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November 01, 2005

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How long will it take before we hear voices from the Right claiming that Matt Cooper is a liar?

How long will it take before we hear voices from the Right claiming that Matt Cooper is a liar?

Factoring in relativistic computations? Last week.

I'm waiting and seeing. This isn't very much in the way of information.

Slarti- When was the last time one of your posts did contain information?

Slart's posts are a wealth of information -- if you can pick up Obsidian Wings on your fillings and understand the code. ;)

More seriously, I like Slart's posts and his comments.

Some of his information is like mine. It's filtered through a stunning Rube Goldberg mind and comes out the other side funny, he said with considerable but not very funny self-regard.

That's supposed to be a compliment, but then consider the mind from which it just emerged.

;)

Slarti- When was the last time one of your posts did contain information?

Posts, or comments? Last few posts I put up were just open threads. I usually don't bother with the information anymore, though, because few pay attention to that sort of thing anymore.

That's supposed to be a compliment, but then consider the mind from which it just emerged.

Taken as such, John. Don't compare me to you, though; I can't hope to compete with you in the area of Rubic Goldberg thinking.

"I usually don't bother with the information anymore, though, because few pay attention to that sort of thing anymore."

Oh, these fallen times! And the kids! Their music is just noise, I tell you!

Yep, I'm a dad. I'm almost destined to kvetch.

Well, it does contain this bit of information: Matt Cooper says he first learned about Valerie Plame working at the CIA from Karl Rove. Not from Washington insider cocktail party chatter, not from other reporters, not from Plame's neighbors, but from Karl Rove.

I think that's a pretty interesting piece of information, but that's just me. Which isn't to say that waiting and seeing is an unwise approach.

I think that's a pretty interesting piece of information, but that's just me.

Not saying it's not interesting or unworthy of conversation, just that it appears to be either three months old, or in contradiction to what Cooper said three months ago.

Point us to the contradiction, if you would? I haven't kept up with Cooper's role in this.

Actually, I thought the interesting piece of info was that Libby confirmed that Plame was covert.

Cooper, like a drowning voice in the cacophony of right wing noise, reminds us that Rove was one of the leakers. How novel -- actual straight information. And I thought I was supposed to believe that Fitz did not find any White House leakers.

This whole episode is about one giant lie fest by the Repubs. It began in earnest in October 2004, when this thing first really got into the press, so as to keep a lid on the thing during the election. It is going on now with all of the constant baloney about how Fitz hasn't really charged anyone with the leak -- except that Libby is being charged for perjury, et al., for lying about being the leaker.

How can there be no leak if Libby is charged with perjury about being a leaker?

On top of that is the favorite lie peddled by Charles, et al., that Wilson is allegedly the big liar. As with all of it, its one giant pile of made up nonsense.

SOP for the GOP these days.

Well, here's one thing that popped up on Google:

In his 2 1/2 hour testimony last Wednesday before the grand jury investigating the CIA leak case, TIME White House correspondent Matthew Cooper testified that when he called White House political advisor Karl Rove the week of July 6, 2003, Rove did not reveal Joe Wilson’s wife’s name and did not reveal her covert status to Cooper. But he did say that Wilson’s wife works at the “Agency on WMD.” This was the first time Cooper had ever heard of Wilson’s wife.

How close that is to his actual words under oath, I have no idea.

Slarti: it appears to be either three months old, or in contradiction to what Cooper said three months ago.

Which is it? So that others could judge for themselves, would you be kind enough to provide a link to what Cooper said three months ago?

I don't want you to think no one cares about information these days. I very much do, but all my Plame clips are on another computer.

On top of that is the favorite lie peddled by Charles, et al., that Wilson is allegedly the big liar.

I'm willing to attribute it to "misremembering".

Sorry, Nell. Sometimes I forget that I'm not the only person who can't keep track of all this.

Thanks, Slart. You're right that it looks contradictory, although contradictory within the realm that could be resolved by sloppy paraphrasing.

I didn't say it WAS contradictory, I was saying that it was either that or pretty much what he said...looks like four months ago, nearly.

Actually, I thought the interesting piece of info was that Libby confirmed that Plame was covert.

Um, no. Cooper says Libby confirmed that Plame was covert, which could actually be all kinds of things. What it isn't is a confirmation that Plame actually was covert in any important way.

Important in the sense of applicability of the IIPA, that is.

Well, the contradiction, if it is such, is that Cooper now seems to be saying that Libby told him Plame was covert, but didn't say that four months ago. It's possible that Cooper isn't saying that now, or it's possible that he is saying that now, but didn't publish it in Time four months ago. And in either case we don't have a transcript of what he testified to.

What it isn't is a confirmation that Plame actually was covert in any important way.

Well, (assuming Cooper is truthful) if she was, in fact, covert in the IIPA sense, the fact that Libby said to Cooper that she was covert is confirmation that Libby had the requisite knowledge to violate the IIPA.

Slarti: what LizardBreath said. The relevance is to what Libby thought, and thus to the question: did he think he was just discussing an analyst, or did he know he was outing a covert operative?

assuming Cooper is truthful

I'm not thinking untruthful, I'm thinking that his recollection of things might be off. In any case, I doubt the IIPA applies here. Other laws might, though.

