Time: Rove May Have Learned of Plame From White House

Time Magazine has more support for the theory that Karl Rove learned about Valerie Plame's identity from White House officials rather than reporters.

The previously undisclosed fact gathering began in the first week of June 2003 at the CIA, when its public-affairs office received an inquiry about Wilson's trip to Africa from veteran Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus. That office then contacted Plame's unit, which had sent Wilson to Niger, but stopped short of drafting an internal report. The same week, Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman asked for and received a memo on the Wilson trip from Carl Ford, head of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Sources familiar with the memo, which disclosed Plame's relationship to Wilson, say Secretary of State Colin Powell read it in mid-June. Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage may have received a copy then too.

When Pincus' article ran on June 12, the circle of senior officials who knew about the identity of Wilson's wife expanded. "After Pincus," a former intelligence officer says, "there was general discussion with the National Security Council and the White House and State Department and others" about Wilson's trip and its origins. A source familiar with the memo says neither Powell nor Armitage spoke to the White House about it until after July 6. John McLaughlin, then deputy head of the CIA, confirms that the White House asked about the Wilson trip, but can't remember exactly when. One thing he's sure of, says McLaughlin, who has been interviewed by prosecutors, is that "we looked into it and found the facts of it, and passed it on."
[hat tip Patriot Daily.]

My guess: All roads still lead to the White House Iraq Group, Office of Special Plans and Defense Policy Board: Libby, Luti,John Hannah, Stephen Hadley, Robert Joseph, to name a few.

Good reading: Former Defense Intelligence Officer Patrick Lang's article Drinking the Kool-Aid. Scroll down to the part about the Office of Special Plans.

As to the Defense Policy Board,

Although the Defense Policy Board is a bipartisan advisory committee that has no role in making policy, Perle was an influential member of the group, which includes Vice President Dick Cheney, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith and I. Lewis Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, who were the most outspoken proponents of a pre-emptive attack on Iraq.

One more excellent article that lays it out is James Pfiffner's Did President Bush Mislead the Country in his Arguments for War with Iraq? in the Presidential Studies Quarterly. First read the section on Niger (Joe Wilson details), then the section on politicizing the information.

One possible explanation for the administration's inaccurate claims about Iraq's WMD was that the intelligence gathering capacities of the government were subject to pressure to suit their analyses to the policy goals of the administration. Allegations centered around the vice president's visits to CIA headquarters, the creation of the Office of Special Plans in Office of the Secretary of Defense, and the use of the Defense Policy Board.

Richard Cheney and his aide Scooter Libby made a number of personal visits the CIA Langley headquarters to question the CIA judgment that Iraq did not pose as immediate a threat as the administration was arguing it did. While it is appropriate for the vice president and other high administration officials to ask tough questions and challenge intelligence agencies with hard questions, and it is understandable that career civil servants may see this as pressure; the interventions in the intelligence process seemed to be different in 2002 with respect to Iraq. These visits were perceived by some CIA veterans as political pressure for the agency to come to the conclusions that the administration wanted. [62] Ray McGovern who had been a CIA analyst from 1964 to 1990 and had briefed Vice President George H.W. Bush in the 1980s said, "During my 27-year career at the Central Intelligence Agency, no vice president ever came to us for a working visit." [63]

. ....One response of Secretary Rumsfeld to his dissatisfaction with the analysis of the CIA was to create an Office of Special Plans headed by Deputy Under Secretary of Defense William Luti to do intelligence analysis and bring a different perspective than the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the CIA [68] One important difference in their analysis was the weight they gave to claims provided by the Iraqi National Congress and its leader Ahmad Chalabi about Saddam's WMD. The CIA had discounted these same claims because the exiles had a stake in the outcome of U.S. policy and thus the CIA did not consider them as credible as the Office of Special Plans judged them to be. [69] According to Patrick Lang, former head of Middle East intelligence for the DIA, "The D.I.A. has been intimidated and beaten to a pulp. And there's no guts at all in the C.I.A." [70]

Another tactic Secretary Rumsfeld used to circumvent the established professional intelligence apparatus of the executive branch was his reliance on the Defense Policy Board.. The DPB was chaired by Richard Perle, a hawk on Iraq and former member of the Reagan administration. In Perle's judgement, the CIA's judgments about Iraq "isn't worth the paper it is written on." [71] The Board also contained other high visibility hawks on Iraq, such as James Woolsey and Newt Gingrich, as well as a range of other former defense officials not necessarily committed to war with Iraq.

Don't forget to connect the dot between reporter Judith Miller and her unusally strong sources in the Pentagon, which were not limited to Ahmed Chalabi. There seems to have been a clear plan among these Pentagon groups to discredit the CIA analysts and Joe Wilson who didn't support their theory of WMDs and uranium and Niger in particular. Who else but Judith Miller would they have leaked to? I think Karl Rove and Lewis Libby had multiple sources....Judith Miller may have been one of them, but the information was likely filtering down from these groups as well.

Update: Blogenlust adds David Wurmser, assistant to John Bolton.

Update: There's an excellent article, The Lie Factory, in Mother Jones on the Defense Policy Board. [hat tip Theologis.]

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  • Re: Time: Rove May Have Learned of Plame From Whit (none / 0) (#1)
    by theologicus on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:47 PM EST
    One of the best early articles on the Office of Special Plans was by Robert Dreyfus, The Lie Factory, Mother Jones, January/February 2004. Back then nary a mainstream soul was interested in the OSP.

    Re: Time: Rove May Have Learned of Plame From Whit (none / 0) (#2)
    by The Heretik on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:01:48 PM EST
    The Bush administration regularly asks us to swallow poison without question. More perspective on Kool Aid here