The DOD/State Talking Point, Two

This is a follow-up to my post speculating that Cheney got his talking point about DOD and State being interested in the Iraq intell from the documents Valerie Wilson wrote before Joe Wilson’s trip to Niger. This post will do something very simple: show where that talking point shows up, and where it doesn’t. This post raises more questions than answers–about the real function of Libby’s note, about Cathie Martin’s role, and about Libby’s conversation with Novak. But I happen to think they’re really fascinating questions.

As I’ve stated before, the DOD/State talking point doesn’t show up in the article it was purportedly intended for. Here’s what Pincus’ article says about the genesis of the trip:

The CIA’s decision to send an emissary to Niger was triggered byquestions raised by an aide to Vice President Cheney during an agencybriefing on intelligence circulating about the purported Iraqi effortsto acquire the uranium, according to the senior officials. Cheney’sstaff was not told at the time that its concerns had been the impetusfor a CIA mission and did not learn it occurred or its specific results.

The simplest explanation for why the talking point doesn’t appear in the article is that CIA got involved–around 5:30 PM on Thursday, June 11–too late to get it to Pincus in time for a Friday morning article. It’s also possible that CIA refused to confirm the talking point on the record.

The talking point also doesn’t appear in the Judis-Ackerman article that appeared later in June.

One year earlier, Cheney’s office had received from the British, viathe Italians, documents purporting to show Iraq’s purchase of uraniumfrom Niger. Cheney had given the information to the CIA, which in turnasked a prominent diplomat, who had served as ambassador to threeAfrican countries, to investigate.

That’s not a surprise either–there’s no indication this article includes any input from OVP–though the absence of the talking point does suggest Ackerman and Judis’ sources, which may or may not have CIA ties, are in no mood or position to describe State and DOD’s interest.

  1. oldtree says:

    as a rabid assumption on this story; Wouldn’t cheney be upset about someone not sent by him to find out about this information? He wants control over any info, and this one got away from him. I may be pedestrian here, but isn’t that enough to make him snap as he tries to control information and leak only that which he wants to be used by his newspapers?
    And would this not be enough for him to conclude that this CIA division is just too dangerous for his real mission of conquest and on ground control of the region? This seems like the smoking gun used to destroy the entities in our government that gather intelligence. At least those that don’t report to him directly?

  2. Sparkles the Iguana says:

    Hugh Hewitt rouses himself from his stupor long enough to ask Novak why Armitage not charged:

    HH: Let me ask you, I’m bored silly by the Plame affair, Robert Novak, but I do have one question about your opinion: Why was Armitage not charged if Valerie Plame’s identity was a secret, and Patrick Fitzgerald was investigating its leak?

    RN: Because there was no crime committed under the Intelligence Agents Identity Act. That bill was passed, Hugh, to protect intelligence agents overseas from being outed by left wing forces, and then marked for assassination. It was really a deadly serious act, nothing like somebody sitting in Langley in the CIA headquarters as Mrs. Wilson was, doing analysis.

    [Of course, Novak is not talking about the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, he’s talking about the Intelligence Agents Identity Act. Two completely different things. Very clever! And note how Novak’s act is designed to protect agents only from LEFT WING forces.]

  3. semiot says:

    I keep going back to the story Sy Hersh told in October 2003 – about the â€watercooler†talk going on at the CIA that summer and fall, to the effect that the Niger docs were a rogue CIA gambit designed to make fools out of Cheney and the Gang re. WMD. This story, I submit, was a fall back scenario, to be rolled out if L’Affaire Plame burned through the Armitage-Fleisher-Libby firewall. Someone speculated on this blog that Hersh’s â€former senior CIA offcial†that peddled him this story was probably PNACer and Nosferatus Club Poobah James Woolsey.

    In any case, the Libby note

    â€6/13 Telephone — VP re â€Uranium in Iraq†— Kristof NYT article

    .) Took place at our behest — functional office
    CP/ — his wife works in that division . . .â€

    This may not be a literal â€smoking gun†but it sure does establish a chain of cause-effect logic alive in the Libby-Cheney mind in mid June, right on the heels of the first droplets of the â€leak†of a potentially very damaging story about goings on at the CIA.

    I don’t know if Cheney, or others of his minions in and around the government, knew specifically about Valerie’s particular role in intelligence before this point in time – I’d be very surprised if they didn’t know about what JTFI was saying about Iraqi defector sources, but who would own up to that, at least between now and January 20, 2009 – but Cheney’s network clearly knew about â€Wilson’s wife†and where she worked (and her likely covert status) at the point in time that they were beginning to concoct a counter-story. And the theme of that story is oddly in synch with the one told to Hersh – that there are â€rogue elements†in the CIA who are out to thwart the activities of the OVP. In the case of Valerie, the danger of continuing â€leaks†based on pillow-talk between her and her cheeky husband were just too â€grave a threat†to go unanswered.

