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Issues Emerging in the Plame Investigation:
This New York Times story may be an important heads-up as to what is likely to happen with the Plame investigation:
  As he weighs whether to bring criminal charges in the C.I.A. leak case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special counsel, is focusing on whether Karl Rove, the senior White House adviser, and I. Lewis Libby Jr., chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, sought to conceal their actions and mislead prosecutors, lawyers involved in the case said Thursday.
  Among the charges that Mr. Fitzgerald is considering are perjury, obstruction of justice and false statement . . .
  Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have been advised that they may be in serious legal jeopardy, the lawyers said, but only this week has Mr. Fitzgerald begun to narrow the possible charges.
Justin Kee (mail):
The action may evolve into another action on the basis of;

Section 4. The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

[For revealing the identity of a covert operative of the United States could be considered];

Treason
1. Violation of allegiance toward one's country or sovereign, especially the betrayal of one's country by waging war against it or by consciously and purposely acting to aid its enemies. (OR)
2. A betrayal of trust or confidence.

The sentence of treason has traditionally been, lifetime imprisonment or death.
10.21.2005 1:53am
Proud Generation Y Slacker:
As The Onion says, the best way to deal with zombies is a Glock 17 and 50 rounds of ammunition. It's a fine piece.
10.21.2005 2:10am
llamasex (mail) (www):
I've had alot of problems with the media on this one.

1. How come no one ever gets called for their shit? When this thing started we had scores of people coming out saying Plame wasn't a Covert Agent... There was no crime... This is all smoke. We now know all that was BS, yet these same people are brought back on to comment on the same story they got so wrong, without the past ever being brought up.

2. How is it with all the media people involved Russert, Matthews, Miller, and some others. None of them will come out and say what the hell is going on. Isn't that their job, the whole thing is confusing enough with the media hiding what they know from the public. Also they play it like they don't have a role in the story when clearly they do

3. Sort of relating to one, how long is the press going to keep letting themselves get burned by anonymous sources feeding them false information. How many reported false leads did Rove's lawyer throw out there to be picked up on?

4. Get serious with the White House. The press conference stuff back and forth is cute at times, but I never see it accomplish anything. The press seems unable to demand answers. Perhaps they should start colluding, unionizing, or at least leveraging themselves to at least get to ask a followup to the president or whoever (aside from Scottie) when their question is dodged.
10.21.2005 2:18am
Anderson (mail) (www):
Disappointing if the underlying offense turns out not to be an offense or is otherwise not indictable.

But we have little reason to know how much to trust these "sources," until Fitzgerald does something.
10.21.2005 2:32am
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
Could it be that the New York Times, noted for being the Bush Administration's Number One fan and for its recent accolades for accuracy in reporting, is attempting to apply pressure to Fitzgerald to actually bring charges?
10.21.2005 3:27am
Proud Generation Y Slacker:
I've had alot of problems with the media on this one.

I've had a lot too.

1. How come no one ever gets called for their shit?

I know, like Joe Wilson for lying about Cheney, lying about getting recommended by his wife, and lying about his visit debunking reports of Iraq's uranium-seeking; or Valerie and the CIA letting Joe write that column; or the reporter establishment that demanded an investigation and was then shocked, shocked that a reporter might have to testify; or the media for relying entirely on unauthorized, anonymous leaks for its information about an investigation of a leak.

In this thing started we had scores of people coming out saying Plame wasn't a Covert Agent...

Of course, they may be right. There's an objective legal test for that. We don't take the CIA's word for it. I thought your type didn't like the CIA.

2. How is it with all the media people involved Russert, Matthews, Miller, and some others. None of them will come out and say what the hell is going on. Isn't that their job, the whole thing is confusing enough with the media hiding what they know from the public. Also they play it like they don't have a role in the story when clearly they do

Yep, I agree. Like when the New York Times reported on the great mystery of Miller's source when it knew exactly what was going on.

3. Sort of relating to one, how long is the press going to keep letting themselves get burned by anonymous sources feeding them false information.

They did stop listening to Joe Wilson, so I guess they learn sometimes.

4. Get serious with the White House. The press conference stuff back and forth is cute at times, but I never see it accomplish anything. The press seems unable to demand answers.

I know. Helen really should cancel here weekly book club meeting with George, Laura, Karl, and Scott, and start getting serious.
10.21.2005 3:28am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Interesting. Rove and Libby ready to be hauled off in handcuffs. No one quoted directly. All the information is apparently coming from the lawyers, though no suggestion is made of whose lawyers are talking. And, needless to say, it is all anonymous. There is no indication that any of this is coming from Fitzgerald or his staff.

Yet if you read the article carefully, I see little evidence presented (as yet) that would support an indictment of either. Rove's offense seems to be that, according to the NYT, he was immediately forthcoming with all of his conversations on the subject.

And Libby's? The NYT isn't quite sure, but does seem to be ignoring the latest revelations concerning his discussion by its very own reporter, Judith Miller, where he apparently mistakenly tells her (or she tells him) that "Flame" (misspelled) worked for "Winpac" (Winpac stood for Weapons Intelligence, Non-Proliferation, and Arms Control, the name of a unit within the C.I.A. that, among other things, analyzes the spread of unconventional weapons). Note though that Winpac is/was an organization on the analyst side of the CIA, when it turns out that she still actually worked on the operative side of the agency. These two facts seem to imply, at least to me, that Libby, at least at that point, was not operating on classified information.

Rereading Judith Miller's NYT article from five days ago, what jumps out at me is that what this case really revolves around is a battle between the CIA and the Administration over who was responsible for the botched pre-invasion Iraqi WMD estimates. Libby apparently was quite incensed that the CIA at that point was trying to backpeddle from its pre-war WMD stance, leaving the Administration out to dry there, after it had relied on CIA estimates.

The other thing that apparently incensed esp. Libby and his boss, Cheney, was that Wilson was using the VP's office as his excuse for going, yet they had never apparently specifically requested it and they had never received a specific response concerning the trip. In other words, the entire trip happened within the bowells of the CIA, and had not trickled up even to the director's (Tenet) attention.
10.21.2005 4:32am
snead16 (mail):
Rove and Libby, if indicted for obstruction, perjury, or making false statements, will have been charged for following Richard Nixon's legal advice caught on his Oval Office taping system.

He was heard coaching aides at the height of the Watergate investigation on how to stonewall a grand jury: "You can say 'I don't remember.' You can say 'I can't recall' (or) 'I can't give any answer to that.'"

Nixon's theory being that a prosecutor should not be able to prove someone is lying when they say, "I don't remember."

Maybe that will be put to the test.
10.21.2005 6:26am
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
One of the most unnerving things about the Plame Affair for me has been the number of Bush supporters who are willing to claim that it doesn't matter that a senior member of the Bush administration outed a covert CIA agent - because they think her husband's a liar.

The evidence that Joseph Wilson has been lying about Cheney or about Niger is shaky to non-existent, but never mind that: even if we supposed that Wilson had been telling lies, outing his wife's covert identity as revenge for those "lies" would still be a scummy thing to do; it is a vile form of revenge even if it turns out no indictable offense was committed.
10.21.2005 7:58am
Cecilius:
Strange, Jesurgislac. I don't recall any Bush supporters claiming that it was okay to commit a crime because Joe Wilson can't tell the truth. Perhaps you could give us a few quotes. The evidence that Wilson lied about the affair, however, was provided by his own testimony to the Intelligence Committee. As far as outing the wife, it doesn't sound much like revenge when reporters ask who volunteered Wilson for the trip and the White House responds truthfully. Especially since Wilson lied about who asked him to go. It's hard to get worked up about the whole affair unless you can't distinguish between reality and fantasy.
10.21.2005 8:32am
deadrody:
I don't agree that the claims should be dismissed because Wilson lied.

However...

There's no evidence he lied ? How about the Senate Intelligence Committee report that concludes exactly that ?
10.21.2005 8:34am
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Cecilius: I don't recall any Bush supporters claiming that it was okay to commit a crime because Joe Wilson can't tell the truth.

That isn't precisely what I said, you know. We will find out when Fitzgerald announces the indictments exactly what indictable offences were committed: but we already know that it's a vile thing to do, to out a covert CIA agent to take revenge on her husband.

And it is impossible not to draw the conclusion that when people comment on the outing of the CIA agent with a series of (ill-founded) accusations directed at her husband, they think that: (a) Joseph Wilson is guilty of something, and (b) outing Valerie Plame as a covert CIA agent is somehow justified by pointing to what they claim her husband did. Why else would they bother with these endless claims about Joseph Wilson, in a matter that concerns Bush administration actions against his wife?

The evidence that Wilson lied about the affair, however, was provided by his own testimony to the Intelligence Committee.

Really? Got any direct quotes from Wilson which are actual lies?
10.21.2005 8:48am
Huggy (mail):
Remember President Clinton's "I was thinking whatever makes it not perjury when I told that lie." No one cared then and no one cares now. The MSM is harping to all the feeble minded. DC/MSM establishment is self destructing and can't do anything about it.
President Bush's numbers are down because gas prices are high and other prices are following. The MSM focus on extraneous stuff insures that the President doesn't have to talk about cost-of-living. W gets to spend 200 billion Katrina dollars for the next 3 years. He ain't running for re-election.
Look for the next President to do a for-real "massive tax cut" (like JFK did after Ike). W has beat the MSM like a drum. They're just background noise like he said.
10.21.2005 9:21am
Cecilius:
Jesurgislac - From the Washington Post:

Wilson's assertions — both about what he found in Niger and what the Bush administration did with the information — were undermined yesterday in a bipartisan Senate intelligence committee report.

The panel found that Wilson's report, rather than debunking intelligence about purported uranium sales to Iraq, as he has said, bolstered the case for most intelligence analysts. And contrary to Wilson's assertions and even the government's previous statements, the CIA did not tell the White House it had qualms about the reliability of the Africa intelligence that made its way into 16 fateful words in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address.

***
The report turns a harsh spotlight on what Wilson has said about his role in gathering prewar intelligence, most pointedly by asserting that his wife, CIA employee Valerie Plame, recommended him.

***
The report states that a CIA official told the Senate committee that Plame "offered up" Wilson's name for the Niger trip, then on Feb. 12, 2002, sent a memo to a deputy chief in the CIA's Directorate of Operations saying 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." The next day, the operations official cabled an overseas officer seeking concurrence with the idea of sending Wilson, the report said.

Wilson has asserted that his wife was not involved in the decision to send him to Niger.

"Valerie had nothing to do with the matter," Wilson wrote in a memoir published this year. "She definitely had not proposed that I make the trip."

Wilson stood by his assertion in an interview yesterday, saying Plame was not the person who made the decision to send him. Of her memo, he said: "I don't see it as a recommendation to send me."

***
The report also said Wilson provided misleading information to The Washington Post last June. He said then that he concluded the Niger intelligence was based on documents that had clearly been forged because "the dates were wrong and the names were wrong."

"Committee staff asked how the former ambassador could have come to the conclusion that the 'dates were wrong and the names were wrong' when he had never seen the CIA reports and had no knowledge of what names and dates were in the reports," the Senate panel said. Wilson told the panel he may have been confused and may have "misspoken" to reporters. The documents — purported sales agreements between Niger and Iraq — were not in U.S. hands until eight months after Wilson made his trip to Niger.

