Tom Cruise and National Security

Here was my own personal favorite moment in the trial coverage on Wednesday. At one point, Cline was questioning Schmall about all the thing that Schmall’s work, as a briefer, helped Libby do with his work. He introduced 7 of the 9 very important things that Libby will use in his memory defense. Here’s the passage from the swell liveblog someone’s doing.

C Allowed them to address very serious issues. Terrorism, terroistthreats, homeland security, North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Middle East.

This is really a huge condensation of what Cline was doing–he was getting a response from Schmall after each bullet item. Well, once he hit North Korea, I realized he was doing the very important dots. So I started anticipating what he was going to say next. So in the media room, it went like this:

Cline: North Korea.

Schmall: Yes

emptywheel: Iran

Cline: Iran

Schmall: Yes

emptywheel: Iraq

Cline: Iraq

Schmall: Yes

At this point David Corn, who was sitting next to me joined in. And at the end, we noted, "hey, you forgot the Turkish soliders! And Liberia." A bit of fun for the frantic liveblogger.

Now, I apologize to those in the media room if this pissed you off. But really, this defense already looks hackneyed to me. I’m sure it doesn’t, yet, to the jurors. But boy, it will be.  And what with the news that, instead of focusing on these very important security issues, he was instead chatting with Tom Cruise and Penelope Cruz about how badly Germany treats Scientologists, I suspect it’s going to appear rather disingenuous to the American people. Perhaps if Libby had said no to the Tom Cruise meeting, we would have found Osama bin Laden.

  1. Anonymous says:


    I need some time to go fish out additional posts but take a look at this one first:

    And then this one (see the conclusion):

    Regarding the second post above (NCIS is part of DoD), the SSCI report mentions that Defense HUMINT (DoD) never bothered to follow-up with the WABman as well. Defense HUMINT…ring a bell? (Same outfit that didn’t vet INC frauds).

    And then this section:…..7089.php#3

  2. Rayne says:

    Bwa-hahahahahah!!! Too funny!!! Almost like throwing your voice through Cline, yes?

    But seriously…the translated documents part is frighteningly similar to another episode where the truth was hidden in documents but minimized and ignored because the translations became a larger issue of their own over the original documents and the truth they contained.

    By which I mean the TANG documents. The truth was right there, but the translations developed a life of their own with everyone looking at kerning instead of the content. Nice redirection, a classic ploy nearly perfected by the players in this administration.

    In the case of the Niger documents, somebody in WINPAC might have picked up immediately on the nature of the forgery if they had not only read the original in French, but had seen the other contextual clues in the four corners of the forgery (i.e., the quality and age of the letterhead, other telltale factors like formatting, etc.). What won’t get asked within this trial because of the narrow scope is who determined the documents must be translated, who buried the untranslated copies in the CPD files. The timing of the documents genesis also won’t come into play; how convenient that they began in late 2000 as the U.S. was trying to sort out its election outcome.

    Something one of the other commenters here said in an earlier thread encourages me to continue to think the outing was not merely aimed at discrediting Wilson; it was designed to squash any possible rebuttal from WINPAC specifically that could bring CIA handling of the forgeries to light. There was more riding on this than the Iraq War at this point; there was groundwork on Iran at risk as well, as Kwiatkowski’s comments indicated, and WINPAC needed to be â€encouraged†to see intelligence differently.

    Cheney pulled a two-fer.

  3. Anonymous says:


    Another thing. This thing about not getting it translated is a red herring. The fine folks at WINPAC who were stovepiping the Niger fraud *may* not have gotten the translations, but as this document says: (confirming, I think, at face value what I said in the links above)…..20DX64.pdf

    Embassy Rome indicated that it had learned from CIA that the documents provided by the journalist were the subject of the CIA report issued on 5 February 2002

    How could CIA have known these were the documents that linked to the Feb 2002 SISMI report if they did not even read it (meaning, read it based on some level of translation)? The timeline of Jan 03 for a translation may be true but it doesn’t mean others in the CIA (outside of WINPAC) didn’t know about the contents before that date. Also, the INR nuclear analyst already wrote to his colleagues in Oct on the â€implausible†global support document which was also not in English.

  4. Rayne says:

    Agh, exactly, page 9, section 27 at the link provided by eriposte from

    27. [REDACTED] CIA/WINPAC received the translated documents from the State Department on 7 February 2003. A preliminary examination of the document confirmed the identities of a key Iraqi [REDACTED] but did not progress sufficiently to fully examine other claims in the document. Key forensic clues–errors in format and grammar contained in the original documents–were not conveyed in the translation process.

    They waived around the â€original†fakes for the benefit of receptive but not overly inquisitive parties, then ensured only sanitized translations arrived where it might be noted immediately they were fakes…and then only after Powell has made a critical presentation to UNSC.

