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The blame game on PLAME

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Originally posted by casekonly@Jul 5 2005, 02:45 AM

c'mon, KB, we all know if was Rove.

pretty much in the basket, the big

question is: is the bush white house

going down for this?



I hate the man, I hate the republicans, but the truth is that in reading about this I doubt Rove himself was the immeadiate source. After all, he has pretty much said that anyone he spoke to can testify about it. MY feelings are that the info was likely offered at the behest of the white house by lesser known figures, but that in this modern climate we will never know. What really sickens me is that the media is so behind it as a case of there own integrity, they fail to see the government pawn status they have acceived...


Fairs stance:



FAIR Calls for Revealing Sources in Plame, Lee Cases

Courts should respect anonymity of genuine whistle-blowers





FAIR, the national media watch group, encourages the reporters and news outlets who have been asked to reveal their sources in the Valerie Plame and Wen Ho Lee cases to cooperate with investigators. Protecting the identities of confidential sources is a journalistic right that should be recognized by the courts, but only when it protects genuine whistle-blowers, not when it shields government wrongdoing.


Plame is the covert CIA officer whose identity was apparently leaked after her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, charged the Bush administration with misuse of intelligence. Lee was a scientist falsely charged by the Clinton administration with being a Chinese spy, and officials seem to have leaked selective information about him in an effort to discredit him in the press.


Reporters in both cases are being told by investigators to reveal the specific members of the government who transmitted information. FAIR believes that attorneys' attempts to discover these sources are legitimate, and the ethical journalistic choice is to assist their efforts.


The ability to protect confidential sources who reveal government wrongdoing is an important journalistic protection that deserves judicial respect. In both the Plame and Lee cases, however, the journalist's sources were not revealing government wrongdoing, but committing government wrongdoing .


In both cases, the alleged crime was the act of revealing protected information to journalists in order to harm the government's enemies. Given that the alleged criminal acts apparently involved oral conversations between government officials and journalists, it is likely that no evidence of these purported acts would exist except for the journalists' potential testimony.


Unless one believes that the government ought to be able to surreptitiously use its enormous information-gathering powers to attack opponents with impunity, investigators must have the ability to ask journalists for their sources in such cases, and to compel them if necessary.


Some have presented these cases as government assaults against the freedom of the press. "Journalists should not have to face the prospect of imprisonment for doing nothing more than aggressively seeking to report on the government's actions," declared Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of the New York Times (8/13/04), whose reporters have been subpoenaed in both cases. But in neither case were reporters reporting on governmental activities; rather, they were taking part in a governmental activity, namely the selective and illegitimate revelation of information to damage an individual.


Lucy Dalglish of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press told AP (8/18/04): "All this has to do with secrecy. The government is trying to keep more and more secrets all the time, and journalists are working harder to uncover those secrets." Dalglish misses the larger context, which is that the government's misuse of the power of information involves both concealing and revealing information as it suits its purposes.


The reporters who revealed protected information about Wen Ho Lee were not exposing government secrets, but violating an individual's privacy. And the journalists who are protecting the identity of the officials who outed Valerie Plame are actually participating in a cover-up of official wrongdoing.


The motive and effect of government leaks are the critical questions, and courts can and should make a distinction between legitimate whistleblowing and illegitimate governmental attempts to use information as a weapon. If Valerie Plame's name had been leaked to expose an illegal covert operation, it would be an entirely different matter and should be treated as such by the legal system. The First Amendment exists so that the press can be a check on government abuse of power, not a handmaiden to it.

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This woman is not that cool...



The Judy Miller Media Hug-Fest


In the midst of the media's love-fest for Judith Miller, 1st Amendment Martyr, it's easy to forget that Miller's questionable journalistic ethics left her in the doghouse only a year ago. Indeed, when it came to leaks, the only people busier than White House staffers last year were the denizens of the New York Times' newsroom, who fell all over themselves to excoriate Miller to competing publications.


According to a June 2004 story in New York magazine, for instance, one anonymous co-worker said: "When I see her coming, my instinct is to go the other way." By many accounts, Miller is rude, competitive and heartless, willing to pursue a hot story at any price. In at least one instance, she reportedly used the name of a source who had provided information only on condition that her name not appear.




