March 13, 2006
Some Plame TruthsBy Clarice Feldman
This weekend some interesting developments appeared to rip some holes in the Wilson Gambit and further erode Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's credibility.
David Corn of The Nation magazine and VIPS (Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity) have pushed nonsensical claims that Valerie Plame was a nonofficial cover agent (NOC), supplying the necessary predicate for an Agee Act (Intelligence Identity Protection Act) prosecution. While I could find scant reporting in the pre—indictment period poking holes in this ridiculous notion, Saturday's Chicago Tribune carried five stories doing just that.
In two of the most significant articles, the paper showed how easy it was to mine data online and determine who was working for the agency, including finding people who'd worked at the reported Plame undercover front Brewster—Jennings, people who listed that outfit in their online resumes.
Even more significant was another article in which for the first time agency insiders revealed the long bruited claim that she was properly classified as a NOC was utter nonsense. Here are some of those insiders' assertions:
To Libby's lawyers the issue is an important one. For if she never was covered by the IIPA it is hard to determine a motive for him to lie about his conversations with reporters, which supposed criminal lies form the basis of the indictment.
It will be harder still, I should think, for the Special Prosecutor to assert if she weren't a NOC that he had any legitimate purpose to continue with this investigation. If you, like me, think the Constitution has a big 'no fishing' sign on it, prosecutors are not allowed to take testimony when no underlying crime is at issue. And that could certainly explain Patrick Fitzgerald's refusal to turn over in discovery to Libby documentation of her status — which he mentioned as 'classified' in both his indictment press conference and the indictment itself.
But I am curious as to why this story suddenly, after all this time appears. Was Crewdson simply a far better reporter that the others who for the most part seem to have in their rolodex under "CIA" just the names and numbers of the anti—Administration VIPS? Or did, these people seek out the reporter? Now that Goss is cleaning house and much of the Plame gang is out, are the professionals feeling it's long past time to reprise the agency's tattered reputation?
Even more significant, as the federal prosecutors and investigators have descended on the CIA and Senate Intelligence Committee and its staff, are they learning more about the Wilson Gambit, freeing from fear those who knew this was baloney?
With the exception in the Chicago Tribune, the press remains fairly incurious at the odd confluence of the sudden turning of Wilson, the defection of Clarke and Beers to the Kerry campaign and the Rockefeller memo on how to use Wilson to turn the Senate Intelligence Committee to partisan advantage. But the bloggers work on.
Last week, the Special Prosecutor went to great lengths to protect the source of the leak to Novak and Woodward, a seemingly identical source, against Libby's demand for this information. But the affidavit in which he named the source to the Court has been subjected to some preliminary typewriter analysis (similar to the one that exposed the TANG memo as a fraud), and that analysis suggests that the most likely source of all the named suspects was Richard Armitage, Colin Powell's Deputy Secretary of State.
This would not be the first time Armitage has been suggested as the source of the leak. Newsweek suggested this some time ago, and analysis at the premiere Plamaniac site, Just One Minute, determined last year that supposition had much to commend it.
What makes the efforts of the Special Prosecutor so puzzling is that these are the first documented reports of anyone in the Administration mentioning Plame's name to reporters. Even more puzzling is that this source actually does seem, unlike Libby, to have obstructed the Special Prosecution though he is not only uncharged, but the Prosecutor is taking great pains to keep his name secret.
As Tom Maguire notes:
Finally, Woodward has conceded that on June 23, 2003, he may have asked Libby about Plame after receiving this leak, and that he thinks Libby did not respond to it. June 23 is that date that Fitzgerald focused on, indicating that Libby first disclosed such information to a reporter—— Judy Miller—— on that date. Her own recollection of her grand jury testimony on what Libby, in fact, said to her on that date is so baffling and unclear that Fitzgerald only dared to throw it in the omnibus kitchen sink obstruction charge.
No one who's paid attention thinks she'll be a compelling prosecution witness. Moreover,since Libby's defense is that reporters were asking him, not that he was telling them, the fact that a reporter concedes he might have done just that on June 23 makes Fitzgerald's fixation on that date seem preposterous.
Perhaps if the man he was trying so hard to protect, the unidentified government source (UGO), is Armitage, it goes beyond being preposterous to become an attempt to cover up a fatally flawed investigation never designed to ferret out the truth.
According to Drudge
'I had heard about an e—mail that was sent that had a lot of unprintable language in it.'"