Thursday, July 21, 2005

Treasongate Timeline

I was putting together a timeline for the Plame leak story, when I found this gem at DKosopedia. No point in reinventing the wheel, right?

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Lots of blogger reaction to Murray Waas's piece in The American Prospect reporting that Karl Rove did not inform the FBI, in his 2003 interview with them, that he had spoken with Matthew Cooper about Valerie Plame. Obviously, that omission casts doubt on his claim that he did not know Plame was a covert agent when he spoke about her with Novak and Cooper. And as Waas points out, it also does not help his credibility that he said he could not recall the name of the journalist who first told him that Plame worked for the CIA; and then backtracked even further, saying that it might not have been a journalist who gave him this information at all, and he could not remember where he heard it.

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At Left Coaster, Eriposte notes an important development in the Plame leak story. The Wall Street Journal got hold of a State Department memo from June 2003 that mentioned Valerie Wilson in connection with her suggestion that her husband be sent to Niger to investigate the yellowcake claims. Wilson is Valerie Plame's married name. The memo did not mention her covert status at the C.I.A. However, the memo was labeled "S" (secret), meaning that the information in it was classified and not to be shared with anyone. The Wall Street Journal is behind a subscription wall, but Eriposte links to Raw Story, which published excerpts from the WSJ article.

Now the question becomes, Did Karl Rove or Scooter Libby or any other nonauthorized officials see the memo; and if not, how did they get information about Valerie Plame that was clearly not to be seen or discussed with anyone lacking the proper security clearance?

Another issue raised by this State Department memo is that it demonstrates the disagreement between State and the White House over the legitimacy of the intelligence linking Iraq to attempts to purchase yellowcake from Niger. The memo is about that disagreement; Valerie Wilson is mentioned only peripherally, because of her suggestion that her husband be sent to investigate the claims. Via Eriposte, John at AMERICAblog points to this AP story:

A State Department memo that has caught the attention of prosecutors describes a CIA officer's role in sending her husband to Africa and disputes administration claims that Iraq was shopping for uranium, a retired department official said Tuesday.

The classified memo was sent to Air Force One just after former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson went public with his assertions that the Bush administration overstated the evidence that Iraq was interested in obtaining uranium from Niger for nuclear weapons.
The document was prepared in June 2003 at the direction of Carl W. Ford Jr., then head of the State Department's bureau of intelligence and research, for Marc Grossman, the retired official said. Grossman was the Undersecretary of State who was in charge of the department while Secretary Colin Powell and his deputy, Richard Armitage, were traveling. Grossman needed the memo because he was dealing with other issues and was not familiar with the subject, the former official said.

"It wasn't a Wilson-Wilson wife memo," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is still under way. "It was a memo on uranium in Niger and focused principally on our disagreement" with the White House.

Armitage called Ford after Wilson's op-ed piece in The New York Times and his TV appearance on July 6, 2003 in which he challenged the White House's claim that Iraq had purchased uranium yellowcake from Niger.

Armitage asked that Powell, who was traveling to Africa with Bush, be given an account of the Wilson trip, said the former official.

The original June 2003 memo was readdressed to Powell and included a short summary prepared by an analyst who was at a 2002 CIA meeting where Wilson's trip was arranged and was sent in one piece to Powell on Air Force One the next day.

Josh Marshall speculates, via one of his readers who is "a retired US ambassador, a career foreign service officer and Asia specialist," on the path the memo might have taken to get from its source at State to Colin Powell, traveling to Africa on Air Force One. And in the next post down, Josh notes the latest sad chapter in the (by now) lengthy story of Christopher Hitchens' transformation into a fourth-rate right-wing flack: In Monday's Slate, Hitchens tries to make the case that Joseph Wilson is a liar and that Iraq really did try to buy yellowcake from Iraq. The most depressing part of Hitchens' piece is his sneering reference to "an antiwar press" in this paragraph:

Thus, and to begin with, Joseph Wilson comes before us as a man whose word is effectively worthless. What do you do, if you work for the Bush administration, when a man of such quality is being lionized by an anti-war press? Well, you can fold your tent and let them print the legend. Or you can say that the word of a mediocre political malcontent who is at a loose end, and who is picking up side work from a wife who works at the anti-regime-change CIA, may not be as "objective" as it looks. I dare say that more than one supporter of regime change took this option. I would certainly have done so as a reporter if I had known.

Once upon a time, Hitchens was part of that "antiwar press."

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