Scottie McC’s Chronology: September 27

I said yesterday that Scottie McC was still protecting Bush–either deliberately or out of blind faith. One of the areas where that’s apparent is in his discussion of efforts to have both Rove and Libby exonerated in fall 2003. Scottie McC presents some significant new details about discussions of the leak within the White House just as DOJ started the CIA leak investigation. But he presents a chronology that downplays the degree to which those White House discussions were a reaction to public news that the DOJ had already started a probe.

Take a look at this chronology–showing the known events in the middle column, and Scottie McC’s details in the right-hand column.



Scottie’s Events

September 16

CIA requests investigation

Scottie first asks Rove about leak:
“You weren’t one of Novak’s sources, right?”

Russell Mokhiber asks about Rove

September 26

DOJ officially launches investigation


NBC leaks news of investigation


September 27


Scottie asks Rove about leak

September 28

1X2X6 Dana Priest and Mike Allen article


September 29


Bush tells Scottie Rove didn’t leak (7 AM)


Scottie asks Rove whether he condoned leak


“That morning” the WaPo reports that DOJ opened an investigation


Scottie emphasizes the White House has received no official warning and denies Rove’s involvement, mentioning Bush


(Evening) Ashcroft informs Gonzales who informs Andy Card to retain materials


What’s most important about Scottie McC’s chronology is that he never admits that the White House learned and responded to leaked news of the investigation that appeared on September 26 and instead suggested they only responded to news reports and–ultimately–the belated official notice DOJ gave the White House on September 29. Here’s the description Scottie McC gives of that timing:

On September 16, the CIA informed the Justice Department about its completed investigation into the disclosure of Valerie Plame’s name and undercover status and requested that the FBI "initiate an investigation of this matter." Justice advised the CIA on September 29, 2003, that its counterespionage section supported the request for an investigation. The clear implicationwas that there was good reason to believe a crime had been committed in the leaking of Plame’s name. The White House would be informed about the Justice Department’s decision later that evening.

By starting his chronology this way, Scottie McC hides the fact that NBC first reported the DOJ investigation on Friday evening, September 26, three days before the White House officially learned of the investigation.

September 27

That’s particularly important given one of the new details Scottie McC’s narrative reveals–that both he and Claire Buchan learned from Rove on September 27 that Rove had spoken with Novak during leak week. Scottie McC found out after Mike Allen emailed Rove for comment on the famous 1X2X6 story [now behind the firewall].

Rove got in touch with my trusted deputy Claire Buchan, letting her know he’d received an email inquiry from Mike for the story.


Claire spoke with Rove before I returned to the White House in the staff vans. I arrived back at my office sometime after 1:00 P.M., and a short time later got the rundown from her.

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“Trivial Policy Ideas”

I’m going to launch into some much more detailed analysis of Scottie McC’s book in the next few days. But before I did that, I wanted to establish how deeply Scottie McC is in denial about George Bush–both about his good intentions as a President and his honesty. As I go through the Plame-related and Iraq intelligence stuff, I’ll show how Scottie McC is still fundamentally protecting the President, perhaps as much to prevent serious cognitive dissonance on Scottie’s own part as to protect Bush.

But for now, I just wanted to point out how Scottie McC tends to interpret anything Bush does in the best positive light, even while condemning the same behavior from others.

In Scottie McC’s discussion of the presidential transition, he compares Clinton and Bush in some detail, noting that both got sucked into the "permanent campaign" when in DC. Scottie McC even cedes that Bush embraced the permanent campaign as much as Clinton (which is, after all the point of the book).

There would be no more permanent campaign, or at least its excesses would be wiped away for good. But the reality proved to be something quite different. Instead, the Bush team imitated some of the worst qualities of the Clinton White House and even took them to new depths.

Yet Scottie McC wants to pretend that Bush’s permanent campaign was all in service of a grand agenda, unlike (he suggests) Clinton.

Bush did not emulate Clinton on the policy front. Just the opposite–the mantra of the new administration was "anything but Clinton" when it came to policies. The Bush administration prided itself on focusing on big ideas, not playing small ball with worthy but essentially trivial policy ideas for a White House, like introducing school uniforms or going after deadbeat dads.

Curious that this son of a single mother would insinuate that an overdue federal effort to make sure that families parented by single mothers don’t also have to survive on single salaries was "trivial." The effort to ensure that women could collect the child support due them was fundamentally about families and personal responsibility.

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Waxman Closing in on Dick Cheney for Outing Valerie Wilson

Henry Waxman noted the same thing that I did about Scottie McClellan’s book. He noticed that Scottie McC’s book sure came close to saying Dick Cheney and George Bush were personally involved in the outing of Valerie Wilson.

