Well hello there Wheelhouse members! Marcy is still on the road, but I am back and ready to roll, so there will start being actual content here again! I want to start with a bit of interesting post-mortem news on Thomas Drake.
As you will recall, Tom Drake was belligerently prosecuted by the DOJ on trumped up espionage charges (See: here, here, here and here) and their case fell out from underneath them because they cravenly wanted to hide the facts. As a result, Drake pled guilty to about the piddliest little misdemeanor imaginable, and will be sentenced, undoubtedly, to no incarceration whatsoever, no fine and one year or less of unsupervised probation on July 15, 2011. But the entire Tom Drake matter emanated out of Drake’s attempt to internally, and properly, cooperate with a whistleblowing to the Department of Defense Inspector General.
The report from the DOD IG in this regard has now, conveniently after Drake entered his plea, been publicly released through a long sought FOIA to the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), albeit it in heavily redacted form:
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecuted Drake under the Espionage Act for unauthorized possession of “national defense information.” The prosecution was believed to be an outgrowth of the DOJ’s investigation into disclosures of the NSA warrantless wiretapping to The New York Times and came after Drake blew the whistle on widespread problems with a NSA program called TRAILBLAZER. Most of the Espionage Act charges against Drake dealt with documents associated with his cooperation with this DoD IG audit. However, this month the government’s case against Drake fell apart and prosecutors dropped the felony charges. Instead, Drake pleaded to a misdemeanor charge of exceeding the authorized use of a computer.
The report, which was heavily redacted, found that “the National Security Agency is inefficiently using resources to develop a digital network exploitation system that is not capable of fully exploiting the digital network intelligence available to analysts from the Global Information Network.” The DoD IG also found, in reference to TRAILBLAZER, that “the NSA transformation effort may be developing a less capable long-term digital network exploitation solution that will take longer and cost significantly more to develop.”
The report speaks for itself and I will not go in to deep quotes from it; suffice it to say, the DOD IG report proves that Tom Drake was precisely correct in his initial complaints that the TRAILBLAZER program was a nightmarish fraud on the taxpayers and inherently inefficient compared to the THIN THREAD program originally devised in house. The money quotes, as noted by POGO, are:
…the National Security Agency is inefficiently using resources to develop a digital network exploitation system that is not capable of fully exploiting the digital network intelligence available to analysts from the Global Information Network.
…the NSA transformation effort may be developing a less capable long-term digital network exploitation solution that will take longer and cost significantly more to develop.
So, in sum, thanks to POGO’s FOIA release here, we now know that not only was the persecution of Tom Drake by the DOJ completely bogus and vindictive, Tom Drake was bloody well right about TRAILBLAZER versus THIN THREAD to start with. Who couldda predicted?
Catalog of records the Bush Administration kept in such disorganized fashion that no one could reconstruct WTF BushCo had been doing on that subject:
(What am I missing?)
You see, historically, authoritarians usually happen to be superb record-keepers. That has been their undoing, once historians got to them. One thing the Bush fuckers got right (from their perspective, mind you) was to avoid leaving usable records.
And did he do it to protect Dick?
I admit. I can’t help myself. By some strange force, I found myself back at Prettyman this week, wading through the million-dollar CIPA battle that Libby waged in his graymail attempts (for the record, Fitz must say "graymail" about 20 times by the second day of these hearings). And in a December 29, 2005 defense filing (I haven’t scanned it yet, either because I was liveblogging all day or I’m just trying to torture Jeff) asking for further information to be declassified in response to the Jencks information they got, I found this footnote clarifying the sentence, "According to [Libby’s CIA briefer, Craig] Schmall, ‘Since I had no knowledge of the ambassador or his wife, I presume Libby gave me [the names Joe Wilson and Valerie Wilson].’"
Eric Edelman, whom the government recently decided not to call as a witness, contradicts Mr. Schmall on this point. According to Mr. Edelman, sometime before June 6, 2003 (when Mr. Edelman left the OVP), Mr. Schmall "identified the former envoy as Joseph Wilson" and "advised Edelman that the CIA’s Counterproliferation Division sent Wilson to Niger to conduct the inquiry, not the OVP." 6/23/04 Edelman FBI 302 at 2. According to Mr. Edelman, Mr. Schmall showed him internal CIA emails about the Wilson trip. 8/6/04 Edelman Grand Jury T. at 16. In addition, Mr. Schmall may have told Mr. Edelman during this period that Ambassador Wilson’s mission to Africa was suggested by his wife. 6/23/04 Edelman FBI 302 at 2; see also 7/7/04 Edelman FBI 302 at 2-3 (same); 8/6/04 Edelman Grand Jury T at 15-19 (same). Apart from the fact that Mr. Edelman contradicts Schmall on a significant point, the government may have elected not to call him because he makes clear in his grand jury testimony that he does not recall any mention of Ms. Wilson in his discussion with Mr. Libby following the June 19 New Republic article (see Indictment at 5-6 12-13) , and he never discussed with Mr. Libby the nature of the "complications" to which Mr. Libby referred. 8/6/04 Edelman Grand Jury T. at 29-30.
Now, as to the substance of Edelman’s denial that he was talking about Plame when he advocated leaking "information" to rebut Joe Wilson, here’s what the indictment said. It clearly relies on a witness or some other evidence that is not named Scooter Libby.
Shortly after publication of the article in The New Republic, LIBBY spoke by telephone with his then Principal Deputy and discussed the article. That official asked LIBBY whether information about Wilson’s trip could be shared with the press to rebut the allegations that the Vice President had sent Wilson. LIBBY responded that there would be complications at the CIA in disclosing that information publicly, and that he could not discuss the matter on a non-secure telephone line.
