Scott McClellan Dismantles Cheney’s Plame Firewall

When evidence from the Scooter Libby trial showed that Dick Cheney had probably ordered Scooter Libby to leak Valerie Plame’s identity, Cheney built a firewall that legally excused the leak–but still insulated George Bush from involvement in knowingly outing a CIA spy. Cheney claimed, on at least two occasions, that he himself had the authority to declassify classified information, presumably up to and including Valerie Plame’s identity. Yet new information from Scott McClellan dismantles Cheney’s firewall; McClellan reveals that in the same period when Cheney was claiming he had the authority to declassify such information, the White House Counsel’s Office under Harriet Miers disagreed that the Vice President had such declassification authorities.

The Evidence Cheney Ordered Libby to Leak Plame’s Identity

gx2a-july-8-leak-to-judy-note.jpg

In spring of 2006, evidence was accumulating that Dick Cheney had ordered Scooter Libby to leak Valerie Plame’s identity to Judy Miller. We learned (and then, during the trial, we saw) that on July 7 0r 8, Cheney had ordered Libby to leak something to Judy Miller. We learned from Miller’s newspaper account (and then, during the trial, from her testimony) that after receiving that order, Libby proceeded to leak Plame’s identity to Miller.

And, as we got more information, we learned that Scooter Libby’s cover story for that order and that leak–that Cheney had only ordered him to leak the National Intelligence Estimate–could not be true. That’s because (among other reasons), Libby claimed he did not leak the classified information Cheney ordered him to leak until he got reassurances from David Addington that the President could insta-declassify classified information, thereby making such a leak legal.

I had previously spoken to our General Counsel, David Addington, and our General — and ask our General Counsel, does the President have the ability if he wants to take any document and say it’s declassified, go talk about it?

And Libby further explained that, at the same conversation where he got those reassurances from David Addington, he asked about Wilson’s probable contract with the CIA.

Q. And can you recall what — in your conversation with Mr. Addington about declassification, do you recall if you discussed any other topics with Mr. Addington at the time?

A. Yes. I also discussed in that conversation or close to that conversation, the question of whether there was a contractual obligation for Mr. Wilson.

Given these details, Libby’s notes, and Addington’s testimony (Addington said the conversation took place after Joe Wilson’s op-ed appeared), we can date this conversation to July 7 or 8. (Indeed, Libby even says the conversation declassifying the information itself may have happened on July 7 or "some time at the end of the previous" week.) This proves that Libby’s claim that it was the NIE he was so worried about leaking is false; Libby had already leaked the NIE to Bob Woodward (on June 27) and David Sanger (on July 2), without such assurances from Addington.

Furthermore, Miller has stated that their conversation about the NIE on July 8 included little new. "According to my interview notes, though, it appears that Mr. Libby said little more than that the assessments of the classified estimate were even stronger than those in the unclassified version." It wasn’t the NIE Libby was worried about–it was something else.

Plame’s affiliation with the CIA’s Counter-Proliferation Division was noted on a document that includes talking points dictated by Cheney as early as mid-June. That fact, Libby’s concerns about leaking whatever it is that Cheney ordered him to leak, and Miller’s testimony that Libby leaked Plame’s identity, strongly suggest that Cheney ordered Libby to leak Plame’s identity.

Cheney Invents the Vice Presidential Declassification Firewall

The problems in Libby’s NIE cover story started to become apparent in February 2006, after I noticed (and Murray Waas confirmed) Fitzgerald’s reference to Libby’s NIE cover story in a letter to Libby’s lawyers. Almost immediately after that revelation became public, Dick Cheney invented a firewall story that would–if true–have made it possible for the Plame leak to be legal without involving the President in leaking the identity of a CIA spy. Cheney implied that he could have declassified the information leaked to Judy Miller all by himself, though he stopped short of saying he had done so.

Q On another subject, court filings have indicated that Scooter Libby has suggested that his superiors — unidentified — authorized the release of some classified information. What do you know about that?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: It’s nothing I can talk about, Brit [Hume]. This is an issue that’s been under investigation for a couple of years. I’ve cooperated fully, including being interviewed, as well, by a special prosecutor. All of it is now going to trial. Scooter is entitled to the presumption of innocence. He’s a great guy. I’ve worked with him for a long time, have enormous regard for him. I may well be called as a witness at some point in the case and it’s, therefore, inappropriate for me to comment on any facet of the case.

Q Let me ask you another question. Is it your view that a Vice President has the authority to declassify information?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: There is an executive order to that effect.

Q There is.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes.

Q Have you done it?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I’ve certainly advocated declassification and participated in declassification decisions. The executive order —

Q You ever done it unilaterally?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don’t want to get into that. There is an executive order that specifies who has classification authority, and obviously focuses first and foremost on the President, but also includes the Vice President.

In September of the same year, Tim Russert asked Cheney point blank whether he could have declassified Plame’s identity. Cheney refused to answer that question. But he once again claimed he had the authority to declassify classified information, suggesting again he could have declassified the information leaked to Miller himself.

Q There was a story in the National Journal that Cheney authorized Libby to leak confidential information. Can you confirm or deny that?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I have the authority as Vice President under an executive issued by the President to classify and declassify information. And everything I’ve done is consistent with those authorities.

Q Could you declassify Valerie Plame’s status as an operative?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I’ve said all I’m going to say on the subject, Tim.

Cheney was referring to the Executive Order 12958, as amended in March 2003. With that amendment, President Bush gave the Vice President clear authority to classify information. But the amendment said nothing about whether or not the Vice President could declassify information for which he was not the originator–things like the CIA trip report and Valerie Plame’s identity, the things Libby leaked exclusively to Miller. Nevertheless, Cheney seemed to insist he had the authority to declassify such information all by himself. I always imagined that, if the press ever caught onto the glaring contradictions in Libby’s NIE cover story, Cheney might take the fall for Bush, claiming he had declassified Plame’s identity without Bush’s involvement, meaning the leak would still be "legal," but would insulate the President from the act of leaking a CIA operative’s identity.