  4. tnhblog says:

    â€RN: Because there was no crime committed under the Intelligence Agents Identity Act. That bill was passed, Hugh, to protect intelligence agents overseas from being outed by left wing forces, and then marked for assassination. It was really a deadly serious act, nothing like somebody sitting in Langley in the CIA headquarters as Mrs. Wilson was, doing analysis.â€

    Novak is beneath contempt. Libby did inquire of Addington whether Plame-Wilson was covert. He was aware that what he was doing was potentially illegal. He took the gamble that what he was doing would not implicate him under IIPA. He lost that gamble and should have been charged under that statute. If Armitage can be shown to be connected to Libb/Rove, then he should be charged with conspiracy.

  5. Fie says:

    CIA analysts now work at DoD/NSA-all the linguists they hired.

    Routinely at low level. CIA employees favor those who they know, like Plame recommneding Joe and Joe’s dad working for State(CIA) and Plame’s dad working for Air Force at NSA. Joe may have been a CIA employee. Joe’s dad may have been a CIA employee. Plame’s dad may have been a CIA employee. So, the contract was bad whether Plame recommended it or not, she was doing what is normal there, favoring those who worked for or worked with CIA.

    The smoking gun is the Iraq goup that checked on WMD. CIA leaked their covert CIA WMD training program there. Rice and her degree were blamed for the leaks at the Universities that taught the courses and Bush hired the President’s of those Universities at CIA. The CIA WMD leak before the war was followed up by Plame. The war protests are there because of the leak, not because of the intelligence work.

    Cheney’s network? Plame was leaked by Ames. Everyone knew she was CIA and she used Joe as an excuse for leaking – they are married. She would leak with Joe and explain that’s her husband.

  6. R.H. Green says:

    â€â€¦the 2 journalists that got the State/DOD talking point were Judy and Novak…â€. Yes, and they are also the ones who got the name, â€Plameâ€.
    Also of interest (in this obscure vein)is your reference to Cathi Martin’s note with regard to Plame’s employment. I wonder where she got that name. (Guess I’ll have to find that transcript and read it myself.)

    To Oldtree
    I agree about the VP not being happy with CIA investigating the uranium story â€on their own initiativeâ€. I wonder if he didn’t have something to do with the â€availability†of those forged documents, and was asking pointed questions to draw the CIA into validating them. This would help explain why there was so much emphasis on insisting that the OVP wasn’t the only entity interested in the uranium matter, and certainly didn’t want to be connected with someone’s being sent to investigate.

  7. semiot says:

    Well isn’t this a coincidence: Headline story on Raw Story as I type:

    â€Fox guest claims CIA ’sabotaging our own War on Terror’â€

    Lead graph:

    Fox News on Tuesday interviewed veteran Pentagon reporter Rowan Scarborough about his â€startling allegation†that â€elements within the CIA are sabotaging our own War on Terror.†Scarborough, a former columnist for the Reverend Sun Myung Moon-owned Washington Times, is the author of Sabotage: America’s Enemies Within the CIA, which claims that â€CIA bureaucrats are undermining President Bush and the War on Terror through disinformation, incompetence, and outright sabotage.â€


    â€That, I think, gives you a little peak inside to the bureaucracy at Langley and how anti-Bush it is, and how they will do things like leak the existence of programs or leak false allegations against Vice-President Cheney or John Bolton,†Scarborough added.


    According to Scarborough, his book, which criticizes the CIA for its reluctance to cooperate with Doug Feith’s Office of Special Plans in its cherry-picking of intelligence during the run-up to the Iraq War, was inspired by â€Peter Hoekstra, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. He wrote a private letter to Bush, warning him that the CIA was undermining what he was trying to do.â€

  8. Canuck Stuck in Muck says:

    If anyone reading EW’s posts is able to get a message to Fitz, please let him know he should be reading them! And, can somebody please let Henry Waxman know that he’s never going to get a response from Hayden at the CIA with respect to the email exonerating Valerie from direct involvement in sending Joe! And while we’re at it, let’s figger out a way to reach middle America with the truth. Here’s a modest proposal for an ad spot. No audio. Screen graphic â€Support the Troops†for five seconds. Camera then records a succession of real people’s faces, who one by one state how they’ve been affected by the occupation of Iraq… â€My father was killed in Faluja†â€My sister died in Bakuba†â€My brother came back really sick†â€My son came back without his legs.†â€My mother died when her convoy was ambushed in Anbar Province.†Screen goes black. Screen graphic reads â€Iraq affects each of us.†Voice over (perhaps Morgan Freeman) â€Iraq affects each of us. And for what? Weapons of mass destruction? [Clip of Bush uttering the 16 words in the SOTU.] (Freeman continues) There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, [Clip of Libby with Cheney and Rumsfeld] and there is abundant evidence to prove that the Bush administration new it and lied to the American people before invading Iraq. 9/11? [Clip of highlight from CIA report, with CIA symbol prominent] The CIA and the 9/11 Commission conclude that there never was an Iraq connection. [Still of Usama bin Laden] Al Quaeda? Al Quaeda didn’t exist in Saddam’s Iraq. To promote democracy in the Middle East? Diplomacy and fair dealing would have done as much. So, what are our soldiers dying for? An illegal war of aggression against a sovereign nation. You can support the troops by bringing them home and holding President Bush accountable for the unthinkable horror he has unleashed in Iraq.†Put that on the internets and watch it burn up the tubes.

