Tag Archives: CIA Scandal

News & Comment

Even Plame’s Neighbors Didn’t Know She was CIA


Marc Lefkowitz, who lives across the street from Plame, told Reuters two FBI agents asked him on Monday if he knew about Plame’s CIA work before her identity was leaked to the press in 2003. Lefkowitz said he told them: “I didn’t know.”

Two lawyers involved in the case said such questioning could indicate that prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald intended to charge administration officials for the leak itself, in addition to possible charges for easier-to-prove crimes like perjury and obstruction of justice…

Lefkowitz said Monday was the first time he had been questioned by the FBI in connection with his neighbor. The agents told him they were talking to other neighbors as well…

White House officials were anxiously awaiting the outcome [of the investigation] since any indicted officials are expected to resign immediately. If there are indictments, Bush is likely to make a public statement to try to reassure Americans he is committed to honesty and integrity in government.

News & Comment

Is There a Plame Case If There Was No Crime?

Funny thing about the Internet — stuff, once put on it, never goes away and can circulate back into relevance just when, well, it’s relevant.

Take this Washington Post article from Jan. 12, 2005. It was written by Victoria Toensing, who was chief counsel to the Senate intelligence committee from 1981 to 1984 and served as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Reagan administration, and Bruce Sanford, a Washington lawyer specializing in First Amendment issues. Together, they drafted and negotiated the scope of the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Act, and thereby claim to be able to call “a timeout on a misguided and mechanical investigation in which there is serious doubt that a crime was even committed.”

Here’s a summary of their points:

  • In passing the IIP Act, Congress did not intend to prosecute a reporter who, in the course of exposing wrongdoing once or twice published the name of a covert agent. Which is why Robert Novak remains unindicted.
  • Congress did not intend for government employees to be vulnerable to prosecution for an unintentional or careless leak about an undercover identity. Which is why Scooter Libby and Karl Rove are as yet unindicted.
  • The agent in question must be classified as undercover , and must have been assigned to duty outside the U.S. currently or in the past five years. Valerie Plame was stationed at CIA HQ Langley.
  • The law requires that the disclosure be made intentionally, with the knowledge that the government is taking “affirmative measures to conceal [the agent’s] relationship” to the United States. There is little proof that the CIA was aggressively trying to protect Plame’s covert status.
  • When Joseph Wilson was sent to Niger by the CIA, he was not required to sign a standard confidentiality agreement, which enabled him to write the op-ed piece that undermined the Bush administration’s WMD argument.

The writers note that Chief U.S. District Judge Thomas Hogan, who is overseeing the grand jury, should call on the CIA to prove that it was affirmatively trying to protect Plame’s covert status as a means of ascertaining whether there indeed was a crime committed.

Toensing did work for Reagan, so one could suspect that she is partisan, but the argument does seem to hold water, and at the least should make us examine our assumptions about this case.

News & Comment

Plame Name Game: What Did Bush Know, and When Did He Know It?

Prevaricator in Chief: The gang that can’t shoot straight now can’t keep it’s story straight. As we’ve said before, it strains credulity that President Bush – our first “CEO President” – did not demand to know exactly who said what to whom about CIA agent Valerie Plame within hours after White House propagandist Bob Novak revealed her secret identity to the world back in July 2003.

Nobody – not even Mr. Bush – is that incurious. Nonetheless, in public statements since – and perhaps in unsworn testimony to the prosecutor investigating the treasonous leak – Bush has claimed to be ignorant of the dirty deeds done by his own Flying Monkeys.

But now the veneer of ignorance supporting the President’s plausible deniability appears to beeroding. A leak to the New York Daily News reveals that Bush knew about Rove’s role in the scandal by the fall of 2003, at the very latest:

An angry President Bush rebuked chief political guru Karl Rove two years ago for his role in the Valerie Plame affair, sources told the Daily News.

“He made his displeasure known to Karl,” a presidential counselor told The News. “He made his life miserable about this.”

Bush has nevertheless remained doggedly loyal to Rove, who friends and even political adversaries acknowledge is the architect of the President’s rise from baseball owner to leader of the free world.


Other sources confirmed, however, that Bush was initially furious with Rove in 2003 when his deputy chief of staff conceded he had talked to the press about the Plame leak.

Whether Bush learned about Rove’s shenanigans in July 2003 or three months later is immaterial. Now we have a leak from the President’s staff admitting for the first time that Bush knew what had been done in his name. This renders disingenious everything Bush has done and said – no matter how carefully parsed – especially his unsworn testimony to investigators on July 24, 2004.

