Thursday, February 5, 2004
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Breaking Plame news
UPI's Richard Sale has breaking news on the Plame investigation:
A little further down in the story is this quote about the White House's reaction to the triggering event, Joseph Wilson's op-ed bebunking the Niger yellowcake claim:
Hat tip to Josh Marshall, who promises more soon.
UPDATE: Robert Tagorda has blogosphere reaction, as well as a link to a Newsweek story Hannah's prior involvement in Iraq intelligence.
If this pans out,* I tend to agree with Mark Kleiman:
Chris Lawrence has further thoughts on Cheney.
*One thing does trouble me: why haven't the other wire services -- AP, Reuters -- picked this story up? [UPDATE: Josh Marshall comments on this as well, suggesting the following:
ANOTHER UPDATE: This Asian Times piece has the rundown on Cheney's travails as of late. This graf stands out:
posted by Dan on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM
Plus, some bloggers (Yglesias, Marshall -- even me) noted his name, as did Pat Buchanan on TV, the NY Daily news, and Salon. Reporters at the White House press eventually even asked Scott McLellan about him specifically (as well as Karl Rove and Elliot Abrams).
Libby is not Rove, but he's a pretty big fish. I wonder when we will see a "frog march"?posted by: Rodger on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
It's never the deed, always the cover-up. The White House could have buried this story in the first place by ignoring Wilson's Op-Ed, and later by calling out Libby and other employees involved right away. The latter at the cost of some embarrassment, but nothing like what this could develop into.
Bush could possibly get some credit from Republicans for sticking to what he eventually said he would do in asking the FBI to investigate, but this is likely to raise some questions about bush's Vice President that he may have difficulty answering.posted by: Zathras on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
Something doesn’t smell right. Robert Novak insists that nobody tried to “out” Valerie Plame. The person he talked to merely mentioned her CIA employment---which many people throughout Washington, DC were very well aware of---in passing. They did not, according to Novak, make a big deal about this aspect of her life. The big question is this: is Robert Novak telling the truth?posted by: David Thomson on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
Another major question, why isn’t the FBI about to arrest the thousands of Washington, DC, insiders of both political parties who commonly reveal the identities of those who are discretely employed by the CIA? Why focus their attentions on these few suspects?posted by: David Thomson on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
Dear Dave Thomson,
Without undue speculation, it's certainly possible that Novak either lied or made misleading statements to protect his sources (and access). This need not be a reflection on his party affiliation. Originally across the Atlantic, Gilligan of the BBC lied or made misleading statements denying that Dr. Kelly was his source in the MOD and later recanted admitting that Kelly was his source. Journalists do these sorts of things because of the pressures and priorities of their profession. It may even under some circumstances be ethical if they've promised their source complete annonymity since a "Fifth ammendment" style "no comment," may be tantamount to a revelation of identity.
Personally the oldman never found Novak's hurried denials persuasive precisely for that reason. The one thing that journalists can never be relied upon to tell the truth regarding is the identity of anonymous sources. The oldman finds comfort that his previous speculations that the Bush Administrations maneuvers seemed designed to protect someone in the Vice President's office, a speculation also voiced by senator Chuck Hagel(R), seem to have found preliminary corroboration. The oldman will continue watching closely.posted by: Oldman on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
David Thompson writes: "which many people throughout Washington, DC were very well aware of"
This is not the case. If it was, it would hardly be necessary to tell Novak.
One of the people who tried this line of defense was Clifford May, but he's in league with the neocons, so associates with people who would know through their security clearance and would have incentive to slam Wilson and protect Cheney.
In any case, Cliff May's not a disinterested individual, so can't be taken at his word.
I'm not aware of anyone else who tried to use this excuse.
Can you come up with anything to substantiate your claim?posted by: Jon H on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
You might wish to slander Clifford May, but I respect him highly. It’s your problem if you refuse to trust him because he’s supposedly “in league with the neocons, so associates with people who would know through their security clearance and would have incentive to slam Wilson and protect Cheney.” His word is good enough for me.