But that plan would all depend on the veracity of Cheney’s claim to have the authority to declassify at will. And Scott McClellan recently revealed that even Harriet Miers, as White House Counsel, disagreed with that claim.

Harriet Miers Disagrees with OVP about Cheney’s Declassification Authority

In an email exchange with Scott McClellan, I asked whether he had ever been involved in a discussion about the revised Executive Order on declassification. In response, McClellan revealed he had talked to Harriet Miers about it in response to a question that was probably unrelated to Cheney’s Plame-related claims.

I specifically remember talking to Harriet Miers about the executive order and the issue of declassification at some point because of a press inquiry or two about it. I am not certain about the context, but I think it was in the context of something other than the NIE.

Miers’ response to McClellan’s question made it clear that her office disagreed with Cheney’s office about whether or not he could declassify at will. (I have emailed Miers for clarification but have received no response.)

Harriet told me that the vice president’s office maintained that the executive order provided declassification authority to the vice president, but she said that the White House counsel’s office did not necessarily share that view and indicated there had been some back-and-forth discussion about it with the vice president’s office. [my emphasis]

When asked to pinpoint when he had discussed this with Miers, McClellan said it probably happened while she was White House Counsel, though the dispute seemed to precede Miers’ tenure as Counsel.

I am pretty confident it happened when she was counsel (as opposed to staff secretary), so it would have been in the 2005 to 2006 time frame.

[snip]

Harriet did not say when the internal debate over it began, but my impression was that it was one that had been going on for some period of time–probably prior to her becoming counsel.

While this doesn’t clarify Bush’s original intent when he signed the Executive Order in March 2003, nor prove whether or not anyone aside from Cheney believed the Vice President had declassification authority when he ordered Libby to leak information to Miller in July 2003, it shows that between the time Libby leaked Plame’s identity and the time Cheney was claiming to have declassification authority, the President’s own legal team didn’t buy Cheney’s claims.

I asked Bill Leonard–the former head of ISOO–about McClellan’s revelation, and he said he found similar disagreements between OVP and WHCO regarding his own dispute about whether or not the Vice President had to reveal his classification activities. "For example, when I attempted to alert the White House Counsel’s Office as to what I saw were the implications of the OVP’s actions in my dealings with that entity, I was simply informed that they (the WH Counsel’s Office) did not get involved in matters involving the OVP.  Similarly, members of the WH staff would privately express support for my position while acknowledging that they could not do so openly." It seems clear that the President’s own lawyers disagreed with Cheney’s own interpretation of the President’s EO, even while Cheney was publicly claiming to have that authority.

Given that the question of Cheney’s legal authority to declassify this material is a key question in the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity, how could Cheney’s interpretation–as opposed to that of the President’s lawyers–be meaningful?

The Implications of Cheney’s Crumbling Firewall

The only one who could override his lawyers on this matter, it seems, would be the President himself.

Frankly, I’m not sure how we figure out when and if Bush did that. We know that, in 2007, Fred Fielding stated that the Vice President was treated the same as the President for the purposes of EO 12958; McClellan’s revelation of the dispute between OVP and WHCO in 2005 or 2006 suggests Fielding may have made this claim by throwing Pixie Dust, amending an EO without changing it.

Aside from Fielding’s statement in 2007, however, the most likely time for Bush to have made a statement regarding his understanding of the EO was when he met with Patrick Fitzgerald on June 24, 2004. (Fitzgerald also might have asked then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales the same question when Gonzales appeared before the Grand Jury between Cheney’s interview and Bush’s interview in June 2004.)

And at the very least, then, this revelation ought to raise the stakes on Mukasey’s refusal to turn over the Cheney transcript to Henry Waxman. Previously, I’ve maintained that Waxman’s claim to need the interview report, based on his investigation into the White House’s treatment of classified information was relatively weak, at least as compared to the House Judiciary Committee’s investigation into whether Bush commuted Libby’s sentence to protect himself. But, jeebus! If the White House can’t even figure out the limits to Cheney’s declassification authority two years after both the signing of the Executive Order and the leak of Plame’s identity, we’re talking some huge problems with how the White House manages classified information. Not to mention the fact that this raises new questions about Cheney’s apparently belated attempt to ignore ISOO based on his claim he’s a Fourth Branch of government. (I asked Waxman’s spokesperson for comment but have not gotten a response.)

But, ultimately, this reflects back on Bush–and puts him solidly in the middle of discussions about the leak of Valerie Plame’s identity. The Vice President started publicly claiming to have the authority to declassify things like the CIA trip report and Plame’s identity only after Libby had clearly implicated both his supervisors–Cheney and Bush–in the Plame leak. By all appearances, Bush didn’t finally decide the issue until 2007. If Bush–and his lawyers–didn’t decide whether or not Cheney had the authority to declassify the extra things leaked to Miller until four years after the fact, it suggests Bush was the one who bought off on that leak, not Cheney. Cheney can’t be Bush’s firewall, because he didn’t have the authority to be until four years after the leak. If, as abundant evidence suggests, Cheney ordered Libby to leak Plame’s identity, either this leak was illegal. Or President Bush approved the deliberate exposure of a CIA spy.

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  1. brendanx says:

    What explains the non-sequitur of Cheney asserting of this authority in the Hume interview, which was otherwise devoted to explaining events on the ranch? And why make the assertion on tv in the first place?

    • emptywheel says:

      The stories from Murray and Carol Leonnig making it clear that Libby had invoked Cheney had come out on Thursday and Friday before he shot that old man in the face. I’ve always wondered whether the stress of that news contributed to Cheney’s drunkenness or carelessness the following day.

      In any case, he set that Hume meeting up himself; WH Press office did not prep him for it. So I wonder whether it was his effort to push back against both issues, the accident and the declassification claims.

      • jackie says:

        I still think that Cheney shot his lawyer/friend that day, because his lawyer/friend told Dick, ‘Dick, you’re fucked!’ and Dick didn’t like that answer!!!!

