Oct 23 2005

Plame Game Legal Timeline

Published by at 6:31 pm under All General Discussions,Plame Game


Well, Tom did find an error in my timeline and I am truly grateful he took the time to read the post and email me a correction. Tom – I greatly appreciate it!
The error was regarding the CIA’s annoyance about a memo and Plame’s role in sending Joe Wilson to Niger. Here is Tom’s comments to me:

As I recall, the CIA was annoyed in dec 2003 about the leak of the INR memo to the WSJ; the Senate report was July 2004.

So the leaking of these memos was probably a reasonable complaint at the time.


I am sure anything I get wrong here will be corrected by Tom Maguire in due course (and thanks ahead of time for any corrections you may provide TM). Tom’s latest post points to some of the information now coming out from legal documents posted on Fitzgerald’s website. Specifically into a point which caught my eye as well, where Fitzgerald was provided clarification that his authority included the ability to investigate crimes outside the outing of Plame:

At your request, I am writing to clarify that my December 30, 2003, delegation to you of “all the authority of the Attorney General with respect to the Department’s investigation into the alleged unauthorized disclosure of a CIA employee’s identity” is plenary and includes the authority to investigate and prosecute violations of any federal criminal laws related to the underlying alleged unauthorized disclosure, as well as federal crimes committed in the course of, and with intent to interfere with, your investigation, such as perjury, obstruction of justice, destruction of evidence, and intimidation of witnesses; to conduct appeals arising out of the matter being investigated and/or prosecuted; and to pursue administrative remedies and civil sanctions (such as civil contempt) that are within the Attorney General’s authority to impose or pursue.

Tom Maguire comments on this by referring to a second round of subpoenas:

We also note that Karl Rove’s missing e-mail to Steve Hadley, which referenced Rove’s conversation with Matt Cooper of TIME, very probably was found around this time, in response to a second round of subpoenas from Fitzgerald to the White House on Jan 22, 2004.

I do not think they are linked actually. The timing is not right. To get a memo of this type out of DoJ would require a few weeks notice to the DoJ. This memo of authority is dated February 6th, 2004. My feeling and experience would tell me the latest Fitzgerald asked for the support was with the issuance of subpoenas on Jan 22. But it was likely even earlier than that. In fact, I would wager the request for confirmation of scope was part of a new tact Fitzgerald launched at that time with the subpoenas and was a pre-check step he wanted before the subpoenas went out.

Mac Ranger links in his most recent post to this December 26, 2003 Washington Post article which highlights the movement of the investigation from the upper levels of the administration, down into the lower levels, with special later emphasis on people in the CIA:

Administration and CIA officials said they have seen signs in the past few weeks that the investigation continues intensively behind closed doors, even though little about the investigation has been publicly said or seen for months.

According to administration officials and people familiar with some of the interviews, FBI agents apparently started their White House questioning with top figures — including President Bush’s senior adviser, Karl Rove — and then worked down to more junior officials. The agents appear to have a great deal of information and have constructed detailed chronologies of various officials’ possible tie to the leak, people familiar with the questioning said.

The Justice Department has added a prosecutor specializing in counterintelligence, joining two other counterintelligence prosecutors and one from Justice’s Public Integrity section.

Agents investigating the matter have been increasingly apparent at CIA headquarters in Langley over the past three weeks, officials said. “They are still active,” a senior official said.

The CIA is especially upset that the focus is on them and not the WH as the heat moves onto them:

Sources said the CIA is angry about the circulation of a still-classified document to conservative news outlets suggesting Plame had a role in arranging her husband’s trip to Africa for the CIA. The document, written by a State Department official who works for its Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), describes a meeting at the CIA where the Niger trip by Wilson was discussed, said a senior administration official who has seen it.

Why? By that time it was not news about Valeries role since the Senate Report had come out. Hard to recall the timing now, but the lame attempt to put the onus back on the administration over something we now know is true is telling. It smacks of desperation.

So my guess is the second round of subpoenas and the letter confirming the scope had nothing to do with Rove – who came willingly to offer the new information Tom refers to, making the charge of perjury impossible. What is truly telling in the authority is explicit in stating permission to use civil contempt as a method to force testimony. And the only people resisting testimony were the reporters Cooper, Miller and Russert.

In Russert’s legal entanglements began on May 21st (with Cooper):

On May 21, 2004, grand jury subpoenas were issued to Mr. Cooper and Mr. Russert.

