Five Years Later–and the Attorney General Still Maintains the Cover-Up

Five years ago today, on a Monday morning just like today, this happened:

Our bedroom was just beginning to show the first hints of morning light on July 14 when Joe marched in, dropped the newspaper on the bed, and said in a tight voice, "Well, the SOB did it." He set a steaming mug of coffee on my bedside table and left the room. What? I struggled to wake up. I sat up, switched on the lamp, and opened the Washington Post to the op-ed page; I didn’t know what I would find, but I knew it wouldn’t be good. Rovert Novak had written in his column that "Wilson never worked for the CIA, but his wife, Valerie Plame, is an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction."

And yet, five years later, through the President’s efforts to silence Scooter Libby and through the Attorney General’s determination to hide the Vice President’s and President’s own testimony, we still have had no full accounting of the leak of Valerie Wilson’s identity. In fact, most of the press attention has been focused on the following sentence in Novak’s column, the one that–Richard Armitage apparently convinced Patrick Fitzgerald–derived from a stupid and careless but ultimately ignorant leak.

Two senior administration officials told me that Wilson’s wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report.

And so, largely because once an investigation was announced, Novak told a different story about that first line–about how he learned of Valerie’s maiden name and about how he learned of her status–than he told just after the leak, when he said "They thought it was significant, they gave me the name and I used it," the press just bought that implausible, revised story. Novak’s new cover story got so far-fetched that he was comparing Valerie Wilson with a person running a congressional campaign in Wyoming.

I call all kinds of politicians operatives. … Someone’s running a congressional campaign in Wyoming, I call him an operative.

And even when it was revealed that there had been a third conversation that went into Novak’s column, a conversation between Libby and Novak, a conversation they both made efforts to hide for three years, almost no one went back to scrutinize Novak’s column and sources again. Not even when it was revealed that, just two days before he spoke with Novak, Libby had told precisely those two details that remain unexplained in Novak’s column–the name "Plame" and her status as an Agency operative on WMD–to Ari Fleischer. Libby provided those details to someone who could be expected to leak them on July 7 (and remember, Novak called Ari on July 7); is there any reason to imagine that Libby didn’t provide those details on July 9, when he met with Novak?

Let me take a detour into Novak’s column to demonstrate why I believe it very likely that Libby knowingly leaked classified information to Novak on July 9 (a detour I make at more length here). There is another passage in Novak’s column that was–even according to Scooter Libby’s operative story–still classified on July 9, when he spoke with Novak.

After eight days in the Niger capital of Niamey (where he once served), Wilson made an oral report in Langley that an Iraqi uranium purchase was "highly unlikely," though he also mentioned in passing that a 1988 Iraqi delegation tried to establish commercial contacts.

Novak either screws up the date accidentally or intentionally, but this detail is unmistakably the Ibrahim Mayaki story from the CIA report on Wilson’s trip, which was declassified (again, according to Libby’s operative story) on July 10. There’s a lot redacted in the affidavits which might include more detail, but we know that Novak testified that Rove said he was working on declassifying the memo–which, Rove said, was "not very definitive."

According to Novak, when he “brought up” Wilson’s wife, “Mr. Rove said, oh, you know about that too” (II-154) and promised to seek declassification of portions of a CIA report regarding the Niger trip, which Rove said “wasn’t an impressive piece of work or a very definitive piece of work” (II-158).

That sentence from Rove surely is the source of this sentence from Novak’s column.

The agency never before has declassified that kind of information, but the White House would like it to do just that now — in its and the public’s interest.

Rove also told Matt Cooper the report would be declassified, without then giving him details from the report, so even though Rove is a liar, it is quite likely that’s all he told Novak–that the report was unclear and that it would be declassified.

But the classified part–the Mayaki story–either remains unexplained or, in redacted bits, Novak blamed on Armitage. Now, Armitage could have leaked this detail from the CIA trip report. He got a copy of the report as an attachment to the INR memo on July 7. Except that both Armitage and Novak describe their conversation about the Wilson trip as a few off-hand comments at the end of long conversation on other topics. Furthermore, we know that Armitage didn’t mention the CIA trip report when he leaked to Woodward in June. Armitage wasn’t obsessed by the Mayaki story; Armitage was obsessed that a man like Joe Wilson would get shuttled around on intelligence trips by his hot blonde wife.

Scooter Libby, however, was obsessed by the Mayaki story. He and his boss–both of them–had underlined the passages of reports that detailed the Mayaki story on at least two separate occasions, on two separate copies of the report each (and it appears that Libby had a conversation with John Hannah about it too). According to Judy Miller, Libby had leaked her the information from the trip, just the day before Libby spoke with Novak.

He then referred to another report I thought it was a third report. He said this was involved the arrival in Niger of a delegation of Iraqi officials in 1999. And that this Iraqi delegation was seeking a broader trade relationship with Niger. Since Niger basically had only one thing to export, which was uranium, that officials in Niger had concluded that Iraq was interested in acquiring uranium. He said that the author of the report, which had gone up to the Hill, which was credited by the CIA, was Joe Wilson.

And when Cheney dictated talking points to Libby on July 12, he asked him to describe the Mayaki conversation on deep background (though, by the time Cheney dictated these talking points, the report had been declassified).

In short, given that Libby is a proven liar and Novak’s story changes constantly, there’s no reason to believe Novak and Libby when they claim Libby didn’t give Novak stuff that made it into his column. Libby is by far the most likely source of the Mayaki detail. And if he leaked that information–which, according to Libby’s operative story, he knew to be classified on July 9–we have every reason to believe that Libby also shared the two details, the name Plame and the detail that Valerie worked as an operative in WMD–that remain unexplained in Novak’s column.

Now, these weedy details from Novak’s column remain unexplained. But there’s a bigger question that also remains unexplained–though all the circumstantial evidence supports the case. Did Dick Cheney, just days before Libby spoke with Novak, order Libby to leak Valerie Wilson’s identity to reporters? There’s a great deal of evidence that suggests Cheney did. And, there are two FBI interview reports which might support the case. But for some reason, Attorney General Mukasey doesn’t want to release those reports and make it clear whether his bosses orchestrated the leak of Valerie Wilson.