Dan Drezner correctly identifies Richard Sale as a UPI reporter. However, Sale wrote the piece for Insight Magazine. Why did he choose not to have the UPI release the story? Also, why hasn't anyone else picked up on Sale’s alleged startling revelations? Could it be that other news media organizations don’t think highly of Sale’s work?posted by: David Thomson on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
We'll all be better off without Libby. I suspected him in my posts at the time, though my opinion was based purely on modius operandi.posted by: Tom Holsinger on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
Another major question, why isn’t the FBI about to arrest the thousands of Washington, DC, insiders of both political parties who commonly reveal the identities of those who are discretely employed by the CIA? Why focus their attentions on these few suspects?
I may be wrong, but as I understand it, it's the difference between merely being a CIA employee and being an honest-to-bob covert operative. Deliberately exposing the latter is a federal crime. Not to mention, it jeopardizes national security. Blowing a covert agent's cover not only exposes him/her, but all his/her sources and contacts in foreign countries (thereby ruining them as sources of intelligence, not to mention endangering lives).
posted by: Peter Kaplan on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
I'm with David Thomson. Novak repeatedly said that the reference to Valerie Plame was made as a casual aside to possibly explain why in the world her husband,Joe Wilson, was given the task of investigating the yellow-cake uranium story. Wilson was a democratic operative and vocal critic of the Iraq war who had accused the Bush administration of imperialism. Plus, he had no investigative or weapons related experience whatsoever.
This UPI story is a bunch of crap.posted by: Bill on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
Bill, Bill, Bill.
Do you know how much Wilson was paid for the trip?
So what nepotism are you talking about?posted by: GT on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
I'm with David; something doesn't smell right, here.
Given the well documented slant of the the press as regards the war effort and the well-documented effort of the rpoess to discredit anyone wh does support the war.... the BBC, for example, the obvious question here is: Who investigates UPI?
posted by: Bithead on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
Bithead: "Who investigates UPI?"
UPI is owned by Reverend Moon, who's a Bush family buddy. He also owns the right-wing Washington Times.
If you're looking for anti-war, lefty media bias, UPI is probably not a likely suspect.posted by: Jon H on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
GT, GT, GT,
Who needs money when you've just been given the perfect vehicle to undercut the war on terrorism, discredit the President and undermine US credibility abroad in one fell swoop. Money is not all that motivates.
posted by: Bill on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
Bill writes: "Who needs money when you've just been given the perfect vehicle to undercut the war on terrorism, discredit the President and undermine US credibility abroad in one fell swoop."
Neat trick, given that Wilson couldn't have known what Bush would say in his SOTU a year after he took his trip. And even then, he didn't speak up until six months later, after "major combat operations" were over.
If he was trying to undercut the war on terrorism, why would he a) report something true, and b) wait to pounce until the war was over?
Wilson's actual behavior doesn't support your theory.posted by: Jon H on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
My prediction: If there is a criminal prosecution, there will be no conviction. There well may be political fallout, and people might lose their jobs, but the law in question has so many qualifiers that I just don't see a conviction as possible.
And, of course, the two words that nobody here has mentioned yet.... Vanity Fair. The two words that managed to demonstrate quite clearly that the concept of Valerie-Plame-as-serious-undercover-agent was a joke. Seriously, just pass that out to the jury and say "She willingly posed for this", that should handle the defense.posted by: Bill on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
The only point I'll concede is that his initial report couldn't have been an attempt to discredit President Bush.
However, his eight day, sweet mint tea drinking excursion to Niger wasn't an investigation, it was a joke. So, I consider the conclusions he drew from it to be meaningless.
Once they received them, the IAEA also quickly learned the Niger papers were forgeries. Apparently, many of the names on the documents were simply wrong. A google search might have confirmed that they were *badly* forged docs.
Anyone competent could have done this investigation.
Wilson was a career foreign service officer who served during a bunch of Republican administrations. That doesn't make him a "democratic operative." But he had enough skills to visit a foreign country and meet with the right people to talk about documents.
Plame posed for Vanity Fair after she was already outed. Her cover was already blown. i'm guessing she is doing what lots of people do when they need a new job -- self promotion.
Novak has changed his story on the leak and some people here are only citing the one that is convenient for the administration.
The leak was a felony precisely because Plame was undercover. How could lots of people know she was covert? Did anyone know even Joseph Wilson before June? He was a career FSO. Those guys are mostly anonymous, living abroad most of their adult lives. They aren't exactly DC party people. Plus, Plame was a second wife, so even Wilson's friends probably didn't know her very well.
posted by: gogol13 on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
It appears that your assessment is based on political bias, rather than any actual knowledge.