Wilson's reports to the CIA added to the evidence that Iraq may have tried to buy uranium in Niger, although officials at the State Department remained highly skeptical, the report said.


Sorry to rehash what is old news to most people. But apparently it is not news to some. And as for the "outing" of Plame, as that renowned right-wing propaganda machine, the Washington Post reports, the White House discredited Wilson to defend itself from its charges, including the claim that Cheney and Tenet sent him to Niger. Discrediting someone is usually what you're supposed to do with people who you believe are wrong. I hardly see any moral obligation by the White House to lay prostrate before its critics and refuse to defend itself from charges as serious as those Wilson made.
10.21.2005 9:44am
AppSocRes (mail):
Since the NYT has, generally speaking, gotten this story wrong from beginning to end, why bother believing this. Even if it's true, I'll still win a bottle of champagne from a liberal friend who's been frothing at the mouth over this for three years now. I bet him that Fitzgerald would not be forthcoming with any indictments other than for "perjury" and "obstruction" supposed to have occured during the grand jury proceedings. I suspect that these charges, if they are actually made, will be a face-saving measure by the prosecutor (you all know the old saw about a ham sandwich) and will peter out into nothingness over the next year or so. A total waste of time, scarce resources, and money over the unintentional revelation of the name of a CIA employee who was not undercover and who used nepotism to get her incompetent, alcoholic husband a government consulting contract, which he - as per usual performance - bungled.
10.21.2005 9:56am
thedaddy (mail):
I completely agree with Huggy.

I remember "scandal" after "scandal" that "surfaced" in the run-up to the election that were supposed to bring down Bush. --- Nada

I remember how the "pundits" were saying that Enron would bring down Bush -- Nada

I have also noted recently (certainly the last few years) that the "experts" predictions have almost universally proven incorrect.

Remember how the Taliban would suck us in like they did the English and the Russians --- Wrong!

Remember how Saddams Elite forces would bog us down and that there would be tens of thousands of American casualties if we invaded Iraq -- Wrong!

Remember how the "deficit" would be skyrocketing because of Tax Cuts -- Wrong!
Remember how Kerry would beat Bush -- Wrong!

Remember Dan Rather -- Wrong!
Remember how gasoline prices would reach $5 to $6 a gallon -- Wrong! (in my area the price has dropped 80¢ per gallon in the last few weeks I don't remember any "pundits" or "experts" making that predicition.)

Remember Ten Thousand dead in N.O. -- Wrong!

Remember the Toxic Soup that the water in N.O. had become -- Wrong!

Remember the Anthrax Scare and how we had to prepare for a massive anthrax attack -- Wrong!

I could go on and on but that would just be beating a dead horse.

There are no experts in the press and especially not on television any more (if there were ever any at all) only bloviators which I must say seems to be the description that fits most (not all) commentators in this comment section and from reading most of the posters to the blog I would have to come to the same conclusion about them also

thedaddy.
10.21.2005 10:01am
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Cecilius: So, you are unable to provide any direct quotes from Wilson that have actually been established to be lies, or you prefer not to, instead providing a quote from a news story that says Wilson lied without actually quoting anything he said?

Because what I asked was: Got any direct quotes from Wilson which are actual lies? - and I assumed that you would either provide them, or acknowledge you didn't have them.

And as for the "outing" of Plame, as that renowned right-wing propaganda machine, the Washington Post reports, the White House discredited Wilson to defend itself from its charges, including the claim that Cheney and Tenet sent him to Niger. Discrediting someone is usually what you're supposed to do with people who you believe are wrong.

Interesting. So you do believe - which is, as I said in my initial comment, rather unnerving - that it doesn't matter that a senior member of the Bush administration outed a covert CIA agent because they think her husband's a liar. Indeed, you appear to think that such vile behavior is justified because it was done as revenge on the agent's husband.

It really is unnerving, you know, that you put loyalty to the Bush administration above loyalty to your country's security services.
10.21.2005 10:11am
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Cecilius: So, you are unable to provide any direct quotes from Wilson that have actually been established to be lies, or you prefer not to, instead providing a quote from a news story that says Wilson lied without actually quoting anything he said?

Because what I asked was: Got any direct quotes from Wilson which are actual lies? - and I assumed that you would either provide them, or acknowledge you didn't have them.

And as for the "outing" of Plame, as that renowned right-wing propaganda machine, the Washington Post reports, the White House discredited Wilson to defend itself from its charges, including the claim that Cheney and Tenet sent him to Niger. Discrediting someone is usually what you're supposed to do with people who you believe are wrong.

Interesting. So you do believe - which is, as I said in my initial comment, rather unnerving - that it doesn't matter that a senior member of the Bush administration outed a covert CIA agent because they think her husband's a liar. Indeed, you appear to think that such vile behavior is justified because it was done as revenge on the agent's husband.

It really is unnerving, you know, that you put loyalty to the Bush administration above loyalty to your country's security services.
10.21.2005 10:11am
Cecilius:
Jesurgislac:
Wilson has made several statements on talk shows and in op-eds that were well summarized in the Post article. If you'd like to spend hours on Lexis-Nexis finding transcripts of those shows, be my guest. Interestingly, you never disputed the accuracy of the Post article, the Committee's Report or that Wilson lied on several subjects; you simply demand direct quotes. Go find them yourself. Then maybe you can articulate how Wilson has any credibility to even give someone accurate directions to the bathroom.

As for your other point, you assume far too much. Plame does not appear to be a covert CIA agent. That makes it awfully hard to condone a crime when there's scant evidence that one was committed. Yet, you simply assume as an article of almost religious faith, that a crime occurred. Have any of your beloved direct quotes to back this up? Thought not. In responding to reporters' questions on who sent Wilson to Niger, the White House took no more "revenge" against him than I took "revenge" against you by quoting the Washington Post article above - we both simply provided facts that refuted the other side's claims. This is called civilized debate. It may take you some time for you to get used to it, but I urge you to keep trying.
10.21.2005 10:35am
RBG (mail):
Wow, Jesurgislac, liberals have come a long way since the 1970s, haven't they? From active disdain for the country's security services to holding them in higher regard than the popularly elected government of the country--an impressive switch; then again, it fits with the chicken-hawk argument that all too easily blurs the triumph of civilian control of the military that characterizes our system.

Faced with a conflict between an elected government and an unruly security service that carries its conflicts with that government into the op-ed pages of the nation's newspapers, I'll favor the former, regardless of the party of the administration in power--thank you very much. On the other hand, I look forward to your explanation of why the CIA's undermining of democratic third world governments back in the 70s was NOT such a bad thing after all.
10.21.2005 10:36am
Anon7:
From the Washington Post:

And there is your key mistake, Cecilius, relying on a news report rather than the actual document. The Post reporter confused the committee report with a separate minority report signed by only three Republican members.
10.21.2005 10:48am
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Interestingly, you never disputed the accuracy of the Post article, the Committee's Report or that Wilson lied on several subjects; you simply demand direct quotes.

Well, yes. I note you haven't quoted directly from the Committee's Report: I won't waste my time trying to figure out if the Post's article is accurate or White House-inspired spin; you insist that you know Wilson lied, and I invite you to provide direct quotes of Wilson lying. I don't demand you do this, and I apologise if my tone gave you the impression that I do. I consider Joseph Wilson to have been much, and unfairly, maligned, but even if I agreed with you about his veracity, I would still think that it is vile for someone senior in the Bush administration to out a covert CIA agent - and especially if they did it to take revenge on her husband.

Plame does not appear to be a covert CIA agent.

Well, no, she certainly isn't now. Bob Novak outed her, remember? And then the CIA took their complaint about this breach of national security to the Justice Department. That was 26 September 2003. If - as you assert - Valerie Plame was not a covert CIA agent, but was openly employed by the CIA, I really doubt that it would have taken over two years to establish that the Justice Department have no case against any of those involved in the leak or the subsequent cover-up because Plame's identity as an Agency operative was never a matter of national security.

However, we will presumably soon find out as the indictments come down, so I don't mind if you want to keep hoping that she wasn't.

Faced with a conflict between an elected government and an unruly security service that carries its conflicts with that government into the op-ed pages of the nation's newspapers, I'll favor the former, regardless of the party of the administration in power--thank you very much.

Joseph Wilson is not an employee of US security services, and never has been: and Valerie Plame, who is, has never published an op-ed on any subject, that I'm aware of. It would appear that you are also in favor of penalizing Plame because Wilson exercised the right of any US citizen to criticize the current administration. And the current administration plainly does not like being criticized.

I'm no fan of the CIA, or of its activities. But that doesn't mean I think their covert operatives deserve to be betrayed by the current administration for such petty partisan reasons. I have no idea if Valerie Plame was one of the CIA operatives involved in the horrifying US attacks on democratic governments in the 1970s and 1980s: but she wasn't outed because of her own actions as a CIA operative, but because her husband was publicly critical of public administration actions. That's scummy.
10.21.2005 10:57am
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Sorry - the second quote in my comment, "Faced with the conflict..." was taken from RBG's comment, not from Cecilius.
10.21.2005 10:59am
Cecilius:
Anon7: Please review pages 36-83 of the July 7, 2004 Select Committee on Intelligence Report. These are the pages discrediting Wilson. They are in the body of the main report, not in the Additional Views section.

As for Jesurgislac, he would do well to read those pages as well. I will not write a book report complete with direct quotes simply because he has closed his eyes to the evidence on the subject. Yet, it does not appear that this, or any other evidence against Wilson, will ever sway him. Nor will the complete absence of evidence that a crime was committed. That Wilson is a courageous whistleblower spitting into the face of a monstrous and evil goliath out for revenge appears to be a foregone conclusion in many minds. For Jesurgislac and too many others, liberalism (or perhaps just pathological hatred of the Bush Administration) has become almost a religious cult. Arguing that (1) Plame was not a covert agent under the law; (2) Wilson lied about what he found; (3) he got caught lying; and (4) the White House was justified in pointing out that Plame and not Tenet or Cheney sent him to Niger, by using the available evidence, seems to be about as fruitful as arguing against the Virgin birth. And if I keep trying anyway, then as Jesurgislac implies, I must not love my country very much.
10.21.2005 11:15am
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Cecilius:: Yet, it does not appear that this, or any other evidence against Wilson, will ever sway him.

Well, actually, no. I did tell you what would "sway" me, you just haven't provided it. You want me to believe Joseph Wilson's been lying: quote me direct statements from Joseph Wilson that can be shown to be lies. Now you may think that what you have shown is sufficient evidence, but you can hardly argue that "it does not appear" that "any other evidence against Wilson" will ever sway me, when I've told you what will sway me, and you haven't provided it. (Not that you have to: I'm just saying that you can't argue that no evidence will sway me, when you haven't tried to provide it.)

Anyway, as I said: it makes no difference. What matters primarily is what the Bush administration did when someone inside the Bush administration outed Valerie Plame. The vileness of that act is not affected by any allegation brought against Joseph Wilson.
10.21.2005 11:20am
corngrower:
Wow!