But then, we know the Attorney General thinks it’s no big deal that the Vice President outed a CIA spy.

  1. MarieRoget says:

    But for some reason, Attorney General Mukasey doesn’t want to release those reports and make it clear whether his bosses orchestrated the leak of Valerie Wilson.
    But then, we know the Attorney General thinks it’s no big deal that the Vice President outed a CIA spy.

    David Iglesias commented last Friday that he’d rate AG Mukasey as a “C”.
    “He is no Alberto Gonzales. I hear from currently serving US Attorneys that he’s aloof. Probably a good thing for Main Justice to leave US Attorneys alone. Mukasey is a caretaker, nothing more than that. The next US AG will have a lot of re-building to do.”

    Iglesias is being more than generous. IMO Mukasey has decided (or had it decided for him & has aquiesed) to act as BushCo firewall, has sacrificed whatever personal & professional integrity he had before assuming office to an overarching mission- the obstruction all investigations into BushCo wrongdoing, including this one which has treasonous ramifications. “No big deal?” It’s only treason, Mike.
    The Dept. of Just Us, indeed.

    • FormerFed says:

      I agree, Mukasey is just a little smoother version of Gonzo. But then, what did we expect? Did we really think (Senator Schumer) that Bush would put any other kind of person in as AG? Washington is such an incestuous little village.

  2. WilliamOckham says:

    I keep wondering, on this and a whole host of issues, what happens in January 2009, assuming an Obama victory. Much of the evidence of lawlessness of the Bush-Cheney regime will disappear into the Bush ‘funded by extorting Central Asian autocrats’ Library, but will they try to take those FBI interviews with them?

    • BayStateLibrul says:

      I’m predicting a fireside chat (all chat will be destroyed by Cheney’s
      Lot at stake — if released the Prez/Veep will be indicted by the Press/American people…

      • Leen says:

        This country can not move forward without accountability for the Plame/Wilson outing and the many crimes this administration has committed.

        They can choose either a nation of walking dead or renewed spirits.

        Hopefully the International community will hold them accountable for their war crimes.

        • MarieRoget says:

          Hopefully the International community will hold them accountable for their war crimes.

          Hopefully, but the U.S. needs to sandblast its own dirt encrusted WH as well. In fact, it’s imperative. BushCo has rammed through so many off-the-wall, unprecedented things these past 7 plus yrs., why can’t we ram through something unique in modern times, too- accountability for this Fed Admin’s actions right on up to the highest levels.

          Note to President Obama- to really “heal this country, move on, etc.” the U.S. needs @ the very least a Truth & Reconciliation Commission. Personally, since obvious crimes have been committed, I’d prefer hearings followed by the appropriate trials.
          What we don’t need is to kick all this wrongdoing under the carpet in an enfeebling effort @ some kind of faux comity. I fear it’ll be up to all of us to force an accounting.

  3. Sixty Something says:

    “Well, the SOB did it.”

    Those we my exact words, when I heard that Bush had commuted Libby’s prison sentence. I’m pleased to be in the same company as Joe Wilson in thinking that Bush is an SOB.

  4. Leen says:

    Hey check this out had not been over to No Quarter USa in a long time. Look who was on

    NQ Radio: 10 a.m. ET Today »

    About: See Authors Posts (1131) on July 14, 2008 at 8:01 AM in Barack Obama, Iran, Iraq, Joseph Wilson, Larry Johnson, National Security, NoQuarter Radio, Valerie Plame Wilson | 41 Comments

    Tune in to “Security Corner,” hosted by Security and Counter Terrorism expert Larry Johnson. Guests: Valerie Plame Wilson and former ambassador Joe Wilson Larry Johnson and other No Quarter writers have championed the cause of Valerie Plame Wilson and Joe Wilson. The Wilsons are patriots who have served their nation honorably and suffered unjustly for trying to do their duty. We are honored to inaugurate No Quarter Radio with them. Call-in Number: (347) 677-0792


  5. chrisc says:

    Thursday is the 5 yr anniversary of David Kelly, the UN WMD expert. Two days before his death, David Kelly had appeared before the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and outed as a source who had leaked information to the BBC.

    Supposedly, Judith Miller and David Kelly exchanged emails in the days before his death. Miller emailed Kelly and asked him how his appearance before the FASC went and Kelly thanked her for her friendship and talked about “dark actors playing games.”

    David Kelly had visited Iraq about a month before his death. He was denied entrance earlier (in mid May) because he did not have proper identification.

    The second trip was from 5 June 2003 – 11 June 2003, when Kelly went to view and photograph the two mobile weapons laboratories as a part of a third inspection team. Kelly was unhappy with the description of the trailers and spoke off the record to The Observer, which, on 15 June 2003, quoted “a British scientist and biological weapons expert, who has examined the trailers in Iraq”. The expert said,
    They are not mobile germ warfare laboratories. You could not use them for making biological weapons. They do not even look like them. They are exactly what the Iraqis said they were – facilities for the production of hydrogen gas to fill balloons.[3]
    It was confirmed in the Hutton Inquiry that Kelly was the source of this quote.[4]

    I’m not sure of the exact dates Judith Miller was tromping around Iraq, embedded with troops searching for wmd. But on July 2, 2003, just days before Libby’s meeting with Novak and his meeting with Ari, theNYT published a piece written by William J. Broad, David Johnston and Judith Miller that essentially “outed” a secret US project to build a mobile germ unit.

    The secret trainer is similar to the mobile units that the Bush administration has accused Iraq of building to produce biological weapons. Neither its existence nor Dr. Hatfill’s work on it has previously been disclosed publicly.

    Has anybody ever asked who leaked the classified information regarding the US mobile germ lab to Miller? Strange, just as David Kelly is debunking the mobile weapons lab, his “friend” Judith Miller is highlighting the possibility that they exist and that the US has been training and preparing to deal with them.

    The designer of the covert U.S. mobile weapons lab is none other than Steven Hatfill, the guy who just won a multi-million dollar settlement because his life was ruined when he was named as a person of interest in the anthrax case. Miller airs the governments suspicions regarding Hatfill in the article.

    Even after the F.B.I. began investigating Dr. Hatfill, the Pentagon continued to draw on his expertise. But tensions arose between the Justice Department and the Defense Department over their access to the mobile unit, the weapons experts said.

