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Plamegate: 25 Lingering Questions
Original FReeper review of Michael Isikoff and David Corn, "Hubris" | 02/07/2007 | Fedora

Posted on 02/07/2007 2:16:26 PM PST by Fedora

Plamegate: 25 Lingering Questions

By Fedora

(The first four questions and answers below were previously posted as Was Plame Covert? A Review of Isikoff and Corn's Hubris.)

I recently finished reviewing Michael Isikoff and David Corn’s Hubris (New York: Crown Publishers, 2006) to see what it adds to the current state of knowledge in the Plamegate investigation. Here I will present my findings in the form of a list of questions and answers focusing on loose ends and other points of interest in the case. I will list the questions first so that individual readers may more easily scroll down to topics of interest.

Questions

1. What did Valerie Wilson aka Valerie Plame do at CIA?

2. Did Aldrich Ames leak Plame’s identity to the Russians?

3. What was the relationship between Plame, WINPAC, and the CPD?

4. Was Plame covert?

5. Did Plame influence CIA’s decision to send her husband to Niger?

6. Was Wilson’s Niger trip prompted by the Niger forgeries?

7. What was the motive behind the Niger forgeries?

8. What role did Italian intelligence play in the Niger forgery scandal?

9. What role did French intelligence play in the Niger forgery scandal?

10. What role did British intelligence play in the Niger forgery scandal?

11. How did the Niger forgeries spread through US intelligence files?

12. Is there any substantiation of Seymour Hersh’s report that a renegade CIA faction passed the Niger forgeries onto the Bush administration?

13. Who put the reference to Niger in the State Department’s December 2002 fact sheet?

14. Was Bush’s 2003 State of the Union reference to Africa a reference to the Niger forgeries?

15. What role did the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence play in triggering the Niger forgery investigation?

16. Who gave a copy of the Niger forgeries to the IAEA?

17. How much did Joseph Wilson know about the forgeries when he spoke on CNN in March 2003?

18. Did the Bush administration target Plame in retaliation against Joseph Wilson?

19. Was Plame’s CIA status an open secret in Washington before Novak’s column?

20. Who was the friend of Joseph Wilson who approached Robert Novak on the street the afternoon Novak talked to Richard Armitage?

21. What role did David Corn play in triggering the DOJ probe of Novak’s column?

22. Did Michael Isikoff’s relationship with Philip Agee’s associate Mark Hosenball influence Newsweek’s coverage of the investigation?

23. Who at CIA requested the probe of Novak’s column?

24. Who at the Department of Justice assigned Patrick Fitzgerald to the probe?

25. Who was leaking information from the grand jury to the media?

Answers

1. What did Valerie Wilson aka Valerie Plame do at CIA?

According to Isikoff and Corn (12-13, 283-286), after Plame graduated from the CIA’s training program, she began working with the CIA Directorate of Operations’ European Division in the Cyrus/Greece/Turkey area in the late 1980s, serving as a junior case officer supporting officers in the field. In 1989 she reportedly started working at the CIA station in Athens as a talent spotter and recruiter for the Agency. In this capacity they say she initially posed as a State Department officer, using an Official Cover (OC, referring to a cover which involves another US government agency and thus provides diplomatic immunity). Then in the early 1990s she reportedly adopted a Nonofficial Cover (NOC, aka “deep cover”, referring to a cover involving a non-government CIA front such as a fake business entity), posing as a member of an energy firm operating out of Belgium.

Walter Pincus, Dana Priest, and other researchers have previously noted that Plame’s front company was called Brewster-Jennings & Associates, a disclosure that has generated remarkably little follow-up from a media usually eager to expose CIA scandals. Some researchers have asserted that Robert Novak’s 2003 column compromised CIA assets linked to Brewster-Jennings. But others have called attention to a report by former FBI agent Sibel Edmonds indicating that a year earlier the FBI was already aware that Brewster-Jennings had been compromised during a conversation between Marc Grossman and Turkish lobbyists under Bureau surveillance in a corruption investigation. Bloggers have also observed that the last known paperwork associated with Brewster-Jennings dates from Plame’s 1999 tax filing, and have wondered whether Brewster-Jennings was already defunct by 2003, when Isikoff and Corn say Plame had moved on to JTFI. Isikoff and Corn’s book sheds no new light on these matters.

Isikoff and Corn state that Plame was transferred from Europe to CIA headquarters in 1997 and was assigned by request to what they call “the Counterproliferation Division (CPD) of the Directorate of Operations”. She met Joseph Wilson at the Turkish embassy in Washington in early 1997, married him a year later, and had two children.

Isikoff and Corn state that following a maternity leave, Valerie Wilson returned to CPD in spring 2001 and was assigned to “CPD’s Iraq unit”, which they say became the “Joint Task Force on Iraq” (JTFI) in the wake of 9/11. They assert that at the time of Novak’s July 2003 column, Valerie Wilson was running the JTFI’s “operations group” and had begun filing paperwork to move from JTFI to a personnel management position and change her status from NOC to OC. Unfortunately the authors cite no on-the-record or official sources to substantiate this important information, attributing it to “confidential interviews with CIA sources” (424n; cf. 439n).

I have so far been unable to find any sources independent of Isikoff and Corn which discuss the JTFI. But the term “Joint Task Force” and the corresponding “JTF” component of the abbreviation suggest the phrase may be referring to CIA support of a military Joint Task Force (JTF), which is a force coordinating multiple military units in order to achieve a specific operational task. (For discussion of how such Joint Task Forces are structured, see the excerpt from the slideshow presentation “The Joint Task Force” reproduced online at http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/army/ioac/jtf1.htm ; and the organizational charts accompanying Michael P. Noonan and Mark R. Lewis, “Conquering the Elements: Thoughts On Joint Task Force (Re)Organization”, Parameters, Autumn 2003, 31-45, online at http://carlisle-www.army.mil/usawc/Parameters/03autumn/noonan.pdf.) I will toss out the guess (which I emphasize is only a guess) that what Isikoff and Corn are describing may have involved the CIA’s support of military Joint Task Forces such as the Joint Task Force Southwest Asia (JTF-SWA), which coordinated aerial operations and marine interdiction in Iraq and the Persian Gulf area after the Gulf War; and Task Force 20, an elite unit which among other tasks hunted for WMDs during the early phases of the Iraq War. If my guess is correct, I would also suspect that CIA support of such a Joint Task Force would be determined by functional, task-oriented considerations rather than governed by the neat on-paper divisions between the CPD and other CIA units. Again, this is only a guess on my part, based on the minimal information about JTFI currently available.

2. Did Aldrich Ames leak Plame’s identity to the Russians?

Although this question seems highly relevant to the key issue of whether Plame was covert at the time of Novak’s column, Isikoff and Corn choose to gloss over it by relegating their discussion to a footnote (as they frequently do with other important information inconvenient to their spin). According to Isikoff and Corn, 284n:

Her reassignment might have been due to Aldrich Ames. . .Within the CIA, some officers came to believe that Plame had been among the officers whose return had been prompted by the Ames case, but it was never clear if Ames had told the Russians about her.

3. What was the relationship between Plame, WINPAC, and the CPD?

This question also bears on the issue of Plame’s covert status. In the CIA’s organizational structure, there is a functional division between the Directorate of Intelligence (DI), which analyzes collected data, and the Directorate of Operations (DO), which runs covert operations. As CIA expert Loch Johnson notes in America’s Secret Power, such on-paper divisions are somewhat artificial and can be misleading, because in practice a CIA agent or unit functions in coordination with other agents, units, and agencies. There has been some confusion over whether Plame’s assignment at the time of Novak’s column properly fell under the DI or DO.

Novak’s original column described Plame as “an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction” and stated that CIA “counter-proliferation officials selected Wilson and asked his wife to contact him”. More recently Novak has stated that Richard Armitage “told me unequivocally that Mrs. Wilson worked in the CIA’s Counter-Proliferation Division.” Isikoff and Corn also describe Plame as working in CPD since 1997 (284-285):

In 1997, Plame returned to CIA headquarters.

Back at Langley, Plame had to choose a new career path within the agency. She figured that with the end of the Cold War, the two growth industries in the intelligence field were counterterrorism and counterproliferation. She picked weapons and requested an assignment in the DO’s new Counterproliferation Division, a unit Congress had pushed the CIA to create to address concerns about the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

This would seem to place Plame in the DO. However, other sources have described Plame as working for the Weapons, Intelligence, Nonproliferation & Arms Control Center (WINPAC), which a September 2001 CIA organizational chart (DI Design Center/MPG 381234A1 9-01) lists under the DI (while showing no distinct “Counterproliferation Division” listed under the DO). Judith Miller’s notes on her July 2003 conversations with Scooter Libby describe Mrs. Wilson as working at WINPAC. Similarly, an October 2003 Los Angeles Times article by Doyle McManus and Bob Drogin stated that “Wilson's wife works with Foley in the CIA's Nonproliferation Center”; and a January 2004 Vanity Fair profile based on interviews with the Wilsons described WINPAC director Alan Foley as “Valerie Plame’s boss”. On p.424 of The Politics of Truth Joseph Wilson mentioned Foley, calling him “the recently retired director of the Nonproliferation Center at the CIA”. Wilson made no correction of the Vanity Fair characterization of Foley as his wife’s boss.

Isikoff and Corn assert on p. 392 that Libby characterized Plame’s title to Miller “wrongly”. However another explanation may lie in the relationship between WINPAC and CPD.

The September 2001 CIA organizational chart mentioned above labels WINPAC as “DCI Weapons, Intelligence, Nonproliferation & Arms Control Center” and lists it in the same column as the “DCI Crime and Narcotics Center”. Now “DCI” refers to the Directorate of Central Intelligence, a designation which at that time referred to the CIA Director’s dual capacity as not only the Director of the CIA proper but also as the Director of Central Intelligence, responsible for coordinating all US intelligence agencies. (Since 2005 the DCI position has been superseded by the new Director of National Intelligence title, which is separate from the position of CIA Director.) Within the DCI structure of that period there were several specialized “centers” which coordinated the CIA’s work with that of other agencies such as the FBI in order to address issues that spanned international geographic areas and transcended the jurisdiction of any single US agency. A discussion of the structure of the intelligence community in William Arkin’s Code Names covers WINPAC under the rubric of the DCI and its centers rather than the CIA proper:

The Director of Central Intelligence (DCI), who is also the director of the CIA, is a cabinet member who at least in theory oversees the IC [Intelligence Community]. . .The DCI also oversees a number of specialized centers, such as the Counterterrorist Center (CTC) and the Center for Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation, and Arms Control (WINPAC).

--William M. Arkin, Code Names: Deciphering U.S. Military Plans, Programs, and Operations in the 9/11 World, Hanover, New Hampshire: Steerforth Press, 2005, 39

Similarly, an article by Washington Post reporter Vern Loeb depicts WINPAC as being formed from three existing units, one of which was the DCI’s Nonproliferation Center (NPC):

The Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control Center will bring three existing CIA analytic staffs together under Alan Foley, a veteran Soviet military analyst. As head of the Arms Control Intelligence Staff, he has spent the last three years supporting arms control treaty negotiators.