It was Miller, more than any other reporter, who helped the White House sell its WMD-in-Iraq hokum to the American public. Relying on the repeatedly discredited Ahmad Chalabi and her carefully cultivated administration contacts, Miller wrote story after story on the supposedly imminent threat posed by Saddam Hussein.


Only problem: Her scoops relied on information provided by the very folks who were also cooking the books. But because Miller hid behind confidential sources most of the time, there was little her readers could use to evaluate their credibility. You know: "a high-level official with access to classified data." Ultimately, even the Times' "public editor" conceded the paper's coverage of Iraq had often consisted of "breathless stories built on unsubstantiated 'revelations' that, in many instances, were the anonymity-cloaked assertions of people with vested interests."


That's what makes the Judy Miller Media Hug-Fest so astonishing. Miller's refusal to testify to the grand jury investigating the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's name has catapulted her back into favor. Ironically, as it becomes ever more likely that she'll be jailed for contempt of court, the very affection for anonymous sources that landed Miller in hot water last year has become her route to journalistic rehabilitation. The Houston Chronicle rhapsodizes that "reporters such as Miller … are the front line in the struggle to maintain a free and independent press." Back at the New York Times, Miller's publisher, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., assures us that everyone is busy "supporting her in this difficult time."


I'm as big of fan of the 1st Amendment as anybody, but I don't buy the new Miller-as-heroine story. When Judge David Tatel concurred in the D.C. Circuit's refusal to find any absolute journalist privilege shielding Miller from testifying, he noted, sensibly, that "just as attorney-client communications 'made for the purpose of getting advice for the commission of a fraud or crime' serve no public interest and receive no privilege … neither should courts protect sources whose leaks harm national security while providing minimal benefit to public debate." Few legal privileges are absolute, and it's appropriate for the courts to decide in cases such as this whether the harm of requiring a journalist to divulge confidential information is outweighed by the public interest in prosecuting a crime.


Reasonable people can disagree on the appropriate scope of journalistic privilege. But we should keep the legal question — when should journalists be compelled by law to divulge their sources? — distinct from the ethical question: Is a journalist ever ethically permitted to break a promise and divulge a source? However we answer the first question, the answer to the second must be a resounding yes.


Should Miller have refused to offer anonymity to all those "high-level" sources who sold us a bill of goods on Iraq? Yes.


If it becomes apparent to a journalist that a source lied to him on a matter crucial to the public good, should he be ethically permitted to expose the lie and the liar, despite any prior promises of confidentiality? Yes.


If a source with a clear political motivation passes along classified information that has no value for public debate but would endanger the career, and possibly the life, of a covert agent, is a journalist ethically permitted to "out" the no-good sneak? You bet. And if the knowledge that they can't always hide behind anonymity has a "chilling effect" on political hacks who are eager to manipulate the media in furtherance of their vested interests, that's OK with me.


But Miller still won't testify. Even though, ethically, there should be no obligation to go to jail to cover for a sleazeball.


It's possible (though not likely) that Miller is covering for a genuine whistle-blower who fears retaliation for fingering, gee, Karl Rove, for instance, as the real source of the leak.


But I have another theory. Miller's no fool; she understood the lesson of the Martha Stewart case: When you find yourself covered with mud, there's nothing like a brief stint in a minimum-security prison to restore your old luster.

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The non op-ed piece story...



The Rove Factor?

Time magazine talked to Bush's guru for Plame story.


July 11 issue - Its legal appeals exhausted, Time magazine agreed

last week to turn over reporter Matthew Cooper's e-mails and computer notes to a special prosecutor investigating the leak of an undercover CIA agent's identity. The case has been the subject of press controversy for two years. Saying "we are not above the law," Time Inc. Editor in Chief Norman Pearlstine decided to comply with a grand-jury subpoena to turn over documents related to the leak. But Cooper (and a New York Times reporter, Judith Miller) is still refusing to testify and faces jail this week.


At issue is the story of a CIA-sponsored trip taken by former ambassador (and White House critic) Joseph Wilson to investigate reports that Iraq was seeking to buy uranium from the African country of Niger. "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," said Cooper's July 2003 Time online article.


