Jan 24 2007

Fitzgerald’ Folly Part II

Published by at 10:58 pm under All General Discussions,Plame Game

Fitzgerald’s troubled witnesses began having issues on day one. The last thing you want to do in your first witness is prove the oppositions argument that the witnesses are muddled, changed their stories and have no solid recollection of events and details critical to the case. And what you really don’t want is to establish the impression the witnesses coordinated their testimonies in a possible attempt to divert attention from THEIR roles in the core of the case. Hat Tip to the venerable Minute Man for linking to the efforts at Firedog Lake to capture the essence of the trial as it proceeds. Word of warning: the posts are paraphrases – not transcripts.The first link is to opening remarks and the first witness – Marc Grossman.

I want to set some context because the Libby defense is not going to come pouring out all at once. The defense team is going to let witnesses impeach themselves for a while, box themselves in and basically let them get out on a limb before they saw it off in front of the jury. So we will may not see the context initially, but it is there. For example, once this story got legs and Wilson realized there may be tracks to cover he started spouting vague cover stories. He had to build the case he was a concerned citizen – not a Kerry campaing operative trying to get some mud on Bush and Cheney (which he was of course – he bragged this was his plan in a forum days before he came out in the open in his own NY Times Editorial and companion article in the Washington Post – a classic, premeditated PR blitz operation). Wilson had to provide some cover for his accomplices. So he claimed he was reacting to the state of the union in 2003 and part of this reaction was calls to the State Department – specifically his old college bud Marc Grossman – eputy to Richard Armitage – the real leaker to the media of Plame’s identity.

Recall that the story WAS NOT Bush and Cheney twisted evidence, the claim was Bush and Cheney used forged documents to KNOWINGLY mislead the country. That is the essence of the original, anonymous reports. It was not until a year later, when the Senate investigated all this, that their bi-partisan report caught Wilson is his big lie. The forged documents from Niger were not in US hands until 8 months after his trip where he supposedly debunked them (and we all know the intelligence community actuall decided Wilson’s report CONFIRMED suspicions of a Iraq attempting to make a deal with Niger for the only product of any value to Iraq – Yellow Cake. With that context established, let’s go to the reporting:

We ended the day with the testimony of Marc Grossman, former number three man at the State Department. One of the more interesting tidbits to come out about Mr. Grossman is that, the night before his statement was taken by the FBI, he had a visit from Richard Armitage. Armitage told Grossman that he had been the person who initially leaked to Robert Novak regarding Valerie Wilson. This is a very odd occurence — Grossman characterized it on the stand as Armitage giving him a professional courtesy by telling him up front, himself, and then saying he could feel free to mention it to the FBI — which Grossman did the next day. I find it very odd indeed that a witness who had already been debriefed by the FBI, at the level that Armitage was, would feel as though it was acceptable to discuss his own debriefing with Federal agents with someone who was about to also be debriefed. Very odd indeed.

Very odd indeed, and clearly AGAINST FBI instructions to the witnesses not to discuss the subject with anyone. One needs to recall Grossman filed the same report twice in his files as a supposed trigger to report to Armitage on the Wilson issue. these reports were dated June and July of 2003 and coincide – magically – with the visits of Woodward and Novak to meet Armitage, where he leaked the name Plame to both. But that part of the story is now falling apart badle as we shall see.

Wells concentrated on a particular meme of threes in hisopening – that I think will likely get repeated in his closing at the end of the trial: three calls, three reporters, three months later.

While the reporting by this site is a gift to all of us not able to attend, the fact is these folks were hoping for Fitzmas and a perp walk by Rove. Of course they do not get the context of these three calls, but it is important. The State Department investigation began LONG before the story was in the news. And there was only one activity going on at the time to cause Grossman to go into action – those calls from Wilson. For this we go to an LA Times news article which seems to have a conflict:

Grossman said that he had received an earlier call in the spring of 2003 from Libby inquiring about reports that an unnamed ambassador — who turned out to be Joseph C. Wilson IV, Plame’s husband — had found evidence to debunk administration claims about the nuclear intentions of Saddam Hussein. Grossman subsequently commissioned a State Department report, which chronicled the trip, and which mentioned the fact that his wife worked for the CIA.