In his new role, Foley will assume responsibility as well for the existing Nonproliferation Center, which dealt with a broad range of proliferation issues, and the Office of Transnational Issues' Weapons Intelligence Staff, which is composed largely of scientists and engineers.

--Vern Loeb, “CIA Is Stepping Up Attempts To Monitor Spread of Weapons”, Washington Post, March 12, 2001

CIA references indicate that all three of WINPAC’s predecessors were organized under DI, but a close reading reveals that NPC was actually a DCI center administratively housed within DI. NPC was established in September 1991 as the focal point for all US intelligence community activities related to nonproliferation. In December 1991 it took over the Arms Control Intelligence Staff’s former role as the focal point for supporting all US government nonproliferation activity related to Iraq. Later it concentrated on nonproliferation activity related to Iran and North Korea. DCI George Tenet expanded the NPC by shifting several analytical units into NPC and establishing a Senior Scientist position in 1997, at the time Isikoff and Corn say Plame joined the “new” Counterproliferation Division.

At the time Plame became involved in nonproliferation issues in 1997, NPC was headed by Gordon Oehler. Oehler was replaced later that year by John Lauder, who performed the functions that would later be performed by WINPAC’s Alan Foley. The relationship of NPC to other areas of the CIA and the Intelligence Community during this period was summarized in a 1998 report of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence:

When the DCI's Nonproliferation Center (NPC) was established in 1991, one of its core missions was to coordinate the disparate IC nonproliferation activities, improve communication between programs and eliminate duplication of effort. As coordinator of IC assessments on proliferation topics, but not an analytic group per se, the NPC was to serve as a one-stop nonproliferation information shop for policy makers.

After its formation, the NPC took on a number of additional responsibilities. It developed strategic plans to help guide the U.S. Government's response to the proliferation problem and provided support to CIA's Operations Directorate (DO), as well as other collectors and law enforcement agencies. The NPC also worked on collection deck development and produced a ‘gaps’ study that identified deficiencies in proliferation-related collection activities. The NPC was also chartered to review the IC's performance on proliferation activities and to make relevant budget recommendations. In addition, the NPC Director was designated the issue manager for nonproliferation activities. With these and other responsibilities, the NPC has made numerous contributions to the IC's nonproliferation effort. . .

In 1992, the Committee conducted a detailed study of NFIP proliferation programs, with a specific focus on the new NPC. This year, the Committee plans to conduct a follow-up study on this topic. The Committee assessment will involve a thorough, top-down review of the NPC organization, mission and activities. The Committee will: review the NPC's efficacy as coordinator of nonproliferation programs; review NPC funding levels and staffing assignments; consider where the NPC should be located within the IC; examine NPC's relationship with the CIA's Directorates of Intelligence (DI) and Operations (DO); and examine the NPC's role in the collection and issue manager processes. Likewise, the Committee will review other proliferation-related programs throughout the IC, including within the DI and DO, with an eye toward recommending a logical construct to the Intelligence Community's efforts on the proliferation issue.

--United States House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, House Report 105-135: Part 1: Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1998, online at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/?&dbname=cp105&sid=cp105dq0gC&refer=&r_n=hr135p1.105&item=&sel=TOC_90656& and www.loyola.edu/dept/politics/intel/hrpt105-135.pdf

The final sentences of this excerpt indicate that at this time the NPC had a relationship with both the DI and DO within the DCI rather than being strictly a DI or DO unit per se. A 1999 CIA document clarifies the relationship between NPC, the DCI, and the CIA:

Although NPC resides administratively in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), it is a Community Center and its Director will receive overall direction from the DCI and DDCI. The Center will have the widest possible representation in its management staff, and activities from throughout the US Intelligence Community. NPC will seek continued augmentation by DOD personnel to enhance coordination of nonproliferation and counterproliferation intelligence efforts between the Intelligence Community and DOD.

--Director of Central Intelligence, “Director of Central Intelligence Directive 7/2, Oversight of the US Intelligence Community’s Efforts to Combat the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and Their Means of Delivery”, May 7, 1999, online at http://www.fas.org/irp/offdocs/dcid7-2.htm

All this suggests that WINPAC’s function within the DCI involved coordinating the DI’s nonproliferation activity with what Isikoff and Corn call “the DO’s new Counterproliferation Division”, and the division between WINPAC and CPD was not necessarily as firm as Isikoff and Corn imply. It also suggests that whether or not Plame was covert at the time of Novak’s column cannot be deduced simply by identifying her as a CPD employee, but more information about her position in the chain of command and her actual duties would be required to resolve this issue. This underscores the significance of the document declassification which Libby’s defense team has requested and Patrick Fitzgerald has resisted.

4. Was Plame covert?

As the above comments on Question 3 indicate, the data uncovered by researchers to date does not seem to provide sufficient information to state definitively whether or not Plame was covert. During the course of Libby’s trial, Judge Reggie Walton admitted that even he did not know if Plame was covert.

However, the question would seem easy enough to resolve if relevant CIA organizational charts and/or internal documents were made available to the public. What was the relationship between WINPAC, CPD, and other areas of the DCI and CIA? Who was Plame’s supervisor, and who did they answer to within the CIA hierarchy? What were Plame’s actual duties? Having this type of information would be a big step towards more definitive answers. Unfortunately, Judge Walton has barred testimony on Plame’s status from Libby’s trial, so the best opportunity to resolve this issue has been wasted. Further progress on this aspect of the investigation will evidently require use of the Freedom of Information Act.

5. Did Plame influence CIA’s decision to send her husband to Niger?

Robert Novak’s July 14, 2003 article “Mission to Niger” recorded two conflicting accounts of the role Plame played in arranging her husband’s trip to Niger. One account was told by Bush administration sources (now known to be and Richard Armitage and Karl Rove) and one by a CIA source (now known to be CIA spokesman Bill Harlow):

Two senior administration officials told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report. The CIA says its counter-proliferation officials selected Wilson and asked his wife to contact him.

Wilson’s account in The Politics of Truth was closer to what the CIA told Novak:

Apart from being the conduit of a message from a colleague in her office asking if I would be willing to have a conversation about Niger’s uranium industry, Valerie had had nothing to do with the matter. She definitely had not proposed that I make the trip. The suggestion that Valerie might have improperly influenced the decision to send me to Niger was easy to disprove.

A 2004 Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) report on prewar intelligence disputed Wilson’s account. It mentioned that the CIA had previously sent Wilson to Niger in 1999 “after his wife mentioned to her supervisors that her husband was planning a business trip to Niger in the near future and might be willing to use his contacts in the region”. The report stated that in relation to Wilson’s 2002 trip to Niger, a CPD reports officer told Senate investigators that Wilson’s wife “offered up his name”. Consistent with this officer’s statement was a memo Valerie Plame sent the CPD’s Deputy Chief on February 12, 2002, the day before CPD sent a cable to a CIA overseas station requesting concurrence with the idea of sending Wilson to Niger. In the memo Plame says her husband

has good relations with both the PM [prime minister] and the former Minister of Mines (not to mention lots of French contacts), both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity.

Wilson countered the SSCI’s allegations in a July 21, 2004 article which quoted Newsday, CNN, and the Los Angeles Times citing anonymous CIA sources:

In the last two weeks, since the Senate Intelligence Committee released its report on intelligence failures, the smear attacks have intensified. . .The primary new charge from the Republicans is that I lied when I said Valerie had nothing to do with my being assigned to go to Niger. That's important to the administration because there's a criminal investigation underway, and if she did play a role, divulging her CIA status may be defendable. In fact, though the Senate committee cites a CIA source saying Valerie had a role in the assignment, it ignores what the agency told Newsday reporters as early as July 2003, long before I ever acknowledged Valerie's CIA employment. “A senior intelligence officer,” the reporters wrote, “confirmed that Plame was a Directorate of Operations undercover officer who worked ‘alongside’ the operations officers who asked her husband to travel to Niger.

”But he said she did not recommend her husband to undertake the Niger assignment. ‘They [the officers who did ask Wilson to check the uranium story] were aware of who she was married to, which is not surprising,’ he said. ‘There are people elsewhere in government who are trying to make her look like she was the one who was cooking this up, for some reason,’ he said. ‘I can't figure out what it could be.’” Last week, a CIA source repeated this to CNN and the Los Angeles Times.

Wilson elaborated in an online letter addressed to SSCI Chairman Pat Roberts and Vice-Chairman John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV:

The conclusion is apparently based on one anodyne quote from a memo Valerie Plame, my wife sent to her superiors that says “my husband has good relations with the PM (prime minister) and the former Minister of Mines, (not to mention lots of French contacts) both of whom could possibly shed light on this sort of activity.” There is no suggestion or recommendation in that statement that I be sent on the trip. Indeed it is little more than a recitation of my contacts and bona fides. The conclusion is reinforced by comments in the body of the report that a CPD reports officer stated the “the former ambassador's wife offered up his name” (page 39) and a State Department Intelligence and Research officer 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.”

In fact, Valerie was not in the meeting at which the subject of my trip was raised. Neither was the CPD Reports officer. After having escorted me into the room, she departed the meeting to avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest. It was at that meeting where the question of my traveling to Niger was broached with me for the first time and came only after a thorough discussion of what the participants did and did not know about the subject. My bona fides justifying the invitation to the meeting were the trip I had previously taken to Niger to look at other uranium related questions as well as 20 years living and working in Africa, and personal contacts throughout the Niger government. Neither the CPD reports officer nor the State analyst were in the chain of command to know who, or how, the decision was made. The interpretations attributed to them are not the full story. In fact, it is my understanding that the Reports Officer has a different conclusion about Valerie's role than the one offered in the “additional comments”. I urge the committee to reinterview the officer and publicly publish his statement.

Isikoff and Corn add a few pieces of information to this controversy. They record that Plame told friends she had written the description of her husband’s qualifications quoted in the SSCI report only after being approached by a CPD officer requesting her husband’s assistance. They also identify the State Department officer the SSCI report quoted saying that Plame “apparently convened” the CIA’s meeting with Wilson, naming this officer as Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) Africa analyst Douglas Rohn. According to Isikoff and Corn, Rohn later explained that he had used the word “apparently” because he hadn’t actually seen Plame at the meeting and wasn’t certain that she had organized it, and he “acknowledged that his memo may have created a misimpression about Valerie Wilson’s involvement”. Isikoff and Corn’s footnotes mention that they interviewed Rohn, but their comment that he acknowledged his memo may have created a misimpression is their own summary rather than a direct quotation in context, so it is unclear what significance to give this acknowledgement. It sounds like Rohn was essentially acknowledging that he was not an eyewitness to Plame organizing the meeting, which does not necessarily imply that he was mistaken in believing she had. It would be helpful to know what or who led Rohn to believe Plame had convened the meeting.

