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Editor, The Konformist
Leak Investigation: The Russert Deal What It Reveals
Aug. 1 issue - A deal that special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald cut
last year for NBC "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert's testimony may
shed light on the emerging White House defense in the Valerie Plame
leak case. The agreement between Fitzgerald and NBC avoided a court
fight over a subpoena for Russert's testimony about his July 2003
talk with Dick Cheney's top aide, Lewis (Scooter) Libby. The deal
was not, as many assumed, for Russert's testimony about what Libby
told him: it focused on what Russert told Libby. An NBC statement
last year said Russert did not know of Plame, wife of ex-ambassador
Joseph Wilson, or that she worked at the CIA, and "he did not
provide that information to Libby."
This now appears significant: in pursuing Russert's testimony,
Fitzgerald was testing statements by White House aidesreportedly
including Libbythat they learned about Wilson's wife from
reporters, not classified documents. Libby's lawyer did not respond
to requests for comment. A source close to Karl Rove, who requested
anonymity because the FBI asked participants not to comment
publicly, says the White House aidewho passed info about Wilson's
wife to Time's Matt Cooperonly knew about her CIA job from either a
reporter or "somebody" who heard it from a reporter; he can't
remember which or who. Rove did not initially discuss his talk with
Cooper with the FBI, but later volunteered info about it and called
agents' attention to a subpoenaed e-mail he had written to national-
security aide Stephen Hadley mentioning the conversation, the source
The emerging White House defense is important in light of recent
attention on a classified State Department memo that had key info
about Wilson's wife. The memo, dated June 10, 2003, was labeled top
secret at the top of the first page; a paragraph referring
to "Valerie Wilson" at the CIA had the letters snf in front of it,
for "Secret No Foreign," meaning the info is secret and can't be
shared with any foreign national, says a government official who
reviewed it but asked not to be identified because of the
sensitivity of the material. The memo was taken by Secretary of
State Colin Powell aboard Air Force One during a trip to Africa in
July 2003, and Fitzgerald has questioned White House aides about who
saw it. Fitzgerald has been said to be investigating whether any
aides violated the 1982 Intelligence Identities Protection Actwhich
makes it a felony to disclose the identity of a covert CIA employee:
it requires showing the violator knew the agent's undercover status.
(The State memo makes no reference to that.) But the CIA's
initial "crimes report" to the Justice Department requesting the
leak probe never mentioned that law, says a former government
official who requested anonymity because of the confidential
material involved. Fitzgerald may be looking at other laws barring
the disclosure of classified info or the possibility that current or
former White House aides made false statements or obstructed
CIA Leak Case By the Numbers
Number of days after the article outing Ambassador Wilson's wife
appeared that the White House required its staff to turn over
evidence relating to the leak: 85
Approximate hours between then-White House Counsel Alberto
Gonzalez's advance notification to White House Chief of Staff Andy
Card that he would require staff to turn over evidence relating to
the case and formal notification to staff of that requirement: 12
Minimum number of times an Administration official leaked classified
information about the identity of Ambassador Wilson's wife: 11
Minimum number of times after the beginning of the Justice
Department's investigation that White House Press Secretary Scott
McClellan claimed Karl Rove was not involved: 5
Number of press conferences since evidence linking Karl Rove to the
leak was made public where Press Secretary McClellan has refused to
comment on the case, citing an ongoing criminal investigation: 7
Minimum number of hearings held by Senate Republicans to investigate
accusations against President Clinton involving the "Whitewater"
Total hearings held by Senate Republicans to investigate the leak of
the covert identity of Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife: 0
Bush Aide Learned Early of Leaks Probe
By Dafna Linzer
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, July 25, 2005; A02
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales said yesterday that he spoke
with White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. immediately after
learning that the Justice Department had launched a criminal
investigation into the leak of a CIA operative's identity. But
Gonzales, who was White House counsel at the time, waited 12 hours
before officially notifying the rest of the staff of the inquiry.
Many details of the investigation led by special prosecutor Patrick
J. Fitzgerald are unknown. Sources close to the case have said
Fitzgerald is looking into possible conflicts between what President
Bush's senior adviser Karl Rove and vice presidential staff chief I.