  5. Dismayed says:

    Wow! This is just awesome. To be able to see into the trial as it’s happening. What a grand lot of fun. Seems to me the defense can be summed up, â€We’re stupid, not guilty.†I am also staggered by the absolutely constant misuse of power that we have all been aware of on the surface level, yet now to see how it was executed on the day to day level of managing minutia, it is very very intersting to be getting a look under the ugly beast – to examine the muck of conspiracy. THIS is journalism. This is free press. I really think the founding fathers would be proud.

  6. Edo River says:

    Yes, to some extent I echo â€Dismayedâ€, Do we now join the insiders, at least on the fringe?….Is this just like reliving the Vietnam era? Here are those few of us now on the outside (the trial’s reflection of the inner WH world), still, comparatively. a soundproof window-view with some optical bias (redactions) but enough to get an idea of the basics correct.

    However, almost none of this knowledge gets out to vast numbers of the electorate. Something with alot more generative power has to both bring large numbers onto the same page and build up their trust in this (something) alternative. You see, all that I am learning here basically continues the paradigm of â€They have been decieving us†and in order to change, IMO we have to have something that builds TRUST, But the substance and the message here is about politics and power, so the bias which any â€Truth†that is discovered here, A cloak of â€bias†can reasonably easily be thrown over the entire presentation of what you have to show

    …I have an answer but you would be Dismayed if I said it. Its a pity.
    Regards from Japan

  7. Anonymous says:

    ew: Perhaps if Libby had said no to the Tom Cruise meeting, we would have found Osama bin Laden.

    hey now, make sure to SMILE when you twist that knife

    random thought: if Tom Cruise is the Xenu-Jesus, doesn’t that mean that he should be crucified to keep the aliens from blowing up our volcanoes?

    and seriously again. Dismayed says:
    I think the defense can be summed up as â€We’re stupid, not guilty.â€

    Nice one, very succinct. The jury will be thrilled to have that part of it over with so quickly! The problem for Libby is, he might be able to prove that he’s stupid, but that doesn’t automatically make him not guilty.

  8. Emptytoilet says:

    I don’t know how anyone can take this stupid, ugly, gum-chewing bitch emptywheel seriously. her blogging sucks the big one. she inserts her opinions into her blogging, such as Libby’s lawyer is a â€dick.†This is a very big case and a big deal and this stupid PHD acts as like some kind of high-school cheerleader fawning over this person and that person and what they’re wearing. This is more about her than anything else. Try using some of that intelligence you claim to have. This is the reason folks why bloggers will never be taken seriously by the establishment. You suck emptywheel. Grow the fuck up.

  9. pow wow says:

    I just read through the (damning? pathetic? telling?) CIA summary background report of the Iraq-Niger Uranium issue [32 paragraphs on this issue alone, as sent to the House Intelligence Committee on April 3, 2003] that the CIA also faxed (â€ASAP†via the Situation Room) to the attention of Hannah and Libby the afternoon of Monday, June 9, 2003 [Defense Exhibit #64, which eriposte linked above]. I’m a long way from expert on that whole forged document timeline, but you can see the political manipulation of the process that is going on behind the scenes, it seems to me, by reading this CIA report.

    CIA admits (via whomever very carefully authored their background report) that the Directorate of Intelligence at CIA knew that State/INR had and immediately offered to the CIA copies of the actual (forged) Iraq-Niger Uranium documents as transmitted to them by Embassy Rome, as of October 15, 2002 (obtained by Embassy Rome thanks to the Panorama journalist volunteering them to the USA on October 9, 2002):

    â€Embassy Rome indicated that it had learned from CIA that the documents provided by the journalist were the subject of the CIA report issued on 5 February, 2002, as described in paragraph three. Embassy Rome shared copies of the documents [redacted] the Embassy forwarded the documents through State Department channels to its Bureau of NonProliferation (State/NP). The Directorate of Intelligence did not request or place a high-priority on obtaining the actual documents, at this time, [redacted].â€

    Does it get any more damning for an intelligence service in the lead-up to an â€optional†war…? The whole thing reads like an agency desperate to keep the truth from getting out, until that war was well and truly launched. And in that objective, top dogs at the CIA, White House (and State) achieved Mission Accomplished. The forgeries weren’t officially debunked until a week before the invasion in March, 2003, and by that time the die had been cast. [Admittedly debunked finally on March 11th by our government, after the IAEA had called our bluff and the bluff of whomever forged those documents and got their substance into our government’s hands in late 2001 and early 2002.] The next paragraph in that CIA background report that Congress saw two weeks after the invasion reads:

    â€12. [redacted] On 15 October, 2002, an Intelligence Community E-mail (ICE-mail) from the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the Department of State (State/INR) to CIA acknowledges receiving the documents acquired by Embassy Rome and noted doubt about the alleged uranium deal. State/INR also offered to provide copies of the documents to CIA at a meeting of the interagency group assigned to review nuclear export matters, occurring the next day. The delivery did not occur, nor did CIA press State/INR for the documents, for the same reasons articulated [in the redaction] in paragraph eleven.â€

    One thing that is starting to be reinforced by the Libby trial is the importance of the hierarchy of the Executive Branch, in terms of actions and reactions. Who was pulling rank on whom, in State/NP vs. State/INR and in the CIA’s different directorates and subunits is a critical component to this backstory. It’s very enlightening reading about that ’dog eat dog’ lay of the land through emptywheel’s detailed blogging of the witness testimony. Libby outranked Marc Grossman – the #3 at the State Department – and Robert Grenier – near the top in the CIA – and they knew it, and acted accordingly when contacted personally by Libby.

