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Scottie McC’s Chronology: October 4

I told you I was going to get into the guts of Scottie McC’s book. So far, I’ve shown that:

  • Scottie McC hides the date when the White House learned of an investigation and ignores details that seemed to implicate Rove, thereby making Karl’s interventions look less suspicious
  • Scottie McC falsely suggests Bush’s comments on Rove weren’t a reaction to the 1X2X6 story
  • Someone appears to have told Condi to exonerate Rove–and Scottie McC doesn’t think he was the one who did so
  • While Scottie McC’s representation of what he briefed on September 29 is mostly accurate, there are a few details that he still appears to be hiding, notably his refusal to say that Rove didn’t know of Plame’s identity, even though Rove had just said as much to him

All of this suggests that there were big reasons to doubt Rove’s claims that he wasn’t involved. And, given Scottie McC’s refusal to state that Rove didn’t know about Valerie Wilson’s identity when he spoke with Novak, it seems likely Scottie McC may have doubted those claims more than he lets on in his book.

So let’s turn to his treatment of Libby.

For some understandable narrative reasons, Scottie McC interrupts his treatment of the events of fall 2003 right in the middle. He ends chapter 10 with his September 29 mid-day briefing and then takes a full chapter to discuss events relating to Iraq leading all the way up to fall 2004. Then, in chapter 12, he returns to the CIA leak investigation, starting with DOJ’s notification on the evening of September 29 that it would conduct an investigation.

I understand the narrative logic behind such a split, with chapter 10 treating the pre-investigation events and chapter 12 treating the investigation events. But the effect is to heighten the false impression that the White House did not know of the investigation during the earlier events. It also creates an equally false impression that Scottie McC operated by different rules during the events that appear in chapter 10 and those that appear in chapter 12.

This has a dramatic effect in his treatment of his refusal to exonerate Scooter Libby.

Scottie pretends that he was first asked about Libby’s involvement on October 1–the morning after the White House’s employees (as distinct from Alberto Gonzales) received official notice of the investigation.

The next morning’s gaggle back at the White House signaled that the press was now turning toward a new rumored suspect in the leak, the vice president’s chief of staff–Scooter Libby.

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Did Condi Speak with Bush about Rove’s So-Called Innocence? Or about the NIE?

I wanted to add one detail to my earlier post about Waxman asking for more materials from Mukasey. They imply that Condi had a conversation with Bush or Cheney about Rove and/or Libby’s so-called innocence.

Waxman’s letter asks for the following:

I am writing now to renew the Committee’s request for the interview reports with President Bush and Vice President Cheney and to request unredacted versions of the interviews with Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, Condoleezza Rice, Scott McClellan, and Cathie Martin. I also request that the Department provide all other responsive documents that were approved for release to the Committee by Mr. Fitzgerald.

[snip]

I therefore urge you to follow Justice Department precedents and provide the records of the FBI interviews with President Bush and Vice President Cheney to the Committee by June 10. I also ask that you provide to the Committee, at the same time, the unredacted interviews with Karl Rove, Scooter Libby, Condoleezza Rice, Scott McClellan, and Cathie Martin, as well as the other responsive records requested by the Committee.

In other words, his letter written specifically in response to Scottie McC’s revelations asks for unredacted copies of Scottie’s interview, but also Rove’s, Libby’s, Condi’s, and Cathie Martin’s interviews. Mind you, Waxman has seen redacted copies of these, but Scottie’s revelations lead him to demand unredacted interview reports.

Waxman tells us what is redacted in Scottie’s interview report.

In his FBI interview, Mr. McClellan told the FBI about discussions he had with the President and the Vice President. These passages, however, were redacted from the copies made available to the Committee.

And he implies that that’s what was redacted from the other interviews, as well.

Similar passages were also redacted from other interviews.

There are no sound reasons for you to withhold the interviews with the President and the Vice President from the Committee or to redact passages like Mr. McClellan’s discussions with the President and the Vice President.

From which we might conclude that those redacted passages in the Rove, Libby, Cathie Martin, and Condi interview reports are, at the very least, about conversations with Bush or Cheney, and possibly, discussions specifically about the exoneration of Rove and Libby.

We know Rove could have testified about this–Scottie McC’s book tells us that Rove told Bush directly that he was "innocent." Similarly, we know that Libby had such conversations with Cheney–in fact, passages describing those conversations appear, totally unredacted, in the grand jury testimony.

