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Classified Memo Naming Wilson's Wife Was on Air Force One

Leaks from Fitzgerald's grand jury investigation are coming faster and faster. Now we know that Valerie Wilson's identity as a CIA Agent and the wife of Joseph Wilson was revealed in a June 10, 2003 State Department memo and that Colin Powell had it with him on Air Force One on the July 7 - 12, 2003 Bush trip to Africa - and was seen walking up and down the aisles of the Air Force One with it.

The memo was dated June 10, 2003, nearly four weeks before Mr. Wilson wrote an Op-Ed article for The New York Times in which he recounted his mission and accused the administration of twisting intelligence to exaggerate the threat from Iraq. The memo was written for Marc Grossman, then the under secretary of state for political affairs, and it referred explicitly to Valerie Wilson as Mr. Wilson's wife, according to a government official who reread the memo on Friday.

Here's the catch: It didn't mention Valerie Plame, it mentioned Valerie Wilson. Novak's article mentioned Valerie Plame.

More details:

Investigators in the case have been trying to learn whether officials at the White House and elsewhere in the administration learned of the C.I.A. officer's identity from the memorandum. They are seeking to determine if any officials then passed the name along to journalists and if officials were truthful in testifying about whether they had read the memorandum, the people who have been briefed said, asking not to be named because the special prosecutor heading the investigation had requested that no one discuss the case.

...The memo was sent to Colin L. Powell,then the secretary of state, just before or as he traveled with President Bush and other senior officials to Africa starting on July 7, 2003.

...The special prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, has sought to determine how much Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman at the time of the leak, knew about the State Department memo. Lawyers involved in the case said Mr. Fitzgerald asked a number of questions about Mr. Fleischer's role. Mr. Fleischer was with Mr. Bush and much of the senior White House staff in Africa when Mr. Powell, who was also with them, received the memo. A spokeswoman for Mr. Powell said he was out of the country and could not comment on the memo. Mr. Fleischer said in an e-mail message this week that he would not comment on the case.

Mr. Fitzgerald has also looked into any role that I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, might have played. Lawyers with clients in the case have said that their clients have been asked questions about Mr. Libby's conversations in the days after Mr. Wilson's article - in part based on Mr. Libby's hand-written notes, which he turned over to the prosecutor.

Update: Tom Maguire of Just a Minute makes a good point in the comments below: The Memo and Powell's having it on Air Force One was discussed in this 2004 Newsweek article. Read this post of Tom's on the memo and how it ties to Kristof of the New York Times and even Jeff Gannon.

< Rove Didn't Go to Africa, Not On Air Force One | Appeals Court: Let the Military Tribunals Begin >
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  • It just gets better and better.

    Mr. Rove sent an email to Stephen J Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser, saying he "didn't take the bait" when Mr Cooper suggested that Mr. Wilson's criticisms had been damaging to the administration.
    Then this
    Mr. Rove told the grand jury in the case that the email message was consistent with his assertion that he had not intended to divulge Ms. Wilson's identity, but instead intended to rebut Mr. Wilson's criticism of the administration's use of the intelligence about Iraq.
    Those two statements are contradictory. If he intended to rebut Mr. Wilson's criticisms, why did he not "take the bait", and seize on the opportunity to do just that?

    Re: Classified Memo Naming Wilson's Wife Was on A (none / 0) (#3)
    by scarshapedstar on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:17 PM EST
    Heck, while you're at it, why do they say they're so tough on terror while they fire half of our arabic translators for being gay and out our CIA agents? They lie.

    Something else that jumped out from this NYT article was this:
    The memo was prepared at the state department relying on notes by an analyst who was involved in meetings in early 2002 to discuss whether to send someone to Africa to investigate allegations that Iraq was pursuing uranium purchases. The CIA was asked by Mr. Cheney's office and the state and defense departments to look into the reports.
    Clearly not the story we're getting from Cheney's office, or the state and defense departments.

    Re: Classified Memo Naming Wilson's Wife Was on A (none / 0) (#5)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:17 PM EST
    et al - Well, my goodness gracious. The President and the SecState are on a trip to Africa. Questions have been raised about Niger, Saddam and yellowcake. Wilson has been to Niger. And...... are you ready for this? The SecState has a memo regarding it! Gasp! cheetah - You're grasping for straws, but that's not surprising. Per Miller’s email, Rove warned him to not put too much faith in Wilson… to not get too far in front… That is clearly rebutting Wilson’s article.

    PPJ
    grasping at straws
    No, ppj, it looks like you are!