          • jackie says:

            I don’t think Valerie was out-ted ‘on a lark’. I think her and her team were getting too close to Cheney/Bush/Saudi royalty/other shadows, etcs slice of the pie and she/they had to be shut down fast down.

            ‘he just got so angry that he couldn’t out a spy on a lark that he had to just shoot someone.’

            • SaltinWound says:

              This point of view comes up every once in a while. But do we have any basis for thinking Plame was doing good work or that she was uncomfortable with those shadowy connections? The project I’m aware of was “Merlin” which wasn’t well thought out, entered morally grey areas, and was a bust.

              • perris says:

                I am most disturbed that nothing more is made of “brewster jennings and associates”, the brass plate cover for valery and others

                I would really like to know the compromise to our national security that loss represents, I wish some investigative reporter like waas would take a deeper look at that

                • Minnesotachuck says:

                  I am most disturbed that nothing more is made of “brewster jennings and associates”, the brass plate cover for valery and others. . . I would really like to know the compromise to our national security that loss represents

                  For better or worse, that’s something will probably not know for decades to come, if ever. These sorts of things are justifiably among the most closely guarded secrets of intelligence communities, since the scope of the damage as seen from our perspective is information that is also extremely valuable to our adversaries.

              • jackie says:

                As far as ‘do we have any basis for thinking Plame was doing good work or that she was uncomfortable with those shadowy connections?’
                I think Valerie was good at what she did and it is really important that we know what is going on in the land of Spooks, Spies and Shadows!!

                This is a pdf, lots of background stuff
                http://www.wbpnet.org/Research…..%20WMR.pdf

                ‘Aside from the high-visibility officials involved or presumably involved in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame – Lewis Libby, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, etc. – we also have a generous sprinkling of neocons who, while somewhat less well known, have played a crucial role in not only the Plame outing but in policy-crafting and, perhaps, criminal activities as well.’
                http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/7/8/14653/71820

                • stryder says:

                  marcy’s
                  http://emptywheel.firedoglake……kurdistan/
                  refers to the “real” world of the superclass players and links to this great article from Chris Floyd
                  http://64.233.167.104/search?q…..=firefox-a
                  that clarifies this world that Sibel Edmonds was on the fringes of with Pakistan and Turkey and god knows what else .Plame was probably flying to close to all this stuff as well and it would be great if she would/could talk about what she was doing.
                  All this Bandhar/Bae/BCCI/Riggs/Hunt/Bush/Faisel/911/Atta stuff is probably why cheney was so freaked out about Plame.
                  They’re up to something that’s for sure

                • stryder says:

                  I had no idea Libby was Marc Rich’s atty.
                  See what I mean,all these players keep popping up over and over
                  Great link, thanks

        • Petrocelli says:

          Actually, my inner child anonymous sources claimed that Whittington muttered, “Cheney’s a Dick” shortly before the “accident” …

    • JThomason says:

      Seems like Cheney was obsessed with outsmarting manipulating the press for his purposes and in the end it is his undoing,like the knatty shoes of the miser. Surely a story line replete for opportunities in moral imagination and all.

  2. Loo Hoo. says:

    Unbelievable. Before this administration, this would have been found on the the fiction shelves.

  3. ellwort says:

    Thanks.
    An example of roiling public information with BS. It’s easier to control people when they’re in murky water, no? Look out for more hunks of crap in the “news” you read today. Every day.

  4. plunger says:

    Armtiage fell on his sword to take one for the team…then this:

    ARMITAGE KNIGHTED BY THE CROWN:

    http://www.btcnews.com/btcnews/1294

    4/25/2006
    OMG: Meet Richard Armitage, Knight Commander

    Richard Armitage, the number two man at Colin Powell’s state department, has been knighted “for services to US-UK relations.” Presumably this is a reference to his diplomatic exertions on behalf of the invasion of Iraq.

    Armitage, one of the innumerable Bush administration graduates of the Reagan era Iran-Contra school of murderous skullduggery, was made a Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George (KCMG).

    He was joined on the honours list by several US military officers, including Captain John Peterson.

    Peterson’s claim to fame? “Peterson, chief of staff to the commander of the US navy in the Middle East, was awarded a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) for – according to the Pentagon – leading British and American forces “in the campaign to secure Iraqi oil assets” at the start of the 2003 invasion.”

    Absent his outstanding service, Iraq might be a shambles.

    The news comes to us courtesy of Chris Floyd, who notes Armitage’s efforts on behalf of US-drug dealing terrorist relations during the Iran-Contra affair, and wonders whether even higher honors might be in store for the future former president, assuming that happy designation ever applies.

    “ If Armitage gets this kind of gilded wheeze for mere minioning in some of the most murderous operations of the past half-century, then great googily-moogily, what’s George W. going to get, when he retires, for actually being the trigger-man for the world-convulsing killing spree in Iraq? Not to mention his relentless and ruthless gutting of the U.S. Constitution? What honor would suffice for this sterling service? No mere knighthood or baronage will do; Lizzie will have to adopt him into the royal family or something, name him heir to the throne.

    After all, his whole life’s work has been aimed at overthrowing the American Revolution and restoring feudal rule by aristocrats, warlords, religious cranks and simpering courtiers. Why not just bring the whole thing full circle back to Buckingham Palace?”

    Armitage — whose former boss, Powell, was made a Knight Commander of The Most Honourable Order of the Bath (KCB), one letter less but one notch above Armitage’s KCMG, for his services in the first Gulf War — was nominated for the honor by British foreign minister Jack Straw, who is no doubt in line for recognition of his own role in facilitating the Mother of All Train Wrecks in Iraq.

  5. DWBartoo says:

    Dr. Accountability;

    My respect for you knows no bounds.

    You untangle the tightest of knots, and move straightaway through the most-complex of mazes …

    While we may not have the satisfaction of Justice, at least we shall have, owing in great part to your sublime skills, some understanding of what has happened and who is implicated in the worst of the deeds.