Isikoff and Corn do not identify the CPD officer who told Senate investigators that Wilson’s wife “offered up his name”. This officer’s firsthand account is a missing piece of information that could help shed light on the question of whether Plame influenced the CIA’s decision to send her husband to Niger.

6. Was Wilson’s Niger trip prompted by the Niger forgeries?

Since he began leaking the story of his February 2002 Niger trip, Wilson has implied and asserted that his trip was prompted by the forgeries publicized by the UN in February 2003, forgeries which had previously passed into Western intelligence channels through Italian spy Rocco Martino. Wilson has further asserted that these forgeries were the basis for references President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address made to Iraq attempting to obtain uranium from Africa.

Wilson’s critics have pointed out that the forgeries publicized by the UN were not obtained by US intelligence until October 2002, too late to have prompted Wilson’s trip. In an attempt to counter this point, Wilson’s defenders have related his trip to forgeries Martino had previously provided to Western intelligence agencies in 2001.

Isikoff and Corn echo this line of argument. After describing Martino’s forgery scheme, they discuss a series of reports US intelligence received between October 2001 and February 2002, culminating in a February 12 Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report which prompted Vice President Cheney to have the CIA investigate an allegation that Niger had agreed to sell Iraq 500 tons of uranium a year. It was this order that prompted the CIA to send Wilson to Niger (in the received version of events at least--for an update questioning this sequence see Byron York, Is Everything We Know About Joe Wilson’s Trip to Niger Wrong?).

Isikoff and Corn perform a sleight of hand by framing Cheney’s February 2002 order in this context. Although the sequence of their narrative creates the impression for the casual reader that Martino’s forgeries prompted Cheney’s order and thus prompted Wilson’s trip, a close reading shows that they do not directly state this. They actually attribute the basis of the DIA report to the Italian intelligence service Servizio per le Informazioni e la Sicurezza Militare (SISMI) rather than to Martino’s forgeries. The February 12 DIA report in question is discussed in a section of the SSCI report separate from the discussion of Martino’s forgeries. Some sections of the declassified report are censored, so it is possible that uncensored portions relate the February 12 report to Martino’s forgeries. But in the declassified version at least there is nothing to substantiate Isikoff and Corn’s linking the February 12 report to Martino’s forgeries, and it is misleading for them to give the casual reader the impression of such a link.

7. What was the motive behind the Niger forgeries?

The FBI has been trying to determine the origin of the Niger forgeries and is reportedly of the current opinion that motive for the forgeries was financial. But Isikoff and Corn mention that Italian authorities have not allowed the Bureau to interview Martino or his associates Zakaria Yaou Maiga and Antonio Nucera. Without being able to interview these key individuals, it is difficult to see how the FBI could get to the bottom of questions of motive.

8. What role did Italian intelligence play in the Niger forgery scandal?

Isikoff and Corn state that unnamed FBI officials told them the Bureau has reached no “definitive conclusions” about SISMI’s possible role in the Niger forgeries, but they have been unable to rule out such involvement, and “[s]ome FBI officials familiar with the case. . .still wonder whether elements of SISMI might have. . .assisted in the caper.”

Isikoff and Corn spin this as reinforcing suspicions of SISMI involvement, and they word their narrative to insinuate such involvement. They suggest it is “possible” that SISMI official Antonio Nucera may have been “steering his friend, Martino, toward politically useful material that some SISMI officials wanted publicly disseminated”. In a footnote they note that this theory originated with Martino, whose credibility they describe as “open to question”, but this important cautionary note is missing from the body of the text. Nucera’s denial of Martino’s allegation is mentioned elsewhere in the text but does not seem to be entertained as a possibility, in contrast to the allegation of Martino, who is lent credence despite the authors’ admission that he is not a credible source. Isikoff and Corn also emphasize that SISMI was “directed by appointees of the conservative and pro-American prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi”. No consideration is given to alternate theories, such as allegations by Italian and French sources that Martino was working for French intelligence.

Minus the authors’ spin, the FBI statement they quote implies nothing one way or the other about SISMI involvement. Rather, it simply indicates that it is not possible to state any definitive conclusions on whether SISMI was involved or not.

9. What role did French intelligence play in the Niger forgery scandal?

Rocco Martino had a relationship to French intelligence as well as Italian intelligence. Italian sources have asserted that he passed the Niger forgeries to other intelligence agencies on behalf of French intelligence. To my knowledge this has not been corroborated.

Whether or not Martino was acting on behalf of French intelligence, there is evidence that French agents attempted to deceive the US about Martino’s information. After the French had already become aware that Martino was selling forgeries, Martino tried to pass forged documents to Italian journalist Elisabetta Burba around October 8, 2002, as the UN was renewing weapons inspections in preparation for debate over whether to pass a second resolution against Iraq authorizing military action. Burba says she was skeptical of the documents’ authenticity. In the process of trying to authenticate them, her editor-in-chief Carlo Rossella passed a copy on to the US embassy for fact-checking. After this, on November 22, 2002, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director for Nonproliferation told State Department officials that French intelligence had received information about Iraq attempting to acquire uranium from Niger. Then the French waited until March 4, 2003--after Bush’s January 2003 State of the Union speech and Colin Powell’s February 2003 UN speech--to inform the US that the information passed on in November 2002 was based on forgeries, which was something French intelligence had already known prior to sharing the information with the US in the first place.

In light of this, it may be significant that Joseph Wilson encountered French ambassador Jean-David Levitte on Nightline on March 4, 2003. Wilson was on the show as part of a panel which included Senator Carl Levin, who had recently asked the CIA for details on what the US intelligence community knew about the Iraqi attempts to acquire uranium from Africa mentioned in President Bush’s January 28 State of the Union address. While awaiting the CIA’s reply, which came on February 27 and did not mention the forgery issue, Levin travelled to New York to meet with UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix on February 1. Then he, Jay Rockefeller, and their Intelligence Committee colleagues Pat Roberts and John Warner went on their own secret fact-finding mission to the Middle East on February 15, stopping along the way in Naples, Italy to be briefed by the head of Allied forces in Southern Europe, and ending their trip in England before returning to the US on February 25. Following this trip, Levin and Wilson appeared together on Nightline to debate a group of pro-war panelists. Asking questions from the audience were Levitte and German ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger. Levitte, Levin, and Wilson all called for prolonging UN inspections before war, with Levitte’s call to “Give peace a chance” being echoed by Wilson suggesting, “Give disarmament a chance.” Three days later the Niger forgery scandal went public, and on March 8 Wilson made his first public comments about the forgeries during an interview where CNN’s Renay San Miguel asked him to comment on a Washington Post article by Joby Warrick quoting an anonymous “U.S. official” as saying regarding the forgeries, “We fell for it.”

10. What role did British intelligence play in the Niger forgery scandal?

The sentence in President Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address that set the stage for the Niger forgery scandal cited British intelligence as its source: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” Questions surround the role British intelligence played in the forgery scandal.

A first set of questions involves the referent of the State of the Union speech’s allusion to British intelligence: a September 2002 British dossier on Iraq’s WMD known as “the September Dossier”. Joseph Wilson asserted that the information the State of the Union speech cited from this dossier was based on Martino’s October 2002 forgeries. Disputing this, the SSCI report and a 2004 British government review (the Butler Review) concluded that the dossier’s reference to Africa was not limited to Niger and was not based on the October 2002 forgeries, which British intelligence did not yet possess in September 2002. Critics of the SSCI report and Butler Review such as Joshua Micah Marshall have tried to counter this argument by theorizing that the September Dossier was influenced by earlier forgeries Martino had passed to Western intelligence agencies in 2001. For my response to Marshall’s theory, see the answer to Question 14 below.

There are also unanswered questions about the role British intelligence may have played in supplying the forgeries to the IAEA. Although some sources describe the CIA as providing the Niger forgeries to the IAEA, other sources have alleged that British intelligence supplied the forgeries. When Mohamed ElBaradei of the IAEA made what became the first public reference to the Niger forgeries on March 7, 2003, he contradicted the September Dossier, claiming that the British had based a part of the dossier on the forgeries. Interviewed by CNN the next day and asked what countries besides the US might be involved in perpetrating the forgeries, Wilson replied, “the report I saw said that the Brits were involved. Maybe it was the British that passed this report on. I don't know who else might have been involved. . .” Echoing this, a March 8, 2003 Guardian article by Ian Traynor stated that Britain had provided the documents to the IAEA in Vienna: “British officials named the state of Niger as the source of the uranium and passed their evidence to the UN nuclear watchdog, the international atomic energy agency, in Vienna.” Hans Blix curiously stated as reported in an April 22, 2003 Guardian article by Sally Bolton, “The CIA say they got a copy of the document from the UK.” However, this was contradicted by a September 2003 British Parliamentary investigation which stated, “In February 2003 the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) received from a third party (not the UK) documents that the party had acquired in the autumn of 2002 and which purported to be evidence of Iraq’s attempts to obtain uranium from Niger. In March 2003 the IAEA identified some of the documents it had received as forgeries and called into question the authenticity of the others.” Britain’s July 2004 Butler Review similarly though somewhat more vaguely stated: “it was not until early 2003 that the British Government became aware that the US (and other states) had received from a journalistic source a number of documents alleged to cover the Iraqi procurement of uranium from Niger. Those documents were passed to the IAEA. . .”

Unresolved questions also surround the relation between Wilson’s media leaks and parallel leaks in Britain. Wilson’s spring 2003 leaks to the US and British press were concurrent with a controversy in Britain sparked when an anonymous British official told BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan that Tony Blair’s government had “sexed up” the September Dossier. In the wake of Gilligan’s report and a story by Dan Plesch of the Guardian, Blair supporter John Reid complained on June 3, 2003 that “rogue elements” in the intelligence community were out to smear Blair.

11. How did the Niger forgeries spread through US intelligence files?

US intelligence received allegations about uranium deals between Iraq and Niger in late 2001 and early 2002, prompting the CIA to send Joseph Wilson to Niger. Whether these allegations were influenced by Rocco Martino’s early forgeries or stemmed from more reliable sources is a matter of debate (see answers to Questions 10 and 14), partly due to the fact that information has been withheld from pertinent sections of declassified British and US files.

The influence of Martino’s October 2002 forgeries can be tracked with more clarity. According to Martino, whose account is confirmed on this score by other sources, he first tried to sell his October 2002 forgeries to French intelligence before approaching Burba. Burba’s editor-in-chief Carlo Rossella requested verification of the documents from the US embassy in Italy, headed by Melvin Semble, and through this route the forgeries entered US State Department files.