And given that I brought up IIPA in the first place, it's probably a good thing for me to explain that last:

(4) The term "covert agent" means—

(A) a present or retired officer or employee of an intelligence agency or a present or retired member of the Armed Forces assigned to duty with an intelligence agency—
(i) whose identity as such an officer, employee, or member is classified information, and

(ii) who is serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States; or

(B) a United States citizen whose intelligence relationship to the United States is classified information, and—

(i) who resides and acts outside the United States as an agent of, or informant or source of operational assistance to, an intelligence agency, or

(ii) who is at the time of the disclosure acting as an agent of, or informant to, the foreign counterintelligence or foreign counterterrorism components of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; or

(C) an individual, other than a United States citizen, whose past or present intelligence relationship to the United States is classified information and who is a present or former agent of, or a present or former informant or source of operational assistance to, an intelligence agency.

It's possible I've misinterpreted "or" to mean "and not", if so feel free to correct me. In any case, B and C appear not to apply, so Plame would have to conform to Part A.

"What it isn't is a confirmation that Plame actually was covert in any important way."

I think Patrick Fitzgeral was quite clear on this part:

Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer. In July 2003, the fact that Valerie Wilson was a CIA officer was classified. Not only was it classified, but it was not widely known outside the intelligence community.

Valerie Wilson's friends, neighbors, college classmates had no idea she had another life.

The fact that she was a CIA officer was not well- known, for her protection or for the benefit of all us. It's important that a CIA officer's identity be protected, that it be protected not just for the officer, but for the nation's security.

Valerie Wilson's cover was blown in July 2003. The first sign of that cover being blown was when Mr. Novak published a column on July 14th, 2003.

This seems unambiguous, does it not?

She worked in the Counterproliferation Division (CPD) of the Directorate of Operations, not the Directorate of Analysis, as I've seen many blogs falsely claim. She ostensible worked for Brewster Jennings & Associates,; that was one of her covers. This isn't "covert"? She'd been career clandestine for over twenty years with the DO. But I'll take Patrick Fitzgerald's word; he doesn't exactly seem to be a flaming out-of-control partisan.

This isn't "covert"?

Read my previous post. If you think that she fits the definition of covert there, please tell me why you think that. I get that you feel that she ought to fit the definition of covert, Gary, but that has little bearing on whether she actually was, as far as the law is concerned.

Of course, I could be completely wrong about that, but just as obviously I don't think I am.

Or, perhaps, there's an amended definition of covert in the law somewhere and I've missed it. If so, you know what to do.

The IIPA is a side-issue now, anyway; it's irrelevant to the perjury charge.

Agreed, Gary. I think I've said as much on numerous occasions, here. But you've been away, so, again: agreed.

The only doubt I'm aware of, Slart, is the Aii part, whether she'd been out of the country in the past 5 years, which we can't know, of course. I assume Fitzgerald knows. I would tend to expect that therefore she was, but can't be sure. In any case, it's 100% for now. No one is charged, at this time, with violating the IIPA. Regardless, what Fitzgerald said stands.

To clarify Slart's point, I think the question is the 'five-year' prong of the IIPA. While Fitzgerald was clear that her identity as a CIA agent was classified, it's not absolutely clear that she meets the five-year standard.

(As I understand the facts (vaguely, that is), she'd been out of the country for the CIA in the relevant period, but hadn't been stationed outside the country in that period. I don't know how the IIPA operates in those circumstances, and it's possible, if it hasn't been litigated, that Fitzgerald doesn't know either.)

And Slart, assuming that I guessed your point correctly, it's a perfectly reasonable point. Why make people guess at it, rather than saying something explicit like "Yes, Gary, you're right that Fitzgerald said her ID was classified, but he didn't say that she met the rest of the IIPA's standards, particularly the five-year prong." It makes the conversation so much pleasanter.

Whoops, should have previewed.

"In any case, it's 100% for now."

Should have read "100% irrelevant." But we're all agreed on that, then.

As I alluded to upthread, I suspect the use of "covert" is probably inapt and therefore cause for excessive hope-upgettingness by those inclined to see Libby broken on the wheel, and I think the real focus ought to be on the compromising of classified, NS information. I'd guess that if Plame's identity was in fact classified (and I'd guess by now that Fitzgerald has positively determined that to be the case), it was at least TS and probably TS-codeword.

All in all, still a bad thing.

"ii) who is serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States;"

I would tend to think that if that was intended to distinguish "stationed" from "served," it would say so. But, not being familiar with any precedents or rulings, I couldn't say, and might be wrong.

Sorry, it should be clear by now that I'm exceedingly lousy at writing anything resembling a finished product before the eighth iteration or so.

This is much too agreeable. Let us all post as rapidly as possible, and talk past each other!

Wintel sux! Linux rools! Macs r for lusers!

Thor could beat Superman cause his hammer is magic!

(Whoops; this would have been here much faster if not for the line-drop/redial.)

I suspect the use of "covert" is probably inapt and therefore cause for excessive hope-upgettingness by those inclined to see Libby broken on the wheel, and I think the real focus ought to be on the compromising of classified, NS information.

A problem here is the fact that some people (you, but not you alone) are using 'covert' as a defined term meaning 'covered by the IIPA'. The rest of us are using the English word 'covert'. In common English, Plame's identity was covert whether or not she served outside the country in the relevant period -- where she was doesn't affect the level of secrecy.

If you expect it to be used only as a defined term, you should probably make that clear to avoid confusion.

"The rest of us are using the English word 'covert'."

I'm not. I'm using it as I understand it to be commonly used in the IC. (Which I'm only aware of from reading, of course. Or so I say.)