First. Check the law. Nothing in Plames situation has defined her as covert at the time she was outed as a ‘covert’ agent. She worked for the CIA

Second. The reporter that wrote the story ‘outing’ Plame, has avoided the spotlight. Seems a Judge can lock up a reporter that has some notes, (that are horrendously inconsistent) but not the reporter that had his writing published in the press. Of course his response after this fire storm erupted, that, ‘well everyone in the DC media knew she was a spook, but is no longer and wont be. And added that ‘ I checked with CIA before I filed my report, told them I what I was going to say regarding Wilson/Plame, and got the standard “we can neither confirm or deny” So where’s the CIA in this? They wont call the editor of the paper to stop the publication of ‘A top CIA covert operative’ (shhhhh quiet shhhh she is not a spook no more shhh) The CIA don’t care. Why should I

Third. Chenney and Scooter, got this information that isn’t…..From the media! “Hi Dick, whats up? Quick question. Joe Wilson says you sent him on a trip to Niger to figure out this yellow cake thing. Since his wife is a CIA spy, Is that why you sent him?”

“Well, ah no I did not send Joe Wilson to Niger But thanks for the heads up, I’ll look into it.”

“ Hey Scooter, It’s the VEEP here. Check out this Wilson Niger thing. And why does the press say his wife is a spook?”

Where to now?

Heres a scenario for ya. “President as the special prosecuter just a few question to warm you up. Did you license your cat when you lived in Austin?”
“I’m sure we did. I try very hard to comply with all laws.”
“Well Mr. President there is no law to require you to get a license for your cat. Care to explain why your lying?

News Flash: President LIES

How can you lie about something that is not a crime? What is being investigated here??? Outing someone that can’t be ‘outed’? And If a reporter tells you something, is it top secret or public knowledge?

Oh, and of course the best. Joe Wilson is sent to Niger. (that is what he says. It is a fact.) But, But, But, He NEVER files a report. Go crazy looking for it cause it don’t exist
10.21.2005 11:25am
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Cecilius: the White House was justified in pointing out that Plame and not Tenet or Cheney sent him to Niger, by using the available evidence

...by leaking this information to appear from unnamed sources?

If your claim above is true, what did the White House have to lose in issuing a direct statement, following the July 6 op-ed, saying "Joseph Wilson says that agency officials asked him to travel to Niger to check out the story [about the forged yellowcake documents] so they could provide a response to the vice president's office: in fact it was Wilson's wife Valerie Plame who organized the trip, and neither Tenet nor Cheney were involved."

If Valerie Plame were not a covert CIA operative, and her identity did not have to be concealed as a matter of national security, and if Wilson's trip to Niger was in fact organized by Plame and not because Cheney's office had requested the CIA to investigate "a memorandum of agreement that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake" (which was later shown to have been a clumsy forgery); then the White House would have had nothing to lose in saying so.

But they didn't. What's your explanation for why they didn't?
10.21.2005 11:31am
Jimbeaux (mail):
Being covert is still an element of the crime which has to be proved. If this woman was traveling from her home to Langley everyday (I said "if" so correct me if I'm wrong), it would be hard to prove to a jury that the CIA was actively trying to protect her "covert" status.
10.21.2005 11:32am
Anon7:
Anon7: Please review pages 36-83 of the July 7, 2004 Select Committee on Intelligence Report. These are the pages discrediting Wilson. They are in the body of the main report, not in the Additional Views section.

I read it before, and just did again. I think you need to go back and review it, because nowhere did the committee conclude that Wilson had lied.
10.21.2005 11:32am
Cecilius:
Jesurgislac:

As you say "it makes no difference." No direct quotes will make a difference. No reasoning will make a difference. No Committee Report of Wilson's own testimony will make a difference. No facts will make a difference. You are crystal clear on "what the Bush Administration did" - which means you obviously know more than the press, the public, Fitzpatrick, or the grand jury. It was truly my error in attempting to debate with an acolyte of liberalism.
10.21.2005 11:32am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
As I pointed out above, this is really a part of a much bigger dispute/debate. Who screwed up the WMD intel for Iraq right before the invasion? Was it the CIA that was tasked with this? Or was it the Administration that was so determined to go to war that it ignored the CIA?

The Judith Miller artile in the NYT on 10/16 made clear that the big problem that the Administration had with Wilson was that he was on the CIA's side here and secondly that he was attributing his trip to Niger on the VP and his office, and, given his supposedly negative findings, this made the Administration look even worse - asking for Wilson to be sent to Niger and then ignoring his advice.

The problem was that the VP's office didn't really send Wilson, but rather, someone at the CIA took it upon himself and did so, using the VP's office as justification. And then, the information was of so little import that it never made it out of the bowells of the CIA - not even making it up to Tenet.
10.21.2005 11:47am
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Cecilius: No direct quotes will make a difference.

Well, no: If you can provide a direct quote from Wilson and show that it was a lie, then yes, you have proven Wilson lied. If that's important to you, go for it.

You are crystal clear on "what the Bush Administration did"

Well, there are some things we know for sure, and more things we don't know for sure.

This we can be certain of:

1. Valerie Plame was undercover. (If she was not, the entire case falls to the ground, and I think we can conclude that it has not.)

2. Someone senior in the Bush administration told Novak, and other journalists, that Plame worked for the CIA.

3. Their motivation for doing so was to punish Joseph Wilson.

4. Leaking Plame's identity to journalists so recklessly for such a partisan and petty reason was a vile act, and whoever did it is scum.

What we don't know for sure is:

1. Who did it.

2. Who knew who was going to do it before it was done.

3. Who knew who did it after it was done.

4. Precisely what offense the people from 1, 2, and 3 can be charged with.

5. Whether they will be found guilty on those charges.

Direct quotes that might make a difference:

"If there's a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is...If the person has violated law, that person will be taken care of. I welcome the investigation. I am absolutely confident the Justice Department will do a good job. I want to know the truth...Leaks of classified information are bad things." (George W. Bush, February 2004)

ROBERTS: Do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have done so? [who leaked the agent's name]
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. (Bush, June 2004)

"I would like this to end as quickly as possible so we know the facts and if someone committed a crime they will no longer work in my administration." (Bush, July 2005)

If Valerie Plame's identity as a covert CIA agent was not classified information, what's your explanation why Bush seems to think it is?
10.21.2005 11:53am
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Bruce Hayden: The problem was that the VP's office didn't really send Wilson, but rather, someone at the CIA took it upon himself and did so, using the VP's office as justification.

Or, as Wilson put it: "In February 2002, I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney's office had questions about a particular intelligence report. While I never saw the report, I was told that it referred to a memorandum of agreement that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake — a form of lightly processed ore — by Niger to Iraq in the late 1990's. The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president's office." At the end of the op-ed, Wilson says "The vice president's office asked a serious question. I was asked to help formulate the answer. I did so, and I have every confidence that the answer I provided was circulated to the appropriate officials within our government." link

In short, Wilson says that the V-P's office asked a question of the CIA, and the CIA asked Wilson to go check it out. Wilson does not know what the CIA did with the information he provided, but he said he presumes that as the office of the vice-president had asked, the "standard operating procedure" would have been "a specific answer from the agency to the office of the vice president (this may have been delivered orally)."
10.21.2005 12:00pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
...and again, why does anyone here think it matters whether or not Wilson was telling the truth in his op-ed, when the real issue is why someone senior inside the Bush administration responded to the op-ed by leaking the covert identity of Wilson's wife?
10.21.2005 12:01pm
Crash:
Jesurgislac,

Where in any of those Bush quotes does he say that he thinks her identity was classified? He says that "if" someone has committed a crime, then he wants to fire that person. Determining whether or not her identity was classified is a pretty important part of figuring out whether or not a crime was committed.

I don't know why we should assume that this case won't "fall to the ground," as you say.
10.21.2005 12:10pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Jesurgislac:

Wilson may not have actually lied, just like Clinton arguably didn't lie about having sex with that woman. What he did do was to actively mislead the public.

He said:
In February 2002, I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney's office had questions about a particular intelligence report. While I never saw the report, I was told that it referred to a memorandum of agreement that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake — a form of lightly processed ore — by Niger to Iraq in the late 1990's. The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president's office.

This implies that the CIA sent him on the behest of the VP's office. But, that is not what it actually said. He did lie though about that report - as someone else pointed out, it hadn't shown up then.
I spent the next eight days drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people: current government officials, former government officials, people associated with the country's uranium business. It did not take long to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place.

Again, note the subterfuge. He was supposedly tasked with finding out whether Saddam Hussein was trying to procure nuclear materials in Niger. Yet he answers the question in his famous NYT article whether Saddam had succeeded in it. Of course they hadn't. No wonder the Senate Intelligence Committee found that his trip had actually slightly strengthened the Administration's case - because they were looking at the question actually asked.
I thought the Niger matter was settled and went back to my life. (I did take part in the Iraq debate, arguing that a strict containment regime backed by the threat of force was preferable to an invasion.) In September 2002, however, Niger re-emerged. The British government published a "white paper" asserting that Saddam Hussein and his unconventional arms posed an immediate danger. As evidence, the report cited Iraq's attempts to purchase uranium from an African country.

Then, in January, President Bush, citing the British dossier, repeated the charges about Iraqi efforts to buy uranium from Africa.

Note again the misdirection. He stated that the British believed that the threat was "immediate", and then that Bush used the British report in his January (presumably State of the Union message). But he ignores that President Bush specifically stated then that the danger was not imminent, because by then it would be too late.
Those are the facts surrounding my efforts. The vice president's office asked a serious question. I was asked to help formulate the answer. I did so, and I have every confidence that the answer I provided was circulated to the appropriate officials within our government.

And that is the crux of the matter - the CIA didn't circulate it. It apparently never even got as high as Tenet. But Wilson, by blythely assuming that it did, was actively tarring the Administration for not listening to him (when what he did say in his briefing corroborated, not contradicted, the Administration's position - if they had ever seen it, which they didn't until much, much, later).

He did similar slight of hand with his wife's role in the whole thing. At one point, before the Senate report, stated that she had not sent him to Niger. That, of course, was technically true. It was not at her grade level to authorize it. What she did do was instigate that he was the one sent, initially verbally, then via a followup memo.
10.21.2005 12:14pm
Cecilius:
Jesurgislac:

As they say, knowledge is a tricky thing. You have a lot of difficulty distinguishing between what you 'know' and what you assume without factual support.

1. Nobody seems to know whether Plame was or wasn't a covert operative, if so, then when, and whether the people discussing her identity knew that she was undercover (a requirement under the law). You're right in that, if she was not a covert agent then the case would be wrapped up in a heartbeat. And that's what has really perplexed people: why is this investigation continuing without some evidence that she was a covert agent? Eventually we will know; you, however, are content to presume it as true now.

2. Agreed.

3. The motivation in dropping Plame's name was to correctly answer a question regarding who sent Wilson to Niger. Do contestants "punish" Alex Trebec every time they get an answer right on Jeopardy? You assume that revenge or punishment was part of some underlying motive aside from providing a correct factual response because of... well, why? Your own prejudices towards those working in the Bush Administration, perhaps? Have any direct quotes from Libby or Rove on punishment or revenge? How is it "we can be certain" of these things?