Perhaps you should share your hunches with the grand jury currently meeting in the US Courthouse in DC to explore possible criminal wrongdoing in the Plame matter. I'm sure that once you explain that it was all a misunderstanding and that all they have to do is look at Novak's denials or read Clifford May's article, they'll realize that they're all barking up the wrong tree and go home.posted by: JakeV on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
Nice try Rodger, but Joe Wilson went on and on about how he didn't want any pictures taken of his wife because of her undercover job... until Vanity Fair came calling, that is. If she really was a serious undercover agent, pictures of her in a national publication would substantially compound the damage beyond merely identifying her as Joseph Wilson's wife. You have two options, either Wilson and his wife intentionally harmed national security for their own vanity, or her high security undercover job really wasn't that big of a deal in the first place. Neither one makes them look good.
Beyond that, you don't seem particularly up to the details on the whole Uranium from Africa deal. Bush's state of the union address statement was not based on the forged documents, it was based on completely seperate British Intelligence. He did not mention Niger. And before you say anything, the Bush Administration admitted it should have based the SOTU statement on more than British Intelligence say so- they did NOT admit that it was based on the Niger forgeries and the did NOT admit the accusation was false(and I don't mean that in just the semantic, the British-said-so sense).
In fact, it is my understanding that Wilson(Or someone else?) found that an Iraqi trade envoy had come to Niger. Niger's only export of note is.... Uranium. The SOTU claim was that Iraq had TRIED to buy Uranium, not that they had succeeded, and that looks like some pretty strong circumstantial evidence that Iraq was trying to buy Uranium from Niger. So basically, Wilson is looking like a jackass on every level.
BTW, I'm different from the other Bill.posted by: Bill on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
Getting rid of Cheney looks increasingly likely. (Un)fortunately it looks more and more like ditching Cheney will not be plausible with just a line about it being about his health. He will be a problem for Bush even if he is not on the ticket. And changing the ticket introduces a whole host of problems with who else can do the job of holding the place open for 2008 while still satisfying the conservative base and not scaring to death the rest of America. For the first time in 2.5 years it looks like Bush needs to pull a rabbit out of a hat for a political victory.posted by: Rich on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
Other Bill writes: "In fact, it is my understanding that Wilson(Or someone else?) found that an Iraqi trade envoy had come to Niger. Niger's only export of note is.... Uranium. "
Only problem is that Iraq had plenty of uranium already, and no nuclear program in operation to use it. Not even a program in construction. So they had no need for the yellowcake they already had, let alone more from Africa.
If you have a 50 gallon drum full of gasoline, but no car to use it in, there's not much incentive to go looking for a gas station, is there?
There was a recent report that the envoy in question had come forward and said that he wasn't asking for uranium, he was asking for Niger to send an embargo-breaking passenger flight to Iraq.
Apparently, there had been a similar thing with Libya, where African nations broke an embargo on Libya and sent flights there. Or something to that effect. A symbolic "resisting the oppressor" sort of gesture, I think was the idea.
I think what Iraq was after would be for some nations to fly to Baghdad and symbolically break the embargo, and thus somehow gin up support in the UN for ending the embargo on Iraq.
I don't know if it's true or not. It's kinda weird. But, there seems to be that Libya precedent. And Saddam went in for the symbolic gesture, like that koran-written-in-his-blood thing.
It makes about as much sense as seeking uranium for a nonexistent nuclear program for which copious material is already on hand.posted by: Jon H on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
“*One thing does trouble me: why haven't the other wire services -- AP, Reuters -- picked this story up?”
“Also, why hasn't anyone else picked up on Sale’s alleged startling revelations? Could it be that other news media organizations don’t think highly of Sale’s work?”
Dan Drezner and I have both noticed something peculiar: no other news organization has opted to give attention to Richard Sale’s piece. I am writing these comments on Friday, 3:08 AM (central)---and there is total silence. Me thinks that my earlier suspicions have been verified. Sale is not a respected journalist. Where’s the beef?posted by: David Thomson on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
“And, of course, the two words that nobody here has mentioned yet.... Vanity Fair. The two words that managed to demonstrate quite clearly that the concept of Valerie-Plame-as-serious-undercover-agent was a joke. Seriously, just pass that out to the jury and say "She willingly posed for this", that should handle the defense.”
