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Agency asks Justice to investigate leak of employee’s identity
September 26, 2003 11:48 PM   Subscribe

CIA Seeks Probe of White House
At the risk of a Newsfilter callout, this is pretty big news. The CIA has asked the Justice Department to find out if White House officials were responsible for blowing Valerie Plame's cover. Previous Plame discussion here.
posted by emelenjr (132 comments total)

 
This could be it, folks. Cross your fingers.
posted by Ryvar at 12:01 AM on September 27, 2003


According to Josh Marshall, "this news tonight almost certainly means that the CIA's internal investigation concluded that laws were broken or that there was sufficient evidence of wrong-doing for a criminal investigation to be undertaken."
posted by homunculus at 12:11 AM on September 27, 2003


Here's a recent opinion piece by Wilson on Iraq that's worth reading: A Fantasy Foreign Policy.
posted by homunculus at 12:15 AM on September 27, 2003


John Ashcroft will in charge of the investigation, not congress or anyone sane. I'm crossing my fingers, but not holding my breath.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:37 AM on September 27, 2003


Well, if the CIA asked the Justice Dept. then things have already either a) been decided and the investigation will find nothing or b) gotten out of hand and this is the beginning of some fire.

I guess we shall see.
posted by rudyfink at 1:17 AM on September 27, 2003


This is coming down just the way Wilson said it would. He publicly stated "At the end of the day, it's of keen interest to me to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs. And trust me, when I use that name, I measure my words."

On this topic, it is worth recycling John Dean's essay chronicling the seriousness of this alleged crime and the relevant laws that were violated if true.

I wouldn't be surprised if the CIA doesn't close ranks on this one - they have eaten plenty of humble pie from this administration. This former post covers the near revolt in the intelligence community over some of these issues.

First Tenet tried to stop the bullshit juggernaut in October. And then Wilson's report. There were many rumblings in the build up to war threat the intelligence community did not sit comfortably with the trumped up rationales. Yet despite this, Tenet had to take the public hit for the infamous 16 words. and later, an operative gets her cover blown. I get the impression that the intelligence community is not as happy with GWB and his cabal as they were with his daddy.
posted by madamjujujive at 1:33 AM on September 27, 2003


On TPM, Josh is saying that the CIA doesn't ask for an investigation unless it's needed. Looks like things are going to blow up.
posted by nads at 1:40 AM on September 27, 2003


This could be it, folks. Cross your fingers.

Or this.

I'm loathe to post this to the front page, although I think it merits it, so I'll post it here, as it's (tangentially) related. Sorry for the derailment, if that's what it is.

"AUSTRALIAN investigative journalist John Pilger says he has evidence the war against Iraq was based on a lie that could cost George W. Bush and Tony Blair their jobs and bring Prime Minister John Howard down with them.

A television report by Pilger aired on British screens overnight said US Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice confirmed in early 2001 that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had been disarmed and was no threat."

From the state.gov website, Press Remarks with Foreign Minister of Egypt Amre Moussa (cache that puppy before it disappears)

Colin Powell, February 24, 2001 :

"We had a good discussion, the Foreign Minister and I and the President and I, had a good discussion about the nature of the sanctions -- the fact that the sanctions exist -- not for the purpose of hurting the Iraqi people, but for the purpose of keeping in check Saddam Hussein's ambitions toward developing weapons of mass destruction. We should constantly be reviewing our policies, constantly be looking at those sanctions to make sure that they are directed toward that purpose. That purpose is every bit as important now as it was ten years ago when we began it. And frankly they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors. So in effect, our policies have strengthened the security of the neighbors of Iraq, and these are policies that we are going to keep in place, but we are always willing to review them to make sure that they are being carried out in a way that does not affect the Iraqi people but does affect the Iraqi regime's ambitions and the ability to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and we had a good conversation on this issue." (emphasis mine)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 2:06 AM on September 27, 2003


All digits crossed here. And let's hope it IS Rove that takes the fall, as it seems likely that Bush will self-destruct even faster without his "brain."
posted by rushmc at 5:20 AM on September 27, 2003


Anyone who even remotely thinks that anything will come of this is most probably wrong.

If Justice is involved, Ashcroft and his minions will see to it that there is no evidence of anything. Reports will be lost, evidence tampered with or destroyed and the white house officials will remain unknown.

It would be nice if some other major media, besides MSNBC would have anything to do with this story. Pressure is what's needed and that's exactly what we won't get.

Sadly.
posted by damnitkage at 5:32 AM on September 27, 2003


Ashcroft: "Hey, GB, we gotta do something about this. Them homo leftys are latching on to it like rabid ferrets... sorry, but here is the subpoena for your staff."

GB: "Gee John, I don't think we can do that. We're havin' a war you know, a war on terrorism. I know what I know and the answer is no. You tell them elitist spooks to bring it on, because they ain't getting diddly."

Ashcroft: "So, let me get this right. Your refusing on the grounds of national security and citing presidential privilege ?"

GB: "Yeah, I think that's it. National security and... uh, that other thing. That is what I'm doing, right?"

Ashcroft: "Yep. That's it. National security. I'll have my office issue a press release. Sorry to bother you."
posted by cedar at 5:58 AM on September 27, 2003


Anyone who even remotely thinks that anything will come of this is most probably wrong.
If Justice is involved, Ashcroft and his minions will see to it that there is no evidence of anything...


I think so too, unfortunately--depending on Ashcroft to seriously investigate the White House is a fool's game. And this story has been public for a while now, and it hasn't seemed to gain much traction. The agency most affected by this can gain nothing by going to the Justice Dept--Tenet, I think, should be making himself available to any and all reporters about this story (which i doubt he'll do), and explain how it really damages our security and how appalling it is to have the administration recklessly endangering lives because they didn't like what a spouse said.
posted by amberglow at 6:10 AM on September 27, 2003


How could you think Ashcroft would be impartial about investigating his boss, who gave him this nice job as consolation for losing an election to a dead man.

Hmm, independent counsel, anyone?

I mean, our foreign intelligence should be one part of the government that our president can talk to without animus, don't you think?
posted by Busithoth at 7:12 AM on September 27, 2003


One of the most curious aspects of the american mind is how many people like to be on the winning team, regardless of which team that is. For example, I read a blog post recently where the author was speaking out in favor of exit polling, so that he'd know who to vote for (the candidate who was out in front) on the west coast when he got off work. Now that the president's public approval rating has dropped below 50%, you can bet there will be a lot more stories and a lot more digging. Yes, the story's been public for a while, but you can't pretend that MSNBC is the equivalent of the Weekly World News, so it seems to me that it may be gaining traction.

I think we can safely say the honeymoon is over.

