The Contents of the Fitzgerald-Cheney Interview, Annotated Edition

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Since there is still some confusion over the material from Dick Cheney’s interview with Patrick Fitzgerald that, DOJ says, cannot be made public, I decided to provide a more detailed description of what was in the interview with handy links for any media outlets that are too busy selling access to lobbyists to do their own work. What follows are the page-specific references in the DOJ FOIA response to material that appears in the FBI report of the interview. That document is 28 pages long, total, so this is a pretty good outline of what’s in the interview. I treat information that appears on the same page together, so a couple of these descriptions cover a number of separate issues raised in the filing.

Vice President’s discussion of the substance of a conversation he had with the Director of the CIA concerning the decision to send Ambassador Wilson on a fact-finding mission to Niger in 2002. (Page 3, lines 15-17, 21-28); The name of a covert CIA employee (Page 3)

As you recall, Libby first learned of Valerie Plame’s covert identity from a conversation with Dick Cheney some time during the week of June 9, 2003. He recorded his conversation with Cheney in a note which was a central focus of Libby’s grand jury testimony. When asked, Libby said Cheney may have learned of Valerie’s status from Tenet. And, when Fitzgerald was questioning Libby about Cheney’s notations on Joe Wilson’s op-ed, Libby explained that Cheney had asked Tenet earlier in June or July about the CIA sending ambassadors to gather information.

Q. When the Vice President asked you the question, "have they done this type of thing before," question to that effect, Vice — did the Vice President ever ask you has the Agency ever done this sort of thing before where an ambassador was sent out?

A. I think he may have at some point.

Q. And what did you do in response to that question, if anything?

A. I don’t know if I did anything particularly about it. I think he may have taken it up with, with Tenet rather than asking me.

[snip]

Q. What did he talk to the official that you do know he talked about?

A. About, you know, how this came about. I have a sense that he had talked to Tenet or somebody about, about that.

Q. And what time frame was that?

A. Summer, June, July, something like that.

In other words, this conversation appears to be the conversation Cheney had during the week of June 9 in which he learned of Plame’s identity. That makes the reference to "a covert CIA employee’s identity" all the more interesting. While that might be a reference to Valerie’s colleague who first suggested sending Joe, it might well be a reference to Valerie herself. While we know the CIA still wants to hide details of Plame’s career, it would be the height of absurdity if CIA tried to prevent us from seeing Fitzgerald ask Cheney about Plame.

In any case, DOJ is probably attempting to prevent us from learning of Cheney’s account of how he learned of Plame’s identity before he passed it on to Scooter Libby.

Names of a foreign government and liaison services. (Pages 2, 7, 9)

The names of foreign governments appear just before the discussion of Cheney’s conversation with Tenet and before the discussion of the oppo research OVP did the week of June 9, 2003. This means discussions of Niger is almost certainly one of the countries mentioned, but a discussion of the Niger claim more generally may have elicited a discussion of the British White Paper (to which the uranium claim in the State of the Union was purportedly attributed) and Italy, where the forgeries came from.

Vice President’s discussion of his requests for information from the CIA relating to reported efforts by Iraqi officials to purchase uranium from Niger. (Page 6, lines 30-33, 39-40); Name of a CIA briefer. (Page 6, line 41); The methods CIA uses to assess and evaluate intelligence and inform policy makers. (Pages 6, 16, 17)

On February 13, 2002, Cheney asked his briefer, David Terry, for an assessment of the report that Iraq was attempting to purchase uranium from Africa. The following day, CIA provided Cheney with a review of the Niger claims and told him clandestine services would seek additional information. This information–along with Terry’s name–has already been made public in significant part.

Then, on June 9, 2003, apparently in response to Bush voicing concern about Joe Wilson’s then-anonymous Niger allegations, OVP made multiple requests for information from CIA. Libby asked his briefer, Craig Schmall, for information during the briefing. Schmall later gave Libby verbal assurances that there was no record that OVP knew of Wilson’s report, then faxed over a bunch of information (including the earlier tasking). That same day, Hannah wrote a memo summarizing all the information from CIA. Some time in the next day, Cheney presented a story that, by that point, he should have known was inaccurate to John McLaughlin at CIA, along with some questions.

The VP apparently heard the below story and had questions on it. The DDCI needs a response before his noon meeting tomorrow (Wednesday [June 11]) with the VP, so if you could get back to me by 1000 or 1100 tomorrow, I’d appreciate it. Thanks a million.

Story: In Februay 2002, CIA received an initial report of a shipment of uranium from Niger to Chad [sic]. Former Ambassador to Cameroon [sic] Joe Wilson (an old friend of the Agency and former Charge d’Affaires in Baghdad) was supposedly sent by CIA to Niger to investigate the story. He did so, and he concluded that there was no truth to it. Wilson said that he was debriefed by a CIA case officer who flew in (to where is unclear) [redacted].

