Predictable Failure Update

Justin Rood points to this Observer article which supports two of my past speculations.

emptywheel, 8/18

But I suspect he may be misreading theadministration’s dominant impulse with regards to information. Roodargues that because the administration hates leaks, the leak musteither have been sanctioned or just something the administrationmissed.

Most likely, the leak was sanctioned. Alternatively, it was originally unsanctioned but aided the administration’s goals, so they let it slide.

ButI would argue–and (as Rood himself admits) you can ask Valerie Plameabout this–that the administration doesn’t so much hate leaks. Itsprimary motivating impulse is that it hates losing control of the information. If leaks serve its immediate political purpose, they’re all well and good, according to the administration.

Observer, 8/21

Anti-terror police in Britain have made an angry request to their UScounterparts asking them to stop leaking details of this month’ssuspected bomb plot over fears that it could jeopardise the chances ofa successful prosecution and hamper the gathering of evidence.

TheBritish security services, MI5 and MI6, are understood to be dismayedthat a number of sensitive details surrounding the alleged plot -including an FBI estimate that as many as 50 people were involved -were leaked to the media.

  1. Nues says:

    Sufficeint evidence. That is an excuse for the London bombing. MI5 and 6 are responsible. They would rather use the terrorist than arrest them; operations officers. During the London bombing a private security company was doing an exercise looking for precisely what happened. Alot like the exercises during 9/11.

    Allies don’t want to work with us because of the above and the leaks. The leak probably was not there to get these people arrested before they acted. Plame would be the answer here.

    The Isreali Palestinian/Lebanon question is simple. Sharon was going to start a third party. He controlled the retired radical military and intelligence that invaded Lebanon. He would not invade until we were out of Iraq. The radicals believe the US took too long and invaded anyway.

    Intelligence. Blair is not the great social worker he thinks. The London bombing happened the day he passed a G8 GDP tax on his people without a vote. This was stupid and the terrorists may not have been responding to the leaders in Al Qaeda. They sent the tapes of the terrorists after it was implied they worked for someone else. These tapes have become increasingly popular after a private contractor used those to source ’terrorist.’ The tapes are actually the person being written off by Al Quaeda. They really are’nt needed, but should not be used by another organization. More tapes………………

  2. landreau says:

    It’s starting to sink in: #43 is an idiot. And like the Kiss Float defined the CT primary, the screenshot from Scarborough’s show with the crawl headline â€Is Bush an Idiot?†could come to define this whole era. The popular, collective mind is becoming fixed on this, and it will be irrefutable wisdom soon. I’d bet my house on it.

    Tony Blair may be many oily things, but I don’t believe he’s an idiot and I don’t think he wants to go down in history as the pm who was taken in BY an idiot. It’s got to be clear to him now that that will be his legacy. Our alliance with the UK will be difficult until 2009 at the earliest.

  3. radish says:

    Took the weekend off and hung out with the in-laws, but as I understand it the Ockham-compliant Condensed Storyline now looks like this:

    1) with various potentially awkward electoral moments coming up (CT Dem primary looking like a watershed, warrantless surveillance court rulings, yet-more congressional corruption, war in Afghanistan Iraq Lebanon not going well, yadda yadda) somebody clever decides that the GOP needs a newsworthy hook on which to hang a â€Dems are weak on terror†PR blitz

    2) well aware of the Pakistani Brits, who fit into the plot a lot better than dreadlocked Florida rudeboys (plus having the advantage of having their own money and boots), the US asks the UK to arrest some people (with much fanfare if possible, but if not no big deal, we can create the fanfare)

    3) the UK, not unreasonably, declines, points out that there is no immediate threat, and not enough evidence, and explains yet again to the Bushies about using small fish to catch bigger fish, not killing the goose that lays the golden eggs etc etc…

    4) approaching the end of July and with time a-wastin’ the Bushies go straight to Musharraf et al, and possibly also to an unidentified â€British security agency’s informer in Pakistan with contacts with Rauf,†and lean hard on them

    5) Musharraf et al come through with an arrest, and lean even harder on Rauf in turn, while Tony, blissfully unaware of how directly and effectively he has been undermined, dreams about relaxing on the beach with a pina colada in a cocounut shell

    6) Rauf’s arrest causes Rauf’s â€unidentified associate†(who may or may not be the same person mentioned above) to call the High Wycombe cell with something along the lines of â€please destroy ten airliners at your earliest convenience, and send expense account receipts to head office†thereby forcing the UK’s hand

    7) Lo and behold! Heathrow shut down, Dems weak on terror, warrantless surveillance essential, etc etc…

    Am I missing anything?

