no reason that the President should wait until someone on his staff is criminally convicted before he clamps down, isolates the leaks, and works to remediate the damage that has been caused. The President's first priority should be to protect the security of this country, not to engage in political damage control. That is his responsibility as President and Commander-in-Chief.


As I mentioned, I will be co-chairing a hearing in the Dirksen Senate Office Building at 10 am tomorrow that will hear testimony from four former CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency officials. (More details available here [.pdf]. The hearing may be shown on C-SPAN and video will be available after it is concluded.) Joining seven of their colleagues, these former intelligence officials issued an open statement (.pdf) to Congress this week concluding that the coordinated strategy to discredit Ms. Wilson "reveals an astonishing ignorance of the intelligence community and the role of cover." Those are extremely strong words. I urge you to read their full statement, if you haven't yet already.

Among the questions I will have for these witnesses is how a breach like this impacts an agent's network of contacts in real terms. I also want to know their thoughts as intelligence officials on the White House actions to date.

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