Saturday, October 29

Deflecting the Pushback on Plame

The Right-Wing Media appears to have found it's strategy to Pushback on the Plame Matter. The strategy appears to be as follows:

1) "Scooter" is to be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
This point is self-evident I think. However, the multiple witnesses and even documentation that counters Libby's claim that he discovered the identity of Joe Wilson's wife tends to indicate that the likelyhood of guilt is rather high. Usually perjury cases are difficult if you only have two persons who simply disagree with each other, often a third person is required to break the tie -- but in this case there isn't anything even remotely resembling a tie. This is not a photo-finish, but a complete blow-out.

2) Since the indictment didn't include espionage charges, there was no crime until the investigation of a crime occured.

Despite the fact the Special Prosecutor specifically pointed out that "his vision was blocked" by Libby's lies from determining who exactly did what, many of those on the right (Hannity, Gingrich) have already linked hands with Senator Hutchinson and began chanting this mantra in unison. "There was no crime...there was no crime.."

Yes, there was a crime. A CIA Agents cover was blown, not only that the entire cover operation that had been put in place to help find and stop the proliferation of WMD's, Brewters-Jengings, was completely outed and dismantled. Some CIA sources and pundits have theorized that their was indeed an "after action post-mortem" on the Plame outing, and that as many as 60-70 foreign asset were lost and at least one American CIA operative lost their lives.

3) Joe Wilson lied about the yellowcake, and the Senate Intelligence Report says so.

The Senate Report actually says the following:
Regarding Uranium from Africa, the language of the NIE [National Intelligence Estimate] stated

Iraq [already] had about 550 metric tons of yellowcake and low-enriched uranium at Tuwaitha, which is inspected annually by the IAEA. Iraq began vigorously trying to procure uranium ore and yellowcake; aquiring either would shorten the time Bagdad needs to produce nuclear weapons.
  • A foreign service [Britain] reported that as of early 2001, Niger planned to send several tons of "pure uranium" (probably yellowcake) to Iraq. As of early 2001, Niger and Iraq were reportedly still working out arrangements for this deal, which could be up to 500 tons of yellowcake. We do not know the status of this arrangement.

  • Reports indicate that Iraq has also sought uranium ore from Somalia and possibly the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
We can not confirm whether Iraq succeeded in aquiring uranium ore and/or yellowcake from these sources.

At the NIE Coordination meeting, the only analyst who voiced disagreement with the uranium section was the INR [State Department] analyst. Several analysts told Committee staff that they did not recall even discussing the uranium report at the meeting. All of the analyst said that the bulk of the time was spent debating other issues such as aluminum tubes, time lines for weapons designs, procurement of magnets and other dual use items. CIA, DIA and DOE all said that at the time the NIE was written [Sept 2002], they agreed with the NIE assessment that Iraq was trying to procure uranium from Africa.

Because the INR disagreed with much of the nuclear section of the NIE, it decided to display it's alternative view in text boxes, rather than object to every point througout the NIE. INR prepared two seperate boxes, one for the key judgements section, and a two page box for the body fo the nuclear section, which included a sentence that stated that "the claims of Iraqi pursuit of natural uranium in Africa are, in INR's assessment, highly dubious"

On October 9, 2002, an Italian journalist from the magazine Panorama provided U.S. Embassy Rome with copies of documents pertaining to the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium transaction. (Footnote: The documents from the Italian journalist are those that were passed to the IAEA and discovered to have been forged. In March 2003, the Vice Chairman of the Commitee, Senator Rockefeller requested that the FBI Investigate the source of the documents, the motivation of those responsible for the forgeries, and the extent to which the forgeries were part of a disinformation campaign.

On January 13, 2003, the INR Iraq nuclear analsyt sent an email to several IC analysts outlining his reasoning why, "the uranium purchase agreement is probably a hoax". He indicated that one of the documents that proported to be an agreement for a joint military campaign, including both Iraq and Iran, was so ridiculous it was "clearly a forgery". Because this document had the same alleged stamps as the Nigerian Embassy in Rome as the uranium documents, the analyst concluded "that the uranium purchase agreement is probably a forgery"
Besides the fact the Iraq already had 550 tons of yellowcake in it's possession prior to 2002, the Senate Report seems to indicate that before the 2003 SOTU speech by President Bush - there were strong indications that the Iraq-Niger documents were forgeries and that there was never any conclusive evidence that Iraq attempted to procure additional yellowcake from Africa. The certainly does not disprove Wilson's own allegations that the Iraq-Niger uranium connection was a hoax.

In addition the Senate Report, there is also the Dulfer Report on Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction:

ISG has not found evidence to show that Iraq sought uranium from abroad after 1991 or renewed indigenous production of such material—activities that we believe would have constituted an Iraqi effort to reconstitute a nuclear weapons program.


So far, ISG has found only one offer of uranium to Baghdad since 1991—an approach Iraq appears to have turned down.

Lastly, then-Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet publicly stated in July 2003 that "[t]hese 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the President."

So in the case of Joe Wilson being a liar, it appears we do have at least three others sources to consider - taking this far beyond He Said/He Said -- and all of those sources, the Senate Intelligence Report, the Dulfer Report and George Tenet ultimately agree with Wilson's conclusion that there was no there there.. in Niger.

4) Wilson's Wife wasn't a covert Agent.

Josh Marshall has done an excellent job of addressing this point:

Simply go to page 5 of the indictment [PDF]. Top of the page, item #9.

On or about June 12, 2003, LIBBY was advised by the Vice President of the United States that Wilson's wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Divison. LIBBY understood that the Vice President had learned this information from the CIA.

This is a crucial piece of information. the Counterproliferation Division (CPD) is part of the CIA's Directorate of Operations, i.e., not Directorate of Intelligence, the branch of the CIA where 'analysts' come from, but where the spies come from.

Libby's a long time national security hand. He knows exactly what CPD is and where it is. So does Cheney. They both knew. It's right there in the indictment.

Even more to the point than Marshall is the first paragraph on Page 10 of the Indictment:
A major focus of the Grand Jury Investigation was to determine which government officials had disclosed to the media prior to July 14, 2003 information concerning the affiliation of Valerie Wilson with the CIA, and the nature, timing, extent, and purpose of such disclosures, as well as whether any official making such a disclosure did so knowing that the employment of Valerie Wilson by the CIA was classified information.
Over and above the technicalities of the Intellence Agents Identities Act, and the Espionage Act - there is the “Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement" that Libby signed, a form that I myself have signed and actually did bother to read. From my own experience of 12 years working in a secure environment for a defense contractor, I can personally attest that persons with a security clearance are required to be fully aware of the level of sensitivity of that information and whether any person they are talking to has proper clearance for that information. If the classification level is unclear or the clearance level of the person you're talking to isn't known and displayed - you don't share it.

There has been some talk that Judith Miller actually had a security clearance at some point - but clearance are not carte blanche. Far from it, the DOD specifically compartmentalizes everything into unique "special access" projects. Just because you have a "Top Secret" clearance - which i've had - doesn't mean you automatically get to learn everything - only what you have a "need to know", period.

Where exactly was Judith Miller's, Matt Cooper's and Robert Novak's "need to know" classifed information about Valerie Plame?