From here the SSCI report traced the dissemination of the forgeries through the US intelligence community via several routes. Within the State Department, the documents passed from the US embassy in Rome to the Bureau of Nonproliferation (NP) on October 15, 2002. NP then passed them on to the Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), headed by Carl Ford. INR had previously expressed skepticism towards earlier reports of purported Iraq deals with Niger, and Martino’s forgeries immediately aroused the suspicion of an analyst the SSCI report describes as “the INR Iraq nuclear analyst”. Isikoff and Corn identify this analyst as Simon Dodge, who was also a vocal skeptic in the controversy over allegations about Iraq’s use of aluminum tubes. Dodge commented in an email to other intelligence community colleagues, “you’ll note that it bears a funky Emb. of Niger stamp (to make it look official, I guess).” Elsewhere in the State Department, Dodge’s skepticism was shared by INR Deputy Director of the Office of Analysis for the Near East and South Asia Wayne White and Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff Larry Wilkerson, according to Isikoff and Corn, who interviewed White. (After leaving the State Department in February 2005, White became an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute, a Saudi-funded think tank, and gave a lecture to that institution in which he complained about John Bolton’s treatment of his INR colleague Christian Westermann.)

The forgeries circulated from the State Department to other branches of the intelligence community. On October 16, 2002 INR made copies of the documents available at meeting of the Nuclear Interdiction Action Group (NIAG) attended by representatives of a number of agencies including CIA, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), and the Department of Energy (DOE). Analysts from the DIA, NSA, and DOE picked up copies at the meeting.

None of the four CIA representatives who attended the meeting recall picking up copies, but a later internal inspection found copies in the vault of the Counterproliferation Division, where Valerie Plame worked. CIA spokesman Bill Harlow told Seymour Hersh in March 2003 that the CIA did not obtain an actual copy of the forgeries until after the President’s January 2003 State of the Union address. Contradicting this, Vince Cannistraro later told Hersh that the State Department’s Italian embassy had passed the forgeries to the CIA’s Italian station, headed by Jeffrey Castelli, and that the CIA’s Italian station had passed them on to CIA headquarters. Isikoff and Corn obtained additional information on this subject from former CIA European Division chief Tyler Drumheller, who in 2002-2003 was involved in a conflict with other CIA personnel over a controversial informant codenamed Curveball. Drumheller stated that Castelli’s CIA station was advised of the State Department’s meeting with Burba and did receive a copy of her documents, but Castelli was already aware that a phony Niger story was being peddled and he did not take the documents seriously, so they sat in the station’s files and were not passed on to CIA analysts for vetting. If this information is accurate it may shed some light on the forgeries’ circulation at CIA, but it still fails to illuminate how the forgeries got into CPD’s vault.

According to the SSCI report, CIA’s WINPAC division obtained a copy of the forgeries in January 2003, following the December 2002 publication of a State Department fact sheet on Iraq. (See answer to Question 13 below for more details on this fact sheet.) In response to the fact sheet, Simon Dodge emailed complaints about the forgeries to other members of the intelligence community on January 13, 2003. Dodge’s email attracted the attention of a CIA analyst, who realized that WINPAC did not have a copy of the forgery documents and requested copies from INR. WINPAC analysts received the documents on January 16. They then sent the documents, which were written in a foreign language, to the State Department for translation.

12. Is there any substantiation of Seymour Hersh’s report that a renegade CIA faction passed the Niger forgeries onto the Bush administration?

In March 2003, Seymour Hersh quoted a former intelligence official’s allegation that someone at CIA had deliberately perpetrated the Niger forgeries on the Bush administration:

The chance for American intelligence to challenge the documents came as the Administration debated whether to pass them on to ElBaradei. The former high-level intelligence official told me that some senior C.I.A. officials were aware that the documents weren’t trustworthy. “It’s not a question as to whether they were marginal. They can’t be ‘sort of’ bad, or ‘sort of’ ambiguous. They knew it was a fraud--it was useless. Everybody bit their tongue and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if the Secretary of State said this?’ The Secretary of State never saw the documents.”. . .A former intelligence officer told me that some questions about the authenticity of the Niger documents were raised inside the government by analysts at the Department of Energy and the State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research. However, these warnings were not heeded.

”Somebody deliberately let something false get in there,” the former high-level intelligence official added. “It could not have gotten into the system without the agency being involved. Therefore it was an internal intention. Someone set someone up.”

In October 2003, Hersh elaborated:

. . .a former senior C.I.A. officer. . .had begun talking to me about the Niger papers in March, when I first wrote about the forgery, and said, “Somebody deliberately let something false get in there.” He became more forthcoming in subsequent months, eventually saying that a small group of disgruntled retired C.I.A. clandestine operators had banded together in the late summer of last year and drafted the fraudulent documents themselves.

”The agency guys were so pissed at Cheney,” the former officer said. “They said, ‘O.K, we're going to put the bite on these guys.’” My source said that he was first told of the fabrication late last year, at one of the many holiday gatherings in the Washington area of past and present C.I.A. officials. “Everyone was bragging about it—‘Here's what we did. It was cool, cool, cool.’” These retirees, he said, had superb contacts among current officers in the agency and were informed in detail of the sismi intelligence.

”They thought that, with this crowd, it was the only way to go-to nail these guys who were not practicing good tradecraft and vetting intelligence,” my source said. “They thought it'd be bought at lower levels--a big bluff.” The thinking, he said, was that the documents would be endorsed by Iraq hawks at the top of the Bush Administration, who would be unable to resist flaunting them at a press conference or an interagency government meeting. They would then look foolish when intelligence officials pointed out that they were obvious fakes. But the tactic backfired, he said, when the papers won widespread acceptance within the Administration. “It got out of control.”

In the same article, Seymour Hersh reported that former CIA agent Vince Cannistraro had learned about the forgeries a few months after October 2002 through an inside source at CIA:

Vincent Cannistraro. . .told me that copies of the Burba documents were given to the American Embassy, which passed them on to the C.I.A.'s chief of station in Rome, who forwarded them to Washington. Months later, he said, he telephoned a contact at C.I.A. headquarters and was told that “the jury was still out on this”--that is, on the authenticity of the documents.

In an April 2005 interview, Cannistraro and radio host Ian Masters indicated that Tyler Drumheller had described the dissenting group as coming from the analytical side of the Agency. Masters asked,

At the time, you were quoted in some articles as saying that you had heard of dissent within the agency and people that were being, sort of, steamrollered by the administration. Give us some sense of what was happening at the time. Having spoken, again, with the key guy in the agency, Tyler Drumheller, he said, he understood that on the analysis side, there were people that actually either were fired or who quit. Not so much on the operations side that he was a part of, but on the analysis side there was some real frustration apparently.

Cannistraro replied,

Well, there was a tremendous amount of pressure on the analysts. . .There was a chilled environment in which to express any kind of opposite opinion. . .Not only that, there wasn’t very much of a receptiveness at the senior levels of the CIA--at George Tenet’s level, for example, because he was a very political director. And he was very concerned about getting along with the administration.

Isikoff and Corn’s book implies that the group of disgruntled analysts Masters and Drumheller refer to included Middle Eastern analyst Paul Pillar, who was assigned to work on an October 2002 CIA white paper on Iraq’s WMD:

Afterward, Pillar was embarrassed by the white paper. . .

Pillar was operating under his own set of pressures. Shortly before the Bush administration began, he had published a book on terrorism that concluded that the major threat came from freelance groups operating independently of any governments, like al-Qaeda. This had been the CIA’s long-standing position on the issue. But it was a direct challenge to the thinking of neoconservatives like Laurie Mylroie, who believed that state-sponsored terrorism (meaning Saddam-sponsored terrorism) was the real problem. For administration hard-liners, Pillar was already suspect, a charter member of an imagined CIA cabal hostile to the president’s agenda.

Pillar himself inadvertently sharpened the conflict a few weeks after the president’s 2002 State of the Union speech highlighting the “Axis of Evil.” He had been invited to speak at a class at the Johns Hopkins School of International Studies. He suggested the president, in his speech, should have been a “little clearer” about the distinction between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. There was, he said, no evidence that the Iraqi government had shared such weapons with terrorists--and no evidence that Iraq had supported any terrorist acts since 1993. . .Pillar suddenly found his job on the line and, he said, later heard that Paul Wolfowitz wanted him fired.

In 2004, Pillar would be accused of leaking classified information to the New York Times. He resigned from CIA in 2005. Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity member Ray McGovern, a vocal supporter of Joseph and Valerie Wilson, has spoken of Pillar as “my former colleague”.

13. Who put the reference to Niger in the State Department’s December 2002 fact sheet?

The Niger forgery issue began to spread from US intelligence files to the public following a reference to Niger that was improperly inserted into a fact sheet the State Department posted on its website to supplement a UN speech by Ambassador John Negroponte.

On December 17, 2002, WINPAC sent a paper to the National Security Council charging that Iraq had not acknowledged efforts to procure uranium from Niger. WINPAC based this allegation on British intelligence’s September Dossier, which had been produced before US intelligence obtained the October 2002 Niger forgeries.

The day after WINPAC produced this paper, State Department Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Public Affairs (PA) Richard Boucher requested help drafting the fact sheet from Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton and from the Bureau of Nonproliferation (NP), directed by Bolton’s bureaucratic rival Assistant Secretary for Nonproliferation John Wolf. NP emailed a draft of the fact sheet for review to several offices in the State Department, including INR’s Office of Analysis for Strategic, Proliferation, and Military Issues (SPM), headed by Neil Silver, with Beth Frisa serving as Proliferation Division Chief. One SPM analyst who reviewed the document recommended that a qualification be added to reflect INR’s skepticism over the allegation of Iraq attempting to obtain uranium from Niger. But apparently because SPM was not advised that there was a deadline when they received the fact sheet, NP did not incorporate this proposed change into the final draft before forwarding it back to PA. NP did not subsequently attempt to retrieve the document from PA for editing.

Meanwhile, an NP special assistant had been reviewing the fact sheet with WINPAC director Alan Foley. Foley had also separately reviewed the sheet with National Security Council staff, recommending to edit the fact sheet to refer to “Africa” rather than “Niger”. Foley’s change was not incorporated because when the Iraq action officer in the State Department’s Office of United Nations Political Affairs checked with NP to see if WINPAC had vetted the fact sheet, NP incorrectly advised that the fact sheet had been updated. The officer later double-checked this with NP, but by that time the fact sheet had already been posted to the State Department’s website. After the sheet had been posted, NP updated it to remove reference to Niger, but did not incorporate INR’s proposed qualification.