VP Questions: Is this story true? Do we have a chronological account of the above events? What is the nature of Wilson’s relationship with CIA? What exactly did Wilson report to us? Was this in a reporting cable [redacted] (if it was, can somebody send me a copy of it? Will you also send me a copy of the intel? [redacted] Didn’t the Brits come out with a similar report detailing a Niger-Iraq uranium connection? [redacted]

And, as noted above, Cheney also, apparently, spoke directly with Tenet.

Then, having received information from Schmall, McLaughlin, and probably Tenet, Libby called Robert Grenier while he was meeting with Cheney and Cathie Martin to ask the same questions. 

Now, the reference in the DOJ filing may just relate to Cheney’s February 2002 request. Or, it may relate to the relentless requests from OVP to CIA the week of June 9, 2003 which resulted in Cheney learning of Plame’s identity and passing it on to Libby. But in any case, much of this information–along with the names of the two CIA briefers involved–has already been made public. 

DOJ, however, doesn’t want Americans to see whether Cheney’s version of all this matches that presented in detail at trial.

Description of a confidential conversation between the Vice President and the President. (Page 12, lines 9-11) [Also, FBI notes on "apparent communication between Vice President and President" on interview outline] 

The "conversation between the Vice President and the President" could be one of several things; Fitzgerald did ask, for example, whether Libby’s notation of Bush’s concern about the Niger allegations on June 9, 2003 came through Cheney, and (as I’ll show), Scottie McClellan believes Cheney spoke to Bush personally about exonerating Libby. 

But the most likely conversation in question pertains to whether and how Bush authorized Cheney to insta-declassify a range of materials to rebut Joe Wilson. Of particular note, Libby described Cheney reassuring him that he had talked to Bush about insta-declassifying material that Libby subsequently leaked to Judy Miller and others.

Q. And do you know when the Vice President talked to the President to get the permission for you to discuss this with the press and in effect in your mind declassify the document?

A. No, sir.

Q. And were you present for that conversation?

A. No sir.

Q. What did the Vice President tell you about that conversation?

A. He told me he had talked to the President and we should go ahead and, you know, talk to the press about the 

Q. And do you know if the Vice President told the President what the legal issue was in terms of sharing (classified information?

A. I don’t know what happened in that conversation. But the Vice President knew that we needed to have the President’s authority to talk about the document, or that section of the [NIE].

[snip]

Q. And do you know if the Vice President and the President talked about it in person or by telephone?

A. I don’t know.

This was a conversation which Fitzgerald asked Libby about numerous times, one which went directly to the issue of whether Cheney’s orders to Libby to leak information were legal or not. So it is likely that Fitzgerald asked Cheney about this directly.

But DOJ doesn’t want us to know whether or not the President of the United States authorized his Vice President to insta-declassify a bunch of information, up to and possibly including a CIA officer’s identity, or whether the Fourth Branch just made that decision on his own.

Names of non-governmental third-parties and details of their extraneous interactions with the Vice President. (Page 14, lines 25-28, 29, 33-34, 36)

While we can’t be sure, it is likely Fitzgerald asked Cheney about his direct contacts with journalists, particularly Andrea Mitchell, with whom Cheney dined (at a dinner honoring Mitchell’s husband, Alan Greensppan, and President Ford) just before Mitchell called Joe Wilson and told him the White House had told her "the story" was Wilson’s wife. Cheney may have also had contacts with other journalists that–so long as he maintained that Plame and Wilson didn’t come up–might be described as "extraneous interactions" with Cheney.

Vice President’s recollection of the substance of his discussions with the National Security Advisor while she was on a trip to Africa. (Page 15, lines 17-21); Vice President’s description of government deliberations, including discussions between the Vice President and the Deputy National Security Advisor, in preparation of a statement by the Director of CIA regarding the accuracy of a statement in the President’s 2003 State of the Union Address. (Page 15 , line 28 – page 16, line 2; page 16, lines 14-18, 25-33)

There are various reports of how, when Wilson’s op-ed came out, there was a squabble between NSC and CIA over who would take responsibility for the 16 words in the State of the Union. At first (according to reports), Condi accepted she would have to share responsibility for the 16 words with the CIA. But some time along the way, Condi changed her mind and publicly blamed Tenet for it all.  After which, in a public statement, Tenet took some responsibility while at the same time making it clear that CIA was not entirely to blame.

We know a substantial amount of the negotiations that went into this. Both Libby (in his grand jury testimony) and Cathie Martin (in her trial testimony) described the process. In addition, we’ve got two documents that describe Cheney’s role directly.

Notably, Libby took notes during a July 10, 2003 meeting between himself, Cheney, and McLaughlin. Libby quotes Cheney as saying, "Anything less than full and complete disclosure is a serious mistake." Libby’s notes include a "CP"–Libby’s abbreviation for CounterProliferation and/or Colin Powell–written in the margin next to Hadley’s statement, "Wilson is declassified."  And he records Hadley passing along the news from Condi that she "spoke to [the President], he’s comfortable."

In addition, we have the draft of Tenet’s statement received by the White House. In what appears to be Cheney’s handwriting, the statement is marked "unsatisfactory."

