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Richard Armitage Named as Plame Leaker


Newsweek's Michael Isikoff and David Corn's new book, Hubris, names Richard Armitage as the leaker of Valerie Plame Wilson's identity and the source for both Bob Woodward and Bob Novak. Isikoff reports in Newsweek that Armitage realized he was the leaker when he read Novak's October 1, 2003 column describing his source as "no partisan gunslinger." Armitage then reported his suspicion

Within hours, William Howard Taft IV, the State Department's legal adviser, notified a senior Justice official that Armitage had information relevant to the case.a team of FBI agents and Justice prosecutors investigating the leak questioned the deputy secretary. Armitage acknowledged that he had passed along to Novak information contained in a classified State Department memo: that Wilson's wife worked on weapons-of-mass-destruction issues at the CIA. (The memo made no reference to her undercover status.) Armitage had met with Novak in his State Department office on July 8, 2003--just days before Novak published his first piece identifying Plame. Powell, Armitage and Taft, the only three officials at the State Department who knew the story, never breathed a word of it publicly and Armitage's role remained secret.

This doesn't end the discussion. Isikoff has been speculating about Armitage since 2005. As Needlenose, who has followed the case closely writes:

I've harped repeatedly on the fact that Novak has avoided saying clearly whether his conversation with his so-called primary source was actually the first time he'd learned about Joe Wilson's wife working for the CIA. Why did the now-indicted Lewis "Scooter" Libby tell so many lies to the FBI and the grand jury about what he knew regarding Plame's identity if he played no role in that information being passed along to Bob Novak? And why did Libby tell Ari Fleischer the exact information that Novak would attribute to his primary source just one day before Novakula met with Armitage? It seems to me that this mystery hasn't been fully resolved yet.

Many bloggers fingered Armitage as the leak. I thought it was either Armitage or Stephen Hadley, but wrote here in March, 2006:

Another reason I'm going to go with Armitage is that Fitz in the affidavit and other pleadings has said he wants to keep the source secret so he doesn't become an "innocent accused." Hadley would not be described that way since he was a member of the White House Iraq Group. He may not have committed a crime, but he was in the thick of it. Armitage is far more likely to be a person Fitz would want to protect from being smeared.

Fitzgerald has long thought Armitage did nothing criminal. Yet, he indicted Libby anyway and almost indicted Rove. Novak's original column wasn't just gossip about Joe Wilson. It outed Valerie Plame as a CIA operative. But Newsweek reports Armitage didn't know Plame's employment was classified.

It's curious to me that Fitz is giving Armitage and Rove a pass, but not Libby. Why? I think it has to do with the July 12 flight to Norfolk. Fitz has not yet closed his investigation. I suspect Cheney is still in his cross-hairs. And Ari Fleischer is a key witness against Libby. Somehow, I suspect Ari Fleishcher has given more to Fitzgerald than we know.

Update: More reaction by Empty Wheel:

Armitage almost certainly isn't 1X2X6, because he just figured out he was the "leaker" with Novak's article. But from the WH perspective, they almost certainly thought it was someone at State, since they had been told State passed on information. Which is why they tried to smear Powell with the leak (I'll come back to explain this).

Also, Christy at Firedoglake; Booman Tribune; Heretik.

On the other side, Captain's Quarters skewers Armitage for making trouble for the Bush Administration and having Isikoff and Corn do his "dirty work." No mention by the right that there's bigger fish yet to fry here.

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  • Re: Richard Armitage Named as Plame Leaker (none / 0) (#1)
    by Tom Maguire on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 06:21:21 AM EST
    And Ari Fleischer is a key witness against Libby. Somehow, I suspect Ari Fleishcher has given more to Fitzgerald than we know. I am still betting that Ari was the source for Walter Pincus. A point about Armitage's October surprise that he was Novak's source - that buttresses Rove's claim that he did not realize he was a source for Novak as well. I happen to think we are at only the second level of cover-up as we peel the Armitage onion - in the current version, he attributes his Plame knowledge to the famous INR memo, but (IIRC) emptywheel made the point (per some newspaper story) that the genesis of the Niger trip had been kicked around the intel community for a year or more. Since Armitage has what looks like an intel background, he may well have kept his won CIA contacts for all sorts of back-channel news.