4. That you "know" those in the Administration to be "vile" and "scum" is the iron-clad, impenetrable, factually impervious emotional belief around which all your other purported arguments revolve. When Wilson hijacks a mission to investigate questions of national security and transforms it into a vehicle to carry out his own personal vendetta against the Bush White House, why is it that only the factual rebuttals to his now discredited claims are "partisan and petty?" If rebutting Wilson involved breaking the law, then some other avenue would be necessary. But until new evidence arises, very little evidence (but much emotionally-driven supposition) points towards the commission of a crime. At least, certainly no evidence that you have mentioned.

As for your direct quotes, the font of all that is true in life apparently, each one is contingent on the presumption that someone committed a crime. They can all be summarized as "If someone committed a crime, then I will fire them." That is your great evidence that a crime was committed? Presumptions (what we assume) and facts (what we "know") are actually different things.
10.21.2005 12:17pm
vic:
"Rereading Judith Miller's NYT article from five days ago, what jumps out at me is that what this case really revolves around is a battle between the CIA and the Administration over who was responsible for the botched pre-invasion Iraqi WMD estimates. Libby apparently was quite incensed that the CIA at that point was trying to backpeddle from its pre-war WMD stance, leaving the Administration out to dry there, after it had relied on CIA estimates.

The other thing that apparently incensed esp. Libby and his boss, Cheney, was that Wilson was using the VP's office as his excuse for going, yet they had never apparently specifically requested it and they had never received a specific response concerning the trip. In other words, the entire trip happened within the bowells of the CIA, and had not trickled up even to the director's (Tenet) attention."


I am no lawyer, but arent there some constitutional questions involved here. That should get all of us very concerned.

Let us see.. the countries security agency, is essentialy working to undermine the elected presidency. Take it to its logical conclusion.. from J Edgar hoover to Pakistan's ISI, either scenario makes my stomach churn.

So if people within the CIA ( the cia not beureaucrats in housing and urban development) are trying to undermine the presidency. This is not treason?
10.21.2005 12:22pm
Hugh59 (mail) (www):
Jesurgislac, you are dancing around and selectively using the available information in order to avoid the obvious truth. If you were a witness on the stand, a jury would see what you are doing and your credibility would suffer.

Wilson implied many things in his NY Times guest editorial (or whatever it is called). These implications were later found to be inaccurate. Some people call this type of mis-information "lying." You don't.

Of course, there are many people out there claiming that President Bush (or members of his administration) are lying about the justifications for going to war with Iraq.

I guess two different standards exist for determining whether a statement is a "lie" or not...depending on whether your political affiliation and desire to discredit the Administration.
10.21.2005 12:23pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
...and again, why does anyone here think it matters whether or not Wilson was telling the truth in his op-ed, when the real issue is why someone senior inside the Bush administration responded to the op-ed by leaking the covert identity of Wilson's wife?

Because there is no evidence yet presented that either Rove or Libby actually knew that she was covert, then or earlier. Rather, there is evidence to the contrary, including Judith Miller's Oct. 16 NYT article that mentioned that the initials Winpac were on her notes from one of her meetings with Libby:
At that breakfast meeting, our conversation also turned to Mr. Wilson's wife. My notes contain a phrase inside parentheses: "Wife works at Winpac." Mr. Fitzgerald asked what that meant. Winpac stood for Weapons Intelligence, Non-Proliferation, and Arms Control, the name of a unit within the C.I.A. that, among other things, analyzes the spread of unconventional weapons.

I said I couldn't be certain whether I had known Ms. Plame's identity before this meeting, and I had no clear memory of the context of our conversation that resulted in this notation. But I told the grand jury that I believed that this was the first time I had heard that Mr. Wilson's wife worked for Winpac. In fact, I told the grand jury that when Mr. Libby indicated that Ms. Plame worked for Winpac, I assumed that she worked as an analyst, not as an undercover operative.
10.21.2005 12:27pm
Kory (www):
The whole thing is Clinton and Monica all over again, where sex = mentioning Joe Wilson's wife, Plame = Monica, and Joe Wilson = Lucienne Goldberg.

And it is funny how many hyprocrites there are that think that one of these two nearly identical 'scandals' was/is very serious, while the other one was/is not. Either:

A) If you think that Monicagate was a big deal because of the lying, than this should be a big deal as well since it appears that people are lying here as well.
B) If you think that Monicagate was an overreach, than you should think Plamegate is as well, since it is pretty obvious that neither of them started with actions that were crimes.
10.21.2005 12:28pm
llamasex (mail) (www):
All this Wilson lied stuff is a big straw man to fight. How is that relevant to this topic, unless you think it justifies leaking his wife's name, which I doubt anyone worth discussing this topic with thinks.
10.21.2005 12:37pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Cecilius: 1. Nobody seems to know whether Plame was or wasn't a covert operative, if so, then when, and whether the people discussing her identity knew that she was undercover (a requirement under the law). You're right in that, if she was not a covert agent then the case would be wrapped up in a heartbeat. And that's what has really perplexed people: why is this investigation continuing without some evidence that she was a covert agent?

Why are you assuming that there is no evidence that she was a covert agent?

This interests me strangely, because as we both agree, if she was not a covert agent, it seems highly unlikely that the grand jury investigation would have lasted so long. So I'm assuming - and yes, it's an assumption - that come the end of it, Fitzgerald is not going to stand up and say "Well, as Valerie Plame was never a covert CIA operative, no crime was committed when {X} leaked her name to Novak and to the other journalists."

At this point, I'm willing to wait for the indictments to find out. Are you?

The motivation in dropping Plame's name was to correctly answer a question regarding who sent Wilson to Niger.

No, not really. If what the White House wanted to say was that neither Tenet nor Cheney were directly aware that Joseph Wilson had gone to Niger to answer a question that the V-P's office had raised with the CIA, they could have said so. They did not need to out Plame's identity as a covert CIA operative in order to say that Tenet and Cheney didn't know that Wilson had gone to Niger.

The motivation in saying it was Plame - explicitly identifying Joseph Wilson's wife - was revenge, nothing else. (Has anyone actually proved it was Valerie Plame who made the decision to send Joseph Wilson to Niger to investigate this question from the V-P's office?)

Kory: since it is pretty obvious that neither of them started with actions that were crimes.

No, it's not.

Monicagate: Getting a blow-job may be a crime under some circumstances, but it can generally be presumed not to be criminal. (Tacky, certainly.) Lying about getting a blow-job is not generally regarded as a very serious offense.

The Plame Affair: When you work for the government, outing a covert CIA operative who also works for your government, may not be a crime under some circumstances, but it can generally be presumed to be criminal. Lying about it (and Rove in particular has certainly lied) is often also regarded as a criminal offense.

So I think the people who equate the two are hypocrites, as are the people who still think Monicagate was more important than the Plame Affair.
10.21.2005 12:49pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
So I'm assuming - and yes, it's an assumption - that come the end of it, Fitzgerald is not going to stand up and say "Well, as Valerie Plame was never a covert CIA operative, no crime was committed when {X} leaked her name to Novak and to the other journalists."

I should add, though, that I think it's a fairly strong assumption, and it's not just based on the fact that the investigation has been going on so long when it could have ended pretty damn fast if Valerie Plame was not a covert operative.

It's also that at no point has the White House used that defense. If Valerie Plame was not a covert operative, but worked openly for the CIA, then there is no reason for anyone not to have said so: and yet no one at the White House has.

And that rather than making a public statement that Wilson was sent to Niger by his wife, who works openly for the CIA, this unnamed person senior in the Bush administration leaked that information to Novak. (And to half a dozen other journalists, apparently, none of whom talked.) Why would they have needed to do that, if they could have said openly "Wilson's wife works for the CIA, and she got him sent to Niger"?
10.21.2005 1:06pm
Cecilius:
Llamasex:

It's all very simple. Wilson made a bunch of statements. The White House disputed most of them, including a claim that he went to Niger on behalf of the VP's office. The press asked a bunch of questions. One of them was 'who's idea was it for Joe Wilson to go to Niger?' The answer: his wife. Thus, by Wilson going on the offensive against the White House, an offensive that included making several false statements to the press, the White House was publicly hammered and put on the defensive. That hardly means that the White House gets a pass if anyone there committed a crime. It only means that they were justified in rebutting Wilson's claims, which included a claim that his wife was not involved in sending him to Niger.

Wilson groupies seem to believe that, for some reason, when a Republican occupies the White House, any verbal response to serious accusations against it is an abominable abuse of power that must land some Republican in prison. The moral of the story is, don't lie about the White House or else they will do awful things like (*shudder*) correct your facts to the press. Oh, the yoke of tyranny.
10.21.2005 1:09pm
corngrower:
Jesurgislac:

You want evidence?
Not a single charge has been filed. That is evidence that nothing happened
Evidence: Joe Wilson lied. He said the Vice Presidents office sent him to Niger. Joe Wilson has said ‘well no I guess it was not the Vice Presidents office’. And of course there is the kicker, a memo written by someone named Plame that recommends Wilson to be sent to Niger.
Evidence: Joe Wilson was in Niger (who knows who sent him) But Joe Wilson says he was sent to investigate yellow cake sold to Iraq. He came back with information so bad for the White House that they decided to out his wife (who wasn’t in, to be outed but anyway) This information is so bad that he just seemed to forget to tell anyone about it. Like…a written report. You must have it. Everyone knows about it. Everyone knows what it says. Its been quoted in the media. But please find one person other than Joe Wilson that has seen that document. Kinda like evidence.

Evidence: The White House outed Plame. Got evidence: I have yet to see a charge. Know how a Grand Jury Works? Got a clue? They are fact finders. They question persons that may shed light on a question to see if there is ANY evidence that would warrant legal proceedings. If a Grand Jury does issue an indictment no one is guilty. Hence the reason for a trial. Side bar here…The grand jury is required to issue a letter to tell a person they are under investigation. You got that in your briefcase along with Wilsons report from his trip to Niger? Ok Grand Juries. You may want to talk to Kay Bailey Hutchins. She was indicted three times and each jury refused to convict. Whoa. Strike that, my bad. Looks like after the three separate grand juries indicted her the prosecutor decide not to bring any of the three indictments to trial. But after three indicments she must be guilty of sumthun
10.21.2005 1:17pm
Medis:
Just an aside, but I think it would be very useful for someone to be indicted and convicted for playing the "plausible deniability" game during a criminal investigation. People complain about the criminalization of politics, but I am more concerned about the politicization of criminal investigations (meaning some people seem think it is OK to play politics as usual when answering questions from a prosecutor or before a grand jury).
10.21.2005 1:22pm
Alaska Jack (mail):
Reading the comments here is interesting. However, I wonder if we're getting a little away from some of the core issues.

The core argument against the Bush team, articulated above, seem to be:

"They did something vile, and should be punished."

OK, what did they do that was vile?

"They outed the fact that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, in order to smear him and get revenge for his NYT op-ed."

But as many, many, many people have already pointed out (beginning practically with day one of this whole affair), that scenario makes very little sense. How does simply mentioning that Wilson's wife works for the CIA somehow "smear" him? Seriously -- this isn't a rhetorical question. I am sitting here right now trying to understand how this would be taken by any reasonable person to be a "smear" or an act of "revenge." I have never, EVER seen anyone clearly articulate this. So she works at the CIA -- so what?

Now, don't get me wrong -- it certainly was a stab at Wilson's *credibility*; specifically, it suggests that Wilson was chosen for the mission not because he was the best guy for the job, but because his wife recommended him. But that's a relevant fact, not a smear.