(here's a funny bit - spell check recommends "snob" for MSNBC)
posted by Irontom at 7:15 AM on September 27, 2003


This won't touch Bush. Some minor functionary in the palace will take the blame and Bush will condemn the whole thing. At that point it will fizzle.
posted by y6y6y6 at 7:46 AM on September 27, 2003


"Some minor functionary in the palace will take the blame and Bush will condemn the whole thing."

I'd be surprised if it even came to that. They'll refuse to cooperate and it will blow over-- just like the dozens of other court orders, subpoenas and congressional inquiries they have ignored.

This administration has made it abundantly clear that they regard themselves as above the law, they're on a crusade to save the soul of America and the end justifies the means.
posted by cedar at 7:55 AM on September 27, 2003


Iran Contra didn't touch Reagan or Bush Sr after all....
posted by Eekacat at 7:55 AM on September 27, 2003


And to be fair, this pales in comparison to Iran Contra...
posted by kahboom at 8:07 AM on September 27, 2003


And to be fair, this pales in comparison to Iran Contra...

But not to Monicagate.
posted by jpoulos at 9:05 AM on September 27, 2003


And this story has been public for a while now, and it hasn't seemed to gain much traction.

This was sparked by a late-July column by Robert Novak -- 60 days may be a lifetime to weblogs, but to the mainstream media it's nothing. Where was the Watergate story after two months?

The official CIA request gives the media an excuse to cover this story; they've been shying away from it until now. Even Drudge is pimping it today, after ignoring it completely up to this point.

I have my doubts that Ashcroft will do anything on his own, but if the press gives it the treatment it deserves, he may have to respond.
posted by rcade at 9:27 AM on September 27, 2003


I'd like to hope something comes of this, but I can't. The US government is far too corrupt for this to have legs: they'll squelch it entirely, or let some schmoe take the fall.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:32 AM on September 27, 2003


Even Drudge is pimping it today, after ignoring it completely up to this point.

That's something i wonder about: both Novak and Drudge are known for propagating Republican spin and talking points. (Novak less so than Drudge since neo-cons came into power) What's their rationale for reporting this?
posted by amberglow at 10:49 AM on September 27, 2003


I'm amazed that it's come this far, flabbergasted, almost. Who the heck knows what comes next? But if you think the CIA is just going to let this drop without a peep - that it won't respond somehow, if Ashcroft does nothing ... I mean, c'mon. This may turn out to be nothing, or an American life-changing sort of story, or it becomes the subject of a huge investigation which turns up nothing. Again, though, given the weirdness and drama of the past few years, who can really say with certainty what will or won't happen?
posted by raysmj at 10:51 AM on September 27, 2003


What rights does Novak have in a case like this? Assuming there's an investigation, if he's subpoenaed or brought before a grand jury will he have to talk?

Also, can the USA PATRIOT act be used against him and the Bush administration? Oh, the irony. Ousting an agent? Sounds like terrorist sympathizers to me! To camp x-ray with you!
posted by skallas at 10:53 AM on September 27, 2003


Maybe the CIA should just take matters into their own hands, and place a nice tap on Novack's phone and computer. Claim he's a terrorist, watch his comings and goings, maybe they can trace his 'source' themselves, abusing his rights using tools he endorses...
posted by Busithoth at 11:02 AM on September 27, 2003


This needs a name suitable for sound biting. Outingate? Treasongate? Ohshitkarlmightgotojailgaate? C'mon people...
posted by Cerebus at 11:26 AM on September 27, 2003


Oh, and I've said before that trying to screw the spooks is a bad idea. They bite, and you don't always see the teeth.
posted by Cerebus at 11:36 AM on September 27, 2003


Reporters who refuse to identify sources when subpoenaed can be jailed. (IANAL, but "Absence of Malice" is one of my favorite movies, and if Wilford Brimley says "You know that's all horse-puckey, counselor - the First Amendment don't say that, and the privilege don't exist", in one of the greatest scenes in movies, then it must be true.)
posted by nicwolff at 11:37 AM on September 27, 2003


What y6 said. Look, Bush (like most presidents, to be fair) is a blank slate. All he knows is what people tell him. That's not because he's too dumb to analyze data and reach independent conclusions. It's because it's safer not to.

"Colin Powell said there are no WMD's in Iraq? Other people said there are. Next question."

In a decentralized command system, the President doesn't make decisions - he chooses which of several pre-made decisions to accept. This is a crucial distinction because it allows him to shift blame onto any subordinate on whose analysis he relied. Any investigations of the White House will stop far short of the President, because the power of inference in the CIA is far weaker than, say, a fact-finding jury of peers.

Say what you will about how horrible a President he has been: you will need to admit that he has technically absolved himself of high crimes and misdemeanors with the help of some very smart advisors and Clinton-style word-parsing abilities. Bush will never face direct evidence against him. The electorate now has the burden of making the appropriate inferences. Our focus needs to be on the kind of impeachment that doesn't carry a burden of proof: the kind that comes along every four years, next in November 2004.
posted by PrinceValium at 11:41 AM on September 27, 2003


But if the allegation is accurate, I have every confidence that the relevant agencies that have jurisdiction over this matter looking into it. These things take some time. We'll just see where it goes.

-Joseph Wilson 9/16/03
posted by euphorb at 11:50 AM on September 27, 2003


Bush may never face direct evidence against them. Bernie Ebbers or Ken Lay haven't faced it either. But they're no longer in positions of anything resembling power. Something very similar might happen here - a meltdown of sorts.
posted by raysmj at 11:58 AM on September 27, 2003


That's something i wonder about: both Novak and Drudge are known for propagating Republican spin and talking points. (Novak less so than Drudge since neo-cons came into power) What's their rationale for reporting this?

As for Drudge, I think that he values muckraking above partisanship. He would post incriminating photos of himself if it would generate hits.

Novak just fucked up. He was trying to smear Wilson (though I have no idea why it would be a "smear" to have his wife outed. I think he probably knew that she was in the CIA) and the CIA, and just wasn't thinking about the implications of what he was doing. Novak may or may not be an important academic (I can testify that he is a horrible lecturer, but that doesn't mean anything), but as a journalist --and especially as a partisan one--he is a fucking monkey.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:10 PM on September 27, 2003


Interesting that this story is released virtually in the middle of the night on a Friday night. We will have to see what the Sunday talk show media make of it. Despite the deck being stacked against it, I remain hopeful that this issue might have legs. Watergate evolved over a long time - drip, drip, drip and suddenly a huge current.

To this day it's arguable whether Nixon ever knew about Watergate in advance...it was the lying and coverup after the fact that did him and his cronies in. I don't think this is likely to touch Bush, but if it ever got Rove it would remove one of the highly effective string pullers and hang another cloud over the junta during an election year.