New revelations by former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan raise additional questions about the actions of the President and the Vice President. Mr. McClellan has stated that "[t]he President and Vice President directed me to go out there and exonerate Scooter Libby." He has also asserted that "the top White House officials who knew the truth – including Rove, Libby, and possibly Vice President Cheney – allowed me, even encouraged me, to repeat a lie." It would be a major breach of trust if the Vice President personally directed Mr. McClellan to mislead the public.

Now, I’ve been quietly trying to find out whether or not Michael Muksaey had handed over Bush and Cheney’s interview transcripts to Henry Waxman. Seeing as how he’s asking again, I’d say the answer’s no.

On December 3, 2007, I wrote to request that you arrange for the production of documents relating to Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation into the leak of the covert identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson, including copies of FBI interview reports of White House officials. I appreciate that you have since made redacted versions of the interview reports of Karl Rove, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, and other senior White House officials available to the Committee.

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. [my emphasis]

And in the remainder of Waxman’s letter, he makes it clear that doing anything less than turning this information over to Waxman’s committee is a deliberate attempt to cover up the fact that Dick Cheney outed Valerie Plame, with Bush’s involvement.

In his interview with the FBI, Mr. Libby stated that it was "possible" that Vice President Cheney instructed him to disseminate information about Ambassador Wilson’s wife to the press. This is a significant revelation and, if true, a serious matter. It cannot be responsibly investigated without access to the Vice President’s FBI interview.

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Novak, That’s Because the Trial Wasn’t about YOUR Leak

I’m really fascinated that–after Dana Pig Missile got asked whether Bush authorized the leak of Valerie Wilson’s identity–Bob Novak has decided to wade into the Scottie McC attack industry to try to distract attention away from that near-confirmation in Scottie McC’s book that Bush authorized the leak of Valerie Wilson’s identity (h/t dakine).

In Scott McClellan’s purported tell-all memoir of his trials as President Bush’s press secretary, he virtually ignores Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage’s role leaking to me Valerie Plame’s identity as a CIA employee. That fits the partisan Democratic version of the Plame affair, in keeping with the overall tenor of the book, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception."


In claiming he was misled about the Plame affair, McClellan mentions Armitage only twice. Armitage being the leaker undermines the Democratic theory, now accepted by McClellan, that Bush, Vice President Cheney and political adviser Karl Rove aimed to delegitimize Wilson as a war critic. The way that McClellan handles the leak leads former colleagues to suggest he could not have written this book by himself.

Thanks Novak! I’ve been wondering what these checks from Scottie’s publisher are for! Come to find out I’ve secretly ghost-written Scottie’s book without even knowing about it. But why is it, I wonder, that you neglect to mention one of the villains of our "conspiracy theory," convicted felon Scooter Libby?

Novak is explicitly pissed that Scottie’s book undercuts the narrative (some might call it a cover story) that Novak, Rove, Libby, Cheney, and Bush have cultivated about the leak: that it was all about Richard Armitage.

On Page 173, McClellan first mentions my Plame leak, but he does not identify Armitage as the leaker until Page 306 of the 323-page book — and then only in passing. Armitage, who was antiwar and anti-Cheney, does not fit the conspiracy theory that McClellan now buys into. When, after two years, Armitage publicly admitted that he was my source, the life went out of Wilson’s campaign. In "What Happened," McClellan dwells on Rove’s alleged deceptions as if the real leaker were still unknown.

Of course, Novak knows well that the Armitage story was always only a shiny object, one that distracted from the classified information–almost certainly Valerie Wilson’s identity–that Cheney ordered Libby to leak to Judy Miller. Read more

Why Did Harriet Know of Rove’s Involvement?

I didn’t finish Scottie McC’s book on the plane. Barely started it, actually. Suffice it to say I had an interesting chat, instead.

But I did manage to scan the thing closely enough to have a lot of questions–and here’s one I’d like to throw out at the lawyerly types in the crowd.

Why would Harriet know–in July 2005–of Rove’s involvement in the leak? Scottie McC describes Harriet warning him (though Scottie already knew a lot of it) that something was going to break just before Rove’s involvement in the leaks to Novak and Cooper became known.

Later that morning [July 10, 2005], Harriet Miers, a longtime Bush loyalist from Texas who had taken over as White House counsel when Al Gonzales was confirmed as attorney general, called me through the White House operator. Like me, Harriet had served in the Bush White House since day one. The West Wing was quiet that day. I had come in to catch up on work, watch some of the Sunday political shows that were taped, and prepare for the week ahead free from interruption.