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Scottie Doesn’t Deny Bush Authorized the Plame Leak

Okay, I went out and bought the damn book (sadly, I even have an extra one coming from Amazon). And I take something I said yesterday back. I said, speaking of my title that "Bush authorized the leak of Valerie Wilson’s identity," that "Scottie McC doesn’t know it yet."

I was wrong. While Scottie doesn’t confirm that he knows that Bush authorized the leak of Valerie’s identity, he sure as hell doesn’t deny it either. Here’s how he addresses claims that Bush also authorized the leak of Valerie’s identity.

Questions were also raised about whether the president’s action had set in motion the unauthorized disclosure of Valerie Plame’s identity. Although we could not comment publicly, we did our best to distance him from this suggestion by pointing to the comments of Libby’s lawyer that Bush had only authorized Cheney to "get the information out." He hadn’t told him how to do it or what kinds of tactics to use. In other words, Bush hadn’t explicitly talked about leaking. It was a narrow and ultimately tenuous thread.

Do you see where Scottie McC says anything about what content Bush authorized Scooter and Shooter to leak? Me neither.

Scottie McC’s denial–which is not one, not by a long shot–only addresses the method of the leak, the fact that Scooter and Shooter leaked via the old A1 cut-out using Judy Judy Judy. After raising the question of whether or not Bush had authorized the content that Valerie was covert … Scottie McC said nothing.

George Bush Authorized the Leak of Valerie Wilson’s Identity

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Scottie McC doesn’t know it yet. But that’s basically what he revealed this morning on the Today Show (h/t Rayne).

During the interview, Scottie revealed the two things that really pissed him off with the Bush Administration. First, being set up to lie by Karl Rove and Scooter Libby. And second, learning that Bush had–himself–authorized the selective leaking of the NIE.

Scottie McC: But the other defining moment was in early April 2006, when I learned that the President had secretly declassified the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq for the Vice President and Scooter Libby to anonymously disclose to reporters. And we had been out there talking about how seriously the President took the selective leaking of classified information. And here we were, learning that the President had authorized the very same thing we had criticized.

Viera: Did you talk to the President and say why are you doing this?

Scottie McC: Actually, I did. I talked about the conversation we had. I walked onto Air Force One, it was right after an event we had, it was down in the south, I believe it was North Carolina. And I walk onto Air Force One and a reporter had yelled a question to the President trying to ask him a question about this revelation that had come out during the legal proceedings. The revelation was that it was the President who had authorized, or, enable Scooter Libby to go out there and talk about this information. And I told the President that that’s what the reporter was asking. He was saying that you, yourself, was the one that authorized the leaking of this information. And he said "yeah, I did." And I was kinda taken aback.

Now, for the most part, this is not new. We have known (since I first reported it here) that Scooter Libby testified that, after Libby told Dick Cheney he couldn’t leak the information Cheney had ordered him to leak to Judy Miller because it was classified, Cheney told Libby he had gotten the President to authorize the declassification of that information.

Thus far, though, we only had Dick Cheney’s word that he had actually asked Bush to declassify this information. We didn’t have Bush’s confirmation that he had actually declassified the information. In fact, we’ve had Dick Cheney’s claims that he–Dick–had insta-declassified via his super secret pixie dust declassification powers.

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Now This IS Interesting Scottie McClellan News

Back in November, when Scottie McClellan’s publisher first started to pitch Scottie’s book, he made a stir when he posted the following blurb about the book.

The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

There was one problem. It was not true.

I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President’s chief of staff, and the President himself.

That set off a minor firestorm, as people misread the plain language of the blurb to mean that Bush had knowingly asked Scottie McC to lie about Libby’s and Rove’s involvement in the leak of Valerie Wilson’s identity. As I pointed out then, the firestorm probably contributed to making little Scottie rich.

Scottie McC’s publisher has pulled off quite the coup–taken a detail that was, largely, already known, and used it to cause a stir about a book that will not yet be published for another 6 months. Already, Dodd is calling for an investigation, folks are calling for HJC or Waxman to hold a hearing. What the left has done is read one publishing blurb designed to generate this kind of buzz, and played right into the plan. Congratulations. You’re all making Scottie McC rich.

And while I still don’t advocate that you all go out and buy Scottie’s book (tell you what–I’ll buy it and tell you the interesting bits), this little revelation is interesting news.

McClellan also suggests that Libby and Rove secretly colluded to get their stories straight at a time when federal investigators were hot on the Plame case.

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One Corrupt Lawyer Disbarred

An entire party full of corrupt lawyers yet to be disbarred.

A three-judge panel on the D.C. Court of Appeals stripped Libby of his ability to practice law after he was found guilty last year of obstructing the investigation in the CIA leak investigation, WTOP radio reported.