My impression is that Fitzgerald hasn't yet indicted on the underlying charge of espionage and revealing classified information because he hasn't yet determined Libby's intent.

Under USC Title 18 Section 793 seems to relate to imporoperly releasing "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", and on the surface that would tend to exlude releasing that information for other reasons - such as political payback, but the idea that you can technically release classified information for political reasons - from my own experience and also in relation to the no-nonesense terms of the "Classified Nondisclosure Agreement" - I find highly dubious. There is little rational doubt that Libby wasn't aware that the information was classifed - it would have been the duty of anyone providing him that information to make him aware of it's level of classification - and little doubt that he was fully aware of his own liability in releasing that information. This testimony by Libby is illustrative:

    So then he said – I said – he said, sorry – he, Mr. Russert said to me, did you know that Ambassador Wilson's wife, or his wife, works at the CIA? And I said, no, I don't know that. And then he said, yeah – yes, all the reporters know it. And I said, again, I don't know that. I just wanted to be clear that I wasn't confirming anything for him on this. And you know, I was struck by what he was saying in that he thought it was an important fact, but I didn't ask him anymore about it because I didn't want to be digging in on him,

Russert disputes that this conversation ever took place - also at this point in time Libby had already heard from the State Dept, CIA and Vice President that Wilson's Wife did work for the CIA, and he had also already told Judith Miller this was true. The only reason for him to invent this conversation was to deflect his own involvement in the leak, but in the process his attempt not to confirm anything, is exactly what you would do if you had classified data and you knew it - you wouldn't confirm or deny, you'd play dumb and try to change the subject.

Simply put, he was acting guilty even when making up phony conversations.

It seem far more likely to me, that Fitzgerald is using his most solid information against his most crucial subject - Libby - as an effort to force his cooperation in exactly the same way that Judge Starr used his indictments against Susan McDougal to get her to provide an incriminating "proffer" against President Clinton.

There'a a reason why Libby lied about Russert, Cooper and Miller - and IMO Fitzgerald wants to know what that reason is more than he wants to send Libby to prison. In short, he's looking for bigger fish and keeping his powder dry until they're clearly in sight. Libby is nothing more than bait.

5) Wilson's wife sent him to Africa, not the Vice President.
The original source for this claim seems to be a document produced by the INR which was attached to Wilson's report to the CIA, but the claim made by that document was disputed by the CIA nearly two years ago by Mike Allen and Dana Milbank at the Washington Post.

Sources said the CIA is angry about the circulation of a still-classified document to conservative news outlets suggesting Plame had a role in arranging her husband's trip to Africa for the CIA. The document, written by a State Department official who works for its Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), describes a meeting at the CIA where the Niger trip by Wilson was discussed, said a senior administration official who has seen it.

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.

"It has been circulated around," one official said. CIA and State Department officials have refused to discuss the document.

The Senate Intelligence report has also been referenced on this point, but it appears that their claims that Valerie Plame-Wilson was at least perpherally involved in suggesting her husband be dispatched to Niger really almost entirely on the exact same INR analyst who the CIA claims "wasn't at the meeting" in question.

CNN National Security Correspondant David Ensor has weighed in on this issue:
ENSOR: Secondly, the suggestion that's been out there quite a bit -- and there's even some discussion of it in the Senate Intelligence Committee report -- that Valerie Plame suggested her husband be sent to Niger. I have talked to very high intelligence officials who say that just isn't true. That it was senior officers above her who had the idea of sending Ambassador Wilson, knowing that he'd been in Niger before and was an experienced hand in Africa, a former ambassador on that continent. And they thought he'd be good. They then went to her and said, "Well, what do you think?" She responded with an email that said, "Yes, he'd be good for the following reasons." That was in response to higher-ups at the CIA who suggested that Joe Wilson be sent.
Wilson responding to the Senate Report's suggestion that his "Wife sent him" to Niger:
First conclusion: "The plan to send the former ambassador to Niger was suggested by the former ambassador's wife, a CIA employee."

That is not true. The conclusion is apparently based on one anodyne quote from a memo Valerie Plame, my wife sent to her superiors that says "my husband has good relations with the PM (prime minister) and the former Minister of Mines, (not to mention lots of French contacts) both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity." There is no suggestion or recommendation in that statement that I be sent on the trip. Indeed it is little more than a recitation of my contacts and bona fides. The conclusion is reinforced by comments in the body of the report that a CPD reports officer stated the "the former ambassador's wife `offered up his name'" (page 39) and a State Department Intelligence and Research officer that the "meeting was `apparently convened by wife who had the idea to dispatch him to use his contacts to sort out the Iraq-Niger uranium issue."

In fact, Valerie was not in the meeting at which the subject of my trip was raised. Neither was the CPD Reports officer. After having escorted me into the room, she departed the meeting to avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest. It was at that meeting where the question of my traveling to Niger was broached with me for the first time and came only after a thorough discussion of what the participants did and did not know about the subject. My bona fides justifying the invitation to the meeting were the trip I had previously taken to Niger to look at other uranium related questions as well as 20 years living and working in Africa, and personal contacts throughout the Niger government. Neither the CPD reports officer nor the State analyst were in the chain of command to know who, or how, the decision was made. The interpretations attributed to them are not the full story. In fact, it is my understanding that the Reports Officer has a different conclusion about Valerie's role than the one offered in the "additional comments". I urge the committee to reinterview the officer and publicly publish his statement.
Further, Wilson never claimed that the Vice President sent him to Niger, only that he was sent by "agency officials" in response to a request that apparently came "out of the Vice President's office" to the CiA. He has repeatedly stated that the Vice President knew nothing about the trip.
From CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, August 2003:

WILSON: Well, look, it's absolutely true that neither the vice president nor Dr. Rice nor even George Tenet knew that I was traveling to Niger.

What they did, what the office of the vice president did, and, in fact, I believe now from Mr. Libby's statement, it was probably the vice president himself...

BLITZER: Scooter Libby is the chief of staff for the vice president.

WILSON: Scooter Libby. They asked essentially that we follow up on this report -- that the agency follow up on the report. So it was a question that went to the CIA briefer from the Office of the Vice President. The CIA, at the operational level, made a determination that the best way to answer this serious question was to send somebody out there who knew something about both the uranium business and those Niger officials that were in office at the time these reported documents were executed
It is interesting that it appears that it was Scooter Libby himself who asked his CIA briefer for the follow-up investigation into the Iraq-Niger rumors and it was from his CIA briefer, as well as the "Under Secretary of State" that he later learned that Joe Wilson had been the one to go to Niger, as well as the (CIA Disputed) rumor of his Wife's involvement in sending him on the trip. I've often wondered if that exact same source in the state department, the person who made the notes in the INR memo - but wasn't at the meeting - is the person who also briefed Libby. Might that person be -- David Wurmser, who at the time was working for John Bolton? (Who is in fact mentioned in the Senate Report in the section regarding Pressure on Intelligence Community Analysts Regarding Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Capabilities

At this point, we don't know the answer to that question -- but I suspect that during Scooter Libby's trial, we'll all find out.