In other words, it’s clear that Cheney was pushing CIA for greater disclosure in these negotiations, that he was pissed at Tenet, and some of his precise statements have been revealed already.

What hasn’t been revealed are details his conversation with Condi Rice. I suspect–though it’s just a guess–that Cheney convinced Condi to back off any admission that NSC was to blame for the 16 words. Ultimately, we know that even with Condi blaming Tenet, Cheney was still unsatisfied.

But DOJ doesn’t want to flesh out this picture.

Vice President’s recollection of discussions with Lewis Libby, the White House Communications Director, and the White House Chief of Staff regarding the appropriate response to media inquiries about the source of the disclosure of Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity as a CIA employee. (Page 23, lines 29-40)

As I explained the other day, the reference to "White House Communications Director" (that is, Dan Bartlett) and the reference to discussions of an "appropriate response to media inquiries about the source of the disclosure of Valerie Plame Wilson’s identity as a CIA employee" make it clear that this discussion pertains to the meat-grinder note, and Cheney’s intervention to make sure Scottie McClellan exonerated Libby in the same way he had exonerated Rove.

Libby described the events this way in his grand jury apearance.

Q. Did you seek the Vice President’s help to make sure that Andy Card got the message that this is something you’d really like to have happen?

A. At some point I did.

Q. And what did you do?

A. Told him that I thought it was unfair that they had — Scott McClellan had said something about Karl Rove and not something about me since I didn’t talk to Novak either. And — or I shouldn’t say either. Since I was not, I was not the source of the leak to Novak, and told him that I, I thought, you know, it should be fixed. What I can’t remember whether I had this conversation with him the first time I got rejected or the second time. I’m pretty sure I had that conversation with him at some point. You know, it could be that the second time they just did it without his, without his intervening, and the first time they didn’t. I just — I
don’t t recall.

Q. Do you recall if the Vice president ever picked up the phone and called back to Card or McClellan and let them know that this was something he wanted to see happen?

A. I hope he did. I don’t recall that I ever — and he may have told me that he had, I just don’t recall whether it was the first time and we failed or the second time and we succeeded. I don’t, I don’t remember.

And David Addington described learning from Dan Bartlett that Cheney had made that call.

I had a conversation not too many days [after McClellan exonerated Libby] with Dan Bartlett, who was then the assistant to the President for communications.  And by this point, something had been said–I frankly don’t remember what–again, by the press office, and it included Mr. Libby this time. And I made the comment to Mr. Bartlett, you know, I don’t know why you are making these statements about, you know, this case–and I will explain why in a second. But his reaction was, "Well, your boss is the one that wanted us to do it." And then I shut up.

Finally, Scott McClellan describes his understanding of what happened in his book.

That Saturday, October 4, was a relaxed, casual morning for me as I lounged around my single-bedroom, downtown apartment reading the Washington Post and the New York Times. 

[snip]

The call from Andy Card came around 8:30 A.M. "The president and vice president spoke this morning. They want you to give the press the same assurance for Scooter that you gave for Karl. (217)

In short, we have Cheney’s talking points regarding this issue in his own handwriting, and multiple pieces of first-hand testimony describing how Cheney intervened to have Libby exonerated. There is, admittedly, some discrepancy over whether Cheney called Card, Bartlett, or Bush directly.  

That’s precisely the kind of discrepancy that Cheney’s FBI interview might clarify. But DOJ claims that–even with all this public information about the incident–the information is still protected from FOIA.

Vice President’s description of his role in resolving disputes about whether to declassify certain information. (Page 25, line 39 – page 26, line 1); Vice President’s description of government deliberations involving senior officials regarding whether to declassify portions of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate. (Page 26, lines 8-10, 14-17, 24-26)

As I pointed out the other day, DOJ describes two discussions pertaining to declassification, though the first–about Cheney’s "role in resolving disputes about whether to declassify certain information"–shortly precedes the discussion about "deliberations involving senior officials regarding whether to declassify portions of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate." Now this almost certainly relates to two things. First, to Libby’s claim that Cheney ordered him to leak the NIE to Judy Miller on July 8. Fitzgerald would have been probing when Cheney claimed the NIE had been declassified–and whether it was actually the NIE or other materials (such as the report from Wilson’s trip) and/or Plame’s identity itself.

By the time Fitzgerald did this interview on May 8, 2004, he knew several things that undercut Libby’s claim that the super special leak he made to Judy was the NIE. Fitz knew already that Scooter Libby discussed the NIE with David Sanger on July 2, with Cathie Martin present and taking notes. He knew Cheney had told Cathie Martin to leak the NIE more generally. And he knew that Cheney had had Paul Wolfowitz leak the NIE–and the January 24, 2003 excerpt of it–to the Wall Street Journal.

Q. Do you know if you spoke to the Wall Street Journal prior to July 18th about the NIE contents before the July 18th date came around and made the NIE publicly available?

A. I did not.

Q. Do you know who did?

A. Secretary Wolfowitz did.

(Fitz would later learn that Libby leaked the NIE to Woodward in June, but I don’t think he knew that yet.)