Lewis "Scooter" Libby told a grand jury, and the accounts of
reporters who spoke with the two men.
Gonzales said yesterday on "Fox News Sunday" that he is among the
group of top current and former Bush administration officials who
have testified to the grand jury about the unmasking of Valerie
Plame, a CIA operative. Gonzales, who has recused himself from the
case, would not discuss details of his testimony but said he learned
about Plame's work from newspaper accounts.
In the New York Times yesterday, columnist Frank Rich reported that
when Gonzales was notified about the investigation on the evening of
Monday, Sept. 29, 2003, he waited 12 hours before telling the White
House staff about the inquiry. Official notification to staff is
meant to quickly alert anyone who may have pertinent records to make
sure they are preserved and safeguarded.
Asked on CBS's "Face the Nation" about the report, Gonzales said the
Justice Department had informed his office around 8 p.m. and that
White House lawyers said he could wait until the next morning before
notifying the staff. He did not say why he called Card.
"I specifically had our lawyers go back to the Department of Justice
lawyers and ask them, 'Do you want us to notify the staff now,
immediately, or would it be okay to notify the staff early in the
morning?' And we were advised, go ahead and notify the staff early
in the morning, that would be okay." He said most of the staff had
left by the time the Justice Department called and that "no one knew
about the investigation."
But he acknowledged telling one person: "the chief of staff. And
immediately the next morning, I told the president. And shortly
thereafter, there was notification sent out to all the members of
the White House staff," Gonzales said.
Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), appearing on the same program,
questioned why Gonzales would not have notified the staff
immediately by e-mail and suggested that Fitzgerald now pursue
whether Card may have given anyone in the White House advance notice
to prepare for a criminal investigation.
"The real question now is, who did the chief of staff speak to? Did
the chief of staff pick up the phone and call Karl Rove? Did the
chief of staff pick up the phone and call anybody else?" Biden asked.
The case centers on the White House response in the days after July
6, 2003, when former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV accused the Bush
administration of twisting intelligence on Iraq's weapons arsenal to
justify war. In an op-ed piece, Wilson wrote that the government
sent him to Niger to investigate assertions that Iraq had tried to
acquire materials there for a nuclear weapon and that he had
reported back, before the war, that no proof had been found to
support the allegations.
Eight days after Wilson's article appeared, Robert D. Novak
published a syndicated column suggesting that the administration did
not take Wilson's findings seriously and noting that Wilson's wife --
Plame -- was a CIA operative who had suggested him for the trip.
After accusations that someone in the administration had jeopardized
an operative's cover in political retaliation, the Justice
Department appointed Fitzgerald in December 2003 to investigate.
Asked on CBS why he did not investigate the leak when it first
became public, Gonzales said: "This is the kind of issue that I felt
that we should wait and see whether or not there would be some kind
of criminal investigation. And of course, there was."
The 12-hour gap is worse than you think
Posted By Carpetbagger On 25th July 2005
The Carpetbagger Report:
Yesterday, the New York Times' Frank Rich reminded a lot of the
political world that there was lengthy gap between when the Plame
investigation began and when the White House started preserving
documents related to the probe. My concern, however, is that the gap
is even worse than Rich made it out to be.
As White House counsel, [Alberto Gonzales] was the one first
notified that the Justice Department, at the request of the C.I.A.,
had opened an investigation into the outing of Joseph Wilson's wife.
That notification came at 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 29, 2003, but it took
Mr. Gonzales 12 more hours to inform the White House staff that it
must "preserve all materials" relevant to the investigation. This 12-
hour delay, he has said, was sanctioned by the Justice Department,
but since the department was then run by John Ashcroft, a Bush
loyalist who refused to recuse himself from the Plame case,
inquiring Senate Democrats would examine this 12-hour delay as
closely as an 18½-minute tape gap.
"Every good prosecutor knows that any delay could give a culprit
time to destroy the evidence," said Senator Charles Schumer,
correctly, back when the missing 12 hours was first revealed almost
two years ago. A new Gonzales confirmation process now would have
quickly devolved into a neo-Watergate hearing. Mr. Gonzales was in
the thick of the Plame investigation, all told, for 16 months.
As much as I appreciate Rich bringing the 12-hour-gap question back
to the forefront, his characterization was understating the case.