Watergate didn't seem all that big a deal when it first broke. Huge and powerful forces were arrayed against prosecution: reporters felt their lives were endangered; then Attorney General John Mitchell - every bit as powerful as Ashcroft and perhaps even more arrogant - threatened that Katie Graham’s gonna get her tit caught in a big fat wringer: Nixon fired special prosecutor Cox (impeach the Cox-sacker cries ensued); Mitchell's wife was a bit of a boozy whistleblower, and there were stories of her being drugged and locked in closets to shut her up. And despite the Pentagon Papers, despite Watergate, Nixon was elected by a landslide and things seemed hopeless.

So far this case comes out of the chute with a strong force in its favor in the advocacy of the intelligence community.

Arrogance is a blinding flaw. I remain optimistic.
posted by madamjujujive at 12:27 PM on September 27, 2003


Novak just fucked up. He was trying to smear Wilson (though I have no idea why it would be a "smear" to have his wife outed. I think he probably knew that she was in the CIA) and the CIA, and just wasn't thinking about the implications of what he was doing. Novak may or may not be an important academic (I can testify that he is a horrible lecturer, but that doesn't mean anything), but as a journalist --and especially as a partisan one--he is a fucking monkey.

Well, he's admittedly a damn sight better than the current crop of conservative pundits from Fox, or inspired by them. Anyway, in this case Novak was more of a tool than anything else. He let himself be used by the WH to take Wilson down a notch by making his wife vulnerable, and he also took part in a very serious crime - one which really isn't excusable by journalistic standards. The person who leaked this information to him and whoever directed such an action are ultimately responsible for this (and Bush is as well), but Novak should know better than to let himself be used in such a way. He's not only been an accomplice in this crime, he let his position as a journalist be used by the White House to commit this crime, as a mouthpiece and henchman. I can see how a journalist would feel compelled to pass on such juicy information, but one with integrity would pass on the information that the White House tried to out a covert operative through this journalist (without naming the agent), and making it clear that outing a covert intelligence agent is a serious crime.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:29 PM on September 27, 2003


In other White House secrecy news: "White House lawyers are still resisting turning over to the September 11 commission key documents—including the text of daily intelligence briefs provided to President Bush in the months before the attacks and closely held National Security Council memos on terrorism."
posted by homunculus at 1:34 PM on September 27, 2003


thanks Ignatius and krinkly...

I hope Novak goes to jail for this, but i doubt he will, along with the people who passed this tidbit on to him.
posted by amberglow at 1:58 PM on September 27, 2003


So... I'm sure I've missed credible analysis or legal links in prior posts, but is the law such that revealing an Op's identity is a crime whether you are a government official or a private citizen (read: journalist)? Because it seems to me that if the law says citizen's are as treasonous for revealing these secrets... well, the case against Bush et al is fuzzy and vague, in that they can obfuscate, dodge, and/or just throw some sacrificial lamb out there, and key players like Bush or Rove will walk away without a scratch. But Robert Novak has no cover, whatsoever- he publicly and unquestionable revealed the status of Wilson's wife, and can't pin it on anyone else. Regardless of whether he reveals his source or not, there's no question that he revealed the information publicly.

I'll admit, I'd love to see the puffy-faced ghoul roast for this. I'm just curious, politics and gamesmanship aside, if there is a solid case Novak broke the law in a serious way, and what kind of penalty/jail time there would be in this situation. Also, I'd heard a rumor that I'd like to know if it's at all substantiated, that several CIA assets were killed as a result of this public knowledge, though Valerie Plame and other agents weren't harmed
posted by hincandenza at 2:42 PM on September 27, 2003


hincandenza:
Check out the John Dean link from earlier in the thread for a legal perspective. Also, this Slate article from a couple of weeks ago claims that the administration officials themselves would be demostrably in violation of this law.

Other than in a Canadian Sci-Fi journal, this hasn't appeared in any other news outlets at all. I think that the talk above about the Sunday morning talk shows might be right. Why will no one have Wilson (or Plame) on? He seems eager to talk to the press. I hope that madamjujujive is right, and that this story actually gets fleshed out.

I sometimes wonder if the Bush administration lets allegations simmer unadressed even if they are untrue and could be easilly disproven because the sheer volume of lies of which they end up being accused seems improbable to most people, and the culture develops a sort of skepticism fatigue. But in this case at least, I can't even imagine what kind of spin would make these events look different. Has anyone seen an explanation of this that doesn't at least implicate Novak? Can he say he didn't know it was illegal?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 3:03 PM on September 27, 2003


Howard Dean is talking about it, and he'll be on Face the Nation tomorrow morning (hopefully bringing this up between charges that he hates Medicare, Israel and puppies). Here is a bit of his statement:

I applaud the CIA's request that the Justice Department investigate the Plame affair. I urge the Justice Department to investigate the matter swiftly and objectively, without the taint of partisan politics that have so plagued this Administration's conduct of foreign policy.

"But this investigation should not be necessary. Those responsible should resign immediately.

"President Bush came into office promising to bring honor and integrity to the White House. Instead, the President took us to war on what appears to be false pretenses and is now using every means possible to obfuscate that fact. If the allegations are true, someone within this Administration has sought retribution against a former U.S. diplomat who sought only to bring truth to an otherwise murky situation by revealing the identity of his wife, an undercover analyst. This is a very serious charge. If it is true, they have gone way beyond petty retribution - they have undermined a key national security tenet and violated two federal laws.


And if you read the sometimes-stupid blog comments on the Dean page, there are a number of people who claim that other news outlets are respecting an NBC exclusive. This might make sense, especially because one would expect an announcement like this to come with an official press release. Maybe the whole story will get "disappeared." Sorry to post so often in this thread.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 3:22 PM on September 27, 2003


Time: "The Justice Department has opened a preliminary inquiry into whether a Bush Administration official illegally revealed the identity of..."
posted by whatnotever at 3:24 PM on September 27, 2003


Other than in a Canadian Sci-Fi journal, this hasn't appeared in any other news outlets at all

It's on the front page at msnbc.com. Though I'd forgive you for classifying that outside of "news outlets."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:19 PM on September 27, 2003


this hasn't appeared in any other news outlets

I meant other than MSNBC. Would you also forgive me for not being clear?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 4:35 PM on September 27, 2003


Only if you forgive me for not noticing where the original post referred to.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:50 PM on September 27, 2003


marshall took off the gloves this weekend. the man rocks. any wonder where our 87 billion dollars are going? and why those in power are willing to break federal laws to cover their asses.

there are number of nice places scattered all over the north east, which i'm sure mr. karl rove will enjoy.
posted by specialk420 at 6:02 PM on September 27, 2003


and as much as i dislike most of his politics ... i hope novak isn't planning on any countryside walks anytime soon ....
posted by specialk420 at 6:36 PM on September 27, 2003


looks like this is catching fire - TPM is reporting that Time and CBS are running with the story now.
posted by stonerose at 6:54 PM on September 27, 2003


nytimes is on it finally as well.
posted by specialk420 at 6:59 PM on September 27, 2003


Keep track of who's got it with Google.
posted by whatnotever at 7:42 PM on September 27, 2003


Actually, here's a better view, sorted by date.
posted by whatnotever at 7:44 PM on September 27, 2003


And the Washpost page one, which has fascinating quotes from "a senior administration official" trashing the leaker.