Which they both fought in court – this July 20th, 2004 document is the court’s determination that Russert and Cooper had to comply with the subpoenas. I would make the case that Fitzgerald issued the subpoenas after lengthy attempts to invite these folks to come in on their own accord. This page provides key documents on the legal wrangling from May to July.

Of real interest is the fact that Time, Inc was also under legal pressure, and as we know complied. Cooper continued to try and fight the subpoenas arguing that since Time complied his testimony was not necessary:

Cooper’s Memorandum Regarding the Contempt Sanction asserts that Time, Inc.’s decision last week to comply with this Court’s order “should obviate the need to enforce the subpoena served on Cooper and the contempt citation against him.” Special Counsel represents to the Court that after reviewing the documents provided by Time, Inc., Cooper’s testimony remains necessary for the Special Counsel’s investigation.

OK, this is not the way to get witnesses against the Bush administration, through legal coercion, threats of jail and subsequent jail time. Call me naive, but in this gray ‘he said, she said’ arena this kind of testimony does not bode well for a case against Rove and Libby.

I was initially taken aback by this wording in the prosecutor’s argument against Cooper’s request to avoid testifying or be forced to stay home instead of jail (is he kidding?):

First, Cooper’s own article noted that the conduct of the officials involved an attack on an administration critic, not whistleblowing.

One way to read this is these are the views of the prosecutor about Libby. But then you read a little farther and you realize the prosecutor is simply using Cooper’s own words to destroy his motions against the subpoena:

Finally, by Cooper’s own account, his source’s confidentiality has been mooted by the production of relevant documents by Time Inc. Given the above, Cooper fails to meet his burden to show that there is no reasonable possibility that confinement will coerce him to testify since Cooper going to jail would be entirely pointless.

What is interesting is by August 4th, 2004 Cooper and Time were determined to be in contempt – but jail did not loom for another year as the appeal process flowed.

This indicates to me the case was pretty much closed up in early 2004, with the only holdouts being those most likely to implicate Bush. The only people fighting this were three marginal reporters. Kristof and Pincus were key to the situation since they most likely used the Wilsons as their sources and knew all about Valerie’s employment at the CIA – though I think she tried to cover it up half way so she claimed she was from the WINPAC side.

I think the Wilsons used the WINPAC ruse to try and to retain some of her cover (and job) as they ran this con. That is why Miller had WINPAC in her notes along with the names ‘Wilson’ and ‘Valerie’ even though Libby never used those names in the interview (per Miller’s testimony). And it is also why ,when Novak called the CIA to confirm her employment, the CIA person was at first confused to Plame’s status and had to check and call back. It is the only scenario that fits all the facts.

Anyway, the authorization letter looks like something Fitzgerald wanted in order to pressure Time, Cooper and Miller to testify and nothing else. It is clear permission from DoJ to proceed.

7 responses so far

7 Responses to “Plame Game Legal Timeline”

  1. Snapple says:

    All of this is way too complex for me to follow.

    I hope you are right, because I think that Wilson is a snake, but here is how the latest Reuters begins:

    “WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald appears to be laying the groundwork for indictments this week over the outing of a covert CIA operative, including possible charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, lawyers involved in case said on Sunday.

    Top administration officials are expected to learn from Fitzgerald as early as Monday whether they will face charges as the prosecutor winds up his nearly two-year investigation, the lawyers said.”

    Fitzgerald could convene the grand jury as early as Tuesday to lay out a final summary of the case and ask for approval of possible indictments, legal sources said. The grand jury hearing the CIA leak case normally meets on Wednesdays and is scheduled to expire on Friday unless Fitzgerald extends it.”

    “Fitzgerald’s investigation has focused largely on Karl Rove, President George W. Bush’s top political adviser, and Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, and their conversations about CIA operative Valerie Plame with reporters in June and July of 2003…”

  2. BurbankErnie says:

    Why trust the article trying to imply that it is WH Officials being scrutinized when THEY DON’T KNOW.

    Better question is why is the Time Mag. Guy Quitting now?

  3. Snapple says:

    I hope Reuters is wrong.

    Do you mean that Cooper is quitting? Can you explain why?

    I am not a very sneaky person, so this is very hard for me to understand.

    One thing I did notice is that this VIPS guy Ray McGovern published articles at Antiwar.com and that he is gloating over Cheney’s supposed downfall in his two most recent articles.

    He even says that Cheney’s “chickens are coming home to roost.” Ward Churchill used that expression when he gloated about 9-11, so that really creeped me out.

    This is Ray’s most recent article, but he has lots of articles linked on the right side.


