Valerie Plame Case: New From Murray Waas

The intrepid reporter Murray Waas has a new article in the National Journal exposing what transpired at the grand jury investigating the leak of the identity of former CIA operative Valerie Plame.

In attempting to determine Libby's motives for allegedly lying to the FBI and a federal grand jury about his leaking of Plame's CIA identity to journalists, federal investigators theorized from the very earliest stages of the case that Libby may have been trying to hide Cheney's own role in encouraging Libby to discredit Wilson, according to attorneys involved in the case.

Key among the details is the July 12, 2003 plane trip that Cheney, Libby and Cheney aide Cathie Martin took to Norfolk. I wrote some extensive posts on it here and here.

Murray theorizes, as have many others, myself included, that Libby may have lied to the grand jury to protect Cheney. Murray writes that a senior official has confirmed to him in an interview:

Cheney and Libby often acted without the knowledge or approval and of other senior White House staff when it came to their efforts to discredit Wilson -- including leaking classified information to the press.

Murray continues:

The federal grand jury indictment of Libby states: "A major focus of the Grand Jury Investigation was to determine which government officials had disclosed to the media... information concerning the affiliation of Valerie Wilson to the CIA, and the nature, timing, extent, and the purpose of such disclosures, as well as whether any official making such a disclosure did so knowing that the employment of Valerie Wilson by the CIA was classified information."

In his interviews by the FBI and testimony before the federal grand jury, Libby testified that it was the reporters who told him, and not the other way around, that Plame was a CIA officer. Prosecutors are expected to argue during the trial next week that Libby lied because to tell the truth Libby would have to admit that he leaked classified information and might politically embarrass the White House. But the prosecution may very well subtly make the case that another motive was for Libby to protect his then-boss, Cheney. In private, some federal investigators have asserted that Libby might have lied from the beginning to protect Cheney.

This is another important piece from Murray. I recommend you all read it.

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    alright fredo, i'll bite (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by cpinva on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 07:32:03 AM EST
    please provide the quotes, from both the 9/11 commission report, and the SSCI, exposing joe wilson as a fraud.

    I believe Hubris (none / 0) (#11)
    by Molly Bloom on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 03:25:20 PM EST
    has a detailed account of some of the right wing's claims about Ambassador Wilson's account and the Ambassadors response to those critics and some information as to who is right (hint: it isn't the Cheney side).

    What Wilson didn't say was right. (none / 0) (#14)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jan 14, 2007 at 10:33:02 AM EST
    Molly - Please read my response to Dadler.

    If we are to believe Wilson we must first believe that the ex-premeir of Nigeria lied, that the Senate report is a lie, that Wilson lied to the CIA's debriefers and the CIA Reports officer lied.

    Please note that Wilson refers to the CIA report in his article.

    a C.I.A. report summing up my trip

    And I have linked to the report, and quoted what the CIA Reports Officer said. To my knowledge Wilson has never denied what he said.

    Now ,if we go back and read his article, we will see that it is most carefully wordsmithed. What he says is:

    While I never saw the report, I was told that it referred to a memorandum of agreement that documented the sale of uranium yellowcake

    Note that the word "sale" is used. A  sale is not an attempt. A sale is not an attempt to purchse. Yet what did Bush say?

    The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

    Note that the claim is "sought" not that a "sale" was made.

    Read onward and you will see, the word "sale" or its synonym used again and again.

    when the ambassador told me that she knew about the allegations of uranium sales to Iraq...It did not take long to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place....In short, there's simply too much oversight over too small an industry for a sale to have transpired.

    His conclusions were that a sale had not been made. So, why did he not say?

    "After my investigation I found that an attemot to purchase, according to my sources in Nigeria, had been made and rebuffed by Nigeria."

    Simple, factual and straightforward. Instead he leaves out what he told the CIA and writes.

    I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat.

    What he has cleverly done is to tell the truth in answer to the question about "sales," but by failing to provide the context, provided a showcase for the Left to claim that "Bush lied."

    A more cynical person might also ask if the VP's office actually asked about sales, or did they ask about attempts? And if the request was for sales, why did the intelligence report, which most likely came from the Brit's information, use the word sale, instead of "attempt to purchase?"

    But not being a cynic or paranoid,I'll just take Hobson's Choice. Wilson took advantage of being asked the wrong question, answered it correctly and ignored the truth.