    Once again, my most sincere ‘Thank You’, seems far too little appreciation …

    ;~D

  6. plunger says:

    Closing down our best source of covert intelligence on WMD in the Middle East by making its covert status public – during a time of war – is akin to revealing troop movements and positions to the enemy – during a time of war.

    It’s TREASON on it’s face.

    Doing so for POLITICAL reasons is IMPEACHABLE.

    BUSH, CHENEY, ROVE & LIBBY all knew that Plame was a covert agent – and a key enemy if their lies were to succeed. Everyone in the WHIG knew. They all conspired to prevent the truth about WMD from being made public

    When referring to Wilson, each of them at one time or another referred to him as “a Democrat.”

    That’s POLITICAL.

    That’s ILLEGAL.

    George Bush, lying about his own leak: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories…..5986.shtml

    Donald Rumsfeld on Leakers of Secret Information:

    … No, I’ll tell you about leaks. When a person takes classified information and gives it to someone who is not cleared for classified information, whether the person’s from the Pentagon or any department of government, they’re violating federal criminal law. And they ought to go to jail. That’s not complicated.

    Kalb: What are the laws they are violating? Just –

    Rumsfeld: The laws relating to classified information are quite strict as to who may be given access to that information. And so to the extent that people violate the rules with respect to classified information, they are breaking federal criminal law.

    Now, they are also potentially putting people’s lives at risk, and that’s a very — it’s a terrible thing to do …

    http://www.defenselink.mil/tra…..410sd.html

    Scott McClellan, lying about Bush’s leak:

    “If someone in this administration leaked classified information, they will no longer be a part of this administration, because that’s not the way this White House operates.”

    • quake says:

      It’s TREASON on it’s face.

      Treason doth never prosper.
      And there’s a reason.
      For when treason doth prosper.
      None dare call it treason.

      • jackie says:

        What this WH and Co did, was Treason from the get-go. Most People just have trouble wrapping their heads round it and apparently even saying the T word is difficult for many..

        • bobschacht says:

          I think one of the problems here is that Treason is an unused muscle of the Constitution, so it has lost all strength and everyone is skeert of even trying to use it, for fear of spraining something.

          For everything, there is a season. It appears that there was a Season for Treason, and things must now be called by their proper names.

          Bob in HI

  7. klynn says:

    Great, amazing work EW!

    One question, is it really an “either or”? It’s most likely both? Illegal and deliberate exposure.

    I’m going on vacation more often…Super posts the last few days (actually every day).

  8. emptywheel says:

    klynn

    That’s a good question. I came to the conclusion in the book that the reason Fitz didn’t indict for IIPA (because Libby’s concerns about leaking this to Judy make it clear HE KNEW it was classified) was because if Bush had declassified Plame’s identity, then it would have been legal. But the question is whether BUsh was willing to admit he declassified Plame’s ID, which I’m guessing he wasn’t.

    • MsAnnaNOLA says:

      I hear you and thank you for your work.

      I guess this just means Fitz doesn’t really have the balls we thought he did. Why not just put it all in front of a jury and let them figure it out. At least that way the public would know what was going on and we and Congress could make a decision for ourselves. Public opinion is a bitch.

      I guess maybe Fitz is a hack after all.

  9. wigwam says:

    OT: Per LA Times today:

    A top government scientist who helped the FBI analyze samples from the 2001 anthrax attacks has died in Maryland from an apparent suicide, just as the Justice Department was about to file criminal charges against him for the attacks, the Los Angeles Times has learned.

  10. danps says:

    I hope this won’t sound presumptuous but I’d like to make a request: Please refer to Libby as Lewis (or I. Lewis). Using a warm and fuzzy nickname has a familiar and disarming effect that strikes me as inappropriate. And yes I know he is almost univerally called by his nickname in the news, but we don’t aspire to their standards right?

    • Minnesotachuck says:

      Please refer to Libby as Lewis (or I. Lewis).

      Better yet, How about using “Irving?” People who initialize their first names generally don’t like it when other people use it. So use it.

  11. 1970cs says:

    Did Fitzgerald ever talk with Miers? Was the disagreement about whether Cheney was authorized to declassify, or her seeing the writing on the wall that she would be the next to be offered up to the newly elected Dem Congress why she left in Jan 07?

  12. LS says:

    “I had previously spoken to our General Counsel, David Addington, and our General — and ask our General Counsel, does the President have the ability if he wants to take any document and say it’s declassified, go talk about it?”

    Seems to me that Bush got a document with Valerie Plame’s identity in it and, based on discussion with Cheney etal., told Libby directly to go leak it, which is why Cheney later crossed out “this Pres” in the meatgrinder note.

    Then, to deflect away from Bush, they concocted the Cheney classification EO and its story….Perhaps Gen Counsel wouldn’t go so far as adding “declassification” in the EO on purpose though….and Cheney just spun it his way..seems like McClellan kind of points toward that with the Miers “clues”…seems like he’s trying to give you clues…maybe I’m just reading it wrong.

  13. perris says:

    While this doesn’t clarify Bush’s original intent when he signed the Executive Order in March 2003

    I do not believe an executive order can transfer this authority even if it did exist, for instance, the president could write an executive order that the vice president is president, that would not make him president.

    the president does NOT have the authority to expose our covert assets, ESPECIALLY when it puts those assets and their families in life peril

    and even IF the president does have that authority, there is NO way he can transfer it through some kind of order

      • Minnesotachuck says:

        IANAL either, but some questions that have been bouncing off the padded walls of my illegal mind from time to time are these:

        Just what are the limits that separate what can and cannot be asserted in an Executive Order? It would seem logical that an EO cannot assert as legal something that is in direct contradiction to provision of either the Constitution or a law duly enacted by Congress (and either signed by a President and if vetoed, overridden, and not previously declared unconstitutional by SCOTUS). Is this understanding correct?

        Can an EO establish as law anything that is not in explicit contradiction to the Constitution or existing law, as described above? Or can it only address issues that the Constitution or existing law explicitly identify as being within the President’s purview or discretion?

        Inquiring minds want to know!