As (again) many others have mentioned, in accordance with Occam's razor, the following scenario makes much more sense:

Reporter: "So this Wilson guy is a liberal, opposes the war and dislikes the current information, and had no experience in investigations or with WMD, for that matter. So why did you choose him for this very sensitive investigation into WMDs?"

Libby (or Rove or whoever): "We didn't. The CIA sent him without ever asking us."

Reporter: "So why did the CIA choose him?"

Libby: "We don't know, but his wife is some kind of WMD analyst over there -- I'm sure that had something to do with it."

Now I'm sorry, but I have a hard time believing that a crime was committed here (if events indeed transpired this way).

* Remember, the "outing" law is (intentionally!) written *very* narrowly: To committ a crime, the "outer" must *know* that the operative is undercover, the agent must have worked in an undercover capacity in the last x years, the CIA must be taking active steps to conceal her identity, etc. With regards to Plame, this all seems unlikely.

* Under the "espionage" law, it's hard to see how this would apply to Libby, while not to Wilson himself. Functioning under the auspices of the CIA, who gave him permission to announce his findings to the NYT? And if you think that was fine -- and even praiseworthy -- how do you distinguish Libby's "leak"? Isn't it our right to know, as taxpaying Americans, about possible nepotism, and how it might have affected the critical choice of an envoy on a very important mission?

* If the charges are limited to perjury/obstruction, isn't that a tacit admission by the prosecutor that no actual crime was committed? Isn't the prosecutor put into the position of saying "I'm prosecuting him for not being totally forthcoming about a crime he never committed"? Seems a little awkward to me.

Anyway, I'm sorry if I'm throwing a wet blanket on things. I still think you're perfectly free to see Bush &Co. as the most despicable creatures on the face of the Earth. I just don't understand the argument that they did something despicable *in this case*.

- Alaska Jack
10.21.2005 2:02pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Cecilius: He said the Vice Presidents office sent him to Niger.
corngrower: Joe Wilson lied. He said the Vice Presidents office sent him to Niger.

Where did he say that? Because he didn't say that in the NYT op-ed: he said, precisely, that the V-Ps office contacted the CIA and CIA officials contacted him about going to Niger to investigate. As far as I know, no one has denied that.

The press asked a bunch of questions. One of them was 'who's idea was it for Joe Wilson to go to Niger?' The answer: his wife.

Well, actually, as far as I know, Bob Novak was the first person to say it was Valerie Plame's suggestion that Wilson go to Niger to investigate. Novak doesn't say in his column whether he asked the "two senior administration officials" - whether they were responding to a question he asked, or if they came out with the information without being asked: he says they "told me Wilson's wife suggested sending him to Niger to investigate the Italian report". Novak identifies "Wilson's wife" as "an Agency operative on weapons of mass destruction". link

There's really nothing at all there to indicate that Novak was "asking a bunch of questions". Where are you getting that from?

It only means that they were justified in rebutting Wilson's claims, which included a claim that his wife was not involved in sending him to Niger.

Nowhere in Wilson's op-ed does he say his wife was not involved in sending him to Niger. Therefore, since he had not claimed that "his wife was not involved", the White House was not justified in leaking to Novak that his wife was involved.

corngrower: Not a single charge has been filed. That is evidence that nothing happened

I think that will be a better argument for you to try to make when the grand jury terminates. At the moment, all you can say is that Fitzgerald has not yet indicted anyone for any crime.
10.21.2005 2:11pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Alaska Jack: How does simply mentioning that Wilson's wife works for the CIA somehow "smear" him?

See Novak's original column, and see corngrower's and cecilius's interpretation of Novak's column in this thread.

Further, outing Valerie Plame as a covert operative means that she isn't covert any more: end of her career as a covert operative, potentially putting her at risk, certainly putting her contacts at risk. Harming a man's wife to take revenge on him is certainly a vile form of revenge, don't you think?

If the charges are limited to perjury/obstruction, isn't that a tacit admission by the prosecutor that no actual crime was committed?

Certainly, if the charges are so limited (which we hardly know for sure yet). Whether or not outing Valerie Plame was criminal, it was certainly vile. As you say, the law is written very stringently to cover outings of operatives.

Now, don't get me wrong -- it certainly was a stab at Wilson's *credibility*; specifically, it suggests that Wilson was chosen for the mission not because he was the best guy for the job, but because his wife recommended him.

Certainly. The problem is: Wilson certainly wasn't picked just because his wife recommended him. He has the experience, the background, and the contacts to make a good job of investigating the question the V-P's office passed to the CIA, and it appears he did do a good job: the Italian documents were faked, and the rumors of Saddam Hussein trying to buy yellowcake from Niger were inaccurate. So: someone at the CIA thought Wilson would do a good job, and he went pro bono, did a good job, and came back.

Now, if he'd done a lousy job, or if he lacked the experience that would suggest he might not do a good job, it would be fair to ask "How did he get the job?" (We've seen enough crony appointees at the Bush administration, after all.) But whether or not he specifically was picked out of whatever pool existed of qualified candidates (for the job of going to Niger, unpaid, to find out if a rumor was true) because his wife happened to know he was a qualified candidate, or whether (as the CIA said) someone else at the CIA came up with the name and then asked his wife to contact him, it hardly seems as important as the breach of national security entailed in outing a covert CIA operative.

I just don't understand the argument that they did something despicable *in this case*.

I guess it comes down to: Do you believe that it's despicable for someone who works for the President to betray a covert CIA operative, and especially when the motivation is only to attack her husband for criticizing the current administration?

I think that's despicable. As I said in my initial comment, it unnerves me how many people seem to find it perfectly justifiable.
10.21.2005 2:25pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I havn't read all the comments to see if someone brought this up already, but I believe the law against revealing the identity of a "covert agent" defines "covert agent" explicitly. I also understand that it requires that a "covert agent" must have been assigned in another country at least once within the last 5 years.

If any indictments come down on this, it won't be for the "outing." It will be over some Martha-esque obstruction of justice-type charge.
10.21.2005 3:04pm
RogerA (mail):
Wow—This is like cage comment featuring talmudic scholars in one corner, and scholastic disputers in the other. I havent seen such parsing of words since the last MLA conference. There is more about this story that seems similar to deep throat—Could it be that this whole affair reflects CIA involvement (coupled with Dept of State INR) joining forces to protect their anlysts from those nasty old neo-cons—This smacks to me of a federal agency out of control.

If the white house staff played into it, they were stupid, but I never thought stupidity was indictable.
10.21.2005 3:04pm
mbsch13:
Anyone interested in the principle question--whether Plame was "covert" and whether she was "outed"--should take a look at what the press says in their court filings (rather than in their news and opinion pieces). In particular, see pages 5-13 (28-36 of the pdf file) of this brief filed in the Judith Miller case.
10.21.2005 3:20pm
mbsch13:
Because there is so much parsing of language going on here, let me amend my immediately preceding post to read "Anyone interest in the principal question . . ."
10.21.2005 3:22pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
mbsch13: Thanks a lot. I was too lazy to check my previous assertion. Your link is very helpful, and everyone should read it before they fly off the handle about the "outing."
10.21.2005 3:26pm
mbsch13:
As to the Lewinsky comparison, several of the posters miss the point. A lie is not criminal based on the importance of the topic being discussed. A lie becomes criminal only by virtue of the forum in which it was made. Clinton's lie was criminal because, regardless of the importance of the subject matter, it was made in a court proceeding while under oath, and thus constituted the crime of perjury. If any White House official lied to the grand jury, then that may be perjury (or if lied to investigators, then that may be obstruction), hence criminal and hence just as culpable as the lies in the Lewinsky matter. If, however, the only lies constitutes the Administration's reasons for war, the lies may or may not be other things, but they are not violations of the criminal law.
10.21.2005 3:28pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
And no... you spelled it correctly the first time. "The Principal of your school is your pal," remember :)
10.21.2005 3:28pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Wow—This is like cage comment featuring talmudic scholars in one corner, and scholastic disputers in the other. I havent seen such parsing of words since the last MLA conference. There is more about this story that seems similar to deep throat—Could it be that this whole affair reflects CIA involvement (coupled with Dept of State INR) joining forces to protect their anlysts from those nasty old neo-cons—This smacks to me of a federal agency out of control.

Part of the reason that you have to split hairs here is that that is precisely what Joe Wilson has done. I gave a bunch of examples above that (hopefully) show that much of what he was saying was the equivalent of Bill Clinton denying that he had sex with that woman - because he hadn't had intercourse. Thus you have Wilson in the NYT article that really started this whole thing off telling the literal truth, while implying something quite different - such as when he stated that Saddam Hussein had not succeeded in purchasing yellowcake in Niger, when that was never the issue. Rather, the question he was tasked to find out was whether Saddam was trying to buy it.

And yes, the CIA is at the center of this - in particular, as I noted above, whether they were responsible for the botched WMD intel prior to the our invasion of Iraq. This looks to me like it was part of an attempt to shift blame to the Administration, and, indeed, according to the recent Miller article, this was precisely how it was viewed by them.
10.21.2005 3:31pm
corngrower:
Hey Jesurgislac

No one is defending the outing of a covert op. Just for you to prove that first it happened, second that the white house did it.

Jesurgislac

I don’t think I have ever seen a person twist themselves into such a tortured case of logic.

Lets see, the CIA sent Wilson to Niger to investigate Iraq buying yellow cake. ( if its being investigated it must be true, he just didn’t spend two years to come up with the ‘truth’). Why did the CIA send Wilson. Well let’s see we have this Plame covert operative with extensive experience in non-conventional weapons. Yea that’s it, we’ll send Plames husband instead because he has no experience in non-conventional weapons and is a diplomat that has been to Niger. Why are we sending anyone to Niger to look for anything? Well, the CIA just came up with the reason by themselves. What are we going to tell Wilson why we want him to go to Niger looking for yellow cake sales? Gee wiz, details, I don’t care; just tell him the Veeps looking into it. He’s a dope and will never figure it out. But if we tell him the Veep is the one sending him he might send a report to him and the veep’s going to call us up and ask why are we in Niger looking at yellow cake sales to Iraq? We’ll worry about that later. How are going to keep the report from the Veep. Oh that’s easy we will shove it down the pants of Sandy Berger, It’ll never see the light of day again.
10.21.2005 3:42pm
mbsch13:
Daniel Chapman: My first instinct was "principle," but then I looked at my Texas Law Review Manual on Style (7th ed.), which says "principal" is an adjective meaning chief or main, and that "principle" should never be used as an adjective. Having double-checked it, the Penguin Dictionary of American English Usage and Style gives the same rule. Unfortunately, however, I could not find a definitive ruling from the bible (i.e., Stunk &White).
10.21.2005 3:45pm
corngrower:
Just one more thing. Read the NYT article that started this thread. Possible charges that could, maybe, should, might be filed. Dont see that dispicable, scummy charge of blowing a covert ops cover listed. And the NYT never lies
10.21.2005 3:50pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
Well my source is a gradeschool rhyme, so I'll defer to the Penguin.
10.21.2005 3:50pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
...A lie is not criminal based on the importance of the topic being discussed. A lie becomes criminal only by virtue of the forum in which it was made. Clinton's lie was criminal because, regardless of the importance of the subject matter, it was made in a court proceeding while under oath, and thus constituted the crime of perjury. If any White House official lied to the grand jury, then that may be perjury (or if lied to investigators, then that may be obstruction), hence criminal and hence just as culpable as the lies in the Lewinsky matter. If, however, the only lies constitutes the Administration's reasons for war, the lies may or may not be other things, but they are not violations of the criminal law.