Or, to rephrase, I'm using the term "covert" not based on the legal definition of the IIPA, because that's hardly the only relevant law, nor merely on the basis of common usage, but on my understanding of its usage as specifically institutional jargon.

I believe I did, LB.

Again, my apologies that my piercing insights aren't all tooth by jowl with each other.

I didn't notice anything you particularly needed to apologize for, Slart, but if you wish to do penace, please prepare a short briefing memo for me on all of your positions on the issues I've missed in recent weeks. One or two pages should do.

If you truly feel the need, extend that to update me on the positions taken by prominent others here during that time.

;-)

Penance, even. I'm not sure what "penace" is. Some kind of spice?

At this point we're quibbling, this is all a little misunderstanding, but making it clear that you're talking about the IIPA does not establish that the word 'covert' is, from that point forward, to be used only as a defined term. You can use it however you want (I'm not being sarcastic here -- your usage is a reasonable one, in context), but conversation will be facilitated if you remember that not everyone has signed on to your usage.

OMFG. How long do we have to endure the "sent him to Africa" meme?

Its false. Its wrong, the extent of Plame's involvement in her husband going was a single emai. She simply "responded positively to the suggestion in an e-mail "to higher-ups at the CIA who suggested that Joe Wilson be sent."


"OMFG. How long do we have to endure the 'sent him to Africa'meme?"

Well, you're the first person to use the phrase on this thread. If you're referring to Marc Cooper's quote, a) it's news, and surely we shouldn't censor quotes; b) "nvolved in sending him to Africa" seems perfectly accurate.

"'nvolved in sending him to Africa' seems perfectly accurate."

That is "involved" does. I really should slow down. But all that coffee!

I thought Fitzgerald was quite clear that Plame was a CIA agent, that her status as a CIA agent was both classified and not well known, and that releasing that information to reporters was "wrong" for a variety of reasons. He was also clear that he does not have evidence to demonstrate that the "wrong" violated the law (possibly because of the 5 year requirement). But so what? Libby, Rove, et al obviously realized that, illegal or no, their actions were beyond the pale and public knowledge of them would be devasting. Thus they lied about their possibly lawful activities and obstructed the investigation into them.

Many pundits have expressed puzzlement over why a savvy operator like Libby would let himself get into the pickle he is in over an action that wasn't in itself unlawful. E.J Dionne, in today's Washington Post, suggests an answer that rings true to me. As Fitzgerald noted, had Liddy and Rove come clean with the investigating FBI agents, the investigation could have been brought to a close in October 2004, not a full year later. But October of 2004 was just shy of the election. A revelation that Rove, Libby, and maybe Cheney had outed a CIA agent (fully meeting the definition of covert or not) would have been devasting at that time. So maybe Mr. too-careful-to-make-a-mistake Libby didn't make a mistake. He lied intentionally to ensure no 11th hour revelations would screw up the election. There was good reason to believe that the reporters would never testify to the truth and he would skate. In the unlikely event the worst case occurred (as it did) he may have had a wink and nod assurance that George W would pardon him late in the second term. If so, Libby will continue the delaying action with his lame "I forgot" explanation knowing that he will never go to jail. He will not be subject to further pressure from Fitzgerald during the trial phase. The only way to make sure that game is not being played is for the President to state unequivocally that he will not pardon Libby.

Don- I don't think there is any way for President Bush to make such a promise binding on himself. And he has already lied to the American people concerning this case. He promised to fire anyone involved in this leak and then didn't fire Rove when it became clear to everyone he was involved.

He was also clear that he does not have evidence to demonstrate that the "wrong" violated the law (possibly because of the 5 year requirement).

Not exactly. It is possible that he has such evidence but has not acted on it yet, or may not act on it at all, for tactical reasons. It would be wrong to say that he does have such evidence, but the current absence of indictments on it doesn't mean that he doesn't.

LizardBreath- I think it is also possible that he isn't allowed to use that evidence because Mrs Wilson's travel itinerary is classified.

Dunno. Anything I know about classified stuff is from reading spy-novels with gold-foil hammer&sickles on the cover.

"He was also clear that he does not have evidence to demonstrate that the 'wrong' violated the law (possibly because of the 5 year requirement)."

No, that's not what he said. You're over-reading. He-- oh, wait, LB got to it first.

"I think it is also possible that he isn't allowed to use that evidence because Mrs Wilson's travel itinerary is classified."

It's possible. I think it's a bit unlikely, because I'd think they could work around that with unclassified affadavits and either the jury would buy them as credible or not, but it's not utterly impossible. IMO. IANA intelligence professional. I read lots of unclassified stuff on intelligence, which only puts me one or two steps above LB. (I've edited or worked on lots of spy novels for various publishing companies, too, but that's irrelevant.)

Well I had a top secret clearance when I was in the Air Force, but I don't really know either, just an idea.

"Don- I don't think there is any way for President Bush to make such a promise binding on himself. And he has already lied to the American people..."

I completely agree. Not only would the promise be non-binding, he would never admit he made it. Libby would be acting on trust. But Bush has a reputation for such trust with respect to loyal friends if not to the American people.

Jeeebus, I wasn't disparaging Hilzoy's post. I was pointing at Cooper, a freaking reporter, is still saying it.

Yes, "involved" is technically correct, but that is not the intent of the phrase. Her involvement was little more than being his wife. The intent of the phrase is with a wink and a nudge to continue to support the lie that she was responsible for sending him.