    Re: Classified Memo Naming Wilson's Wife Was on A (none / 0) (#7)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:17 PM EST
    cheetah - Do you regularly change the contents of things you show as quotations? I mean, you just did. I'll just go with the reasonable man approach. If someone tells a reporter to not get too far out front on a story, then he is rebutting the story with his warning. i.e. The story is wrong. Don't make yourself look silly. Good grief, cheetah. Have you no logic?

    If someone tells a reporter to not get too far out front on a story, then he is rebutting the story with his warning. i.e. The story is wrong.
    OK, let's assume that Rove's purpose was to rebut Wilson's story. (There are some problems with this assumption, but for now let's ignore them.) Why would this make it permissible for him to reveal or confirm the identity of a CIA employee?

    PPJ, "grasping for straws". There! Better? Wouldn't want to mess with a growling dog!

    Your argument doesn't hold water, by the way. Just another right-wing talking point. Oh! Now I get it. No wonder it doesn't hold water!

    Re: Classified Memo Naming Wilson's Wife Was on A (none / 0) (#10)
    by The Heretik on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:17 PM EST
    Memo and Rove both refer to Mrs. Wilson, CIA agent. More trouble for Rove. I don't think the technicalities as to whether what Rove did was legal matter either. Rove did damange to a running CIA front company and all the CIA employees under that cover. To hear the Republican National Committee offering talking points rebutting small points that obscure this larger point is laughable at best. This from the hardnosed realists tough on terror, making the hard decisions . . . that set back the war on terror. The Bush administration has lost what it most needs: total control of the narrative, the way this story gets told. More on this at Do you feel lucky, punk?

    Re: Classified Memo Naming Wilson's Wife Was on A (none / 0) (#11)
    by scarshapedstar on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:17 PM EST
    Jim, that's a great parsing job, but how do you reconcile it with Rove's general MO? He got his start with dirty tricks and will tell you that himself. Here we have the motive, the opportunity, and a textbook Rove attack... who are we supposed to believe did it, exactly? I'm going to remain on the side of not trusting that scumbag, thanks. Your boy Scott McClellan isn't doing much to convince me otherwise, either. When someone changes their tune from: "That's ridiculous" (last year, in re: Karl Rove's involvement) to "No comment, ongoing investigation, thanks, gotta go" (every 5 minutes since this story broke, in flagrant contradiction of the previous quote, which was also made during the investigation. and, yes, that is paraphrased.) How the hell do you rationalize that? Does it count as a flip-flop? Will the Republican commenters suddenly go silent? Stay tuned!

    PPJ, I will not waste my time quoting you, as what you said is ridiculous. My answer to your understanding of that little scenario is merely to say that you are reaching way beyond all reason.

    Let's not forget that these occupants of the white house are sworn to uphold the laws of the land, among other things. That means that they are not above the law! No matter how fast they spin the lies, they should never be allowed to skate on that.

    Bush is the boss over there in the big white house, and he's responsible when his boys and girls f**k up. Now, I don't think anyone can argue with that point. And no sane person can argue with the fact that loose lips sink ships!

    These clowns have pulled some bad tricks before, but outing a CIA NOC? That just shows how really STUPID they are.

    PPJ: "Fire! Aim! Oh no, I just shot myself in the leg!"

    Re: Classified Memo Naming Wilson's Wife Was on A (none / 0) (#13)
    by Tom Maguire on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:17 PM EST
    The CIA was asked by Mr. Cheney's office and the state and defense departments to look into the reports. That jumped out at me too - I'll bet that it takes a *very* broad reading of the SSCI report on how the Iraqi intelligence was handled to reach that conclusion, but considering how much the Times got right, I let that slide. As to the idea that the memo story is news - well, the Times added some details, such as "Valerie Wilson", and some color, such as Powell walking up and down the aisles. However, this was in Newsweek last August 2004: Sources close to the case say prosecutors were interested in discussions Powell had while with President George W. Bush on a trip to Africa in July 2003, just before Plame's identity was leaked to columnist Robert Novak. A senior State Department official confirmed that, while on the trip, Powell had a department intelligence report on whether Iraq had sought uranium from Niger—a claim Plame's husband, Joseph Wilson, discounted after a trip to Niger on behalf of the CIA. The report stated that Wilson's wife had attended a meeting at the CIA where the decision was made to send Wilson to Niger, but it did not mention her last name or undercover status. At the time, White House officials were seeking to discredit Wilson, who had become a public critic of the Bush administration. There's no indication Powell is a subject of the probe; the department official said the secretary never talked to Novak about the Plame matter. And the memo itself got kicked around during the Gannongate discussion,when Kos and the NY Times thought Gannon had access to classified data, but all he had was the Oct 17 2003 Wall Street Journal.