  4. William Ockham says:


    Couldn’t have said it better myself. Not entirely sure of your narrative, but it makes a lot more sense that what we’ve seen in the traditional media.

  5. semiot says:

    At the risk of dregging up mossy old theories here (and you DID mention Plame, EW) BushCo loves to think that â€leaks†are good business when BushCo holds the valve. Yeah the Brit Bombs-on-a-plane scare smells like fish in a can.

    And speaking of moldy old theories, I still say that (whatever the real motive) Plame’s outing was an opportunity hitched to a passing crisis. So, IMHO, l’Affaire Plame was MIHOP all the way. it fits the BushCo MO to a tee.

  6. smiley says:

    ha ha ha, not to go OT here but a norwegian friend of mine once gave all of us fish-in-a-can for christmas. I promptly threw mine away, and was glad that I did after one of the other guys in the office told us that his exploded in the pantry about 6 months later. I guess it fermented, and that released… fish gas… or something, and blammo! rotten fish everywhere.

    Yeah, that’s basically what I thought about the snakes ^H^H^H^H^H hair-gel on a plane plot also.

  7. Jim E. says:

    OT, but I believe the AP has today confirmed that Armitage met with Woodward for one hour on June 13, 2003. Basically confirms what’s already been known/suspected. Apologies if this AP thing is actually an older story that I’d missed.

  8. Jeff says:

    Nope, Jim E., that’s news. Good thinking by AP to FOIA Armitage’s official State calendar! So that nails it down – we had figured out that Woodward got his Plame leak between June 12 and June 15, I think, and now we know Armitage blew Plame’s cover with Woodward the day after Pincus’ article was published. Why did Woodward make such a big deal out of blurring the date? Thinking this sort of thing would (or wouldn’t?) happen? Now, Armitage says this:

    Reached at his home in Virginia, Armitage said he could not discuss his cooperation with Fitzgerald’s office, the meeting with Woodward or any details of the case.

    Is that just because he is hoping against hope the whole thing will go away, or at least that anything he says will only stoke the fires of attention? Or has he not yet been released from the request not to say anything about it by Fitzgerald – and he did indicate in his appearance on Charlie Rose that he would talk once he was told his part in the case was done. That could have just been an excuse not to talk, of course.

    This is interesting from the AP story:

    Fitzgerald has signaled there are no plans beyond the Libby indictment to prosecute any other officials for releasing Plame’s identity.

    As is this:

    Armitage’s calendar also shows that a week before Woodward’s meeting with Armitage, the deputy secretary of state met for 15 minutes with Libby.


    Two people familiar with the meeting, however, said the Libby-Armitage meeting dealt with issues involving Pakistan and said the subject of the CIA leak case wasn’t raised.

  9. Jeff says:

    This is not prompted specifically by this news, but I have been thinking lately about how Armitage’s role presents a challenge to emptywheel’s incipiently famous remark at the Plame panel about not wanting to repeat with Plame the fiasco of Iran-Contra: it’s too complicated to explain to the American people. Because the reality is that Armitage does complicate the story, and there are idiots – let’s just call him Christopher Hitchens – not even waiting in the wings, but already on stage declaring that Armitage’s role annihilates the idea of a White House conspiracy. Of course, it does no such thing, but it does complicate things – and my working hypothesis for several months (since becoming convinced that Armitage was Woodward’s source and, especially, Novak’s first source) has been that what we had was a coordinated attack on the Wilsons out of OVP plus whatever it was that Armitage was doing, which was relatively autonomous of what OVP was doing. (We can debate whether Armitage was running down Wilson, as I suspect, or genuinely slipping up while defending Wilson and so on, but that’s irrelevant at the moment.) It violates Occam’s razor – which I have never believed in in human affairs, just as William Ockham around here – but it is not difficult to imagine that there was a lot of activity around the Wilsons in the administration in June-July 2003, not all of it coordinated or part of what set of actions. And that is what I suspect we got.

    It does give a little bit of a flavor of a comedy of errors to the whole thing, which of course does not take away from the seriousness of the thing either, but Novak sort of ends up as this weird character – a clown – in the middle, while, in my view, Miller was Libby’s target of opportunity all along, and she didn’t publish in the end, preempted by Novak’s column and prevented by her bosses (and ultimately by her own poor previous reporting).

    I think you can, in retrospect, see some of this reflected in Fitzgerald’s press conference on the day of Libby’s indictment. First, his specifying that Novak’s column on July 14 was the first sign that Plame’s cover was blown, not the actual blowing of the cover itself. Second, I think Fitzgerald may have in mind something like the comedy of errors I’m describing when he says

    Investigators do not set out to investigate the statute, they set out to gather the facts

    and then especially when he illustrates the point with

    Agent Eckenrode doesn’t send people out when $1 million is missing from the bank and tell them, â€Just come back if you find wire fraud.†If the agent finds embezzlement, they follow through on that. That’s the way this investigation was conducted. It was known that a CIA offier’s identity was blown, it was known there was a leak. We needed to figure out how that happened, who did it, why, whether a crime was committed, whether we could prove it, whether we should prove it.