Exactly. This is another reason why I doubt very seriously that there will ever be criminal charges filed. I cannot imagine a jury convicting anyone involved in the Plame affair. A criminal defense lawyer just out of law school should easily win such a case. Prosecutors don’t like to go to court if they will ultimately look ridiculous.
Perhaps you should share your hunches with the grand jury currently meeting in the US Courthouse in DC to explore possible criminal wrongdoing in the Plame matter. I'm sure that once you explain that it was all a misunderstanding and that all they have to do is look at Novak's denials or read Clifford May's article, they'll realize that they're all barking up the wrong tree and go home.”
This is a politically motivated investigation. The Democrats could care less how much energy and time are wasted if there is even an outside possibility in embarrassing the Bush administration. The latter does not dare appear engaging in a coverup. Therefore, this sort of investigation will continue until the bitter end even though everybody senses that it's probably a total waste of time.
Aside from all this... isn't Dick Cheney the worst VP ever? At least, since Agnew. Or maybe even including Agnew. Consider:
• Asked to head the search for a VP candidate, he comes up with... himself. Ummmm does that show a lack of character, using his position to grab the main chance for himself? Especially considering that...
BTW, when I speak of Cheney enriching himself... I don't think he gets or wants actual kickbacks, or cares that much about a few million more dollars... the dollars are just a way to keep score: for people like Cheney, when he walks into the Haliburton board room, and everyone in the room knows that he's the ultimate rainmaker, the Babe Ruth of dealmakers... that is the ultimate enrichment. For people like him. In my personal opionion.posted by: a random person on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
You're claiming because of the ownership of UPI, that they're biased to the right.
Then you claim the story is unbiased.
Do you not see the disconnect, here?
Bill, Bill, Bill:
You have no clue about the timelines and you post?
Yes Bill, Wilson has super powers that let him know the future and so he went on an trip to Africa so that he could, a year and a half later, publish an OpEd to discredit the President. Of course he also knew exactly what Bush would say one year later in his SOTU speech.
posted by: GT on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
*One thing does trouble me: why haven't the other wire services -- AP, Reuters -- picked this story up?
Because UPI is not a credible source for news?
Because the "federal law enforcement officials" quoted in the article aren't identified?
Because AP, Reuters, et. al. aren't able to find any corroberating evidence?
Who can say for sure?
I'm also troubled by the lack of follow on. Actually "disappointed" is more like it. I'd really really like for this to pan out and to see Scooter Libby frog-marched out of the White House and then flip his superiors. But wishing won't make it so.
I'll file this in the "interesting rumor" category until further developments...posted by: uh_clem on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
"One thing does trouble me: why haven't the other wire services -- AP, Reuters -- picked this story up?"
Possibly also because the story AFAIK *didn't* appear on the UPI wire, but instead appeared in another Moonie publication, though it was written by the UPI intelligence correspondent.
" This Asian Times piece has the rundown on Cheney's travails as of late. This graf stands out:
According to recent polls, Cheney's approval ratings, hovering around 20 percent, are already far below Bush's, which have themselves sunk below 50 percent for the first time in his presidency."
Dan, you should update this post - the article is BS.posted by: Al on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
Richard Sale’s article is almost certainly being ignored because the other major media outlets know that it’s bogus. Their sources are telling them the exact opposite: nothing is going on and the investigation has become a very boring affair. It will not end with shocking revelations but a whimper. Liberal journalists have concluded that the manufactured outrage generated by Joseph Wilson is going nowhere. It was only temporarily useful in smearing the Bush White House. Now it’s time to go on to other things. Heck, maybe they will yet find a photo of the President enjoying sex with farm animals!
Josh Marshall is likely wishing he never heard of Richard Sale. He appears to have highlighted a story that, so far, is inadvertently providing evidence that President Bush has nothing to worry about.posted by: David Thomson on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
So, after I see that the first sentence of the Asia Times story Dan quotes is BS, I check out the second sentence ("Even Halliburton, whose public image has become so tarnished that it has launched a controversial television ad campaign to boost its image, last week listed Cheney's association to the company as a 'risk factor' for its shareholders.").