    This administration’s behavior is a textbook example of how to ruin an intelligence product costing $44 billion dollars a year invested in unearthing our â€best guess†at the truth, with the application of bad faith political interference and arrogant office politics in the top-down-run Executive Branch.

    P.S. A reminder that the Special Counsel and DOJ are kindly hosting all of the government’s trial exhibits at their website, so bloggers won’t have to go to the trouble. The evidence is updated daily (when trial’s in session):

  10. Rayne says:

    What a fine example of maturity in persuasion at work, real mastery of the English language as well.

    Pointedly ad hominem attacks are always so convincing.

    Perhaps someone should find a more constructive use of their time and stick to the distillates prepared by mainstream media outlets instead of interrupting other readers’ attention.

  11. Rayne says:

    Nice work, pow wow. The question now is how close to the top of the Directorate was the decision to turn CIA’s back on the documentation. All the way to Tenet? Still doesn’t sit well with me, but I can’t deny it’s not entirely possible.

  12. Harry says:

    I saw Marcy Wheeler on the fdl youtube thingy and I’m in love. If you’re interested in a burnt out 37 year old Englishman, let me know.

  13. emptywheel says:

    Thanks for that pow wow.

    When I sent all those to you and eriposte, I thought those three reports were just the fax cover letters–didn’t look any further. I guess it’s a sign that I need to get more sleep, huh?

  14. John B. says:

    It looks like Big Time Dick is posting again, this time as MTtoilet…
    it’t time for you to come out of the closet Big Time…

  15. pow wow says:

    I’m sure eriposte will make very good use of the new material, emptywheel, while you are otherwise very productively engaged. And soon, yes, I hope you can somehow catch up on your sleep after today’s further marathon of blogging. Glad you noticed the CIA report after a second look [one of the fruits of the defense’s failed graymail effort…].

    I’m beginning to appreciate why (perhaps unbeknownst to him) Joe Wilson probably has some very appreciative cheerleaders in the Intelligence Community ranks where the work is actually done. Wilson did something the insiders were simply unable to do: he (very effectively) broke through the political censor(s) who had been successfully holding back the objective facts that had been generated (or should have been allowed to be generated) by career civil servants whose jobs were reality-based, not political agenda-driven. How frustrating to get it right, just to see the higher-ups deliberately and deceptively bury your work for political reasons, and to have nowhere to turn, with the Congress (and much of the media) basically co-opted by the Executive Branch. Wilson happened to be in a unique position to end-run the Intelligence Community’s political filters to get word out to the public, and he did just that, using every tool available to him to great effect. It was that successful penetration of their carefully-constructed shield that was the cause of the white-hot attention paid to Mr. Wilson by the Vice President and his Chief of Staff.

    I do believe there’s much more here than meets the eye… Mimikatz, I think it was, on an earlier thread about the Niger forgeries, got it right about the necessary distinctions that must be made between the different players and powerbrokers within each agency and how their individual agendas conflicted and were promoted, in addition to the already-recognized conflicting interplay that may have existed between the different agencies (CIA, OVP, State, Defense, etc.) as a whole.

  16. William Ockham says:

    I would recommend folks take a look at paragraph 24 of that backgrounder linked above. In classic bureaucratese it says, in effect, that we never intended to hand over the actual documents to the IAEA. Think about that for a minute.

  17. LabDancer says:

    If the CIA was felt so squeezed for lack of francophone readers, why didn’t they draft David Gregory?

    Gregory attended the Sorbonne. It’s all right there in his best late-night talk show circuit material. Even Bush knows he’s que bueno at Talking Frog – he told Chirac “I brung my French talkin’ reporter.â€

    Hey – maybe they did ask him!

    It sure would explain Snowjob’s knee cap job on Gregory’s question on the ISG report, Wells’ kick to the cojones Monday, and his job approval rating in wingnut blogosphere. Maybe it’s all just Pay Back for a rotten translation job.

    Naw, can’t be. In DubBush administration, do your job so badly, you end up permanently screwing the national interest – that get’s you the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

  18. LabDancer says:

    Or, how about asking some ambassador over for a little mint tea-and-translation? French IS the language of diplomacy! And State DOES have that reputation of a long history of close relations with the CIA (to say the least).