On top of that is the favorite lie peddled by Charles, et al., that Wilson is allegedly the big liar.
I'm willing to attribute it to "misremembering".

Fair enough, although 99% of his alleged "lies" are things he in fact never said. The most famous one is the most repeated GOP talking point that Wilson claimed Cheney sent him to Niger (and therefore poor overworked Rove and Libby had to set all those reporters straight about his wife sending him), except Wilson never claimed that Cheney sent him.

Next on the list is the allegation that Wilson claims he debunked the forged Niger documents, except he never made that claim either.

The one I had in mind was his claim that he'd seen the forged documents while he was in Niger, which he later recanted.

I have no idea why intelligent, informed people are still arguing over whether or not Plame was considered covert. This investigation was begun at the behest of the CIA; they certainly knew Plame's status and thus whether or not blowing her cover would constitute a crime.

As far as I can tell, the trickiest leg of the IIPA is the "knowingly" leg - demonstrating beyond a reasonable doubt that not only did Libby and Rove blow Plame's cover, but that they knew at the time that she was a covert agent. There's a small mountain of circumstantial evidence very strongly suggesting that Rove and Libby knew and acted accordingly, but Fitzgerald may be waiting for stronger evidence. More to the point, if he's already got Libby nailed on enough perjury and obstruction of justice charges to throw him in jail for the next couple decades, he's already got enough to get Libby to talk - which makes for a stronger case against more targets.

Slarti: The one I had in mind was his claim that he'd seen the forged documents while he was in Niger, which he later recanted.

Except he never made any such claim: that's yet another of the Invented Lies of Joseph Wilson.

Iron Lungfish: I have no idea why intelligent, informed people are still arguing over whether or not Plame was considered covert.

Because they can see that Libby, Rove, and maybe Cheney are going down for it, and they want to believe that when Bush pardons them all, late December 2008, it was because they didn't really do anything wrong.

I'm with Jes. If Wilson ever made any such claim, it's news to me.

Except he never made any such claim

Of course he didn't. He just said a lot of things that look exactly like that.

After returning to the United States, the envoy reported to the CIA that the uranium-purchase story was false, the sources said. Among the envoy's conclusions was that the documents may have been forged because the "dates were wrong and the names were wrong," the former U.S. government official said.

And of course the Senate Intelligence Committee's discussion with Wilson is not even worth considering:

Committee staff asked how the former ambassador could have come to the conclusion that the "names were wrong and the dates were wrong" when he had never seen the CIA reports and had no knowledge of what names and dates were in the reports. The former ambassador said that he may have "misspoken" to the reporter when he concluded the documents were "forged". He also said that he might have become confused about his own recollection after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported in March 2003 that the names and dates on the documents were not correct...

Dunno what I could have been thinking.

Slarti- I never could get why that talking point gets circulation. It is devastating to your case. He didn't say that he had seen it, he said the names and dates were wrong, which they were, and that it was an obvious forgery, which it was.

I think Wilson was talking out of school and this was classified material that he wasn't supposed to know about. If Fitzgerald weren't busy maybe you could find out who Wilson is covering for and get some people in trouble.

What you can't claim is that Wilson is the one with credibility problems here. It is the Republicans who have used these talking points who have credibility problems.

All you do is point up the fact that the State dept knew that the Niger forgeries were forgeries, when Bush and Blair were using them to make the case for war.

In the first link, it's a quote from a time at which the names and dates in question were public, isn't it. While the Post's editing is unclear, Wilson isn't claiming to have seen anything before it became public. Same thing from the committee report: what you're describing as a 'recantation' is Wilson saying something along the lines of 'if I said that, I was confused' where the only indication that he'd said it was the Post article, in which he does not make that claim.

The 'claim', in the Post article, is not a claim to have seen the documents before they were public, and the 'recantation', in the Iraq report, is not a recantation of a false statement but a clarification of the Post's writing.

I'm reminded of the whole 'Al Gore is a big liar' thing, here. In both cases, the accusations were of weirdly motiveless lying.

I mean here, you have to do a fair amount of creative reading to guess that Wilson might have said something untrue, and it was something untrue that, if he had said it, wouldn't have bolstered his story or changed anything about it in any material way. Given the absence of a quote in which he actually said anything untrue, why would we assume he was lying here? Random burst or uncontrollable irrelevant dishonesty, like Gore's compulsion to dishonestly claim that the head of FEMA had been at a forest fire he actually hadn't made it to?

That should have been "random burst of uncontrollable dishonesty".

Not to interupt the conversation, but I've not noticed anyone mentioned Reid throwing the Senate into secret session to demand that Phase II of the Roberts-promised investigation of the uses of intelligence pre-war be carried out, and that Frist's head is exploding with rage. It's already been done, and Reid forced an agreement. Roberts claims that he planned to resume next week "all along."

He just forgot to tell anyone since October.

Whoops, that's: "since October, 2004."

I know. I've hung a picture of Reid on my office wall with a big heart around it. Senator Reid is dreamy!

If I might murmur a point about formatting: frequently I find myself quoting stories that have embedded links; this is rather common practice around the interwub.

It may, therefore, as a general practice, not be the clearest thing to do to embed one's own links into a story, without disclaiming that the link is that of the presenter, not one from the original story. Of course, in the sort of way you use it, Slart, you're not quoting stories with such links, so you may not find this a point worth bothering with. I'll merely bow out by whispering that it's no more difficult to embed the link in one's own words.