Friday, October 28

Scooter Libby Indicted for Perjury


Vice presidential adviser I. Lewis "Scooter' Libby Jr. was indicted Friday on charges of obstruction of justice, making a false statement and perjury in the CIA leak case. Karl Rove, President Bush's closest adviser, apparently escaped indictment Friday but remained under investigation, his legal status a looming political problem for the White House.

The indictments stem from a two-year investigation by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald into whether Rove, Libby or any other administration officials knowingly revealed the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame or lied about their involvement to investigators. The five-count indictment accuses Libby of lying about how and when he learned about CIA official Valerie Plane's identity in 2003 and then told reporters about it. The information was classified. Any trial would shine a spotlight on the secret deliberations of Bush and his team as they built the case for war against Iraq.

The five-count indictment accuses Libby of lying about how and when he learned about CIA official Valerie Plane's identity in 2003 and then told reporters about it. The information was classified.

Any trial would shine a spotlight on the secret deliberations of Bush and his team as they built the case for war against Iraq.

Bush ordered U.S. troops to war in March 2003, saying Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction program posed a grave and immediate threat to the United States. No such weapons were found. The U.S. military death toll climbed past 2,000 this week.

Full Indictment (PDF)

The core of the Indictment is that Lewis Libby claimed to the FBI and Grand Jury that he found out identify of Valerie Plame-Wilson from reporters such as Tim Russert, but that simply is not what happened.

Events Leading up to July 2003

2. On or about January 28, 2003, President George W. Bush delivered his State of the Union address which included sixteen words asserting that “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.”

3. On May 6, 2003, the New York Times published a column by Nicholas Kristof which disputed the accuracy of the “sixteen words” in the State of the Union address. The column reported that, following a request from the Vice President’s office for an investigation of allegations that Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger, an unnamed former ambassador was sent on a trip to Niger in 2002 to investigate the allegations. According to the column, the ambassador reported back to the CIA and State Department in early 2002 that the allegations were unequivocally wrong and based on forged documents.

4. On or about May 29, 2003, in the White House, LIBBY asked an Under Secretary of State (“Under Secretary”) for information concerning the unnamed ambassador’s travel to Niger to investigate claims about Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium yellowcake. The Under Secretary thereafter directed the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research to prepare a report concerning the ambassador and his trip. The Under Secretary provided LIBBY with interim oral reports in late May and early June 2003, and advised LIBBY that Wilson was the former ambassador who took the trip.

5. On or about June 9, 2003, a number of classified documents from the CIA were faxed to the Office of the Vice President to the personal attention of LIBBY and another person in the Office of the Vice President. The faxed documents, which were marked as classified, discussed, among other things, Wilson and his trip to Niger, but did not mention Wilson by name. After receiving these documents, LIBBY and one or more other persons in the Office of the Vice President handwrote the names “Wilson” and “Joe Wilson” on the documents.

6. On or about June 11 or 12, 2003, the Under Secretary of State orally advised LIBBY in the White House that, in sum and substance, Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA and that State Department personnel were saying that Wilson’s wife was involved in the planning of his trip.

7. On or about June 11, 2003, LIBBY spoke with a senior officer of the CIA to ask about the origin and circumstances of Wilson’s trip, and was advised by the CIA officer that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA and was believed to be responsible for sending Wilson on the trip.

8. Prior to June 12, 2003, Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus contacted the Office of the Vice President in connection with a story he was writing about Wilson’s trip. LIBBY participated in discussions in the Office of the Vice President concerning how to respond to Pincus.

9. On or about June 12, 2003, LIBBY was advised by the Vice President of the United States that Wilson’s wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Division. LIBBY understood that the Vice President had learned this information from the CIA.

10. On June 12, 2003, the Washington Post published an article by reporter Walter Pincus about Wilson’s trip to Niger, which described Wilson as a retired ambassador but not by name, and reported that the CIA had sent him to Niger after an aide to the Vice President raised questions about purported Iraqi efforts to acquire uranium. Pincus’s article questioned the accuracy of the “sixteen words,” and stated that the retired ambassador had reported to the CIA that the uranium purchase story was false.

11. On or about June 14, 2003, LIBBY met with a CIA briefer. During their conversation he expressed displeasure that CIA officials were making comments to reporters critical of the Vice President’s office, and discussed with the briefer, among other things, “Joe Wilson” and his wife “Valerie Wilson,” in the context of Wilson’s trip to Niger.

12. On or about June 19, 2003, an article appeared in The New Republic magazine online entitled “The First Casualty: The Selling of the Iraq War.” Among other things, the article questioned the “sixteen words” and stated that following a request for information from the Vice President, the CIA had asked an unnamed ambassador to travel to Niger to investigate allegations that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger. The article included a quotation attributed to the unnamed ambassador alleging that administration officials “knew the Niger story was a flat-out lie.” The article also was critical of how the administration, including the Office of the Vice President, portrayed intelligence concerning Iraqi capabilities with regard to weapons of mass destruction, and accused the administration of suppressing dissent from the intelligence agencies on this topic.

13. Shortly after publication of the article in The New Republic, LIBBY spoke by telephone with his then Principal Deputy and discussed the article. That official asked LIBBY whether information about Wilson’s trip could be shared with the press to rebut the allegations that the Vice President had sent Wilson. LIBBY responded that there would be complications at the CIA in disclosing that information publicly, and that he could not discuss the matter on a non-secure telephone line.

14. On or about June 23, 2003, LIBBY met with New York Times reporter Judith Miller. During this meeting LIBBY was critical of the CIA, and disparaged what he termed “selective leaking” by the CIA concerning intelligence matters. In discussing the CIA’s handling of Wilson’s trip to Niger, LIBBY informed her that Wilson’s wife might work at a bureau of the CIA.

Statement by Senator Harry Reid
“These are very serious charges. They suggest that a senior White House aide put politics ahead of our national security and the rule of law.

“This case is bigger than the leak of highly classified information. It is about how the Bush White House manufactured and manipulated intelligence in order to bolster its case for the war in Iraq and to discredit anyone who dared to challenge the president.

“It's now time for President Bush to lead and answer the very serious questions raised by this investigation. The American people have already paid too steep a price as a result of misconduct at the White House, and they deserve better.”

How Serious Plamegate Is...

I spent 12 years working for a Defense Contractor, during that time I had a Security Clearance, as did the other 12,000 people who also worked at the same location.

Let me tell you about one person who decided to leak classified information by the name of Thomas Cavanaugh.

I didn't know Cavanaugh personally, but the story as I heard it through the grapevine was this...

Cavanaugh had apparently run up some rather large credit card debts with trips to the Carribean and decided he had the perfect "Get Rich Quick" scheme. He decided to sneak classified documentation outside of work and sell it to Russia. After managing to conceal two such documents and get them past the security stations where all persons are searched when leaving the building - Cavanaugh did the what any highly intelligent engineer would do to contact the KGB.

He used the Yellow Pages, and called up the Russian Embassy in San Francisco. Now the Russians happen to know that their phones are tapped, and as soon as Cavanaugh offered them the documents they hung up -- but the FBI didn't. They returned his phone call and setup a meeting where he could delivery the documents and receive payment.