The publication of the fact sheet first brought the information about Iraq and Niger in US files to public attention, prompting a denial from the Niger government on December 24, 2002. The day before, Dodge had initiated an exchange of emails with a Department of Energy analyst complaining about how WINPAC was handling intelligence on Iraq and Niger. Later, on January 13, 2003, Dodge expressed similar sentiments to other members of the intelligence community, and in the process he mentioned the forgeries. Dodge’s January 13 email attracted the attention of a CIA analyst, who realized that WINPAC did not have a copy of the forgery documents and requested copies from INR, according to the SSCI report. WINPAC analysts received the documents on January 16. They then sent the documents, which were written in a foreign language, to the State Department for translation. WINPAC was still in the process of evaluating the documents’ allegations at the time of President Bush’s January 28, 2003 State of the Union address. Meanwhile, on several occasions between January 15 and January 27, WINPAC confirmed Iraq’s interest in African uranium to the White House, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and National Security Council Special Assistant Robert Joseph, who was helping draft the President’s State of the Union speech.

Isikoff and Corn’s account of events echoes Dodge’s sentiments in blaming WINPAC for triggering the Niger forgery scandal. But from the above summary, it could be argued that NP played a more pivotal role by failing to incorporate the changes INR and WINPAC proposed to the December 2002 fact sheet, which first publicized the information in US files. In light of this, it may be pertinent that John Wolf resigned from NP in June 2004 and subsequently testified against Bolton at the latter’s UN Ambassador confirmation hearings. Following Wolf’s departure, NP was dissolved into a new Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation (ISN) staffed by personnel from Bolton’s faction of the State Department.

14. Was Bush’s 2003 State of the Union reference to Africa a reference to the Niger forgeries?

The SSCI report mentions that during 2002 the CIA and DIA were trying to confirm reports on Iraq trying to acquire uranium from Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as Niger. Britain’s September Dossier likewise referred to Iraq trying to acquire uranium from “Africa”, not specifying Niger. A 2004 British government review concluded that this reference was not limited to Niger and was not based on the Niger forgeries, which British intelligence did not yet possess in September 2002. Bush’s 2003 State of the Union address alluded to the September Dossier, implying that like that document it was not referring to the Niger forgeries.

Critics of the SSCI report and British review such as Joshua Micah Marshall have tried to argue that British and US intelligence had actually received a summary of Martino’s forgeries from Italian intelligence by early 2002. Marshall reaches this conclusion by equating a “written summary” of the Niger forgeries mentioned in a March 22, 2003 newspaper article by Dana Priest and Karen DeYoung with a pair of reports British intelligence received in June 2002 and September 2002. But as I have previously argued (Wilsongate: Motive, Means, and Opportunity), Marshall’s argument overlooks the fact that according to the Priest and DeYoung article which is the basis of his position, the written summary he refers to was received “more than six months ago”, implying approximately late September 2002, and therefore this cannot refer to the time frame Marshall has in mind.

Isikoff and Corn’s summary of the drafting of the State of the Union speech portrays a National Intelligence Estimate underlying the speech as referring exclusively to the Niger forgeries, rather than referring to other intelligence on Niger and other African nations as the SSCI report documents. Their summary of the 2004 British review supporting the State of the Union’s allegations is similarly selective and is buried in a footnote at the bottom of page 257. This is misleading on Isikoff and Corn’s part.

15. What role did the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence play in triggering the Niger forgery investigation?

Following the November 2002 elections, in which Republicans regained control of the Senate, Senator Jay Rockefeller was slated to ascend in January to Vice-Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Rockefeller’s famous family has oil interests linked to Saudi interests, and in January 2002 he had travelled to Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria to advise those governments that President Bush was determined to go to war with Iraq. Even before assuming his new position on the SSCI, Rockefeller announced his intention to split the committee along party lines into two separate committees: a Democratic group under himself as Vice Chairman and a Republican group under Republican Chairman Pat Roberts.

Joining Rockefeller on the SSCI was Senator Carl Levin, a close associate of the far left and Muslim lobbies. Since October 2002, Levin had been campaigning to replace President Bush’s proposed war resolution with an alternate resolution that would only authorize the President to use force if the UN authorized military action. Meanwhile he had joined Senator Dick Durbin and other Democratic Senators in pressing for the declassification of US intelligence on Iraq. In December 2002 he began pushing for the US to share more of its intelligence on Iraq with the UN. He emphasized this throughout January 2003, echoing a January 6 request from IAEA Iraq Nuclear Verification Offfice director Jacques Baute for information to substantiate the State Department fact sheet’s allegation about Iraq’s interest in Niger uranium. On January 29, 2003, Levin asked CIA for details on what the US intelligence community knew about the Iraqi attempts to acquire African uranium mentioned in the President’s State of the Union address. While awaiting CIA’s reply, which came on February 27 and did not mention the forgery issue, Levin travelled to New York to meet with UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix on February 1. Then he, Rockefeller, and their Intelligence Committee colleagues Pat Roberts and John Warner went on their own secret fact-finding mission to the Middle East on February 15, stopping along the way in Naples, Italy to be briefed by the head of Allied forces in Southern Europe, and ending their trip in England before returning to the US on February 25. After Levin got back, he and Joseph Wilson appeared together on ABC’s Nightline on March 4, 2003, as mentioned in the answer to Question 9 above.

The day Wilson published his famous July 6, 2003 New York Times editorial, “What I Didn’t Find in Africa”, Wilson appeared with Andrea Mitchell on NBC’s Meet the Press, followed by Carl Levin through prearrangement with the producer. The next month, in the wake of Wilson’s article, Levin spoke to Congress calling for an investigation into the inclusion of the African uranium claim in Bush’s State of the Union address. Echoing Levin’s comments was Dennis Kucinich, who led the Congressional antiwar lobby.

As Levin was speaking to the Senate on July 15, Kucinich held a press conference with Wilson’s associate Ray McGovern and retired Australian intelligence agent Andrew Willkie. The next day Wilson’s friend Corn accused the Bush administration of leaking Plame’s name to Robert Novak, a charge echoed July 17 by TIME reporter Matthew Cooper. Two months later, at the request of CIA, the Department of Justice asked the FBI to investigate the Plame leak.

16. Who gave a copy of the Niger forgeries to the IAEA?

On February 4, 2003--the day before Colin Powell was scheduled to give a speech to the UN--someone briefed IAEA Iraq Nuclear Verification Offfice director Jacques Baute on the Niger forgeries and provided him with copies. Who provided the briefing and forgeries to him and where they did so have been reportedly differently by different sources.

According to Baute’s account as reported by Seymour Hersh, he was briefed by the US mission in Austria while aboard a plane en route from IAEA headquarters in Vienna to UN headquarters in New York, and upon reaching New York he was provided with copies of the documents by the US. What the SSCI’s report says regarding this is censored at a key point, reading, “On February 4, 2003, the U.S. Government passed electronic copies of the Iraq-Niger documents to [3/4 line deleted] the IAEA. Because the Director of the IAEA’s INVO [Iraq Nuclear Verification Office] was in New York at the time, the U.S. Government also provided the documents to him in New York.”

So far this seems consistent enough. But slightly at variance with these accounts is a July 18, 2003 article by Walter Pincus and Dana Priest which depicts the briefing occurring in Vienna rather than on the plane from Vienna: “On Feb. 4, the U.N. inspectors' Iraq team was called to the U.S. mission in Vienna and verbally briefed on the contents of the documents. A day later, they received copies, according to officials familiar with the inspectors' work.” A couple weeks earlier, Pincus and Richard Leiby had reported that the copies of the forgeries the inspectors received came from the CIA: “In early February, the CIA received a translation of the Niger documents and in early March, copies of the documents, which it turned over to the International Atomic Energy Agency.”

A seemingly different account is found in a March 8, 2003 British Guardian article by Ian Traynor, stating that Britain provided the documents to the IAEA in Vienna: “British officials named the state of Niger as the source of the uranium and passed their evidence to the UN nuclear watchdog, the international atomic energy agency, in Vienna.” Hans Blix curiously stated as reported in an April 22, 2003 Guardian article by Sally Bolton, “The CIA say they got a copy of the document from the UK.” This is contradicted by a September 2003 British Parliamentary investigation which states, “In February 2003 the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) received from a third party (not the UK) documents that the party had acquired in the autumn of 2002 and which purported to be evidence of Iraq’s attempts to obtain uranium from Niger. In March 2003 the IAEA identified some of the documents it had received as forgeries and called into question the authenticity of the others.” Britain’s July 2004 Butler Review similarly though somewhat more vaguely states: “it was not until early 2003 that the British Government became aware that the US (and other states) had received from a journalistic source a number of documents alleged to cover the Iraqi procurement of uranium from Niger. Those documents were passed to the IAEA. . .”

17. How much did Joseph Wilson know about the forgeries when he spoke on CNN in March 2003?

On March 8, 2003, CNN’s Renay San Miguel interviewed Joseph Wilson to comment on controversy which had been generated by a Joby Warrick Washington Post article on the Niger forgeries which quoted an anonymous official saying “We fell for it.” (See answer to Question 9 above.) In the course of the interview, Wilson said:

. . .I think it's safe to say that the U.S. government should have or did know that this report was a fake before Dr. ElBaradei mentioned it in his report at the U.N. yesterday.

Describing the interview later in The Politics of Truth, Wilson recalled:

The next day a State Department spokesman was quoted as saying, “We fell for it.”

I was astounded by the spokesman’s comment. Within days after it made the news, I was on the set of CNN, waiting to do an interview, when David Ensor, a CNN national security reporter, happened by. He was looking at the story with an eye out for the perpetrators of the forgeries and asked me what I knew about the Niger uranium business. I told him that as far as I knew, the State Department spokesman had not spoken accurately.

I could have told him a lot more. I knew that in addition to my report, there were reports in the government files from our ambassador and from a Marine Corps general. I knew that at the State Department African Bureau, nobody in the management chain of command had ever believed there was anything to the story that a spokesman was now claiming they “fell for.”. . .As I sat there in the green room, I concluded that the U.S. government had to be held to account. It was unacceptable to lie about such an important issue.

I told Ensor that I would be helpful in his efforts to ferret out the truth, and offered to answer a question or two on the air and to provide leads to him. While I was not willing at that stage to disclose my own involvement, it was not a difficult decision to make, to point others in the right direction. The essential information--the forged documents--was already in the public domain; the State Department spokesman had purposely deceived the public in his response, or else he himself had been deceived. Whichever the case, in my mind it was essential that the record be corrected.

When I went on the air, the CNN newscaster, prompted by Ensor, asked me about the “We fell for it” line. I replied that if the U.S. government checked its files, it would, I believed, discover that it knew more about the case than the spokesman was letting on. I then added that either the spokesman was being disingenuous, or he was ill-informed. . . .

Wilson’s summary of the interview and his other early comments on the forgeries, where he claimed to have noticed incorrect names and dates on the documents, raise several questions.

First, although Warrick’s article did not provide this detail, Wilson describes Warrick’s source as “the State Department spokesman”. In subsequent statements Wilson specified that he was referring to State Department spokesman Richard Boucher--who as mentioned in the answer to question 13 above had coordinated the drafting of the State Department fact sheet on Iraq that played a pivotal role in triggering the Niger uranium controversy. Wilso did not explain how he came by this information. Since Warrick’s article did not identify Boucher, why was Wilson purporting to be so knowledgeable about Warrick’s alleged source?