Harriet was calling from her office and said she needed to come and talk to me about something important. She walked in, closed the door behind her, and said, "There’s some news that’s likely to come out tomorrow about Karl in the leak investigation that may appear to contradict what you said nearly two years ago."

"I heard," I said, thinking about Isikoff’s report but not taking time to let what she had said fully sink in. Harriet reiterated to me that we still could not comment on the investigation publicly. In effect, she was forbidding me from talking and setting the record straight about my previous comments.

Now perhaps the answer is very simple: perhaps Isikoff called for comment before he published his article. Perhaps Isikoff even called Harriet and read her the email from Cooper to his editor, in its entirety, that proved Rove was lying about his claims not to have said anything about Plame to Cooper. He had done the same favor–in guise of getting comment–for Luskin.

But why call Harriet, instead of, say, Rove or Scottie McC? (Well, okay, I’ll assume he may have called Rove, but he did not call Scottie first.) (Come to think of it, maybe Luskin just called Harriet as a courtesy.)

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Pick Which WH Press Secretary Is Lying

Sometime between now and when the Rules and Bylaws Committee starts tomorrow, I hope to argue that Scottie McC is still, um, shading the truth in his presentation of the facts about the Plame outing.

But for now, I’ll let you guys weigh in whether you think the former White House Press Secretary or the current one is lying.

Here’s what Scottie McC said in a book chat posted at 12:00 PM:

Washington: Did you inform the White House at any time about your intention to write the memoir? If so, what was the reaction then?

Scott McClellan: The White House reviewed the final manuscript for classification and privilege issues. After the review I met with some members of the White House counsel’s office at their request to discuss the review. As I expected, there were no issues relating to classified information. They did bring up some issues relating to what they might consider executive privilege, including presidential conversations and conversations between senior advisers to the president. [my emphasis]

And here’s what Dana "Pig Missile" said in a press briefing time stamped at 12:42 PM:

MS. PERINO: We’ve been out on the road; I’ve missed the podium greatly. But as I said all along, that the President expressed disappointment and sadness at the situation, surprise by the charges that he has read about that are in the book.

And we’ve known for a while that this is what the tone of the book would be. Of course last November we knew because of the excerpt that came out, and then more recently, as with all manuscripts, the White House Counsel’s Office has an opportunity to look at manuscripts for any possible classified information or any means for executive privilege to be asserted. None of them were in this case. So we’ve known for a little bit of time that this was coming. [my emphasis]

So which was it? Did the White House invoke executive privilege about "presidential conversations and conversations between senior advisors to the president," or didn’t it?

Of course, there’s always option "C," none of the above. It’s possible (crazy, I know) that neither is lying. Read more

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.

On the Serendipity of Mis-Readings

Rut roh. Some White House reporter didn’t read my post closely enough:

Today On Holden’s Obsession With The Gaggle

By Holden Caulfield

Put Impeachment Back On The Table

Q Dana, I wanted to ask you, I know you don’t want to go line-by-line with the whole book thing, the Scott McClellan book — but I’m thinking you may want to address this because there’s something out there. Not having the benefit of having the book in front of me, there’s an allegation apparently made by Scott in the book that a reporter shouted a question to the President, on a trip that Scott had been with him on, just as they were getting on Air Force One, and it was Valerie Plame-related. Basically, it prompted Scott to ask the President directly, "Were you the one who authorized the leaking of Valerie Plame’s name?" And the President apparently told Scott, "Yes, I was."

MS. PERINO: I don’t know. Obviously I wasn’t there and — obviously I don’t know the context. I think the — it’s hard for me to say. I don’t have the book in front of me either and I don’t know.

But what I do know is that what we have said before, which is defending the President’s decision to go to war is something that we have done repeatedly, and the suggestion that the President had sent Joe Wilson to Africa was false. And so I don’t know if that was what it was in regards to or not, so I’m — I don’t know.

Q But I mean, if that’s an allegation that’s out there, that the President is supposedly responsible for the leaking of Valerie Plame’s name, is that something you want to —

MS. PERINO: I don’t think that’s what Scott says in the book and I think that everyone should go back and look at it a little bit more carefully. I don’t think that’s what he says.

Q Can you comment more generally about whether the President has ever authorized the leaking of classified information?

MS. PERINO: I’m not aware of that, no. And I also know that President Bush would never ask anyone to knowingly go out and lie. But do we defend the President’s record vigorously? Read more

George Bush Authorized the Leak of Valerie Wilson’s Identity


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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