Oct 25 2005

Plaming Around

Published by at 10:44 am under All General Discussions,Plame Game


I should have just written ‘what he said’.. (Tom Maguire)


UPDATED Links at the end! (yes, way down there..)

I am still stunned at the incredibly poor reporting on the Plame Game and key facts of this case. Seems that when the press is part of the story, they apparently are unable to keep their role in this mess up front and clear. Rick Moran has a great post on this regarding motivations as time progressed. He begins with the most plausible and reasonable conclusion that the Niger trip by Wilson was an attempt to boost his fledgling consulting business.

As Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald methodically goes about the business of deciding whether to indict one or more White House officials in L’Affaire d’Plame, it is becoming increasingly clear that no one is going to jail for telling reporters that Ambassador Joe Wilson’s wife convinced the CIA to send him on a mission to Niger to give his consulting business a boost.

Being a consultant myself this makes more sense than anything else I have heard. Rick also points to this Washington Post article out today by Pincus and Milbank, which begins the media’s surrender process on what an opportunistic fraud Wilson is:

But nobody disputes this: Possessed of a flamboyant style and a love for the camera lens, Wilson helped propel the unmasking of his wife’s identity as a CIA operative into a sprawling, two-year legal probe that climaxes this week with the possible indictment of key White House officials.

At the same time, Wilson’s publicity efforts — and his work for Sen. John F. Kerry’s presidential campaign — have complicated his efforts to portray himself as a whistle-blower and a husband angry about the treatment of his wife. The Vanity Fair photos, in particular, hurt Plame’s reputation inside the CIA; both Wilson and Plame have said they now regret doing the photo shoot.

But, these two ‘reporters’ still try and salvage his reputation with what I would have to state is patently false information:

Wilson’s critics in the administration said his 2002 trip to Niger for the CIA to probe reports that Iraq was trying to buy uranium there was a boondoggle arranged by his wife to help his consulting business.

I do not consider ‘Wilson’s critics’ to include the intelligence community who were interviewed for the Senate Committee report. To save folks the trouble, I will not make you go back to this long, previous post. Instead I have copied the pertinent sections here.

What the Senate investigation found was that Wilson was selected over a more expedient and obvious choice for investigating the Niger situation

Officials from the CIA’s DO Counterproliferation Division (CPD) told Committee staff that in response to questions from the Vice President’s Office and the Departments of State and Defense on the alleged Iraq-Niger uranium deal, CPD officials discussed ways to obtain additional information. [Redacted] who could make immediate inquiries into the reporting, CPD decided to contact a former ambassador to Gabon who had a posting early in his career in Niger.

The ‘redacted’ section is about a sentence worth of text, and could be something like ‘Instead of contacting Agency X’. For those who are not aware, CPD is where Valerie Plame worked at the time. This paragraph is addressing how Valerie first offered her husband up verbally, and then was asked by her superior to write a memo about his qualifications so there would be a record of why he was being sent.

But that is not all. Later Valerie Plame called a meeting of the broader intel community representatives to discuss the idea of sending Wilson to Niger:

On February 19, 2002, CPD hosted a meeting with the former ambassador, intelligence analysts from both the CIA and INR, and several individuals from the DO’s Africa and CPD divisions. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the merits of the former ambassador traveling to Niger. An INR analyst’s notes indicate that the meeting was “apparently convened by [the former ambassador’s] wife who had the idea to dispatch [him] to use his contacts to sort out the Iraq-Niger uranium issue.” The former ambassador’s wife told Committee staff that she only attended the meeting to introduce her husband and left after about three minutes.

(U) The INR analyst’s meeting notes and electronic mail (e-mail) from other participants indicate that INR explained its skepticism that the alleged uranium contract could possibly be carried out due to the fact that it would be very difficult to hide such a large shipment of yellowcake and because “the French appear to have control of the uranium mining, milling and transport process, and would seem to have little interest in selling uranium to the Iraqis.” The notes also indicate that INR believed that the embassy in Niger had good contacts and would be able to get to the truth on the uranium issue, suggesting a visit from the former ambassador would be redundant. Other meeting participants argued that the trip would do little to clarify the story on the alleged uranium deal because the Nigerians would be unlikely to admit to a uranium sales agreement with Iraq, even if one had been negotiated. An e-mail from a WFNPAC analyst to CPD following the meeting noted “it appears that the results from this source will be suspect at best, and not believable under most scenarios.” CPD concluded that with no other options, sending the former ambassador to Niger was worth a try.