When he arrived he was arrested and eventually given Two Life Sentences, one for each document.

Now I heard this story years ago and never really saw any media reports to confirm it -- but as I decided to write this Dairy I found this.... a training document from the Defense Security Service which describes the Cavanaugh Case in detail.

After copying the documents, the agents handed Cavanagh the payment in small bills. He counted it eagerly. He wanted to have monthly meetings with substantial payment each time. After they finished their business, there was a knock on the door. When they opened the door, FBI agents entered the room and arrested Cavanagh.

Through its counterintelligence operations, the FBI had learned of Cavanagh's intention to sell secrets before he reached the Soviets. The persons he met with were actually FBI agents posing as Soviets. Charged and convicted on two counts of espionage, Cavanagh was sentenced on 23 May 1985 to concurrent life terms in prison.

What Cavanaugh did, trading classified data for cash is little different than what Libby (and others) may have done - use classified data for political purposes and they should be similarly sentenced.


Thursday, October 27

Libby's source for Plame information wasn't Cheney?

Intelligence Correspondant Richard Sale, has a heavily (though anonymously) sourced connection to where Libby first heard about Valerie Plame, and it apparently wasn't from Dick Cheney:

According to the Times account, Cheney told Libby the covert name of the wife of Joseph Wilson, a former U.S. diplomat who had publicly alleged that the administration had mishandled of intelligence relating to Iraq's nuclear weapons programs.

But several former and serving U.S. intelligence officials strongly disputed this. "That is simply not accurate," a very former senior CIA official told this repoter. "Libby's notes on this are misleading and inaccurate or both."

This source, supported by three others, alleged that it was a telephone call from the Department of State that first gave Libby the name of Plame.

The name of the caller? No one is sure. But these sources said that the call defintely came from the State Department office of John Bolton, then the arms control chief of the department.

These same sources alleged that two employees of Bolton, David Wurmser, a virullent pro-war hawk, first told Libby that Valerie Plame had sent Wilson to Niger to attempt to discredit the administration's line on Iraq's nuclear weapons programs.

These same intelligence sources alleged that Wurmser, as Bolton's special assistant, got his knowledge of Plame's classified identity from a colleague in his office, Frederick Fleitz, a CIA officer detailed to Bolton's office from the agency who worked in the CIA's Weapons Intelligence Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Center (WINIPAC.)

"We do not know yet which of the two called," the former very senior intelligence official said.

According to the Raw Story, Wurmser has already been cooperating with Fitzgerald's office - so if he made the call, or the call was made by Fleitz under Bolton's Direction this information may very well be in the hands of the Special Prosecutor.

Cheney, Libby Blocked Papers To Senate Intelligence Panel

From National Journal
Cheney, Libby Blocked Papers To Senate Intelligence Panel
By Murray Waas, special to National Journal
© National Journal Group Inc.
Thursday, Oct. 27, 2005

Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, overruling advice from some White House political staffers and lawyers, decided to withhold crucial documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 when the panel was investigating the use of pre-war intelligence that erroneously concluded Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, according to Bush administration and congressional sources.

Among the White House materials withheld from the committee were Libby-authored passages in drafts of a speech that then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell delivered to the United Nations in February 2003 to argue the Bush administration's case for war with Iraq, according to congressional and administration sources. The withheld documents also included intelligence data that Cheney's office -- and Libby in particular -- pushed to be included in Powell's speech, the sources said.

The new information that Cheney and Libby blocked information to the Senate Intelligence Committee further underscores the central role played by the vice president's office in trying to blunt criticism that the Bush administration exaggerated intelligence data to make the case to go to war.

The disclosures also come as Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald wraps up the nearly two-year-old CIA leak investigation that has focused heavily on Libby's role in discussing covert intelligence operative Valerie Plame with reporters. Fitzgerald could announce as soon as tomorrow whether a federal grand jury is handing up indictments in the case.

Central to Fitzgerald's investigation is whether administration officials disclosed Plame's identity and CIA status in an effort to discredit her husband, former ambassador and vocal Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, who wrote newspaper op-ed columns and made other public charges beginning in 2003 that the administration misused intelligence on Iraq that he gathered on a CIA-sponsored trip to Africa.
The interesting this to me about this is that after this occured, the (tampered with) results of the Senate Intelligence Report were repeatedly used to call Joe Wilson a "Liar", as well as being used to deny the allegations made by the Downing Street Minutes. With Lawrence Wilkerson accusing Cheney and Rumsfeld of running a "Cabal" with undermined the legitimate efforts of the State Department mis-directed the Department of Defense, this could be a huge bombshell to drop on the eve of the Fitzgerald Indictments against Rove, Libby and possibly even Cheney.


Media War of Words

It's Bill O'Reilly vs David Brock of Media Matters -- to the death.

O'Reilly has apparently decided to launch a "counter-smear" campaign against anti-Right wing website Media Matters. He mentioned them numerous times but over the last two days the rhetoric has gotten especially heated.

In response to Media Matters exploding the Bill Bennet comment controversy - O'Reilly and others have continually defended Bennet's "aborting all black babies to reduce crime" comments and accused Media Matters of misquoting, taking him out of context and smearing him. However, a clear and objective reading of Media Matters original report on the subject did in fact include all of his comment, including where he stated that doing such a thing...

Bennett conceded that aborting all African-American babies "would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do," then added again, "but the crime rate would go down."

In their attacks O'Reilly has consistently missed the point of Media Matters criticism - which wasn't that Bennet was literally suggesting that black's be aborted, but was the serious consideration that black people are inherently connected to crime. Although it is true that the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports the following:

Lifetime chances of a person going to prison are higher for
-- men (11.3%) than for women (1.8%)
-- blacks (18.6%) and Hispanics (10%) than for whites (3.4%)

To my knowledge this raw data has not be analysed when controlled for other demographic issues such as relative poverty, or disparities in law enforcement and sentencing practices. Taken alone they would indicate that blacks are nearly 6 times more likely to be imprisoned, but this information doesn't neccesarily mean that they are 6 times more likely to commit crimes. (Incidentally the same data - using the same lack of detailed analysis - would indicate that men are 10 times more likey to "commit crimes" than women - so why didn't Bennet suggest we abort all male babies to lower crime rates?)

Racial profiling, where black's are more frequently targeted for arrest among our Police agencies, remains a serious problem of bias. Following up a previous study in New Jersey, the ACLU found in a study conducted in Rhode Island that:
● As was true in the first study, minority drivers were more than twice as likely as whites to be searched or frisked by police. Statewide, for those vehicles stopped, 7% of black drivers and 6.2% of Hispanic drivers were searched compared to 2.9% of
white drivers.

● Despite the proportionally greater number of searches of minority drivers,
white drivers – just as in 2001-2002 – were still more likely than racial minorities to be found with contraband when searched.
So minorities are searched more, arrested more - but they do not have higher occurances of possesing drugs or other contraband. This type of disparity at the policing level then has to be added to fact that these searches, which are obstensibly for drugs, also tend have a extreme racial impact on imprisonment and sentences during the prosecution phase - as has been reported by The Sentencing Project
Crack is usually sold in small quantities in open-air markets. Powder is more expensive and is usually sold in larger quantities behind closed doors in locations that are inherently private. In urban areas the “fronts” of crack use and sales are large metropolitan centers which gather the greater emphasis of law enforcement. Since minorities and lower income persons are most likely to inhabit these areas, they are therefore at greater risk of arrest for crack cocaine possession than are white and higher income powder offenders. The latter inhabit working class and upper-class neighborhoods where drug sales are more likely to occur indoors instead of the street sales of the urban neighborhoods that receive disproportionate (greater) attention from law enforcement.