    The trainer’s equipment includes a fermenter, a centrifuge and a mill for grinding clumps of anthrax into the best size for penetrating human lungs, these experts said.

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation, suspecting that components from the Delta trainer might have been used to make the anthrax mailed in late 2001, examined the unit, officials and experts said. But investigators found no spores or other evidence linking it to the crime, they said.

    One little odd footnote to the Sept/Oct 2001 anthrax attacks- Judith Miller also got a letter with some powder in it. But hers turned out to be a hoax and there were no actual spores in hers.

    Judy, Judy, Judy.
    She sure turns up alot when classified info is leaked.

    • Leen says:

      Thanks for bringing this up. Kelly’s ‘alleged” suicide sure was suspicious and yes Judy “I was fucking right” Miller sure does show up a great deal whtn it comes to classified intelligence being leaked

    • emptywheel says:

      Lukery has hit all that hard. Remember, too, that the mobile bioweapons labs, which is what Kelly was sourcing for Judy, was one of the only stories that she began to express doubt on as it happened (probably because Howell Raines had been ousted and Joe Lelyveld, in his position as interim Executive Editor, was hammering her to make up for her earlier crappy reporting).

      One more detail that I need to confirm the timing once I get a hold of Jane Mayer’s book, but Judy’s anthrax attack (and her account of it) came just days before Cheney had an apparent bioweapon scare.

  6. spoonful says:

    Assuming the unthinkable doesn’t happen in November, what happens to this investigation after 1/20/09?

  7. Leen says:

    Witnessed a very interesting phenomena this morning. An article having to do with the expansion of Illegal west bank settlements was posted at Firedoglake early this morning I posted it at Crooks and Liars. so you can get to the article posted via this link. Now no one put their name to the article or stated any opinions about the article (and we certainly know folks at FDL have no problems sharing intense opinions about other issues at FDL)

    Here is the earlier link…..ettlement/

    But later that article about the expansion of Illegal settlements was taken down at Firedoglake. So if you go directly to Firedoglake now and do not use the link that I provided earlier at Crooks and Liars You will see what I mean
    Here is the direct link..Now

    the earlier article about the expansion of illegal settlements was between Christy’s latest on Senator Dorgan and the article about the Economy and is not longer there. Wondering why FDL took this article down?

    Here is the article that was taken down
    The Economy Is Great, Except for Banks, Housing, Autos, Health Care, Energy, the Deficit . . .
    Sen. Dorgan To Chat Live About Contractor Abuse Today At 11 AM ET »
    Israel okays new factories in WBank settlement
    Monday July 14, 2008 5:19 am
    Source: AFP

    JERUSALEM (AFP) — Israel has approved the construction of 25 factories in a Jewish settlement in the heart of the occupied West Bank, a spokesman for the settlement said on Monday.

    “We have received authorisation from the ministry of defence to pursue construction on the site of our industrial area,” Ariel settlement spokesman Reuven Shapira told AFP.

    “Around 10 factories exist and the project is to reach 35 factories in this area,” he said, adding that work resumed on Monday.

    Shapira said the defence ministry had frozen the Ariel project around a year ago to check its feasibility. The settlement lies south of the Palestinian city of Nablus and is one of the biggest in the West Bank.

    The Palestinians have repeatedly said the expansion of settlements in the West Bank is the main obstacle to the success of peace talks with Israel formally relaunched at a US conference in November.

    The internationally-drafted 2003 peace roadmap, which serves as the basis for the talks, calls on Israel to halt all settlement activities and for the Palestinians to cease all armed attacks.
    read article Read Article
    No Responses to “Israel okays new factories in WBank settlement”
    You have been banned from commenting on this blog!
    « The Economy Is Great, Except for Banks, Housing, Autos, Health Care, Energy, the Deficit . . .
    Sen. Dorgan To Chat Live About Contractor Abuse Today At 11 AM ET »

    • Teddy Partridge says:

      Still in the NewsBox and accessible from the front page of FDL, at least for me. The NewsBox does not appear when you are looking at a particular FDL post, only on the front page where post summaries appear.

      It is a common confusion, but not a conspiracy.

  8. Leen says:

    Sorry just trying to link the article that I posted from firedoglake over to Crooks and liars
    athleen Says:

    witnessed a very interesting phenomena this morning. This article having to do with the expansion of Illegal west bank settlements was posted at Firedoglake early this morning I posted it at Crooks and LIars. so you can get to the article posted via this link.…..ettlement/

    But later that article about the expansion of Illegal settlements was taken down at Firedoglake. So if you go directly to Firedoglake and do not use the link that I provided earlier at Crooks and Liars You will see what I mean
    Here is the direct link

    the earlier article about the expansion of illegal settlements was between Christy’s latest on Senator Dorgan and the article about the Economy and is not longer there. Wondering why?

  9. Elliott says:

    And five years later is a good time to thank you, emptywheel, for ALL that you’ve done. YOU are one who moved this from “move along” to a perjury conviction for Libby — so far.

    • Teddy Partridge says:

      Yes, thank you, Marcy. Your attention to the details and interwoven parts of this story is nothing short of extraordinary. How you do it is beyond me, but I am very happy that you do.

      Bastille Day will never seem quite the same, especially for the Wilsons, I suppose….

  10. tbsa says:

    Attorney General Mukasey doesn’t want to release those reports and make it clear whether his bosses orchestrated the leak of Valerie Wilson.

    ianal: This does not constitute obstruction why?

  11. emptywheel says:


    If you don’t mind, you have already hijacked this thread totally. Please drop it or take it elsewhere. My blog is not a forum for this.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The “shuttled around the world by his/her hot blonde wife/husband/partner” was a meme Cheney settled on early. A variation on a favorite dig among the country club set, suggesting that perks or success weren’t earned, they were married, inherited, won in the lottery, whatever. It’s a dig at one’s sexual prowess, or rather the lack of it.

    It’s an ironic meme for several reasons. It’s exactly how much of that economic and, hence, political, power is acquired, Cheney and Rove’s poorer backgrounds notwithstanding. Ironic, too, in that Washington attracts many stunningly attractive people of both sexes because of the confluence of such power. Self-referential, mutual exchanges, rather than individual achievement, are how much of it gets distributed. A reporter marries a central banker, an economist marries a senator, two pundits marry each other, a beer queen marries…, well, sometimes it starts a downward trend.