And, in addition to the January 24 document, Fitzgerald knew that there were discussions about leaking the report from Wilson’s trip (material from which ended up in Novak’s column). Cheney even made a reference to "Tenet, Wilson, and memo" on the meat-grinder note.

 Q. Now, continue on the document, and I’ll just finish off the shortest piece. There’s handwriting on the left that says, appears to say, "Tenet, Wilson and memo,I1 above the three hole punch.

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And do you know whose handwriting that is?

A. Looks like the Vice President’s.

So by the time Fitz conducted this interview, he knew Libby’s claim that the special leak to Judy was the NIE was problematic, since OVP was leaking the NIE left and right by then and since there was a lot more OVP was leaking.

Then there was the other problem. Libby claims Bush insta-declassified the NIE to leak to Judy (and only Judy), but he admitted that in the repeated discussions of declassifying the NIE during and after leak week, neither Libby nor Cheney ever told others they had already insta-declassified it.

Q. And going up to July 18th, is it fair to say that there were a number of different conversations within the administration about declassifying the NIE?

A. Yes sir.

Q. And during those conversations did you ever tell any of the other people that in fact the President had already declassified the NIE in your mind?

A. No, sir.

Q. And in your presence did the Vice President ever tell these other people that you understood that the NIE had already been declassified?

A. No, sir.

Q. And as far as you know, was the CIA or Director Tenet ever notified that the NIE had been declassified in your mind as of July 8th with regard to those portions concerning uranium?

A. No, sir.

Q. And were there conversations in which Mr. Hadley discussed declassification of the NIE?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Were there conversations where Dr. Rice discussed declassification of the NIE?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Were there conversations in which Andrew Card, the Chief of Staff, discussed declassification of the NIE?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And during all those conversations it remained unknown to them that in fact you understood that the NIE had already been declassified?

A. By the President. Yes, sir.

Q. And is it fair to say that on July 10th the Vice President, according to your notes, indicated that he would recommend to the President declassification of the relevant parts of the NIE?

A. My recollection is that’s what he was telling Steve Hadley should pass on to Director Tenet, that they wanted to get those portions declassified and then they were declassified.

Q. And so in your mind, the Vice President was telling Steve Hadley to tell George Tenet that we, the Office of Vice President, would recommend declassification even though at the time, according to your account, both he and you knew that the NIE had already been declassified?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And is it fair to say that in the following conversations during that week there are a number of conversations where people discussed declassification where
you and the Vice President knew that in your mind the President had already authorized you to discuss this with the press? Correct?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. Was that unusual for you to have the National Security Advisor, Director of Central Intelligence and the White House Chief of Staff, among others, in the dark as to something that you had done regarding declassification?

Fitz is obviously incredulous about this story. It undercuts Libby’s entire story about having been ordered by Cheney to leak the NIE to Judy Miller. Given that this exchange occurred just 45 days before the Cheney interview, it’s highly likely that the questions Fitz asked Cheney about "deliberations" on whether to declassify the NIE probes this bogus story further.

Both aspects of this story–whether the Vice President believed he had the authority to unilaterally and secretly declassify things, and whether it was the NIE or something else he had ordered Libby to leak to Miller–go to the heart of how our government abuses rules on classification and declassification. It’s a story that we, as citizens, need to be able to take on directly.

But DOJ says we can’t get Cheney’s own version of these two incredible stories.

Update: In his GJ appearance, Libby said he probably didn’t ask Schmall for info at the briefing, suggesting it was later.

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  1. AZ Matt says:

    If George gave Dick the go-ahead to declassify this stuff then he was a stupid person. Oh ya, Bush was/is stupid.

  2. HanTran says:

    Q. Did you seek the Vice President’s help to make sure that Andy Card got the message that this is something you’d really like to have happen?
    A. At some point I did.
    Q. And what did you do?
    A. Told him that I thought it was unfair that they had — Scott McClellan had said something about Karl Rove and not something about me since I didn’t talk to Novak either. And — or I shouldn’t say either. Since I was not, I was not the source of the leak to Novak, and told him that I, I thought, you know, it should be fixed.

    Is Libby saying Rove leaked to Novak?

    • emptywheel says:

      Yes, which Fitz harps on him about (he asks why Libby didn’t let McClellan or someone else know that Rove had leaked to Novak). But I think he’s also backing off a claim that he didn’t speak to Novak–he did, on July 9, and probably was the source for at LEAST details from the Wilson trip report, and probably for the name “Plame” and the CPD detail.

      • cinnamonape says:

        Scott McClellan had said something about Karl Rove and not something about me since I didn’t talk to Novak either. And — or I shouldn’t say either. Since I was not, I was not the source of the leak to Novak, and told him that I, I thought, you know, it should be fixed.

        It certainly suggests that Libby knew who Novak’s original source was before October.

  3. Rayne says:

    Whenever the mainstream corporate media whines about “free” new media eating into their future, I’m going to think of this next of a many-year continuing compilation of “cheat sheets” you gave them, EW.

    It was easy to get away with this and other crimes because the media couldn’t tread the weeds any longer.