    • stryder says:

      The pixie dust/EO point is another overlooked aspect of all this and deserves clarification.
      What does the “current vs previous” law have to say about EOs?
      It seems to me that just the act of writing an EO establishes guilt.You know, cya

  14. Minnesotachuck says:

    Great sleuthing, as usual, Marcy.

    And to you staffers on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform who are monitoring this blog on behalf of your beloved chair the Honorable Mr. Henry Waxman, get on with it!

  15. Elliott says:

    Marcy, do you think it was more than just hitting back at Joe? Do you think Valerie’s work factored into it? I never sensed that myself, but it is noted often as it has been this morning.

    • bobschacht says:

      Cheney has a long history of hating the CIA, so it wouldn’t surprise me if he welcomed an opportunity to shoot it down, belittling it by accusing the CIA, in essence, of nepotism. But I suspect that he also knew more about Plame’s work than has yet come to light. And then there’s always Sybil Edmonds.

      Bob in HI

  16. jvass says:

    Thank you for connecting the dots. I can only imagine the MSM ignoring this story. “Ohh, it’s too darn hard to explain to viewers. They don’t want to hear about actual lawbreaking by the executive branch. Let’s just move on and talk about Britney and Paris today.”

  17. wavpeac says:

    This last week, I am reminded once again of the analogy we use with battered women, that when you plop a frog into a pan of boiling water, the frog hops right out.

    However, when you put a pan of tepid water on the stove, and put a frog in it, then turn the heat up slowly, the frog will not hop out but boil to death.

    In the last week, we have confirmation that the their was a concerted effort to politicize the DOJ. Illegal. Lies were told. Cover ups were engaged.

    We learned that Cheney had a plan to use our navy seals to fool us into a war with Iran.

    Add that to this list:

    Valerie Plame

    Hurricane Katrina

    A war with Iraq in which we know that Iraq had no WMD.

    Anthrax poisonings…the anthrax being military grade, from the U.S. And the fact that the case will now, likely, never be solved.

    It now seems crazy not to be suspicious of 9/11.

    I used to think it impossible to consider that bushco would orchestrate or allow such a catastrophic event. However, we now know that there was motive, that this administration has demonstrated a complete lack of regard for human life, and that lies and cover-ups have occurred and been effective.

    It’s no longer crazy to be suspicious of this possibility and like the frog in the slow cooker, we are left boiling to death.

    • perris says:

      We learned that Cheney had a plan to use our navy seals to fool us into a war with Iran.

      I believe it was ls who pointed out that this plan was probably attempted, if you remember that rediculous speed boat that was “menacing” some of our military attacments, this was a clear intention to incite a confrontation

      • LS says:

        If you think about it…Bush considered painting planes to look like UN planes to get into war with Hussein…Cheney considering (and possibly actually attempting) to get our Navy to fire on our Navy seals…it sure makes you wonder if, during the period of time before 9/11, they weren’t considering what kind of event, like another Pearl Harbor, could occur in order to pave the way for the Neocon agenda to invade the Middle East and control the oil….

        Pretty obvious…we know they don’t care about dead people…just ask the families of the dead troops and the families of the more than a million dead innocent Iraqi civilians….and they’ve had no problem using Willy Pete and or napalm or depleted uranium laden bombs…

        Go back and investigate 9/11.

        • perris says:

          If you think about it…Bush considered painting planes to look like UN planes to get into war with Hussein

          I don’t have the link but a general testified that that actually happened, it was more then a plan it was put into action

        • perris says:

          it sure makes you wonder if, during the period of time before 9/11, they weren’t considering what kind of event, like another Pearl Harbor, could occur in order to pave the way for the Neocon agenda to invade the Middle East and control the oil….

          bush has an advertised appearance at a grade school, the secret service is informed we are under attack, political and economic buildings are the targets

          bush continues to his advertised appearance and remains while the secret service is fully aware we are under attack

          bush is NOT whisked to a secure location, he is KEPT AT THE ADVERTISED APPEARANCE

          I am sorry, THERE IS NO WAY the secret service does not whisk the president from this obvious target point, NO WAY, unless they knew as a fact the president was not a target

          now, how could they POSSILBY know that?

          I want a commision to get these secret service on the stand and ask them H0W ON EARTH DO YOU NOT GET THE PRESIDENT TO A NON DISCLOSED LOCATION

          I GUARANTEE the president will forbid them to testify, I GAURANTEE IT

      • perris says:



        that’s not a youtube of the boats “threatening” our personel, it’s a youtube of the breaking story about cheney
        s desire to get us to shoot at seals

  18. LS says:

    The motive to out Valerie Plame to get back at Joe Wilson for challenging the 16 words makes absolutely no sense to me. There are a million other ways they could have attempted to discredit him….outing a covert CIA agent is so over the top that it just doesn’t fly in my opinion. It hurt Valerie and Brewster Jennings much more than Joe Wilson directly. Valerie and her work was the target….and using Joe Wilson’s article as an excuse to do it is reprehensible. JMHO

    • cbl2 says:

      outing a covert CIA agent is so over the top that it just doesn’t fly in my opinion

      as you know, these people are congenitally careless and incapable of sensing consequences. over and over again, they have used a sledgehammer when a scalpel will do

      like you and so many others here, I continue to scratch my head over this one. we may never know their primary aim. . . although it does look like the Lioness is closing in – pay no attention to that rustling in the weeds Shooter

  19. plunger says:

    The leaking of Plame’s identity destroyed the undercover Brewster Jennings WMD surveillance operation – and quite likely resulted in the death of dozens of covert operatives, about whom you will never hear.

    Brewster Jennings likely had proof that the Pentagon was arranging delivery of WMD into Iraq for the invading US forces to “discover.”

    Brewster Jennings could confirm that Iran was TEN YEARS away from having a functional nuke – which would totally screw-up the Israeli-led Pentagon plan to invade the entire Middle East under false (flag) pretense.

