News Report: Ari Saw the Memo on Air Force One

Via AmericaBlog and Billmon, Bloomberg News is reporting that Ari read the State Department memo on Air Force One during Bush's July 7 to 12 trip to Africa.

The memo, prepared by the State Department on July 7, 2003, informed top administration officials that the wife of ex- diplomat and Bush critic Joseph Wilson was a CIA agent. Seven days later, Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was publicly identified as a CIA operative by syndicated columnist Robert Novak.

On the same day the memo was prepared, White House phone logs show Novak placed a call to White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, according to lawyers familiar with the case and a witness who has testified before the grand jury. Those people say it isn't clear whether Fleischer returned the call, and Fleischer has refused to comment.

The Novak call may loom large in the investigation because Fleischer was among a group of administration officials who left Washington later that day on a presidential trip to Africa. On the flight to Africa, Fleischer was seen perusing the State Department memo on Wilson and his wife, according to a former administration official who was also on the trip.

A key question will be which officials received the report and when. The special prosecutor has subpoenaed telephone and fax records from Air Force One and the White House.

Fleischer, who saw the July 7 memo, wasn't part of Bush's inner circle during his tenure as press secretary, while Rove was at the heart of it. Fleischer has already announced that he was leaving his post, and the Africa trip was one of his last White House duties.

The July 7 memo was largely a reproduction of an earlier State Department report prepared around June 12. Another key question that Fitzgerald is interested in, according to the grand jury witness and the lawyers familiar with the case, is whether Rove or Libby learned of this earlier report and, if so, shared its content with reporters.

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    There is other evidence that Fleischer was part of a conspiracy This is the last time I will post this but I am befuddled that no one else is pointing to this little tidbit that Fineman shared with us yesterday in Newsweek that all the kewl kids have known for two years: Then, on a long Bush trip to Africa, Fleischer and Bartlett prompted clusters of reporters to look into the bureaucratic origins of the Wilson trip. link near the bottom of the page. Bartlett and Fleischer, the plot thickens. [Ed. links must be in html format or they skew the site. We fixed this one but future ones will have to be deleted. Instructions in comment box.]

    As expected, President Bush flip-flopped on his standards for acceptable behavior by White House staff. Turns out for he was for firing leakers before he was against it. His cowardly turnabout when it comes to saving Karl Rove may qualify for: "The Bush Top 10 Flip Flip List"

    I agree Angel. First it was "anyone involved," now it's "anyone who gets convicted of a crime while in office." Maybe soon we'll have "anyone who gets convicted of a federal crime and sentenced to not less than 20 years in prison." The bar is pretty low...

    Consider just one graph from Bush's Goree Island speech, with it's clear sarcasm. Howl again as Bush promises to grind his iron boot into the faces of those threatening his oil profits: "Below the decks, the middle passage was a hot, narrow, sunless nightmare; weeks and months of confinement and abuse and confusion on a strange and lonely sea. Some refused to eat, preferring death to any future their captors might prepare for them. Some who were sick were thrown over the side. Some rose up in violent rebellion, delivering the closest thing to justice on a slave ship." That's just how it goes with the rendition, torture, bombing, invasion, and dismantlement of an innocent country, and Sudan? They have oil, so we'll get to them. No oil? No dog in that fight.

    More: "Yet the spirit of their captors was corrupted. Small men took on the powers and airs of tyrants and masters. Years of unpunished brutality and bullying and rape produced a dullness and hardness of conscience. Christian men and women became blind to the clearest commands of their faith and added hypocrisy to injustice. A republic founded on equality for all became a prison for millions." This is the disgusting sarcasm of the speech given at the former slave-selling/ship-packing island in Senegal, a day after Ari Fleischer's national security clearance went into overdrive.