Saturday, September 30, 2006

why did cheney out Plame?

In response to Fiderer's piece on Armitage/plame, EW writes:

That's a load of shiite.

One can make the argument that Armitage leaked and covered it up with a stupid story. I certainly agree that it's implausible Armitage didn't know he was the leaker. But there are several aspects of this that are just BS.

The timing: Wow!!! The day after Pincus wrote a hard-hitting article, Woodward asked Armitage about it!!! Wow!!! And during a week when everyone in DC was talking about Joe Wilson, Armitage was too!! Wow, I'd say that's a smoking gun. Not. The timing is not at all suspicious.

The memo: It is almost certainly true that the paragraph in question was marked S/NF because of Wilson's trip, not Plame's identity. Because those involved didn't know Plame's identity (and if they did, it'd have been marked something else). So in fact, all of Armitage's statements about the memo are right. Yes, it was illegal to leak it. Yes, Armitage was a bonehead for being so lax about someone clearly tied to WMD. But there is no way anyone reading that memo would conclude Plame was covert.

And finally, Fiderer doesn't use the most basic logic to think through the proposed Armitage as fallguy for Libby story. It just doesn't make sense, not at all. Because if Armitage was the KNOWN fallguy for Libby, then Libby would not have perjured himself. Rove would not have perjured himself. Every action Rove and Libby took is inconsistent with Armitage being part of the plot. Did they use his role? Yup. But he wasn't part of it.
EW has convinced us of all of these points before.

Larisa adds:
I am with EW. The most obvious, however, is not mentioned by anyone. Armitage was away when the memo was delivered and then Grossman's little talk with Libby. By June 12, Cheney was already talking about Plame, while on June 13 Armitage was only getting back and only taking a moment to look at the INR memo and the attachment of Rohn's note, which hardly gave any type of information other than who Joe Wilson was. So where did Cheney get his information and why did Libby already know many of the most classified points of this whole mess, namely, who she was and where she worked, before Novak's fat ass dragged itself over to State to visit Armitage, who said all of what? Novak was the last reporter and Armitage was the last source, even if you account for the meeting with Woody on June 13, Armitage still only had what was in the INR memo. Cheney, Libby, et al had by June 12 already discussed who she was in particular. So EW is right, this is total shiite.

Somehow, however, since Armitage had to request the memo he was originally copied on to begin with at a later date would also suggest that the beefcake did not actually read the memo or at least the Rohn note.

does anyone have an opinion on why cheney wanted to out Plame?


emptywheel said...

I don't think Armitage read the memo before the Woodward meeting. I think he read underlying material on the meeting, possibly just Rohn's notes. I think Armitage is the source for this passage:

One former State Department official, who because of the sensitive nature of the case asked not to be named, said that the information on Plame in the memo was sparse, but that her identity was known through other means in much of the intelligence community, suggesting that the memo might not have been the way her name spread among government officials — and the media. As the former State Department official recalled, the memo identified Plame only as "Wilson's wife" — it did not give her first or last name, and it did not mention her undercover status.

"The Niger uranium issue was a huge argument within the intelligence community for over a year before the Novak column," the former official said. "So all the ins and outs of Niger uranium were the subject of endless meetings and discussions and food fights among people in the intelligence community and all the details of it were well-known."

Once Wilson's July 6, 2003, article appeared, then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage arranged for a copy of the memo, which had been drafted earlier detailing the Niger matter, to be forwarded to Powell, who was on his way to Africa with Bush.

"There was never any feedback from anyone on the memo," the former State Department official said. "The memo itself was basically repeating common knowledge in the community."

One thing--this would be very consistent of someone who, after getting into a pissing contest with his buddy the well-known reporter, said, "everyone knows Wilson is the envoy."

If I'm right and he's the source--it's pretty interesting. The passage actually makes it harder for Armitage to exonerate himself, because he can't point to one source and claim it didn't indicate she was covert, as the story has him doing with the INR memo. Which would suggest the earlier leak was much harder for Fitz to discount (which may be part of the reason why Rove isn't charged right now).

But then, someone had to know that Rohn's notes were out there--they obviously knew there described the meeting, when it appears they didn't talk to Rohn personally at the time. Which raises the chances that the notes were Armitage's first source. Also note, I'm not sure whether the note would have been SCI, as the INR memo was, which would make it easier to circulate.

Kathleen said...

John Hannah and David Wurmser, former John Bolton aides, cooperated with Fitz and testified that John Bolton is who told Darth Cheney that Plame was covert.