But, of course, to each their own, the more the merrier, and a stitch in a broth will always come home to roost.

"I'm reminded of the whole 'Al Gore is a big liar' thing, here. In both cases, the accusations were of weirdly motiveless lying."

Well, there were so many of them for Gore. But the idea was to sell the notion that Gore was *cRAZy*! A compulsive liar for no reason!

Thus his fiendish lie about visiting a disaster with James Lee Witt when he got the date wrong! And his lie about Love Story partially being based on him and Tipper! (It was.) And his lie about inventing the Internet! (Which he never said, and he does get a lot of the credit for "taking the initiative in the Senate on the creation of the Internet."

And so on and so forth. They're still at it. Al is still *cRAZy*, but not he's even **CRAZIER** with his accusations! Just like ***INSANE*** Howard Dean! (This from the party of Newt Gingrich and Bob Dornan.)

For God's sake, don't say Reid is a nice guy! 50% of the population will want to dump him.

I'm sure Roberts was too busy gearing up for this:

Meanwhile, Hoekstra's counterpart in the Senate, Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, intends to preside over hearings on the intelligence community's use of covert protections for CIA agents and others involved in secret activities.

The chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence could hold hearings on the use of espionage cover soon after the U.S. Congress returns from its August recess, said Roberts spokeswoman Sarah Little.

Little said the Senate committee would also review the probe of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who has been investigating the Plame case for nearly two years.link

Laura Rozen has this piece on the missing report (though I think that "the report that didn't bark" has a bit more poetic ring to it) and has this information that arrived after the piece went to the printers

Earlier this week, as the piece was already at the printer, I was calling someone up for a quick question, and we got to talking about the latest Fitzgerald news from over the weekend. And I was told something that really stands out: that Roberts has literally been coordinating with Senate majority leader Frist and Cheney's office very closely on many aspects of the Senate Intelligence committee's supposed investigation of the intelligence, and in particular, working closely with Cheney's office on crafting the language defining the terms for the as-yet unfinished Phase II report. It hardly is surprising that Cheney took a big interest in what the Senate Select Intelligence committee might turn up in its investigation. But think about it. Here's the Congressional committee constitutionally mandated to provide oversight of all intelligence activities happening by the US government. And yet, here we have the Intelligence committee head coordinating to some degree with the Vice President's office, who we now know to be deeply involved in some of the most dubious of pre-war intelligence pronouncements, tasking, unconventional intel channels, and cherry picking, and at the forefront of a post-war campaign to slime Wilson and his CIA officer wife. When Congress is in cahoots with the administration in stifling oversight, who can investigate the investigators? Unfortunately, it's not in Fitzgerald's mandate.
link

And if you still haven't had your fill of the Wilson vs. SSCI report, Emptywheel at the Next Hurrah has a very interesting comparison between the report and what Wilson says in his book.

Just a bit of review. The CIA's Counter-Proliferation Division invited Wilson to a meeting on February 19, 2002 to discuss ways they might assess the intelligence on an Iraq-Niger uranium deal they had received. There were about 6 to 8 people at the meeting, including experts on proliferation and Africa, from both CIA and INR. At that meeting, there was some discussion of the contents of the Iraq-Niger intelligence--although it is unclear just how much discussion. After the meeting, Wilson was given a set of talking points to use on the trip that referred to uranium deals with rogue nations, but did not specifically mention the Iraq intelligence. And shortly thereafter, he went on the trip.

Wilson did not write the trip report himself. Rather, a DO reports officer (and apparently a DO case officer) debriefed Wilson. Then, the case officer drafted a report, and the reports officer then added "additional relevant information from his notes." As a result, there is a pretty significant difference between what Wilson says he reported and what the trip report says.

and

And here's the part that stunned me, when I first realized what it said:

In fact, the intelligence report made no mention of the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium deal or signatures that should have appeared on any documentation of such a deal. The only mention of Iraq in the report pertained to the meeting between the Iraqi delegation and former Prime Minister Mayaki. (44)

As I said when I first wrote about this, this suggests the CIA report completely obscured the reason behind Wilson's trip, which was to respond specifically to a piece of intelligence alleging an Iraqi-Nigerien uranium deal.

and finally

I'm not alleging anything nefarious happened to produce two such different versions of Wilson's report. As far as the most troubling discrepancy--that Wilson knew he was responding to a specific piece of intelligence, while the case officer was treating it as more general information--that might (or might not) be attributable to the way the CIA collects information. They were treating Wilson as a source, not as a CIA officer or an analyst himself. Therefore, they did not treat him as someone who could go out and answer a question, but simply as someone who could bring information, which the CIA would then assess the validity of. In other words, they were pretending that Wilson never went to the meeting at Langley where they discussed in detail how to assess such information. The report was written to allow CIA analysts to assess the information, to not prejudge its veracity or value.


As I've heard say, read the whole thing.

"I'm sure Roberts was too busy gearing up for this...."

Also this sort of thing.

Incidentally, I hope everyone realizes that Fitzgerald can't possibly confirm or deny whether or not Plame was "covert," which is why he phrased what he said so carefully. It would be illegal for him to either confirm or deny, since her status hasn't been declassified. (Which is why he emphasized that her status was classified, of course.) It suddenly occurred to me that while this is perfectly obvious to me, it might not be to everyone. On the other hand, maybe I'm being condescending in thinking that. Anyone?