News & Comment

Amnesia Epidemic Sweeps Capitol: Like Judy, Rove Can’t Remember Who Gave Him Plame’s Name

Something in the water: Forget bird flu, there’s been an outbreak of chronic amnesia in Washington, D.C. First New York Times Judith Miller testified before the CIA Leak grand jury that she could not remember who gave her the name of CIA secret agent Valerie Flame, er, Plame – now President Bush’s top Flying Monkey Karl Rove says he can’t remember who first said her name to him either.

What are the chances of two witnesses (suspects?) in this political scandal having a memory lapse about essentially the very same thing: the identity of the person who gave them the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame?

We learn of Rove’s memory lapse, ironically, from an account of his grand jury testimony leaked to the Associated Press:

During one of his grand jury appearances, Rove was shown testimony from Libby suggesting the two had discussed with each other information they had gotten about Wilson’s wife from reporters in early July 2003.

Rove responded that Libby’s testimony was consistent with his general recollection that he had first learned Wilson’s wife worked for the CIA from reporters or government officials who had talked with reporters.

Rove testified that he never intended any of his comments to reporters about Wilson’s wife to serve as confirmation of Plame’s identity. Rove “has always clearly left open that he first heard this information from Libby,” said one person directly familiar with Rove’s grand jury testimony.

That person said Rove testified he believes he heard general information about Wilson’s wife on two occasions before he talked with reporters in July 2003 and then learned her name from syndicated columnist Robert Novak.

Rove testified he probably first heard of Wilson’s wife in a casual social setting outside the White House in the spring of 2003 but could not remember who provided the information.

What are the chances of two witnesses (suspects?) in this political scandal having a memory lapse about essentially the very same thing: the identity of the person who gave them the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame?

Answer: Zero to none.

News & Comment

New, Unbelievable White House Spin: Rove Lied to Bush about Leaking Plame’s Name

They’ve got to be kidding: Last Sunday, George Stephanapolous dropped a bombshell on his ABC show when he said that a source told him that both the President and Vice President were aware of the efforts of their flying monkeys – including Karl Rove, Scooter Libby and others – to smear ambassador Joe Wilson that led to the leaking the secret identity of his CIA agent wife, Valerie Plame. Now we get this malarkey from the spin room at the White House:

Maybe the Unsmart Americans who comprise Bush’s base will buy this load of crap but count us out! What did the president know – and when did he know it?

Senior aide Karl Rove denied to President Bush that he engaged in an effort to disclose the identity of a covert CIA operative to discredit her husband’s criticism of Iraq policy, say people familiar with Rove’s statements in a criminal investigation…

Beginning two years ago, the White House flatly denied that Rove had been involved in unlawfully leaking the identity of covert CIA officer Valerie Plame, the wife of former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

The White House denials collapsed in July amid the disclosure of Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper’s conversations in July 2003 about Wilson’s wife with Rove and I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff.

Bush asked Rove in the fall of 2003 to assure him he was not involved in an effort to divulge Plame’s identity and punish Wilson, and the longtime confidant assured the president so, people familiar with Rove’s account say…

Bush’s discussion with Rove did not get into specifics concerning Rove’s conversations in July 2003 with syndicated columnist Robert Novak and Cooper, who wrote stories identifying Plame, the people familiar with Rove’s account said.

Maybe the Unsmart Americans who comprise Bush’s base will buy this load of crap but count us out! What did the president know – and when did he know it?

News & Comment

If It Wasn’t Cheney or Valerie Plame, Who Sent Joe Wilson to Niger?

Rove, Scooter Libby, Ari Fleisher and others had an irresistable impulse to smear Joe Wilson simply because he dared to challenge them in public, and even though they and their Dear Leader were, in fact, wrong.

After President Bush was caught lying in his 2003 State of the Union speech about Saddam’s nuclear capabilities – the infamous “16 words” about Niger and yellow cake uranium – a Rovian blame game was contrived that successfully confused and blurred the responsibility for the falsehood in the minds of the media and the rest of us.

(Ultimately, the Administration laid the blame on Stephen Hadley, an assistant to Condi Rice, who was National Security Adviser at the time. In classic Bush fashion, rather than being punished, Hadley was promoted. He was given Rice’s job when she moved over to State.)

However, a secondary blame game also ensued that has still not been resolved – and that has now become a central issue in the investigation into the Bush CIA Leak scandal, according to the Washington Post:

The origin of Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV’s trip to Niger in 2002 to check out intelligence reports that Saddam Hussein was attempting to purchase uranium has become a contentious side issue to the inquiry by special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald…

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News & Comment

Scooter Libby Said He Met with Judith Miller about Plame

The new disclosure that Miller and Libby met on July 8, 2003, raises questions regarding claims by President Bush that he and everyone in his administration have done everything possible to assist Fitzgerald’s grand-jury probe.

