The Latest Twists In The Plame Case


Ole’ Fitz is going down in flames:

Using reporters as their first batch of witnesses, Libby’s attorneys tried to show that the administration was leaking from several sources. And when Libby had the opportunity to leak himself, they said, he did not.

Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus testified he learned about Plame, the wife of former ambassador and prominent war critic Joseph Wilson, from White House press secretary Ari Fleischer. The Post’s Bob Woodward and syndicated columnist Robert Novak testified they heard it from Deputy State Department Secretary Richard Armitage.

As for Libby, both Novak and New York Times reporter David Sanger testified that they separately interviewed him and that he never discussed Plame.

"I believe you’re the third Pulitzer prize winner to testify this morning," Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald quipped when he began questioning Sanger.

Fitzgerald says Libby learned Plame’s identity from Cheney and other officials, then discussed it with New York Times reporter Judith Miller and Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper. Libby says he never revealed it to Miller and says he only told Cooper what he had heard from another reporter, NBC’s Tim Russert.

Libby is not charged with the leak, but Fitzgerald says he lied because he feared prosecution and losing his job.

Defense attorneys say Libby had no reason to lie. Why, they ask, would he out Plame to Miller and not take the opportunity to do the same in interviews with Sanger and Novak?

[…]Woodward’s testimony provided Libby’s attorneys a victory in making that argument. They persuaded a judge to let them play a one-minute excerpt of Woodward’s taped interview with Armitage. In it, Woodward asks about a CIA fact-finding mission that Wilson says helped him debunk prewar intelligence on Iraq.

Here is the audio they played:

And here’s a bit of it in transcript thanks to ABC:

Woodward: …What’s Scowcroft up to?
Armitage: [ ] Scowcroft is looking into the yellowcake thing.
Woodward: Oh yeah?
Armitage: As the PFIAB.
Woodward: Yeah. What happened there?
Armitage: They’re back together. [coughs] They knew with yellowcake, the CIA is not going to be hurt by this one—
Woodward: I know, that’s—
Armitage: — Hadley and Bob Joseph know. It’s documented. We’ve got our documents on it. We’re clean as a [ ] whistle. And George personally got it out of the Cincinnati speech of the president.
Woodward: Oh he did?
Armitage: Oh yeah.
Woodward: Oh really?
Armitage: Yeah.
Woodward: It was taken out?
Armitage: Taken out. George said you can’t do this.
Woodward: How come it wasn’t taken out of the State of the Union then?
Armitage: Because I think it was overruled by the types down at the White House. Condi doesn’t like being in the hot spot. But she —
Woodward: But it was Joe Wilson who was sent by the agency. I mean that’s just —
Armitage: His wife works in the agency.
Woodward: — Why doesn’t that come out? Why does —
Armitage: Everyone knows it.
Woodward: —that have to be a big secret? Everyone knows.
Armitage: Yeah. And I know [ ] Joe Wilson’s been calling everybody. He’s pissed off because he was designated as a low-level guy, went out to look at it. So, he’s all pissed off.
Woodward: But why would they send him?
Armitage: Because his wife’s a [ ] analyst at the agency.
Woodward: It’s still weird.
Armitage: It—It’s perfect. This is what she does, she is a WMD analyst out there.
Woodward: Oh she is.
Armitage: Yeah.
Woodward: Oh, I see.
Armitage: [ ] look at it.
Woodward: Oh I see. I didn’t [ ].
Armitage: Yeah. See?
Woodward: Oh, she’s the chief WMD?
Armitage: No she isn’t the chief, no.
Woodward: But high enough up that she can say, "Oh yeah, hubby will go."
Armitage: Yeah, he knows Africa.
Woodward: Was she out there with him?
Armitage: No.
Woodward: When he was ambassador?
Armitage: Not to my knowledge. I don’t know. I don’t know if she was out there or not. But his wife is in the agency and is a WMD analyst. How about that [ ]?

As always, it comes back to Armitage.  But that’s neither here nor there because ole’ Fitz’s scapegoating case if falling apart at the seams and I’m enjoying every minute of it.

Recall when Andrea Mitchell said the following:

It was widely known among those of us who cover the intelligence community and were actively engaged in trying to track down who among the foreign service community was the envoy to Niger

Sounds like she wasn’t so wrong afterall huh?

AJStrata’s take on the tape:

But Armitage goes further and explains HOW everyone knew. Woodward repeats back incredulously “Everyone knew”? and Armitage provides the hard evidence of who was talking about Plame” .. because Joe Wilson has been calling everybody! He’s pissed off ’cause he’s looked at as some low level guy…”. I predicted long ago, and again just prior to the trial, it would come out that Joe and Valerie were both sources for Kristof and others. Armitage is not saying ‘everyone knows’ who Joe Wilson is (though they did). He is saying “everyone knows” because Wilson was calling everybody and spilling the beans on his wife! It is quite clear what Armitage is saying, and what I am betting he will testify too.

I have maintained the reason Fitz could not charge anyone with exposing Plame was because Plame had exposed herself (or Wilson had) to back up Joe’s wild claims about forged evidence. Seems I was right.

And then we have Novak stating at the trial that Libby didn’t discuss Plame with him:

W[ells] Describe your recollection of your conversation.

R[obert]N[ovak] I was trying to find out more information about Wilson’s mission to Niger and VP’s connection. Most memorable about call, I asked Libby if he might be helpful to me in establishing timeline in 16 words. When they came in, who proposed it, sort of a consecutive account that I could put in column. I interpreted him as saying he could be helpful.

W In context of talking to Libby did Wilson’s wife come up.

RN I don’t remember exactly, I might have raised that question, I got no help, and no confirmation on that issue. The reason I’m fuzzy is that I talk to a lot of people in govt an politics everyday and a lot of them are not very helpful and I discard unhelpful conversations in my memory bank.

W You have a clear recollection he gave you no info about it.

RN I’m sure he gave be no info about it.

Millions of dollars wasted on this!

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I must have caught an unedited tape somewhere. The one the AP has deletes the expletives.

But I swear I heard Armitage say Plame was a bitch.

Note that Wilson was “pissed off” that he was tagged as a “low level guy.”

I wonder if this whole thing wasn’t started as an ego boost for Joe Wilson?

If you come across the unedited version let me know….would love to have it instead.

As far as the ego boost theory goes, you can bet your ass that was how this whole thing became bigger then it ever should have.