    The Cheney-based dig about the origin of Wilson’s trip is wrong, Plame didn’t pull the strings to send hubby on a trip to keep him busy, which Armitage parrots, also distracts from the trip’s substance by treating it as tabloid fodder. Had it been an act of nepotism, its revelation would have made it an act of whistleblowing, perhaps the biggest irony of all for Cheney, who hates whistleblowers more than he does environmentalists or competent government auditors.

    • skdadl says:

      I was guessing at some of the characters you refer to and I was going to write something probably not very nice about the imprecision of “stunningly attractive,” but then I got to this –

      well, sometimes it starts a downward trend

      – which is very funny.

      The Wilsons are lovely, both of ‘em. I hope they find vindication in the future, and it has been inspiring to watch EW work for it so well. Others too, of course.

      Marchons, marchons …

  13. Hugh says:

    If Mukasey had any integrity, he wouldn’t be Mukasey, and I would have had to name the Mukasey Priniciple for someone else.

  14. sadlyyes says:

    The report also puts into perspective the astounding growth rate over the past decade for jumbo yachts. In 1997, there were just 241 yachts of 80-feet or more under construction around the world. Last year, there were 916 such boats being built.

    The average price for motoryachts longer than 100 feet was $10.3 million in 2007. The average price for sailing yachts of the same length was $9 million (although, to the dismay of traditionalists, sailing yachts now make up a tiny fraction of the large yacht market).
    who sez CRIME DOES NOT PAY?

  15. Teddy Partridge says:

    Marcy, how do you think we will ever find out the truth? The civil suit is stalled (on appeal, right?) and I can’t imagine any new Administration having any interest in reviewing this — it’s the very definition of what to discard in a “bygones” presidency. Will be ever know exactly what happened, and why? Presuming, of course, the Cheney papers are sealed….

    • emptywheel says:

      Well, here’s what I think happened:

      1) In late May or early June, OVP got the memos supporting Joe’s trip which would have made it clear that Valerie was covert.
      2) On June 2, Libby and Armitage had a conversation from which Libby took away (or even planted) that Armi knew Plame was involved in the trip.
      3) On June 9, Bush told Libby to take care of the Wilson allegations.
      4) Scooter Libby (or someone else in OVP, but I think it was Libby bc of the Ari Fleischer coincidence) tipped both Woodward and Novak to go ask Armitage why Joe Wilson got sent.
      5) OVP made at least 4–and likely several more–attempts to force CIA to declassify this.
      6) Finally, after the Wilson op-ed, Cheney decided to hit the nuclear button with the knowing approval of Bush.
      7) Libby leaked Plame’s ID to Judy and Novak.

      How do we prove that? We inch closer and closer. While I don’t think President Obama is going to want to investigate this , I do think AG Napolitano or Edwards will happily turn over those documents to Oversight and HJC. There are some other documents I’d love for someone to do a document track of.

  16. chrisc says:

    Is there any chance that Mukasey might have to cough up the reports if Kucinich’s impeachment hearings go forward? Even if he only brings up the charges of going to war on false wmd charges, wouldn’t the outing of Plame be germane to a coverup of going to war over false pretenses?

    • emptywheel says:

      It is certainly possible. I’ve said in the past that HJC has a better claim to those reports than Oversight (much as I trust Waxman more to take care of them properly). If HJC is technically undertaking an impeachment inquiry, those reports would be exhibit #1 and #2.

      • bobschacht says:

        EW, I have a technical question.
        Impeachment hearings have special investigative powers, such as enhanced subpoena powers, right?

        What makes a hearing an “impeachment” hearing, with these added powers?
        Are only certain committees “eligible” for this? For example, are those powers restricted to HJC as a whole? Or can they be invoked by the subcommittee on the Constitution (Nadler’s)? Is it a matter of self-declaration, or does the House as a whole have to confer the power? What is Conyer’s role?

        In view of Pelosi’s mild note of encouragement to CBS, is this just kabuki, i.e., OK, convene a hearing to listen to Kucinich, but that’s all you can do?

        Or can the committee actually start impeachment hearings?

        Bob in HI

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          For one thing, an impeachment hearing in the House or trial in the Senate has the character of a criminal investigation or trial — it’s investigating or prosecuting “high crimes and misdemeanors”. That makes for a much stronger argument that Congress and the people’s interests outweigh the President’s presumed interest in maintaining the confidentiality of his talks with advisers.

  17. SaltinWound says:

    I hope Plame and Wilson get what they’re after, but, to me, this is much bigger than them. I’ve read too many interviews where Wilson has revealed himself to be just another establishment figure who thinks the serious adults should be in charge. And he really should retire his little joke about Valerie being good with an AK-47 giving new meaning to the phrase “yes, dear.” He brings it up in chats, everywhere. It wasn’t that funny the first time. I’m just saying somewhere along the way it stopped being personal for me or about rooting for them in particular.

    • sadlyyes says:

      ya,he lost me on his Huffpo rants,but it is part and parcel,to the greatest crimminal enterprise,or prises of my lifetime,they got well ELEPHANT size balls

    • Leen says:

      It is very clear that they are after Justice being served, so that another outing like Valerie’s never ever happens again..especially by a U.S. administration.

      Wonder if the CIA’s recruitment numbers were effected by Valerie’s outing?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I think you’re correct that Joe and Valerie, up close and personal, are not the perfect poster children for critics of this administration, its wars, and its willingness to sacrifice others on the altar of its ambition. (I wonder if that one, too, is made of Texas limestone?)

      Joe, ever the ex-California lifeguard with a brain, is reportedly insistently self-aggrandizing. But then, that’s par for the course inside the Beltway, non? On the facts, though, I think their story is a great illustration of how Bush’s excesses push Village “norms” to heights that take the republic, and all of us who depend on it working well, too close to the sun.

  18. earlofhuntingdon says:

    EW helpfully keeps intellectually picking at the scab of Cheney’s leaking. (Depends on what I mean, I suppose.) Cheney is a master bureaucrat, not at making it work, but at working round it and destroying it. He’s no fool.