(Interestingly, Isikoff and Corn note that Warrick had previously been receiving information from David Albright, a scientist from the Institute for Science and International Security who had sided with International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] officials against WINPAC analyst Joe Turner and New York Times reporter Judith Miller in a controversy over whether Iraq’s recent acquisition of aluminum tubes was evidence of a nuclear program. According to Isikoff and Corn, Valerie Plame had also been involved in the CIA’s aluminum tubes investigation. Isikoff and Corn elsewhere mention that State Department official Thomas Warrick was at odds with the Pentagon over planning for postwar Iraq. Other sources indicate that Warrick had been an opponent of regime change in Iraq since the Clinton administration, and that Donald Rumsfeld was ordered to bar Warrick from Jay Garner’s Iraq reconstruction team because Warrick did not get along with Iraqi Shiite exile leaders.)

Second, was it really just coincidental that when Ensor was seeking commentary on the Niger forgery story a day after the story broke, he just “happened by” Joseph Wilson, who just happened to have travelled to Niger the previous year to investigate a report about an alleged uranium deal between Iraq and Niger, and whose wife just happened to work with a CIA unit that had a copy of the forgeries in its vault?

Third, only a day after the forgeries became public knowledge, why did Wilson immediately purport to know what US intelligence files contained about them, when they were not obtained by US intelligence until October 2002, half a year after Wilson’s February 2002 trip to Niger?

A logical conclusion is that either Wilson lied when he purported to have information about the Niger forgeries during his interview for Ensor, or if he did indeed have such information, he lied about his interview being coincidental, and it was in fact a prearranged leak. If it was a prearranged leak, the question arises: where did Wilson get his information about the forgeries? Had he spoken to someone who had access to the forgeries?

Interestingly, Isikoff and Corn mention that Ensor had previously triggered an FBI investigation when he received a leak of testimony to the Senate and House intelligence committees regarding National Security Agency surveillance of Al Qaeda. Isikoff and Corn also mention that after Wilson learned Robert Novak was mentioning his wife was a CIA agent, he complained to CNN news division chief Eason Jordan. Did Wilson have a prior relationship with Jordan and CNN which led him to direct this complaint in this direction? (In February 2005 Jordan would resign from CNN after claiming that the US military killed journalists in Iraq.)

18. Did the Bush administration target Plame in retaliation against Joseph Wilson?

On July 16, 2003, after suggesting to Joseph Wilson that Novak’s article may have criminally violated the Intelligence Identities Protection Act, David Corn published the first article accusing the Bush administration of committing a crime by blowing Plame’s cover. Wilson soon began accusing Karl Rove of being the leaker.

Three years later, Corn and Isikoff’s book identified the source who actually leaked Plame’s name to Novak as Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, an opponent of the Bush administration’s Iraq policy. As the authors note, Armitage had previously mentioned Plame’s identity to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, in a conversation they acknowledge was “nothing more than chitchat. The initial leaker was not a White House hawk trying to discredit or harm Joe Wilson or his wife. Armitage had seemingly mentioned her either to distance his department from the Wilson mission or, simply, to share a piece of hot gossip.” Similarly, discussing Armitage’s conversation with Novak, they comment, “Though Libby and other hawkish White House officials were enraged at Wilson and scheming against him, it had been a leading member of the administration’s small moderate cell who had first slipped Novak the information on Joe Wilson’s wife.”

Despite these admissions, rather than apologizing for libelling government officials, putting an innocent man on trial, landing two reporters in jail, and costing US taxpayers millions of dollars in a frivolous lawsuit, Corn’s book continues to accuse the Bush administration of “scheming against” Wilson. Corn’s inability to own up to his actions reinforces the perception that David Corn is really the one who’s been scheming.

19. Was Plame’s CIA status an open secret in Washington before Novak’s column?

Sworn testimony has documented that Bob Woodward learned about Plame’s CIA background nearly a month before Robert Novak did. National Review Online writer Clifford May reported that he had also learned of Plame’s CIA tie before Novak’s column, from a former government employee who mentioned it in an offhanded manner as if it were no big secret. NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell once stated that among reporters Plame’s CIA association was generally known, though she later retracted this claim. New Republic editor Martin Peretz, former TIME White House correspondent Hugh Sidey, Weekly Standard editor Fred Barnes, and Watergate figure G. Gordon Liddy have also stated that Plame’s background was widely known. Military historian Victor Davis Hanson and FOX News commentator Major General Paul Vallely have reported that Wilson boasted to them about his wife’s job.

20. Who was the friend of Joseph Wilson who approached Robert Novak on the street the afternoon Novak talked to Richard Armitage?

According to both Robert Novak and Joseph Wilson, on the same day Novak learned of Valerie Plame’s CIA background from the source now identified as Richard Armitage, he was approached on the street by a friend of Wilson. According to Wilson, the friend did not mention that he knew him, struck up a conversation about him, and then reported back to him that Novak was saying, “Wilson’s an [expletive deleted]. The CIA sent him. His wife, Valerie, works for the CIA. She’s a weapons of mass destruction specialist. She sent him.” Wilson then called CNN’s Eason Jordan to complain.

Both Novak and Wilson have thus far declined to disclose the identity of Wilson’s anonymous friend. Isikoff and Corn follow suit, burying the incident in a footnote. For some reason, the identity of Wilson’s friend seems to be a bigger secret than the identity of Novak’s source.

21. What role did David Corn play in triggering the DOJ probe of Novak’s column?

Prior to Novak’s column, David Corn had met Wilson on the set of FOX News and had invited him to contribute a column to The Nation. According to Corn, after Novak’s column came out, he called Wilson and suggested to him that Novak’s column may have been a criminal violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. Corn then published an article making the first public accusation that the Bush administration had committed a crime by blowing Plame’s cover. Three years later, Corn would coauthor the first book identifying the actual leaker as Richard Armitage.

22. Did Michael Isikoff’s relationship with Philip Agee’s associate Mark Hosenball influence Newsweek’s coverage of the investigation?

Corn was aware of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act because he had previously written a biography of a CIA agent which touched on the act, passed in response to the disclosure of CIA agents’ identities by former CIA agent Philip Agee. After leaving the CIA, Agee had offered CIA secrets to the KGB before defecting to Cuban intelligence, Soviet archives reveal.

Corn’s coauthor Michael Isikoff had previously cowritten articles with Mark Hosenball, who happened to have a history with Agee. In 1976, while writing for the London Evening Standard in Britain, Hosenball and coauthor Duncan Campbell had written an article exposing the British equivalent of the National Security Agency. As a result of this article, British authorities began proceedings to deport Hosenball, who was the son of an American lawyer. At the same time, they began proceedings to deport fellow American Agee as one of Hosenball’s sources. Agee had fled from the US to Britain and had written a book on the CIA with help from KGB agent Edgar Anatolvevich Cheporov. He was now exposing CIA agents from the Agency’s London station, and MI6 blamed his work for the assassination of two MI6 agents in Poland. Agee and Hosenball were both linked to an antiwar group called Concerned Americans Abroad (CAA aka Group 68), and the British and American left rallied around them, with the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL aka Liberty, a sort of British version of the ACLU) hosting the Agee-Hosenball Defence Committee. Among those testifying on their behalf was American CIA critic Morton Halperin, who Agee says helped him obtain CIA correspondence between the US Embassy in Athens and CIA headquarters through Freedom of Information Act requests.

Agee and Hosenball were expelled by British authorities in 1977. Now with Newsweek, where he works with Isikoff, Hosenball is credited in the Acknowledgments of Isikoff and Corn’s book: “Michael Isikoff. . .has especially benefited from the insights of his longtime sidekick and ‘Terror Watch’ colleague Mark Hosenball, who knows more about the subject of this book--most notably the machinations of the Chalabites--than any other journalist in the Western world, as Meg Ryan can readily attest.”

Meanwhile, from Cuba, Hosenball’s old associate Agee granted AP writer Anita Snow and ABC News correspondent Jack Tapper interviews for October 1, 2003 pieces on the Plame leak investigation. In Snow’s article, Agee tried to justify his own disclosure of CIA agents identities by claiming that his motive was to “weaken the instrument for carrying out the policy of supporting military dictatorships. . . torture, executions, death squads”. Agee charged that in contrast, the leak of Plame’s identity was “purely dirty politics in my opinion. . .a cheap shot made because (Wilson) picked a hole in that pack of lies justifying the war”. Agee similarly told Tapper, “Of course there is a big difference between the naming of Ambassador Wilson's wife as a CIA operative under cover from my motivations and the motivations of all the many people I was working with in the 1970s. . .Our purpose was political--was to try to put a stop to the dirty work, and this case--it was simply dirty.”

Agee’s interviews with these authors were followed up a week later by an article from Hosenball himself mentioning Agee. On October 8, Hosenball and Isikoff wrote:

As former CIA director James Woolsey points out, the 1982 law that makes it a federal crime to disclose the identify of an undercover CIA agent was carefully written to target witting perpetrators. Congress had in mind actors such as ex-CIA agent turned left-wing critic Philip Agee who, for political reasons, wrote a book “outing” many of his former colleagues, leading to considerable and justifiable concern about their safety.

--Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball, "Criminal or Just Plain Stupid? ‘Leakgate’ may be little more than a bumbling effort to slam a critic. Plus, waging holy war from Norway.", Newsweek, October 8, 2003, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3158220/

It seems at the least a striking coincidence that while Agee was granting interviews to reporters on the Plame investigation, his old codefendant Hosenball was mentioning his name while writing on the case.

23. Who at CIA requested the probe of Novak’s column?

According to a letter from CIA Director of Congressional Affairs Stanley Moskowitz to Representative John Conyers, Jr. (reproduced in Wilson’s Politics of Truth, 359), on July 24, 2003 a CIA attorney contacted Department of Justice Counterespionage Section Chief John Dion to express concern about recent articles on Plame and to advise that CIA would be forwarding a review of possible criminal violations. This was standard procedure. The Agency was required by law to report any possible violations of criminal law to the Justice Department. Its lawyers normally conducted an internal review to determine whether they believed any laws had been violated. If they reached such a determination, they would fill out a Justice Department questionnaire requesting an FBI investigation. A July 30 letter to the Justice Department reported the finding of a possible criminal violation and indicated that a review of the matter had been initiated by the CIA’s Office of Security, which is responsible for protecting Agency personnel and facilities and regularly administers polygraph tests towards this end.

Isikoff and Corn record that although CIA management was upset about the leak to Novak, the only senior Agency official to directly contact Plame expressing support was A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard, the CIA’s Executive Director. (Krongard, who had been hired by CIA Director George Tenet to help centralize control of the Agency’s bureacracy, would resign shortly after Porter Goss replaced Tenet as Director.) Krongard told Isikoff and Corn that the Agency’s main concern over the leak was the potential exposure of agents, informants, and front companies linked to Plame.