"Clearly, it was meant purely and simply for revenge," the senior official said of the alleged leak.

It is rare for one Bush administration official to turn on another. Asked about the motive for describing the leaks, the senior official said the leaks were "wrong and a huge miscalculation, because they were irrelevant and did nothing to diminish Wilson's credibility."
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:46 PM on September 27, 2003


I sometimes wonder if the Bush administration lets allegations simmer unadressed even if they are untrue and could be easilly disproven because the sheer volume of lies of which they end up being accused seems improbable to most people, and the culture develops a sort of skepticism fatigue.

IJR, I've never before heard the entire strategy of the Bush administration so succinctly expressed. Two words. Terrific. Yours, or did I miss it elsewhere?
posted by soyjoy at 7:46 PM on September 27, 2003


from the washington post article: A senior administration official said two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and revealed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife.

I bet that at least one of those other 5 journalists are going to come forward about being fed the story. And two top white house officials???
posted by amberglow at 8:00 PM on September 27, 2003


It is rare for one Bush administration official to turn on another.
Hmmm. A deep throat in the making?

amberglow, I hope you are right about one of the other journalists coming forward. But none of them did so far, even in a general sense.

Bush would do well to condemn this action and fire the two people who leaked this immediately, no matter who they are. However, at times like this, people rarely take the necessary damage control actions and things continue to spiral.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:15 PM on September 27, 2003


madamjujujive, that only makes sense if they did it on their own initiative or can be somehow persuaded to say they did. If you just burn them out of hand, they start talking about who told them to do it.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:17 PM on September 27, 2003


i'm getting hopeful now about this being a big deal...I wonder who the other top official is?

juju, i think one of them will because it will make them look really upstanding and honorable for not participating in the smear, and help counteract the whole thing about the press playing softball for so long with this administration (i have no proof, but i think a Fox or Washington Post person will be 1 or 2 of the other 5, but probably not a NYT person, given this administration's love of Fox, and that the Post was called out for burying anti-administration stuff for so long)....also, people will be asking who else was given the info--people always talk when it comes to stuff like this, especially when they come out the winner. By Monday night we'll know.
posted by amberglow at 8:35 PM on September 27, 2003


soyjoy:
Mine, I suppose, though a major pain in all of our asses.

amberglow:
also, people will be asking who else was given the info--people always talk when it comes to stuff like this, especially when they come out the winner.

This makes me more hopeful than anything else. A littel self interest goes a long way, and I personally promise to buy the next crummy (or uncrummy) book published by whichever of the five comes forward.

From the WaPo article:
Sources familiar with the conversations said the leakers' allegation was that Wilson had benefited from nepotism because the Niger mission had been his wife's idea.

This is rich. I like the idea of the Bush administration as a nepotism watchdog group.

This is a great thread, IMO. I know that the links in FPP's are meant to be the meat-and-potatoes of MeFi, but in-thread links have been just as valuable to my experience with the site, and I'm sure others would agree. Hopefully this can act like some sort of focus group to show that people are interested in this story. It isn't real sound-bite friendly yet, and the narrative is a bit more complex than many of the stories that people connect with instantly, but the public isn't entirely stpuid, and we are counting on the press to flesh this thing out for us.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 10:18 PM on September 27, 2003


A senior administration official said two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and revealed the identity and occupation of Wilson's wife.


This is the most eyebrow raising graf in the Post. Not only that there are a half dozen reporters out there who can point fingers, but also that the leak targeting Plame was a well orchestrated operation whose full scope is known about at the highest levels.


Also, you gotta love this quote from Newsday:


"We are talking a very firm decline-to-comment stance," a CIA spokesperson said.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:46 AM on September 28, 2003


the senior official said the leaks were "wrong and a huge miscalculation, because they were irrelevant and did nothing to diminish Wilson's credibility."

Yes, if you're going to leak national security data, by all means make sure that it will successfully smear your target....
posted by rushmc at 6:21 AM on September 28, 2003


The senior official quotes in the Post make it sound like the White House is about to serve those two leakers up on a platter. I don't think they'd be willing to do that if one was Karl Rove.
posted by rcade at 6:30 AM on September 28, 2003


Actually, it sounds to me like someone in State is a little fed up with all of the rush-to-war bullshit. That said, I don't think that Karl Rove would be dumb enough to actually do something like this himself, although I'm sure he wouldn't hesitate to order someone to do it.
posted by UKnowForKids at 8:00 AM on September 28, 2003


Well if Rove ordered it, a nod is as good as a wink. As George_Spiggott points out, fall guys sometimes start talking.
Josh Marshall watched Condi Rice on Brit Hume today and said that she was visbily rattled.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:32 AM on September 28, 2003


Speaking of our good budy Josh Marshall, his best guess is that George Tenet is the leak. It's a plausible guess.
posted by UKnowForKids at 8:53 AM on September 28, 2003


So what actually happens to the arsehole who's responsible?

As I recall, the last big blowout was Ollie North and his weapons-sales idiocy. Seems to me he went underground for a few years, and is now back in the spotlight, is better-connected to the movers, shakers and money-men, and is sitting pretty.

ie.) sweet bugger-all happens.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:11 AM on September 28, 2003


fff, I think what differs here is that there's no way this act can be painted as patriotic. The Democrats now have the ability to point to unpatriotic, illegal activities undertaken on a planned basis at high levels of government. They also have a great asset in the form of Wes Clark, who can take the ostensible bravery, patriotism, and 'military credibility' of the Bush regime and make it look sickly. I'm optimistic.
posted by stonerose at 9:35 AM on September 28, 2003


Just something I noticed, about the Time link. They misquot novak. From Time:

"Novak wrote that "two administration officials" told him Wilson's wife had suggested sending him to Niger to investigate."

From the Novak article:
"Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report."