What this says, in essence, is all the other intel community representatives at the meeting felt the trip was a waste of effort and it would be easier and better to let the embassy in Niger handle it. Which happened – they did. The embassy did their investigation and it was clearly the primary one. But CPD (Valerie?) decided to send Joe anyway, despite the fact it seen as a waste of time.

When Joe got to Niger he was told to not disturb the central investigations being done by the embassy (and probably others), and to stay away from current government officials – making his efforts even more marginal:

On February 26, 2002, the former ambassador arrived in Niger. He told Committee staff that he first met with Ambassador Owens-Kirkpatrick to discuss his upcoming meetings. Ambassador Owens-Kirkpatrick asked him not to meet with current Nigerien officials because she believed it might complicate her continuing diplomatic efforts with them on the uranium issue. The former ambassador agreed to restrict his meetings to former officials and the private sector.

All of this precisely points to a boondoggle. No one outside Plame and Joe felt his visit would provide anything useful, and he was barred from talking to anyone central to the information needed. Why is it these two ‘reporters’ cannot know this?

And as I pointed out earlier – there are questions about all those statements Wilson made about the Niger forgeries and his trip – two subjects separated by months in time with the Niger documents surfacing well after Wilson’s little jaunt. I’ll go back to Rick for this subject

What makes this effort by Fitzgerald significant is Joe Wilson’s public claim that he knew they were forgeries because “the dates and names” were wrong. Only one problem there: Wilson never saw the Niger forgeries.

“Misspoken” may be the understatement of the week. Wilson out and out lied. What is curious is where he would have gotten that information because indeed, the documents list as Prime Minister of Niger someone who had been out of office for years. In other words, Wilson did not “misspeak” anything; he was simply repeating what he had been told by someone with access to the secret documents. The fact that he falls asleep every night next to someone with access to that classified information should tell you all you need to know about Wilson’s role in this entire affair.

Rick left a comment on my earlier post on Fitzgerald investigating the Niger forgeries where he alluded to the fact these forgeries were initially passed as good through Valerie’s own area of the CIA! Rick states that area was WINPAC, but we all believed Plame worked for the more covert CPD section all this time. Well, she definitely did at the time of Wilson’s trip. But I am beginning to realize there have been too many discrepancies about where she worked when (Miller’s notes in 2003 have her at WINPAC).

My first guess was the Wilson’s claimed WINPAC when his story started breaking in May and June of 2003, over a year after the trip. It was a way to do some protection of her true role at CPD. But it is also just as likely that Plame had moved to the less covert WINPAC at some point (which is why there will be no prosecutions on leaking her name – if she was in WINPAC at the time of the stories she is not covered under the statute).

And, if she was at WINPAC when the forgeries came through, and were erroneously authenticated by the CIA, that would give her access to the details about the wrong names and dates (something she could have even asked Joe about since he did know the region and the players).

Pincus and Milbank do touch on these earlier discrepancies about Wilson and his claims

Wilson has also armed his critics by misstating some aspects of the Niger affair. For example, Wilson told The Washington Post anonymously in June 2003 that he had concluded that the intelligence about the Niger uranium was based on forged documents because “the dates were wrong and the names were wrong.” The Senate intelligence committee, which examined pre-Iraq war intelligence, reported that Wilson “had never seen the CIA reports and had no knowledge of what names and dates were in the reports.” Wilson had to admit he had misspoken.

But then they make the most stunning claim. First, recall that the first reports on this subject claimed this ex-ambassador (Joe Wilson) had discovered the intelligence about Saddam’s efforts to acquire uranium were forgeries, and that Bush went to war knowing the intel was based on forgeries. It was not Wilson went to Niger and talked to some folks and couldn’t find any intel on Saddam’s intentions. That’s not news! But here is the latest spin from a desperate press

That inaccuracy was not central to Wilson’s claims about Niger, but his critics have used it to cast doubt on his veracity about more important questions, such as whether his wife recommended him for the 2002 trip, as administration officials charged in the conversations with reporters that special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald is now probing. Wilson has maintained that Plame was merely “a conduit,” telling CNN last year that “her supervisors asked her to contact me.”

They have got to be kidding. The forgeries were the ‘stunner’ of all the articles. And these reporters know better. Instead of presenting all the evidence that the intel community was not behind Wilson’s trip, and that he had been ordered to not meddle in the primary investigation efforts, this is what Pincus and Milbank offer:

The CIA has always said, however, that Plame’s superiors chose Wilson for the Niger trip and she only relayed their decision.