    In other words, I’m suggesting, Fitzgerald is saying, Plame’s cover was blown, as we learned from Novak’s column, but Agent Eckenrode didn’t send people out to find out just who leaked to Novak (wire fraud), he sent them out to find how her cover was blown through leaks (the missing $1 million), and he found various leaks, and then (departing from the analogy) had to answer all the difficult questions about motive and mode and so on. In this way, Fitzgerald is seeking to put Libby’s underlying actions, which apparently had no direct bearing on Novak’s column, at the center of the actions that led to Plame’s cover being blown, even as seemingly Novak’s first source gets off, presumably because of motive issues, plus he apparently told the truth about it.

    So all in all, Armitage complicates the story, but most certainly does not annihilate the idea of a coordinated White Hous effort to get the Wilsons, the irrepressible Mr. Hitchens notwithstanding.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Great catch, Jim E.

    Jeff, I agree that Armitage confuses the story, not least because your average American isn’t going to understand how antagonistic was the relationship between Armitage and OVP.

    Though keep in mind all the stuff that Armitage has cooperated with. Fitzgerald can’t reveal that–certainly not without a Rove indictment (and he may be saving it). If that were revealed (if it is real), then it would clarify things pretty well.

    About the â€Fitz has indicated,†I don’t buy. First, this article is co-bylined by Solomon (probably because he has been covering this story, so he probably did all the background stuff, which would include that comment. Solomon is a hack prone to repeat GOP talking points (perhaps only because he has a tough time assessing them critically). And the GOP latched onto the Rove non-indictment to claim this was over. Fitz hasn’t made any comments, one way or another.

  11. Jeff says:

    Armitage confuses the story, not least because your average American isn’t going to understand how antagonistic was the relationship between Armitage and OVP.

    Funny thing about that, though, is that that confusion comes from oversimplifying the story, insofar as people might miss the fact that it’s unlikely Armitage was outing Plame as part of the same set of actions as OVP’s.

    But for the idiotic literati like Hitchens, that complication means there was no coordinated White House effort to get the Wilsons and out her.

    It’s true that revealing the contours of Armitage’s cooperation would clarify things, but if I’m right and Armitage really was acting independently of Libby et al – and wasn’t being used by them, as you’ve suggested – then it just clarifies the somewhat complicated nature of the story, it doesn’t remove that complication. Of course, if you’re right and Armitage was Libby’s patsy, then it clarifies and simplifies things. It would be extra sweet if Armitage lied to the AP about the content of his June 6ish colloquy with Libby in order to hide from Libby the nature of his cooperation with Fitzgerald. But I doubt it. Alternately, it’s possible that Woodward actually did tell Libby about Armitage, triggering Libby to tell Rove to tell Novak to ask Armitage, or some such. But I doubt that too – and that will hardly simplify the story.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I think there’s a third option. And that’s that Armitage has seen the reflection of a good deal of Libby’s and Rove’s work. If he was getting calls for confirmation (Mitchell, for example), then he may well know exactly who was told what and have a good sense of by whom.

  13. Jeff says:

    That’s true, but again that speaks to the nature of his cooperation with the investigation, not the nature of his own actions back in June-July 2003, which remain a complicating factor in the story even if he is cooperating. And anyway, why would Armitage have been receiving confirmation calls unless Libby et al knew that Armitage either had blown Plame’s cover with Woodward or Armitage had had some kind of conversation with Libby where it was clear not only that Armitage knew but that he was likely to loose his lips with reporters?

  14. Anonymous says:

    I think the confirmation calls may have come after Novak, and Libby himself claims Novak told him who his source was.

  15. Kathleen says:

    I’m sorry to be so thoroughly cynical, but I don’t trust a single one of them, not Woodward or Armitage either.

    I find it questionable that Bob Woodward didn’t mention his conversation with Armitage in which Plame’s name came up, until after Fitz announced Libby’s indictment and he suddenly remembered that he had had this conversation prior to the date which Fitz identified as the first known mention of Plame’s name. It felt fishy, almost like they had a pre-ordained fall back position to come up with an â€earlier date†than Libby’s leak.

    Surely during the lead up to the Libby indictment, Woodward must have checked his date book and notes. I’d like to think otherwise about Woodward, but it remains questionable to me.