It's a direct quote. I think it's important that you include all the words.
posted by betaray at 6:17 PM on September 28, 2003


nice catch betaray. subpoena novak.
posted by specialk420 at 8:09 PM on September 28, 2003


"White House officials said they would turn over phone logs if the Justice Department asked them to. But the aides said Bush has no plans to ask his staff members whether they played a role in revealing the name of an undercover officer who is married to former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, one of the most visible critics of Bush's handling of intelligence about Iraq."
posted by homunculus at 8:51 PM on September 28, 2003


Howard Dean issued another release on "Wilsongate," this time asking that the independent Justice Department Inspector General be installed to head the investigation, and for Ashcroft to stay out of it:

"We must get to the bottom of this swiftly. That's why I ask the President and the White House to cooperate fully in any criminal investigation.

"And to ensure a thorough investigation -- free from political pressure -- I call on Attorney General John Ashcroft to play no role in this investigation and permit the probe to be carried out by the independent Justice Department Inspector General. We need to determine the facts in the highly sensitive matter free from any political taint.

"President Bush came into office promising to bring honor and integrity to the White House. No more promises. It's time for accountability."


Seriously, I'm not viral-marketing Howard Dean, who is too liberal and besides is just the same as Newt Gingrich, just trying to throw more on the impressive link heap that this thread has become.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:33 PM on September 28, 2003


"White House officials said they would turn over phone logs if the Justice Department asked them to.


When trying to discredit a Wes Clark comment/joke/whatever that Karl Rove never returned his calls, the White House was very quick to report that phone logs showed he had never called Rove.
Somehow I don't think they will be as forthcoming with those logs now.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:05 AM on September 29, 2003


Wilson said yesterday that journalists for the three major broadcast networks told him they had been contacted by someone in the White House. He named only one, Andrea Mitchell, NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent, who interviewed Wilson and reported on July 22 that he said the administration was "leaking his wife's covert job at the CIA to reporters." Mitchell could not be reached for comment yesterday.-- from the Wash. Post.
posted by amberglow at 4:45 AM on September 29, 2003


I must admit this news seems most auspicious.

Thinking about this the last day or so, I realized something. If the CIA didn't have airtight 100% proof of who the leaks were, they wouldn't have gone to the Justice Department.

Why? From my casual understanding of the CIA they like to set people up with a set of Chinese fingercuffs. The harder you pull the worse it gets.

If they give the Justice department undeniable proof a crime has occurred here, Ashcroft or whomever almost have to prosecute. To do otherwise would invite the CIA to leak the proof, and then whomever at the Justice Department decided to just sit on it is also a criminal.

That is also why they would not have approached the Justice Department without incontrovertible evidence, it would have made the CIA look bad and, in the end, done nothing to the people that exposed Plame.

Really its diabolically simple, the CIA will make this administration consume itself with this one. Either prosecute the criminal and take the publicity hit, or face the implicit threat that we will expose you for covering it up. No way out. Fingercuffs.
posted by jester69 at 7:46 AM on September 29, 2003


jester69 - good points all, but please stop saying "whomever." Please.
posted by soyjoy at 8:29 AM on September 29, 2003


the ss rove is listing. the rats are jumping ship. karl better get used to wearing more khaki than his dockers ....
posted by specialk420 at 10:43 AM on September 29, 2003


Regarding Novak: Don't piss on the First Amendment.
posted by homunculus at 11:03 AM on September 29, 2003


OMG!!!@@! What is going on over at Time? Now they've changed the article, with no retraction, to this:

Columnist Robert Novak wrote in July that Wilson's wife was a CIA "operative" who suggested that he be sent to Niger to investigate intelligence that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy a large volume of Niger's yellowcake uranium to build a nuclear weapon.

They fixed the factual inaccuracy, but they still didn't attribute the information to SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS? What a bunch of wimps. Get some integrity Time!
posted by betaray at 12:55 PM on September 29, 2003


There's a lot of speculation, including Josh Marshall's, about how and why "senior administration officials" turned into "administration officials over the weekend. This is one of many questions put to an overwhelmed Howard Kurtz in today's Media Backtalk.
posted by soyjoy at 1:33 PM on September 29, 2003


Whoa... Total about-face by Novak according to Drudge


'Nobody in the Bush administration called me to leak this. In July I was interviewing a senior administration official on Ambassador Wilson's report when he told me the trip was inspired by his wife, a CIA employee working on weapons of mass destruction. Another senior official told me the same thing. As a professional journalist with 46 years experience in Washington I do not reveal confidential sources. When I called the CIA in July to confirm Mrs. Wilson's involvement in the mission for her husband -- he is a former Clinton administration official -- they asked me not to use her name, but never indicated it would endanger her or anybody else. According to a confidential source at the CIA, Mrs. Wilson was an analyst, not a spy, not a covert operator, and not in charge of undercover operatives'...
posted by futureproof at 3:05 PM on September 29, 2003


This changes nothing. It is merely an attempt by Novak assuage his tawdry reputation as an administration spin mouthpiece. The basic facts are the same. The only difference is that instead of them calling him, he now claims he called them. I suspect that he called Ari to get a comment about Wilson's allegations concerning Niger uranium. Ari probably said something like "We think his report is not credible and by the way did you know that the only reason he got the job is because of his wife in the CIA." Novak is trying to deflect the fact that he was an administration dupe, the only one to go for the bait, and paint the idea that he painstakingly dug out the information himself like a real journalist. It makes no difference who called who, only that the White House leaked national security information in a lame attempt to smear an opponent.
posted by JackFlash at 3:21 PM on September 29, 2003


Note he is also now saying that Wilson's wife was not an undercover agent but an analyst.

If that is the case it would change the situation significantly as the White House would not have blown the cover of an agent while breaking two laws at the same time.

If this is the case, I find it odd that we are only now hearing this.
posted by futureproof at 3:28 PM on September 29, 2003


You're missing the point here. Novak's dissembling is not intended to help the White House. It is intended to salvage his own reputation since he is now vilified as someone who would jeopardize national security in order to dish some dirt. He is now claiming that he didn't realize the significance of his revelation because he didn't think Plame was covert. Whether you believe that or not is unimportant since Novak is not at risk of prosecution. However, the White House officials certainly knew and whether they outed her as a CIA analyst or as a CIA spook is irrelevant. No one was supposed to know she worked for the CIA and her career and all of her contacts are now burned.
posted by JackFlash at 3:58 PM on September 29, 2003


...since Novak is not at risk of prosecution...
actually, don't journalists go to jail if the court orders them to reveal their sources and they don't? I think he's covering his ass. All a court has to do is supoena him or Andrea Mitchell or any of the other journalists contacted.

(stupidly enough, a mary tyler moore episode is stuck in my head concerning this, where Mary is in jail for refusing to reveal a source, and she meets a hooker and gets a horrible dress designed for her)
posted by amberglow at 4:35 PM on September 29, 2003


Thanks for the link soyjoy. I'm still upset about the reporting on Time. I usually choose to ignore the claims of media bias and tend to believe people generally act in their own best interests, but what is the intrest of Time here? I've done a little research on Timothy J. Burger's previous articles. From his work with the New York Daily News (a paper I know nothing about) and other, he doesn't seem to have a problem laying out the hard facts. I wish I knew how to contact him so that I could ask him about his article. There's very little to go as to who the editors in charge here are, I wish I knew more about them as well.
posted by betaray at 4:55 PM on September 29, 2003


This clears up any questions about Novak's latest statement.