    Well, that may have been so before Bush and Cheney came into power, and their neocons â€reformed†the civil service.

    Okay, then why not get in touch with one of those Old School ambassador, maybe even one that’s retired. Who knows, you might even have found one with a ready made connection to the â€bureauâ€.

  19. LabDancer says:

    eriposte –

    A brief question chain for your response, s’il vous plait:

    â€Something one of the other commenters here said in an earlier thread encourages me to continue to think the outing was not merely aimed at discrediting Wilson; it was designed to squash any possible rebuttal from WINPAC specifically that could bring CIA handling of the forgeries to light.â€

    Perhaps you were referring to a NOISY comment I posted on emptywheel’s “Double Edged Classified Swords� [That thread began Jan. 7 ’07. I posted early hours Jan. 8. semiot suggested I turn down the volume, and expanded the idea to encompass Iran, which I adopted.] Perhaps not; I’m too much a new puppy here to stake a claim.

    I came across your posts at TheLeftCoaster last summer, but didn’t have time or focus to plow through many then – though now the left coast is on my plans for this weekend – Torrey Pines, Tiger Woods and you. That may be why I can’t answer this for myself.

    To the point – Unless, in all this frenzy of whipping back among here, firedoglake, justoneminute and that modest project I call “my lifeâ€, I’ve become greatly confused:

    Was not WINPAC one of two parkades frequented by a certain late-model guzzler owned by the lovely and charming Fred Fleitz during his simultaneous bi-poster manic & disordered time with the CIA and State?

    I’ve been assuming Fleitz’ bipostal period was during the times relevant to the second coming of the Niger forgeries, Joe Wilson’s “festive social affairâ€

    [See: 1. Rove, K., “Big Dick’s Talking Pointsâ€, Collected Memos and Notes from the Office of the Vice President of the United States, 030706 … or pre-noon 030707; and

    or “unnecessary or wasteful projectâ€

    [See: 1. Libby, I.L., “Getting Reacquainted With Judy Millerâ€, Collected Memos and Notes From the Office of the Vice President of the United States; or

    and the outing of Mme. Wilson.

    If so – Would it not be more likely WINPAC was like a dike holding back the career types, with Fleitz’ Finger stuck in it?

  20. William Ockham says:

    Has anybody pointed out that Tom Cruise appears to be the missing link in this story? Armitage met with him on the day that Armitage leaked to Woodward and Libby met with him on the day that Schmall told Libby about Joe and Valerie. Or, maybe, Tom Cruise meets with Bush Administration officials all the time.

    [In case anybody cares, this is not a serious comment, not exactly anyway…]

  21. 4jkb4ia says:

    She inserts her own opinions into her blogging! God forbid! (This troll, who has obviously never visited Kos, has been adequately dealt with)

  22. Anonymous says:

    >>> it was designed to squash any possible rebuttal from WINPAC specifically that could bring CIA handling of the forgeries to light

    Not sure who claimed this since you show this in quotes but this doesn’t make sense knowing what we know about WINPAC’s role:…..mirror.htm

    >>> Would it not be more likely WINPAC was like a dike holding back the career types, with Fleitz’ Finger stuck in it?

    I apologize but I don’t understand this question or its context.

  23. Anonymous says:


    Excellent job on the Liveblogging. I’ve got a question for you. I’ve gone through the Schmail (sp?) testimony a couple of times and I can’t see where he ever says he told Libby about Wilson and Wilson’s wife. Both the prosecution and the defense seemed to dance around the issue. Did Schmail ever make the statement †I told Libby that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA�

  24. pow wow says:

    So, per Cathie Martin’s testimony today, and Government Exhibit #541, Tenet’s draft typed CIA mea culpa about the 16 words in the SOTUnion speech, is being worked on the week of July 6, 2003 by Tenet as prodded by Hadley, Cheney, Libby, et al. Cathie Martin, also working on this, makes some edits to the poorly-typed draft in her handwriting, and also makes some handwritten notes on what looks like the reverse side of the draft typed statement. Along with the pros and cons of granting an audience to Meet the Press, and listing other possible PR initiatives by the OVP, Cathie separately notes the following (brackets are mine):

    â€BOB WOODward [underlined, with two indented underlined subtopics]. All intell sit in a room and debate

    NIE [1st underlined subtopic] – We do these when not sure – what is threat?
    – it is an estimate – make judgments –
    – little pieces and fragments.

    SOTU [2nd underlined subtopic] Serious mistake
    Bush needs to explainâ€

    Just who was Bob Woodward meeting/talking with that week??