    It seems unlikely, even given his enormous power in 2003, that he would have leaked classified information about a covert intelligence specialist on WMD’s in the middle of war, where an early justification for it was the claimed existence of Iraqi WMD’s. An administration that placed national security even slightly ahead of its own backside could easily have done a tabloid journalism hit on Wilson without risking exposing its covert intelligence resources.

    Which makes it likely, as EW keeps asking, that Cheney had the Plame information declassified. Given the tumult, he could well have done it after the fact, then considered it a ratification or, better yet, an affirmation of an earlier decision.

    Of course, admitting that in public, in the middle of a war, might have been perceived as unhelpful at the start of a year-long bid for re-election [sic]. Not to mention just when their initial motives for going to war were being questioned, no WMD’s were found, and new ones had to be thought up. That would be consistent and make it one of several reasons why Fitz never charged anyone with leaking classified info. The consequences to Libby would have been the same had he lied to cover up several follies, the fact of declassification or its timing, included among them.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Which suggests that getting back at a CIA bureaucrat whose work was not supporting his political ambitions was another reason for Cheney to go as far as he did. Cheney early regarded CIA analysts as hesitant and uncooperative. I think that’s one reason Feith was given the go ahead to invent his own intelligence shop [sic] at the DoD, which helped funnel raw, unanalyzed (and therefore, more manipulable) data to the OVP.

    • chrisc says:

      Things were unravelling in Jul 2003. David Kelly was leaking to the BBC, Joe Wilson was refuting their pre-war claims, and no WMDs were found in Iraq. A “tabloid hit piece” may not have been decisive enough- Cheney went bold and for the most part, I think his message got through: Leak what we do not want you to leak and you will die or be destroyed.

    • MadDog says:

      …It seems unlikely, even given his enormous power in 2003, that he would have leaked classified information about a covert intelligence specialist on WMD’s in the middle of war, where an early justification for it was the claimed existence of Iraqi WMD’s…

      I politely disagree here. Deadeye had and has a track record of doing what he wants, and then getting permission/approval/declassification.

      In Charlie Savage’s book “Takeover – The Return of the Imperial Presidency…”, one of the very first things Charlie describes is how Deadeye himself “ordered” the shootdown of hijacked airplanes. Deadeye had no Constitutional, statutory or other authority to do so.

      When the 9/11 Commission investigated, they could find no record of Deadeye communicating with Junya prior to that order being given even though Deadeye swears he had a phone conversation with Junya where he got the Ok.

      The 9/11 Commission asked pleny of witnesses who were actually in the bunker with Deadeye, and none of them (including National Security Advisor Rice) could be found to backup Deadeye’s insistence that he had gotten Junya’s permission.

      This isn’t to say that your belief is wrong, but I personally have little doubt that Deadeye does whatever he feels like first, and only later concerns himself with permissions/approvals/declassifications, and then, only if it somehow becomes visible or otherwise attracts attention, even within the White House.

      This polecat don’t change his stripes.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        In Charlie Savage’s book “Takeover – The Return of the Imperial Presidency…”, one of the very first things Charlie describes is how Deadeye himself “ordered” the shootdown of hijacked airplanes. Deadeye had no Constitutional, statutory or other authority to do so.

        Had any official acted on Deadeye’s demand, he or she would have been guilty of following an illegal order, a federal crime. George Bush was available 24/7 to make any decision required to defend the United States, even during the morning’s events on 9/11. That’s what the public pays him to do. That’s why the guy with the nuclear football is always no more than a stated distance away from him. Same with his aides in constant secure coms with the White House and Pentagon. Ditto when Shrub was on Air Force One or at his various stopovers.

        There were no confirmed coms blackouts, no legitimate claim that time required “the man on the ground” to make a call that should have been the President’s alone. No legitimate reason for Cheney to have had better or more immediate intel than Bush.

        The only practical reason I can think of is that Cheney wanted to preclude Bush from making such decisions, responsibility Bush would have been loathe to assume on his own in any case, so that Cheney could decide. Had Bush actually ceded authority to Cheney without cause, eg, because he was so scared he emptied his bowels, that would have been a reason to remove him from office. Which makes me rather anxious for the inevitable memoirs to roll out.

        I don’t disagree that Cheney manipulated Bush to get and use the authority to do WTF he wants, including outing Valerie Plame. I think that’s been their dynamic since Cheney named himself Shrub’s running mate. As always, the problem is the cover up. If Bush ratified or affirmed Cheney’s conduct, it’s presidentially sanctioned conduct. If Bush had the legal authority to act and to delegate his action to an agent like Cheney (all Cheney’s authority is derivative of the President’s, except breaking tie votes in the Senate), then Cheney’s conduct would be legal.

        If so, then the liability Cheney sought/seeks to avoid would have been political liability – related to the exposure of his manipulative relationship with the President, or to the act of outing a national security asset for domestic political benefit. I suspect that kept Fitz up at night, possibly knowing that the release of data on Plame was or could have been “legal”, and that only the lies crafted to hide that fact could be prosecuted.

  19. SaltinWound says:

    Yes, she was giving them “fake” plans for a bomb in a plan that went awry, right? Any idea if she’s in favor of all the covert ops going on in Iran right now? I’m not. I’m not clear where they stand on the issue. We’re all against agents being outed.

  20. SaltinWound says:

    I just think there’s a risk in overidentifying with people who take our side on a particular issue. For all the Murtha madness a few years ago on the blogosphere, you would have thought he was a progressive hero.

    • Leen says:

      But that is assuming that “our side” is always on the same side on every issue. I have found myself disagreeing with Valerie and Joe Wilson on numerous occasions and obviously with folks here….but I know that the threads that tie me to the people here and to the Wilsons and others is the deep commitment to Justice and following the rule of law. That is what ultimately connects me to folks here and to the deep integrity that I sense that the Wilson’s have about serving their country in the best way that they know how.

      It is this deep commitment to Justice that keeps EW spittin nails. I do not expect to agree with people on every aspect of an issue. But deep down know that “our side” is committed to equal justice under the law…even though it is in short supply these days

    • Leen says:

      Murtha is committed to fighting for the rights of Vets. Also know that most people who have had their own lives on the line like Murtha (especially based on lies Vietnam, Iraq) are far less likely to put other soldiers lives based on lies on the line.

