Was It About Karl?

Something’s not adding up, Laura Rozen says.

So, the verdict is in. According to the WP, the NYT, the LAT, Time, etc. Goss was forced out yesterday after months of tension between him and John Negroponte over the CIA’s reduced turf, and that President Bush lost confidence in Goss “almost from the beginning” (WP).

So then he was forced out on very short notice? No notification to the House Intelligence committee? Not a single newspaper report in the past few months about the tension between Goss and Negroponte? (Indeed check out the recent coverage about Congressional raised eyebrows over the empire Negroponte is building, and his alleged visits to a fancy DC club for swim and cigar breaks). On the contrary, can anyone remember a single article about Goss fighting for his folks at the Agency? …

… Negroponte has President Bush’s ear every single day when he delivers the President’s daily intel brief. If he had been lobbying to get rid of Goss, and the President was inclined to support that decision, there were a hundred ways to do it in a way that would project stability, confidence, normalcy. There was hardly a show of that yesterday. They could have named a successor. There could have been a leak to the press about Goss being tired (remember all the foreshadowing in the press about how tired Andy Card was after all those 20 hour days that preceded his departure?) and wanting to spend more time with his family, or that Bush was unhappy with him. There was none of that. It was a surprise move. What happened this week that Negroponte and Bush acted so swiftly?

Does the way it happened resemble the slo-mo, warm and fuzzy way Andy Card and Scott McClellan were retired? Or does it rather have more in common with the swiftly announced departures of Claude Allen and David Safavian from their posts, a few days before we hear of federal investigations?

Before we all get too excited over Hookergate … according to Larry Johnson, the rumor mill inside the CIA says Goss is probably not directly involved.

A former CIA buddy tells me that Porter’s main problem, however, is a key staffer who is linked to both Brent Wilkes and the CIA’s Executive Director, Dusty Foggo. My friend also said that it is highly likely that the Goss staffer did participate in the hooker extravaganza. Goss, politician that he is, probably recognized that even though he did not participate in the sexual escapades and poker games, his staffer’s participation created a huge problem for him that would be difficult to escape.

All we know for sure is that we don’t know for sure why Goss resigned. If the only reason for the resignation is Goss’s poor job performance — which is not usually a firing offense among the Bushies — why so abrupt?

The two reasons Bushies lose their jobs is (1) they’ve become — or are about to become — a political liability, or (2) they spoke out against the White House Official Version of Reality. We have to assume Goss was about to become a political liability and had to be bounced asap.

One other possibility is that Negroponte wants something from the CIA he wasn’t getting, And it’s something he wants right now. Time is of the essence. Here’s a wild card thought — could this something have to do with building a legal defense for Karl Rove’s role in Plamegate? Conventional wisdom says that if Rove’s going to be indicted, it’s going to happen within the next week or two. That’s just seat-of-the-pants speculation, of course. But Dick Cheney’s running battle with the CIA is at the heart of the Plame mess, and part of Goss’s mission was to bring the agency to heel.

NSA director General Michael Hayden is expected to be named as Goss’s replacement. Steve Soto writes that “Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld gain direct control of the CIA with Hayden’s ascension.” On the other hand, Hayden’s confirmation hearings will give Democrats lots of opportunity to grill Hayden over his creative application of the Fourth Amendment at the NSA.

Steve also touches on one of my favorite themes — Bush’s management “style.”

But in reading the Post’s accounts (one with Pincus, and one by Dana Priest) of the damage that Goss did to the Agency in a short period of time, one can see how awful of a manager Bush is. First, he selects and installs a man into the job who had no business there in the first place. Then, he finds that he isn’t happy with the guy he just selected. He then sits by while Goss and his former staff aides set about to destroy the Agency by running out or forcing into retirement many high-level and experienced staff. Instead of dealing with that problem, he installs another dark and immoral man as a buffer between him and Goss (Negroponte), instead of dealing with the problem itself. And then, after becoming unhappy with how Goss has made the Agency dysfunctional and handled several major problems, he uses Josh Bolten’s ascension as the cover to finally make a move, but again, by picking someone who will cause just as many problems because of his own inadequacies and ties to those who got Bush into this problem in the first place (Cheney and Rummy).

