Wednesday, November 23, 2005

wilson, grossman, sibel, scowcroft, plame, edelman, turkey and brewster jennings

as you know, some of my favourite questions are:
a) why the hell the egadministration went ballistic about Joe Wilson.
b) why they thought outing his wife would help their cause.

Joe Wilson was just one of many 'war critics', and it was widely known at the time of Wilson's July 6, 2003, NYT op-ed that the niger claims were fraudulent.

I won't go back and do a full time-line (there's one here), but at a minimum, on March 7, 03, ElBaradei formally reported to the UN that the documents were forgeries - and there were lots of doubts way back 6 months earlier when the claim got pulled out of the cincinnati speeches in October, and if i'm not mistaken, there was an immediate uproar that the claim got put in the SOTU speech in late January - and the 'british' head fake attribution kinda gave the game away anyways.

And by May 03, Senators Roberts and Rockefeller asked the CIA and State Department IG's to investigate the niger fakes.

Suffice to say, the Niger case had already fallen apart by July 03. So why did they go beserk at Wilson? Remember, his trip was in Feb 02, and the Niger/Burbetta documents didnt surface till Oct 02 - so they could have 'argued' that the info in the SOTU was 'valid' despite the fact that Wilson hadnt found anything in his 8 day 'boondoggle'.

It's true that Wilson was agitating even before his NYT column - starting with the Kristoff article in early May - but even to the extent Wilson's feb02 trip was damaging, the horse had well and truly bolted by the time of the NYT article - which is about the time they launched the leak campaign - even though they'd been working on the GetWilson for 2 months (Miller and Woodward both received the leak before the NYT op-ed)

And even if they did decide that they needed to go after him, why on earth go after his wife? Even if his wife did send him, then so what? He still didnt find anything *and* we already knew that the niger/iraq deal was a complete fraud. Besides, the nepotism argument doesnt hold water next to the fact that Amb. Wilson's experience in both Afrika and Iraq.

8 days after Wilson's op-ed, Novak published his first article, and 4 days later "David Corn of the Nation points out that Novak's naming of Plame "would have compromised every operation, every relationship, every network with which she had been associated her entire career.""

Of course, Plame worked for BrewsterJennings which was a CIA front which was trying to uncover WMD's.

My question then, given that the egadmin spent 2 months planning the leak of her name, is it more likely that they did it to:
a) discredit Wilson (which failed spectacularly, and could never have succeeded), or
b) shine the light on BrewsterJennings (which succeeded spectacularly, and could never have failed)?

Occams Razor?

David Corn realised the implications immediately. Surely the maladministration knew the implications, exactly - they'd been thinking obsessing about it for months, and they went out of their way to cover their tracks. Not only did they know that it was illegal to do what they were doing, they surely also knew that BrewsterJennings would be exposed - surely we need to consider that the purpose of the outing was to out BJ, rather than some silly attempt to undermine Joe Wilson. In fact, given the extent to which they devised elaborate cover stories, surely we should at least consider the possibility that the 'get wilson' story is really just another level of cover...

The next question, necessarily, is 'why the fuck would they want to out BrewsterJennings?'

I cant remember if i have actually written a post about these specific issues before - but ive repeatedly alluded to these issues... The trigger for me writing this current post now was emptywheel's post called "Digging through Old Articles..." (about traitorgate) where she looks at "the original Washington Post story that broke the Plame scandal wide open" (swopa) which was in September 03 when it was announced that "The CIA has asked the Justice Department to investigate whether White House officials leaked the name of an undercover officer to a journalist." (the journos were mike allen and dana priest)

i'm not exactly sure what happened between the original novak articles and September - so im not sure if i agree with swopa's characterisations that this story "broke the Plame scandal wide open"...

discussing the same Wapo article from sep 03, steve clemons says:
"This source clearly had concerns about the behavior of these officials, and to some degree, this Washington Post source appears to be a key "counter-leaker" in the Valerie Plame investigation, i.e. someone attempting to make sure that the real story about the Plame leak and reasons for it were told... Thus, there is a political personality out there -- who is on the side of good -- who is part of this story. Who is it? And is this person a "Deep Throat" source for Patrick Fitzgerald? Is this source helping guide Fitzgerald through the terrain?"
emptywheel thinks that the source for the piece is Marc Grossman - and the general consensus appears to be that the source is 'fitzgerald friendly' - but what if this person isnt friendly?

