The CIA pushes back

Last week, we were treated to a number of articles sourced to former senior State department officials clarifying some of the facts in the Plame case, particularly as regards to the INR memo. Those articles undermine some of the anonymously (read, Luskin) sourced articles pinning Colin Powell with the memo on AF1.

Today, we’re treated to a similar pushback article, this time from the CIA.

This is similar to a number of grand narrative articles the WaPo has published recently. It offers little that is entirely new information. One detail that is technically new, for example, is an expanded list of who has been interviewed.

Prosecutors have questioned former CIA director George J. Tenet anddeputy director John E. McLaughlin, former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow,State Department officials, and even a stranger who approachedcolumnist Robert D. Novak on the street.

While these names have never been published before, they should not come as a surprise to anyone who has followed this closely. It was rumored when Tenet quit, for example, that he did so so he could begin to testify fully to the Grand Jury. And several news reports have told stories about investigators spending a lot of time at the CIA. If they were at the CIA, then it’s safe to assume they were interviewing people at the CIA.

And Wilson’s friend? Well, Wilson’s friend is the witness who can prove that Novak knew Plame’s identity as early as July 8. And pinpointing when Novak knew of Plame’s identity is a key step to learning who told him. Fitzgerald would have been remiss if, with all the publicity surrounding this detail of Wilson’s story, he hadn’t interviewed the friend.

6 replies
  1. Kagro X says:

    Here’s what caught my eye in all this:

    Harlow said that after Novak’s call, he checked Plame’s status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative. He said he called Novak back to repeat that the story Novak had related to him was wrong and that Plame’s name should not be used. [emphasis mine]


    Way, way, way back when, I was puzzling over whether Novak himself might indeed be caught up in the IIPA web, although I was repeatedly brushed off for not having established the requisite â€pattern of activities.†I argued, at the time, that Novak’s call to the CIA, his subsequent ignoring of their warning, and the publication of Plame’s name might (under the RICO-style conspiracy rubric) constitute such a pattern. The other objection at the time was that such a â€pattern†had to expose the identities of multiple agents, and not just one. But then Novak took care of that objection with the subsequent act of revealing the name of Wilson’s cover operation, Brewster-Jennings — itself another â€activity†in the â€pattern.â€

    Now, of course, we learn that not only was Novak warned off once by Harlow, but in fact Harlow called him back to warn him again. A second ignored warning. Another â€activity†for our â€pattern?†Conspiracy prosecutors are not generally known for their forgiveness in these sorts of definitions. At least not until a court forces them to be.

  2. emptywheel says:


    Maybe that’s why Novak perjured himself. He realized he was more culpable than most people realized, so he didn’t have much to lose in perjuring himself.

  3. Kagro X says:


    That may certainly explain Novak’s willingness to perjure himself. Especially if he did so in league with others under suspicion. He would have a lot riding on perpetuating the notion that her identity was â€well known in Washington,†which could be the flip-side of the claim that Rove, et al. heard her name from journalists, and not the other way around. â€Don’t worry, Bob. Yes, we’ll say we heard it from you, but you’re OK in this, because for you, there has to be a ’pattern of activities,’ and this isn’t a pattern.â€

    And while I’m here, I might also point out that I took RonK’s comment from yesterday:

    Suppose the trail of orchestrated stonewalling and deliberate misdirection reaches into the Senate itself. Might that not be â€extraordinaryâ€?

    to be relevant to the continued threats from Sen. Roberts that you’ve highlighted.

  4. emptywheel says:


    Yup. I’m fairly sure Roberts is feeling the heat. If I’m right about my most recent post–that the SSCI deliberately buried a document that totally discredited Bush’s war–then Roberts is going to have a lot to answer for. But it might explain Rockefeller’s inaction as well. I always suspect Dems get suckered to go along with GOP stonewalling in the name of comity, but more importantly in the name of national unity. I mean, seriously, what would the family of active duty servicemen do if they learned that Bush not only lied to get us into this war, but the minority party let the majority party cover those lies up? How’re you going to retain legitimacy for our government anymore?

    This whole CIA is scary. I really thought–and hoped–they’d exact their revenge before the elections. But now things have gone so far I worry about serious constitutional problems.


  5. Sara says:

    The problem for someone such as Rockefeller and many other members of congress is that once â€read into†intelligence product, they can’t really use any of that information to argue back in public. It is a classic problem — being witting essentially makes you either a co-conspirator or a neuter. But if you are not witting, you are not able to think the whole story through, as you don’t have the full deck of cards.

    I suspect if the CIA really pushes back it will be around an issue not related to what I am now calling XYZgate. They have many ways of finding another Bush vulnerability, and going after it in a covert fashion that cannot be traced back to the Company.

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