    I just think this Ray guy is not telling the truth. He is very snide and sarcastic. I trust Cheney, not Ray. And I think if Cheney lies then he is lying to fool the terrorists. I feel like Ray may be lying just to fool me.

    Ray writes: “According to Kristof, that mission was undertaken at the behest of Vice President Dick Cheney’s office to investigate a report that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger.”

    Why doesn’t he doesn’t address the claim others have made that the Niger report was a fabrication that the CIA didn’t even have when Wilson made his trip? HE doesn’t explain why Wilson would be investigating a fabrication before the CIA had it? Now that is kind of troubling.

    This Ray McGovern has not worked in the government for many years. So he isn’t in the CIA any more. He doesn’t have any secrets. Or he’s not supposed to. I think he’s just some retired guy who may have a grudge against the CIA.

    He claims that “There are perhaps a hundred of my former CIA colleagues who know about the lies; none – not one – has been able to summon the courage to go public.”

    We have only Ray’s word for it because all the other CIA guys are cowards? That seems unlikely to me.

    I think it is more likely that the employed CIA guys are quiet because they are keeping secrets Ray doesn’t have–not because they are a bunch of cowards.

    It seems to me that Ray tries to wrap himself in the mistique of the CIA one minute and slander their officers as cowards the next. Something is funny about that.

    I think that there could be information that this Ray guy doesn’t know. It says he was in the CIA for 27 years–from Kennedy to the first Bush. That’s a long time ago. And maybe he was no big expert on Saddam and Iraq. I mean, maybe he watched CIA paint dry.

    My own theory is that Iraq was involved in some aspects of 9-11 but the administration doesn’t want to explain how because it is still trying to catch people who helped Iraq with 9-11. But I have no particular expertise in foreign policy. I am no Washington insider.

    I just think Cheney is really smart and Ray’s crew may be about to walk the plank.

    I have no secrets. I can’t figure out all the angles of this Plame intrigue. I just can tell from the way that Ray writes that he is trying to trick me.

    I am glad that Bush overthrew Saddam. All that oil money allowed him to persecute his people, attack his neighbors, and buy politicians and media influence.

    Ray seems to me like he really is not on the side of the American and Iraqi people.

  4. MaidMarion says:

    In this document posted to the Special Prosecutor’s website (http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/iln/osc/documents/dc_brief.pdf ) it discusses the subpoenas issued to Miller, Cooper, and TIME. If I’m reading it correctly, Cooper and TIME were given two distinct subpoenas. The first was issued May 21, 2004 and sought testimony and documents related to Cooper’s July 17, 2003 and July 21, 2003 articles. Fitzgerald ultimately agreed to limit the scope of the subpoena by limiting it to a specific individual. The document states:

    “After being held in contempt, and after filing notices of appeal, Cooper and TIME agreed to comply with the subpoenas as limited by the Special Council, … Cooper indicated that his rationale for agreeing to provide testimony and documents pursuant to this agreement was the fact that the source had stated that he had no objection.”

    There is no indication when Cooper agreed to cooperate, but isn’t this the subpoena which related to his discussions with Rove? The second subpoena was this:

    “On September 13, 2004, the grand jury issued subpoenas to Cooper and TIME seeking: ‘testimony and documents relating to conversations between Cooper and official source(s) prior to July 14, 2003, concerning in any way: former Ambassador Joseph Wilson; the 2002 trip by former Ambassador Wilson to Niger; Valerie Wilson Plame …’ ”

    Cooper and TIME refused to comply and the district court ultimately held Cooper and TIME in civil contempt. Perhaps I’ve got this wrong, but when Cooper finally agreed to testify in order to avoid jail in early July this year, he was agreeing to testify to this second subpoena. Outside the courthouse, Cooper said that just that day the source gave him ‘personal, unambiguous, uncoerced’ permission to testify — but that doesn’t extend to revealing the name of the source publicly.”

    The media has led us to believe Cooper was talking about Rove. It sounds to me like Cooper was protecting a second source.

