Jan 04 2007

Some Plame Predictions

Published by at 8:04 pm under All General Discussions,Plame Game

I am looking forward to the Scooter Libby Trial and interesting revelations. The one I think will be the most devastating to Fitzgerald’s case is the revelation Plame outed herself to the news Media in May 2003 – well before any administration people were talking to the press. I have written about this many times in my Plame Game category, but to save people the headaches let me just recreate the evidence here. In Nicholas Kristof’s lead off article on the then unknown Joe Wilson the entire thrust of the story was the administration knew the case for Iraq was phoney because they used forged documents to implicate Niger and Iraq in the State of The Union Speach (which actually referenced UK intelligence on Africa). The early brush fire was the forged Niger documents. That is important, because otherwise there was no story – none. The revelation was Bush-Cheney used known forgeries, debunked by Wilson on his 2002 trip to Niger, to lie to the American people.

Here is the now debunked Wilson claim from the Kristof piece which started the entire Plame Game:

But there are indications that the U.S. government souped up intelligence, leaned on spooks to change their conclusions and concealed contrary information to deceive people at home and around the world.

…I don’t want to believe that top administration officials tried to win support for the war with a campaign of wholesale deceit.

Consider the now-disproved claims by President Bush and Colin Powell that Iraq tried to buy uranium from Niger so it could build nuclear weapons. As Seymour Hersh noted in The New Yorker, the claims were based on documents that had been forged so amateurishly that they should never have been taken seriously. I’m told by a person involved in the Niger caper that more than a year ago the vice president’s office asked for an investigation of the uranium deal, so a former U.S. ambassador to Africa was dispatched to Niger. In February 2002, according to someone present at the meetings, that envoy reported to the C.I.A. and State Department that the information was unequivocally wrong and that the documents had been forged.

Bush used known forgeries and Kristof was talking to someone who knew all about it! Joe Wilson was the envoy – but to call the President a liar like this you need more than the word of one source. It is a well known fact that Kristof wrote this only two days after meeting Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame at a Democrat Party retreat. So the sourcing had to be solid to go to press with the NY Times Lawyers’ permission. I now direct everyone’s attention to the highlighted text in Kristof’s piece. He had eye witness information regarding the envoy’s (Joe Wilson’s) report on his Niger trip results. Now one would just logically assume the fact the ‘report’ was to the CIA and State Department the report was a physical thing and presented to a government agency. And I am sure that is what Kristof assumed, that a room full of people were in on this event as it was ‘witnessed’.

He was sadly mistaken and totally duped. Because it would come out years later in the Senate Report on Iraq that Wilson was actually debriefed at home with Valerie and two other people. From one of my many posts here is the snippet:

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.

Time explains a lot. Valerie, we learned only recently, headed the joint task force on Iraq and WMDs. Which means she headed a team of experts from all the Intelligence Community’s organizations charged with monitoring Iraq WMD efforts. So there was no need for her to participate in the debrief, she was going to get the report from the two DO officers. But what is key is the DO officers testified to the Senate, and it is in the same report, that there was never once a mention of the Niger forgeries which clearly Kristof had two sources claiming was discussed. Two sources who claimed to Kristof that Wilson debunked forgeries that would not surface inside the intelligence community until 8 months later. The DO officers never heard that story and never admitted to talking to Kristof.

So that leaves only one person left who (a) attended the debriefing at the Wilson home, (b) was with Wilson and Kristof the weekend they discussed the story and (c) would back up Joe’s totally bogus claim that Niger Forgeries were discussed. And that is Valerie Plame Wilson.

And Kristof is not the only reporter Valerie talked to. It seems Walter Pincus had two sources at the same meeting giving the same story for his article a few days later:

A key component of President Bush’s claim in his State of the Union address last January that Iraq had an active nuclear weapons program — its alleged attempt to buy uranium in Niger — was disputed by a CIA-directed mission to the central African nation in early 2002, according to senior administration officials and a former government official.

Armed with information purportedly showing that Iraqi officials had been seeking to buy uranium in Niger one or two years earlier, the CIA in early February 2002 dispatched a retired U.S. ambassador to the country to investigate the claims, according to the senior U.S. officials and the former government official, who is familiar with the event.

Note that the “former government official” source is Wilson himself. And he has at least two other “senior US officials” to back him up.

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.

Here it is not so clear if the only person making the claim on the forgeries is Wilson (the former official) or him and another source. Again, to claim the President knowingly used faked information would require two sources. Only Valerie would have the position and be a witness to the claims of niger forgeries being reported at this time.

There are other indications as well, but Libby’s defense is going to rely on the fact reporters knew Plame was CIA already and were coming to him for confirmation. And of course they knew, if she was the source with Joe and she exposed her CIA employment. She would not have to disclose any secrets to let journalists know she was CIA and at the meetings.

Which is why Fitzegerald could never bring any charges specifically against outing Plame to the media – against Rove or Libby. There is no law against outing yourself. And it is pretty clear Plame outed herself to Kristof and Pincus and John Landay of Knight Ridder. The details in this last article are so accurate at such an early stage (before Wilson’s Op Ed) that it was clear early on it had to have come from sources inside the CIA. Again, the only CIA source who was willing to back Joe’s wild claims about forgeries was Valerie.

This will come out at the trial, and in fact must come out, because it is critical to Libby’s defense. It shows Plame and Wilson spoke freely about her role in this as a CIA employee, and therefore Libby was right in recollecting some reporters were asking him to confirm THEIR knowledge of Plame working at the CIA. It will also go to great lengths to destroy Plame’s and Wilson’s credibility, and it will throw a shadow on all testimony by reporters. If this is actually what happened, and I am nearly certain it is, I think this will be the big bombshell of the case.

42 responses so far

42 Responses to “Some Plame Predictions”

  1. robert lewis says:

    Indeed, AJ, you seem to feel free to talk to people in most uncivil ways, yet you bristle when someone opines that Clarice may be humorous (a joke, as it were) for insisting that soon-to-be-multiple-felon Scooter Libby is beyond reproach. It reminds one of nothing so much as the famous croquet game from Alice in Wonderland:

    `Who ARE you talking to?’ said the King, going up to Alice, and looking at the Cat’s head with great curiosity.

    `It’s a friend of mine–a Cheshire Cat,’ said Alice: `allow me to introduce it.’

    `I don’t like the look of it at all,’ said the King: `however, it may kiss my hand if it likes.’

    `I’d rather not,’ the Cat remarked.

    `Don’t be impertinent,’ said the King, `and don’t look at me like that!’ He got behind Alice as he spoke.

    `A cat may look at a king,’ said Alice. `I’ve read that in some book, but I don’t remember where.’

    `Well, it must be removed,’ said the King very decidedly, and he called the Queen, who was passing at the moment, `My dear! I wish you would have this cat removed!’

    The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. `Off with his head!’ she said, without even looking round.

    Off with your head, said AJ, thou art banned!

  2. conesplif says:

    Say, AJ, I know you guys keep saying that Valerie Plame wasn’t a CIA operative, so how about explaining why the CIA Publications Review Board, which must clear writings by former employees, has

    refused Plame permission to even mention that she worked for the CIA because she served as a “nonofficial cover” officer (or NOC) posing as a private businesswoman

    according to Newsweek’s Michael Isikoff reporting in Monday’s edition of the magazine.