American Prospect has a new leak in the Bush CIA Leak investigation – this time not from Karl Rove’s attorney but from “legal sources familiar with” the testimony of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.

[Libby] has told federal investigators that he met with New York Times reporter Judith Miller on July 8, 2003, and discussed CIA operative Valerie Plame, according to legal sources familiar with Libby’s account.

The meeting between Libby and Miller has been a central focus of the investigation by special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald as to whether any Bush administration official broke the law by unmasking Plame’s identity or relied on classified information to discredit former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, according to sources close to the case as well as documents filed in federal court by Fitzgerald.

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News & Comment

Novak Became Fair Game After He Broke His Silence on Plame

Jay Rosen at PressThink has a good analysis of the imbroglio that led to the on-air meltdown of rightwing propagandist Bob Novak earlier this week.

Rosen points out that in the two years since he published the name of CIA spy Valerie Plame, Novak had maintained a strict policy of not commenting on the case – until last Monday when Novak broke his silence – in his own column – to deny assertions by Bob Harlow, a former CIA official, who said he warned Novak not to publish Plame’s name in his July 2003 column. Novak complained in his column on Monday that the CIA official had not warned him enough. (He should have said, “Bob, Plame’s identity is extra-super-secret,” we suppose.)

Here’s Rosen’s reasoning:

Novak, in order to counter the suggestion that he had been properly warned but went ahead anyway — which he said would be “inexcusable for any journalist and particularly a veteran of 48 years in Washington” — decided to take up his pen. Ladies and gentlemen, he said, people have got to know whether their columnist is a crook. Or a jerk. Or a tool. Did I go ahead with the name of a CIA covert operative despite being warned? No, I did not.

Old Novak rules: sorry fellas, can’t talk. New rules: Novak chooses when. When to take the Fifth on advice of counsel, when to ignore counsel and respond to the news with his own explanations of what happened to reveal Plame’s name.

This, I believe, is the real cause of Thursday’s break down of professional discipline on air. The legitimacy of Novak’s exemption from questioning had collapsed earlier in the week. Ed Henry knew it and was ready with that news. Novak was not ready to receive it. So he invented an out.

News & Comment

Plame Leak: Why Time Inc. Caved

In a long, comprehensive (and free on-line) page one article in the Wall Street Journal the reporters explore “the legal differences between defending an individual and defending a corporation.”

Time Inc. technically owned an electronic file that contained Mr. Cooper’s notes, he says. As a result, the parent company could potentially be held in contempt of court and forced to pay large fines if its magazine and reporter didn’t cooperate.

Ms. Miller, by contrast, apparently kept personal possession of her notes, and the Times’s view is that it never had them.

Here’s the legal difference in a nutshell: corporations don’t go to jail, people do.

News & Comment

Finally, A Plame Game Explanation We All Can Understand

From yesterday’s Chicago Tribune comes A Layman’s Guide to the Valerie Plame Affair by Garrison Keillor, an author and the host of the radio program, “A Prairie Home Companion”:

I feel it’s time for me to step forward and tell what I know about Karl Rove’s conversation with columnist Robert Novak in which Mr. Novak reportedly told Mr. Rove that CIA operative Valerie Plame had been responsible for her husband, Joseph Wilson, going to Niger to debunk the White House’s claim that Saddam Hussein was shopping for uranium in Africa to make nuclear weapons and that’s why we invaded Iraq, and Mr. Rove said, “Yes, I’ve heard that too.” Mr. Rove has been accused of revealing the identity of a covert intelligence officer. This simply isn’t true.

I happened to be in Mr. Rove’s office when the phone rang. I was there on behalf of my publisher, to see if Mr. Rove knows enough to make him worth a $6 million advance on his memoirs. (Answer: Not really.) He picked up the phone and the voice at the other end sounded like a rat trapped in a coffee can. “Novak,” whispered Mr. Rove and he pretended to stick a finger down his throat. He listened for several minutes. “Yes, I’ve heard that too,” he said.

As he spoke to Novak, Mr. Rove wrote on a notepad, “Rosebud knows”–“Rosebud” being Vice President Dick Cheney’s code name–and winked at me.

This raised a question in my mind: Did Rove know Ms. Plame had taken the identity of Mr. Cheney during an arrhythmia episode at Walter Reed and that a heavily sedated vice president had been flown by the CIA to Riyadh as Ms. Plame donned a latex-padded suit and took his place? She quickly discovered that the uranium was stored at the Whitewater property once owned by the Clintons and then deeded to Kofi Annan and used as a supply depot for black helicopters. She tried to warn Mr. Clinton and the next day he had that mysterious “bypass” operation after which he suddenly got chummy with ex-CIA chief George H.W. Bush and the two flew off to Southeast Asia like in an old Crosby-Hope “Road” picture.

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