  5. Lesley says:

    Snapple, this isn’t Dick Cheney’s first go around in an administration:

    “Cheney went to Washington in 1969 to serve as special assistant to Donald Rumsfeld (President George W. Bush’s secretary of defense) in the Office of Economic Opportunity in the Nixon administration. In 1974, Rumsfeld led President Ford’s transition team, and he brought his protégé to the executive office. When Rumsfeld was named secretary of defense in 1975, Cheney was appointed Ford’s chief of staff. He returned to Wyoming after Ford lost the presidential election to Jimmy Carter in 1976 and worked briefly in the private sector before running for the state’s sole seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. He soundly defeated his Democratic rival, Bill Bagley, in the 1978 election, and was reelected five times. He rose through the ranks to become minority whip. Cheney served as President George H.W. Bush’s defense secretary and commanded the Pentagon during the Persian Gulf War. Cheney Bio

    My point? Cheney has dealt with the CIA in his career and may be acquainted with the possibility of rogue elements within and without that organization. Who knows with whom he has butted heads with in the past, possibly even McGovern.

    It is my belief/hope that Cheney is plotting all this out on a three-dimensional chess board while the VIPS and their ilk are still playing checkers.

  6. Snapple says:

    Dear Lesley,

    I am pretty old and remember what you are telling me.
    I am a huge fan of Rumsfeld’s and Cheney’s.

    What is shocking to me is how this Ray McGovern is so unbalanced and primitive in his analysis. He sounds like a college kid. It is hard to believe he was an analyst at the CIA. I wonder what he expertise was?

    It would be one thing if he opposed the war initially because he thought we could not succeed, that the American people would falter in their resolve, and that war might make matters worse. That is a legitimate position, although I don’t agree with it. I think it is really selfish to just keep buying oil from an gangster like Saddam and ignore what he does with the money we pay him–kill people and build himself palaces.

    But now that we have toppled Saddam and are cleaning up the terrorists, why isn’t Ray McGovern on board? Why is he so defeatist? Sure, it’s still a mess over there, but they have an elected government and are writing a constitution. If we help them control the terrorists, the Iraqis will get it together.

    These terrorists are mostly killing Iraqis, but this is nothing new.
    Saddam ruled by terrorism and killed huge numbers of people. It just wasn’t on TV because Iraq was a police state. Now the pro-Saddam terrorists are reduced to killing on the street where everyone can see them for what they are. Except for Ray McGovern.

    Does McGovern think that Iraqis are too stupid to run their own country without a Saddam? Does he begrudge the Iraqi people, who have suffered so long because our oil dollars funded Saddam’s orgy of killing, some American blood and treasure? Maybe Ray McGovern had some stake in Saddam’s continued rule.

    America and other countries who bought Iraqi oil kept Saddam in power. Our money was used to persecute and murder Iraqi people. It seems to me like we owe them for that bigtime.

    There is no recognition on McGovern’s part that we went to war for about 30 reasons–not just WMD.

    There is no recognition that Saddam is gone and that this has had an educational effect on places like Syria and Libya.

    There is no recognition that the Iraqi people are voting, shaking off their totalitarian mindset and starting to defend their country and people. Of course, they need help. Our oil money gave Saddam a big terrorist war chest. It is in this way that our chickens are coming home to roost. And now we have to pay to clean up the mess Saddam made with our money. We have to take responsibility. And George Bush did. And I thing he has enormous moral vision for doing that.

    Ray McGovern reduces the Bush Administration’s motives to our greed for OIL.

    Now I think the oil money going to a person like Saddam is very dangerous for the people of Iraq and for everyone else.

    He used the oil wealth to persecute his own people. And when we bought Iraqi oil, we subsidize that persecution. Until George Bush toppled Saddam, our gas dollars funded a terrible kind of slavery.

    We should have taken him out ages ago.

    Saddam attacked his neighbors and he buys politicians, media, and writers all over the world. Not to mention the big guns at the peaceloving UN, of course. That’s what they are finding with the Oil for Food investigation.

    And if Saddam didn’t have WMD at that moment, he had everything he needed to start up again once we relaxed the pressure.

    He was a huge psychopath and he needed to go. Like Hitler.
    Hitler didn’t have the bomb either. But he was working on it.

    I actually think that this Ray McGovern may have done something wrong and is now trying to recruit a consituency on the far left to protect himself.

    Perhaps he is writing all those really stupid articles at http://www.antiwar.com to give himself the protective coloration of a dissenter.

    Here is his latest, but he has a whole bunch of articles on the right column.

    I have noticed that sometimes military and intelligence types who fall afoul of the law try to pass themselves off as legitimate dissenters or whistle-blowers who are being persecuted for their views. Sometimes this is just a trick.

  7. Lesley says:

    Dear Snapple,

    I agree with you, these VIPS characters are really creepy. I remember my jaw dropping when I read this article by Rick Moran (Right Wing Nut House): McGovern/Johnson/VIPS

    Perhaps you’ve already read it. If so, sorry.