Bush is inept, and an incompetent manager, someone who would never have lasted in many major corporations or even in state government, let alone as leader of the free world.

Too Pathetic

Following up the story by David Schuster blogged about yesterday — righties have declared David Schuster is lying. And how do they know? Because he contradicts stuff said awhile back by (get this) Andrea Mitchell and Bob Woodward.

In other words, this reporter must be lying, because that reporter (in Woodward’s case, someone entangled in the mess more than he’d like to admit; in Mitchell’s case, someone with a well-established track record of scrambling facts) said something else.

What can one say but — holy bleep.

Ugliest post I’ve seen so far comes from this guy, who clearly doesn’t understand that Plame-Wilson was in operations, not analysis. And some of the comments are even uglier. In their sick, twisted little world, Plame-Wilson is the traitor because … well, because. She must have done something wrong. Why wasn’t she home with her twins?

Glenn Greenwald does the heavy lifting and addresses the Kool-Aiders. I don’t have the energy for it right now.

Hatching Out

“Let all the poisons that lurk in the mud hatch out.” — Claudius, “I, Claudius”

Every time some new information about the Bushies’ secret activities slips out, I think of that quote.

On tonight’s Hardball, MSNBC correspondent David Shuster reported (rush transcript from Raw Story):


This corroborates this story reported February 13 on Raw Story by Larisa Alexandrovna. In the original story, Alexandrovna wrote,

According to current and former intelligence officials, Plame Wilson, who worked on the clandestine side of the CIA in the Directorate of Operations as a non-official cover (NOC) officer, was part of an operation tracking distribution and acquisition of weapons of mass destruction technology to and from Iran.

Speaking under strict confidentiality, intelligence officials revealed heretofore unreported elements of Plame’s work. Their accounts suggest that Plame’s outing was more serious than has previously been reported and carries grave implications for U.S. national security and its ability to monitor Iran’s burgeoning nuclear program.

More background here.

Update: I just watched the re-broadcast of Hardball, and the transcript is accurate. That’s what Schuster said.

Fitz v. Karl

As a sure-enough leftie blogger I feel obligated to blog something about Karl Rove’s grand jury appearance yesterday, even though I don’t have any insights that somebody else didn’t blog first.

(Frankly, I am tired of being teased; I’m too old to stay on the edge of the seat of suspense this long. I long for a comfy and unambiguous seat with lots of pillows. I’ll let the young folks maintain the knife’s-edge anticipation until something substantive happens.)

Taylor Marsh says that when she wants to understand what’s going on with the Fitz & Karl show she reads Lawrence O’Donnell. OK, sounds good. And here’s the insight from O’Donnell:

Karl Rove’s return to the grand jury today could mean the end of the Rove investigation or the beginning of the Rove prosecution. It depends on who asked Rove to return. If Fitzgerald asked Rove to return to the grand jury, that means Fitzgerald thinks he doesn’t have enough for an indictment.

If Rove asked to return to the grand jury, that means Rove’s lawyer, Bob Luskin, believes an indictment is imminent and is sending his client back to make a final desperate attempt to avoid indictment.

Rove’s lawyer released a statement saying that Rove appeared “voluntarily and unconditionally at the request of Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald.” Hmm.

For a recap of past episodes of the Fitz & Karl show, see Jane Hamsher.

Witch Hunts

The war between the Bush Administration and the CIA continues. David Corn spotted this at the end of a Washington Post story on Mary McCarthy:

The White House also has recently barraged the agency with questions about the political affiliations of some of its senior intelligence officers, according to intelligence officials.

Hmm. Porter Goss, the news story says,

… personally oversaw the leak investigation that led to McCarthy’s dismissal, rather than asking the Justice Department to do it — as previous directors had requested in similar probes.

I wonder if Goss checked McCarthy’s political affiliations before he made her a target.

Even the agency’s employment policies have changed: Applicants are now asked more aggressively whether they have any friends in the news media, several agency employees said. And the hurdles to making public statements persist for those who have left: Former CIA agents report that the agency’s process for reviewing what they write about current events has recently become lengthier and more difficult.