    TREASON

    IMPEACH

    • perris says:

      I believe common opinion is disproven and the only restriction a president has is he cannot pardon himself from impeachment, he CAN pardon himself from everything else

      • jvass says:

        I really meant he’d pardon Cheney…

        My biggest hope is that these revelations continue to see the light of day and that the truth will win out. I do believe Waxman’s office (and the Plames) probably read this site, so hopefully they can further the investigations. I wish them luck.

  20. LS says:

    Here is Norman Mineta’s actual testimony…there was an order to shoot down planes…he says he subsequently learned that…(after he already assumed it from what he overheard Cheney say)…This was left out of the 9/11 report:



  21. bell says:

    scott mcclellan might have dismantled cheney’s plame firewall, but do you really think muskasey is interested in acting on any of it, or that the dem congress is going to do anything different then they have to date? they are all playing politics.. none of the main actors are interested in holding anyone accountable… sorry to say but all these folks are running down the clock content to let treasonable actions slide or worse, turning a blind eye to it all (for political purposes once again)..

  22. wavpeac says:

    I really think that one way to truly turn this tide would be to prove a link or some culpability to the bush administration regarding 9/ll. I think the american people would finally be pushed over the edge and refuse to hear another word Mcsame has to say, and might actually, finally see the bigger picture.

    But…god knows, I have thought this before.

    Long time ago…I would have thought that outing a spy would have worked.

    I have a very smart colleague who’s husband watches faux news. She isn’t intending to, but hears it. This is enough for her to doubt that Valerie Plame was covert. She just does’nt think our gov’t would out a spy.

    • perris says:

      She just does’nt think our gov’t would out a spy.

      our government would not, the despots in office however, that’s another story

      • wavpeac says:

        correct. poorly worded on my part. But today, I am uncertain as to what “our gov’t” really means.

    • LS says:

      VP something show intel or info to Miller. “show” is in gregg shorthand. Libby uses that shorthand sprinkled throughout his written notes..

      • LS says:

        There is a sideways W ahead of it…could be “W”…or could be more shorthand, but I can’t make it out…

        • LS says:

          The sideways “W” outside of the circle could be “question”…in shorthand.

          (Question: VP “something…maybe intent or intend” show Intel or info to Miller.)

          • LS says:

            Or “I” = identity. show identity to miller. It is not a T over an arrow, it is “I” and an arrow pointing to Miller.

            “show” is the short downward stroke with the little “u”…phonetically “sh” and the little “u” is “O” Show…before the “I”.

    • emptywheel says:

      The Y with a line over it signifies Cheney. There’s an SL right after that–signifying something Scooter Libby had to do. Then there’s an arrow with a T over it–saying to call Judy. My best read is that this was from July 7, when Cheney told Libby to call Judy to arrange the meeting the following day.

      I don’t know what the sideways W is–it’s not “W” as in the President (Libby uses a P with a line over it for that). I think the W signifies the priority for a to do item or something like that.

      • LS says:

        I definitely read “show” “I” “arrow” Miller. I believe the W is “question”

        I used Gregg for years in my earlier incarnation…

      • stryder says:

        are you familiar with the PDF that [email protected] refers to?
        wow!!It refers to Valerie’s work

        “The identification of Edelman in the Libby indictment as one of those possibly involved in the outing of a CIA agent and a covert company bears directly on the use
        of Turkey as a major facilitator in the trafficking of WMD components, particularly to the AQ Khan network in Pakistan.”

      • lllphd says:

        that ‘w’ – is what you’re referring to that squiggly thing on the far left?

        don’t know gregg from hieroglyphics, but that just looks like the fancy bracket to me – { – poorly executed.

        fwiw

  23. osage says:

    As of January 20, 2009, the President will be Barack Obama. His Attorney General will enforce the intent and letter of the law and enable congress to exercise oversight of the Executive Branch of government. Bush administration officials and employees will receive invitations and subpoenas to testify before congressional committees where they will have no choice but to either provide testimony or invoke their Fifth Amendment right or be held in inherent contempt of congress and sent to jail and face charges after prolonged investigations. White House officials and those they worked with will receive subpoenas to testify before special prosecutors and grand juries concerning investigations into the politicizing of government agencies, the politically motivated firings of United States Attorneys, conspiracy to falsely prosecute Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, the outing of a covert CIA agent for political purposes, taking America to war under false pretenses, the loss, hiding and destruction of millions of White House emails……and the list goes on and on. As of January 20, 2009, Bush Republicans are going to have to face the fact that their futures are going to be based on truth and facts rather than lies and cover-ups. Let’s see how Bush Republicans act when the only things that can save them is either their innocence or their knowledge of who is guilty. To those who would suggest that the Democrats lack the will to put our country through the painful and divisive exposure of the Bush administration’s corruptions, abuses and illegal actions, I would point out that the Democrats cannot afford to allow the precedents set by the corruptions, abuses and or illegal actions of president Bush and vice president Cheney to go unchallenged or unresolved in order to insure that future administrations are not tempted to repeat them. And the fact that the 2010 elections will be critical in gaining or maintaining a 60/40 filibuster-proof senate majority for Democrats, there would be political value in the exposure of Bush administration malfeasances enabled by Republican Senators.

    Posted by osage

    • perris says:

      Obama has already corrupted himself, forsaken our constitution, trashed the fourth amendment and allowed criminals to go free without even knowing the crimes they committed

      Obama is another tool, though less a tool then mccain, a tool never the less

  24. kspena says:

    Fitz may well be dropping hints for congress to access the bush and cheney interview summaries because they contain the clarifications about the declassifications and leaks that he can’t speak about. Perhaps he has told as much of the story as he can, but wants the lingering sand swept away from the public view.

  25. hackworth says:

    Just to add some color: Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson made some horrible warmongering remarks (in reference to Iraq, IIRC) at FDL and in tv interviews. This does not discount the fact that the Cheney/Bushco machine illegally threw them under the bus. It is possible that Wilson and Plame could have been (at one point) persuaded to be Bushco Team Players.

    The remarks that Valerie made were astounding and on a par with similar remarks from any Bushco neocon warmonger.

  26. emptywheel says:

    It was hitting back at the CIA, and probably some people perceived to be close to Joe and Valerie, though not just hitting at Valerie.