Note: I just updated this to reflect the fact that ABC has now retracted the claim that Libby confirmed to Cooper that Plame was "covert".

Do they somehow not know that this is a rather important element of the story? One that it would be, you know, good to nail down?

"ABC News regrets the error."

[eye roll]

Harry Reid: "Look over here! Libby! Plame! Rule 21!" AP:

The committee worked on the second phase of the review, Roberts said, but it has not been finished. He blamed Democrats for the delays and said his staff had informed their Democratic counterparts on Monday that the committee hoped to work on and complete the second phase next week.

"Now we have this ... stunt 24 hours after their staff was informed that we were moving to closure next week," a clearly angry Roberts told reporters. "If that's not politics, I'm not standing here."

Reid's display of spoon-banging will backfire.

On top of that is the favorite lie peddled by Charles, et al., that Wilson is allegedly the big liar.

I showed you the facts, dm, and what Wilson actually said when he said it. Sad to see such denial.

The only doubt I'm aware of, Slart, is the Aii part, whether she'd been out of the country in the past 5 years, which we can't know, of course.

The SIC report had Plame out-of-country in '97. Assuming they're correct, Plame was not covert. What I'm unclear about is whether covert = "non-official cover". Also, Fitzgerald said her identity was classified prior to July 2003, but not covert. I'm a little unclear about that difference, but if she were actually covert, seems like Fitzgerald would have said so. My recollection is vague, but I thought a CIA officer's identity is--by default--classified, unless it is voluntarily or involuntarily made public.

"The SIC report had Plame out-of-country in '97. Assuming they're correct, Plame was not covert."

This is completely false. At best, what you mean is "Assuming they're correct, Plame wasn't covered by the IIPA." Suggesting that these two things are the same is, to take the polite interpretation, ridiculous.

Someone is still a liar even if they didn't commit perjury in a given situation. Plenty of DO people -- all of them, actually -- are covert, no matter they're not covered by IIPA. I'll assume you didn't know this.

"My recollection is vague, but I thought a CIA officer's identity is--by default--classified, unless it is voluntarily or involuntarily made public."

Oh, and that latter is false, also, as I just explained.

The public can't declassify things. Neither can a leaker. Honest. Don't believe me. Look it up. You're just wrong. Sorry.

"Also, Fitzgerald said her identity was classified prior to July 2003, but not covert. "

Oh, and that last clause is also false. He never said that.

QUESTION: Can you say whether or not you know whether Mr. Libby knew that Valerie Wilson's identity was covert and whether or not that was pivotal at all in your inability or your decision not to charge under the Intelligence Identity Protection Act?

FITZGERALD: Let me say two things. Number one, I am not speaking to whether or not Valerie Wilson was covert.

Apparently like so much Patrick Fitzgerald had to say, this is unclear and rampant with ambiguity.

Roberts has exactly zero credibility on anything relating to Plame or misuse of intel.

Part II of the "Iraqi intel investigation" was tabled by an agreement between Roberts and Rockefeller to wait until after the 2004 elections. (I remember being pissed off at Rockefeller for that.) Now Roberts is blaming the Democrats for the delay? What, is he blaming Rockefeller for agreeing to the delay he, Roberts, wanted? Please.

Roberts was also the co-author of that infamous addendum to the SIC report on Iraq's WMD and nuclear weapons; the addendum that devoted itself to attacking Joe Wilson, and which is the source for most of the "Wilson lied!" talking points the Right keeps pushing.

Going three for three, Roberts has also stonewalled investigaions into treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.

Roberts has used his position in the Senate to protect the Bush Administration. Period.

I previously asked the question:

[W]hen did the administration actually have the (forged) documents in its possession? Did they know the documents were forged at the time of the State of the Union address?

Slarti thoughtfully pointed me to the (521-page) Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report.

Now, usually I read things. I confess, this time I haven't read it. But, really, is it believable that we had the obviously forged documents in October, 2002, and did not learn they were forgeries until March, 2003? When all the while the Vice President was breathing down the neck of the CIA?

George W. Bush may not be a "details man," but Dick Cheney is. Regardless of what that report says, and even given the universal potential for people and organizations to screw things up, I find it hard to believe that we "were all fooled." No, I think the hypothesis that Dick Cheney was not fooled explains things much better.

Of course he didn't. He just said a lot of things that look exactly like that.

It's probably worth noting that your quotes don't actually support the contention you're trying to make here.

It's probably worth noting that your quotes don't actually support the contention you're trying to make here.

Well, ok then.

Look, Wilson returns from Niger and is debriefed by the CIA. By his account, he told the CIA about the forged document. You're saying that he was telling the truth when he told the reporter that he reported the forged documents to the CIA? And that he's still telling the truth when he told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he "may have misspoken"? Or maybe it's that he actually did see the forged documents in Niger? Now, that would make for an interesting development.

Or, possibly, that there's some interpretation that actually makes sense, that I haven't considered? That's got to be it. Well, please share.

Slarti: Look, Wilson returns from Niger and is debriefed by the CIA. By his account, he told the CIA about the forged document.

In which account? Because he certainly doesn't say he told the CIA about the forged documents in the NYT op-ed: are you referring to the account in the Washington Post that you linked to earlier, which does not, in fact, include any direct quotes from Wilson with reference to the forged documents?