    Thanks, Tom, I missed that Newsweek piece. Great find.

    Re: Classified Memo Naming Wilson's Wife Was on A (none / 0) (#15)
    by Che's Lounge on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:17 PM EST
    Is this one of the times when Bush is aware of what's happening in his administration, or is this one of the times that Bush is unaware of what's happening in his administration? Either way is reason enough for him to resign.

    Re: Classified Memo Naming Wilson's Wife Was on A (none / 0) (#16)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:18 PM EST
    cheetah - Keep on claiming. Look, your claim was that Rove had lied. Anyway you read the emails and/or GJ testimony, he has not. So, when presented with the facts you gallop off in all directions. And one more time. Look, we know you hate Bush, and that you want to believe anything you think is negative, but: Plame was about as covert as the Washington Monument.

    Re: Classified Memo Naming Wilson's Wife Was on A (none / 0) (#17)
    by Che's Lounge on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:18 PM EST
    Jim, The CIA disagrees. Otherwise why would they call for an investigation serious enough for Asscroft to recuse himself and appoint another investigator?

    Re: Classified Memo Naming Wilson's Wife Was on A (none / 0) (#18)
    by scarshapedstar on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:18 PM EST
    "Plame was about as covert as the Washington Monument." Well, Jim, it seems to me that if the CIA didn't think this mattered, Valerie Plame would still have a job. Speaking of, Jim, I have a quick question for you. I think we can safely say that someone wanted her to lose her job and leaked her name. Do you think she deserved it? If not, why do you defend this act?

    One thing that has been really troubling to me is that Novak used the name Valerie Plame. Not only because of the discrepency with the way she was identified in the memo. Valerie Plame was her undercover name. How did he get that in the first place, and also, what would be his reason for using it? To find that name, you would have to be looking for a different name. Or, someone in the CIA, or with access to CIA info, either knew it, or came across it. But if that happened, they would have known that it was the name she used as an undercover operative.

    The only way Novak would not have known he was blowing her cover, would be if the person who gave him that name knew it, but didn't tell him.

    I think he knew.

    PPJ,you really must need a nap.

    From the DC Court of Appeals decision:

    In essence, seeking protection for sources whose nefariousness he himself exposed, Cooper asks us to protect criminal leaks so that he can write about the crime. The greater public interest lies in preventing the leak to begin with.
    And this:
    Were the leak at issue in this case less harmful to national security or more vital to public debate...I might have supported the motion to quash. Because identifying appellants' sources instead appears essential to remedying a serious breach of public trust, I join in affirming the district courts' orders compelling their testimony.
    I'd say the Judge knows more about the law than some right-wing pundit!

    Come on PPJ. You can do better than that, can't you? No, maybe not!

    "Here's the catch: It didn't mention Valerie Plame, it mentioned Valerie Wilson. Novak's article mentioned Valerie Plame." I'm not sure that's much of a "catch". Marriage licenses are public record. If they knew she was his wife already (and were trying to cover their asses before running it), it's a simple courthouse search to identify her by her maiden name.

    No,the question would be, again, WHY?

    Todd, Valerie Plame was the name she used as her cover name, as an "employee" in the front company the CIA had set up. The name written on the memo that was floating around the state dept. was her legal name, Valerie Wilson. Some people think the memo was where the information for Novak's story came from. However, her cover name, Valerie Plame, was the name he used. In the story he wrote, he said that she was Joe Wilson's wife, so what would he be covering his butt for?

    Re: Classified Memo Naming Wilson's Wife Was on A (none / 0) (#24)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:18 PM EST
    cheetah - FYI
    For Plame's outing to have been illegal, the one-time deputy AG explained, "her status as undercover must be classified." Also, Plame "must have been assigned to duty outside the United States currently or in the past five years." Since in neither case does Plame meet those criteria, Toensing argued: "There is a serious legal question as to whether she qualifies as 'covert.'
    As for the judge, I would say he has announced a crime has been committed when none has even been charged. If he truly believes that then he might think about recusing himself. Unless, however, he is speaking in general. I like this comment:
    The greater public interest lies in preventing the leak to begin with.
    If the practice of using unnamed sources was not allowed, then none of this would have occurred. One of the other nuances of all of this is that Novak writes that he called the CIA and they preferred he not use her name, but did not say he couldn't, or shouldn't. That is mid '03. Now, if it wasn't a crime then, why is it a crime now?

    PPJ, I didn't write the decision. The Judge did. Tell your little problem to him.