    Re: Richard Armitage Named as Plame Leaker (none / 0) (#2)
    by Strick on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 07:53:51 AM EST
    "It's curious to me that Fitz is giving Armitage and Rove a pass, but not Libby. Why?" Probably nothing to do with Fitz thinking that Libby committed perjury the but others didn't (or not so he could prove it)? Pardon me, but doesn't this sort of disprove the theory that there was some sort of conspiracy to out Plame? The way the timeline lays out it appears that Armitage was the principle source for the leak and Libby and Rove at most confirmed the information for a couple of reporters who contacted them and brought the subject up. That's leagues away from the claim that someone was systematically calling reporters to spread the news. Add to that the prevelant view that Armitage was a Powell supporter and one of the least likely people to conspire with Rove, Libby, et al on anything related to Iraq, this li5 seems it should take a lot of wind out of some people's sails. Not that they'd admit, of course. Got to cling to what you believe dispite the known facts, right?

    Re: Richard Armitage Named as Plame Leaker (none / 0) (#3)
    by Richard Aubrey on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 10:08:43 AM EST
    Corn and Isikoff are Rove's tools. Or. Fitzmas will be delayed yet again. As a bit icing on the cake, all the yells for leak investigation can't be taken back--the 'net keeps all--and so we'll see some investigating of real crimes.

    Re: Richard Armitage Named as Plame Leaker (none / 0) (#4)
    by scarshapedstar on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 10:43:15 AM EST
    My God - am I the leaker? That's almost as good as Rush not knowing the facts of his own drug addiction until the papers told it to him. But not quite.

    Re: Richard Armitage Named as Plame Leaker (none / 0) (#5)
    by scarshapedstar on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 11:07:15 AM EST
    Pardon me, but doesn't this sort of disprove the theory that there was some sort of conspiracy to out Plame?
    Are you seriously trying to claim that there wasn't a Republican effort to discredit Joe Wilson?

    Re: Richard Armitage Named as Plame Leaker (none / 0) (#6)
    by Tom Maguire on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 12:39:31 PM EST
    Probably nothing to do with Fitz thinking that Libby committed perjury the but others didn't (or not so he could prove it)? Well, I suspect Fitzgerald could prove that Armitage did not disclose his leak to Woodward until Nov 2005; if he could not prove that Armitage had been asked about other relevant conversations with reporters, then I guess Fitzgerald can't prove perjury but could prove auto-incompetence. Are you seriously trying to claim that there wasn't a Republican effort to discredit Joe Wilson? A "conspiracy" to respond to Wilson's allegations could easily come across as a conspiracy to "discredit" Wilson, since it is hard to say "that guy's story is hogwash" without maybe discrediting the guy a bit; the issue is whether there was an *illegal* conspiracy to out his wife. Put another way - is Jeralyn, along with a lot of other bloggers, going to be indicted for conspiring to discredit Joe Lieberman? I hope not.

    Re: Richard Armitage Named as Plame Leaker (none / 0) (#7)
    by Slado on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 02:28:57 PM EST
    The president and his minions did try to "discredit" Joe Wilson. Whether this is a crime or hard politics is a different matter. I think this ends the conspiracy theories. Plames pathetic case IMHO will fizzle out because it holds no merit. Are any of the Bush haters going to concede that this case is not going to bring down the presidency? Furthermore are they going to admit they've been taken for a ride? There are so many minor details that the theorist can keep this conspiracy going but common sense tells the objective observer that this is over and in fact has been over for quite a while. Dems should start focusing on the 2006 elections and winning back the presidency in 2008. Taking down a president that has only two real years left will only make them look as silly as the republicans did impeaching Clinton. The only thing it can do at this point is win him sympathy. Just like the impeachment won Clinton sympathy. I love Bush but reality is reality. He's entering the lame duck phase of his presidency, he's been hurt by actual events like Iraq and Katrina and dems are better off spending their time politicking then trying to smear Bush with something as lame as the overblown Plame scandal.

    Re: Richard Armitage Named as Plame Leaker (none / 0) (#8)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 05:27:28 PM EST
    This was submitted by Kim who had trouble logging into the comments:
    I'm amazed these guys think they weren't a source for Novak, they've met with reporters for years and the rules are quite clear in that circumstance, especially as classified info was involved. Having a reporter (Novak!) standing in front of you is like having a hungry and impatient shark standing there. The difference between Armitage and the folks in the WH is that there was a well known WH strategy to attack Wilson, once Rove and Libby learned about Armitage (probably via Woodward) Plame was added to the anti-Wilson strategy. As they're not totally stupid Rove/Libby/et al tried to engineer a way to leak the Plame info legally. A group of government officials in the WH conspired to leak a CIA agent's identity to the press - this took them into the realm of illegality (treason?), and this is why Fitzgerald had been busy with the WH crowd.