  4. WilliamOckham says:

    Hey, that McClellan quote is interesting. On Oct. 4, 2003, Libby and Cheney were at Cheney’s place in Jackson Hole, Wy. and Card and Bush were in D.C. I think that’s indirect evidence that the phone call that McClellan references is part of the Cheney/Libby coverup.

    • emptywheel says:

      Oh yeah–and as I’m sure you can appreciate, those are the days when the emails are gone.

      And remember, too, that Cheney and Libby basically compared notes on the Russert story while they were in Jackson Hole.

  5. skdadl says:

    I think that it’s right neighbourly of you, Ms EW, to give the corporate media page and line references.

    Mind you, I also think that you keep topping yourself each time you write this out, weaving it in with the testimony. You aren’t leaving the crowd who claim that obstruction isn’t a really real crime much room to stand.

  6. MadDog says:

    …Vice President’s discussion of his requests for information from the CIA relating to reported efforts by Iraqi officials to purchase uranium from Niger. (Page 6, lines 30-33, 39-40)…

    I’m wondering where Cheney originally heard this “story”.

    The CIA briefer document that EW provides might leave folks with the impression that Cheney first heard about this “story” via the CIA and Cheney’s sitting in on the Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB).

    But I’m wondering if that really was the case. It seems strange that the CIA would be reporting on “rumors” at the PDB.

    Isn’t it more likely is that Cheney first heard about this “story” via the Stovepipe Intel system put in place by Dougie Feith’s Office of Special Plans over at DOD?

    And more likely still, is that this was one of the hot items Dougie got from Ledeen and Franklin at their “let’s cook the books” intel meeting with Ghorbanifar in December 2001.

    And the reason I bring all of this up is the hypothesis that within Cheney’s interview with Fitzgerald, Cheney spills the beans on just where he originally got this “story”, and that particular sourcing is another embarrassment that the government feels necessary to hide.

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Isn’t it more likely is that Cheney first heard about this “story” via the Stovepipe Intel system put in place by Dougie Feith’s Office of Special Plans over at DOD?

      Yes.

      And more likely still, is that this was one of the hot items Dougie got from Ledeen and Franklin at their “let’s cook the books” intel meeting with Ghorbanifar in December 2001.

      Also yes.

      And the reason I bring all of this up is the hypothesis that within Cheney’s interview with Fitzgerald, Cheney spills the beans on just where he originally got this “story”, and that particular sourcing is another embarrassment that the government feels necessary to hide.

      So, I just had another new nightmare:
      Scooter, to JudyJudy over toast in DC June-July 2003: “So, Judy, did you get the uranium evidence hidden so our troops can find it? ‘Cause CommanderCodpiece just made a fool of himself on an aircraft carrier to wrap this scene up and let the Oil Majors know that we’re ready to put Chalabi in place and the oil contracts can be in the works by August.
      Miller: “Ohhhhhhh, Scootie-Poot, you ducky guyyyy! Of course we got all that crap put in place; I’ve got photos, I’ve got my stories written, we’re ready to roll, baby…”

      From EW’s Ghorbanifar Timeline:
      May 3, 2003: US and Iran in negotiations in Geneva

      May 7, 2003: [OVP employee Harold] Rhode apparently stages “find” of anti-Israel materials in Iraq (and uranium document) with Ahmed Chalabi;Judy Miller reports it

      Late May, 2003: Ledeen sends new letter outlining Ghorbanifar plan to Feith, including promise of finding “Iraqi weapons of mass destruction that had been moved to Iran”

      May 21, 2003: US cancels Geneva meeting with Iran, accusing Iran of harboring Al Qaeda leaders

      May 25, 2003: Report (quoting Rummy elsewhere) that US considering using MEK to launch attack on Iran

      June 2, 2003: Feith forwards Ledeen letter to Cambone; “let’s discuss”

      June 2003: While in Istanbul at conference on US/Turkish relations, two Middle East experts from OVP asks Rhode to meet with Iranian Professor, Palestinian, and others in Paris in lieu of them

      =======================
      Here’s hoping that I’m just having a fanciful flight of fancy.

      • MadDog says:

        Mighty fine hypothesis yourself!

        To say that Judy Miller was in bed with a whole lot of folks, might be the world’s biggest understatement.

        • skdadl says:

          One weird thing about that: she is married to a genuinely distinguished man, Jason Epstein, legendary (and I mean that word) editor of Random House and co-founder of the NYRB, still, at eighty-something, writing creatively about the future of publishing. I have never been able to figure that pairing out.

          Don’t mind me. I’m just sitting here gossiping to myself.

          • MadDog says:

            One weird thing about that: she is married to a genuinely distinguished man, Jason Epstein…

            That then makes my comment of “Judy Miller was in bed with a whole lot of folks” even more accurate/funny. *g*

      • Rayne says:

        And Rohde closes the loop with Ghorbanifar in June of 2003, too:

        …Almost a year later in June 2003, there were still further meetings in Paris involving Rhode and Ghorbanifar. Ghorbanifar says the purpose of the meeting was for Rhode to get more information on the situation in Iraq and the Middle East. “In those meetings we met, we gave him the scenario, what would happen in the coming days in Iraq. And everything has happened word for word as we told him,” Ghorbanifar repeats. “We met in several different places in Paris,” he says. “Rhode met several other people — he didn’t only meet me.”