Color me naive, but June and July are not in the Spring. Early May was the first article out on this subject and I would like to see confirmation in phone records that Libby called Grossman. Why would Libby call Grossman? The entire story at this time was that the CIA sent the mysterious ex-ambassador. Anyway, onto more reporting from Firedog Lake on the grossman cross, and Grossman’s completeluy unsubstantiated recollections:

Wells; Mr. Grossman, yesterday you testified that the meeting you had with Mr. Libby during which you disclosed Plame was a face-to-face. And there were no other witnesses, there were no other participants. Correct?


You have no notes, you did no follow-up memo. You cannot identify for the jury one piece of paper that documents your recollection.

You did not give Libby the INR Report?

You did not tell Libby that there was an INR Report?


Pure BS. The first thing Libby would do once told of this connection, since he is talking to another part of Government, is ask “did you alert Powell or Armitage?, did you report this?” At this stage you have the husband of a CIA agent leaking to the media. It is the obvious first question. The second question is “how solid is your information, how do you know this for sure?”. Grossman is hiding something and that is clear from his changing story. Without going into how Wells stepped Grossman up to admit he changed his story, Grossman claimed in direct it was a face to face meeting, but his testimony from his FBI interview said it was a phone call. One hit for Wells and team Libby. That will be used later on.

The next trap being laid is the connection and coordination between Willson and Grossman – something that is becoming evident. First off, Grossman claims Libby was the reason he started his investigation, but that kind of request would be reported to Powell at least and possibly Armitage (you don’t investigate a mole for the VP’s office without informing your superiors AND getting some legal counsel – the State Dept is not an investigative organization). But when you do perform this investigation into this mysterious, anonymous ex-ambassador – do you CALL the anonymous ambassador! And then not tell anyone! Hell no.

[Wells} Now going to the report on Wilson’s trip …

Grossman says he only knows that it’s listed as Tab 4. Says he only saw it as the attachment of the memo.

Grossman doesn’t recall reading the report.

[Wells] Do you understand that Tab 4 relates to what Mr. Wilson reported to CIA.

[Grossman] Yes sir.

[Wells] Conversation with Wilson on June 2003. Is it correct that Mr. Wilson complained that he had seen Condi Rice on MTP on June 8 and he was very upset about her comments. June 9, which was a Monday, you had a conversation with Mr. Wilson about MTP.

What he told you was that he was furious at the comments of Condi Rice.

[Grossman] Yes sir, he was really mad.

As I recall he told me that he was angry at the way he’d been described and that people weren’t taking him seriously. He was angry that he’d been described as some low level person.

[Wells] Did he tell you he was considering going public.

[Grossman] Yes sir.

[Wells] You know, as of June 9 that Mr Wilson is furious with Condi Rice’s comments and has indicated he may go public.

And then you talk to Mr. Libby and you made no mention that you had talked to Wilson.

[Grossman] I think that’s true.

[Wells] You kept the comments that Wilson was furious and might go public to yourself.

Is it correct that on June 10 you placed a telephone call to Mr. Wilson concerning the background wrt the Niger trip. [Grossman] I know I did call him to continue to get information. [Wells] Is it possible that first time you called him was on June 10 (as opposed to May 29).

[Grossman] That’s not my recollection.

Wells says, if you say this then your entire timeline is incorrect.

Well just showed Grossman a document.

[Wells] Does that document refresh your memory that the first time you called Wilson about the background on June 10?

[Grossman] It refreshes my recollection that I may have called him a second time.

No where in the report to Powell or Armitage or Libby does Grossman admit he is TALKING TO WILSON! Nowhere. This is unheard of in this kind of governnment action. Grossman should have included his own memo on his own findings from his personal discussions with Wilson – but he doesn’t. And that means he was trying to hide those conversations. The trap is being set. And it begins with establishing the life long association between Grossman and Wilson (an association this blog helped uncover BTW with help from our readers):

We both went to the same UCSB. I can’t recall whether he had any contact there or not. How would you characterize your relationship.

Professional and he became quite active in alumni association.

The Fitzmas crowd would like to bury this fact – which I am afraid is why it got such short notice. But it will come back when Wilson is on the stand. Wells stops with the cliff hanger question, to give Grossman his final bit of rope for his noose:

You said the issue of Joseph Wilson and the wife can you tell us why you tasked INR to come up with a report.