    As far as Toensing, she's like all the rest of your favorite spinners. In the future, why not try to find someone to quote who hasn't shown a tendency to be a right-wing political hack. If you can't muster up the courage for that, don't bother me. I have better things to do.

    Re: Classified Memo Naming Wilson's Wife Was on A (none / 0) (#26)
    by Sailor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:18 PM EST
    It was a crime then, it is a crime now, and the CIA IG says so, the independent prosecutor says so. Bush said so, McClellan said so, Dick Armey said so. If people are only going to repeat the same rnc talking points over and over, why bother to even respond? Ignore the kool-aid drinkers and rnc operatives on this site and keep your eye on the treason ball.

    Re: Classified Memo Naming Wilson's Wife Was on A (none / 0) (#27)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:18 PM EST
    cheetah - Hey, what a nasty little dude you can be. My problem? As you told me one time, it is just a comment. But yes, I'd tell the judge if were chatting. And spinners? You mean like O'Donnell or KOS or Altermanor NBC or ABC or CBS or NPR or PBS or NYT or WP or CNN or MSNBC, etc., etc. BTW - Note the ""her status as undercover must be classified." Try to figure out what it means. sailor - Well, according to Novak the CIA didn't tell him he couldn't/shouldn't. So, if it was illegal, why not? I think this thing has gone by the inital non-problem and the SP is trying to get a perjury or obstruction charge, just as was done on Clinton.

    This isn't about hating Bush, or Rove, or anyone else. This is about our national security.

    I would like to think the analysts/agents/operatives in our various intelligence agencies were allowed to perform their respective jobs, free from political meddling.

    I would like to know that intelligence wasn't being "fixed" around policy. That the people were free of the fear that they, too, could be outed because they didn't play ball.

    This case is not just about one person in the CIA being named. It's about how intelligence can be handled, or mishandled, to justify a policy or decision made by our government. Those policies and decisions affect everyone in this country, and many outside it.

    It is also about the press, and how it can be used, or misused, by the government, to push policy and frame the debate.

    And I would like to think that no one, including those in the government, is above the law.

    Re: Classified Memo Naming Wilson's Wife Was on A (none / 0) (#30)
    by ppjakajim on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:18 PM EST
    cheetah writes:
    I would like to think the analysts/agents/operatives in our various intelligence agencies were allowed to perform their respective jobs, free from political meddling.
    Could you show us an example of how this has been done? And please, don't whip out the Downing Street memos claiming anything unless you can explain the use of "but" instead of "and." I will even start you off with the Church Committee, chaired by Frank Church, Demo Senator, in the early 70's. Study it and you will see how political influence and goals essentially gutted the CIA of human intelligence by forbidding the use of foreign agents that were "bad" people. This led directly to the expansion of the NSA and its "electronics." Unfortunately, satellite photos are easily misunderstood and telephone and email intercepts can take days to be analyzed. The committee was a darling of the Left, so you should enjoy the results of its work. You write:
    This case is not just about one person in the CIA being named.
    For the country as a whole, you are wrong. For the Left and Demos it is an opportunity to play partisan politics set up by the use of a non-CIA agent to investigate something that should have been handled by professionals. It speaks very poorly of CIA management, and smells of cronyism and insiderism. As for the press, the use of leaks is a time honored political tool, and they are eagerly sought after by reporters. The problem is that we no longer just have news and leaks, everything has become infotainment, fueled by huge profits and huge salaries of those who make it to the top. They can be stopped by simply passing a law that says that no reporter has the right to shield a source. It would be further helped if the various media outlets demanded that reporters identify all sources, in the articles/interviews/comments. I think we would be amazed at how much more accurate the news would become. DA - And no one has explained why the CIA didn't tell Novak that she was covert and shouldn't be revealed. And that is a burning question. If she wasn't then, why is she now? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm???

    When Novak told a CIA spokesman he was going to write a column about Wilson's wife, the spokesman urged him not to print her name for "security reasons", according to one CIA official.

    Administration officials said Tenet sent a memo to the Justice Department raising a series of questions about whether a leaker had broken Federal law by disclosing the identity of an undercover officer.

    WaPo sep.28 2003

    Dark Avenger, Yes, in fact I gave a link to it right above you. I guess PPJ doesn't want to read actual news. Maybe that would have the same effect on him that sunlight has on a vampire.

    Dark Avenger, I see now what you said. Yes, the two quotes you added were quite telling. I like reading the early stories, the ones written before the spin takes hold. Of course, those are the ones PPJ avoids like the plague.

    My deepest and most heartfelt apologies to the ageless Prince Vlad The Impaler. My head hangs in shame.