Well said. At this point, I think that if charges are brought against anyone, it would be those - perjury or obstruction of justice. I should add though that someone suggested awhile back that there might be an exception to perjury if a witness to a grand jury goes back and corrects his testimony before the grand jury is dismissed.

But I would think that the biggest problem with either of these potential charges would be proving intent, instead of just plain forgetting. In Clinton's case, it wasn't like he forgot that Lewinsky had given him multiple Lewinskys, but rather, that he did remember and then lied about it. But the exact specifics of a meeting or telephone call with a reporter a couple of years ago is much more likely to be forgotten. Honestly forgetting details is neither perjury nor obstruction of justice (lack of requisite intent).

I would give the chance that anyone will be charged under the outing a covert agent statute almost no chance at this point. The statute is extremely narrowly drafted, plus, there is some evidence that at least Libby believed that Plame worked on the anaylyst side, instead of the operative side, of the CIA. No specific intent here.

There is a possibility that someone somewhere along the line did disclose some classified information to someone. But if they open that up, esp. given the politics of the entire debate, it will be a very large can of worms. In a run up to the Wilson NYT article, CIA employees were leaking right and left to sympathetic reporters in order to shift blame away from their Agency for the Iraqi WMD intel failure. This would have the effect of potentially locking up half the Wash. D.C. press corp, plus numerous employees of both the CIA and the State Dept.
10.21.2005 3:50pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Well, since no one at all seems to be interested in the outing of a covert CIA operative (and everyone but me seems to be certain they know she wasn't, or at least know that no one can be charged for outing her even if she was):

Isn't it interesting how the White House now want to blame the CIA for feeding them quantities of information about Iraq's WMD, and how so many people on the Right appears to be just going along with it?

Roll on the end of the grand jury.
10.21.2005 4:18pm
Alaska Jack (mail):
OK, well I think this is about played out. Jesurgislac has helped me clarify my thinking in a sense, though probably not the way he intended. Having read through his reponse, I still think any reasonable, objective observer would agree that the scenario I described is far more likely than the vengeful, machiavellian actions he is convinced occurred.

Ms. Plame's job at the CIA does not appear to be classicaly "undercover" the way most people think of it. She has two kids, and a nice desk job at Langley. She was identified as Joe Wilson's wife in Who's Who. It is reasonable to believe that the White House folks didn't realize she was, at least nominally, supposed to be undercover.

(Remember, Novak said she checked with the CIA to see if there was any problem identifying her, and said they basically more or less shrugged.)

Here's another thought: Wilson is recommended for the trip by his wife, who works for the CIA. The CIA sends him on a sensitive mission. Upon his return, he tells all in an NYT op-ed. Now wait a minute -- if his wife is in a position where revealing her identity might endanger her life, isn't that incredibly reckless? Wouldn't it be reasonable to assume that, by making himself the center of media attention, he might raise questions about the trip, and how he was chosen to go?

So again, I think it boils down to: Which scenario is more realistic?

Of course I could be wrong. What the heck do I know? And I'm guessing we'll all find out at some point.
10.21.2005 4:21pm
Medis:
Just an aside, but there are also possible conspiracy charges relating to the Espionage Act as substantive underlying criminal charges. And the existence of such a conspiracy would also help distinguish this case from just any case in which an isolated person leaks classified information to the press in violation of the Espionage Act (keeping in mind that the federal government is under no obligation to prosecute all violations of federal law).
10.21.2005 4:32pm
Deoxy (mail):
"The motivation in saying it was Plame - explicitly identifying Joseph Wilson's wife - was revenge, nothing else."

You keep pulling this out of the air - you have amazing mental powers! Or maybe you're just mental...

Here's the thing: the crim ecommitted here is called "nepotism", and it's what PLAME committed.

We don't know who dropped Plame's name. For it to be a crime, that person would have to know that Plame had been covert at some point in the last 5 years (NO ONE claims she was actually covert at the time), and that info would have to still be classified and be being actively protected. That is an enormously high hurdle to jump, legally speaking. And that's ASSUMING she was even covert in the right time-frame AND that her status as such was still classified and being actively protected.

Plame WAS covert - this much is known. She met and married Wilson some number of years ago now (the details escape me). She had TWINS less than 2 years after the 5 -year cut off to make it possible for a crime to have been committed (I think it was more like a year). That she worked for the CIA was not unknown or hidden by the CIA - if you call the CIA and ask them if so-and-so works for you, and they say, "Yes, but please don't report that," THAT'S NOT COVERT (or in the 5 year window). And yes, that's what the reporter did. THEREFORE, NO "OUTING" IS POSSIBLE.

"and Rove in particular has certainly lied"

As you keep saying, show me the quotes.

"Lying about getting a blow-job is not generally regarded as a very serious offense."

But lying under oath is - it's called PERJURY, and that's what Clinton committed. (Oddly enough, "high crimes and misdemeanors" has no actual definition - it means what Congress wants it to mean. They CAN impeach the President for anything or nothing. Doesn't make it right, good use of time, etc, but it is Constitutionally legal.) Personally, I think Clinton was scum in terms of personal morals (or, more accurately, complete lack thereof), but that's not a first for a President (from either party).

"He has the experience, the background, and the contacts to make a good job of investigating the question the V-P's office passed to the CIA, and it appears he did do a good job: the Italian documents were faked, and the rumors of Saddam Hussein trying to buy yellowcake from Niger were inaccurate."

BULL.

1: Wilson, by his own admission, spent the week chatting with officials in offices. Gee, that is the only ONLY place any sort of deal could be reached, and they would most certainly tell him about it, right? *1 week* in country is enough to determine this?!? That's not an investigation, that's a JOKE. Even still, see the next point:

2: WILSON HIMSELF SAYS ON THE RECORD BEFORE CONGRESS that one of the officials he spoke with said that Iraq approached them about "exports". Niger's exports goats... and yellow cake.

3: The British report referenced refers to AFRICA. Niger is 1 of mulitple countries in Africa that export yellowcake. Also, the British DIDN'T EVEN HAVE the phony document in question when they issued their report. Their report was based on OTHER intelligence. A common way to hide something is to release an obviously fake document claiming it to be true - then, when other evidence comeees in, people remember the FAKE evidence and dismiss it. VERY common - because it works so well.

"Do you believe that it's despicable for someone who works for the President to betray a covert CIA operative, and especially when the motivation is only to attack her husband for criticizing the current administration?

I think that's despicable. As I said in my initial comment, it unnerves me how many people seem to find it perfectly justifiable."

No, I think what you describe is despicable, and hopefully prison-worthy.

But the evidence is overwhelmingly that that is not what happened in this case.

You claim to have this amazing ability to KNOW what people's motivation is (despite not even know who the person IS!). Come back to reality for a bit, OK?

P.S. I apologize for not having all the quotes lying around for you. I usually save such stuff JUST for people like you, who come at it fresh, taking all the media spin at face value, but I can't seem to find it now. It's very, very annoying.
10.21.2005 4:33pm
Cityduck (mail):
Reading this thread causes me to seriously question how informed the people who read this site are.

There is no doubt that Valerie Plame was undercover. Many CIA operatives have "embassy cover," which some consider a joke, but Plame was the real thing. She was a CIA operative who denied she was a CIA operative and ostensibly worked as a civilian employee of CIA fronts or legitimate businesses. The CIA has confirmed this several times. The CIA in fact told Novak not to identify Plame. He ignored the request. The CIA subsequently filed a "crime report" with the DOJ on Novak's original article which outed her.

The fact that Plame was married to Joe Wilson, and is identified as his wife, has NOTHING to do with whether she was under cover. Hell, the CIA undoubtably has a number of agents who pop up in Who's Who. But Who's Who doesn't identify them as CIA agents. The illogic and ignorance here is shocking.

The Senate Intelligence Committee report has widely been challenged as inaccurate. Wilson himself wrote a devastating critique of the report in Salon. Not surprising as a matter of politics that the report contained false claims as it was, after all, authored by a Republican controlled committee.

But, this is all spitting into the wind. There is NO reason to believe that Fitzgerald is a political hack (unlike Starr) and every reason to believe that he is a very competent prosecutor. Let's see what the indictments look like ... if they come down.
10.21.2005 4:41pm
Larry Faria (mail):
It appears that most of the charges in these investigations are against the people called to testify. If you don't remember perfectly a conversation you had a couple years ago or get a few dates wrong, your buns are fescue. Given the track record of special prosecutors, what would be a subpoenaed witness' best defense? Would declaring "At this moment I don't fully recall" do the trick, or would you have to take the fifth for every question? Will prosecutors, judges and (especially beltway) politicians ever realize that the public sees the exercise as a political perversion of the legal system?
10.21.2005 4:53pm
David Pittelli (mail) (www):
Kory (www): The whole thing is Clinton and Monica all over again, where sex = mentioning Joe Wilson's wife, Plame = Monica... And it is funny how many hyprocrites there are that think that one of these two nearly identical 'scandals' was/is very serious, while the other one was/is not.

You take as a premise that Rove or Libby did tell deliberately false or misleading information under oath, as did Bill Clinton. Naturally that premise leads to your conclusions. But even with your flawed preferred premise, this case is far less serious a "scandal" than Clinton had, for several reasons:

1) Neither Rove nor Libby is the President of the United States.

2A) Clinton had to testify under oath in a civil case (unless he was willing to concede facts in the sex harrassment case). This would be normal in a sex harrassment case. The law requiring the defendant to testify to other sex in the workplace may be unfair, but we can hardly recommend jury nullification for that reason to Bill Clinton, since it was Clinton who signed this requirement into law.

2B) In contrast, Rove and Libby only had to testify because Bush ordered all his employees to cooperate with the prosecutor (presumably as a condition of employment, since he has no other power over them). Hardly a fact to condemn Bush, that he insisted on cooperation.

3) If the outrageous (and illegal, ironically enough) leaks in the press are correct, Fitzgerald is considering perjury and obstruction charges now, not the original "outing" charges. This is of course because he cannot prove the outing charges, so I don't know why the Bush haters are so fixated on the "evil" of the outing of a woman who hadn't been covert in years, and who would likely never be covert again due to her status as an ex-Ambassador's wife and a mother.

All that said, if it can be shown that Rover or Libby told deliberate falsehoods, then it seems they should be charged with perjury. (Perhaps their testimony is not germane if the "outing" law was not broken; I don't know the rules on that.)

However, the "I don't remember" leading to perjury may or may not work depending on circumstances. People have been convicted for perjuriously saying "I don't remember" (e.g., one mob boss "could not remember" whether he'd ever met another, and the prosecution proved at least a dozen basically one-on-one meetings).