    Re: Richard Armitage Named as Plame Leaker (none / 0) (#9)
    by scarshapedstar on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 05:54:51 PM EST
    A "conspiracy" to respond to Wilson's allegations could easily come across as a conspiracy to "discredit" Wilson, since it is hard to say "that guy's story is hogwash" without maybe discrediting the guy a bit; the issue is whether there was an *illegal* conspiracy to out his wife.
    Yeah, sure. It was sheer coincidence. Karl "We will f*ck him" Rove orders a full-on demolition of Joe Wilson, even going so far as to specifically declare his wife "fair game" and we're all shocked, shocked! that somebody crossed the line. (What a shame that this investigation didn't take place quickly enough to derail a disastrous and illegal war, huh. Oh well.) It's like if I was hauled into court for hiring someone to shoot my wife, and my defense was that someone else must have killed her before the hitman did.

    Re: Richard Armitage Named as Plame Leaker (none / 0) (#10)
    by Che's Lounge on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 07:34:59 PM EST
    Tim Russert asked Novak today (yes, lower animals do communicate) if Armitage was the one. Novak only said that it was past time for that person to reveal him or herself. I couldn't quite read Novak's expression when he answered. I can't look at him for too long or I'll burn my retinas.

    Re: Richard Armitage Named as Plame Leaker (none / 0) (#11)
    by Edger on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 08:00:37 PM EST
    Slado: He's entering the lame duck phase of his presidency, he's been hurt by actual events like Iraq and Katrina and dems are better off spending their time politicking then trying to smear Bush with something as lame as the overblown Plame scandal. Yes Slado, it would be really nice if people would quit being so mean and leave this poor hard done administration alone, and quit reminding everyone of just how merciless, sociopathic and incompetent these guys are... with that november wall the gop is heading for at full speed with failed brakes rearing its ugly presence so soon. Yep. The nasty old democrats sure need all the well meaning advice you can give them...

    Re: Richard Armitage Named as Plame Leaker (none / 0) (#12)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sun Aug 27, 2006 at 09:10:25 PM EST
    As noted recently by Gadflyer, the "don't go after Bush since he is a lame duck and it will make you look partisan" meme is a favorite for many Clintonian types. I find it distasteful. As to this, aggrh! Will it ever end? My main thought is that the administration clearly knew Armitrage's role, but of course, kept it secret, so that bits and pieces of info will be leaked out, clouding everything, and making the administration more distasteful in the process. Except for the clueless who think it is just how politics should be done, so what's all the fuss? I find such people icky, though sadly they have national power now.

    Re: Richard Armitage Named as Plame Leaker (none / 0) (#13)
    by jimakaPPJ on Mon Aug 28, 2006 at 11:32:26 AM EST
    Joe wrote:
    I find it distasteful. As to this, aggrh! Will it ever end? My main thought is that the administration clearly knew Armitrage's role, but of course, kept it secret, so that bits and pieces of info will be leaked out, clouding everything, and making the administration more distasteful in the process.
    Joe, so in your opinion the administration has been busy making itself more distasteful?? Kim - The problem with your theory is that the SP hasn't found that treason, or anything near that, was committed. Sometimes things speak for themselves.

    Re: Richard Armitage Named as Plame Leaker (none / 0) (#15)
    by Sailor on Fri Sep 01, 2006 at 04:13:16 PM EST
    The problem with your theory is that the SP hasn't found that treason, or anything near that, was committed.
    Yep, because libby lied and obstructed justice.

    Re: Richard Armitage Named as Plame Leaker (none / 0) (#14)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Sep 01, 2006 at 06:41:03 PM EST
    Wow, looks like we were all wrong and did a whole lot of salivating and hyperventillating about the bushies when it was really all Armitage. Read the Washington Post:

    Re: Richard Armitage Named as Plame Leaker (none / 0) (#16)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Fri Sep 01, 2006 at 07:14:59 PM EST
    Wow, looks like we were all wrong and did a whole lot of salivating and hyperventillating about the bushies when it was really all Armitage. Read the Washington Post: Here...

    Re: Richard Armitage Named as Plame Leaker (none / 0) (#17)
    by brian on Thu Sep 07, 2006 at 12:29:03 PM EST
    How can you not know that richard is a long time member of the WH inner circle?!!! If he leaked it, then the administration leaked it. Richard is a founding member of the "vulcans". google image richard armitage rove for a sweet pic of them together. Yet every major media just repeats Rove's (i assume) talking points.