Now the story may be about to take another turn. The e-mails surrendered by Time Inc., which are largely between Cooper and his editors, show that one of Cooper's sources was White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove, according to two lawyers who asked not to be identified because they are representing witnesses sympathetic to the White House. Cooper and a Time spokeswoman declined to comment. But in an interview with NEWSWEEK, Rove's lawyer, Robert Luskin, confirmed that Rove had been interviewed by Cooper for the article. It is unclear, however, what passed between Cooper and Rove.


The controversy began three days before the Time piece appeared, when columnist Robert Novak, writing about Wilson's trip, reported that Wilson had been sent at the suggestion of his wife, who was identified by name as a CIA operative. The leak to Novak, apparently intended to discredit Wilson's mission, caused a furor when it turned out that Plame was an undercover agent. It is a crime to knowingly reveal the identity of an undercover CIA official. A special prosecutor was appointed and began subpoenaing reporters to find the source of the leak.


Novak appears to have made some kind of arrangement with the special prosecutor, and other journalists who reported on the Plame story have talked to prosecutors with the permission of their sources. Cooper agreed to discuss his contact with Lewis (Scooter) Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide, after Libby gave him permission to do so. But Cooper drew the line when special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald asked about other sources.


Initially, Fitzgerald's focus was on Novak's sourcing, since Novak was the first to out Plame. But according to Luskin, Rove's lawyer, Rove spoke to Cooper three or four days before Novak's column appeared. Luskin told NEWSWEEK that Rove "never knowingly disclosed classified information" and that "he did not tell any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA." Luskin declined, however, to discuss any other details. He did say that Rove himself had testified before the grand jury "two or three times" and signed a waiver authorizing reporters to testify about their conversations with him. "He has answered every question that has been put to him about his conversations with Cooper and anybody else," Luskin said. But one of the two lawyers representing a witness sympathetic to the White House told NEWSWEEK that there was growing "concern" in the White House that the prosecutor is interested in Rove. Fitzgerald declined to comment.


In early October 2003, NEWSWEEK reported that immediately after Novak's column appeared in July, Rove called MSNBC "Hardball" host Chris Matthews and told him that Wilson's wife was "fair game." But White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters at the time that any suggestion that Rove had played a role in outing Plame was "totally ridiculous." On Oct. 10, McClellan was asked directly if Rove and two other White House aides had ever discussed Valerie Plame with any reporters. McClellan said he had spoken with all three, and "those individuals assured me they were not involved in this."

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Originally posted by ARCEL@Jul 10 2005, 06:08 PM

it was rove




Sorry, the page you requested was not found.


The story or page you were trying to access may have expired.


If you are having trouble locating a destination on Yahoo! News, try visiting the Yahoo! News home page or browse through the News site index. Also, you may find what you're looking for if you try searching below.

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Originally posted by casekonly@Jul 11 2005, 02:29 AM

newsweek released a story sunday naming carl rove as the source.


the end is nigh for him.




WASHINGTON (AP) -- For two years, the White House has insisted that presidential adviser Karl Rove had nothing to do with the leak of a CIA officer's identity. And President Bush said the leaker would be fired.


But Bush's spokesman wouldn't repeat any of those assertions Monday in the face of Rove's own lawyer saying his client spoke with at least one reporter about Valerie Plame's role at the CIA before she was identified in a newspaper column.


Rove described the woman to a reporter as someone who "apparently works" at the CIA, according to an e-mail obtained by Newsweek magazine.


White House press secretary Scott McClellan refused to discuss the matter at two news briefings Monday. He said he would not comment because the leak is the focus of a federal criminal investigation.


"The prosecutors overseeing the investigation had expressed a preference to us that one way to help the investigation is not to be commenting on it from this podium," McClellan said in response to a barrage of questions about Rove and the previous White House denials.


"I'm well aware, like you, of what was previously said," McClellan said. "And I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time." He said the appropriate time would be when the investigation is completed.

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thanks, KB. this needs to be discussed.




from yahoo news


WASHINGTON (AFP) - Top White House aide Karl Rove discussed a former US ambassador and his

CIA agent wife with a Time magazine reporter, according to a report.