    In Cheney’s mind, outing Plame was closely tied with the accusations–repeated in some of the same articles as ones that printed Joe’s story–that Libby and Cheney had twisted arms. Also, Cheney was impatient to have CIA leak stuff he thought exonerated him–such as a January 24 document they seem to have gotten (and therefore probably asked for) AFTER Alan Foley refused to let them put the Niger claim in the SOTU without a hedge.

    Just as an example, both Jim Pavitt and Tyler Drumheller spent the early part of their career in Africa–same time frame was Joe was moving up the ranks in teh foreign service there. Internally, the CIA referred to Joe as an “old friend of the CIA”–suggesting his cooperation with the CIA prob dates back to that time frame (which would make sense, in that he would have worked with people under official cover). Particularly if Cheney believed Joe had strong ties to Drumheller–who after all DID tell the White House to back off its claims–then I think they would have seen going after both the Wilsons as a way to keep people like Drumheller silent.

    • jackie says:

      Hmmm, that makes a difference. I had not really taken Joe’s long relationship with both the Deplomatic and Secret side of the house..
      Cheney and Co really did get a twofer. Huge ripple effect, bet they liked that.
      Thanks

  27. hackworth says:

    Perris, I wish Osage’s remarks were true, but I agree with you. The FISA flip, the new way, the lieberman, the aip*c speech, the iran hairy-chested bombast, the mending fences, Chuck Hagel flirting, all reeks of terrific toolery.

  28. Bustednuckles says:

    Thanks,EW.
    My goodness you have a beautiful mind!

    Either way you look at it, to me it will always be Treason.
    They can play footsie and try and make it retroactively ‘Legal” all they want.

  29. LS says:

    EW. That little note may be the little smoking gun.

    I think it reads like this:

    Question: VP intent show Identity or Intel or Info to Miller.

    As I have explained above in the comments.

    LS

    • Loo Hoo. says:

      So you’re thinking Libby couldn’t just explain it to Miller, that he needed to show her proof?

      • LS says:

        That is what he did when he met with her…he “showed” her intel and revealed Plame’s identity.

        That is why this makes sense. He was told to “show” the “I” to Miller.

  30. orionATL says:

    unraveling, unraveling, unraveling

    cheney’s cover is slowly unraveling.

    and DCI emptywheel is still on the case, helping that unraveling along.

    may we not expect that cheney could actually be indicted and tried for releasing classified information of great sensitivity – the id of NOC valerie plame?

    delicious to contemplate and more doable, it seems to me, than impeachment or war crimes efforts.

    • LS says:

      Look again. The tip of the “arrow” is not attached to the “arrow”..it is separate. The capital “I” is intact. It is definitely “I” on its own.

  31. LS says:

    It reads using Gregg:

    Question (then begins circle)VP… then a colon…then the short horizontal with the straight line going up…that is “n” and “tnz”…then the short line down (sh) with the “u” or hook at the bottom which is “o”…sh.ow…then capital “I”…then the arrow tip (which is separate) pointing to Miller.

    Question — VP: intends show “I” to Miller.

    That is what it says.

      • LS says:

        Heh…I hope Marcy takes a fresh look at this from a different perspective…I’m quite sure of what it says.

    • LS says:

      There may or may not be a dot just to the right center of “show”, which would mean “showing”. I can’t tell for sure if it is dirt or a dot. A dot means “ing”. So it is either show or showing.

    • emptywheel says:

      LS

      I’m sure those first two notations after the VP: are SL, meaning Scooter Libby. That matches many many of his other notes.

      So while I accept that the W means question (he always used it for stuff he had to follow-up on), I’m equally sure that the SL refers to Libby.

      The one question is whether the letter above the line is T or I. Again, T is consistent with his other notes.

      • LS says:

        So you read it as:

        Question — VP: Scooter Libby to call Miller.

        I can see it both ways, but I can clearly see it via shorthand notations which he also used in other notes…I’ve explained in detail above how it looks from that perspective at #91.

        • LS says:

          Oh…and one more thing…that little “>” that you call the arrow…means paragraph in Gregg shorthand…which would then make it read according to my version:

          Question — VP: intends show(ing) “I” paragraph Miller.

          Okay, I had fun. Here are some of the symbols I’ve described, when you link them together, you get words:

          http://www.steno.com.cn/Gregg.html

  32. Kalkaino says:

    Of course it’s right-wing nonsense that Cheney had the right, or could ever even be given the right, to declassify Plame’s identity. Even the President doesn’t have that right so he can hardly confer it. He can have legal access to whatever classified information there is; but that doesn’t mean he can reveal it at will. It seems to me that is forbidden under the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, which, in part, reads:

    ”Whoever, having or having had authorized access to classified information that identifies a covert agent, intentionally discloses any information identifying such covert agent to any individual not authorized to receive classified information, knowing that the information disclosed so identifies such covert agent and that the United States is taking affirmative measures to conceal such covert agent’s intelligence relationship to the United States, shall be fined not more than $50,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.”

    I believe such information can only be released after an official declassification review (by a designated interagency committee, not a White House cabal) but I’m not sure of particuars. (Anyone know?) McClellan’s revelations should provide grounds for impeachment, but not in Nancy Pelosi’s tea-cozy little world.

  33. alabama says:

    Eventually, somehow, Bush will be outed as the one who outed Valerie Plame.

    As to why he would have done this, I bear in mind the following: Bush is shallow, not given to complexity, or to the refinement of schemes; he is also vengeful, and sadistic, and willful. He certainly wants his way: this is all he ever means when he calls himself the “decider” (it’s not that he makes decisions, it’s that he imposes his will).

    Bush has always resented the CIA, and never more so than in May and June of 2003, when the “mission accomplished” was not yet accomplished to his satisfaction, which required the humiliation of his opponents in the bureaucracy, among them the professionals in the CIA. Bush was thirsting for blood, and the chance to out Valerie Plame was bound to satisfy his thirst: it would show the CIA that their “fetish”–i.e. the sacred understanding that no agent would ever be outed, or would only be outed with the intent to destroy him or her–would never inhibit the licentious exercise of his will. Once again, he found, and he took, an opportunity to trash people and laws in the service of his own cravings.

