But I have to point out that this isn't the core issue that should be at stake. Several weeks ago the Times of London revealed the "Downing Street Minutes", a 2002 document of an internal conversation by high-ranking British Officials stating their concern after communicating with their American counterparts (including CIA director George Tenet and then NSA Director Condoleeza Rice) that U.S. was determined to go to war with Iraq, and that the "[wmd intelligence] facts were being fixed around [that] policy".
How do you "Fix Facts"? Well, simply put you create false facts - lies - then you engage in an operation of suppressing the truth in order to bolster those lies, and that is exactly what Rove-gate actually is - the coverup of lies which were fabricated to "fix the facts".
Lies of this type are essentially part of a chain, each new lie is an attempt to disguise a previous lie - and the beginning of this particular chain-of-lies starts with the forged Niger/Yellow-cake documents
What we need to do is follow the chain by establishing the timeline of events.
According to at least one CIA counter-terrorism chief, the first link in that chain, the original Niger documents, may been forged inside the US by expatriate Iraqi's such as Ahmed Chalabi and his supporters in the Iraqi National Congress (INC), where it was then funnelled through Italy to give it apparent legitimacy (like a money launderer attempt to "clean his cash") and feed back to U.S. intelligence. I can hear those right-wingers now "See Saddam tried to buy Uranium, therefore we have to take him out." Essentially this is where the famed "16 words" (The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa) began to find their way ultimately into the President's 2003 State of the Union address.
This is where the cover-up begins, for in order for the President's scare tactic of "Saddam almost has the bomb" to function - we can't have anyone with any significant standing saying "No, he doesn't". And if we do - that person and their credibility has to be destroyed. Weaknesses have to be exploited. And weakness number one? Apparently Wilson's trip while requested by the CIA, was not requested specifically by George Tenet or the Vice President and subsequently neither of them (allegedly) paid any attention to his findings.
In the Financial Times it was claimed that Wilson's report never reached key White House Eyes:
On the other hand, the BBC reported that Wilson report was sent up the chain of command and indeed, to the White House itself just a month after his return in March of 2002.
"Bush aides 'never aware' CIA envoy found Niger reports untrue"
The top people at the National Security Council were also said by a White House official to be ignorant of Mr Wilson's findings. Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, her deputy, and Bob Joseph, the director for counter-proliferation, did not see Mr Wilson's findings, the official said.
Democratic Senator John Rockefeller of Virginia, vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said yesterday that Mr Tenet and the CIA "have been made to take the fall to shield the President and his advisers". The very public role of Ms Rice in putting the blame on Mr Tenet was "dishonourable", he said in the Los Angeles Times, adding that he guessed she "had a lot more to do with this mistake than Tenet did".
But the CIA official has said that a former US diplomat had already established the claim was false in March 2002 - and that the information had been passed on to government departments, including the White House, well before Mr Bush mentioned it in the speech.So did Tenet really do nothing?
But a former US diplomat, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, went on the record at the weekend to say that he had travelled to Africa to investigate the uranium claims and found no evidence to support them. Now the CIA official has told the BBC that Mr Wilson's findings had been passed onto the White House as early as March 2002.
Four months later in July of 2002, the Downing Street Meeting takes place after Tenet and Rice had talked to Sir Richard Dearlove (then head of Mi-6) and Jack Straw (British Foreign Secretary). At this point in time, Dearlove makes it clear that the Bush Administration is planning to go to war with Iraq no matter what (perhaps this claim is made - obstensibly by Tenet - because he is aware of Wilson's findings in Niger and also aware that the White House is deliberately ignoring that information) which Dearlove dutifully reports to Tony Blair - while at the same time President Bush is claiming to the American people that he will only attack Iraq as the "last possible resort". Dearlove isn't clear about whether or not George Tenet is neccesarily happy with the President's strategy, but by looking at Tenet's subsequent actions - it appears he is not.
Former CIA Director
"President Defends Allegation On Iraq; Bush Says CIA's Doubts Followed Jan. 28 Address"Yet on January 20, 2003 the fateful 16 words - lies - were uttered by the President as he addressed the nation during the last few months before the declaration of war.
The Washington Post
Rice was asked a month ago about Bush's State of the Union uranium claim on ABC's "This Week" and replied: "The intelligence community did not know at the time or at levels that got to us that there was serious questions about this report." But senior administration officials acknowledged over the weekend that Tenet argued personally to White House officials, including deputy national security adviser Stephen Hadley, that the allegation should not be used in the October speech, four months before the State of the Union address.
Apparently it's all Stephen Hadley's fault, at least that's the "spin" on it
"National Security Aide Says He's to Blame for Speech Error"
The New York Times
The deputy adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, a critical behind-the-scenes player in the Bush White House, told reporters that while he received the memorandums before the president gave a speech about Iraq in October, he had no memory of the warning three months later when the issue came up again in the State of the Union address. He said the two memorandums had been discovered in the last 72 hours.