      I deeply respect Murtha for this

  21. Leen says:


    Mukasey: Bush’s New ‘Mr. Cover-up’
    by Robert Parry

    July 10, 2008—Even Sen. Charles Schumer, whose vote last year ensured Michael Mukasey’s confirmation as Attorney General, was left sputtering as Mukasey returned the favor by rebuffing Schumer’s concerns about the Bush administration’s political prosecutions.

    ####When does Karl Rove get back from Europe? Will anyone be there from Congress to meet him?

  22. Bluetoe2 says:

    This will only end when the people storm the seats of government with pitchforks, torches and rope in hand. It’s nothing more than a charade and bad kabuki theater.

  23. LS says:

    It is interesting to note that Judy met with Libby (where they discussed Plame) a few days before she wrote the email to Kelly, saying that she heard from one of his biggest “fans” that things were going well for him, which was the day before he “died”; and on the day he “died”, he wrote back that he wasn’t so sure because of dark actors…

  24. Leen says:

    Monday, July 14, 2008 by
    Iran Shows Its Cards
    by Scott Ritter

    “There has never been a more pressing time than now for Congress to conduct serious hearings on U.S. policy toward Iran. Such hearings must not replicate the rubber-stamp hearings held by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in the summer of 2002. Those hearings were simply a facilitating vehicle for war with Iraq. New hearings must expand the body of witnesses beyond administration officials and those who would mirror their policy positions, and include experts and specialists who could articulate a counter point of view, exposing Congress to information and analysis which might prompt a fuller debate. This is the last thing AIPAC and the Bush administration want to see. But it is the one thing the American people should be demanding. Only an irrational person or organization could continue to discuss as viable a military strike against Iran. Sadly, based upon past and current policy articulations, neither AIPAC nor the Bush administration can be considered rational when it comes to the issue of Iran. It is up to the American people, through their elected representatives in Congress, to inject a modicum of sanity into a situation that continues to be in danger of spinning out of control.…../14/10337/

    Scott Ritter is kicking it up

  25. dmac says:…..02730.html
    i hate linking to this slimeball, but it bears repeating–
    almost five years later, from this past june, this comes out of the rabbit hole.robert novak column saying ’off the record’ tim russert was a source of his for 30 years.
    Early in 1982, over drinks in a Manhattan restaurant, Tim pulled from his briefcase accurate derogatory information about Republican Rep. Bruce Caputo, who was planning to run against Moynihan. That finished Caputo.
    During my half-century of journalism, he was the only colleague who was a source.

    in writing a send-off to his friend, he let a few noodles fly out from his spinning fork.

    i want to make sure he gets more sauce on his shirt.

  26. dmac says:

    forgot to post my question—did fitz ask novak if RUSSERT ever told him/leaked anything to novak? or ask russert?
    can’t remember from the grand jury testimony if that was specifically asked.

  27. maryo2 says:

    Wondering why Novak thought 1988 was the correct date I looked to see what Dick Cheney was doing in 1988. wiki says Iran Contra … Ghorbanifar… voting against Nelson Mandela in the US Senate because the ANC “at the time was viewed as a terrorist organization.” (goes to Cheney’s thinking)

    It seems that Cheney’s interests in 1988 would place him near knowledge of “Iraqui delegations” and uranium purchases from Niger, which may be why Novak cited 1988.

    Novak’s been around and Cheney’s been around, so what exactly was Novak talking about from 1988?

    • emptywheel says:

      I don’t think it was Novak or Cheney–I think it was Joe. I’ve always had a suspicion that they were trying to suggest that Joe was a go-between between Niger and Iraq. And in 1988, Joe was in Iraq.

      • maryo2 says:

        Thank you for your thoroughness. I didn’t want to assume anything was “screwed up accidentally” with this bunch of gifted criminals.

  28. abinitio says:

    I’m pretty certain that the next Attorney General and Administration (yes, I mean that Obama one) will continue the good tradition of the cover-up of this and other crimes of the past 8 years.

    Conyers and Waxman and others will continue the kabuki of subpoenas and investigations. The sheeple will be focused on if they can get a job at McD flipping burgers.

    Justice will not be served. Cronyism will be rewarded.

  29. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The relevant House committee, possibly Judiciary, but I’m not whether it’s the only one, would have to vote to commence an impeachment inquiry. Its purpose would be to develop evidence on the existence of possible crimes within its jurisdiction. The results of that investigation are necessary for the Committee and the whole House to vote on whether to impeach and send the matter to the Senate for trial. But even if no vote on impeachment is ultimately held, the results of the impeachment inquiry – a kind of criminal investigation – would be help document conduct that Bush has kept well hidden.

    • bobschacht says:

      OK, so in order to begin an impeachment hearing, no action by the House as a whole is needed?

      I think the Constitution is itself vague on the exact procedures required to start an impeachment inquiry, but House precedent probably would be followed. The HJC is the natural venue, but what about one of its subcommittees, such as Nadler’s subcommittee on the Constitution? Can they vote to commence an impeachment inquiry, and get those special powers?

      Just what did Pelosi authorize by her comments to CBS? And who is following up?

      Bob in HI

      • emptywheel says:

        The House has done what it needs to do twice to authorize the investigation. And Now Kucinich has the permission to go forward on Iraq intelligence. I’m not sure WHO in HJC gets to do it–I think it might be a special committee, but I’d be happy if Jerry Nadler was in charge.

        • bmaz says:

          Can’t say if it is limited to HJC (JTMinIA do you have a link to that?) but it sure seems like that is the logical place and where things fermented in both Nixon and Clinton. And it makes sense. it appears from a quick look that

          The House Judiciary Committee decides whether or not to proceed with impeachment. If they do…
          The Chairman of the Judiciary Committee will propose a Resolution calling for the Judiciary Committee to begin a formal inquiry into the issue of impeachment.

          And that would then be your “impeachment investigation” with the theoretically heightened powers. If the investigation then warrants, the HJC draws up Articles of Impeachment and sends them to the full house for a vote. Taken from here.