  25. pow wow says:

    Dardog –

    The implication, per Schmall’s PDB Table of Contents note, is that Libby told/asked Schmall about Joe and Valerie Wilson, not the other way around, on June 14, 2003. Schmall wrote the names down to help him recall the point of his accompanying note of a query from Libby for the CIA: â€Why was the Amb told this was a VP office question?â€

  26. Anonymous says:

    Thanks pow wow, I thought the indictment said the CIA Briefer told Mr. Libby the info. I see now that it just says they discussed it. I’m wondering how it looks though to the jury when I guy says he can remember the other two things discussed, but has no recollection of this discussion. Of course, he’s in better shape than Mr. Grenier who also does not recollect the conversation but instead bases his testimony on a guilty feeling well over a year later. I’m glad there’s no trial tomorrow. Hopefully, I’ll get something done at work.

  27. pow wow says:

    In the handwriting of Scooter Libby (Goverment Exhibit #528A), as dictated to him by Vice President Cheney on Air Force Two on July 12, 2003, Libby was directed to relay the following single alleged quotation from the CIA’s (classified to that point) 2002 debriefing report of Joe Wilson to selected members of the media on â€deep background†as an anonymous â€Administration official†(in addition to some dictated â€on the record†comments denying involvement in the Wilson trip by the OVP, etc.):

    Only written record of Wilson trip included â€[] that former P.M. of Niger saying he had been approached by Iraqi officials in what he believed to be an effort to buy more uranium in 1999.â€

    Cathie Martin took those handwritten Libby notes and typed the VP’s July 12 quote (Government Exhibit #528B) for the media into:

    The only written record of Joe Wilson trip included that â€the former Prime Minister of Niger said he had been approached by and met with a delegation of Iraqi officials in what he believed to be an effort to acquire more Uranium in 1999.â€

    That written CIA debriefing of Joe Wilson from 2002 has no such simplistic quote in it, we now know because most of that debriefing report was released as an attachment to the now-mostly-unclassified INR report via Defense Exhibit #71. That sentence and quotation instead condense about a paragraph in the CIA report of qualification and clarification about the meeting that took place with an Iraqi delegation in 1999 in regard to â€expanding commerical relations.†In pertinent part:

    â€Although the meeting took place, [Nigerien P.M.] Mayaki let the matter drop due to the United Nations (UN) sanctions against Iraq and the fact that he opposed doing business with Iraq. Mayaki said that he interpreted the phrase â€expanding commerical relations†to mean that Iraq wanted to discuss uranium yellowcake sales.


    Mayaki claimed that if there had been any contracts for yellowcake between Niger and any rogue state during his tenure [P.M. 1997-1999], he would have seen the contract.â€

    Parsing the truth in order to mislead and deceive, while avoiding actual bald-faced lying where it might be unearthed, in order to peddle a cynical and corrupt political agenda regardless of the underlying body of evidence and fact and of the public good, while maintaining plausible deniability throughout. The m.o. of the Cheney adminstration, and I’m afraid of much of corporate America.

  28. pow wow says:

    I’ll caveat though, that only 2 of 4 or 5 pages of the 2002 CIA debriefing report of Joe Wilson appear to have been released thus far [INR Report Tab 4]. The pertinent paragraph regarding 1999 Iraq-Niger â€expanding commercial relations†contact certainly seems to have been released more or less in full, but the OVP can still claim with silence or a straight face that it didn’t mislead, and we can’t prove otherwise, at this point, because we have no access to the still-redacted and classified portions of that CIA debriefing report.

  29. 2lucky says:


    Have you seen this defense exhibit?:…../DX421.pdf

    It’s the internal CIA e-mail where Schmall indicates that Cheney, Libby and Edelman were seeking info or commenting on Wilson.

    In the e-mail, he remembers Cheney and Libby asking questions about the trip dating back to May 6, 2003.

    He remembers faxing to Edelman (in June 2003) memos done for Cheney and Rumsfeld on Iraq/Niger/uranium. He notes that Cheney and Libby asked him repeatedly in â€this time frame†(although it’s not at all clear to me the time frame he’s referencing) about the â€tripâ€. In another moment of incomprehensibility, the CIA briefer to the VP and his #1 guy pleaded â€ignorance†on the matter. That’s positively nuts. The VP asks his person CIA briefer, repeatedly, for info on a supposed matter of monumental national security import, and the CIA briefer pleads ignorance on multiple occassions? Mama, don’t let your babies grow up to be CIA briefers. Jeez.

    Schmall notes that Libby was da man on making the case for WMD and AQ connections in Iraq.

    And this fun tidbit: Schmall told that FBI that he heard unsubstantiated rumors in the â€briefer’s hallway†that one of their briefers spilled to a NSC staffer about Valerie. He stresses that the rumors were unsubstantiated and he couldn’t remember who had told him.

    How was this covered in the trial? I didn’t see much on this (may have missed it or misunderstood it.)

    BTW, outstanding, as usual, live blogging. I think you deserve a Pulitzer.