The failure of Congress to amend the (100:1) sentencing disparities between crack cocaine and powder cocaine reflects a culture-wide set of misconceptions about crack – who uses it, who sells it, and what the consequences of its trade, such as violence, have been. Many have submitted that the disparities illustrate something much more disturbing, namely, a deeply embedded racist and classist undertone to our society’s political, legal and law enforcement structure.
When all these factors are taken into account, it becomes clear the underlying premise of Bennett's statement - that Blacks are somehow more criminal -- is in fact false, unproven and a racially biased comment - and that is why Media Matters attacked it.

Media Matters further pointed out that Bennett's later attempts to attribute such racial comments to the authors of "Freakonomics" are also poorly founded.
On his September 29 broadcast, Bennett said: "The author of Freakonomics, Steve Levitt engages the theory that abortion reduces crime, and he also discusses, as I did, the racial implications of abortion and crime. And he does that in an extended debate on" But in the course of the three-day discussion, Levitt barely mentioned race. In fact, on the first day of the discussion, Levitt noted specifically that race was not a key part to his theory:

In additional to the Bennet Bruhaha there has also been discussion of comments made on O'Reilly's own radio program involving the allegation that "illegal immigrants are like biological weapons" by one of his callers. A suggestion that O'Reilly did not disagree with, but rather went on to state...

O'REILLY: You might be right, [caller]. And, if you look at it that way, you've got 11 million at least here, unsupervised. Nobody knows the condition they're in. And you have 3,000 dead from 9-11.

This statement was made despite the fact that all of the 9-11 hijackers entered the U.S. Legally -- and that there have never been any terrorist attacks on U.S. shores as a result of illegal immigration. From reading the 9-11 Commision Report it becomes clear that most terrorist want and need full access to the society in order to reach sensitives areas and positions where they can do the most damage - in order to accomplish this they tend to be as low-key and law abiding as possible.

In reponse to Media Matters accurate quotes of the inflammatory rhetoric - O'Reilly has come out with guns blazing...
O'REILLY: Far-left billionaires George Soros and Peter Lewis, who heads the Progressive insurance company -- remember that; if you have Progressive insurance, you may want to look elsewhere. Those guys have poured tens of millions of dollars into political organizations designed to harm people with whom the left disagrees.

So that's what they [Media Matters & The Center for American Progress] always do. They tape The Radio Factor, they tape Rush Limbaugh, they tape Bill Bennett, and they look to see if they can find something to smear us with.


All of these people are far-left fringe players, but they know their money is going to smear merchants. They know it's going into character assassins, correct?


It is a very well-oiled, effective character assassination machine.

The most chilling portion of O'Reilly's attack was to list and name each mainstream reporter who has used information from Media Matter's as a source... (while ignoring the fact that Media Matters reports are nearly always completely and totally accurate).

Here's a name -- here are some names of mainstream journalists who take stuff directly from the left-wing smear sites. Paul Krugman, a New York Times columnist, Jack Matthews, New York Daily News columnist, the aforementioned Miss Hernandez, Alan Dershowitz, the left-wing lawyer at Harvard, Maureen Dowd, another New York Times columnist, Frank Rich, another New York Times columnist. It just goes on and on that these people are fed this kind of stuff and it gets in, as you said, the mainstream media and blows up everywhere.

So besides making Progressive Insurance a target, O'Reilly has named a serious of Journalists and columnist as being allied with "far-left fringe players" as if he were suggesting a Black-List to his audience and supporters -- and he thinks Media Matters engages in smears? Seems to me he needs to go re-read the definition of the word.


Wilkerson Blows Off the Lid

Although this story has been largely ignored by the media, Col Lawrence Wilkerson former State Department Chief of Staff under Colin Powell, in a rare case of a high ranking Administration insider going public and pulling no punches, makes a very strong case for just how dangerous the Bush Adminstration has been and continues to be to America and the rest of the world.

From Wilkerson's October 19 speech for the New American Foundation
I don't know what the case is today; I wish I did. But the case that I saw for four-plus years was a case that I have never seen in my studies of aberrations, bastardizations, perturbations, changes to the national security decision-making process. What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made. And then, when the bureaucracy was presented with the decision to carry them out, it was presented in a such a disjointed, incredible way that the bureaucracy often didn't know what it was doing as it moved to carry them out.
On the issue of Detainee Abuse:
And I’ll finish just by bringing it down screechingly to the ground and tell you
that the detainee abuse issue is just such a concrete example of what I’ve just described to you, that 10 years from now or so when it’s really, really put to the acid test, ironed out and people have looked at it from every angle, we are going to be ashamed of what we allowed to happen. I don’t know how many people saw the “Frontline” documentary last night – very well done, I thought, but didn’t get anywhere near the specifics that need to be shown, that need to come out, that need to say to the American people, this is not us, this is not the way we do business in the world. Of course we have criminals, of course we have people who violate the law of war, of course we had My Lai, of course we had problems in the Korean War and in World War II. My father-in-law was involved in the Malm├ędy massacre and the retaliation of U.S. troops in Belgium. He told me some stories before he died that made my blood curdle about American troops killing Germans.
On (Undersecretary of Defense) Douglas Feith:

But if you want to read how the Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal flummoxed the process, read that book. And of course there are other names in there: Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, whom most of you probably know Tommy Franks said was the stupidest blankety, blank man in the world. He was. (Laughter.) Let me testify to that. He was. Seldom in my life have I met a dumber man. (Laughter.) And yet – and yet – and yet, after the secretary of State agrees to a $40 billion department rather than a $30 billion department having control, at least in the immediate post-war period in Iraq, this man is put in charge. Not only is he put in charge, he is given carte blanche to tell the State Department to go screw itself in a closet somewhere. Now, that’s not making excuses for the State Department; that’s telling you how decisions were made and telling you how things got accomplished. Read George (Packer's) book ("The Assasins Gate").
On Dick Cheney.
Q: Hi, just a quick question. I actually don’t agree with your assessment of Doug Feith. I think the interesting thing about him is not that he –

COL. WILKERSON: It wasn’t mine; it was Tommy Franks’.


Q: Right, but he’s actually quite intelligent. What he also is is a zealot. And that makes me wonder, how is it that Dick Cheney, who was described to me by someone who worked with him in a senior post in the Pentagon in the first Bush administration as prudent, cautious. He said to me, I don’t recognize Dick Cheney anymore. How did Cheney go down this path as well?