The Newsweek weekly quoted Rove lawyer Robert Luskin as confirming that Rove was the source who gave information to Time reporter Matt Cooper under a pledge of confidentiality, and last week released him to testify about that conversation to a grand jury.


Cooper had been ordered by a US federal judge to testify before the grand jury investigating whether the agent's identity was illegally leaked.



President George W. Bush's deputy chief of staff, has never publicly acknowledged talking to any reporter about former ambassador Joseph Wilson or his wife, Valerie Plame.


And Luskin told Newsweek last week that his client "never knowingly disclosed classified information" and that "he did not tell any reporter that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA."


Plame's was first published in a column by veteran reporter Robert Novak in 2003, which cited senior administration officials.


Wilson claimed she was outed as punishment for his contradiction of Bush's assertion in the 2003 State of the Union address that

Saddam Hussein sought yellowcake uranium from Africa.


Miller researched the story, but didn't write it, and Cooper only mentioned it in passing.

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wow, the white house has done a fantastic job of defending him


until a few days ago, when it suddenly no longer wanted to comment on an ongoing investigation (though it has been commenting on it all along)


more bullshit? who's surprised.


you need boots and a fucking shovel to listen to a gov't official talk these days

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^^agreed... first daliy show i've gotten the chance to watch in forever. one of teh few reason i miss cable.


next up....chief justice karl rove.

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i flipped to faux news this morning while imus was

on a break. they happened to be talking about rove

(i was hoping that would be the case) and the fuckers

made it sound like he had been given a parking ticket.


i distrust those people. i also hate them, but i distrust them

first and foremost.

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Tell us your "source," Judy

Not published in The New York Times

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


By Greg Palast


The only thing more evil, small-minded and treasonous than the Bush Administration's jailing Judith Miller for a crime the Bush Administration committed, is Judith Miller covering up her Bush Administration "source."

Judy, Karl Rove ain't no "source." A confidential source -- and I've worked with many -- is an insider ready to put himself on the line to blow the whistle on an official lie or hidden danger. I would protect a source's name with my life and fortune as would any journalist who's not a craven jerk (the Managing Editor of Time Magazine comes to mind).

But the weasel who whispered "Valerie Plame" in Miller's ear was no source. Whether it was Karl Rove or some other Rove-tron inside the Bush regime (and no one outside Bush's band would have had this information), this was an official using his official info to commit a crime for the sole purpose of punishing a real whistleblower, Joseph Wilson, Plame's husband, for questioning our President's mythological premise for war in Iraq.

New York Times reporter Miller and her paper would rather she go to prison for four months than identify their "source." Why?

Part of her oddball defense is that The Times never ran the story about Wilson's wife. They get no points for that. The Times should have run the story with the headline: BUSH OPERATIVE COMMITS FELONY TO PUNISH WHISTLEBLOWER. The lead paragraph should have been, "Today, Mr. K--- R--- [or other slime ball as appropriate] attempted to plant sensitive intelligence information on The New York Times, a felony offense, in an attempt to harm former Ambassador Joseph Wilson who challenged the President's claim regarding Iraq's nuclear program."

A Karl Rove or Rove-like creature peddling a back-door smear doesn't make him a source. Miller's real crime is not concealing a source, but burying the story. A reporter should never, ever give notes to a grand jury, but this information is something The Times owes the public, not the prosecutors.

Why didn't The Times run this story? Why not now? Who are they covering for and why?

Maybe the problem for The Times is that this is the same "source" that used Miller to promote, as fact, her ersatz report before the invasion of Iraq that Saddam truly had nukes and bugs and chemicals he could launch at Los Angeles. That "source" too needs publication, Judy.

Every rule has an exception. My mama always told me to compliment the chef at dinner. But that doesn't apply when the chef pees in your soup. Likewise, there's an exception to the rule of source protection. When officialdom uses "you-can't-use-my- name" to cover a lie, the official is not a source, but a disinformation propagandist -- and Miller and The Times have been all too willing to play Izvestia to the Bush's Kremlinesque prevarications.

And that is what Miller is protecting: the evil called "access."

The great poison in the corpus of American journalism is the lust for tidbits of supposedly "inside" information which is more often than not inside misinformation parading as hot news.