  9. semiot says:

    That’s a brilliant verbal storyboard, Canuck. Please post it on other blogs, such as Kos. Maybe somebody will pick it up and run with it. Wish I had the skills.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The administration, if not the OVP, quickly conceded that the sixteen words were not correct, suggesting they had prepared in advance for that concession. But no where in these frantic communmications is there a discussion of whether they got the intel right and if not, why not. No discussion of why the administration (or the OVP) didn’t get the gist of the Wilson report or the others that agreed with his conclusions (assuming they didn’t, which seems false). No discussion of rewarding the intel folks who got it right, or of revising the communications process that purportedly broke down.

    The OVP just wants to paint a bull’s eye on someone and open fire. That’s not how competent or innocent folks behave.

  11. KLynn says:


    Would you help me understand your context of the phrase â€middle America†and define it for me. Do you mean a regional context? Because the stats here (Ohio) show we have the message loud and clear.

    Have you looked at what states are giving up the most in National Guard and armed service?

    Many of your points are sound. I am just trying to contextualize â€middle Americaâ€.

  12. Larry says:

    The book â€The Italian Letter†describes how this intell. was distributed. This is just from memory so it may not be complete or for that matter accurate:

    The Brits learn of attempts to purchase yellow cake (from Italian Intell?) but does not get any documents. Somewhere along the line they become aware of Iraq’s foreign office visting Niger, and mistaking assume it can be only to purchase uraninum. The Brits later get the phony documents. They claim they have another secret source, but the author feels this is likely to be just the Italian Intell or perhaps another country which has passed on the Italian Intell.

    The CIA becomes aware of the same story and their guy in Italy decides it is bogus. (I think they were more focused on if a purchase had occurred rather than if an inquiry had been made). The Italian reporter passes on documents â€The Italian letter†for the CIA to verify. That reporter felt it was odd that her publisher wanted her to do so. The CIA having already concluded the story was bogus did not follow up on the letter. But at this point the documents are distributed to DOD etc.

    After Wilson’s trip, his finding are merged with those of the Agency having not added much. (This seems to be a pattern where intell which contradicts the Niger story is condensed or not passed along , the intell like the phoney letters seem to spring life again and again. However some analysis notes Wilson’s comments about an inquiry about trade might be an inquiry about a purchase for uranimum, and along with the fact that a couple of Iraq officals had visited, allowes the analyst to pass on info (that Cheney wants). I think this analyst work for a different part of the CIA than Valerie, Counter Proliferation.

    DOD felt pressure from Cheney as well.

    I guess there could be another Cheney source. The author discounts theories of Ledeen having planted the stories, but rather a part of Italian Intell was responsible, but fails to explain why.

  13. Canuck Stuck in Muck says:

    Happy to answer your question KLynn. Sorry it took so long. Life intrudes, and all that. I realize that it’s a vague term, and it’s especially lazy of me to have used it, because I don’t use it in the way most people do, which you picked up on right away.

    I wish I had a decent memory. If so, I could link to the story I saw, not too long ago, saying that something like 60% of Americans couldn’t name the Vice-President. Now, forgive me, but after six some years, undisclosed locations, enough government shenanigans to boggle the mind, and a nearly fatal shooting, I wonder where those 60% of Americans have been through it all. So, I’m asking for a do-over, and submit that, perhaps, I should have used a term more like middling America, since not to know the name of the Dark Lord after six years bespeaks a middling consciousness, as best. Or, since 60% is pretty close to a statistical number that usually spans the â€average†representatives in a population, I might have called it median America. My point, which of course I failed to make adequately, is that those are the people we need to reach when it comes to holding Bush accountable for his crimes (agains humanity, against the constitution, against the people). The 60% that couldn’t name the VPOTUS are likely unaware that their houses can be searched without a warrant, that they could be suspected of having terrorist ties and put in jail indefinitely without recourse to legal counsel, and so on. It’s the 60% that don’t have the time or the energy to even watch the news, let alone care that the most popular news network is also the one least likely to tell them anything like the truth. It’s the 60% that only be reached by the 30-second spot between face-offs or downs, or after As the World Turns and before Days of Our Lives. It’s that 60%. Middling, median, making do under difficult circumstances, America. The people who â€have lives†as Bart Simpson would say. Reach these people and you’ll have some leverage with the Democrats in Congress. Otherwise, I think we’re preaching to the choir.

  14. Canuck Stuck in Muck says:

    To semiot,
    Thanks for the compliment. I’ll see if I can insert it in another conversation somewhere else.