Isikoff and Corn also state that Director Tenet did not immediately push for an investigation. They quote an anonymous “senior CIA official” recalling that “I had to remind [Pavitt] that he ought to make a referral to Justice”, referring to Deputy Director for Operations James Pavitt. The CIA’s July 30 letter was faxed to the Justice Department again on September 5.

On September 16, CIA informed the Department of Justice that it had completed its investigation and requested that the matter be referred to the FBI. On September 26, NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell reported that CIA had asked the Justice Department to investigate whether White House officials blew Plame’s cover in retaliation against Wilson.

24. Who at the Department of Justice arranged the appointment of Patrick Fitzgerald as Special Counsel?

On September 29, 2003, the Department of Justice informed CIA that the Counterespionage Section had asked the FBI to investigate the Plame leak. The next day, papers quoted Justice Department spokesman Mark Corallo saying that Department of Justice Counterespionage Section Chief John Dion had decided to investigate the Plame leak without consulting Attorney General John Ashcroft.

The same day, papers reported that Democrats were demanding the appointment of a special counsel. Quoted prominently was Senator Charles Schumer, who had been pushing for an investigation of the leak since July. Meanwhile, Representative John Conyers, Jr. of the House Judiciary Committee sent the CIA a letter requesting a description of what contacts the Agency had had with the Justice Department about the Plame leak prior to the commencement of the investigation.

On October 15, 2003, Senator Schumer and Senator Edward Kennedy wrote Dion to complain about delays in the White House’s response to the Plame leak investigation. The letter again pushed for the appointment of a special counsel.

Isikoff and Corn record that in late October, during confirmation hearings for Deputy Attorney General James Comey, Schumer asked if Comey would be open to a special counsel for the Plame leak case. Two years earlier, Schumer had helped Comey become a US Attorney in New York. Comey would not comment on the specifics of the case, but indicated he would do “the right thing”. After Comey’s confirmation on December 9, Schumer called to congratulate him and implied that he expected Comey to do “the right thing” within a month. On December 30, Comey called a press conference to announce that he was delegating authority for the leak investigation to his former colleague from the US Attorney’s office in New York, Patrick Fitzgerald.

25. Who was leaking information from the grand jury to the media?

Under the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, it is a crime for anyone associated with the prosecution to disclose grand jury testimony, although witnesses may do so. Witness’ lawyers are not allowed in the courtroom to hear testimony, but only hear about it afterwards through oral communication outside the courtroom. Likewise, testimony transcripts are not available to witness’ lawyers until the investigation is over and an indictment has been returned, but they are available to the prosecution. Due to this, one way to identify the source of leaks is to observe whether there is any indication that the source had read a transcript. Sources without access to transcripts are typically described as being “briefed on” or “familiar with” testimony. Phrases such as “directly familiar with” testimony seem to imply more direct access to testimony.

Since Fitzgerald’s investigation began, numerous reporters have quoted anonymous sources describing grand jury testimony. In some cases these leaks seem to come from the defense, but in other cases sources have implied inside knowledge of Fitzgerald’s team. For instance, in a July 15 Washington Post article, Mike Allen quoted sources who had “reviewed” grand jury testimony:

Sources who have reviewed some of the testimony before the grand jury say there is significant evidence that reporters were in some cases alerting officials about Plame's identity and relationship to Wilson--not the other way around.

--Mike Allen with Carol Leonnig, “Rove Confirmed Plame Indirectly, Lawyer Says: Bush Aide Said Columnist Told Him Name”, Washington Post, July 15, 2005, A01

Interestingly, Allen had previously coauthored an article with Dana Priest quoting an anonymous senior administration official who claimed that Plame’s name was leaked in revenge. Observers have noted that neither Allen nor Priest were called as witnesses in the leak investigation, prompting speculation that the prosecution did not need their testimony because their source was directly cooperating with investigators.

National Journal reporter Murray Waas has also quoted sources claiming “firsthand knowledge” of grand jury testimony:

In two appearances before the federal grand jury investigating the leak of a covert CIA operative's name, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, the chief of staff to Vice President Cheney, did not disclose a crucial conversation that he had with New York Times reporter Judith Miller in June 2003 about the operative, Valerie Plame, according to sources with firsthand knowledge of his sworn testimony.

--Murray Waas, “Libby Did Not Tell Grand Jury About Key Conversation”, National Journal, October 11, 2005

A week after Waas’ article, AP’s John Solomon quoted sources “directly familiar with testimony. . .witnesses gave before the grand jury”:

The Rove-Libby contacts were confirmed to The Associated Press by people directly familiar with testimony the two witnesses gave before the grand jury. All spoke on condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the proceedings. . .

Rove testified that he never intended any of his comments to reporters about Wilson's wife to serve as confirmation of Plame's identity. Rove “has always clearly left open that he first heard this information from Libby,” said one person directly familiar with Rove's grand jury testimony.

--John Solomon, “AP: Rove, Libby Discussed Reporter Info”, October 19, 2005

Recently, Waas similarly cited “sources with first-hand knowledge of the testimony”, as well as attorneys with access to witness’ phone records:

During testimony before the federal grand jury in the CIA leak case, a federal prosecutor approached Libby with a copy of the marked-up column and asked if he recalled the Vice President expressly raising the same issues with him. A small amount of grand jury testimony has been made public in court filings by the special prosecutor. Additional accounts of what occurred in the grand jury were provided by sources with first-hand knowledge of the testimony. . .

Cheney told Libby that he wanted him to leak the report to the press, according to people with first-hand knowledge of federal grand jury testimony in the CIA leak case, and federal court records. . .

The second telephone conversation between Libby and Miller lasted for 37 minutes, according to telephone records examined by attorneys familiar with her grand jury testimony.

--Murray Waas with Brian Beutler, “CIA Leak Probe: Inside The Grand Jury”, National Journal, January 12, 2007

It seems ironic that for someone professing such concern over the alleged leak of a CIA agent’s identity, Patrick Fitzgerald seems to have been so unconcerned to prevent the leaks of grand jury testimony violating the rights of the accused and the integrity of the judicial process.


TOPICS: Editorial; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: cialeak; davidcorn; josephwilson; libby; michaelisikoff; valerieplame
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1 posted on 02/07/2007 2:16:32 PM PST by Fedora
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To: Shermy; piasa; Liz; backhoe; christie; GailA; Alamo-Girl; stockpirate; stands2reason; windchime; ...

Ping


2 posted on 02/07/2007 2:17:43 PM PST by Fedora
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To: Fedora; Shermy; okie01

A ping and a mark for later reading.


3 posted on 02/07/2007 2:18:00 PM PST by dirtboy (Duncan Hunter 08)
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To: Buckhead

Ping. Regarding what we were discussing on the other thread, you might want to skip to Questions 6, 11-16, and 23.


4 posted on 02/07/2007 2:20:20 PM PST by Fedora
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To: STARWISE; Howlin; onyx; Mo1; Peach; Bahbah; BigSkyFreeper

PING


5 posted on 02/07/2007 2:22:03 PM PST by Txsleuth
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To: Fedora

Many thanks for the ping; great article! :-)


6 posted on 02/07/2007 2:22:52 PM PST by nopardons
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To: greyfoxx39

place mark


7 posted on 02/07/2007 2:30:55 PM PST by greyfoxx39 (Just remember, fully HALF of the people you encounter in life are below average.)
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To: Fedora; All

WOW Fedora!!!

Bookmark & BTTT !!!


8 posted on 02/07/2007 2:34:30 PM PST by musicman
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To: Fedora

Ping for a great summary!


9 posted on 02/07/2007 2:38:30 PM PST by Leto
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To: Fedora

bump for later


10 posted on 02/07/2007 3:02:15 PM PST by showme_the_Glory (No more rhyming, and I mean it! ..Anybody want a peanut.....)
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To: Fedora
Did you read that article in the WSJ about both Fitzgerald and Comey having a grudge against Libby? Apparently both had been on the losing side in former dealings with Libby. For Fitzgerald it was the fact that Libby did some of the work for the defense of Marc Rich and for Comey, it was the fact that Libby was the front man for the administration on the wiretap thing, when Comey was filling in for Ashcroft and the administration did an end around Comey, going directly to Ashcroft, who was in the hospital with gall bladder problems, to get approval.
11 posted on 02/07/2007 3:31:25 PM PST by Eva
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To: Fedora

bump


12 posted on 02/07/2007 3:40:10 PM PST by visitor (dems Undermine National Defense, Mislead their Voter Base, Demoralize Troops, Encourage the Enemy)
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To: Eva

No, I hadn't seen that article--will have to check that out, thanks!


13 posted on 02/07/2007 3:43:32 PM PST by Fedora
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To: Fedora

It was on the editorial page.


14 posted on 02/07/2007 3:46:24 PM PST by Eva
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To: Fedora

Related:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/1780966/posts
Yellowcake and yellow journalism (ann coulter)


15 posted on 02/07/2007 3:48:41 PM PST by Calpernia (Breederville.com)
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To: Eva
Is this it?

The Libby Injustice

As it happens, Messrs. Fitzgerald and Libby had crossed legal paths before. Before he joined the Bush Administration, Mr. Libby had, for a number of years in the 1980s and 1990s, been a lawyer for Marc Rich. Mr. Rich is the oil trader and financier who fled to Switzerland in 1983, just ahead of his indictment for tax-evasion by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Bill Clinton pardoned Mr. Rich in 2001, and so the feds never did get their man. The pardon so infuriated Justice lawyers who had worked on the case that the Southern District promptly launched an investigation into whether the pardon had been "proper." One former prosecutor we spoke to described the Rich case as "the single most rancorous case in the history of the Southern District."

Two of the prosecutors who worked on the Rich case over the years were none other than Mr. Fitzgerald and James Comey, who while Deputy Attorney General appointed Mr. Fitzgerald to investigate the Plame leak. Mr. Fitzgerald worked in the Southern District for five years starting in 1988, at the same time that Mr. Libby was developing a legal theory of Mr. Rich's innocence in a bid to get the charges dropped. The prosecutors never did accept the argument, but Leonard Garment, who brought Mr. Libby onto the case in 1985, says that he believes Mr. Libby's legal work helped set the stage for Mr. Rich's eventual pardon.

This was all long ago, it's true. But Mr. Libby and Mr. Comey tangled more recently as well. In 2004, as Mr. Fitzgerald was gearing up his investigation, Mr. Libby was the Administration's point man in trying to get Justice to sign off on the NSA wiretapping program. In early 2004, Mr. Comey was acting Attorney General while John Ashcroft recovered from gall bladder surgery, and Mr. Comey reportedly refused to give the NSA program the greenlight, prompting the White House to seek out Mr. Ashcroft in the hospital in a bid to circumvent Mr. Comey.

16 posted on 02/07/2007 3:52:32 PM PST by Fedora
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To: Calpernia

Thanks, Calpernia!