If the Bushies had only been half as interested in catching Osama bin Laden as they are in gagging the CIA …

Speaking of McCarthy, head on over to Juan Cole’s place to play “All Right, Not All Right.” Example:

It IS all right for Bush campaign strategist Karl Rove to leak classified intelligence about the identity of Valerie Plame as an undercover CIA operative.

It is NOT all right for CIA employee Mary McCarthy to leak classified information and blow the whistle on secret torture prisons maintained by the US government in Eastern Europe.

See Glenn Greenwald, “Treason by Association” and “Eliminating all checks against lawbreaking.”

News Cycles

No More Mister Nice Guy wrote the blog post I was just about to write:

Life in the United States of Bushistan is now one permanent Swift-boat attack. The latest victim, Mary McCarthy, was sacked for blowing the whistle on the CIA’s torture gulag, and the sleaze attacks began almost before the news was announced.

Speaking of which, why was the news announced? I mean, why was it necessary to plaster McCarthy’s name, position in the CIA, etc. over the front page of every newspaper? Isn’t that in itself a damaging leak? Oh, I forgot – when the junta betrays CIA agents, it’s to “enable folks to see the truth” about why we need to destroy other countries. When anyone else leaks information on the crimes and misdeeds of the regime, it’s treason.

Anyway, no sooner was McCarthy in the news than the freeposphere triumphantly announced proof of her treason and America-hating: she donated to John Kerry in 2004. Okay, case closed! Off to Guano with her! Burn the witch! Burn the witch!

It’s fairly obvious why McCarthy’s getting the royal Swift Boat treatment. Between Bush’s tanking approval numbers and tomorrow’s CBS Sixty Minutes report on the Bushies’ cooked Iraq intelligence, the Bushies needed a diversion, a red herring, to keep the Bitter Enders in line. The McCarthy story is red meat, and the Right Blogosphere is eating it up like a pack of starving hyenas.

The 101st Fighting Keyboarders are working overtime today. Some of their more overheated posts include “First Traitor Nabbed!” and (I kid you not) “Did Mary McCarthy Send Joe Wilson To Niger?This blogger ties McCarthy directly to Joe Wilson, Sandy Berger, Valerie Plame, Patrick Fitzgerald. He predicts gleefully that McCarthy will turn on other leakers, that the Justice Department will target journalists next, and this summer we’ll all see Bush completely vindicated.

Clearly, the righties believe the accusations against McCarthy are just a plug pulled out of a dam, and now the waters of righteousness will spring forth and wash away all the nay-sayers and liberals and journalists and the rest of the traitors who doubt the glorious truth of Dear Leader.

Glenn Greenwald wrote

The CIA’s firing of the official who allegedly leaked the existence of Eastern European black prisons to Dana Priest of The Washington Post has prompted an orgy of celebration among Bush followers, who apparently believe that the dreams they harbor — whereby anyone who discloses information which results in political harm to the leader will be imprisoned — are about to be realized. The NSA leakers are next, they gleefully proclaim, followed by the whole parade of nefarious, traitorous “cockroaches” — including reporters — who have leaked and/or published information that resulted in embarrassment to The Commander-in-Chief in this Time of War.

(How could we have doubted Dear Leader? What is wrong with us? Oh, wait … we have brains. Sorry.)

Be sure to read the rest of Glenn’s post. He makes a lot of excellent points. For another sanity check, see Taylor Marsh

It’s too early to say if the story has legs or not, and the overheated imagination of the Keyboarders notwithstanding, I don’t believe I have enough information to make predictions about where the story will go next. But somehow I doubt that the 57 percent of Americans already disillusioned by Bush will find the story as compelling as do the Bitter Enders.

Interesting Times

You know you’re living in interesting times when news that the United States is seriously considering use of nuclear weapons against another country is not the top story.

In fact, the most linked-to article in the Blogosphere today seems to be this one, by Barton Gellman and Dafna Linzer of the Washington Post. Highlights:

As he drew back the curtain this week on the evidence against Vice President Cheney’s former top aide, Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald for the first time described a “concerted action” by “multiple people in the White House” — using classified information — to “discredit, punish or seek revenge against” a critic of President Bush’s war in Iraq. …

… One striking feature of that decision — unremarked until now, in part because Fitzgerald did not mention it — is that the evidence Cheney and Libby selected to share with reporters had been disproved months before.