If he was trying to salvage his own reputation it doesn't seem like he'll fare to well.
posted by futureproof at 5:14 PM on September 29, 2003


Novak is not at risk for prosecution of a crime primarily because, as a journalist, he is shielded by the First Amendment (as he should be). That is not to say that he made the correct moral decision. He had a choice of writing two stories, one the smear fed to him by the White House, and the other a story about a corrupt White House attempt to leak national security information. Unfortunately he chose the former, but that is not a crime.

On the other hand he could be jailed for contempt of court if he refuses to testify before a grand jury. Contempt of court is a punishable offense with procedures similar to a crime, but is not a crime strictly speaking. You may recall the recent case of Vanessa Leggett, a writer in Texas, who Ashcroft kept in jail for almost 6 months for refusing to turn over her notes concerning a local murder case. But what do you think are the odds of Ashcroft sending Novak to jail for contempt?
posted by JackFlash at 5:19 PM on September 29, 2003


Novak says she was just an analyst? They give mere analysts cover as working for a private energy company?
posted by CunningLinguist at 6:13 PM on September 29, 2003


But what do you think are the odds of Ashcroft sending Novak to jail for contempt?
Ashcroft won't ever, but an independent counsel might. I find it hysterical that Novak, a good Republican soldier for decades, may be responsible for the end of the Bush Administration.
posted by amberglow at 7:02 PM on September 29, 2003


Tomorrow's Washington Post has a couple new, or new-ish, tidbits:

Another journalist yesterday [i.e. Monday] confirmed receiving a call from an administration official providing the same information about Wilson's wife before the Novak column appeared on July 14 in The Post and other newspapers.

The journalist, who asked not to be identified because of possible legal ramifications, said that the information was provided as part of an effort to discredit Wilson, but that the CIA information was not treated as especially sensitive. "The official I spoke with thought this was a part of Wilson's story that wasn't known and cast doubt on his whole mission," the person said, declining to identify the official he spoke with. "They thought Wilson was having a good ride and this was part of Wilson's story."


and:

Wilson said that based on reporters' statements, he believes Rove participated in calls that drew attention to his wife's occupation after Novak's column was published. "My knowledge is based on a reporter who called me right after he had spoken to Rove and said that Rove had said my wife was fair game," Wilson said. He said that conversation occurred on July 21.

Wilson said a producer from another network told him about the same time, "The White House is saying things about you and your wife that are so off the wall that we won't use them." Wilson said the series of similar calls he received, which included four journalists from three networks, stopped on July 22, after he appeared on NBC's "Today" show and said the disclosure of his wife's maiden name could jeopardize the "entire network that she may have established."

NBC anchor Tom Brokaw reported last night that correspondent Andrea Mitchell had such a discussion after the Novak column appeared.


Novak's little "don't call me, I'll call you" routine seems to be having little effect on the larger story.
posted by soyjoy at 7:55 PM on September 29, 2003


I think this is a fascinating paragraph (can you say non sequitur? I knew you could!) and would guess it's the Post's subtle way of pointing a finger at one suspect:


"An article that appeared on the Time magazine Web site the same week Novak's column was published said that "some government officials have noted to Time in interviews . . . that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, is a CIA official who monitors the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction." The same article quoted from an interview with I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, saying that Cheney did not know about Wilson's mission "until this year when it became public in the last month or so."
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:40 PM on September 29, 2003


"When I called the CIA in July to confirm Mrs. Wilson's involvement in the mission for her husband -- he is a former Clinton administration official -- they asked me not to use her name, but never indicated it would endanger her or anybody else." - So Novak claims that his outing of Valerie Plame was vetted by the CIA? He must be very desperate to be playing that game.
posted by troutfishing at 9:45 PM on September 29, 2003


if they had been smart, they would have used Karen Hughes for the calls (she left to "spend more time with family," a move soon to be followed by at least 2 administration officials)
posted by amberglow at 9:50 PM on September 29, 2003


(NYT) "WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 — The White House today dismissed as "ridiculous" the suggestion that Karl Rove, senior adviser to President Bush, had illegally disclosed the identity of an undercover C.I.A. officer, as the F.B.I. opened an investigation into the case."

The sharks are circling.

Karl, Karl....whassup?
posted by troutfishing at 10:06 PM on September 29, 2003


Interesting commentary here
posted by CunningLinguist at 10:14 PM on September 29, 2003


I was unaware that Rove had been dismissed by Bush senior planting negative stories with -of all people - Novak. Interesting.

This is an amusing take on how how the right wing punditry is reacting.

I would love to see this thread in the sidebar so all emerging info can be contained and continued here.
posted by madamjujujive at 12:17 AM on September 30, 2003


Trenchant questions and insider views from The Note:

Has President Bush made clear to the White House staff that only total cooperation with the investigation will be tolerated? If not, why not?

Has he insisted that every senior staff member sign a statement with legal authority that they are not the leaker and that they will identify to the White House legal counsel who is?

Has Bush required that all sign a letter relinquishing journalists from protecting those two sources? Has Bush said that those involved in this crime will be immediately fired? If not, why not?

Has Albert Gonzalez distributed a letter to White House employees telling them to preserve documents, logs, records? If not, why not?

(he apparently did this this morning)

(snip)

It might not be fair and it might not be right, but 480 members out of the Gang of 500 have the same theory about what happened, and The Note's strong belief in the First Amendment makes us duty bound to tell you about this operating premise.

Based on the original Novak story; on the language in yesterday's Washington Post story; on the "kind" of people Novak talks to; on the prophetic warnings of Wayne Slater; and on the fact that CIA agents have memories and the capacity to hold grudges nearly as long as the Bush family — based on all that, here's what people are thinking:

Two White House officials lashed out at Wilson, hoping to smear him in the minds of enough elite reporters to discredit him before his platform grew. They didn't want his wife's name out there in the public domain, so much as they wanted it in the brains of gatekeeping reporters.

Again, it might not be right or fair, but we dare you to find a member of the Gang who doesn't think the Post 's source was someone familiar with George Tenet's thinking.

(that's code for Tenet himself)
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:19 AM on September 30, 2003


Okay, I was just reading yesterday's afternoon press briefing and I laughed so hard I think I hurt my vocal chords, at this:

MR. McCLELLAN: I've made it very clear, from the beginning, that it is totally ridiculous. I've known Karl for a long time, and I didn't even need to go ask Karl, because I know the kind of person that he is, and he is someone that is committed to the highest standards of conduct.