John Bolton is also reportedly the first person in the State Dept to receive the Niger forgeries.

According to Henry Waxman, telephone records indicate that John Bolton, through Fred Fleitz, was directly involved in getting the 16 words into the State Dept. memo.

If Darth Cheney wanted wall to wall war in the middle east, surely Valerie Plame and her work on WMD's could really be a monkey wrench to that big war plan. If you eliminate anyone who could convincingly refute you with reliable evidence, doesn't that make it easier to execute your war plan? Hellooooo.

Larisa Alexandrovna said...

EW: Per our conversation (and some of it I need to repeat for the rest of the class), INR wanted to be heard by the White House, they jumped on any chance to get their input on the Niger nonsense into the hands of the admin. Armitage and Powell both were not too pleased about the Niger stuff.

Rhone's notes are interesting because of how this all played out. First of all, we know Rhone took physical notes, then he went back to state and typed them up and filed them.

He then was on "sick leave" as some want to call it, while others say "he was elsewhere," but he was lent out, that we know and we know where to. During his leave, the notes were requested to flesh out the INR memo.

Grossman was the first person to ask Ford for information on Niger and such, he was the first person to get the document, and he was the first person to deliver the information. All of this took place before and up to June 12. In between Grossman's request and the actual writing of the INR memo, Carl Ford assigned the task to "someone else" who was not in INR proper, if you will. This person is in fact the first person to see the information that Grossman had asked about and would be the person to also add the Rhone typed notes in copy form.

At this point, we should note that we are talking about three versions of the same meetings notes: a). Rhone's handwritten notes, b). Rhone's typed up notes, and c). the copied (possibly altered) notes attached to the INR memo.

IMHO, June 12 is the key to part of this whole story, not June 10, 13, or even 27.

I believe based on all that is in the public sphere of information as well as my own sourcing on this that:

-The request to Grossman was nothing more than creating a legend, that is to say, when an asset wants to establish street cred for example... that person would live their cover for a while before being sent out under that cover. Eli Cohen, the famous Mossad agent, went to South America to create a legend for his cover.

If you look at how this was played out, the information was already in hand and known before Libby ever put in a request to Grossman. CIA was discredited for faulty intel - through Cheney's creation of a legend that could be pointed to. State was framed for use as a legend in this. I think Libby asked Grossman for the information in order to create the appearance of wide circulation of the info and also to launder it so it did not appear to originate from the White House.

Armitage would have known the internal State battle over the niger allegations. So yes, Armitage could have easily made that statement and been the source for TH's article, but i doubt it for many reasons. Some of which I can say have to do, again, with timing, but mostly, reading Tom's piece again, it convinces me of quite another source for this piece and I know Tom, so it fits with what I know of him. But I don't think it is Armitage. Nor do I think it is Bolton or Fleitz, should Kat (wink) ask.

Yes, Bolton and Fleitz for me are important in all of this, they are the point of connection as is June 12 for me. More importantly (and Luke's question): I have always said that to understand this story, people need to focus on April of 03 to Oct of 03, because the story is not Plame, or even B&J, they are simply the casualties in this, sad to say. The story is a). what happened during this time, b). that would motivate such a dangerous tactical risk by the admin and c). whom did it protect?

Bolton/Fleitz fit into the point A more so than anyone else outside of the White House.

I think we can all agree that although that whatever the motive of the plame hit was, it was not first and foremost to smear her husband. Remember, WHIG started the work up in March of 03 and Cheney knew in May (as I believe), but no story ran until July, after "our friend" at State advised Wilson to write the op-ed. What happened in between March and July or rather, what happened in April and did not stop happening until October, that could justify this type of long focus, during a failed war (even that early)on something that could have been easily ignored, if the motive was Wilson?

I am still working on Iran, so I have not had time to write more about this other aspect of the same story (and they are related). As you all know, I have never been interested in what I call "the front end-sell" or from WHIG to press, rather, I have always been interested in the actual leak, the motive, and the chain of custody of information.

So again, I say without doubt, that while Novak ran the piece, and Armitage was a source for both Woodward and Novak, he was not the original source of the leak. Not the original front-end sell or the original back end leaker. He was simply part of the laundry of information, the process for which he may or may have not been a willing tool.

And Kat, Hadley was more involved in getting those 16 words in and if Hadley was, then Rice was... and now we have a new player, don't we? And it is just so interesting that Rice and Hadley both have been called to testify in the AIPAC case too, no?:)