On the other hand, "Libby and I talked about Wilson's wife around then, but I'm not sure how we first found out" would be hard to prove perjurious if several months had passed between the incident and the testimony. After all, if they are innocent (i.e., if at that time they did not believe they were doing anything extraordinary in discussing this) then the conversation would not have been particularly memorable for them. This is especially true if the two men talk with each other a lot, as I gather they do.
10.21.2005 5:13pm
Anna:
According to Wikipedia, Fitzgerald:
--indicted a number of top aides to Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley
--helped prosecute John Gambino of the Gambino mafia family.
--became the prosecutor in the case against Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and 11 other individuals charged in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing
--served on a team of prosecutors investigating Osama bin Laden.[
--served as chief counsel in prosecutions related to the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa

He's not going to waste his time on investigating the outing a CIA operative if she isn't undercover. Even if Joe Wilson is a compulisive liar of the worst sort, the US government still has an obligation to protect undercover CIA agents. Even if no crime was committed, Rove et al are still required by law to tell the truth during an investigation of the crime.

This is not an investigation of Joe Wilson or Bill Clinton. If you want a compentent prosecutor for this, I suggest Patrick Fitzgerald.
10.21.2005 5:19pm
David Pittelli (mail) (www):
Cityduck: Reading this thread causes me to seriously question how informed the people who read this site are.

Me too. The Bush-haters are presuming "facts" which at best are supported by (illegal) leaks, by anonymous agents whose motivations and spin are unknown, in a highly political case.

There is no doubt that Valerie Plame was undercover. Many CIA operatives have "embassy cover," which some consider a joke, but Plame was the real thing. She was a CIA operative who denied she was a CIA operative and ostensibly worked as a civilian employee of CIA fronts or legitimate businesses.

The law also requires that the "covert agent" have served outside the United States in the last five years. This has been widely reported as untrue in the case of Valerie Plame, and I have seen no counterclaim among all the reams of smoke thrown up in this case.

The CIA has confirmed this several times. The CIA in fact told Novak not to identify Plame. He ignored the request. The CIA subsequently filed a "crime report" with the DOJ on Novak's original article which outed her.

The CIA does not have the power to retroactively rewrite the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, or to issue Bills of Attainder. Neither does the woman who did write the statute, but she says that it does not apply to this case.

The fact that Plame was married to Joe Wilson, and is identified as his wife, has NOTHING to do with whether she was under cover.

True, if she were in fact under cover, her marriage status would not change this fact. But she is not in fact under cover. As it happens, her marriage is one of the reasons the CIA has kept her in the US (the other is because she is the mother of small children.)

The Senate Intelligence Committee report has widely been challenged as inaccurate. Wilson himself wrote a devastating critique of the report in Salon. Not surprising as a matter of politics that the report contained false claims as it was, after all, authored by a Republican controlled committee.

It was also signed unanimously, that is, by all of the Democrats and Republicans on the committee.
10.21.2005 5:29pm
Medis:
I'll note again that I think that conspiracy charges based on underlying Espionage Act charges could be involved. And those charges would NOT require that Plame was covert, let alone that anyone knew she was covert. That said, I'm not ruling out that IIPA charges could be brought. I'm just pointing out that Fitzgerald could have a serious and substantive underlying criminal case without IIPA charges.

And the sorts of perjury and obstruction charges that could arise incident to this conspiracy could go well beyond isolated instances of not recalling exact details of long-ago conversations. In other words, "memory lapses" may not be a plausible explanation if all the memory lapses happened to coincide with events that would provide evidence of this conspiracy.
10.21.2005 5:33pm
corngrower:
Medis.

Please read the last dozen or so posts. Please. You can assume all you care. You can assume OJ Simpson is innocent because George Walker Bush did it. You can assume that General Dwight Eisenhower kidnapped the Lindbergh baby.

Only you would need something that would show the world you had a thread of sanity left. Conspiracy of espionage?
Got it. The absolute last straw of an attourney that cant find a law that was broken, and cannot find any evidence to support a law that does not exist is being broken, is conspiracy.
10.21.2005 6:17pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Me: "Do you believe that it's despicable for someone who works for the President to betray a covert CIA operative, and especially when the motivation is only to attack her husband for criticizing the current administration?

Deoxy: But the evidence is overwhelmingly that that is not what happened in this case.

Precisely what is your evidence that you say is "overwhelming" that (a) no one who worked for the President betrayed a covert CIA operative, and (b) that the motivation in doing so was not to attack Joseph Wilson?

(And why haven't you shared this overwhelming evidence with Fitzgerald?)
10.21.2005 6:23pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Alaska Jack: (Remember, Novak said she checked with the CIA to see if there was any problem identifying her, and said they basically more or less shrugged.)

Actually, it was basically more or less "Don't do that, PLEASE, oh damn we can't STOP you, can we?" That's if we're recalling the same conversation.
10.21.2005 6:25pm
Visitor Again:
The Number One Lesson of Watergate—it's always the cover-up that gets you—forgotten again. And the lying, the obstruction of justice, often isn't needed to mount a legal defense, but carried out for political reasons—to avoid political embarrasment, to attack a political enemy and so on.

It's a mistake to trivialize an indictment for perjury or obstruction of justice, as some here have, apparently because it's likely no indictment will be returned respecting the subject matter of the investigation, the outing of an undercover CIA operative. Lying to a federal grand jury about a matter material to its investigation or obstructing a federal grand jury with respect to a matter material to its investigation is a grave offense, whether or not Plame was an underocver operative. It is not okay to lie and obstruct merely because the grand jury investigation turns out to be ill-founded.

Perjury and obstruction of justice are blows to the rule of law, and the blow is all the more serious when these criminal offenses are committed by government officials as opposed to private citizens.
10.21.2005 6:30pm
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
One point of the 'outing' of a covert agent law that hasn't been fully addressed is that the individual guilty of vilolating the law must knowingly being 'outing' the agent; i.e., "breaking their cover."

Let's see, so far as I can discern from the above posts, Valerie Plame's "cover" was that she worked as a civilian employee at the CIA. Ignoring the fact that the CIA is a civilian agency, even if Cheney, Libby, Rove, whomever mentioned that she worked at CIA, how does this not constitute reinforcing her 'cover story?' So far as I can tell, they did not go to Novak, et al. and say "Valerie Plame works at the CIA as a covert operative."

In essence, I suspect this may be part of Fitzgerald's quandry. If the law says that the person must knowingly be violating an agent's covert status, but that agent's 'covertness' is predicated on their 'cover story' of working at the CIA, how do you prove that the individual under investigation was knowingly violating the operatives 'covertness' when they are simply repeating the 'facts' necessary to the cover story's believability?

This is why I agree that, IF we actually get indictments (which, by the way, DO NOT indicate any certainty of actual GUILT), the charged 'crimes' will not be the 'outing' but related to 'obstruction' or 'perjury.'
10.21.2005 6:57pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Precisely what is your evidence that you say is "overwhelming" that (a) no one who worked for the President betrayed a covert CIA operative, and (b) that the motivation in doing so was not to attack Joseph Wilson?

(And why haven't you shared this overwhelming evidence with Fitzgerald?)

I get it. We have to prove a negative, or Rove and/or Libby, and maybe even Cheney and Halliburton are going to jail. Luckily for all of those parties, criminal law works just the opposite.

As to Fitzgerald, you don't know any more than anyone else does what he and his staff know. What we do know is that they have been extremely tight lipped about this investigation, which is how it should be (but rarely is). I have no doubt that they know who said what when and to whom, and, even most likely the sources for what everyone said. You don't. We don't. The anonymous attorneys leaking to the NYT probably don't know much more than the rest of us do, as it is highly unlikely that they represent Rove, Libby, et al. for ethical reasons and probably have little more to go on than we do.
10.21.2005 7:01pm
Deoxy (mail):
I'm going to say this as politely as possible: read what is actually written, and attempt to understand it.

If Plame was undercover, and a reporter called the CIA to ask if she worked there, the answer would be, "No."

If the CIA says, "Yes, but please don't publish that," then the person is NOT undercover. It's that simple.

If it weren't that simple, all undercover agents could be discovered over time by calling the CIA and asking, "Does So-and-so work for you?"

She also hadn't been out of the country in AT LEAST 3 years (her children were 3+ at the time), and an ambassador's wife is inherently suspicious, due to "official cover" positions. Therefore, she definitely has not been undercover since she married Wilson, which is in the 5 year range from the event in question.

END OF STORY.

There was no possible "outing" to be done. That's what I call "overwhelming evidence", and there's more if you want it (but I'm done wasting time on this).

For thee sake of brevity, I will backtrack on my claims regarding their motivation. It is possible that it was done out of spite/malice/a desire for retribution, and you have given just as much evidence for that belief as I have against it: NONE.

In short, you have ASSUMED they did it out of malice (when several other scenarios, explained repeatedly here) make more sense, then required that we prove that they DIDN'T do it out of malice.

You have not proved YOUR case. There is no need to refute it further. If I had time, I would enjoy watching you ignore this post just like all the others, but I have other things to do. Enjoy your tinfoil hat.
10.21.2005 7:05pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
A guest: Let's see, so far as I can discern from the above posts, Valerie Plame's "cover" was that she worked as a civilian employee at the CIA.

But as far as I can discern from other information besides what has been posted to this thread, Valerie Plame's cover was that she worked officially as a consultant for a company, Brewster-Jennings &Associates, that was a "front" for the CIA: she was covert, and while it's possible whoever outed her may get away with the act of breaching her identity because of however many years it's been since she worked overseas, it does not take away from the vileness of doing it.
10.21.2005 7:06pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
I have no doubt that they know who said what when and to whom, and, even most likely the sources for what everyone said. You don't. We don't.

Well that, at least, we can agree on.
10.21.2005 7:08pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site

A bit circular. But there is at least some evidence that at least Libby believed that she worked for the analysis side (Directorate of Intelligence - DI) of the CIA instead of the operations side (Directorate of Operations - DO), and since covert operatives work for the operations side (DO), this would tend to indicate that he, at least, didn't know that she was covert.
10.21.2005 7:09pm
RogerA (mail):
Depending on the level one views this contretemps: (1) a white house staff anxious to screw a rogue diplomat who gave them some bad press. If that were in fact the case, Rove, Libby et all deserve to be indicted for sheer stupidity, when they could have put the whole thing in the open and refuted the charges in open court so to speak;

more ominously
(2) a Rogue CIA, knowing their intelligence and analysis was absolutely wrong in the run up to the war, leaking information to discredit the White House so as to cover their sorry asses--an argument even more coherent because the CIA also enlisted a member of the Dept of State to cover for State's INR operation.

The former is bad enough if true; the latter is even more ominimous because it suggests that an out of control agency can attempt to bring down an elected administration by selective leaks including a compliant and prostituting press--

Perhaps both versions are true; but knowing Washington politics and how leaks are done to screw the administration and the bureaucracies, and to maintain one's bureaucratic turf, I am inclined to the latter theory.

AND we have a model: I give you Mark Felt--hero d'jour of the MSM in his role as deep throat; but I can also give you an equally credible version of my second scenario--Mark Felt was a disgruntled, pissed off, vindictive bureaucrat, furious because HE was passed over for the position of director, and decides to bring down a duly elected President (not that RMN was any great shakes as a paradigm of virtue, coupled with the fact that he had a sycophantic staff--no heroes here) but what is the preferred model of our government?

Unelected bureaucracies in league with unelected media subverting democratic elections?

OR

administrative hubris and stupidity of elected officials who view elections as unfettered mandates and how they fail to understand the rules of the game

Of the two, I prefer the latter--at least I have the opportunity to unelect them periodically.