  30. Loo Hoo. says:

    Via Froomkin:

    Mayer herself will be Live Online at tomorrow at 3 p.m. ET.

  31. MadDog says:

    And even more from Froomkin:

    And Scott Horton, via blogger Andrew Sullivan, writes with yet more from Mayer’s book:

    “She describes an internal CIA investigation by [Inspector General John] Helgerson which concluded that the program violated the Geneva Conventions and U.S. criminal law. Vice President Cheney intervened directly, calling Helgerson directly into his office and speaking with him, after which the CIA report was stopped in its tracks.

    “Steven Bradbury at [the Justice Department] was asked to resolve this by crafting opinions that gave CIA full latitude to torture, with no restraints–setting aside the opinions crafted by Dan Levin which authorized techniques only within narrow constraints. After Bradbury rendered opinions exactly as solicited on his ‘probation,’ Bush personally expressed his pleasure with Bradbury’s performance and nominated him to head [the department’s Office of Legal Counsel].

    “According to [former deputy attorney general] James Comey, [Alberto] Gonzales repeatedly told him that he fully appreciated that the CIA program was torture and was criminal but he couldn’t oppose or block it because ‘Cheney wants it.’…

  32. Mary says:

    Horton has a Harper’s “6 Questions” up with Mayer:

    and they include this excerpt from her book, about EW’s favorite banannarama – Chertoff.

    Michael Chertoff, who was the head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division when Zubayda was caught, downplayed his role… But according to a top CIA official directly involved at the time, as well as a former top Justice Department official involved in a secondhand war, Chertoff was consulted extensively about detainees’ treatment. The former senior Agency official said with disgust, “Chertoff, and Gonzales, and all these other guys act like they know nothing about this now, but they were all in the room. They’re moonwalking backwards so fast, Michael Jackson would be proud of them.”

    —From The Dark Side

  33. dmac says:

    helen at 92–i know some grand jury stuff was, couldn’t remember if novak and/or russert’s was entered at trial.

  34. Mary says:

    86 – Cheney likes to leave the President as the one who can pardon.

    Mayer, btw, makes the same point to Horton as has been made here – that many top Congressional leaders (Ok, she doesn’t mention Pelosi or Rockefeller by name, but still) were briefed in and are compromised and complicit and that’s one reason not to expect much in the way of real investigations or prosecutions.

    Per Rich’s review, she also says that Goldsmith and Comey were worried they were being wiretapped and spoke in code.

  35. Mary says:

    100 -heh – I haven’t read the Froomkin yet, so actually I’m at least one behind you Mad Dog.

  36. surfer says:

    “According to [former deputy attorney general] James Comey, [Alberto] Gonzales repeatedly told him that he fully appreciated that the CIA program was torture and was criminal but he couldn’t oppose or block it because ‘Cheney wants it.’…

    I’ll bet old Deadeye is not very happy to see that in print. I wonder if he is making notes in the margin.

  37. freepatriot says:

    has it been 5 years ???

    we was just little kossacks back then (some of us are STILL just lil kossacks)

    been a long strange trip, huh ???

    happy anniversary, oh muse most worthy

  38. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Practically, I would think that the correct committee(s) of the House could conduct its own “impeachment inquiry”. Even if that’s possible, I can’t imagine it doing so without considerable support from the House and majority party’s leadership. Its members don’t want to be pushing a rope.

    If as EW says, the House leadership has twice authorized commencement of an impeachment inquiry, it’s hard to fathom why one hasn’t been commenced, unless Pelosi, like God, takes away with one hand what she gives with another.

  39. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The Comey quote was striking. The DOJ backed off enforcing the law because the constitutionally authority-less Vice President, with manipulative control over his President, wanted something that conflicted with the law. The DOJ thereby sanctioned behavior it knew to be illegal.

    Seems well beyond prosecutorial discretion; sounds more like conspiracy and obstruction. This couldn’t be news to the Congressional leadership. Which suggests that we’re also well into l’Affaire Dreyfus territory here: If disclosing the failures of government threaten to bring down government, the solution is not to disclose, but to ratify. It worked for illegal domestic surveillance. It’s worked so far regarding torture.

    • bobschacht says:

      If the price of Gonzo & Co. going to jail for allowing torture is that Pelosi and other Democratic leaders also go to jail, let it be! Isn’t it time to open the windows and air out the House?

      Bob in HI

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        No idea, but it puts Comey’s “stalwart leadership” at Ashcroft’s bedside in a new light. Less principled, more “final straw” on a big pile of hay.

        Only the illegal domestic surveillance programs pushed by Cheney, Addington, Card, Gonzales, et al., went so far beyond the pale that it led to the threatened mass resignation of the Department of Justice’s entire top leadership. Not torture. Not outing our own covert intelligence assets. Not going to war on false pretenses or anything else this administration has done.

        Must have been so illegal that not stopping it would have led those boys to a jail cell, lost them the respect of conservatives and progressives alike, and lost them their licenses to practice law. Something so illegal that the legislature that protects us by making laws and overseeing the executive branch ran away in ignorant flight rather than address it or stop it.

        • bmaz says:

          No. I don’t buy that analysis. The things you just discussed are of the same whole cloth (literally if you look at them all emanating out of the Addington/Bybee/Haynes/Yoo Article II + AUMF argument) so I don’t know that one was more illegal than the other. The discriminator here is likely that Comey, Goldsmith et al. had their nuts in a huge wringer on the wiretapping because of Lamberth/Kollar-Kotelly and the FISC. Their professional careers were suddenly on the line, not that they were “stalwart heroes of the Constitution” all of a sudden.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            I agree that they weren’t stalwart heroes, responding to a sudden discovery of a major, potentially illegal program, but were responding to an accumulated mass of illegalities and one big one that suddenly made it personal and potentially public. As for the extent of the illegality of Cheney’s domestic spying programs — we don’t know do we? — and Congress just made sure we’ll never find out. A somewhat unusual reaction, I would say, even for this leadership.

            Frank Rich’s review of Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side says that Comey and Goldsmith in 2004 took to speaking in code with each other, fearful that the administration was spying on them and that they might be in physical danger for opposing Cheney’s spying program(s).