Next up, Alberto Gonzales? Harriet Miers? John Yoo? David Addington?

(I suspect Mary has a prioritized list in her back pocket…)

Bush Administration Tries to Reverse A1 Cut-Out Declassification

Remember back in the halcyon days when people still believed Judy Miller was a journalist? The Bush Administration repeatedly used her as a cut-out, leaking highly classified information to her (like intelligence about aluminum tubes, mobile bioweapons labs, and even covert agents’ identities). She would then publish a story on the first page of the NYT. And Administration officials would quote her story, now treating the highly classified information as if it had been declassified. It worked like a charm until Judy’s credibility got so damaged with her Iraq reporting that she couldn’t oblige Cheney by writing an article leaking Valerie Wilson’s identity.

In 1992, the opposite occurred. Someone leaked a draft of Defense Secretary Dick Cheney’s Defense Policy Guidance to the NYT.

The document was provided to The New York Times by an official who believes this post-cold-war strategy debate should be carried out in the public domain.

[snip]

In contrast, the new draft sketches a world in which there is one dominant military power whose leaders "must maintain the mechanisms for deterring potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role."

The NYT published chunks of the draft, which shocked voters and allies. So poor little Scooter Libby, always the faithful acolyte, had to rewrite the draft to hide Cheney’s aggressive nature, perhaps believing they could persuade presidential year voters that Bush’s aides weren’t a bunch of nut-cases before the election that November.

Now the National Security Archive has published a series of those drafts, including a few memos from Libby, now a felon, to the guy he’d later commit a felony to protect (unfortunately, there’s none of Libby’s chicken scratch notes, so all the skills we’ve developed reading trial exhibits will be wasted).

Pathetically, the Bush Administration has refused to declassify some of the same passages that appeared in the NYT almost sixteen years ago.

Remarkably, these new releases censor a half dozen large sections of text that The New York Times printed on March 8, 1992, as well as a number of phrases that were officially published by the Pentagon in January 1993. "On close inspection none of those deleted passages actually meet the standards for classification because embarrassment is not a legal basis for secrecy," remarked Tom Blanton, director of the Archive." The language that the Times publicized can be seen side-by-side with the relevant portions of the February 18, 1992 draft (see document 3 below) that was the subject of the leak.

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January 23, 2006

Sorry. I’m afraid Waxman has me hooked on these damn email documents.

But I wanted to point out a curious bit of timing. I’m working on a mega-timeline, but note this mini-timeline:

January 20, 2006: McDevitt and friends determine that there are gaps where the missing emails should be.

January 23, 2006: Fitzgerald informs Libby’s lawyers "via Telefax and regular mail" that:

In an abundance of caution, we advise you that we have learned that not all email of the Office of Vice President and the Executive Office of President for certain time periods in 2003 was preserved through the normal archiving process on the White House computer system.

January 23, 2006, 11:18 AM: McDevitt writes Susan Crippen,

Someone needs to fill in some of the blanks.

January 23, 2006, 1:19 PM: Crippen responds,

SIS has "filled in" the blanks.

January 24, 2006: Someone in the White House writes a document claiming to have found the missing emails.

According to a document dated just four days later that was shown to Committee staff, but not provided to them, the White House team recovercd 17,956 e-mails from these individual mailboxes on the backup tape and used these as their basis to search for e-mails responsive to the Special Counsel’s request.

January 31, 2006: Fitzgerald’s letter entered into PACER, alerting the press and DFH bloggers to the missing emails.

February 2, 2006: Addington prints off email for discovery.

February 6, 2006: Fitzgerald receives "missing" emails.

February 11, 2006: Dick shoots an old man in the face.

Okay, okay, I just included Dick’s lawyer-hunting for fun (though I have long believed the revelation of Cheney’s NIE cover story and the missing emails contributed to his carelessness that day).

But does anyone else find it odd that the WH "found" the missing emails the day after Libby’s lawyers learned that news of them would imminently become public?

Did Eric Edelman Lie to the Plame Grand Jury?

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And did he do it to protect Dick?

I admit. I can’t help myself. By some strange force, I found myself back at Prettyman this week, wading through the million-dollar CIPA battle that Libby waged in his graymail attempts (for the record, Fitz must say "graymail" about 20 times by the second day of these hearings). And in a December 29, 2005 defense filing (I haven’t scanned it yet, either because I was liveblogging all day or I’m just trying to torture Jeff) asking for further information to be declassified in response to the Jencks information they got, I found this footnote clarifying the sentence, "According to [Libby’s CIA briefer, Craig] Schmall, ‘Since I had no knowledge of the ambassador or his wife, I presume Libby gave me [the names Joe Wilson and Valerie Wilson].’"

