The Contents of the Fitzgerald-Cheney Interview

Mary pointed me to DOJ’s latest attempt to prevent CREW from accessing the materials relating to Cheney’s interview with Fitzgerald and the FBI. I’ll get into what a load of crap the DOJ argument is later. But first, I want to lay out what the FOIA declarations say about the Cheney interview itself.

First, the date. Rather than early June, as previously assumed, the CIA declaration included with this document reveals the documents were dated May 8, 2004–a month earlier in the investigation that we had  known (and therefore a month and a half earlier than Bush’s interview).

Otherwise, the declarations reveal the following contents of the interview:

  • 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.
  • Vice President’s discussion of his requests for information from the CIA relating to reported efforts by Iraqi officials to purchase uranium from Niger.
  • Vice President’s recollection of the substance of his discussions with the National Security Advisor while she was on a trip to Africa.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Vice President’s description of his role in resolving disputes about whether to declassify certain information.
  • Vice President’s description of government deliberations involving senior officials regarding whether to declassify portions of the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate.
  • Description of a confidential conversation between the Vice President and the President, and description of an apparent communication between the Vice President and the President. 
  • Names of non-governmental third-parties and details of their extraneous interactions with the Vice President.
  • Name of a CIA briefer.
  • Names of FBI agents.
  • Names of foreign government and liaison services.
  • The name of a covert CIA employee.
  • The methods CIA uses to assess and evaluate intelligence and inform policy makers.

Now, as I’ll get into when I discuss what a load of crap this is, almost every single bit of this was already revealed at trial. Read more

Judge Sullivan: Steven Bradbury Not Qualified to Withhold Cheney’s Plame Materials

Though we may need new rules about linking to the WaPo after they canned Dan Froomkin, not only is this story not an AP story (what with their expansive claims of fair use), but it has a bunch of more interesting details. So here’s the story about Judge Emmet Sullivan, demanding the government allow him to review the Dick Cheney FBI interview materials they’re trying to withhold from FOIA before he’ll allow them to withhold the materials.

U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan expressed surprise during a hearing here that the Justice Department, in asserting that Cheney’s voluntary statements to U.S. Attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald were exempt from disclosure, relied on legal claims put forward last October by a Bush administration political appointee, Stephen Bradbury. The department asserted then that the disclosure would make presidents and vice presidents reluctant to cooperate voluntarily with future criminal investigations.

But career civil division lawyer Jeffrey M. Smith, responding to Sullivan’s questions, said Bradbury’s arguments against the disclosure were supported by the department’s current leadership. He told the judge that if Cheney’s remarks were published, then a future vice president asked to provide candid information during a criminal probe might refuse to do so out of concern "that it’s going to get on ‘The Daily Show’ " or somehow be used as a political weapon.

Sullivan said Bradbury, who was the acting head of the Office of Legal Counsel, was not obviously qualified to make such claims and that they were in any event unsubstantiated. Sullivan said the department needed new evidence, if it hoped to prevail, and said the administration should supply him with a copy of Cheney’s statements so he could directly assess whether the claims are credible.

No word on whether Sullivan believes Bradbury is unqualified because this is not the purview of OLC, or whether he has just read Bradbury’s crappy ass OLC opinions and made the same conclusion the rest of us have: his legal judgment ain’t worth much.

Sullivan appears to be predisposed to accept CREW’s–and frankly, Fitz’s–argument that, since Cheney didn’t have to appear before a grand jury, he (and the government) can’t now claim his interview materials can’t be released because of grand jury secrecy laws. 

Also note, there are three items responsive to the CREW subpoena, all in some way pertaining to the FBI interview. That means in addition to the interview report, we’ll get notes. Read more