  30. LabDancer says:

    eriposte –

    I wrote: â€Would it not be more likely WINPAC was like a dike holding back the career types, with Fleitz’ Finger stuck in it?â€

    You wrote: â€I apologize but I don’t understand this question or its context.â€

    Thanks for the apology, but I think the fault lies with me, so I apologize, first for not responding earlier, and second for not making my pointly clearly I will try again here.

    A few minutes ago I stumbled across a comment you posted May 22, 2006 at 11:17, on an emptywheel thread entitled â€Richard Armitage and the Niger Forgeriesâ€. I confess to not seeing that before now; I first stumbled across tnh and ew in the throes of Leopold’s stories at truthout on his idea that Rove was the subject of an alleged ’sealed indictment’ [a story I have come to reject, only partly due to the erratic behaviour of some tnh many-named commenter who established tnh hands seem to feel comfortable is Leopold.

    Here is what I take as the pith of your comment there:

    -â€â€¦the real story on the US side is not that the CIA treated the forgeries with credulity. Quite the opposite. The CIA left enough tell-tale evidence in the SSCI Report that they knew all along that the stuff was bunk …Only the White House’s plants at WINPAC were still peddling the junk and the evidence would therefore lead back to the White House. The real story is not that the CIA did not know the documents were forged – they knew and they never treated it as something credible.â€

    When I posted Jan. 8, 2007 my LOUD comment on the Plame leak being motivated by something more than just to discredit Joe Wilson and/or his NYT Op-Ed, something aimed at Ms. Wilson but intended to be felt by career CIA officers, analysts, ’operatives’, whatever, who were not only themselves non-believers in the neocon litany, but also not prepared to ’stand idly by’ [to borrow from General Jack Ripper) while the Cheney/Bolton/neocon types turned the CIA away from true intelligence work and towards facilitating the neocon vision, being that articulated from the 1992 Defense Strategies paper on.

    In posting that, I did not imagine myself the first to whom it occurred that discrediting Joe Wilson may not have been the sole, or even main, purpose behind outing his wife. I don’t know if you were the first to whom it occurred, either; but you have been researching and thinking and posting on the Niger claims for what I gather amounts to years, so you’re much more knowledgeable than I.

    Thus, I was not surprised to find when I read your comment of May 22, 2006 just now, you seemed to me to be writing something similar to what I had written on this thread earlier.

    The point of the comment I posted today on this thread was that I took from your earlier comment on this thread something that, assuming that Bolton associate Fleitz was posted in WINPAC [while at the same time posted at State] during what I called the ’relevant period’, didn’t seem right. How could it be that [again, I assuming my understanding about Fleitz’ CIA job is accurate] that leaking Plame aimed to â€squash any possible rebuttal from WINPACâ€, when it seemed far more likely that it was WINPAC that facilitated the White House talking points about being misled by the CIA?

    If I misread your comment, I would like to know how. Here again is what you posted:

    â€Something one of the other commenters here said in an earlier thread encourages me to continue to think the outing was not merely aimed at discrediting Wilson; it was designed to squash any possible rebuttal from WINPAC specifically that could bring CIA handling of the forgeries to lightâ€

    Assuming I’ve read that the way it’s written, and now that I’ve seen what you wrote May 22, 2006, I have to conclude that either you miswrote yourself in your earlier comment on this thread, or you had some change of mind between May 22, 2006 and today which I missed.

    To cut the long version short, I mean this: I suggest that AMONG Fleitz’ job duties in WINPAC, at least insofar as Bolton intended and the OVP understood, was to prevent the professionally arrived at opinions of career CIA officers from escaping from the CIA and detracting from the intended impression of a monolithic opinion in support of the Buah administration’s claim that Saddam Hussein was pursuing a nuclear weapons program in generally, and that Iraq had ’recently’ contracted to buy a whach of yellowcake from Niger in particular.

    [By â€AMONGâ€, I mean that his other duties included such things as – being the person who leaked the contents of the Joe Wilson Niger trip report to Novak, at the request of his boss, acting as facilitator for a request from the OVP.]

    My words thus unburdened of intrique, what say you now?

  31. Jeff says:

    I’m still going through the trial exhibits, but a couple of quick observations.

    I was struck by the same thing as pow wow – the presentation by Cheney and Libby of a paraphrase as a direct quotation. The interesting thing, of course, is that at that date the trip report itself was still classified.

    One interesting thing to see is defense exhibit 18, which is the fax that went from NIO/SNP Robert Walpole to the NSC after a request for anything new on Iraq nuclear program on January 24, 2003. It appears to simply reiterate the uranium claim from October 2002 NIE; but we’ve heard about this document both in pretrial and now at trial, as it was a piece of the pushback against Wilson, purported to show that the intelligence community was still standing by the Niger story some four days before Bush’s SOTU. This was one of the three documents that were being pushed for declassification in July 2003, along with the NIE and the report from Wilson’s trip. Sanger and MIller wrote about the document in their July 23, 2003 piece in the NYT, which is interesting since we learned from Cathie Martin yesterday that leaking to Sanger was one of the tactics they brainstormed in OVP a little earlier; this may have been the closest Sanger got to the definitive piece they said he was working on.