I was trying to answer Mr. Libby’s question.

Nothing further.

More tomorrow as Fitztgerald’s Folly continues.

Addendum: Some more interesting tidbits from the testimony of Grenier of the CIA.

[Grenier] This person explained that in fact we, CIA, had sent Wilson to Niger to get info to determine whether or not Iraq attempted to purchase uranium.

[Prosecutor] Did they give any more info?

[Grenier] Explained in a fair amount of detail when he went where he went, those kind of details.

[Prosecutor] While in fact OVP had been very interested in this, interest had been expressed also by State and Defense.

[Grenier] I felt I had all the information and more to respond to the request by Mr. Libby.

[Prosecutor] The individual at CPD, did they also bring up Wilson’s wife.

[Grenier] Mentioned to me that she was working within the unit at CPD that had sent Wilson.

That’s why they knew about Wilson and why he was sent. [not sure on this phrasing, sorry Jeff]

Sounds to me like the person providing Grenier the background so he could report back to Libby was none other than Valerie herself. Interesting.

I believe I did mention only in passing about Wilson’s wife. In fact Wilson’s wife works there and that’s where the idea came from.

When in the context of the conversation. Pretty certain that first thing was that yes, we had sent Wilson, sequence after that was very difficult.

Why did you feel that that was a piece of info that should be passed to Libby.

I wanted to be as forthcoming as I could be.

It was an explanation as to why we had done this in the first place.

How was it germane to the story that Wilson’s wife got sent.

Not only was she working at CPD, she was working in the specific unit that had sent Wilson.

If there was a question why him was because his wife worked there.

As if Wilson’s credibility is not already shot to hell, it is clear many people INSIDE THE CIA understood Valerie pushed Joe for a mission most in the Intel Community felt was unnecessary. The big question still remains why did Val need Joe to go to Niger so badly. But here is the kicker – the CIA was giving Libby the OK to tell some of the story to the press!

Libby’s only response was asking whether CIA could reveal the interest of State and Defense publicly.

Told him I had to ask Director of Public Affairs. He was in the meeting I just left. I may have said I could get him right away. I led him to believe I could get access to Director of Public Affairs right away. Director of Public Affairs was Bill Harlow.

I believe I hung up-did not keep him on hold.

Whispered to Harlow I needed him to come out, asked whether we could reveal it publicly to the press, he thought yes we probably could release it publicly to the press. We can publicly work something out. Work out language that CIA would be able to use with the press.

Was this all a miscommunication? Did Libby feel he could expose more than just the State and Defense interest? He asked a much broader question early on. It seems Grenier has some serious credibility issues:

J The first time you were interviewed in this case was in December 2003.

J Do you recall that you met with a CIA lawyer, named Nancy to prepare for that interview.

G It’s quite likely I met with one of the lawyers before I met with the FBI.

J Before meeting with the FBI, did you meet with CIA counsel.

G I don’t recall. I don’t remember if they came to me first or if there was an appointment. It’s hard for me to recall.

J But you remember your call on June 11 but you don’t remember whether you talked to a lawyer.

G It wouldn’t be significant to me, if I did.

That is pure BS. If you have to meet with the FBI because of an investigation into possible wrong doing by the WH because of a once in a decade referral by the CIA to investigate the leak of an agent’s name, and you have meetings with CIA lawyers – that is really heavy stuff. I have never read such craziness in my life. The rumor mill alone would be churning all sorts of stuff. The CIA is a nosey profession, and when one of their own is under scrutiny it is a BIG DEAL. Especially if they feel iit was an unfair investigation motivated by blame shifting. Grenier’s testimony is one long confused recollection which makes him a completely useless witness. Another hit for Team Libby.

5 responses so far

5 Responses to “Fitzgerald’ Folly Part II”

  1. Retired Spook says:

    Fascinating, absolutely fascinating.

  2. Everson says:

    An excellent assessment of this travesty.

  3. nar9350 says:


    Folks interested in the Plame-Wilson Affair also might be interested in the French Connection to this spy vs. spy episode.


  4. elendil says:

    AJ, I like where you’re going with this. Keep digging.

  5. stevevvs says:

    Excellent Post, AJ. I have followed this mess from the begining. A true travesty of justice. Fitz, Nyfong, and Earle. All are shamefull. I wish this injustice would end.