COL. WILKERSON: Well, there are a number of people who have asked me that
a question and a number of people have offered their observations who are in a better position than I to make that judgment. I knew Secretary Cheney when he was the secretary of Defense, and he was, in my view, a good secretary of Defense. He would make a decision on a dime, and if you didn’t give him the material to make a decision with he’d send you away. Good executive – 9/11 changed his entire approach to business, I think. Some people have called it paranoia, some people have called it not having enough – sort of the ivory tower complex, not having enough contact with the real world on a daily basis to understand how things are going or how things are building or how tension is being handled.

Wednesday, October 26

Almost Indictment Day

Well, those who've opposed the Bush Administration for several years are about to celebrate their very first Merry Fitzmas, as Raw Story has announced the Special Proscutor Patrick Fitzgerald is about to finally announce his long awaited indictments in the Valerie Plame Affair.

Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has asked the grand jury investigating the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson to indict Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and Bush’s Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, lawyers close to the investigation tell RAW STORY.

Fitzgerald has also asked the jury to indict Libby on a second charge: knowingly outing a covert operative, the lawyers said. They said the prosecutor believes that Libby violated a 1982 law that made it illegal to unmask an undercover CIA agent.

Two other officials, who are not employees in the White House, are also expected to face indictments, the lawyers said.

The grand jury had not yet decided on whether to make indictments at the time this article was published. It appears more likely that the jury would hand down indictments of perjury and obstruction than a charge that Plame was outed illegally.

Those close to the investigation said Rove was offered a deal Tuesday to plead guilty to perjury for a reduced charge. Rove’s lawyer was told that Fitzgerald would drop an obstruction of justice charge if his client agreed not to contest allegations of perjury, they said.

Rove declined to plead guilty to the reduced charge, the sources said, indicating through his attorney Robert Luskin that he intended to fight the charges. A call placed to Luskin was not returned.

Those familiar with the case said that Libby did not inform Rove that Plame was covert. As a result, Rove may not be charged with a crime in leaking Plame’s identity, even though he spoke with reporters.
Many on the Left are practically ready to put on party hats, while the Right is spinning itself silly with tons of denials that any crime was committed, then when challenged immediately claiming that all we actually know at this point is nothing (which of course makes one wonder how they know whether a crime was or wasn't committed).

Regardless of whether it's a Democratic or Republican Administration in office, it should be understood that these are the most serious criminal charges against anyone this highly positioned in our government, and in many ways it is not a time for celebration - this is not Fitzmas, these indictments are not a gift to the Liberals or Democrats. It is however far past time the some of these people are finally being held accountable for their actions. Actions which have put dedicated CIA operatives linked to Brewster-Jenings at risk, and whose lies have lead us into an virtually endless and unwinnable War.

It is time to start taking back control of our control, time to start living by honor and dignity - not simply using it as attack words against those we disagree with.


Let 'em eat crow...

In another wonderful post, Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake manages to precisely put the hammer to the head of the nail. The blatant partisan hypocracy of the Right is indeed a bottomless pit.
Bill Frist (R-TN): To not remove President Clinton for grand jury perjury lowers uniquely the Constitution's removal standard, and thus requires less of the man who appoints all federal judges than we require of those judges themselves.

I will have no part in the creation of a constitutional double-standard to benefit the President. He is not above the law. If an ordinary citizen committed these crimes, he would go to jail.

Lindsey Graham: Should he be impeached? Very quickly; the hardest decision I think I will ever make. Learning that the president lied to the grand jury about sex, I still believe that every president of the United States, regardless of the matter they called to testify about before a grand jury should testify truthfully and if they don't they should be subject to losing their job.

I believe that about Bill Clinton and I'll believe that about the next president. If it had been a Republican, I would have still believed that and I would hope that if a Republican person had done all this that some of us would've went (sic) over and told him, You need to leave office.

Henry Hyde (R-ILL, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee): But when circumstances require you to participate in a formal court proceeding and under oath mislead the parties and the court by lying, that is a public act and deserves public sanction. Perjury is a crime with a five-year penalty.

James Sensenbrenner: (R-WI): What is on trial here is the truth and the rule of law. Our failure to bring President Clinton to account for his lying under oath and preventing the courts from administering equal justice under law, will cause a cancer to be present in our society for generations. I want those parents who ask me the questions, to be able to tell their children that even if you are president of the United States, if you lie when sworn "to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," you will face the consequences of that action, even when you don't accept the responsibility for them.

Chuck Hagel (R-NB): There can be no shading of right and wrong. The complicated currents that have coursed through this impeachment process are many. But after stripping away the underbrush of legal technicalities and nuance, I find that the President abused his sacred power by lying and obstructing justice. How can parents instill values and morality in their children? How can educators teach our children? How can the rule of law for every American be applied equally if we have two standards of justice in America--one for the powerful and the other for the rest of us?

Mitch McConnell (R-KY): Perjury and obstruction hammer away at the twin pillars of our legal system: truth and justice. Every witness in every deposition is required to raise his or her right hand and swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help them God. Every witness in every grand jury proceeding and in every trial is required to raise his or her right hand and swear to tell the truth. Every official declaration filed with the court is stamped with the express affirmation that the declaration is true. In the words of our nation's first Supreme Court Chief Justice, John Jay: `if oaths should cease to be held sacred, our dearest and most valuable rights would become insecure.'
Sometimes just letting their own words speak for them is more than enough. But still it must be mentioned that seven years ago, during the Clinton Impeachment debacle, most of the arguements coming from the Left, though often legally torturous, did frequently agree that the President was wrong in what he did personally, albiet if not legally. His statements were not found to be material to the issue at hand, and not perjurious - the case itself was then thrown out as being without merit. Still many on the left did bash Clinton and bashed him hard, if someone what reluctantly, but for those on the right, can they possibly find the backbone to speak the truth about their President and his staff?

Apparently not, unless he does something completely freaking crazy... like appoint his favorite Office Secretary from down the hall to the Supreme Court.


Monday, October 24

Cheney Told Libby about Plame

In a set of last minutes leaks by attorneys to better position their clients before the true slaughter begins, the New York Times reports today that according to his notes, it was Vice President Dick Cheney who told his Chief of State Lewis "Scooter" Libby that Joe Wilson's wife worked for the CIA.
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Lewis "Scooter" Libby
WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 — I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, first learned about the C.I.A. officer at the heart of the leak investigation in a conversation with Mr. Cheney weeks before her identity became public in 2003, lawyers involved in the case said Monday.

Notes of the previously undisclosed conversation between Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney on June 12, 2003, appear to differ from Mr. Libby’s testimony to a federal grand jury that he initially learned about the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson, from journalists, the lawyers said.

The notes, taken by Mr. Libby during the conversation, for the first time place Mr. Cheney in the middle of an effort by the White House to learn about Ms. Wilson’s husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, who was questioning the administration’s handling of intelligence about Iraq’s nuclear program to justify the war.

Lawyers said the notes show that Mr. Cheney knew that Ms. Wilson worked at the C.I.A. more than a month before her identity was made public and her undercover status was disclosed in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak on July 14, 2003.