    Comes, then, the question of Cheney and Libby, so masterfully unpeeled by emptywheel: since there’s no honor among thieves, and since they could never count on Bush to protect them, Cheney and Libby have surely arranged that Bush’s responsibility could be, and if needed, would be, revealed. The traces remain to be tracked.

    What then? I can only imagine the following: Bush’s defiant indifference as to the gravity of his actions and the damage they’ve done, and his usual claim that he’s always acted in the greater interests of the country, will give us to understand that no finding can do him hurt or give rise to any remorse.

    But as for his father, the great champion of the CIA: that man will certainly die of grief, thereby obliging his loyal retainers to destroy his destroyer. It’s not the sort of thing you’d want to be involved in.

  34. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Let me count the holes in Libby/Cheney’s stories:

    1. Addington works for the Barnacle. He is not White House Counsel or the Attorney General or head of the OLC. He’s just another government lawyer working for an executive who has NO line responsibility. If the Vice President does anything but break tie votes in the Senate, he is acting in the President’s stead and only by virtue of authority specifically delegated to him by the President.

    Hence, Addington’s views on what the President can do — eg, insta-declassify classified intelligence of any kind for any purpose — are cocktail conversation unless the White House Counsel, the AG or OLC say it’s so.

    2. Mr. Cheney’s wish to the contrary, he is not President. The President may have power to do something, but it doesn’t necessarily follow that he can delegate that power to the Vice President. Nor does it necessarily follow that he can overlook prior rule- or lawbreaking by the Vice President by ratifying or affirming his actions. Sometimes that’s called obstruction of justice, an inherently criminal act, no matter how much Addington might try to claim that’s tantamount to criminalizing “policy differences”. Sometimes, too, it requires a Presidential pardon.

    3. Libby added “little” that was new. That leaves a lot of room for someone who parses the English language finer than Bill Clinton.

    4. As EW says, inevitably Libby and Cheney’s logic requires the use of Pixie Dust. That seems to come to us via Fred Fielding’s claim that the President needn’t write down his Executive Orders (which for limited purposes have the force of law), that he can change them at will before or after the fact and never record his changes. That leads to the desired conclusion that the President inherently cannot violate his own Executive Orders (which somehow means that it’s also impossible for the Vice President to violate them).

    That’s the kind of jesuitical logic that allowed medieval popes to take holy communion with their wives and children.

  35. alabama says:

    I’ve googled three Gregg handbooks, none containing signs that distinguish sentence-types (declarative, interrogative, exclamatory, whatever). So how does it happen that “w” (supposing that it one) has to mean “question”? And granted, as said in @74, that “Libby uses P with a line over it for President,” does this necessarily preclude the possibility that he might, on the rarest of occasions, use “w” to mean “w” (slightly encrypted by turning it on its side)? Or to put it another way: is his shorthand consistently, and only, Gregg? If so, why do we see the word “Miller”?

    I have the recurring fantasy that Bush is sitting in the room with Cheney and Libby, or talking with them over a secured phone. Or maybe he’s listening in–outside the circle drawn around the message (which doesn’t parse, in and of itself, as a question). And then the “I” becomes “me, myself, Irving”.

    Fantasy of Libby writing a message to himself that says: “Bush is on the phone, and Cheney is telling me to meet with Miller and tell her what she needs to know. Bush is cool with this.”

    • LS says:

      “Question” or it could be “action” is based on the combination of Gregg “symbols”…the top of what looks like a sideways “W”..is an arch which is “Kuh” sound..the wiggle down..is sort of a combo of “s” “ch” sound…and the line of the W (the bottom horizontal) is “n”. Actually, normally the squiggle down would be on the other side. Maybe he’s a lefty, or maybe that’s just how he does it…That is how characters and words are made. You have to learn it and practice it to write it and read it…you can’t do it by looking at something online (other than to see specific phonetical characters), because they don’t present how you put it together and how to make the words. There are short forms of frequently used words also. He uses symbols all over his notes mixed in with regular words…like Miller. They become somewhat personalized when you use them a lot..i.e., you do it your way, because you are the one reading it. Libby did not want his notes to be easily read obviously, and was probably in a hurry when he was taking notes, but he needed to be able to read them back to himself.

      Personally, I used it for transcription for 20 plus years..which is why I recognize it…but I’ve personalized some characters at times for speed sake…hoping I could read it back to myself later… Also, I don’t see why he would refer to himself to himself when he’s the one taking the notes about what to do. He already knows what he’s supposed to do, which is why I think that “I” is identity or intel or something like that. I think that it is Libby with a question about showing Miller the “I” “paragraph”. Maybe that is referring to what he was going to ask Addington about.

      Or, maybe EW is right…It’s just my observation and my 2 cents. Not trying to cause a problem.

  36. alabama says:

    Thanks, LS. Though that cipher might have served W as a “w” in some of his earlier days (if only under the influence), it obviously wouldn’t work in any other context…

    Gregg is cool, and I wish I’d learned it fifty years ago. I’m surprised to learn that it’s quicker (or more reliable?) to transcribe the sounds of the word “question,” rather than dedicating a specific mark to the sentence-type–except that a “?” would probably cause its own problems as a curved line…

  37. ltgra says:

    Since no one is watching, I will try to give a picture of scooter that might put it in perspective.

    Think of that little dog in telephone ad in France, when the landlady sets him? down he scoots along on his butt to relieve the itch from the worms.

    Now think of scooter and that stud muffin who used to visit the white house.

  38. 4jkb4ia says:

    My husband speaks from his knowledge of classified information:

    The VP can declassify things which he classified himself or which someone working for him classified or which people in the CIA got for him. His ability to declassify a whole NIE is dubious. Cheney may be trying to mix up the perfectly legal things he can declassify with the less legal things in the interview, knowing that Hume will not ask the follow-up questions.