back to Niger and Plame…

Posted on Saturday 30 June 2007

This week’s Washington Post series and the Rolling Stone article document amazing pieces of political skullduggery on the part of Vice President Cheney – stuff that ought to be enough to heave him out of office. But, the Bush Administration has over and over proved itself to be non-self-regulating. George W. Bush isn’t goingto do anything about what those articles say, any more than he’s going to do anything about Alberto Gonzales. He’s not a real President. He’s a front man for Mr. Cheney and Mr. rove who respectively represent big business and the Republican Party [which end up being, it seems, the same master. So there’s a new standard. We can only eliminate an Administration official by proving a crime was committed. It’s an absurdly low standard for such high office, but it’s just the way things are at the moment.

Scooter Libby committed a crime. It’s against the law to lie to a Grand Jury, and it’s against the law to obstruct justice – to try to keep a Grand Jury from learning the truth. And, thus far, he was successful in obstructing justice. While he’s on the way to jail for his crime[s], we still don’t know what really happened with Valerie Plame’s improper exposure as a C.I.A. Agent. All we really know is that we don’t know the truth. We infer, but haven’t proved, that the "action central" for her exposure was the White House – probably directed by Dick Cheney, the Vice President and sometimes member of the Executive Branch of our government. There are two potential crimes involved. First, the outing of Valerie Plame, an undercover C.I.A. Agent. The second, falsifying evidence [intelligence] that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction – specifically knowingly passing off as if it were true the forged claim that Niger sold Hussein Uranium.

These two crimes are obviously related. Valerie Plame’s identity was revealed to discredit her husband, Joe Wilson, who had directly charged that the Administration had falsified the Niger intelligence – based on his own visit to Niger at the request of the C.I.A. Evidence of the falsification of the Niger claim and the outing of Joe Wilson’s wife point to Vice President Cheney. He was pushing the C.I.A. to investigate the Niger claim. His Chief of Staff was pushing to get the Niger claim into the President’s speeches. His Chief of Staff was a prime mover in revealing Ms. Wilson’s secret identity after Wilson went public with his allegations. There aren’t too many dots left to connect the Vice President to both of these crimes.

Back in the days when this scandal was young, there came a time when the Special Prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, subpoenaed two reporters, Matt Cooper and Judith Miller, to testify. They refused, evoking their First Amendment Rights – Freedom of the Press – the right to confidentiality with their sources. Fitzgerald took them to Court and won – resulting in both reporters ultimately testifying to the Grand Jury and in the Libby Trial. The decision was rendered by Judge Tatel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The transcript of Tatel’s judgement has recently been released. And emptywheel of The Next Hurrah, America’s primo Plamologist, has a post up about that 83 page transcript [speculating about what must be contained in its two REDACTED pages]. It’s about the crimes.

There are two document parsering wizards in the blogosphere, eriposte and emptywheel, who see things in empty spaces that the rest of us don’t see. Summarizing their analyses is like trying to make a Space Shuttle from a newspaper photo. At best, one may be able to understand their conclusions. Here are emptywheel’s conclusions about what those empty pages contain:
… the most interesting part of the Tatel opinion is the two-page section that remains redacted, explaining why Fitzgerald suspects Rove perjured himself in his testimony about Novak and Cooper. I believe that section includes:
  • An assertion that Rove lied when he testified that he responded to Novak’s story about Plame by saying, "you heard that too?"
  • A description of some way that Rove’s testimony contradicts Novak’s description that Rove promised to declassify the CIA report on Wilson’s trip
  • A description of Rove’s presumably changing testimony about Cooper – and possibly a description about the magically rediscovered Rove-Hadley email
  • A description of one more piece of involvement on the part of Cheney
We all think that Rove was part of the conspiracy to discredit Joe Wilson by outing his wife, Valerie Plame – and that he slid out from under an indictment using sleight of hand by discovering an email that reminded him of his conversation with Matt Cooper after Time‘s reporter, Viveca Novak gave Rove’s lawyer an inadvertent head’s up. It was our first window into the alternative RNC email system he used []. We all think Cheney was the mastermind behind the whole thing [actually both whole things – the misuse of the Niger documents and the outing of Ms. Wilson].

There’s one part of Marcie’s [emptywheel’s] analysis of the Tatel opinion that I do understand, that jumps off the page:
Although uncontradicted testimony indicates that Novak first learned Wilson’s wife’s place of employment during a meeting on July 8 with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage (see 8/27/04 Aff. at 18), Novak said in grand jury testimony that he confirmed Plame’s employment with Rove (II-153-54), a longstanding source for his columns (II-121-22). According to Novak, when he “brought up” Wilson’s wife, “Mr. Rove said, oh, you know about that too” (II-154) and promised to seek declassification of portions of a CIA report regarding the Niger trip, which Rove said “wasn’t an impressive piece of work or a very definitive piece of work” (II-158). In an October 2003 column describing his sources, Novak identified Armitage’s comment as an “offhand revelation” from “a senior administration official” who was “no partisan gunslinger.” (II-20.) He referred to Rove simply as “another official” who said, “Oh, you know about it.” (II-20, 209-11.)
If Karl Rove is playing innocent confirmer of Armitage’s leak, where the hell did the highlighted portion come from? He basically claim’s to Novak that he knows about Joe Wilson’s Report – and is actively discrediting it talking to Novak just days after Joe’s op-ed piece in the New York Times! Obviously, the information in the Tatel Opinion, REDACTED or not, will not convict Karl Rove or Dick Cheney of the crimes we all agree they committed. If they would, Fitzgerald would have indicted them [I believe in the integrity of Patrick Fitzgerald]. But they do confirm the mountains of evidence that they both did the dirty deeds.

There was other indirect evidence last week that speaks to the Niger Forgeries and the Plame outing – modus operandi evidence. In both the Washington Post series and the Rolling Stone article about the assault on Global Warming theory, Cheney’s working with political operative Karl Rove and Cheney’s distortion of questionable information were all over the place. Cheney and Rove were both part of the Klamath River story – working in concert. There were plenty of examples of Cheney scouring for any evidence that validated what he wanted to do, then jumping on it as if it were on a stone slab from Mount Arrarat given to Moses. The distortion of the Niger forgeries and the outing of Valerie Plame used methods that were standard operating procedure in the OVP. Like in an investigation of a serial killer, Cheney’s modus operandi was all over both crimes.

To end this post on a positive note, it’s not just English Major bloggers on this story any more. Both Houses of Congress are investigating this story. Both Houses of Congress are subpoenaing documents that relate to these stories.  And eriposte and emptywheel are still around to make those documents make sense…
    priscianus jr
    July 1, 2007 | 12:51 AM

    I think you mean Mount Sinai, since that’s where Moses got the stone tablets. Mount Ararat is where Noah’s Ark ended up.

    Lew Weinstein
    July 1, 2007 | 4:13 AM

    The only way Scooter Libby should avoid jail is if he makes a deal and testifies againts VP Cheney, who is the real villain in this and many other situations. I think Bush will ultimately pardon Libby, disgusting as that is, but isn’t it interesting that he doesn’t have the guts to do it now.

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