Mr. Libby’s notes indicate that Mr. Cheney had gotten his information about Ms. Wilson from George J. Tenet, the director of central intelligence, in response to questions from the vice president about Mr. Wilson. But they contain no suggestion that either Mr. Cheney or Mr. Libby knew at the time of Ms. Wilson’s undercover status or that her identity was classified. Disclosing a covert agent’s identity can be a crime, but only if the person who discloses it knows the agent’s undercover status.
Presumably both Cheney and Libby retained the proper Security clearances that would allow them to share this information between them, even though Valerie's covert status wasn't discussed. The real question is whether as holder of a security clearance Libby had a responsiblity to determined if Valerie's status was covert prior to confirming her employement with reporters. In my own experience working with a defense contractor on classified projects for over 12 years, I would argue that he did.

Under The Espionage Act: USC Title 18 § 793

Section (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.
Defenders of the President have seized on the "has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States" portion of the statue to argue that if Cheney and Libby, Rove didn't know her status they therefore aren't liable. However, the statute continues:
(f) Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense,
(1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or

(2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer—

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

(g) If two or more persons conspire to violate any of the foregoing provisions of this section, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each of the parties to such conspiracy shall be subject to the punishment provided for the offense which is the object of such conspiracy.
The real question here isn't whether Plame was undercover, it's the question of whether her connection to the CIA itself was classified. According to MarkC and his Plame Timeline at Dailykos, this conversation between Cheney and Libby took place on the same day that public information about Wilson's trip was revealed by Walter Pincus at the Washington Post.

Walter Pincus, "CIA Did Not Share Doubt on Iraq Data; Bush Used Report Of Uranium Bid" The Washington Post - 06/12/03

"...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."

Two days previous, on 06/10/03 the State Departments INR Document had been generated discusing Wilson's trip - and apparently been modified to include a reference to Plame and her involvement in sending her husband on the trip, even though CIA sources indicate that person adding this information wasn't even at the meeting where this was decided.

Washington Post: Sources said the CIA is angry about the circulation of a still-classified document to conservative news outlets suggesting Plame had a role in arranging her husband's trip to Africa for the CIA. The document, written by a State Department official who works for its Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), describes a meeting at the CIA where the Niger trip by Wilson was discussed, said a senior administration official who has seen it.

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.

Therefore it seems that the involvement of Wilson's Wife had been included on a Secret Document and identified as such prior to Tenet telling Cheney (which probably occured as soon as the Pincus report was released) or Cheney telling Libby.

Even if Tenet didn't receive the information via the INR document, he should have known that it was classified and made that clear to Cheney. If Libby didn't have the proper Security clearance, Cheney violated the Espionage Act -- if Libby had clearance and then told or confirmed this information to any reporter or other non-cleared person he violated the act and best of all, if he told reporters or other uncleared WH personel at the direction of the Vice President, whether he had clearance or not - we have the Trifecta ladies and gentlemen, a criminal Conspiracy to commit Treason against the United States headed by the Vice President.

And let's not forget that Cheney told Tim Russert on Sept. 14, 2003 that he didn't know who Wilson was.

VICE PRES. CHENEY: No. I don’t know Joe Wilson. I’ve never met Joe Wilson. A question had arisen. I’d heard a report that the Iraqis had been trying to acquire uranium in Africa, Niger in particular. I get a daily brief on my own each day before I meet with the president to go through the intel. And I ask lots of question. One of the questions I asked at that particular time about this, I said, “What do we know about this?” They take the question. He came back within a day or two and said, “This is all we know. There’s a lot we don’t know,” end of statement. And Joe Wilson—I don’t who sent Joe Wilson. He never submitted a report that I ever saw when he came back.

I guess the intriguing thing, Tim, on the whole thing, this question of whether or not the Iraqis were trying to acquire uranium in Africa. In the British report, this week, the Committee of the British Parliament, which just spent 90 days investigating all of this, revalidated their British claim that Saddam was, in fact, trying to acquire uranium in Africa. What was in the State of the Union speech and what was in the original British White papers. So there may be difference of opinion there. I don’t know what the truth is on the ground with respect to that, but I guess—like I say, I don’t know Mr. Wilson. I probably shouldn’t judge him. I have no idea who hired him and it never came...


VICE PRES. CHENEY: Who in the CIA, I don’t know.

At the very least, the omission by Libby that his source for this information was Cheney leads directly to a possibly Perjury and Obstruction of Justice Charge against him and possibly Cheney who also testified before the Grand Jury. (This point is further underscored by FireDogLake, who make the issue that Cheney testifed under oath to the Grand Jury last year, and if he had admitted at that time that he was Libby's source Fitzgerald wouldn't have been able to put Judith Miller in jail and make the claim to the judge that there was no other way to get the information they needed to identify Libby's sources other than from Miller and Matt Cooper)

There is also the very real possibility that the source of the original INR document may have been either John Hannah or David Wurmser, both of whom have been cooperating with the Special Prosecutor for some time and may have revealed exactly where the original idea to punk Wilson by falsely claiming his wife was the one who sent him to Niger.

Issues and questions such as these make it clear why the President seems to be so on edge lately.


The Wurmser continues to turn

Former John Bolton and Dick Cheney aid David Wurmser appears to have a lot more information than just who outed Valerie Plame to provide Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald.

From Raw Story:

David Wurmser

Wurmser had a direct link to the CIA because of his work on intelligence issues related to Iraq and frequently met with CIA analysts who worked on weapons of mass destruction. Through his contacts, Wurmser was told that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA agent working on WMD issues and it was she who had recommended Wilson for the trip, the sources said. Those familiar with the investigation say, however, it is unclear whether Wurmser was told that she operating as a covert agent. They believe it was likely he was told she was an "analyst" working on WMDs in a similar capacity to the other agents Wurmser had interacted with.

Those familiar with information provided to Fitzgerald say that shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Wurmser was handpicked by Harold Rhode, a Foreign Affairs Specialist in the Office of Net Assessment, a Pentagon "think tank," and Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith to head a top secret Pentagon "cell" whose job was to comb through CIA intelligence documents and find evidence that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the United States and its neighbors in the Middle East so a case could be made to launch a preemptive military strike. Wurmser largely invented evidence that Iraq had close ties to Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden, sources knowledgeable about his work told RAW STORY.

Although the CIA documents that Wurmser and his staff pored over never showed Iraq as being an immediate threat, Wurmser was dead set on finding and presenting evidence to Vice President Dick Cheney that suggested as much even if the veracity of such intelligence was questionable, sources close the probe said. Wurmser had met with now discredited Iraqi exiles who were part of the Iraqi National Congress, headed by Ahmed Chalabi, the infamous single source of Judith Miller's explosive columns published in the New York Times that said Iraq was acquiring nuclear bomb components, who is now the Deputy Prime Minister of Iraq, they added.

With the aid of Chalabi and the White House Iraq Group, Wurmser helped Cheney's office, particularly the vice president's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, construct a case for war. He met frequently with Cheney, Libby, Feith and Richard Perle, the former head of the Defense Policy Board, to go over the "evidence" of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein that could then be used by the White House to build public support. Wurmser routinely butted heads with the CIA over the veracity of the intelligence he was providing to Cheney's office, sources close the investigation said.