On Friday, Sept. 26, 2003, the CIA directed the Justice Department
to launch a criminal probe into the leak. Three days later, on
Monday, Sept. 29, 2003, the WH counsel's office was formally
notified about the investigation. And then 12 hours after that,
Gonzales told White House staff to preserve materials. In other
words, the amount of time Bush aides were given to, perhaps, discard
and destroy relevant evidence after the DoJ began its work wasn't
just 12 hours; it was several days.
It's not as if the Gonzales notification on the morning of
Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2003 told Rove & Co. something new. MSNBC told
the world about the investigation that Friday night. This means Rove
& Co. learned on Friday night that they were being investigated, but
weren't formally told to start securing relevant materials until
Tuesday morning. In case the MSNBC report wasn't clear enough, a
front-page article was published in the Washington Post about the
Justice Department's criminal investigation a full 48 hours before
WH staffers were told to preserve potentially incriminating
There are new questions about when Gonzales told WH Chief of Staff
Andy Card about the investigation, but this seems largely
irrelevant. Card and the rest of the Bush gang didn't need word from
the WH counsel's office on Sept. 29, 2003, to know that an
investigation was underway; they, like the rest of us, learned about
the probe days before hand.
The Bush gang didn't have 12 hours to cover their tracks they had
a whole weekend.
It's also important to note that Rich's discussion of the 12-hour
gap, while important, isn't new. Senate Dems tried to raise hell
about this two years ago, but no one in Congress, the
administration, or in the media listened.
I appreciate Patrick Fitzgerald's reputation and believe him to be a
credible prosecutor, who appears to have run a fair and thorough
investigation. That's not the problem here. The question is whether
Fitzgerald's probe has had access to all the information it should
As Sens. Daschle, Biden, Levin, and Schumer said in October
2003, "We are at risk of seeing this investigation so compromised
that those responsible for this national security breach will never
be identified and prosecuted."
A scary prospect, indeed.
Judy Miller: Do We Want To Know Everything or Don't We?
By Arianna Huffington, AlterNet
Posted on July 29, 2005
Not everyone in the Times building is on the same page when it comes
to Judy Miller. The official story the paper is sticking to is that
Miller is a heroic martyr, sacrificing her freedom in the name of
But a very different scenario is being floated in the halls. Here it
is: It's July 6, 2003, and Joe Wilson's now famous op-ed piece
appears in the Times, raising the idea that the Bush administration
has "manipulate[d]" and "twisted" intelligence "to exaggerate the
Iraqi threat." Miller, who has been pushing this manipulated,
twisted, and exaggerated intel in the Times for months, goes
ballistic. Someone is using the pages of her own paper to call into
question the justification for the war -- and, indirectly, much of
her reporting. The idea that intelligence was being fixed goes to
the heart of Miller's credibility. So she calls her friends in the
intelligence community and asks, Who is this guy? She finds out he's
married to a CIA agent. She then passes on the info about Mrs.
Wilson to Scooter Libby (Newsday has identified a meeting Miller had
on July 8 in Washington with an "unnamed government official").
Maybe Miller tells Rove too -- or Libby does. The White House
hatchet men turn around and tell Novak and Cooper. The story gets
This is why Miller doesn't want to reveal her "source" at the White
House -- because she was the source. Sure, she first got the info
from someone else, and the odds are she wasn't the only one who
clued in Libby and/or Rove (the State Dept. memo likely played a
role too)... but, in this scenario, Miller certainly wasn't an
innocent writer caught up in the whirl of history. She had a
starring role in it. This also explains why Miller never wrote a
story about Plame, because her goal wasn't to write a story, but to
get out the story that cast doubts on Wilson's motives. Which Novak
This version of events has divided the Times into two camps: those
who want to learn everything about this story, and those who want to
learn everything as long as it doesn't downgrade the heroic status
of their "colleague" Judy Miller. And then there are the
schizophrenics. Frank Rich is spending his summer in the second
camp, while at the same time writing some of the most powerful and
brilliant stuff about the scandal: "This case is about Iraq, not
Niger. The real victims are the American people, not the Wilsons.