Does anyone believe Wilson would have gone if Valerie and not mentioned his name, penned the testimonial memo on his background, hosted the meeting and lobbied for him to go despite the fact no one felt it was important?? OK, so why are these two ‘reporters’ unable to connect the dots?

Going back to the summer of 2003 when the story broke, no newspaper will publish a story saying the President went to war, and knowingly using forged intel to make the case, on the claims of one ex-ambassador. No one in their right legal mind would do that. The only way to publish this kind of story is with a second source. And the only other source at the debriefing (the event noted by Kristof as where his sources were when the news was passed to the CIA) who would also back the forgery angole was Valerie. Again, from the Senate investigation:

Later that day, two CIA DO officers debriefed the former ambassador who had returned from Niger the previous day. The debriefing took place in the former ambassador’s home and although his wife was there, according to the reports officer, she acted as a hostess and did not participate in the debrief.

That’s how uninterested the CIA was in his report. They did not even ask him to go to the CIA to report in. What this means is there are only four people at the key event – the debriefing. All the stories at the time this broke rely on sources who back up the forgery angle as part of the debrief. There are only two people who would do that – Valerie and Joe. Where is this reporting?

This is a last ditch CYA attempt to make excuses about why the Washington Post did not do solid reporting. The information is all over the blogs. What it requires is an objective, independent analysis to bang details together in a coherent and consistent scenario so that it all works together. It requires skepticism about the media’s herd-generated assumptions and challenging the conventional wisdom with alternate, possible explanations.

It simple requires a professional reporter. Not a highly paid one – a good one. They are not the same thing.

Interestingly enough, there is a second Washington Post article from another journalist who had to testify in this case (Pincus being another). Why are these people not recusing themselves? How do we know they are not using the Washington Post pages to try and misdirect the investigation or tamper with the grand jury members? The press has a lot to answer for by releasing their version of events to the public right before the prosecutor announces his conclusions.

The second article is from Glenn Kessle and discusses the fact that the Plame Game is a political policy difference the left has taken into the courts (because that is the last bastion of failed, liberal politics and policies). I mean – duh! Did you folks in the press just now, two years later, realize you were being used? Gimme a break.

Some interesting spin here as well

As the investigation into the leak reaches its expected climax this week with the expiration of the grand jury’s term, the internal disputes have been further amplified by a recent string of speeches and interviews criticizing the administration’s handling of Iraq, including by former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft, the former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and State Department diplomats, and other officials involved in the early efforts to stabilize Iraq.

Stabilize Iraq?? Stabilize! How can you stabilize a country led by an unstable, violent, delusional dictator who had WMD technology and provided sanctuary to terrorists? This argument was tried before we invaded Iraq and was rightfully trounced. Saddam showed no inherent trait for mental stability. He demonstrated know acknowledgement of civil bounds for actions against his fellow man. The guy was a nutter trying to gain the most destructive weapons on the planet. And yes, we all said that it would be nice, in a TV made world, if we could sit down and change Saddam’s heart. But that was a fantasy.

The funny thing is, all these people predicted we would never get to where we are today. They all said that we could never get the Iraqi’s to massively support an democratic and peaceful government because the Arab street would rise up! Well, the Arab street has risen and spoken and they want democracy. This article is written as if nothing has happened in Iraq or Libya or Lebanon to date! Dedication to a cause is good – but this is blind obsession.

Testimony in the leak case, especially by New York Times reporter Judith Miller, has suggested that one reason White House officials sought to discredit Wilson is a deep animus toward the CIA — and a suspicion the intelligence agency was trying to shift blame for its failures onto the White House.

Let’s see, was it the CIA who said it was a slam dunk Saddam had WMDs? I do believe it was! Why shift blame when we know where it is? I guess a real reporter would have to point out the CIA was possibly shifting responsibility…A real reporter.

And then get a load of this from a disgruntled Powell aide:

“The case that I saw for four-plus years was a case I have never seen in my studies of aberrations, bastardizations, perturbations, changes to the national security decision-making process,” Lawrence B. Wilkerson, Powell’s former chief of staff and longtime confidant, said in a speech last week. “What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.”

One of our favorite movies is A Knights Tale, and one of our favorite lines is “Hello, it’s called a Lance“! Well, Hello – its called the President’s Cabinet! Of course this fool never saw one of those, he has not been a cabinet secretary.

