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A Sunday Libby News Feast

For the Plameaholics out there, the mainstream media is staying on the story and connecting the dots in Fitzgerald's latest filing(pdf). In addition to the three I talk about below, Christy at Firedoglake has several more while Jane provides snappy analysis and Digby says it smells of Karl Rove.

New York Times: shorter version: Cheney told Libby to leak details of the NIE report to Judith Miller, knowing that it had been debunked.

...the new revelations suggest that long after [Colin Powell] had concluded the intelligence was faulty, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby were still promoting it.

First magic phrase: "key judgment":

The court filing asserts that Mr. Bush authorized the disclosure of the intelligence in part to rebut claims that Mr. Wilson was making, including those in a television appearance and in an Op-Ed article in The New York Times on July 6, 2003. The filing revealed for the first time testimony by Mr. Libby saying that Mr. Bush, through Mr. Cheney, had authorized Mr. Libby to tell reporters that "a key judgment of the N.I.E. held that Iraq was 'vigorously trying to procure' uranium."

In fact, that was not one of the "key judgments" of the document. Instead, it was the subject of several paragraphs on Page 24 of the document, which also acknowledged that Mr. Hussein had long possessed 500 tons of uranium that was under seal by international inspectors, and that no intelligence agencies had ever confirmed whether he had obtained any more of the material from Africa.

.... In an interview with The Times in 2004, a senior intelligence official involved in drafting the estimate said the uranium allegations were excluded from the key judgments because the drafters knew there were serious doubts about their accuracy....The drafters also noted, in an annex attached to the end of the document, that State Department intelligence officials considered the uranium allegation "highly dubious."

What's a "key judgment?"

Citing intelligence as a "key judgment" in such estimates carries great weight with policy makers, because the reports are meant to highlight the most important and solid judgments of the government's intelligence agencies.

Second magic phrase: "Instant Declassification"

Even as the president was dispatching Mr. Libby to disclose what until then had been classified intelligence to Ms. Miller of The Times, other White House officials, including Stephen J. Hadley, now Mr. Bush's national security adviser, were debating whether this same information should be formally declassified and made public, prosecutors assert.

But Mr. Libby "consciously decided not to make Mr. Hadley aware of the fact that defendant himself had already been disseminating the N.I.E. by leaking it to reporters while Mr. Hadley sought to get it formally declassified,"....a senior official close to Mr. Hadley said that "it appears that the only three people who knew about the instant declassification were Dick Cheney, George Bush and Scooter Libby."

The motive, according to Fitzgerald:

"The evidence will show that the July 6, 2003, Op-Ed by Mr. Wilson was viewed in the Office of the Vice President as a direct attack on the credibility of the vice president (and the president) on a matter of signal importance: the rationale for the war in Iraq," Mr. Fitzgerald argued.

Next up is the Washington Post's extensive article on Fitz' filing that concentrates on Cheney's role and the Administration's "concerted effort" to piddle Joe Wilson.

As he drew back the curtain this week on the evidence against Vice President Cheney's former top aide, Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald for the first time described a "concerted action" by "multiple people in the White House" -- using classified information -- to "discredit, punish or seek revenge against" a critic of President Bush's war in Iraq.

Bluntly and repeatedly, Fitzgerald placed Cheney at the center of that campaign. Citing grand jury testimony from the vice president's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Fitzgerald fingered Cheney as the first to voice a line of attack that at least three White House officials would soon deploy against former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV.

George Tenet also figures prominently in the WaPo article, and to a lesser degree, Ari Fleischer (not by name) via his July 7 press gaggle en route to Africa. [Full background here.] For a really good article on Tenet, Hadley, the NIE, the Niger uranium claims and the alumimun tube claims, go here.

Jennifer Loven of the Associated Press covers the Fitz filing, pointing out how it undermines Libby's "I forgot" defense:

Fitzgerald's aim with the filing was to counter Libby's defense that he innocently forgot about conversations he may have had with reporters about Plame by showing that the White House's concern about the war criticism was so consuming it would be difficult to forget.