Eric Edelman, whom the government recently decided not to call as a witness, contradicts Mr. Schmall on this point. According to Mr. Edelman, sometime before June 6, 2003 (when Mr. Edelman left the OVP), Mr. Schmall "identified the former envoy as Joseph Wilson" and "advised Edelman that the CIA’s Counterproliferation Division sent Wilson to Niger to conduct the inquiry, not the OVP." 6/23/04 Edelman FBI 302 at 2. According to Mr. Edelman, Mr. Schmall showed him internal CIA emails about the Wilson trip. 8/6/04 Edelman Grand Jury T. at 16. In addition, Mr. Schmall may have told Mr. Edelman during this period that Ambassador Wilson’s mission to Africa was suggested by his wife. 6/23/04 Edelman FBI 302 at 2; see also 7/7/04 Edelman FBI 302 at 2-3 (same); 8/6/04 Edelman Grand Jury T at 15-19 (same). Apart from the fact that Mr. Edelman contradicts Schmall on a significant point, the government may have elected not to call him because he makes clear in his grand jury testimony that he does not recall any mention of Ms. Wilson in his discussion with Mr. Libby following the June 19 New Republic article (see Indictment at 5-6 12-13) , and he never discussed with Mr. Libby the nature of the "complications" to which Mr. Libby referred. 8/6/04 Edelman Grand Jury T. at 29-30.

Now, as to the substance of Edelman’s denial that he was talking about Plame when he advocated leaking "information" to rebut Joe Wilson, here’s what the indictment said. It clearly relies on a witness or some other evidence that is not named Scooter Libby.

Shortly after publication of the article in The New Republic, LIBBY spoke by telephone with his then Principal Deputy and discussed the article. That official asked LIBBY whether information about Wilson’s trip could be shared with the press to rebut the allegations that the Vice President had sent Wilson. LIBBY responded that there would be complications at the CIA in disclosing that information publicly, and that he could not discuss the matter on a non-secure telephone line.

And in his grand jury testimony, Edelman told a story that did not directly contradict the substance of testimony apparently given about that conversation, but conveniently denies everything for which there was no apparent witness (that is, if you thought Edelman were trustworthy, you might just think Edelman dropped the issue after the witness stopped following it).

That’s interesting. But I’m much more interested in this part of the footnote.

According to Mr. Edelman, Mr. Schmall showed him internal CIA emails about the Wilson trip. Read more

“The 9/11 Commission Wants Internal Emails”

I found something rather interesting in Scooter Libby’s notes for July 8, 2003 (here’s the transcription of his chickenscratch). At the tail end of a conversation about the 9/11 Commission (which may have taken place at the White House’s Senior Staff Meeting that morning), and at the beginning of more obsessive notes about Joe Wilson [on how these notes work, see the update below], Libby wrote:

9/11 Commission wants internal e-mails, mark-up drafts of President’s speech, materials for President’s discussions with Blair, etc.

Now, I have no idea what they wanted internal emails pertaining to–though the reference to a Bush speech and discussions with Blair indicates it was a speech about war, most likely the September 20, 2001 speech announcing his response to the 9/11 attacks. Though, the Commission briefly reviewed the early (2001) discussions about hitting Iraq, as well as Afghanistan, and Libby’s note appeared just one day before the Commission held a hearing on Al Qaeda’s relationship with other parts of the Arab world, including Iraq (Laura Mylroie even testified!).

But I find the mention interesting, given all the attention to the White House’s faulty email archiving system. Libby’s note presumably reflects discussions of the 9/11 Commission’s First Interim Report, released on the same day. In the report (and at the press conference accompanying it), Commission described the status of EOP’s document requests as follows:

First, the executive office of the president. The document requests have been filed with the executive office. Those documents cover every major part of the executive office of the presidency, including, of course, the National Security Council. We will not go into detail on the substance of these or other requests. We can say that we have received and are in the process of receiving access to a wide range of sensitive documents, and that to date no requested access has been denied. Many more documents are being requested. Conditions have been imposed, in some cases, with respect to our access to and usage of materials, and our discussions will continue.

Though the same interim report bragged that the Commission had received detainee interviews, and we know from Phillip Zelikow’s recent report on the CIA’s stonewalling regarding any tapes of detainee interrogations that as soon as June 2003, the CIA was withholding responsive materials.

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