Or, possibly, that there's some interpretation that actually makes sense, that I haven't considered? That's got to be it. Well, please share.

You've misunderstood: I'm not taking any position on the overall veracity of the claim as I'm not fully conversant with the situation. What I'm saying is, your cites don't support your contention that Wilson claimed to have seen the documents in question. There may be other cites in which this is established, but those ain't it.

By his account, he told the CIA about the forged document. You're saying that he was telling the truth when he told the reporter that he reported the forged documents to the CIA?
As I noted before, Wilson met with people from the CIA's Counter-Proliferation Division to develop precisely what questions to ask and was sent to either confirm or debunk a specific piece of intelligence, which were the Niger forgeries. He also apparently later gave the CIA a list of the appropriate signatures that would be found on such a document. Clearly, he know _of_ the document, regardless of whether he had laid his eyes on the actual forgeries or not. Thus, I think that Wilson could logically say that he told the CIA "about" the forged document. (though this seems to be your restatement rather than precisely what Wilson said). The fact was that the forgeries were apparently not sent in toto, but sections were transcribed and put into the Italian intelligence report which makes it very unclear as to who saw what when. Which was precisely the point as the goal was to trump up evidence of Iraq attempts to get yellowcake by multiplying the apparent sources. Sometimes you use the echo chamber, sometimes, it uses you...

I would also recommend the Left Coaster posts on the particular ins and outs of the forgeries. (Click for other links within the post)

Also, see this post, which has this

Footnote 214 refers to this statement (emphasis mine):

214 CIA, Analyses on an Alleged Iraq-Niger Uranium Agreement (undated but prepared sometime after March 7, 2003). See also Senior Publish When Ready, Iraq's Reported Interest in Buying Uranium from Niger and Whether Associated Documents are Authentic (March 11, 2003) (concluding the documents were forgeries). The errors in the original documents, which indicated they were forgeries, also occur in the February 2002 report that provided a "verbatim" text of the agreement, indicating that the original reporting was based on the forged documents.

Slarti.: Shoot, while I was looking through the SIC report (BTW, if you're going to link to a 512pp. document, it would be helpful if you would provide the number of the page[s] you are citing), Jes & Anarch got in and made succinctly the point that - half an hour later - I was planning to make at ponderous length. To wit:

The SIC is *not* a primary source on much of this information (alas). It is a secondary source. The information in it has been thoroughly "processed," which makes it more comprehensible than the original reports, but potentially biassed, and in any event not thoroughly reliable. You cannot use it to say "By his account, he told the CIA about the forged document because the SIC does not provide us, or even purport to provide us, "his account." What it gives us is the SIC processed version of (1) what the original briefers said that Wilson said, followed by (2) a synopsis - NOT a quotation - of what Wilson said to the committee.

Even if one were assuming full good faith, this is a parlous evidentiary base. If there is any possibility whatsoever of partisan politics shaping the "process" (I know - it's a stretch just imagining the US Senate being affected by partisan politics, but try), it's effectively unreliable.


If you are asking me (in my capacity as historian, and thus as long-time interpreter of shonky documentation) what I *suspect* might have happened, consonant with the evidence we have, I would put forward the following possible scenario:

Wilson readily figures out what documents would have to be signed, and by whom, and when, to effectuate the alleged transfer. He goes to Niger and, inter alia, talks to the guys who would have had to sign these documents, and learns that they never did, and/or that the timing was wrong. At some point - and the record is murky here - he learns that documents purporting to record this information do exist and the CIA has them. Did he see them? The record doesn't say so, and it seems unlikely that he did. Was he told of them by the CIA or other US officials? They deny it, but they would, wouldn't they. (He might even have been asked specifically by the two guys sent to debrief him: "What would you say if we told you we had documents ...?," though they deny this: He Said, They Said?)

Whatever the scenario, on learning of these documents his response might well have been: "These documents are bogus." (In the same way, if I were to be told "There are pictures on the internet showing you in flagrante with a goat," I would be able to dismiss these as forgeries without actually having to see the pictures themselves. I am confident of this, because I made damn sure there were no cameras around.) (More to the point, perhaps, any competent blogsurfer is well aware that on any given day s/he may encounter "documents" supposedly written by Ann Coulter or Andy Rooney or the Pope or Adolf Hitler or Hillary Clinton which are SO egregiously out of character that we dismiss them as "forgeries" out of hand, without even bothering to pursue their origins or fisk their flaws.)

Asked two (?) years later by the committee to clarify this, it is possible that Wilson simply doesn't remember exactly what he said or what he knew when. Did he "misspeak" in characterizing the documents as "forgeries" without actually having seen them? Perhaps, and he admits as much. So what?

Now I agree with the committee that there are troubling inconsistencies between what (they say) the CIA said Wilson originally reported orally and what (they say) Wilson later told the committee he had said. But the only way that these particular inconsistencies can be taken to prove that Wilson lied is to assume that neither the CIA nor the SIC ever made a mistake, or even innocently misunderstood what was said. And that assumption I cannot make. Can you?

Charles Bird:

"Reid's display of spoon-banging will backfire."

I, unlike you, consider kicking a liar in the *ss to make him live up to his word about investigating treason to the USA to be more than 'spoon banging'.