Q Have you read any book about him lately?

posted by beth at 8:46 AM on September 30, 2003


Has Albert Gonzalez distributed a letter to White House employees telling them to preserve documents, logs, records? If not, why not?

After he finally did so, Gonzales' letter pretty well killed Novak's latest "oh, she wasn't undersover" line...

PLEASE READ: Important Message From Counsel's Office

We were informed last evening by the Department of Justice that it has opened an investigation into possible unauthorized disclosures concerning the identity of an undercover CIA employee. The department advised us that it will be sending a letter today instructing us to preserve all materials that might be relevant to its investigation. Its letter will provide more specific instructions on the materials in which it is interested, and we will communicate those instructions directly to you. In the meantime, you must preserve all materials that might in any way be related to the department's investigation. Any questions concerning this request should be directed to Associate Counsels Ted Ullyot or Raul Yanes in the counsel to the president's office.The president has directed full cooperation with this investigation.


...Not that that lie managed to negate the fact that his column pretty clearly indicated otherwise. It seems like Novak doesn't understand that after you publish something it stays published. Does he think we can't go read his column from two months ago and call him on his bullshit? I don't see anyone with any legs to stand on here, and Novak in particular just keeps digging himself in deeper.

One person who could rachet this whole affair up a couple of notches is Andrea Mitchell, and here's to hoping that she comes forward and names names. The way I see it, she didn't write the story, so she didn't take the bait. Does that still make the leaker a source? I don't know, but I do know that in her position I would feel less compelled to protect Rove the leaker than someone who wasn't just trying to use me.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 9:18 AM on September 30, 2003


poynter has a good bunch of links on the topic today (3rd item)
posted by amberglow at 10:50 AM on September 30, 2003


Thanks for the pointer, amberglow - but please, say Romenesko.
posted by soyjoy at 12:57 PM on September 30, 2003


Flash! The Guardian's Julian Borger has said that the journalists in question are confirming privately that they were contacted by Karl. Rove.
posted by stonerose at 1:24 PM on September 30, 2003


Yes, I said Karl. Rove.

(?!)
posted by stonerose at 1:25 PM on September 30, 2003


(Assuming it was Rove, but even if it wasn't) What a scumbag Rove is. You've got to be positively psychopathic to be so dirty for so long and not expect it to catch up with you sooner or later.

Of course, it has caught up to him numerous times, and here he is with an office in the white house, so go figure.
posted by jpoulos at 1:44 PM on September 30, 2003


Frog! March! Frog! March! Frog! March!
posted by soyjoy at 1:46 PM on September 30, 2003


Sorry, I got so excited I forgot to include the link I came to add - today's Tom Paine column digs this gem out of the January 2003 Esquire article that got John DiIulio (office of Faith-Based Initiatives, remember?) into hot water. Here's DiIulio waiting in the hall to meet with Rove sometime last year...

"Inside, Rove was talking to an aide about some political stratagem in some state that had gone awry and a political operative who had displeased him. I paid it no mind and reviewed a jotted list of questions I hoped to ask. But after a moment, it was like ignoring a tornado flinging parked cars. 'We will fuck him. Do you hear me? We will fuck him. We will ruin him. Like no one has ever fucked him!'"

Well, I'm sure that was just an isolated incident...
posted by soyjoy at 1:50 PM on September 30, 2003


thanks stonerose--it confirms what most of us think....i've been hearing that people think Ari Fleischer was the other official, which makes sense, him being the press secretary at the time. (meanwhile at this moment on cnn, novak just discussed his use of the word "operative" and how he uses that word for everyone, from party hacks to politicians--ugh)
sorry soyjoy--i only just weaned myself off of saying "medianews", and since i type "poy" for poynter each morning, poynter it is, for me. Think of it not as an endorsement, but simply as an url.
posted by amberglow at 1:50 PM on September 30, 2003


this was good too, from left coaster: republican quotes on the importance of an independent counsel.
posted by amberglow at 1:52 PM on September 30, 2003


Let me make this as plain as possible -- I was an unpaid advisor for the Bush-Cheney 2000 campaign, and I know and respect some high-ranking people in the administration. And none of that changes the following: if George W. Bush knew about or condoned this kind of White House activity, I wouldn't just vote against him in 2004 -- I'd want to see him impeached. Straight away.

Daniel W. Drezner
posted by y2karl at 4:28 PM on September 30, 2003


...if the White House was willing to commit an overtly illegal act in dealing with such a piddling matter, what lines have they crossed on not-so-piddling matters? --from y2karl's Drezner link
posted by amberglow at 4:42 PM on September 30, 2003


Confirmed that Plame was an undercover operative, and not just an analyst:

1. By Ray McGovern, for 27 years a senior CIA analyst, in an article by William Rivers Pitt:
Ray McGovern, who was for 27-years a senior analyst for the CIA, further confirms the status of Plame within the CIA. "I know Joseph Wilson well enough to know," said McGovern in a telephone conversation we had today, "that his wife was in fact a deep cover operative running a network of informants on what is supposedly this administration's first-priority issue: Weapons of mass destruction."
2. By Larry Johnson, former CIA counter-terrorism official, on the MacNeill-Lehrer News Hour:
This not an alleged abuse. This is a confirmed abuse. I worked with this woman. She started training with me. She has been under cover for three decades. She is not as Bob Novak suggested a "CIA analyst." ... The fact that she was under cover for three decades and that has been divulged is outrageous.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 5:27 PM on September 30, 2003


Correction: the title of the TV show for the second quote above should be The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:29 PM on September 30, 2003


As long as we're busting Novak's efforts at spin control, y'all probably already know this one, but yesterday's "don't call me, I'll call you" claim was in direct contrast with what he told Newsday on July 22 - which was that his sources had come to him with the information. "I didn't dig it out, it was given to me." Of course there's a sliver of overlap in which both these statements could be true, but given the crap Novak is spewing now, I'd doubt it.
posted by soyjoy at 7:10 PM on September 30, 2003


Another development - as Atrios puts it, they've even lost NewsMax. Yep, the intractable Clinton-hating Bush-Boosters are now saying logical clear-eyed stuff like:

We need to reverse things: if the Clinton White House had sold out an active-duty CIA agent as 'payback' for some whistle-blowing article, we would be outraged. This crime is no less serious because it was done in a Republican White House.