        Nice theory, roTL.

        • MarkH says:

          It’s essentially a political statement to gain support for an action, the real purposes of which were not made clear. In short, a common lie. That points to Karl Rove or the WHIG. But, the fact it came through the intelligence pipeline would indicate someone else. It may have been somebody in the WH with a personal connection to Ledeen. Who would that have been?

          • plunger says:

            Ledeen’s connection inside the WH was Libby. They are “joined at the roots.”

            Another player was Mel Sembler, the Ambassador to Israel Italy, with whom Ledeen met on the infamous (alleged) document-planting mission.

            Sembler is the same Republican fundraiser (Bush Agent) who, (allegedly) at Karl Rove’s request, hosted a fund-raising dinner for (alleged) Democrat, Joe Lieberman, in the aftermath of his loss in the primaries to Lamont – all of which just happened to coincide with the (allegedly) fake hijacking threat wherein men without passports or airline tickets were somehow supposed to kill Americans and Brits bound for the US, in mid-air.

            That would be the very same Mel Sembler who also subsequently became the fundraising chairman for the Committee To Save Scooter’s Ass.

            But I’m sure that’s all just coincidental, allegedly.

            • MarkH says:

              That makes it sound as though there was a meeting of minds between Rove, Libby, Sembler and Ledeen to achieve multiple goals. Not unusual really. I wonder which individual originated it. Maybe one said we need X political goal and another said “Where do we know of a connection to Niger?” and another said, “Italy has an embassy and we have friends there.” and off it goes.

              • plunger says:

                GHW Bush was running the operation through his surrogates. It was he and Cheney and Rummy who included Israel in “the pretext.” 9/11 was a ham-handed debacle, with many errors committed that revealed who the actors really were. Everything that followed needs to be viewed in that context. They thought they would be free to play offense, but they were on both offense and defense at the same time. They thought they’d cooked-up the perfect crime, but they botched it badly.

                My take is that Feith and Libby were treasonously serving two masters (countries). Kwiatkowski confirmed that Feith perceived it as “the new normal” to have Israeli Generals and Intelligence Agents coming and going from his office without the need to record their visits in the log books (in the aftermath of 9/11 – no less). The understanding among all these co-conspirators was that Israel and the United States were the exact same country, and the flow of sensitive information in both directions was a necessity to pull off this immaculate deception.

                When you make a pact to partner with someone in the implementation of a crime and its cover-up, you must rely on the other party to uphold their end of the bargain. Israel wants the US to go all the way and take out all of Israel’s neighbors, effectively creating Eretz Israel, with all of the oil and water that comes with it. They have double-crossed the Shadow Government, and have been blackmailing the United States ever since Larry Franklin was arrested.

        • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

          Dunno. I have never had time to completely dig in the roots of Iran-Contra; it probably goes back that far if you trace it. I’m of the view that the BushCheney cabal were ‘played’ by some strange mix of Iranians, Israelis, and probably Russians. Whoever else may involved, I got no clue.

          Note that Iran got Saddam out of their hair at no cost to them during the Bush years; that suggests to me that the Iranians ‘played’ BushCheney and their neocons, and used the US to get rid of their sworn enemy Saddam. The Russians may well have helped it along, gloating over the notion of the US embroiled in Iraq or Af-Pak. And no doubt the Israeli’s had their own reasons as well, and surely Saudi Arabia had its reasons. There are plenty of possible culprits, and it’s probably a mix.

          And then domestically, of course, there was K-k-k-karl Rove who thought that reelection would be aided if GWBush was a ‘war president’, and Cheney wanted the dictatorial powers available only to CiC, not merely to a ‘Preznit’. And the authoritarian, corrupt Congressional GOP.

          So many culprits; so little accountability…

          • Loo Hoo. says:

            Yeah. The Bush/Cheney presidency will be studied and analyzed for hundreds of years. Fortunately, the historians have Marcy’s work to look back on. (And fortunately, we have her work to look forward to!)

          • Watson says:

            the Iranians ‘played’ BushCheney and their neocons, and used the US to get rid of their sworn enemy Saddam. The Russians may well have helped it along, gloating over the notion of the US embroiled in Iraq or Af-Pak.

            Yeah, Russia’s recent offer to provide logistics transit for BHO’s Afghan adventure indicates that Putin/Medvedev anticipate a military, economic, and geo-strategic three-fer:

            1) keep US armed forces bogged down in an Asian land war,
            2) which insolvent Uncle Sam must finance by continued borrowing,
            3) fighting against the Wahhabis that Zbig brags about having unleashed in 1979 against the USSR’s southern flank.

      • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

        May 7, 2003: [OVPDoD (OSP related) employee Harold] Rhode apparently stages “find” of anti-Israel materials in Iraq (and uranium document) with Ahmed Chalabi; Judy Miller reports it

        Whoops! I think Rhode was at DoD, not OVP. Apologies!

  7. seesdifferent says:

    DOJ is probably attempting to prevent us from learning of Cheney’s account of how he learned of Plame’s identity before he passed it on to Scooter Libby.

    The DoJ is dead. All the competent/decent folks were driven out, and what remains are a bunch of GOP hacks. Forget the idea that things changed when a new president or AG took over. The DoJ is a Republican campaign/protection agency.

  8. FrankProbst says:

    When was Cheney’s dinner with Mrs Alan Greenspan?

    I’ve never bought her everybody-knew-oops-no-they-didn’t story. And Bennett’s performance on her behalf at Libby’s trial seemed really bizarre to me. I never understood why Team Libby dropped its request to question her–wasn’t the judge willing to allow them to question her under oath, though not in the presence of the jury? Why’d they drop it?

  9. cinnamonape says:

    “have they done this type of thing before,” question to that effect, Vice — did the Vice President ever ask you has the Agency ever done this sort of thing before where an ambassador was sent out?

    A. I think he may have at some point.

    Q. And what did you do in response to that question, if anything?

    A. I don’t know if I did anything particularly about it. I think he may have taken it up with, with Tenet rather than asking me.

    And if he raised it with Tenet, then Tenet would have likely have told him that “Yes, in fact we’ve sent Joe Wilson to Niger before…in l999. He exposed a previous failed effort by the Iranians to buy yellowcake.” Cheney would have known from the start that their efforts to paint the trip as a junket were total lies and that Wilson was likely the best connected diplomat to former Nigerien officials.

  10. orionATL says:

    OT breaking

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/

    prepare for a major mid-course correction – just after take-off.

    afghanistan?

    iraq?

    medical insurance?

    bill of rights? wait, scratch “bill of rights”; it’s a non-starter.

    all may be off the table soon –

    or sooner still.

    i’ve been wondering why these guys were asleep at the switch when it came to unemployment.

    nonetheless, look for biden to apologize for these comments tomorrow.

  11. orionATL says:

    addendum:

    Biden Acknowledges Administration ‘Misread’ The Economy
    By Scott Wilson

  12. joelmael says:

    There is a “Marcy Wheeler Fundraiser” box in the upper right corner.

    For a strictly economic decision there is obviously no better value in all the intertubes.

  13. x174 says:

    mahalos for the stupendous work mt.

    two questions: 1) do you believe that Fitzgerald is a 100% straight-shooter in this whole thing (he was nominated by Bush-hole and he is a Rethug, for starters)?, and 2) do you think the contents of Sealed v. Sealed may shed any light on the never-ending Bush klepto-thugocracy?

    • MarkH says:

      It’s hard to be certain, but I think he will tread lightly if it’s hinted that he should for “national security” (read as B.S.) reasons. He’s cautious in that way as is Sotomayor and probably a lot of other people who depend to some extent on politicos for their jobs and promotions. It doesn’t make them bad, just not great leaders.

    • emptywheel says:

      1) More or less. He was on the same track as I am here, but he’s a prosecutor who wants to win any case he brings, particularly if it’s of a bigwig, 2) No. Sealed v. Sealed has nothing to do with this.

  14. Mauimom says:

    I’m wondering how long it will be — even with Marcy doing ALL the heavy lifting — before any of the fabulous “Main Stream Media” will cover this story.

    Counting . . .

  15. KeyserSoze says:

    sorry o/t. I’m starting to read this and listening to “Creep” by Radiohead. Maybe the song itself doesn’t fit the article; but, man, is the title appropriate or what?

  16. Jeff Kaye says:

    Well done! Deeply read and analysed, thus a treat to read, ponder and digest.

    There is something there, more than potential Jon Stewart-material: a clearer view of how Bush, Cheney, and Co. hyped their war drive.

    What do you think of Mad Dog’s hypothesis (@ #14) that Veep got the story originally from Feith’s OSP?

    • emptywheel says:

      I think it quite likely it was stovepiped. That doesn’t mean it had to come from OSP, though. Remember that OSP’s job was–at least in part–to inject stuff back into the non-stovepipe intelligence.

      Cheney could have gotten it from a range of places.

      • plunger says:

        Actually, in retrospect, it was likely Cheney who was the “delivery boy” for the OSP-invented “intelligence,” and all those trips he personally made to spookville were not to obtain intel, but to plant it.

        While we were all making the assumption that he was there to twist arms to get the CIA to sign-off on Cheney’s justification for war (evidence of WMD), it is most likely that his true purpose was to deliver documents manufactured from whole cloth by the narrative-inventors within the OSP, including Karl Rove, with the mandate that they become “the official work product of the CIA.”

        How involved was Israeli intelligence in the invention of the documents and the false narrative? Karen Kwiatkowski says they came and went from Feith’s office at will. She also revealed that Larry Franklin had set up an Iran Desk in the midst of the fake intelligence shop. Franklin and AIPAC were also “joined at the roots.”