Regarding the “sixteen words“:

United Nations inspectors had exposed the main evidence for the uranium charge as crude forgeries in March 2003, but the Bush administration and British Prime Minister Tony Blair maintained they had additional, secret evidence they could not disclose. In June, a British parliamentary inquiry concluded otherwise, delivering a scathing critique of Blair’s role in promoting the story. With no ally left, the White House debated whether to abandon the uranium claim and became embroiled in bitter finger-pointing about whom to fault for the error. A legal brief filed for Libby last month said that “certain officials at the CIA, the White House, and the State Department each sought to avoid or assign blame for intelligence failures relating to Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.”

It was at that moment that Libby, allegedly at Cheney’s direction, sought out at least three reporters to bolster the discredited uranium allegation. Libby made careful selections of language from the 2002 estimate, quoting a passage that said Iraq was “vigorously trying to procure uranium” in Africa.

This isn’t news to most of us who hang out in the Left Blogosphere, of course, but it’s nice to see the evil MSM finally catching on after, what, three years?

The Right and its allies are trying to bury the central issue of this case under truckloads of verbiage — e.g., the President didn’t do anything illegal; the President didn’t specifically direct Libby to “out” Valerie Plame; the Sixteen Words were not technically a lie, etc. The Washington Post itself is running an editorial today claiming the NIE leak was “good.” “President Bush was right to approve the declassification of parts of a National Intelligence Estimate about Iraq three years ago in order to make clear why he had believed that Saddam Hussein was seeking nuclear weapons,” it says. [UPDATE: See SusanG]

But that is not why the NIE was declassified. Bush didn’t go to war because the NIE told him Saddam Hussein was seeking nuclear weapons, because that same NIE said the “intelligence” in back of that claim was suspect. As Gellman and Linzer write, the “evidence” that was leaked had already been disproved months before.

It is obvious that the leaking was not about making anything clear, but about spreading disinformation for political purposes. It was, in fact, about making things muddy.

But as another indication of how interesting our times have become, the central issue is no longer about Valerie Plame or Joe Wilson. As Ron Chusid writes in the Democratic Daily Blog, the goal of the Bush Administration leakers was to discredit anyone who criticized Bush. It was not about explaining the President’s reasons for invading Iraq; it was not about setting records straight; it was not about preventing Matt Cooper from publishing inaccurate information; it was about shutting down legitimate criticism of Administration policies. Trashing Valerie Plame’s career and exposing ongoing intelligence operations were just collateral damage.

And, ultimately, it was about deceiving the American people.

Joe Wilson was on ABC’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos this morning, and Wilson said that if President Bush wants to salvage his reputation there are two things he should do. First, he and Cheney should release the transcripts of their interviews with Patrick Fitzgerald about Plame. Second, since recent court filings have revealed that “multiple people” in the White House took part in the Wilson-Plame smear campaign, Bush should find out who those “multiple people” are and fire them.

It won’t happen, of course, and I’m sure Wilson knows that.

See also: Larry Johnson, “George W. Bush, Rogue President” and “George Bush, A Slam Dunk Liar“; Murray Waas, “What Bush Was Told About Iraq.”

Update: Michael Smith, London Times, “‘Forgers’ of key Iraq war contract named

As the Lies Unravel

John Dean has a new column at FindLaw that separates fact from assumption about Bush’s role in Plamegate. In particular, Dean challenges the assumption made by most news reports that the President didn’t do anything illegal when he authorized leaks as Scooter Libby alleged. Later in this post I point to allegations from Knight Ridder reporters that the right-wing media echo chamber, in particular Stephen Hayes of The Weekly Standard, was a participant in a White House disinformation campaign. But I want to address the legal/illegal question first.