lets take another look at the wapo article. first, lets revisit my assumption that the purported reason for the leak was stupid and futile:
" Asked about the motive for describing the leaks, the senior official said the leaks were "wrong and a huge miscalculation, because they were irrelevant and did nothing to diminish Wilson's credibility".."
indeed. now that we've got that cleared up, let's look at the context (remember, this is Sep03):
"It is rare for one Bush Administration official to turn on another."
indeed again. but isnt it also possible that, rather than this being evidence of an official turning on another, that it was actually some spinning coming from people on the side of the whitehouse?

let's look at the major claim (remember, this was after the CIA called in the DoJ):
"A senior Administration official said two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and revealed the identity and occupation of Mr Wilson's wife...
"Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge," the official said of the alleged leak."
is it possible that this was a 'limited hangout'? they had already been busted by the cia - and now they were trying to frame the issue in terms of 'revenge', 'pure and simple'? if so, it was pretty damn effective. for 2 years, virtually nobody has even questioned the assumption that destroying BrewsterJennings was simply roadkill in the attempt to undermine wilson's claim that he couldnt find any evidence of the iraq/niger uranium claim - and (apparently) the most efficacious method of undermining wilsons claim was by highlighting that his wife passed on a message from her superiors (doesnt that just sound really stupid?)

in any case, in retrospect i cant quite determine whether the sep03 wapo article 'broke open the case' - but swopa and digby and weldon berger seem to point to that as a seminal article - so lets assume that is true for the minute. the question then is whether the spin is truly 'pro-fitz', or simply a limited hangout. emptywheel notes that "This article gets pretty damn close to outlining much of the evidence we got in Libby's indictment." she's referring to a pincus/allen article in wapo from oct03! remember when fitz said that if it wasnt for obstruction of justice, that he could have held his Oct05 press briefing in Oct 04? well - all the relevant details were known a year before even then!

ok - so lets switch back to the fitzmas eve timeframe - pincus wrote an A1 article where he highlighted grossmans role in traitorgate, without actually pointing the finger at him. is grossman clemons' whiteknight or is he someone from the dark side? if emptywheel (plamegate guru) is right to finger him as the source - who was he working for? at the time of pincus' article, i argued that pincus' grossman revelation was related to the sibel edmonds case. (you knew i was gonna end up back here didnt you?)

according to "leading Armenian, Greek, and Kurdish American organizations", Grossman was a prime architect of US policy (particularly military aid and sales) towards Turkey - along with our old friends Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and Richard Perle.

Sibel has also argued that there was a major arms/drugs trafficking network operating out of the turkic countries - which somehow ties every current scandal into one meta-scandal.

if sibel is anywhere near on-the-money, and if emptywheel is right that grossman is the source, and if i'm right that plamegate doesnt make any sense if you look at the outing of plame as an attempt to undermine Joe Wilson, then we have ourselves a helluva scandal. if my hypothesis is correct - the intent was actually to out brewsterjennings - presumbaly because they were getting too close to something.

to make matters worse - or better - for the more conspiratorial folk, i even wonder whether wilson and plame werent part of the scheme. (my wingnut friends will love this!) sibel specifically pointed to the American Turkish Council. Wilson and 'his wife' were both active over there, and Wilson was good friends with Scowcroft, who is the ATC chair. in fact - sibel specifically went out of her way to 'unexonerate' scowcroft. you might also remember that scowcroft went out of his way to help wilson expose himself, and arguably 'his wife', and therefore opened the path to brewsterjennings being outed.

fwiw - wilson and grossman both graduated ucsb at the same time... if we learn nothing else out of this entire episode, we'll sure be reminded that 'washington' is a really fucking small bunch of people.

for more on this, my latest installment is here

stay tuned for my next episode on edelman

(for more on my attempts to unravel what sibel seems to be trying to say, for starters, try here)

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