The real culprit...is not Mr. Rove but the gang that sent American
sons and daughters to war on trumped up grounds... That's why the
stakes are so high: this scandal is about the unmasking of an ill-
But this unmasking -- if it is to be complete -- has to include Judy
Miller and the part she played in the mess in Iraq. Of course, the
division over Miller is nothing new... it predates her
transformation into media martyr by many months. For an early look
at this rift, check out Howard Kurtz' May 2003 reporting on the way
Miller ferociously fought to keep Ahmad Chalabi, her top source on
WMD, to herself and the anger it caused at the paper. And also the
paper's extraordinary mea culpa from May 2004, in which its editors
admitted that the Times' reporting on Iraq "was not as rigorous as
it should have been" -- yet steadfastly refused to even mention the
less-than-rigorous reporter whose byline appeared on 4 of the 6
stories the editors singled out as being particularly egregious. "It
looks," the Times' public admission concluded, "as if we, along with
the administration, were taken in." And yet just two months earlier,
Times Executive Editor Bill Keller called Miller, who was one of the
main reporters "taken in," a "smart, well-sourced, industrious and
fearless reporter." Nothing about her less than "rigorous"
reporting. Nothing about her reliance on Chalabi being less
Any discussion of Miller's actions in the Plame-Rove-Libby-Gonzalez-
Card scandal must not leave out the key role she played in
cheerleading for the invasion of Iraq and in hyping the WMD threat.
Re-reading some of her pre-war reporting today, it's hard not to be
disgusted by how inaccurate and pumped up it turned out to be. For
chapter and verse, check out Slate's Jack Shafer . For the money
quote on her mindset, look to her April 2003 appearance on The
NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, where, following up on her blockbuster
front page story about an Iraqi scientist and his claims that Iraq
had destroyed all its WMD just before the war started, Miller said
the scientist was more than a "smoking gun," he was the "silver
bullet" in the hunt for WMD. The "silver bullet" later turned out to
be another blank -- and the scientist turned out to be a military
Amazingly, however, even as her reporting has been debunked -- and
her sources discredited -- Miller has steadfastly refused to
apologize for her role in misleading the public in the lead up to
the war. Indeed, in an interview with the author of Bush's Brain ,
James Moore, she, in the words of Moore, "remained righteously
indignant, unwilling to accept that she had goofed in the grandest
of fashions," telling him: "I was proved fucking right."
As recently as March 2005, in an appearance at Berkeley, she
stubbornly refused to express regret. Indeed, she showed that she
shares a key attitude with the Bush administration: an unwillingness
to admit mistakes when faced with new realities. She even compared
herself to the president, saying that she was getting the same
information he was getting... and suggested that since he hadn't
apologized, why should she? Maybe she's angling for the Tenet
treatment: promote faulty intel, get a Medal of Freedom. Miller also
echoed the words of Don Rumsfeld ("You go to war with the Army you
have") when she justified her flawed reporting on WMD by saying "You
go with what you've got." Really? Wouldn't it be better to wait
until what you've got is right?
It's nice that Bill Keller is visiting Judy in jail giving updates
about how hard this is for her, having to be away from her family
and friends. But it would be even nicer if we'd had some
acknowledgement from Miller of her complicity in sending 138,000
American soldiers away from their family and friends. And, unlike
Miller, they won't be returning home in October. Indeed, as of
today, 1,785 of them won't be returning home at all.
This story gets deeper with every twist and revelation, including
the reminder (via Podhoretz) that Fitzgerald had a previous run in
with Miller over her actions in a national security case, and the
speculation (via Jeralyn at TalkLeft) that Fitzgerald is considering
seeking to put Miller under criminal contempt, rather than the civil
contempt she's now under.
But one thing is inescapable: Miller -- intentionally or
unintentionally -- worked hand in glove in helping the White House
propaganda machine (for a prime example, check out this Newsweek
story on how the aluminum tubes tall tale went from a government
source to Miller to page one of the New York Times to Cheney and
Rice going on the Sunday shows to confirm the story to Bush pushing
that same story at the UN).
So, once again, the question arises (and you can't have it both
ways, Frank): when it comes to this scandal, do you want the truth,
the whole truth and nothing but the truth or do you want the truth --
except for what Judy Miller wants to keep to herself?
Find more Arianna at Ariannaonline.com.