As I said months ago, the Plame-gate investigation leads directly to verifying the Downing Street Minutes showing that agents with the Bush Administration deliberately misled the public in order to start a voluantary war. The fact that Prosecutor Fitzgerald seems to be also gathering direct evidence from Italy concerning the forged Niger documents just seems to add more fuel to the fire, and just may indicate that he might be approaching this entire case as a Criminal Conspiracy run out of the offices of John Bolton and Dick Cheney, not just "whistle-blower" issue. With Wurmser openly singing, it seems extremely unlikely that either Bolton and Cheney will escape the indictment swarm.


Dissent in the Ranks

More evidence of the impending Neo-Conectomy!

Conservatives fear increase of dissent in the ranks
Some say divisions could weaken party
By Nina J. Easton, Globe Staff | October 24, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Conservative leader Paul M. Weyrich says membership rolls and donations to groups on the right have fallen off. Former House speaker Newt Gingrich worries that the reformist movement he helped godfather has been hurt by corruption allegations surrounding some of its leaders.

The chairman of the American Conservative Union, David Keene, normally a White House loyalist, proclaims that activists are fed up with President Bush. And among conservative books in the works are these sour titles: ''Can This Party Be Saved?" and ''Imposter: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy."

The conservative movement that reshaped modern American politics is in its deepest funk since 1992, when the right rejected Bush's father and was blamed for Republican losses. After displaying unprecedented unity last year, a range of leaders -- from antitax activists to the religious right -- now say they distrust the White House and worry that internal divisions could sap the movement's strength.

The conservative movement was ''on an upward path, even after the 2004 elections, but the growth has stopped," said Weyrich, chairman of the Free Congress Foundation. (snip/...)

Some analysts say disenchantment on the right could double the number of House seats considered competitive from 40 to 80.

''People now say, 'I'm not sure that this is the right gang to belong to,' " Weyrich, who runs a weekly strategy session, said last week. That ''gang" is the White House and GOP leadership, both of which rely on a loyal cadre of self-described conservatives to win elections. A disgruntled base that stays home on election day could fuel Democratic gains in Congress.


Sunday, October 23

Radical Neo-Conectomy

Over a year ago I wrote these words....
When will the Repubs finally reach their breaking point with Bush?
And finally it appears that the Republican Party has just about reached that precipice. It's not because they still haven't found Osama Bin Ladin. It's not because we haven't found any WMD's or connection between Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. It's not because of Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, massive voter fraud, the forged Niger documents, school drop-outs, 51 ignored FAA Warnings about Al Qaeda Highjackings, intelligent design, the bungled flu-vaccine, skyrocketing deficits, increased abortions, explosive government spending or even the tragic aftermath of Katrina.

It's because of Harriet Miers.

Harriet MiersGeorge Will - Such is the perfect perversity of the nomination of Harriet Miers that it discredits, and even degrades, all who toil at justifying it.

Ann Coulter - I have finally hit upon a misdeed by the Bush administration so outrageous, so appalling, so egregious, I am calling for a bipartisan commission with subpoena power to investigate: Who told the president to nominate Harriet Miers? The commission should also be charged with getting an answer to this question: Who was his second choice?

Robert Bork - With a single stroke--the nomination of Harriet Miers--the president has damaged the prospects for reform of a left-leaning and imperialistic Supreme Court, taken the heart out of a rising generation of constitutional scholars, and widened the fissures within the conservative movement. That's not a bad day's work--for liberals.

Robert Novak - George W. Bush's agents have convinced conservative Republican senators who were heartsick over his nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court that they must support her to save his presidency. But that does not guarantee her confirmation. Ahead are hearings of unspeakable ugliness that can be prevented only if Democratic senators exercise unaccustomed restraint.
Right-Wing Conservatives have finally begun to throw Bush under the Bus. In his most recent Salon column former Clinton White House official Sidney Blumenthal points out that conservatives are turning on Bush, despite the fact that...
President Bush brought the neoconservatives, banished by Ronald Reagan and Bush Sr., back into government, and followed their scenario to the letter for remaking the Middle East through an invasion of Iraq, using 9/11 as the pretext. He meticulously followed the right-wing script on supply-side economics, enacting an enormous tax cut for the wealthy that fostered a deficit that dwarfed Reagan's, the problem his father had tried to resolve through a tax increase that earned the right's hostility. And Bush has followed the religious right's line on stem cell research, abortion and creationism
Blumenthal goes on to point out that the neo-cons are now claiming that Bush is a False-conservative. The policies and ideology of neo-conservativism haven't completely and utterly failed in the same manner as Stalinist Communism -- it simply hasn't been implemented by a genuine, true blue, white and RED conservative. They now see Bush is a "traitor" to the Great Conservative Cause.

But I for one think they dost protest far too much, because the truth, as Blumenthal points out, is that Bush has been the most relentlessly idealogically conservative President this country has ever seen, and the result has been a completely total and absolute failure on all counts. It's something that I believe the country needed to experience first hand in order to fully realize the danger that true neo-conservative presents to the function of a free society. It's true purpose is corporate neo-facism, to shift the balance of power into the hands of those who already powerful -- calcify that power and then abandon the rest of us. It seeks only to protect their interests and no others, using the full force of law to extended bankrupcy, environmental and heathcare exemptions for corportations while increasing debt, poverty and sickness for the private individuals who do the work those corporations need, and consume the products they create.

Even with the President's approval ratings begining to slide toward the mid-30% mark, the Harriet Miers debacle has been the first significant crack in the armor of his most ardent supporters. I doubt it has even begun yet, but eventually the rank and file grass roots of the Conservative Republicans will also start to move away and reject the President and his Neo-con cabal. This is what they fear, and why they are trying to distance themselves - and neo-conservativism - from a President who is increasingly becoming radioactive as Fitmas rapidly approaches.

There have already been many defections, starting with American Spectator columnist David Brock in the mid-90's and including people such as Governor and former EPA head Christine Todd Whitman, Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neil, Ambassador Joe Wilson -- and possibly former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

What needs to happen isn't the personal destruction of the President or his aides - but rather the ideology of neo-conservatism needs to be exposed for what it truly is, then completely, totally excised from the body politic. There are indeed honest Conservatives and Republicans of conscience - like Wilson, Whitman and others they have been marginalized and systematically sidelined by the powerlust of the neo-cons. The Republican Party can be rebuilt, but first it and American must be purged this Cancer. We need a Radical Neo-Conectomy. Each and every portion of their malignacy needs to be removed before American can heal.

But even with the furor over the Miers nomination, we certainly haven't reached that time yet.

Some entrepid bloggers on Dailykos have theorized that the Valerie Plame investigation just might find that some 60-70 foreign assets as well as at least one U.S. undercover operative may have lost their lives due to White House persoenel blowing Plame's and Brewster-Jenning cover. If this is true it could mean that those soon to be indicted by Special Prosecutor Patrict Fitzgerald will be facing a possible Death Penalty case.

Will having the President's Deputy Chief of Staff (Karl Rove), and the Vice President Chief of Staff (Lewis "Scooter" Libby) on trial for their lives finally turn the tide for the rank-and-file?

Possibly - and possibly not.

But if Bush follows the post Iran-Contra/Whitewater script and dares to pardon them for their crimes, it just might become an entirely different story. That would certainly be what I would call - Treason.

And it just might finally get the scalpals out and ready to be used by the rank and file electorate to save America from itself.