Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Questions, comments, rude remarks

It was a pretty wild day in the eternal sea thanks to the tsunami created by Commuter Guy. Air America was on fire with the "I" word while Lib bloggers were pretty calm, if you ignore their figurative calls for GOP heads on pikes.

Olbermann's "heroic" screed from last night was popular and no doubt his call tonight for a resignation will generate the same rush.

As to the majors, the NY Times regained it's faux balance by calmly pointing out that "much of the reaction Tuesday, but hardly all, fell along predictable political lines". Yes, but by specifying Tuesday they cleverly excluded themselves since their Olby-esque rant was issued Monday night.

But the WaPo's Dan Froomkin took up where the Times left off. Here's my windy attempt at a deconstruction:
We know, for instance, that Cheney was the first person to tell Libby about Plame's identity.
Ah, but are we sure who first told Cheney? It's not something he would have handy in the ole blackberry, if he even has one. Seems Langley would be the source, which brings in George Tenet, rather mum on this entire thing. He did write a book, so let's go to the source. Starting on page 302:
[some]..have contended that there was some kind of war between CIA and the office of the Vice President. If there was a war, it was one-sided and we were the noncombatants.
For those less desirous of reading to the end, Tenet never provides details of who sent Plame nor did he elaborate on who told the Veep her status. He does mention Libby here:
Jami Miscik, our senior analyst, came to me one day in mid-2002 complaining that several policy makers, notably Scooter Libby and Paul Wolfowitz, never seemed satisfied with our answers regarding allegations of Iraqi complicity with al-Qa'ida. I told her to tell her analysts to "quit killing trees"
Interestingly, Ms. Wilson mentioned that one of her fellow female analysts was upset after talking to somebody in the OVP about the Niger yellowcake issue. Well, she mentioned this during her Congressional testimony in front of Waxman but not in front of the Senate years earlier (when her memory should have been fresher). Wonder if they compared notes? Just kidding.

Onward to page 453, where Tenet speaks of the origins of Plame to which he attributes to the WaPo's own Walter Pincus:
Yes, they told Pincus, there had been such a trip but, no, the mission had not been undertaken at the vice-president's behest, and the vice-president was never briefed on the trip's less-than-compelling results.
Pincus, like Mitchell, was searching around for clues after the Nick Kristof article in May. Recall the WaPo's own Bob Woodward received a tip from Dick Armitage in mid June about Plame and testified in court he told Pincus, who denies it. Hey, I thought lying was serious!

Froomkin again:
We know that Cheney told Libby to leak Plame's identity to the New York Times in an attempt to discredit her husband
Debunk is the word they were looking for. Cheney was clearly debunking the Wilson tale, which required telling the public he didn't send the guy to Africa. Wilson was just fine with allowing people to believe Cheney had sent him, portrayed as such in the Kristof piece.
We don't know why Libby decided to lie to federal investigators about his role in the leak
Hell, we still don't know whether Armitage lied. Rove. Woodward. Pincus. Fleischer. Russert. Mitchell. Grenier. Cooper. Or Valerie. I've always thought it quite possible that Libby lied, but if so he lied about a lie in trying to avoid a trap based on the war for the sake of rank politics.
that Cheney instructed Libby to out a CIA agent in his no-holds-barred crusade against a critic
Doubtful. Knowing Cheney's propensity for seeing through Washington power games it's likely he saw through this one pretty quick and put out the word to creatively debunk it. Maybe they went too far, maybe not. No doubt they probably figured Wilson, if left unchecked, would become a fair-haired media darling and continue to hurl gasoline on the no-WMDs fire. It can't be forgotten that the MSM was largely on the hook for the Butcher's WMDs with stories stretching back to the Clinton years. Mucho 'splainin was in store--unless they could deflect everything with Wilson.

Froomkin ends with this dud:
All of this means that Bush's decision yesterday to commute Libby's prison sentence isn't just a matter of unequal justice. It is also a potentially self-serving and corrupt act
My reading pretty much ended there, with four pages left. Better to go back to someone who should know, like Tenet. After all, he was the DCI. Forward to page 454:
It was pretty clear that some anonymous staffers in the vice-president's office were trying to make sure that if there were any fallout over the issue, CIA would be solely be held at fault. This became a familiar theme for us.
Hmm. But there's more juice on 460. I won't quote anymore directly--buy the book if you'd like more--but suffice to say Tenet blames the "16 words" on a bureaucratic mistake by a sole CIA staffer named Alan Foley, head of the WINPAC division at Langley, because he only scanned the SOTU text for "sources and methods", not appropriateness. CIA had already recommended removal of this same information from a previous speech in Cincinnati so the reason Tenet offered a mea culpa was only because his staffer didn't suggest removal.

At least that's what he says. Trouble is the CIA contributed to the ominous 2002 NIE and claimed to not believe Wilson's findings when he returned. Tenet has already been proved to have exaggerated (in the least) when he muddled the 9/11 story and just recently, in the WaPo no less, a DIA analyst accused him of misrepresentation.


No matter, the pack dog press has successfully crafted a conventional wisdom around Wilson's prevarications that somehow says Saddam was toothless after years of building him up as monster. Same ole same ole. The object lesson here is probably this--power plays happen between people with mountainous egos gathered together in Washington, D.C. Until we're shown some credible evidence that harm was done to national security (which might include a prosecution of Armitage) there was no harm in commuting Libby. Now, howza bout we move on to who leaked the NSA program?

DUH 7/8/7

Cheney found out about Plame from CIA Spokesman Harlow, the guy who helped Tenet write his book. This factoid came out at trial during the testimony of Cheney press aide Cathie Martin. It's sometimes hard to keep the pieces put together in this case.

Does it change the above? Not really. My point was that a mission to discover whether Saddam had been trying to buy yellowcake in Africa should not have been some kind of trivial pursuit, and seemingly something the DCI would want to know. If CPD kept him out of the loop on purpose it suggests either they 1) didn't want him to know what they were up to, or 2) it didn't matter.

We still haven't been given a good explanation of how Wilson knew about the phony Niger docs well before the IAEA notified the US government. Maybe it'll be in the movie.

Off topic, but today's date is 7/8/7. What better day for Boeing to roll out the new 787 Dreamliner. Clever devils.

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