The new leak revelation “has been accompanied by a number of public misstatements, which call for correction,” writes Dean. One of these misstatements is that Bush authorized the release of Valerie Plame’s covert status at the CIA. I haven’t personally seen anyone make that claim, but I guess Dean has. In fact, Fitzgerald’s filing says on page 27 that the President didn’t know what Libby and Cheney were up to regarding Plame (seeplausible deniability“). “The filing does indicate that the President authorized the release of classified information,” Dean says, “but it was different information — a National Intelligence Estimate that had been classified pursuant to an executive order.” Dean also notes that what Libby told the Grand Jury about what Bush allegedly said to Cheney is hearsay.

On the other hand …

Dean says it is not necessarily true that the President didn’t do anything illegal, as many news stories claim. Here’s the critical part of Dean’s column:

Assuming that Libby’s testimony is accurate, did the President do anything wrong by so declassifying the NIE? Given the fact that the national security classification system is created by executive order of the president, it would appear logical that the president has authority to unilaterally and selective declassify anything he might wish. However, that is not the way any president has ever written the executive orders governing these activities. To the contrary, the orders set forth rather detailed declassification procedures.

In addition, there is law that says that when a president issues an executive order he must either amend that executive order, or follow it just as others within the executive branch are required to do. At present, we have so few facts it is difficult to know what precisely Bush did and how he did it, and thus whether or not this law is applicable. There is also the problem that no one has standing in court to challenge a president’s refusal to follow his own rules. But voters may take note of the disposition of this administration to play by the rules, and put a Democratic Congress in place to keep an eye on the last two years of the Bush/Cheney presidency.

What is apparent, however, based on Fitzgerald’s filing, is that no one other than Bush, Cheney, Libby and apparently Addington was aware of this unilateral and selective declassification – if, indeed, the NIE was declassified. The secrecy surely suggests cover-up. For example, Fitzgerald notes that Libby “consciously decided not to make [then Deputy National Security Adviser] Hadley aware of the fact that defendant [Libby] himself had already been disseminating the NIE by leaking it to reporters while Mr. Hadley sought to get it formally declassified.” (Also, CIA Director George Tenet apparently was not aware of the partial declassification by Bush.)

Whatever authority Bush may or may not have had, however, it is crystal clear that Vice President Cheney did not have any authority to unilaterally and selectively declassify the NIE.

Recently, Cheney made the public claim (to Brit Hume of Fox News) that he had authority to declassify national security information. Learning of this, Congressman Henry Waxman asked the Congressional Reference Service of the Library of Congress, which issues non-partisan reports, whether Cheney was right. CRS found that the Vice President has limited declassification authority, generally speaking. And their report shows Cheney had no authority in this instance — only in situations where the Vice President had been the authority to classify the material in the first place, could the Vice President have the authority to unilaterally declassify it.

There’s more. Fitzgerald’s filing implies that the NIE was not declassified at the time it was leaked, but retroactively (boldface mine):

Fitzgerald reports that Libby “testified that he was specifically authorized … to disclose the key judgments of the classified NIE to Miller” because the information “was ‘pretty definite’ against Ambassador Wilson… and that the Vice President thought that it was ‘very important’ for the key judgments of the NIE to come out.”

When Libby raised the problem of discussing the NIE with Miller because of its classified status, the filing reports that Libby “testified that the Vice President later advised him that the President had authorized” Libby to disclose the relevant portions of the NIE. (Emphasis added.)

The word “later” here, in the filing, is crucially ambiguous: Did the President authorized Libby’s actions before Libby actually revealed the classified information to Miller, or afterward? The distinction may make a large difference in Libby’s defense: If the authorization was retroactive, then Libby initially revealed classified information without permission to do so; thus, he would have reason to lie.

In addition, Cheney’s counsel (now Chief of Staff) “opined that Presidential authorization to publicly disclose a document amounted to a declassification of the document.” (Emphasis added.)

Again, the language here is telling. The filing says that the President’s actions “amounted to” declassification, not that the President had unilaterally declassified the material. To the contrary, it appears the material was not declassified for several days.

So, based on what we know so far, we cannot say whether the President did or didn’t do anything illegal when he authorized the NIE information to be released. It appears Cheney, on the other hand, exceeded his declassification authority.