I’ll end this with the implosion of Brent Scrowcroft, and how a leftwing reporter can straight-face undo his own case with the perfect example of what is wrong with the media and the CIA rogues and the anti-war left:

Scowcroft, in his interview, discussed an argument over Iraq he had two years ago with Condoleezza Rice, then-national security adviser and current secretary of state. “She says we’re going to democratize Iraq, and I said, ‘Condi, you’re not going to democratize Iraq,’ and she said, ‘You know, you’re just stuck in the old days,’ and she comes back to this thing that we’ve tolerated an autocratic Middle East for fifty years and so on and so forth,” he said. The article stated that with a “barely perceptible note of satisfaction,” Scowcroft added: “But we’ve had fifty years of peace.”

And this is why Scrowcroft and Kessler are idiots. This is Neville Chamberlain logic. Hitler was appeased for years as he built up his weaponry and annexed neighboring lands. And the rationale was ‘at least there’s peace’. Well, Brent – Condi and W were right, there is now a democracy in Iraq. Wake up and see the 13 million stained fingers! And the ‘peace’ you so naively speak of included the Iran and Iraq war, the invasion of Kuwait (how did you miss that one?), the gassing of innocent Kurds by the thousands, mass graves for 100’s of thousands of people, rape rooms, children being tortured and killed, a terrorist haven and one of the first countries to establish major WMD capabilities.

Peace? Not!


Tom Maguire has his comments here. He rightfully looks at both side. I have a few quibbles. For one, I think a lot of the lawyers leaking are not administration lawyers – there is not value in irritating the prosecutor – as Tom points out. Most of the leaks actually take the CIA’s side. Also, I think it is completely possible and probably that Cheney told Libby of Valerie in June and Libby said “yeah, I heard that from the press already”. Tom was the one who points out that Wilson had shopped the story and caused lots of calls to the administration to confirm it – tipping off Cheney and the WH. But Tom has never addressed the fact that Kristof sites his sources as being at the 4 person debriefing at the Wilsons’ house – and the fact the NYTimes would never run such a story without a second source – Valerie. And to make a wife a credible second source requires knowledge of her CIA role. Oh well. As Tom says, ‘time will tell’.

Ed Morrissey has some interesting points on how the NY Times is destroying Miller’s value as a witness against the administration players, if indicted. Captain Ed asks:

It’s almost as if they want to create a huge distance between Miller and credibility — and I doubt they’re doing it to benefit Rove, Libby, or the Bush administration, although that may wind up being the overall effect. They want to discredit the WMD reports themselves, of course, but those have largely been discounted before now. So why this full-court press on Miller by her own paper?

Simple. If Miller is testifying she got the Plame information from inside the NYTimes because Kristof used Valerie and Joe as sources, and Valerie had to prove her worth as a source by divulging her employment at the CIA, then the NY Times needs to discredit her. When legal vetted the Kristof and Wilson stories, they must have done due dilligence. And Wilson must have asked Valerie to vouch for his story – including the Niger forgeries. And no one else in the CIA would vouch for the Niger forgeries.

Dr. Sanity has this post up which reflects on her experience with government (which is similar to mine in many respects) and how coverups work. A worthwile read.

And the ever gracious Anchoress also has a post out on the Pincus-Milbank piece. She is in a take no prisoners mood, I can tell.

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Plaming Around”

  1. Larwyn says:

    May I join in the speculation.

    Consider fact that President Bush announced the appointment of the
    new Federal Reserve Chief yesterday.

    Hmmm Isn’t outgoing Fed Chief married to someone connected
    to all this and connected to the leak of classified information that
    the CIA referred the “outing of Plame” to Justice Dept.

    Didn’t this start the entire ball rolling? With NYT’s calling for
    inquiry and investigation and Ashcroft’s turning over to Special

    We know the markets do not like uncertainty. Uncertainty would
    certainly happen if husband Greenspan needed to step down
    early with no one in line for the Fed Chief Chairmanship.
    The markets would react as they would not know who was in line
    and therefore have no opinion on the “ideology” of who would
    take over.

    Just some food for thought while we wait.

  2. […] More from The Strata-Sphere posted by: The Editors @ 8:47 am October 25, 2005 […]

  3. […] UPDATE: Some really interesting stuff at Just One Minute and AJ Strata’s Establishment. Also, Dr. Sanity excerpts a particularly outspoken piece in Investor’s Business Daily that asks the question that really must – at this point – be asked: […]

  4. Plame Fallout?

    Before reading any further, I urge you to visit Right Wing Nut House for a thorough rehash of what has led us to the point we are today, awaiting the long speculated upon possible indictments of Bush administration officials. Please