17 posted on 02/07/2007 3:54:04 PM PST by Fedora
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To: Fedora
Yeah, that's the one. It just adds one more wrinkle to the prosecution of Libby.

I still think that Fitzgerald is steering this prosecution towards a mistrial that would do as much damage to the administration as possible and leave Libby hanging in limbo. A mistrial would hurt Libby's career as much, if not more than a conviction because he could neither appeal nor be pardoned.
18 posted on 02/07/2007 4:35:51 PM PST by Eva
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To: Fedora

You always amaze us. Bless you.


19 posted on 02/07/2007 5:08:31 PM PST by Wuli
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To: Fedora
"Then in the early 1990s she reportedly adopted a Nonofficial Cover (NOC, aka “deep cover”, referring to a cover involving a non-government CIA front such as a fake business entity), posing as a member of an energy firm operating out of Belgium."

So ... she must have been on that NOC list that Tom Cruise was trying to recover in Mission Impossible I. It all makes sense now, how important she truly was, and what danger this leak put her in ...

Aside from the fact that there's a (cough) slight difference (cough) between Hollywood and reality.
20 posted on 02/07/2007 5:18:38 PM PST by omnivore
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To: Fedora
a bump is not sufficient...

BAM

21 posted on 02/07/2007 5:23:52 PM PST by KC Burke (Men of intemperate minds can never be free...their passions forge their fetters.)
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To: silverleaf

ping


22 posted on 02/07/2007 5:45:39 PM PST by silverleaf (Fasten your seat belts- it's going to be a BUMPY ride.)
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To: Fedora

An important adjunct to your new Plame post, was just posted here:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1781072/posts

It appears that Wilson's wife made the recommendation regarding her husbands qualifications for the trip to Niger before Cheney asked the CIA to look at the issue.

I believe that even then the political moles within the bureaucracy had their act in play before Cheney asked about Niger.

My conspiracy mind could even speculate that the "unconfirmed" report given to Cheney, the day after Plame recommended her husband, was in fact the delivery of the enticement for Cheney to go seeking what the moles had already forged, or knew was forged before that enticement was placed in front of Cheney.

They set Cheney up and then went about using their forgery, or what they already knew was a forgery when they put it in Cheney's briefing, as "evidence" that Cheney had gamed the intelligence; when all he had done was ask them to go find what they already knew as in the intelligence stream - the forgeries they KNEW were forgeries before the matter was ever presented to Cheney.

And, it is not at all funny, or inconsequential that there is no paper-trail for how the forgeries arrived in a safe in the offices of Plame's department at CIA.


23 posted on 02/07/2007 7:44:16 PM PST by Wuli
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To: Eva

Fitzgerald seems to want a conviction really bad--to the point of obsession--but I can see him trying for a mistrial if he can't get one. Justice seems to be the farthest thing from his agenda.


24 posted on 02/07/2007 9:25:45 PM PST by Fedora
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To: Wuli

Thanks for the link! Someone pinged me to York's article on that just as I was about to post this, so I added a quick note and link in the answer to Question 6, but I haven't had a chance to analyze the new data yet and integrate it.


25 posted on 02/07/2007 9:29:05 PM PST by Fedora
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To: Fedora

Thanks Fedora.


26 posted on 02/07/2007 9:32:33 PM PST by SunkenCiv (I last updated my profile on Saturday, February 3, 2007. https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: Fedora

Thanks for the ping!


27 posted on 02/07/2007 9:45:22 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: Fedora
YIKES!! Mary McCarthy was part of the CIA cabal....anyone know what she;s doing?

That odious William Arkin giving away our secret codes.....the Bush Admin should have prosecuted him.

28 posted on 02/07/2007 9:59:15 PM PST by Suzy Quzy
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To: Suzy Quzy

Yes, McCarthy must fit in there somewhere--thanks for reminding me!--need to think about that. . .


29 posted on 02/07/2007 10:12:59 PM PST by Fedora
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To: Fedora

The ONLY lingering question is, IS how much money is Fitzy milking the system of.. Its all about Fitzy parasiting the treasury.. Else this would have been over a loooooong time ago...


30 posted on 02/07/2007 10:18:21 PM PST by hosepipe (CAUTION: This propaganda is laced with hyperbole....)
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To: Fedora

Extraordinary compilation of information, Fedora! Thank you.


31 posted on 02/08/2007 12:57:08 AM PST by windchime (I consider the left one of the fronts on the WOT.)
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To: Wuli

"And, it is not at all funny, or inconsequential that there is no paper-trail for how the forgeries arrived in a safe in the offices of Plame's department at CIA."

Bump to that!


32 posted on 02/08/2007 12:59:14 AM PST by windchime (I consider the left one of the fronts on the WOT.)
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To: Fedora
I don't think that he has a case against Libby and he knows it, so rather than drop the indictment, I think that he's going to push the envelope and force Libby's lawyers to move for a mistrial. I'm betting that Fitzgerald's stunts will get more egregious as the case goes on.
33 posted on 02/08/2007 8:19:51 AM PST by Eva
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To: Fedora
I have been reading about post modernist theory and how it applies to the Duke Lacrosse case. The more that I read about it, the more I think that this is what is going on with the Libby case. I think that Fitzgerald and Comey are applying post modernist theory of law to get Libby and damage the Bush administration.

Post Modern Prosecutions (WARNING - it's Lew Rockwell.com, but it's the clearest explanation of post modern law that I have found)

34 posted on 02/08/2007 3:40:42 PM PST by Eva
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To: Eva

Can't comment on the cases discussed in the article as I haven't been following them, but postmodern theory certainly pervades today's legal climate and underlies judicial activism, political correctness, and similar trends. Its influence runs so deep that even people not directly familiar with its theoretical formulation are influenced by it, so it's likely it influences the prosecution.


35 posted on 02/08/2007 6:32:40 PM PST by Fedora
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To: Fedora

FEDORA! I don't know how I missed this. Brilliant. I'm posting it all around. Bravo!


36 posted on 02/11/2007 10:02:13 AM PST by the Real fifi
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To: the Real fifi

bump

Absolutely brilliant summation of the liberal media going ga-ga over a non-story.


37 posted on 02/11/2007 2:46:34 PM PST by Gillmeister
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To: Fedora

Brilliant and a keeper.

Jen


38 posted on 02/11/2007 4:47:10 PM PST by IVote2 ( God Bless our military men and women! Thank you for your service.)
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To: Fedora

Excellent work. Thank you.


39 posted on 02/12/2007 4:55:08 AM PST by Dinah Lord (fighting the Islamofascist Jihad - one keystroke at a time...)
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To: Fedora

The Libby defense team should recall Tim Russert to impeach his integrity and bias against the Bush administration as follows:



Q. Define you position as VP of the NBC Washington bureau?

Q. Does that include: meeting with other more senior executives in making decisions regarding NBC policies and procedures? What and how stories are investigated and reported? Meeting with lawyers, fact checkers, producers, investigators, reporters and others like managers and executives in developing stories?

Q. Is it the responsibility of an on air personality like you to be more thoroughly informed than the average member of the public?

Q. As host and an NBC executive don’t you have wide latitude and discretion on what makes it on the air?

Q. Please define journalistic integrity? Does that include avoiding deliberate misrepresentation? Would you say you have the highest standards of journalistic integrity?

Q. When did you first learn that V. Plame was not a covert CIA operative?



Fitzgerald: Objection. The Q is outside the scope of your Honor’s limitations as to what can be admissible in this proceeding.



Wells: Your honor, the witness opened the door to this line of questioning and I intend to impeach his sworn testimony.



Judge: Objection overruled.



Q. You previously testified that you appear on air nearly every Sunday, 2-3 times a week on the Today show, periodically on Imus and on various other venues, correct?

Q. Between the dates of xx/xx/xxxx and yy/yy/yyyy, how many times did you refer to V. Plame as a covert employee or CIA operative?

Q. Did you ever submit that observation to fact checking?

Q. When did you become aware of a friend of the court brief submitted by numerous news organizations (including NBC?) stating that the NYT reporter should be released because there was no crime as Plame was not an operative nor covert?

Q. Were you present when the decision to file this brief was discussed? Did you participate? Were you consulted? Did any reporter or fact checker point this out to you ever? Are you aware that NBC lawyer Xxxxxxxxxxx says you were present?

Q. How is it credible that you were not aware of this brief?

Q. Let me take you back to your previous testimony that you were not biased against the administration. How could you make XX references to something you knew to be factually incorrect unless you were biased?

Q. How many times did you challenge others who referred to Plame as covert or an operative?

Q. How could you claim to have an ounce of journalistic integrity to make XX references to something you knew to be factually incorrect?



Q. Are you selectively remembering what you want to remember but not recall what you don’t want to recall?

Q. Why should anything you have testified to be believed?


40 posted on 02/12/2007 6:02:15 AM PST by VA Voter
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To: Fedora
Prodigious work. You have my respect and thanks but frankly I now have a headache.

The pardon so infuriated Justice lawyers who had worked on the case that the Southern District promptly launched an investigation into whether the pardon had been "proper." One former prosecutor we spoke to described the Rich case as "the single most rancorous case in the history of the Southern District."
Whatever happened to this investigation?

41 posted on 02/12/2007 1:12:46 PM PST by thegreatbeast (Avenge Curt Weldon!)
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bookmark


42 posted on 02/12/2007 2:38:19 PM PST by federal
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To: Fedora

Fantastic! Is there any way to get a link to this or a copy to Libby's lawyers? Perhaps kristinn could help.


43 posted on 02/12/2007 3:43:18 PM PST by WVNan
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To: VA Voter

I think it'd be pretty easy to establish reasonable doubt about Russert's credibility.


44 posted on 02/12/2007 5:52:47 PM PST by Fedora
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To: WVNan

Thanks! I'm sure anything of value to them will be brought to their attention, though I imagine most of it falls outside the narrow scope of the trial per se.


45 posted on 02/12/2007 5:56:26 PM PST by Fedora
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To: Fedora

Bookmark........thanks Fedora!


46 posted on 02/12/2007 6:00:44 PM PST by Magnolia
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To: Fedora

Fedora, have you seen this?  

Masterful summation of Plame situation   Clarice Feldman   2-11-07

The anonymous author who uses the pen name Fedora has done a masterful job of summing up the Plame case. Everything you wanted to know is found here.

47 posted on 02/12/2007 8:18:51 PM PST by windchime (I consider the left one of the fronts on the WOT.)
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To: Fedora

mark to read later


48 posted on 02/12/2007 8:31:16 PM PST by eyespysomething
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To: Bahbah; Txsleuth; STARWISE; Howlin

Ping and later read


49 posted on 02/12/2007 10:32:40 PM PST by Mo1 ( http://www.gohunter08.com)
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To: windchime

Thanks! Yes, I have seen that.


50 posted on 02/12/2007 10:42:58 PM PST by Fedora
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