And thus we have Miller sucking on the steaming sewage pipe of White House lies about Iraq and spitting it out in the pages of The Times as "investigative reporting," for which The Times has apologized. Likewise, we had the embarrassment of Bob Woodward's special access to the Oval Office after the September 11 attacks when Woodward reported the exclusive news that the President was a flawless commander in chief in the war on terror -- for which Woodward has yet to apologize.

While reporting from the Potemkin village of decision-making set up for him at the White House, Woodward missed the real story that, in the words of the Downing Street memo, our leaders were losing track of Osama while they spent their time "fixing the intelligence" on Iraq. Even if Woodward learned of it, would he have reported it at the risk of losing his access to evil?

As Karl Rove chuckles and Judy does time, we are left to ask, What are Miller and The New York Times doing: protecting the name of a source or covering up their conduit to the Bush gang's machinery of deception?

One can only be sympathetic to Miller for choosing jail over bending to the power of the State. But as T.S. Eliot said,

"The last temptation is the greatest treason,

To do the right deed for the wrong reason."

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last night on fox news, the news scroller (ticker?) at the bottom said that plame wasnt undercover when rove outted her.


god bless fox news. her status in the cia WAS CLASSIFIED.

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all the pieces for a nice cover up are nowing showing up. Plame wasn't undercover, a reporter was the one who told Rove about Wilsons wife being an agent.. blah, blah, blah.


Nothings going to happen to Rove. no surprise.

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Giving a first-person account of his role in a case that nearly landed him in jail, Cooper recalled that Rove told him, “I’ve already said too much” after revealing that the wife of the former ambassador apparently was with the CIA.


Cooper speculated in the piece, released Sunday, that Rove could have been “worried about being indiscreet, or it could have meant he was late for a meeting or something else.”


“I don’t know, but that signoff has been in my memory for two years,” Cooper wrote. The White House and Rove’s lawyer have stressed that Rove never mentioned Valerie Plame, Wilson’s wife, by name.


some peripheral from tpm:

(July 18, 2005 -- 04:28 PM EST // link // print)


This point is admittedly very deep in the weeds. But if you're playing the Rove/Plame/Niger sleuth game like many of the rest of us, it's a significant point.


Much now turns, you'll remember, on this classified State Department memo, which seems 



  likely to have been the source of the information about Joe Wilson and his wife that was circulating between reporters and White House staffers in early July 2003.


A couple days ago the Times reported that "the memorandum was dated June 10, 2003." That squares with what we know about the administration's concerns (or 'interest' if you're the gullible type) dating more than a month before his Times oped.


Today, however, Bloomberg reports that it was "prepared by the State Department on July 7, 2003."


Big difference.


Now, I guess you could say that a document needn't be prepared at the time it was dated. But had the memo been backdated a month I assume we'd have heard about this already, since that would be pretty big news in itself.


Bloomberg follows up with these grafs ...


On the same day the memo was prepared, White House phone logs show Novak placed a call to White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, according to lawyers familiar with the case and a witness who has testified before the grand jury. Those people say it is not clear whether Fleischer returned the call, and Fleischer has refused to comment.


The Novak call may loom large in the investigation because Fleischer was among a group of administration officials who left Washington later that day on a presidential trip to Africa. On the flight to Africa, Fleischer was seen perusing the State Department memo on Wilson and his wife, according to a former administration official who was also on the trip.




At first I assumed that the discrepancy was simply the result of an editorial error from the Times or Bloomberg. But as you can see, both articles hang a significant theory of the case on the date. So it seems unlikely that June has simply been transposed for July, or vice versa.


The answer comes down deep in the Bloomberg article ...


The July 7 memo was largely a reproduction of an earlier State Department report prepared around June 12. Another key question that Fitzgerald is interested in, according to the grand jury witness and the lawyers familiar with the case, is whether Rove or Libby learned of this earlier report and, if so, shared its content with reporters.


Now, presumably, this second version of the memo is what is referenced in this portion of the article in the Times ...


When Mr. Wilson's Op-Ed article appeared on July 6, 2003, a Sunday, Richard L. Armitage, then deputy secretary of state, called Carl W. Ford Jr., the assistant secretary for intelligence and research, at home, a former State Department official said. Mr. Armitage asked Mr. Ford to send a copy of the memorandum to Mr. Powell, who was preparing to leave for Africa with Mr. Bush, the former official said. Mr. Ford sent it to the White House for transmission to Mr. Powell.