Guess what? The second sentence is BS TOO!
Here's what Halliburton said is a risk, in its latest 10-Q and 10-K, as filed with the SEC:
"potentially adverse reaction, and time and expense responding to, the increased scrutiny of Halliburton by regulatory authorities, the media and others"
I suppose you could assume it has to do with Cheney, although things like the "overcharging" seem to have more to do with increased scrutiny than Cheney's association.
To be clear, Cheney's association to the company is NOT "listed" as a risk factor; at most, it is implied. Cheney's name does not appear in either the 10-Q or the 10-K. More BS from the Asia Times.
Again, Dan, I think you should make it clear the extent to which the Asia Times article is misleading.posted by: Al on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
Eh, crap. Now I reread your post, and I see you've got it! Did you just fix it, or did I miss it before?posted by: Al on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
Please get a clue. When "liberal journalists" like Conason and Corn were harping on this last June, they were completely ignored. The investigation started only after the CIA demanded repeatedly that DOJ begin an investigation. Add to that the number of ex-CIA (including Repubs like Larry Johnson) that are pushing this forward, it's ridiculous to suggest that this is a Dem/left wing invention.
“The investigation started only after the CIA demanded repeatedly that DOJ begin an investigation. Add to that the number of ex-CIA (including Repubs like Larry Johnson) that are pushing this forward, it's ridiculous to suggest that this is a Dem/left wing invention.”
I do have a clue. Actions speak louder than words. I’m not in the least bit impressed by Larry Johnson’s so-called Republican membership. The “Oldman” also claims this distinction while opposing just everything the current Republican Party stands for. Also, the CIA is inhabited by many politically correct liberals. It is most certainly not a bastion of conservative thinking.
I agree with David Thomson's Feb. 6th AM posting. I'd like to suggest another reason why the rest of the press isn't all over this and answer Josh's question at TPM about the Ashcroft recusal.
Remember the Kay report. He goes on Reuters a liberal news source, gives a cooperative interview, they quoted him out of context, and the rest of the media is all over it. Suddenly Kay is a 'swell guy layin' out the whole truth and nothing but the truth". 'Everyone can believe him 'cause he's tellin' it like it is'. Then AFTER he gets everyone's attention and we all know what a good dude he is, he goes on Today and vigorously defends the President's WOT including Iraq.
Maybe the press smells an MO here. It could be they realize that if they let themselves get hustled it's gonna be harder for them to sell the need for a congressional investigation if they don't get their story out of the grand jury. The Ashcroft recusal,('oh boy it's somethin' big'!) could be a strategy to sucker the press and (darn it!) they aren't goin' for it.
Except for Josh.......Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha! I love it!
Hmmm... fiscally conservative, against unfair trade treaties, pragmatically cautious about foreign intervention, against foreign aid (like billions for Iraq), pro national security, against Federal interference in local system systems, against gay marriage (maybe a discrete civil union statue state by state would be okay), and against unrestricted immigration ...
Oh yeah Dave, I really cut the profile as the odd-duck among Republicans. Not. Give it up Thomson. It's not that I am not a Republican ... it's that Bush ceased to represent core Republican values a long time ago. The only thing he's just about got left going for him is that he's a cross-on-his-sleeve style Christian, he's against gay marriage, and he's gutting the environment. There are allot of Republicans who are disturbed by his approach to policy.posted by: Oldman on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
"Also, the CIA is inhabited by many politically correct liberals. It is most certainly not a bastion of conservative thinking."
It's funny how the CIA has suddenly become such a left-leaning organization to you kneejerk Bush defenders because they don't rubberstamp all your usually erroneous views of the world. Apparently, it has also morphed into a partisan Democratic front company committed to bringing down the Bushies, arm-in-arm with Soros and Moveon. Tell me, what does paranoia feel like?
Bill wrote: "...undercut the war on terrorism, discredit the President and undermine US credibility abroad in one fell swoop."
A very concise summary of the effects of Bush's Iraq policy, Joe Wilson notwithstanding.
posted by: vr101 on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
posted by: tom tobin on 02.05.04 at 05:24 PM [permalink]
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