Looking shaken, he said, "I should have asked that the 16 words be taken out" of the State of the Union address, and added, "I failed in that responsibility."
And at this point in time, it's already too late - the State of the Union has already occured as has the fateful Congressional passage of HJ 141 authorizing the President to use "all neccesary means" to bring Saddam into compliance with all relevent UN Security Council Resolutions.
But Joe Wilson just won't go away.
The Iraq War Official begins in March of 2003, and all the while Wilson is working behind the scenes trying to get traction on the fact that the findings of his Niger trip remain in direct contradiction of the President's claims in the State of the Union. Not being a partisan, and having been a former member of President G.H.W. Bush's diplomatic team, Wilson doesn't immediately blow the whistle. Instead he tries to work through his contacts within the government and eventually he draws enough attention that someone in the State department decides he needs to be taken care of.
On June 10th 2002, a classified document is drafted by the State Department concerning the investigation of Niger-Uranium which in an offhand remark that indicates that Joseph Wilson's trip to Niger had been instigated by his wife Valerie Plame, who also worked at the CIA.
Meanwhile Wilson is still keeping busy and starting to make noises with the press. Two days after the State Department report fingering his wife as the reason for his trip is written, Walter Pincus at the Washington Post first publically reveals Wilson's trip
"CIA Did Not Share Doubt on Iraq Data; Bush Used Report Of Uranium Bid"Still not satisfied by the Administration response, Wilson finally goes completely public on July 6, 2003 and pens his editorial "What I Didn't Find in Africa" in The New York Times
"...the CIA in early February 2002 dispatched a retired U.S. ambassador to the country to investigate the claims, according to the senior U.S. officials and the former government official, who is familiar with the event. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity and on condition that the name of the former ambassador not be disclosed."
At this point the counter-attack, using the groundwork which had been establish in the INR memo, begins in earnest as documented by PollyUSA at Dailykos, key elements of that still classified document begin to find their way into the press, apparently by way at least partially via Karl Rove -- including the fact that Valeria Plame is a CIA employee, but perhaps unwittingly also revealing her indentify as an undercover operative.
Wall Street Journal.The main problem with this State department document, and the counterspin strategy it champions, is the fact that Plame's involvement in the decision to send Wilson to Niger has been repeated refuted by the CIA, and further - the CIA has claimed that the apparent author of the document was not even in attendance of the meeting in question between the CIA and Wilson at Langley.
An internal government memo addresses some of the mysteries at the center of the White House leak investigation and could help investigators in the search for who disclosed the identity of a Central Intelligence Agency operative, according to two people familiar with the memo. The memo, prepared by U.S. intelligence personnel, details a meeting in early 2002 where CIA officer Valerie Plame and other intelligence officials gathered to brainstorm about how to verify reports that Iraq had sought uranium yellowcake from Niger
Washing Post December 2003
CIA officials have challenged the accuracy of the INR document, the official said, because the agency officer identified as talking about Plame's alleged role in arranging Wilson's trip could not have attended the meeting.
Valerie Plame with
Much of the discussion on this issue currently revolves around who knew what when, did Rove know that Plame was undercover or not? Did he tell Novak or did Novak tell him? I think most of that is actually irrellevant and simply a matter of spin. hether any of the persons discussing Plame/Wilson and the CIA were aware of Plame's undercover status, it seems that all of them were almost word-for-word echoing the statements from the State Department INR document - which I must say again - was classified at the time. Any recitation of, or confirmation of the contents of such a document is a crime.
TITLE 18 > PART I > CHAPTER 37 > § 793The irony here is that the INR document, particular the portions which inaccurately claim that Valerie Plame was the reason Joseph Wilson went to Niger, was clearly only written in order to give cover to the President's use of the 16 words -- yet since the document itself was classified (which gave the claim immediate, albiet false, credibility) the information included couldn't be used to discredit and debunk Wilson unless someone violated the law in order to do so.
(d) Whoever, lawfully having possession of, access to, control over, or being entrusted with any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it;
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
But debunk him they had to do - and that is indeed what they tried to do, while essentially hoisting the Administration upon it's own pitard. Trapped in it's own web of lies.
While we continue to search for the source of the Plame leak, let's remember to also search for the source of the Plame LIE (which could be for all we currently know that ole' backstabber and hyper partisan John Bolton) , not to mention the Niger Yellow-Cake lie -- and all the efforts by various Administration officials to maintain, excuse and obfuscate the fact that the United States entered a War under false pretenses.
All of which, as I said at the outset, clearly proves the Downing Street Minutes are in fact, true.
God Save America.