            He seemingly derides Mayer’s apparent characterization of that as “paranoid”. As was said of Nixon, even paranoids have enemies (meaning it’s not “paranoia” if the threat is real). Comey and Goldsmith’s reaction, if true, is certainly a credible response to their exposure to Cheney, whether he actually spied on them (Hoover spied on quite a few officials in Washington), and whether they were in real physical danger or just being mind-sexed by Cheney, taunting them with the possibility that they might be in danger in order to manipulate them through fear to get what he wanted from them.

            • bmaz says:

              Oh, I have no doubt they were being spied on, at a minimum, at that point. Crikey, that happens all the time; I have known prosecutors that were bugged by their own government and defense attorneys as well. That is with less than the stakes and nastiness of players (read Cheney) involved here. Physical danger? Who knows? My only point is that I have long thought (as has Mary) that it was the FISC that was the motivation behind the actions.

              • skdadl says:

                Specter asked Comey directly in the Senate hearing whether he felt that he or anyone else had been retaliated against because of the hospital-visit revolt, and Comey said no, except for Mr Philbin.

                And yet it is pretty clear that both Goldsmith and Comey were forced out, and Goldsmith’s last responsibilities before he left were revocations of the Yoo memos, yes?

                So the TSP is not all that is in play here, and maybe Comey was just gracefully falling on his sword in his answer to Specter because Specter didn’t ask him the right question.

                • bmaz says:

                  Probably true and it also depends on what the definition of “TSP” is. They have played three card monte/hide the pea under the shell game with the names they have used to describe all the stuff they are doing. As I recall, Comey phrased things that day in terms of “the program the President approved” and also, again if I recall correctly, gave a decent indication that there were parts of the hospital kerfuffle that were different than “the program the President approved”. Bottom line is they played a shell game with the public and Congress over what was what, and by my best guess, did not tell the truth to anybody. Personally, I kind of assume they are siphoning everything from everybody all the time until they prove otherwise. That may or may not be accurate; but i don’t think it is an unfair assumption in light of their conduct and duplicity.

                  • skdadl says:

                    No, I am thinking more than that. I recognize that there was a shell-game with the TSP, and when Gonzales kept saying “other intelligence activities,” that may have been the one time he wasn’t lying.

                    But I am thinking that the question Specter failed to ask Comey was about torture. Maybe last year was too early for the senators to think about that, focused as they were on Gonzales, but obviously Goldsmith and Comey were coping with a lot more than surveillance, and Goldsmith seems to have left early for that reason.

  40. RevBev says:

    The comment by Newsweek for not reviewing the book calling for putting Bush on trial for murder. No review, per Newsweek, because there is “Bush-bashing fatigue” out there. O yeah, no interest even tho it’s already a best seller, I think. When else has fatigue (think Clinton and Starr) been a basis for restraint? Nuts.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Except that Newsweek’s use of the term “Bush-bashing fatigue” relegates all criticism of the President to hysterical fantasy. Many are accurate, some criticisms of this President, in fact, understate his illegal excesses.

        Bugliosi may be engaged in self-aggrandizing hyperbole, but phrases like that only serve to insulate Bush and his defenders from due criticism. It understates what I think is a public hunger for exposing and stopping his and Congress’ wrongs. And, I suppose, insulate media like Newsweek from having to take too many calls from KKKarl or his successor(s). It’s not a phrase I would associate with responsible reporting.

        • RevBev says:

          Thanks. My point; sweep it under the rug. Even if he’s “nuts”, and I do not know, he makes an interesting point. If I had had a son/spouse in this lousy, shameful war, I would be glad to the the Complainant. If the book is selling well, per claim, all that is news. Me thinks they don’t like the message.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            You’re right. There’s isn’t such gentlewomanly restraint when it comes to the foibles of Democrats and their shrill neocon critics. They get front-page treatment.

            As Glenzilla often points out, critics on the left are all shrill, fantasy-driven idealists. Those on the right are knowledgeable realists. No matter how many death threats their “religious” zealots advocate, how many little brown people their radio pundits would relegate to the bottom of the ocean, no matter how vapidly they praise their authoritarian leaders. They are all respectable centrists and their views are worthy of our deepest consideration. If that’s media with a “liberal bias”, Rush Limbaugh is an understated, thoughtful, celibate academic.

        • bmaz says:

          Heh, okay, I can agree with that completely. And I will fully admit that Bugliosi gives me a rash. I have watched him over the years, known friends and enemies, and been introduced and around him socially a couple of times. He is an engaging and fun guy in a lot of respects; but totally full of both himself and dung. And I don’t deny him his gig at all, but the truth is that he is a hell of a lot closer to Dominic Dunne at this point than he is Pat Fitzgerald. Actually Dunne may write more legally credible stuff than Bugliosi; I am not a fan of Dunne in the least.

  41. rdwdkw says:

    Marci, maybe you could make us a “pardon” board kinda like a big ten board to see how many pardon’s are handed out before Barack takes over. Maybe?

  42. pdaly says:

    Five years already?

    Time certainly flies by even when we’re (not) having fun with the Bush Administration in the WH. Well, actually it is fun to learn the truth about them by reading here and at FDL. Here’s to more of the same.

    BTW, for a look back at where we’ve been, here is a link to MultiMediaNetRoots (h/t to MultiMediaNetRoots)–it’s an archive of the Libby trial blogging.
    (MMNE, I assume you are reading here regularly. Do you go by another name, too?)

    There you can find an organized collection of posts from all your favorite bloggers including emptywheel, jane, christy, swopa, pachacutec, with their posts of the trial in chronological order of trial, pretrial articles by the same and by looseheadprop, as well as all the vlog podcasts done at the end of each court day (and just before “beerthirty”).

    eRiposte’s series of ‘uranium from Africa’ articles are here, too.

    Miscellaneous links also take you to the Wilson’s defense fund, Joe Wilson’s “What I Did’t Find In Africa” op-ed, numerous articles by Froomkin, pretrial Libby postings at FDL 2/2005-10/2005 collated by Christy, and several links to various timelines*.

    *note: I didn’t spot emptywheel’s Libby timeline there. This may be an egregious oversight, but then again I made only a quick pass through the listings.
    There is an email address at the bottom of the website if we need to request any links be added.