I suppose this is where I venture some theory as to what it all means. But I'm not sure what it does mean. Let me add a few more details though and ask a couple questions.


The Bloomberg article says that Novak put in a call to Ari Fleischer on the same day (July 7th) the second memo was prepared at the State Department, and that Fleischer did see the second memo.


My question is about the point in the Times graf above about Carl Ford. And it's not a rhetorical question. Does an assistant secretary of State send a document to the White House if he's trying to send it to the Secretary? Even if the Secretary is about to leave on a foreign trip with the president? Perhaps that's how it would be done. I don't know.


Secondly, where at State did the first memo originate? Bloomberg seems clear that the second memo was prepared at INR, State's in-house intel bureau. But they're less clear on whether the first one came from there.


It's certainly possible that the difference between these two memos is little more than the difference between xeroxing it or slapping another date at the top. But as long as we're all blind men feeling one part of the elephant, let's try to cover as much of the animal as possible.

-- Josh Marshall

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and another little bit linked from tpm pal kevin drum:



July 18, 2005



NUKES AND THE BASE....Step back from Plamegate for a moment and ask yourself a broader question: why did the White House react so violently to Joe Wilson's suggestion that the story about Saddam Hussein trying to procure uranium from Niger was false? After all, as conservative apologists never tire of pointing out, Wilson didn't really debunk George Bush's words in the 2003 State of the Union address. Bush said only that Saddam "sought" uranium from Africa, while Wilson merely provided evidence that no uranium ever changed hands. The fact is, Wilson's report didn't invalidate Bush's statement.


So why did the White House go nuts? What were they so scared of that they went into full-blown smear-and-destroy mode?


One of the advantages of living in Orange County is that I have plenty of centrist and conservative acquaintances, and one thing I've learned from them is that even among Bush's own supporters it was the possibility of Saddam getting hold of nukes that really scared them. Chemical and biological weapons were a bit of a yawn. Without nukes, even Bush sympathizers were skeptical about the whole Iraq adventure.


Since Karl Rove has much more sophisticated means of gauging public opinion than my occasional lunches with friends, he obviously knew this full well. And that means that he was hellbent on making a case in the SOTU that Saddam had an active nuke program. The problem is that even after sifting through every available rumor, analysis, and unconfirmed report, they were only able to come up with two meager pieces of evidence:



The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.


That's it. Uranium from Africa and aluminum tubes. It was pretty thin stuff.


But it turned out to be even thinner. Although conservatives insist with bilious disdain that the CIA was staffed by do-nothing bureaucrats afraid to follow the Iraqi WMD evidence where it led, the exact opposite was true. Although it's unclear how much of this was due to CIA culture and how much to White House pressure, the reality is that the CIA was far more bullish about Saddam's WMD programs than it should have been. They continued to report the uranium connection long after State Department analysts had made it clear that it was based on forged documents, and they continued to insist that the aluminum tubes were designed for centrifuges long after Department of Energy experts had conclusively debunked it.


Without those two things, there was no evidence left that Iraq was reconsituting its nuclear program aside from the procurement of a bit of dual use equipment and some hazy reporting of personnel movements. As the SSCI report concluded last year, "the judgment...that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear program, was not supported by the intelligence."


In other words, the White House political operation wasn't lashing out just because of Joe Wilson. They were lashing out because they believed their political lives depended on their own supporters continuing to believe that Saddam had been actively working on a nuke program. Without that belief, they'd lose support within their own base even if they eventually found evidence of chem and bio programs.


In Karl Rove's world, the base is sacred, and nukes were the key to their support. Joe Wilson threatened to open a crack in that support, and that's why he had to be destroyed.

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Rove is possibly the dirtiest motherfucker in all of Washington. Seriously.

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Originally posted by ARCEL@Jul 20 2005, 02:56 AM

bush suddenly makes his supreme court nomination while this is happening, hmm



Actually, thats a good call...didn't think of that but it makes a lot of sense.