And in his grand jury testimony, Edelman told a story that did not directly contradict the substance of testimony apparently given about that conversation, but conveniently denies everything for which there was no apparent witness (that is, if you thought Edelman were trustworthy, you might just think Edelman dropped the issue after the witness stopped following it).
That’s interesting. But I’m much more interested in this part of the footnote.
According to Mr. Edelman, Mr. Schmall showed him internal CIA emails about the Wilson trip. Continue reading
This is the post I promised, in which I’ll analyze what the timeline of the missing dates shows. As I said in that post, this exercise makes several assumptions, some of which clearly are not true:
So understand that this is as much a thought experiment as useful analysis. It basically tries to answer the question, "Assuming most of the WH and OVP email gaps during this period relate to the Plame investigation, why might the WH have been deleting archives? What were they trying to hide?"
Also, consider some limits about the content of the email. We’re assuming the email was dangerous enough to make it worthwhile to delete. Yet, given that Fitzgerald got at least 250 pages of the missing OVP emails (and presumably a similar amount of missing WH emails), one of the following must be true:
Jeff kicked my arse on a timing related issue yesterday, so I thought I better lay out the disappearing White House email timing all nice and neat like. Much of the detail on emails relies on some very cool work Jeff did on the emails.
I’ll move this over into a permanent timeline after you guys tell me what I’m missing (Jeff, I’m looking at you).
February 26, 2001: Gonzales informs White House staff they must preserve their email.
April 2001: GAO report on problems with ARMS and emails from the VP’s office in the Clinton Administration.
June 4, 2001: Bush announces plan to name CIO to manage and monitor email.
2001, unknown date: Susan Ralston prints off Rove email in response to Enron inquiry, gives that email to Alberto Gonzales, presumably alerting him to Rove’s use of RNC servers for official emails.
Late 2001 to early 2002: White House deactivates ARMS system put in place by Clinton Administration to archive emails.
Between 2002 and 2003: White House converts from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange.
March 2003: Starting date of period during which White House has incomplete archives for emails.
July 11, 2003: Rove writes Hadley email immediately after his call with Matt Cooper.
September 26, 2003: DOJ starts an investigation into Plame leak.
September 29, 2003, morning: Scottie McClellan claims ignorance of a DOJ investigation into the leak.
September 29, 2003, evening: John Ashcroft informs Alberto Gonzales of investigation.
September 30, 2003, morning: Alberto Gonzales informs White House staff of investigation.
September 30, 2003, 6:15 PM: Alberto Gonzales informs White House what to retain.
October 2003 (unknown date): White House CIO stops "recycling" backup tapes.
October 1, 2003: Mayfield to Martin email passing on transcript from that day’s Press Gaggle; the email was not apparently turned over until February 2006, presumably among the emails "not archived properly."
October 2, 2003: DOJ requests White House turn over materials relating to Wilson, his Niger trip, Novak, Royce, and Phelps.
October 3, 2003: Gonzales informs White House to turn over materials by October 7.
October 5, 2003: Date on which Martin to Fleischer email printed out, apparently by Martin. It was originally written on July 7, 2003 and contained OVP talking points on Wilson for Fleischer to use in his press briefing, including the words, "Niger" and "Joe Wilson." Probably turned over to DOJ on October 9, 2003.
October 7, 2003: Reporter asks Scottie McClellan whether White House officials have to turn over emails they’ve deleted.
Q No, I understand that. I’m just saying how would this work? Let’s say I remember — I’m an official, I remember sending some email about this, but I’ve long since deleted it. How —
Q I just want to be clear, though, the White House is obligated to provide emails that may have been deleted by the individual but are still archived by the White House —
MR. McCLELLAN: Look back — it said what is in the possession of, I believe, in the White House, the employees and staff.
October 13, 2003: Date on which July 11, 2003 Martin to Michael Anton email printed out. The email was apparently discovered in a search of OVP files by "OVP RM." It mentions "Niger" and "Wilson."
November 25, 2003: Per Hubris, date on which Rove aide B.J. Goergen prints out Rove-Hadley email (eventually turned over on October 14, 2004). The email mentions "Cooper" and Niger."
November 26, 2003: Oldest Rove email preserved by RNC.
February 2, 2004: Addington drafts a letter to Keith Roberts, Acting General Counsel, Office of Administration, listing the new terms for a search of the OVP domain. If "Joe Wilson" or "Niger" were mentioned in the October 1 gaggle, the October 1 Martin to Mayfield email should have been found in this search.
February 11, 2004: Date on which June 11, 2003 Martin to Mayfield email printed out. The email was apparently discovered in a search of OVP files by "OVP RM." It mentions "Pincus" and "Niger."
February 11, 2004: Date on which July 11, 2003 Martin and Cooper email exchange printed out. The email was apparently discovered in search of OVP files by "OVP RM." It mentions "Cooper" and "Niger." Cooper’s initial email was printed out, probably on July 11 or 12, though it has no date; Libby wrote notes on it on how he would respond to Cooper.
March 2004: FBI begins probe into Abramoff scandal.
March 24, 2004: Fitzgerald asks Libby about email, suggesting Fitzgerald was surprised by the lack of email he received as evidence.
Q. You’re not big on e-mail I take it?
A. No. Not in this job. I was in my prior job.
May 8, 2004: Date on which Abramoff-Susan Ralston email using the RNC server printed out by Greenberg-Traurig. This may have been the first public indication that White House employees (Ralston) were using the RNC server to bypass the more public White House server.
June 2004: Senate Indian Affairs Committee issues its first subpoena in its investigation into Abramoff scandal.