Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Leaky Dealings
Rove-a-Palooza/Take a Letter from Libby/Miller's Crossing/Big Time!

By now, you've most likely heard this news, reported in the NYTimes:
I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, first learned about the C.I.A. officer at the heart of the leak investigation in a conversation with Mr. Cheney weeks before her identity became public in 2003, lawyers involved in the case said Monday.

Notes of the previously undisclosed conversation between Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney on June 12, 2003, appear to differ from Mr. Libby's testimony to a federal grand jury that he initially learned about the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson, from journalists, the lawyers said.

The notes, taken by Mr. Libby during the conversation, for the first time place Mr. Cheney in the middle of an effort by the White House to learn about Ms. Wilson's husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, who was questioning the administration's handling of intelligence about Iraq's nuclear program to justify the war.

Lawyers involved in the case, who described the notes to The New York Times, said they showed that Mr. Cheney knew that Ms. Wilson worked at the C.I.A. more than a month before her identity was made public and her undercover status was disclosed in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak on July 14, 2003.

Mr. Libby's notes indicate that Mr. Cheney had gotten his information about Ms. Wilson from George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, in response to questions from the vice president about Mr. Wilson. But they contain no suggestion that either Mr. Cheney or Mr. Libby knew at the time of Ms. Wilson's undercover status or that her identity was classified. Disclosing a covert agent's identity can be a crime, but only if the person who discloses it knows the agent's undercover status.

You can probably guess what Scottie McC had to say (via the San Francisco Chronicle):
The White House on Tuesday sidestepped questions about whether Vice President Dick Cheney passed on to his top aide the identity of a CIA officer central to a federal grand jury probe.
[...]
"This is a question relating to an ongoing investigation and we're not having any further comment on the investigation while it's ongoing," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said.

Pressed about Cheney's knowledge about the CIA officer, McClellan said: "I think you're prejudging things and speculating and we're not going to prejudge or speculate about things."

McClellan said Cheney — who participated in a morning video conference on the Florida hurricane from Wyoming, where he is speaking at a University of Wyoming dinner tonight — is doing a "great job" as vice president.
Back to the NYTimes revelation, Steve Clemons over at The Washington Note comments thusly:
This is amazing information. You may ask why?

First of all, this means that Vice President Cheney has known all along that he was Scooter Libby's source -- and whether Libby had license from him or not to try and slaughter the reputation of Joe Wilson -- CHENEY KNEW.

The entire charade of President Bush stating that he wanted to get to the bottom of who leaked Plame's name -- and who was involved -- is no longer believable at any level. Cheney would not have failed to disclose this to Bush, and Bush played along as if none of his staff were involved. They confessed nothing -- accepted no responsibilty -- until forced by Fitzgerald.
[...]
This is where things get interesting. Although Fitzgerald may not need to establish this connection, it seems increasingly plausible to TWN that Tenet and Cheney had some kind of exchange regarding Joe and Valerie Wilson. Cheney then passed off the information to Libby along with a few expletives about Wilson, implying that the @#$%@%er should be done in.

The question is how did Libby then churn up more info on Wilson without other parts of the "untrusted" bureaucracy spitting in his face or reporting his sins?

My hunch is that he went to trusted spear-carriers for Vice President Cheney -- the office and staff of Under Secretary of State John Bolton. Fred Fleitz, Bolton's chief of staff, maintained his CIA WINPAC portfolio and access as an active duty CIA staff member while he operated as Bolton's "acting" chief of staff. We know that Fleitz was a key part of the intelligence cherry-picking/stove-piping operation when it came to both the intel and policy response to various global WMD concerns -- in North Korea, Libya, Iran, and Iraq.

We also know that David Wurmser and John Hannah, who have both apparently cooperated after threats of legal action (i.e., time behind bars) with Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald worked both for John Bolton's operation and the Vice President's office.

Former CIA counter-terrorism expert Larry Johnson adds this at the Booman Tribune:

Although the NY Times story reports that Libby's notes indicate that George Tenet told Cheney about Plame, there are some intriguing unanswered questions. For starters it is highly unlikely that George Tenet showed up at the White House and just happened to know the name of Valerie Plame. Someone at the White House asked for it first. Tenet clearly came prepared to respond to a White House request. I'm sure the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, knows who called CIA to ask the question.

I also doubt that Tenet used the name "Plame". Since Valerie married Joe Wilson she went by the name, Valerie Wilson. Someone introduced "Plame" into the equation.

Who did the subsequent work up on Mrs. Wilson? Only Scooter? Unlikely. Look for other names to emerge in coming days that will reveal who helped work out the "background" info on Valerie Wilson.

What sweet irony! Dick Cheney had a hand in pushing the "nepotism" charge, you know, Joe Wilson only got the job because his wife hired him. Since Dick got his daughter a sweetheart deal at State Department he should not be out casting such stones or encouraging others to do so.


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