        Just as an FYI, Israel has received the all-clear to bomb Iran anytime it chooses, from the OVP no less – (in case you were wondering about all of the timely distractions stacked upon one another during everyone’s summer vacation).

        Probably all just a coincidence though.

      • maryo2 says:

        Is Cheney’s saying “Didn’t the Brits come out with a similar report detailing a Niger-Iraq uranium connection?” a prime example of injecting stuff back into the non-stovepipe intelligence?

        And when Cheney asks “Do we have a chronological account of the above events?” is he really asking ‘Can it be proven that I knew about the Niger forgeries at a date earlier than I want to reveal (because I helped create and disseminate them)?’

  17. Watson says:

    Not completely OT:

    Is there any news of the infantryman captured in Afghanistan?

    AFAIK, Obama has made no statement. Are we to assume that BHO accepts that it is legitimate to subject this soldier to Bush-Cheney type “enhanced interrogation techniques”?

  18. freepatriot says:

    this is off-topic, but coukd somebody do the math for me ???

    preferably a legal beagle type

    Mr. Parnell, who is scheduled to take over for Ms. Palin on July 26, said it was costing the State of Alaska about $2 million just to pay for the staff to deal with the records requests from the ethics complaints.

    at 50 grand per person per year, that would be 80 people “on staff”, correct ???

    that’s a LOT of paperwork

  19. timbo says:

    It makes sense that the Russians would want the US embroiled in the Middle East. Bad for American prestige and good for the price of Russian crude…further, Afghanistan provided the Russians with evidence that NATO/coalition forces would be tied down in Iraq for some years…

    But, as I’ve always said, the Bush/Cheney axis was full of traitors…

  20. plunger says:

    Question:

    What if it was Agent Ledeen (with special access to foreign intelligence) who was the first to inform Libby of Plame’s covert status, and it was actually Libby who passed that information on to Cheney – who subsequently had to manufacture a story in order to protect a “special relationship / status” enjoyed by Ledeen?

    Does that help to explain the Medal Of Freedom hung around Tenant’s neck upon his departure?

    Interesting that another key player, Armitage, who took one for “the team,” was himself knighted by the Queen Of England for his role in the conspiracy.

  21. plunger says:

    By the first week of July, 2005, it became apparent that the Libby scandal was about to break wide open.

    “Karl Rove named as a source of Plame leak”. Wikinews, July 3, 2005

    What else happened in the first week of July, 2005?

    This is what happened
    in the first week of July, 2005, July 7 to be precise.

    What else happened at the same time?

    Published: July 7, 2005

    WASHINGTON, July 6 – Judith Miller, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, was sent to jail on Wednesday after a federal judge declared that she was “defying the law” by refusing to divulge the name of a confidential source.

    And then this:

    On the July 17, 2005, Meet the Press, reporter Matthew Cooper said that Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s top aide was among the sources for a Time magazine reporter’s story about the identity of a CIA officer …

    The “White House had insisted for nearly two years that vice presidential chief of staff Lewis Libby and presidential adviser Karl Rove were not involved in the leaks of CIA officer Valerie Plame’s identity.” –Associated Press, July 17, 2005

    Any relationship between these incidents is purely coincidental.

  22. rapier says:

    The Obama administration is going to go to the mat to maintain secrecy in order to obstruct knowledge and even justice in every case of the last administration based upon the principal that secrecy and obstruction of justice are vital if not existential necessities for our political elites. This principal does two things. It increases their power and range of political and policy options and they hope it will protect them when the time comes for them to face questions. The latter on the hope or assumption that the other side won’t throw them under the bus for partisan purposes because they want to maintain the sacred principals.

    Don’t count on the latter.

    • eCAHNomics says:

      Prez power is a one-way street. Obama’s successor will find a way to prosecute him without yielding any prez power.

  23. Bustednuckles says:

    My God honey, any time you need your weed whacker motor rebuilt, just let me know, that thing must have thousands of hours on it by now.
    Even after the Supreme Court rejected Valerie’s lawsuit, after all the years have gone by that people have tried to bury this, you are still on it like white on Rice.

    I am absolutely awestruck.

    You have a lifetime fan sweetie.

    Busted

    • eCAHNomics says:

      Um, so tell me about rebuilding weed wackers. Think the mice ate some wires over the winter. Besides which, I am really really bad about starting a 2-stroke engine.

      • Bustednuckles says:

        Lol, it took me three hours just to get mine started, it had been sitting for three years with bad gas in it.

        They are almost not worth messing with, get a new one.

        By the time ya get done with parts and labor you are throwing money away.

  24. JamesJoyce says:

    Treason by any other name. To out a member of the intelligence community in retaliation for questioning the validity of assertions to justify war is treason. The world held responsible Nazis for their actions and crimes in WWII. Nazis farbricated attacks against the fascist regime to create the illusion that the HOMELAND was under attack.

    The price of oil compromises the rule of law while the modern day corporate cohorts in crime continue to bleed America. “Oil, Healthcare and profit.” at life’s expense………………