    But the information that is new and notable is that while we’ve heard this was an NIO-to-NSC fax, in fact it was transmitted not only to Hadley (who made the request) but also to Libby. It always puzzled me why the official story was so emphatic in its insistence that this document was part of the preparation for Powell’s UN presentation, not for Bush’s SOTU. And I suspect the reason is because of Libby’s role here – which is not to say it’s not true that it was for the Powell presentation. But it at least raises the question of whether Libby might have been involved in the SOTU and the 16 words more and more directly than we’ve heard. I note that the cover page has the delivery instruction

    They need by Saturday ILLEGIBILE WORD [magina?]

    That would be Saturday, January 25 – the fax was transmitted the day before, but I’m having a hard time interpreting the two notations of the time.

    More later – I want to try to see ew on tv.

  32. kim says:

    EW on C-SPAN with Byron York, Crossfire! Very good job. Looking forward to more Iron Plame Battles in the coming weeks.

  33. William Ockham says:


    Here’s my quick analysis of some of the bits you brought up. I think the illegible word is morning, spelled dyslexically â€morginnâ€.

    There are three time notations on the document. Walpole wrote â€24 Jsn ’03†right above the line for â€Time transmittedâ€. Well above, but in the vicinty of the â€Time recieved†line, is a stamp that says â€White House Situation Room†and â€2003 JAN 24 PK 0:53â€. At first I thought that was GMT, but that’s not right. I think it is just a mistake. They probably used one of those old-fashioned stamps and forgot to roll down the â€2â€. Much more interesting to me is that line at the very top of the page that indicates the document faxed FROM the WH Situation Room on Friday, July 11, 2003 22:2?.

  34. pow wow says:

    Jeff + William O. –

    The â€PK 0:53†in the Situation Room stamp is actually â€PM 0:53†– so the timing is 7 minutes before 1 p.m. in the afternoon on January 24. [The same stamp is on the multiple cover sheets for the CIA faxes to the OVP via the Situation Room on the afternoon of June 9.] The procedure for receiving classified information from the CIA seems to be for the material to be faxed to the White House Situation Room, and for the OVP to then either receive a call to come pick it up, for someone in the Situation Room to deliver it, or perhaps for it to be then faxed from the Situation Room to the OVP on a secure fax line. Perhaps the 20:47 cover page notation is when the Walpole fax was delivered to its intended recipients on January 24.

    The second and third pages of that Defense Exhibit 18 were faxed at 12:26 AM [at least I think that’s a timestamp for the transmission of the fax, though there’s seemingly more than one time listed by the Situation Room fax machine] on Saturday, July 12, 2006 from the Situation Room (?B) and are Pages â€1†and â€2†of that fax, as well as apparently the original Pages 1 and 2 of the 33-page report prepared by National Intelligence Officer Bob Walpole.

    And just to confuse matters further, the first cover page of Defense Exhibit 18, that William O. noticed was faxed from the Situation Room on July 11, 2003 at about 10:20 p.m., was apparently Page â€59†of that particular faxed set of documents, and was faxed from a Situation Room ?A, not Room ?B.

  35. pow wow says:


    â€â€¦on Saturday, July 12, 2006 from the Situation Room…â€

    should read

    â€â€¦on Saturday, July 12, 2003 from the Situation Room…â€

    in my preceding comment.

  36. emptywheel says:

    I have not yet even touched these documents. But it really seems that the Walpole document was just cover–a way to respond to the African NIO instruction not to use the Niger claim. Just a cut and paste so they could still use the Niger claim.

  37. Jim E. says:

    This is what Isokoff is reporting in Newsweek: â€Rove has said in secret testimony that, during a chat on July 11, 2003, Libby told him he learned about Plame’s employment at the CIA from NBC Washington bureau chief Tim Russert, a legal source who asked not to be identified talking about grand jury matters told NEWSWEEK.â€

    Is this the first we’ve heard this? I thought the indictment implied that Rove told Libby about Novak during this chat. Rove’s such a bastard. If this is what he’s going to testify to, then he’ll really be sticking it Libby. On the one hand, that’s pretty sweet since he can claim to contemporaneously back up Libby’s lie (about Russert), and sink Scooter in the process. On the other hand, this unbelievable story (that Libby told Rove way back in July 2003 about learning info from Russert) is about the best evidence there is that Rove himself is part of the conspiracy. It seems so obviously that this was a cover-story designed after the fact.