Go NewsMax!
posted by soyjoy at 7:17 PM on September 30, 2003


so, what I want to know, is anyone calling for Novak's head over this? 10 years looks like a long stretch from over here
posted by badzen at 8:14 PM on September 30, 2003


Novak didn't break the law. The govt officials who disclosed the particulars about Wilson's wife did.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:45 PM on September 30, 2003


It seems like there should be a law somewhere to hang Novak with...calling him despicable isn't enough--what about treason?
posted by amberglow at 9:05 PM on September 30, 2003


It's treason to leak the info, not to print it once it's been leaked. I'm no fan and I think he is guilty of poor judgement, but he didn't do anything illegal.

I think blaming Novak is taking yr eye off the ball...
Look at it this way. If he didn't print anything, we'd never know there were administration officials so low down as to be calling 6 reporters to vengefully blow a CIA cover.
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:18 PM on September 30, 2003


I'll bet blaming Novak will be one of the admin's way of taking your eye off the ball...
posted by five fresh fish at 9:22 PM on September 30, 2003


and then there will be blood in the water, hoo-boy!
posted by five fresh fish at 9:23 PM on September 30, 2003


you're right...it's just that seeing him on CNN today spouting off and spinning his own story just makes it worse. At the very least you'd think he would lay low or not talk about it, considering he'll likely be testifying somewhere soon.
posted by amberglow at 9:24 PM on September 30, 2003


I found this amusing paragraph at the end of a Yahoo story:

The focus on Rove brought an odd twist to Bush's travels. When the president boarded Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base outside of Washington, he walked up the steps and waved — and not a single camera followed. He looked perplexed. All lenses were trained on Rove at the bottom of the steps.
posted by beth at 9:25 PM on September 30, 2003


Has Albert Gonzalez distributed a letter to White House employees telling them to preserve documents, logs, records? If not, why not?

(he apparently did this this morning)


NPR aired a report (see RealAudio link, "Justice Dept. Probes CIA Leak") this morning explaining that the Justice Dept. notified White House counsel Alberto Gonzales at 8:30PM that staff should be notified to preserve all those documents, but Gonzalez asked the Justice Dept. official if he could wait until morning to send out the memo. The Justice Dept. official he spoke with told him that would be fine. That gave the White House 12 hours of advance notice (also mentioned here) that the probe was coming before the official order to preserve documents was issued.

Sen. Charles Schumer has expressed concern (scroll down) that “every good prosecutor knows that any delay could give a culprit time to destroy the evidence" and is arguing that this highlights the need for an independent investigation.

Valid concern? (I report, you decide.)
posted by boredomjockey at 10:08 PM on September 30, 2003


On Tuesday evening, the Washington Post published a FAQ of sorts about the leak. Apologies if this link has turned up in the Rove thread... I thought it might be more appropriate in the original one.
posted by emelenjr at 10:48 PM on September 30, 2003


Key graf in the NYT today:


"It reopens all the old tensions, between the White House and the C.I.A., between the foreign policy types and the political types, between the different parts of the Administration that saw the Iraqi threat differently," one senior administration official said. "That's why it poses the threat of making a real mess."
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:27 AM on October 1, 2003


Well, well, well. It looks like I'm getting psychic. I might have to open up a soothsaying business if this keeps up.
posted by Irontom at 4:57 AM on October 1, 2003


Valid concern.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:46 AM on October 1, 2003


it's just that seeing him on CNN today spouting off and spinning his own story just makes it worse. At the very least you'd think he would lay low or not talk about it, considering he'll likely be testifying somewhere soon.


Atrios has called for CNN to suspend Novak on just these grounds. I haven't seen anyone else saying it yet, but it makes sense to me. And it wouldn't be the first time Atrios has been out in front of something like this.
posted by soyjoy at 12:07 PM on October 1, 2003


I hope they'll listen, soyjoy--i think cnn sees it as an advantage that they have a player in the story on staff--i'm home today and have already seen a few plugs featuring him coming up on crossfire about the story.

And, apparently the Newshour thing with Johnson has convinced Andrew Sullivan as well.
posted by amberglow at 12:33 PM on October 1, 2003


Sorry to interject a note of pure cynicism, but wasn't daddy Director of the CIA for a while?

I just get the feeling that this is being set up to be disproven, in order to show how much the liberal media like to stir up trouble.

Does anyone else have a hard time believing the CIA would leave this big defence spending government out to dry?
posted by fullerine at 12:56 PM on October 1, 2003


I'm afraid I don't follow you, fullerine...could you elaborate?

If it was all just set up to embarass the "liberal media", then they should have revealed the truth by now, because it seems like every hour we're getting more and more conservative commentators upset about this. The "liberal media" is already all up in arms over this; the longer they delay revealing the truth, the more conservatives they piss off as well. Since they haven't come out yet, I have to reject that hypothesis.

I don't see this as the CIA "leaving this big defense spending government out to dry." Going after certain members of the administration, maybe. I don't see any indication that they're trying to bring down Bush himself. (Much as many of the left-wing commentators would like to use this to bring down Bush, I haven't seen one hint of any evidence yet that would implicate Bush himself.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:12 PM on October 1, 2003


Bush sure left Tenet out to dry when the Niger thing first exploded. Remember how Tenet was made to take the hit publicly for "approving" the State of the Union speech?
posted by jpoulos at 1:19 PM on October 1, 2003


Things take a long time in the off-line world, so I was envisaging a phase where an investigation is undertaken, the media hype kicks in and the investigation finds no wrong-doing.

Then the neocons turn round and say "look look, the liberal media were wrong about Chickenhawk Down, they're wrong about [insert Generic scandal here]"

If this is just a turf war or some scores being settled by the CIA, then to a member of Bush's staff being found guilty of what is tantamount to treason would surely impact negatively on Bush. I just have a hard time believing that the CIA would undertake that kind of risk.


Maybe I am too cynical, after all, there is the outlandish notion that the CIA are asking for an investigation because a crime has been committed, and that's their job.
posted by fullerine at 1:25 PM on October 1, 2003


Maybe I am too cynical, after all, there is the outlandish notion that the CIA are asking for an investigation because a crime has been committed, and that's their job.

I think the CIA's job (and our security) is seriously jeopardized by the outing too--haven't they now lost valuable contacts or informers in the middle east?

I don't discount that there's no love lost bet. Tenet and Bush tho.
posted by amberglow at 1:43 PM on October 1, 2003


Amusing heads-up-their-asses moment at the Times - this story goes online today with the astoundingly stupid paragraph

"The scandal over the leak is hard to define in one or two sentences. It does not seem to involve issues of constitutional gravity, like Watergate or the Iran-contra affair, or at least not directly. It does not have to do with greed. Nor does it seem to involve matters of national security."

After Atrios and many others call them on this contrafactual nonsense, the paragraph is removed from the online version (and, one would assume, tomorrow's paper version).

Uh yeah, I think it miiiiiight involve matters of national security... constitutional gravity... greed...
posted by soyjoy at 2:42 PM on October 1, 2003


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