Slarti: I am working from memory here. However: Wilson was told that there was evidence suggesting a particular sale of yellowcake from Niger to Saddam. He was asked to investigate, and concluded that there had been no such sale. In fact, the evidence was a verbatim transcription of the forged documents, which, however, the CIA did not have at that point. The CIA only obtained the documents later (memory wants to say: in October 2002), but a transcript of them was available earlier, and did in fact prompt the CIA to send Wilson.

When Wilson learned (later, when el Baradei asked for the US' evidence about Iraq seeking uranium from Africa, got the documents, and found them to be forgeries) that the President's State of the Union remarks referred to Niger, he then thought: wait, I checked that out, and it wasn't true. Moreover, I checked it out for the CIA, and told them, and they had been asked to investigate by the VP, and would presumably have told him. What's going on? Thus, his press comments and op ed.

Whether or not you think it matters that his trip was based on a verbatim transcript of the documents, rather than the documents themselves, and what difference you think there is between showing (a) that a verbatim transcript of a document is false, and (b) that the document itself is false, I leave to you ;)

Or, possibly, that there's some interpretation that actually makes sense, that I haven't considered? That's got to be it. Well, please share.

Piling on here, but in the unlikely event that I manage to be clearer than everyone who's spoken before, here goes. The Washington Post article doesn't quote Wilson claiming to have seen the documents at the time of his trip to Niger, nor does it quote him having claimed to have reported to the CIA at that time that the documents were bogus. The words the Washington Post used, while ambiguous, could lead you to surmise that that was being claimed, but you can't call Wilson a liar because the Post wrote a badly worded story based on an interview with him -- to call him a liar, you need a quote from him saying something untrue.

(I'm not an absolutist here -- if the ambiguity were important to the story, I'd be tempted to speculate that it was Wilson's fault. Given that whether he knew the details of the documents at the time of his trip or report is entirely irrelevant to the meat of the story, I can't see the point of speculating about how an ambiguously written story might indicate that he said something untrue to the reporter.)

Did he "misspeak" in characterizing the documents as "forgeries" without actually having seen them? Perhaps, and he admits as much.

You know, this is all I ever maintained to begin with.

But the only way that these particular inconsistencies can be taken to prove that Wilson lied

Hold it: what part of "misremember" is difficult to understand?

When Wilson learned...that the President's State of the Union remarks referred to Niger, he then thought: wait, I checked that out, and it wasn't true.

Which would be well and good, if that's what had happened. If, for instance, the SOTU address had claimed that Iraq had bought uranium from Niger, yes, that would have served to nullify that bit of evidence if it was used to substantiate that claim. As it is, though: oops.

Hold it: what part of "misremember" is difficult to understand?

If all you meant to say was that you think Wilson may have misremembered, why was "misremembered" in inverted commas, which are usually used to indicate that you don't really think he misremembered?

But never mind. You asserted:

Well, ok then.

Look, Wilson returns from Niger and is debriefed by the CIA. By his account, he told the CIA about the forged document. You're saying that he was telling the truth when he told the reporter that he reported the forged documents to the CIA? And that he's still telling the truth when he told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he "may have misspoken"? Or maybe it's that he actually did see the forged documents in Niger? Now, that would make for an interesting development.

Or, possibly, that there's some interpretation that actually makes sense, that I haven't considered? That's got to be it. Well, please share.

and the various responses since were all, pretty much, in response to that comment. Now, if you are backing down from that comment, having been convinced that in fact you were wrong and we are right... it would be gracious to admit it.

dr ngo: Did he "misspeak" in characterizing the documents as "forgeries" without actually having seen them? Perhaps, and he admits as much.

Slarti: You know, this is all I ever maintained to begin with.

Well, uh, no, that's not true:

The one I had in mind was his claim that he'd seen the forged documents while he was in Niger, which he later recanted. [Emph mine]

I've yet to see proof that he made such a claim, although if you're now rescinding it in favor of the weaker characterization that's fair enough.

Slarti: as I understand it, Wilson did not assume, when the President made the SoTU speech, that he was referring to Niger. But when el Baradei asked for the administration's evidence for that claim, and received the documents that turned out to be forged, he (reasonably, I think) did draw that conclusion.

Slarti: Which would be well and good, if that's what had happened. If, for instance, the SOTU address had claimed that Iraq had bought uranium from Niger, yes, that would have served to nullify that bit of evidence if it was used to substantiate that claim. As it is, though: oops.

Oh, joy: back to that again. Those sixteen words in SOTU 2003 were parsed to death, and can indeed be sort-of if you squint not-quite seen as a lie. (Similiar to the claim that Bush never said that Iraq was an "imminent threat".) Mainly, of course, by pinning the blame on the Brits, which annoys me in a special way.

But the clear intent of those 16 words, and various other efforts around the time, was to convey the impression that Iraq was or might nearly become a nuclear threat.

Insofar as the President was referring to anything at all in those 16 words, he was referring to the "evidence" of those forged documents from Italy: and Wilson already knew that (a) they were bogus (b) that the CIA, and Dick Cheney's office, knew that their bogosity had been proved by his own trip to Niger.

So: oops. SOTU 2003 included at least one statement which deliberately mislead the American people about a cause for war, and which it is proved the Bush administration knew was misleading when the President made the speech. Oops.

(Oops? Ed, did you say "oops"? No, Ed. "Oops" is when you fall down an elevator shaft. "Oops" is when you skinny-dip in a school of piranha. "Oops" is when you accidentally douche with Drano! No, Ed. This was no "Oops." This was an AAAAAAAAAAAAAHA-HA-HA-HA!)

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