But by suggesting that the leak of Plame's name may have been set in motion by the president, however indirectly, the documents reverberated much more broadly. Democrats unleashed a storm of criticism against Bush, saying he appeared to have misused the declassification process for political gain.

She also points out the timing discrepancies in the declassification. There were two: the instant declassification by Bush and Cheney, and then the official one on July 18. Libby leaked to Miller on July 8. He also leaked to Bob Woodward in June.

Bush and Cheney are staying mum as to when the instant declassification took place.

There's other Libby articles today, like I said it's a feast. Tom Maguire. a Libby supporter, takes issue with several of them.

[Graphic created exclusively for TalkLeft by CL.]

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  • Re: A Sunday Libby News Feast (none / 0) (#1)
    by scarshapedstar on Sun Apr 09, 2006 at 12:06:47 AM EST
    ...the new revelations suggest that long after [Colin Powell] had concluded the intelligence was faulty, Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney and Mr. Libby were still promoting it.
    Huh. And here I thought he used the best available intelligence. I'm so confused!

    Re: A Sunday Libby News Feast (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Apr 09, 2006 at 04:45:12 AM EST
    Sy Hersh is reporting in the New Yorker that the nitwit in chief and his merry band are seriously considering nuking Iran and that "several members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have considered resigning because of all the attention given the nuclear option." I think we've moved beyond the "he lied" portion of our program into the "do you want a Cigarette with that blindfold?" portion. God, these morons are the worst.

    Re: A Sunday Libby News Feast (none / 0) (#3)
    by theologicus on Sun Apr 09, 2006 at 10:05:01 AM EST
    Today's editorial in the Washington Post is as dismaying as it is outrageous. It tries to spin the Bush leak as finally something positive. A Good Leak President Bush declassified some of the intelligence he used to decide on war in Iraq. Is that a scandal? How much more will the media let Bush get away with-after all the massive lies, massive killings, massive torture.

    Re: A Sunday Libby News Feast (none / 0) (#4)
    by theologicus on Sun Apr 09, 2006 at 10:07:17 AM EST
    P.S. SusanG has an extensive analysis of the Post editorial over at Daily Kos.

    Re: A Sunday Libby News Feast (none / 0) (#5)
    by squeaky on Sun Apr 09, 2006 at 01:15:07 PM EST
    Ah the joys of fair and balanced media. WaPo has this article linked above which nails Cheney.
    A 'Concerted Effort' to Discredit Bush Critic
    They also have an editorial that opines that Bush had a good leak. The level of distortion from public records is astounding. Don't they think that their readers read anything but powerline?
    A Good Leak President Bush declassified some of the intelligence he used to decide on war in Iraq. Is that a scandal?
    Now I call that 'taking a piss' at the expense of Wilson and Fitzgerald.. Guess we know now where both Ben Domenech and Jeff Gannon/Guckert are working these days. SusanG at kos rips apart the WaPo apologia, as does think progress.

    Re: A Sunday Libby News Feast (none / 0) (#6)
    by squeaky on Sun Apr 09, 2006 at 01:24:27 PM EST
    More here on the WaPo Editorial
    A Washington Post Editor Caught Brazenly Lying: When is this going to stop?
    and here WaPo Follies

    Re: A Sunday Libby News Feast (none / 0) (#7)
    by squeaky on Sun Apr 09, 2006 at 01:32:41 PM EST
    Josh Marshall also gives the WaPo editorial board a well deserved smackdown. His conclusion:
    They've made their deal with power. They should justify it on those grounds rather than choosing to mislead their readers.


    Re: A Sunday Libby News Feast (none / 0) (#8)
    by squeaky on Sun Apr 09, 2006 at 03:18:16 PM EST
    Don't anyone tell PPJ about the WaPo editorial because he will be quoting from it for years. FDL takes it apart bit by dishonest bit.