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Why the Leak Probe Matters

For all the complexities of the Valerie Plame case, this story is about how easy it was to get into Iraq, and how hard it will be to get out.


July 25 issue - Like a lot of President Bush's critics, I supported the Iraq war at first. Because of the evidence on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction laid out by Colin Powell, I agreed that we needed to disarm Saddam Hussein. I even think it's possible that 25 years from now, historians will conclude that the Iraq war helped accelerate the modernizing of the Middle East, even if it doesn't fully democratize it.


But if that happens, Bush might not get as much credit as he hopes, and not just because most historians, as Richard Nixon liked to say, are liberals. Bush may look bad because his leadership on Iraq has been a fiasco. He didn't plan for it: the early decisions that allowed the insurgency to get going were breathtakingly incompetent. He didn't pay for it: Bush is the first president in history to cut taxes during a war, this one now costing nearly $1 billion a week. And most important of all, he didn't tell the American people the truth about it: taking a nation to war is the most solemn duty of a president, and he'd better make certain there's no alternative and no doubt about the evidence.


Why do I mention this now? Because for all of the complexities of the Valerie Plame case, for all the questions raised about the future of investigative journalism and the fate of the most influential aide to an American president since Louis Howe served Franklin D. Roosevelt 70 years ago, this story is fundamentally about how easy it was to get into Iraq and how hard it will be to get out.


We got in because we "cooked" the intelligence, then hyped it. That's why the "Downing Street Memo" is not a smoking gun but a big "duh." For two years we've known that senior White House officials were determined to, in the words of the British intelligence memo, "fix" the intelligence to suit their policy decisions. When someone crossed them, they would "fix" him, too, as career ambassador Joseph Wilson found when he came back from Africa with a report that threw cold water on the story that Saddam Hussein sought yellowcake uranium from Niger.


Was Plame "fair game," as Karl Rove told Chris Matthews? George H.W. Bush didn't think so. Even after Wilson embarrassed the president publicly, Bush Sr. wrote Wilson—whom he had appointed to various ambassadorial posts—to congratulate him for his service and sympathize with him over the outing of his wife. The old man was head of the CIA in the 1970s and knows the consequences of blowing the identities of covert operatives.



But does his son? A real leader wouldn't hide behind Clintonian legalisms like "I don't want to prejudge." Even if the disclosure was unintentional and no law was broken, Rove's confirmed conduct—talking casually to two reporters without security clearances about a CIA operative—was dangerous and wrong. As GOP congressman turned talk-show host Joe Scarborough puts it, if someone in his old congressional office did what Rove unquestionably did, that someone would have been promptly fired, just as the president promised in this case. Scarborough, no longer obligated to toe the pathetic Republican Party line, says it's totally irrelevant if Joe Wilson is a preening partisan who misled investigators about the role his wife played in recommending his Niger trip. The frantic efforts of the GOP attack machine to change the subject to Wilson shows how scared Republicans are that the master of their universe will be held accountable for Rove's destructive carelessness.


To get an idea of how destructive, I talked to Melissa Mahle, a former CIA covert operative turned author whose career parallels Plame's. She explained what happens when someone's cover is blown. It isn't pretty, especially when, like Plame, you have been under "nonofficial cover" (working for a phony front company or nonprofit), which is more sensitive than "official cover" (pretending to work for another government agency). The GOP's spinners are making it seem that because Plame had a desk job in Langley at the time she was outed, she wasn't truly undercover. As Mahle says, that reflects a total ignorance about the way the CIA works. Being outed doesn't just waste millions of taxpayer dollars; it compromises hundreds of other people in the field you may have worked with in the past.


If Bush isn't a hypocrite on national security, he needs, at a minimum, to yank Rove's security clearance. "Whether you do it [discuss the identity of CIA operatives] intentionally or unintentionally, you have not met the requirements of that security clearance," Mahle told me.


The bigger question is what this scandal does to the CIA's ability to develop essential "humint" (human intelligence). Here's where the Iraq war comes in again. The sooner we beef up our intelligence, the sooner we crack the insurgency and get to bring our troops home. What does it say to the people doing the painstaking work of building those spy networks when the identity of one of their own becomes just another weapon in the partisan wars of Washington? For a smart guy, Karl Rove was awfully stupid.

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