Even if the President was within the law, that doesn’t mean he was within the right. Warren Strobel and Ron Hutcheson of Knight Ridder write that the new revelation is part of “a pattern of selective leaks of secret intelligence to further the administration’s political agenda.”

Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and other top officials have reacted angrily at unauthorized leaks, such as the exposure of a domestic wiretapping program and a network of secret CIA prisons, both of which are now the subject of far-reaching investigations.

But secret information that supports their policies, particularly about the Iraq war, has surfaced everywhere from the U.N. Security Council to major newspapers and magazines. Much of the information that the administration leaked or declassified, however, has proved to be incomplete, exaggerated, incorrect or fabricated.

In other words, they selectively leak lies and misinformation to throw media off the scent of what they’re really up to.

On Friday, White House officials said that the administration declassified information to rebut charges that Bush was manipulating intelligence.

Without specifically acknowledging Bush’s actions in the Libby case, White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters: “There were irresponsible and unfounded accusations being made against the administration suggesting that we had manipulated or misused that intelligence. We felt it was very much in the public interest that what information could be declassified be declassified.”

Except that what the Administration selectively declassified (if indeed it was declassified) and leaked was false, and the “irresponsible and unfounded accusations” were, in fact, true. And the Bush Administration knew it at the time. Which means they sure as hell know now, even if they won’t admit it.

Strobel and Hutcheson provide a list of Bushie-generated misinformation that I won’t repeat here. However, I got a kick out of this bit toward the end of the article —

In November 2003, the conservative magazine The Weekly Standard published highly classified raw intelligence purporting to a show a link between Saddam and al-Qaida.

The Pentagon disavowed the report. But in early January 2004, Cheney told the Rocky Mountain News newspaper that the magazine report was the “best source of information” about the Saddam/al-Qaida connection. That connection has never been proved.

I’m pretty sure this is the article in question. I remember this article well; it was linked to robustly by the rightie blogosphere and cited by many other news sources as the definitive proof that Saddam was in league with al Qaeda. But it appears that Stephen Hayes was filling the Judy Miller role for the Weekly Standard — Cheney would dictate to Hayes what to write, and then later Cheney would cite the Hayes article as if it were independent corroboration of his assertions. And the righties embraced it all as gospel.

Who says the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy is a myth?

Speaking of the VRWC, the Bush Bitter Enders are working overtime to crank out excuses. I haven’t surveyed the entire Right Blogosphere, but the dumbest excuse I’ve seen so far comes from Riehl World View. Truly, the Riehl post is a study in pathological denial, but the best part is from this old NewsMax post about alleged Clinton Administration leaks about Paula Jones and Linda Tripp! Yes, bless us, the Clinton did it too dodge! And, of course, discrediting Linda Tripp about a BJ is so much more significant than spreading disinformation about national security intelligence and a war that is tearing the nation apart. Oh, wait …

See also: The Reaction, “Follow the Mendacity

Presidential Authorizations

Murray Waas:

Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff has testified that President Bush authorized him to disclose the contents of a highly classified intelligence assessment to the media to defend the Bush administration’s decision to go to war with Iraq, according to papers filed in federal court on Wednesday by Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the CIA leak case.

Here’s the document itself. Below is, I think, the critical part, which is from pages 19-21. I’ll start with the paragraph before to provide a bit of context. Fitzgerald is explaining why Libby doesn’t need all the classified files he says he needs in order to defend himself.

At some point after the publication of the July 6, 2003 Op Ed by Mr. Wilson, Vice President Cheney, defendant’s immediate superior, expressed concerns to defendant regarding whether Mr. Wilson’s trip was legitimate or whether it was in effect a junket set up by Mr. Wilson’s wife. And, in considering “context,” there was press reporting that the Vice President had dispatched Mr. Wilson on the trip (which in fact was not accurate). Disclosing the belief that Mr. Wilson’s wife sent him on the Niger trip was one way for defendant to contradict the assertion that the Vice President had done so, while at the same time undercutting Mr. Wilson’s credibility if Mr. Wilson were perceived to have received the assignment on account of nepotism. The context for defendant’s disclosures in the course of defending the Office of the Vice President will not be fleshed out in any files of CIA or State Department or NSC employees that might reflect what they thought. Put slightly differently, the thoughts and impressions of CIA, State Department, and NSC employees, absent any evidence that these thoughts and impressions were conveyed to defendant, simply cannot shed light on defendant’s state of mind at the time of his alleged criminal conduct. See United States v. Secord, 726 F.Supp. 845, 848-49 (D.D.C. 1989) (“The subjective state of mind which Defendant Secord wishes to prove could have arisen solely from conversations in which he participated, correspondence which he himself read, meetings which he himself attended. . . . The point is simply that Defendant’s state of mind can come only from what he hears or sees. Defendant is entitled to discover materials which evidence his personal knowledge about or belief in the legality of the Enterprise.”).