    But Rove is obviously a horrible witness — otherwise Fitz would have called him himself. I wonder how Fitz will handle Rove considering the odds are high that he doesn’t believe Rove either. And I wonder what openings Rove will provide for the defense. Either they’re desperate in calling him, or Rove really has some info that can derail the case. I wonder if the Wells is really going to try to paint the Wilson’s wife thing as the responsibility of the White House. I don’t really see how that would help Scooter, except to further confuse the jury or to motivate the White House to cough up a pardon, and pronto.

    Isikoff also reports that Ari was told about â€Wilson’s wife†by BOTH Libby and Bartlett. Bartlett…. (I wonder if this is why Milbank needlessly mention Bartlett in a story that was otherwise about Cathie Martin today.)

  38. pollyusa says:

    Top White House aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis â€Scooter†Libby discussed their contacts with reporters about an undercover CIA officer in the days before her identity was published, the first known intersection between two central figures in the criminal leak investigation.

    Rove told grand jurors it was possible he first heard in the White House that Valerie Plame, wife of Bush administration Joseph Wilson, worked for the CIA from Libby’s recounting of a conversation with a journalist, according to people familiar with his testimony.
    AP 10/19/05

  39. hauksdottir says:


    I have posted here and elsewhere since this affair came to light that I believe Valerie was the real target, and that Joe was collateral damage.

    There are many ways to discredit a writer other than to suggest that he could only get a (non-paying) job through the efforts of his wife (totally silly on the face of it). If discrediting a former Ambassador was the chief goal, they surely could have found or manufactured something with more bite. I would have had staffers reading every single thing Joe had ever published and every picture in which he appeared if he was my target. A selective quotation of his own words… better to hoist someone on his own petard. If it was still considered essential to paint him as dependent upon his wife, saying that she’d called old pals wouldn’t have betrayed her employment… even I have a business card from someone in the CIA.

    However, Valerie Plame’s work, handling WMDs and non-proliferation matters in the Middle East, complete with well-established office, was directly in the way of fabricating pretences for invading Iran. Cheney and his cabal has been preparing for such an invasion for years and years. Even the pre-Iraq war games (where the US lost) were set up for an Iranian invasion.

    The Adminsitration had to neutralize Valerie and close her operation lest the truth be a stumbling block.

    Otherwise, why specify Brewster-Jennings by name and real enterprise?

  40. Jim E. says:


    Thanks. I guess I had remembered it as a one-way conversation. But am I correct in thinking this is the first time we’ve learned that Rove claims Libby was updating him specifically on the Libby-Russert chat during this July 11 encounter?


    This would hurt Libby in that Rove’s testimony would show that Libby was lying from the get-go about learning info from Russert. After all, Libby was telling Ari about Wilson’s wife a few days before he even talked to Russert. If Rove says Libby claimed on July 11 that he learned the info from Russert, it would show that Libby was lying to the other players about this as early as July 11. Libby’s defense relies partly on the fact that Libby was misremembering and conflating conversations months later, when the FBI finally talked to him. Rove’s testimony would undercut this in that Libby was already claiming he got the info from Russert right after talking to Russert. Libby talked to Rove soon after the Russert conversation, not months later. The idea that Libby would totally â€misremember†a conversation that took place earlier that same day (or the day before) is not credible.

    I realize the defense might want to spin this in their favor by claiming that Rove provides contemporaneous evidence of Libby’s recollection of the Russert conversation, and that it is therefore Russert who is misremembering or lying. They could try that, but it is undercut by the testimony of other government officials who have already testified about telling Libby about WIlson’s wife, and esp. Ari’s expected testimony that Libby told him about Wilson’s wife prior to the Libby-Russert conversation.

    Anyways, that’s how I see it, thus my Rove is â€sticking it to Libby†idea. My guess is that the defense is calling Rove not primarily to bolster the alleged Libby-Russert conversation, but to instead say the conspiracy to out Wilson’s wife came from Rove and others, not Libby. In other words, the defense might be trying to put Rove on trial as either a smokescreen, or desperate attempt to send the White House a message: give Libby a pardon, or else. (I say it is a â€smokescreen†because whether or not Rove was involved in this, Libby wouldn’t be off-the-hook on any of the criminal charges against him.)

    Personally, assuming the Newsweek thing is true, I doubt the truthfulness of Rove’s likely testimony. It seems way more likely that Bush aides *and* the OVP were working in concert to pushback on Wilson. It makes more sense that Libby, Bartlett, and Rove were all working together on their leaks. (Why would Bush aides be unconcerned about Wilson? They’d have as much motive as the OVP to discredit Wilson, and work with the OVP to do so.) In which case, it doesn’t really make sense that Libby would lie to Rove about the Russert conversation. I think the â€blame it on reporters like Russert†story that Libby’s relying upon was created well after the fact, when the investigation commenced. Both Libby and Rove agreed upon the storyline back in Sept 2003, back when the idea that reporters would be targeted by a prosecutor seemed a ridiculously unlikely possibility. Both Rove and Libby are mentioning Russert as a source, not because it’s true, but because that’s part of the their cover-up.