I would encourage the parsers on this page to step back and take a larger view--the Republic just may be at stake.
10.21.2005 7:11pm
Deoxy (mail):
"she was covert"

BULL.

She WAS covert... years ago. An ambassadors wife is inherently not covert. Her covert status ended when she married him.

How many times do we need to repeat this? SHE WAS NOT A COVERT OPERATIVE ANYMORE.

Not to mention that Novak's original report didn't mention that she was covert, for one very simple reason (which I have stated multiple times now): the CIA doesn't admit on the phone to a reporter that a covert operative works for them.
10.21.2005 7:16pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
Interesting article in today's WSJ, stating that the Fitzgerald investigation may be much deeper than we all think. They articulate the possibility that the investigation is not merely an investigation of this leak, but rather a much broader practice of the White House to leak classified information. The article cites "sources," stating that Fitzgerald might be building a case for leaking classified information- including, but not limited to the CIA leak. This could be interesting in that the case for leaking information, it seems, would be easier to prove than the 1982 act. It won't matter that she wasn't undercover or an active operative or anything else; merely the fact that information regarding her identity, along with other "classified information" was leaked.
10.21.2005 7:21pm
Medis:
corngrower,

Please tell me what "assumptions" you think I made. I was describing possible charges Fitzgerald might bring, not assuming he will do so. I was doing that merely to point out that perjury and obstruction charges need not be incident to the IIAA, but could also be incident to the Espionage Act and a conspiracy based on the Espionage Act.

But again, I don't claim to know what Fitzgerald WILL do ... I am just suggesting what he MIGHT do.
10.21.2005 7:23pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
Sorry, the link apparently didn't "link." Here it is: WSJ Article
10.21.2005 7:24pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
But as far as I can discern from other information besides what has been posted to this thread, Valerie Plame's cover was that she worked officially as a consultant for a company, Brewster-Jennings &Associates, that was a "front" for the CIA: she was covert, and while it's possible whoever outed her may get away with the act of breaching her identity because of however many years it's been since she worked overseas, it does not take away from the vileness of doing it.

You keep assuming facts not in evidence. You assume that the reason that someone might "get away with the act of breaching her identity" is because the 5 year clock had run. But you don't know at this point who said what to whom and when. (I am sure that Fitzgerald does by now). You are just conveniently assuming that someone who had access to classified information intentionally disclosed this for political advantage. As I keep pointing out, at least Judith Miller seemed to think that Libby thought she was working for the DI and not DO side of the CIA.

Indeed, for a lot of us, the first indication that she had ever been covert was when her husband, Joe Wilson, asked that someone be prosecuted for the disclosure of this fact. Before that, I, at least, and I think a lot of others, believed that she was a normal CIA employee, working on the DI side on WMD.

Add to this that the CIA confirmed to Novak that she did work for the CIA - which would seem to be contrary to their trying to maintain her cover of working for Brewster-Jennings &Associates.
10.21.2005 7:26pm
corngrower:
Medis

he 'might' have the goods on the Gotti Mob, He 'might' know any number of things. Just that little bit of evidence, he does have not a single bit of evidence to support a single thing that has been infered here
10.21.2005 7:52pm
Medis:
corngrower,

I'm not sure I understand ... are you saying you know what evidence he has? How can you know that?
10.21.2005 8:02pm
A Guest Who Enjoys This Site:
Bruce Hayden: The circularity of the issue was exactly my point. Whether they thought she worked for analysis rather than covert ops is irrelevant. If working for the CIA was the cover, then how can you prosecute someone for relating the cover story? If you could, then wouldn't Plame be guilty of 'outing' herself the first time she used the cover story?

The issue at hand is whether they knowingly disclosed her covert status. Simply stating that she worked at CIA, when, in fact, she worked at CIA and, in fact, herself let it be known that she worked at CIA provides no evidence of either 1.) a knowledge of her covert status or (2.) an overt attempt to disclose that covert status. This is the conundrum. If Plame was attempting to hide her covert status, would there have been better ways to do so than to openly work for the CIA at the time of the 'leak?'

Jesurgislac: You have a problem here. This is what the article you link to says...


The company's identity, Brewster-Jennings &Associates, became public because it appeared in Federal Election Commission records on a form filled out in 1999 by Valerie Plame, the case officer at the center of the controversy, when she contributed $1,000 to Al Gore's presidential primary campaign.


Alright, for the sake of argument, let's assume that she was a covert operative at some point in 1999; something that is still pending resolution. Could you please tell me who she listed as her employer at the time of the 'leak' in 2003? In other words, if she lists the CIA as her employer at the time of the 'leak' or it was already openly known that she did, then how is she not guilty of 'outing' herself or already having been 'outed?'
10.21.2005 8:58pm
Proud Generation Y Slacker:
IIPA definition:


(4) The term ''covert agent'' means -
(A) a present or retired officer or employee of an intelligence agency or a present or retired member of the Armed Forces assigned to duty with an intelligence agency
i) whose identity as such an officer, employee, or member is classified information, and
(ii) who is serving outside the United States or has within the last five years served outside the United States; or
(B) a United States citizen whose intelligence relationship to the United States is classified information, and -
(i) who resides and acts outside the United States as an agent of, or informant or source of operational assistance to, an intelligence agency, or
(ii) who is at the time of the disclosure acting as an agent of, or informant to, the foreign counterintelligence or foreign counterterrorism components of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; or
(C) an individual, other than a United States citizen, whose past or present intelligence relationship to the United States is classified information and who is a present or former agent of, or a present or former informant or source of operational assistance to, an intelligence agency.

10.22.2005 1:56am
Proud Generation Y Slacker:
An Espionage Act charge is a loser. See this and this and this and this and this.
10.22.2005 2:04am
Medis:
Well, I read all those posts, PGYS. They don't actually say that such charges would be losers. Rather, they argue that such charges would depend on certain key jury determinations with respect to the defendant's knowledge and intent. That is indeed true, but Fitzgerald may well believe he can win on those issues at trial.

Indeed, consider this passage from the last of those posts: "It would clearly be relevant to a jury's determination of such an issue whether, for example, the manner in which someone like Rove learned of Plame's CIA employment; if he learned it from reporters, that would make it harder to prove that he had any reason to believe that the information was secret, closely held by the government and not to be divulged to reporters."

Now consider the converse: if the defendant in question learned the information NOT from reporters, but rather from something like a document marked secret or a high-place official with access to secret information, that fact would make it EASIER to prove that this defendant had a reason to believe the information was secret.

Finally, I would note again the possibility of conspiracy charges. A conspiracy charge would, on the one hand, require proof of a criminal purpose, so that would not relieve Fitzgerald of his burden on the intent element. Conversely, he would not need to prove an actual violation of the underlying Act on any particular instance.

So, I agree with the author of those posts that given what we know, it is not clear that Fitzgerald could successfully try Espionage Act and/or related conspiracy charges. Conversely, given what we know, it is not clear that Fitzgerald could NOT sucessfully try such charges. Hence, my claim that he might bring indictments on such charges.
10.22.2005 3:27am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I think that the links that Gen Y Slacker cite on the Espionage Act are of note. They refer to a site by Baseball Crank, who obviously tries some criminal cases, contrary to most of us. His big point is that, as with almost all criminal statutes, there is a scienter requirement for the Espionage Act that requires Specific Intent. And because of the potential breadth of this statute, the courts have interpreted this element increasingly narrowly.

Thus, merely disclosing information that turns out to be classified is not sufficient. That may qualify as general intent, but doesn't rise to the specific intent required. Rather, knowing that the you are disclosing what you know to be classified information is a minimal requirement. And ditto with the argument that there was a duty to investigate, once Rove and/or Libby found out that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA. That would be a "should have known" standard, instead of the "knew" standard apparently required here - esp. since the vast majority of CIA employees are not covert, and, in particular, esp. not those living and working in the D.C. metro area.
10.22.2005 12:21pm
Jesurgislac (mail) (www):
Bruce: You are just conveniently assuming that someone who had access to classified information intentionally disclosed this for political advantage.

And you are just conveniently assuming that whoever did it had no idea what they were doing and weren't doing it for political advantage?

As I keep pointing out, at least Judith Miller seemed to think that Libby thought she was working for the DI and not DO side of the CIA.

Oh, right: I forgot some people still assume that if Judith Miller says it, it must be true.
10.22.2005 1:27pm
18 USC 1030 (mail):
I think the point of the article I posted was implying something entirely different; the point might be that the CIA leak may be a mere drop in the bucket compared to other actions taken by officials. It is possible that the CIA leak is a mere indication or initial red-flag as to illegal behavior; not the actual crimes that will be charged.

I am not saying it's true, nor am I saying it's likely, but it seems plausible that once these guys started testifying, someone said: "Well ya' know, Karl Rove also did this, and Libby did that...in fact, here are two documents marked secret that I was given."

Do I believe this happened? Not really; does that mean it didn't? I'd have to say no. The problem is no one has any clue what is going on with the investigation and everyone is trying to play what-if games. We need to wait and see what Fitzgerald comes up with. Maybe he has absolutly NOTHING; maybe he is directing his office to leak these ideas with the hope that it may scare someone into telling the truth about something he believes hopes happened.

The conspiracy charges seem difficult to prove. Though there are the cases such as the semi-recent money laundering case from SCOTUS (can't remember name) that don't require an overt act towards the commission of the underlying crime to reach the burden of conspiracy, I am not sure there exists a situation where intent isn't in play. Without intent I do not see the possibility for conspiracy to be charged, seems contradictory. How do you charge someone with conspiring to do something they do not intend or want to do? Therefore, it seems in order for Fitzgerald to charge conspiracy, he would have to demonstrate an intent possessed by multiple individuals to act in cohort in order to carry out procedures contrary to the United States.

It seems unlikely that Fitzgerald would have that kind of a case built without having information made public. I would think if he had evidence demonstrating some large conspiracy on the part of the administration's execution of espionage activities, the White House would have already tried to make a deal to prevent this from being made public (i.e. we will have individuals resign if you end this right now). Unless the administration smartened up and decided interfering with an independent counsel may not be such a good idea- who said the president didn't learn anything from Clinton? Of course, the conspiracy thoughts hinge on my assumption of the intent asspect, is this assumption correct? Did I miss something?
10.22.2005 3:20pm
Anna:
The Supreme Court in "United States vs. Hollan: "Perjury, regardless of the setting, is a serious offense that results in incalculable harm to the function of the legal system, as well to private individuals."
10.23.2005 4:50pm
corngrower:
Medis

Conspiricy is extremely hard to prove. But you think you can prove conspiricy, of. What? Actions that are not crimes? Huh? This kind of turns the govt into a police state No Crime? Well just lock em up for conspiricy.

A scenerio.

Town has a problem with underage sale of beer and alcohol.
A genius comes up with a great plan. Take a 25 year old male. Send him into a store to by beer. Oops, NO ID. Catch someone you know and talk to them to buy the beer for you. Sure, OK. Your busted for providing beer to a person that Could have been underage. Gulity of commiting conspiricy for an act that was legal, (but you werent sure)
10.24.2005 10:26am
mauro (mail):
A very interesting site of puzzles:
Oscar's Puzzles
10.28.2005 2:12pm