Nor would such documents of the CIA, NSC and the State Department place in context the importance of the conversations in which defendant participated. Defendant’s participation in a critical conversation with Judith Miller on July 8 (discussed further below) occurred only after the Vice President advised defendant that the President specifically had authorized defendant to disclose certain information in the NIE. Defendant testified that the circumstances of his conversation with reporter Miller – getting approval from the President through the Vice President to discuss material that would be classified but for that approval – were unique in his recollection. Defendant further testified that on July 12, 2003, he was specifically directed by the Vice President to speak to the press in place of Cathie Martin (then the communications person for the Vice President) regarding the NIE and Wilson. Defendant was instructed to provide what was for him an extremely rare “on the record” statement, and to provide “background” and “deep background” statements, and to provide information contained in a document defendant understood to be the cable authored by Mr. Wilson. During the conversations that followed on July 12, defendant discussed Ms. Wilson’s employment with both Matthew Cooper (for the first time) and Judith Miller (for the third time). Even if someone else in some other agency thought that the controversy about Mr. Wilson and/or his wife was a trifle, that person’s state of mind would be irrelevant to the importance and focus defendant placed on the matter and the importance he attached to the surrounding conversations he was directed to engage in by the Vice President.

Likewise, documents from other agencies that defendant never saw will not provide context for defendant’s grand jury testimony regarding these events. Defendant testified that he did not discuss the CIA employment of Ambassador Wilson’s wife with reporter Judith Miller on July 8, 2003 and that he could not have done so because he had forgotten by that time that he had learned about Ms. Wilson’s CIA employment a month earlier from the Vice President. Nor could such documents explain defendant’s testimony disclaiming having discussed Ms. Wilson’s employment with various other government officials prior to July 10, 2003, or his testimony that he was “taken aback” when journalist Tim Russert asked about Ms. Wilson’s employment with the CIA on July 12, 2003. Accordingly, none of the documents requested by defendant could possibly support the defense that the specific perjury specifications are mere “snippets” of conversation he “may have misremembered.”

Eriposte noticed some oddities on page 23.

[Update: Paul Kiel finds something significant on page 24; see also Josh Marshall.]

This doesn’t mean Bush was in on Plamegate from the beginning, however, and the document doesn’t say that Bush’s authorization was specifically about Joe Wilson. Fitz writes on p. 27:

During this time, while the President was unaware of the role that the Vice President’s Chief of Staff and National Security Adviser had in fact played in disclosing Ms. Wilson’s CIA employment, defendant implored White House officials to have a public statement issued exonerating him.

The righties will make much of that sentence, but they will miss the point. As Waas explained, the President authorized disclosure of sensitive ingelligence to defend his decision to go to war in Iraq. It wouldn’t’ surprise me if Bush were kept out of the loop of the Plame-Wilson smear — it’s the old “plausible deniability” game — but the charge is that Bush authorized release of sensitive intelligence for purely political purposes. I assume this is not illegal — the President can disclose anything he wants [Update: See Josh Marshall on this point.] — but it’s still sleazy.


One former senior official said: “They [the leakers] might have tipped people to our eavesdropping capacities, and other serious sources and methods issues. But to what end? The information was never presented to the public because it was bunk in the first place.”

These are the same people who won’t submit to FISA oversight because this might magically permit “the enemy” to know how the NSA conducts its data mining, or whatever it’s doing.

See also: Bob Schieffer rips the White House