    Sorry Fredo (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Che's Lounge on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 02:11:22 PM EST
    I still believe Wilson over Cheney's actions any day. If Wilson did indeed give two conflicting views, does that somehow lessen the arguement that Bush deceived us? The elephant in the room is that the administration cherry picked intel at the objections of their own experts and CIA analysts (of which Wilson was one) and Bush stated those 16 words after Rice, Tenet, and Cheney all knew that it had been shown to be indefensible. Your vociferous demonizing of Wilson seems like a desperate attempt to justify Bush's SOTU statement. I'm not much interested in the Libby trial any more because the current legal case against him is an emasculated diversion from the real crimes that have been committed by this administration. Libby might get a guilty verdict, but so what? He still needs to be tried for the more meaningful allegation-that he, under orders from Cheney, divulged the name of a covert CIA agent. Step back and look at the bigger picture. Wilson is insignificant in the fraud run up to the war.

    Discrediting Wilson (1.00 / 2) (#1)
    by Fredo on Fri Jan 12, 2007 at 06:22:15 PM EST
    I don't see why either Libby or Cheney would have any qualms about disclosing that they sought to discredit Wilson.  The man's whoppers fairly cried out for discredting, and indeed he was subsequently discredited in detail by (as I recall) both the 9/11 commission and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.  The man is an utter fraud, and it is to be celebrated that he has been exposed as precisely that.

    More Discrediting Wilson (1.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Fredo on Fri Jan 12, 2007 at 06:32:59 PM EST
    The Washington Post summarized matters as follows in an April 9, 2006 editorial:

    "Each time the case surfaces, opponents of the war in Iraq use it to raise a different set of charges, so it's worth recalling the previous iterations. Mr. Wilson originally claimed in a 2003 New York Times op-ed and in conversations with numerous reporters that he had debunked a report that Iraq was seeking to purchase uranium from Niger and that Mr. Bush's subsequent inclusion of that allegation in his State of the Union address showed that he had deliberately 'twisted' intelligence 'to exaggerate the Iraq threat.' The material that Mr. Bush ordered declassified established, as have several subsequent investigations, that Mr. Wilson was the one guilty of twisting the truth. In fact, his report supported the conclusion that Iraq had sought uranium."

    The next step will be the Wilsons getting frog-marched out of court in their risible civil suit.

    unfortuntely the WaPo editors (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Molly Bloom on Fri Jan 12, 2007 at 06:48:19 PM EST
    failed to read what their reporters wrote.  I gather you didn't either.

    Eh??? (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by Dadler on Fri Jan 12, 2007 at 07:19:20 PM EST
    You are saying that even when Wilson SPEAKS THE WORDS "The Niger uranium story was fiction" he  really means the opposite.  Were that true, by any factual standard, we wouldn't even be having this discussion, the matter would have been settled long ago.  The WaPo is certainly not immune to bad editorials, or excerpts from editorials.  

    What Wilsoon told the CIA (none / 0) (#12)
    by jimakaPPJ on Sun Jan 14, 2007 at 09:15:24 AM EST
    You forget that the British first claimed that Saddam had tried to purchase yellowcake, and the ex-premier of Nigeria was the one who said so. All the whopdewoo happened and Wilson went to Nigeria at the behest of the CIA. Some say his wife, the famous secret agent known as Valerie Plame sent him. But no matter. He did go.

    This is what Wilson told the CIA during his debriefing after he returned from his mission.

    The CIA's DO gave the former ambassador's information ......The reports officer said that a "good" grade was merited because the information responded to at least some of the outstanding questions in the Intelligence Community, but did not provide substantial new information. He (Reports Officer)said he judged that the most important fact in the report was that the Nigerien officials admitted that the Iraqi delegation had traveled there in 1999, and that the Nigerien Prime Minister believed the Iraqis were interested in purchasing uranium, because this provided some confirmation of foreign government service reporting.

    So there you have it. He wrote one thing in his infamous NYT artcle, and told the CIA another.

    Why he did so is the question that raises the issues.


    It depends on what the meaning of recently is (5.00 / 2) (#16)
    by Molly Bloom on Sun Jan 14, 2007 at 07:55:55 PM EST
    Bush SOTU

    The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa. Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production. Saddam Hussein has not credibly explained these activities. He clearly has much to hide.

    Bush claimed it was a recent purchase.

    I gather you think 1999 qualifies as recent...

    I fail to see how this debunks Wilson. Try again.

    The Nigerian ambassador believed the Iraqis were interested...

    Is the Nigerian ambassador's belief similar to your faith in Bush (i.e. misplaced?).

    I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that the US Ambassador to Nigeria thought the yellowcake story was false and reported it as false to the White House, before Joe Wilson was sent to check it out and that Joe Wilson was the 3rd person to debunk the tale.

    I'd also be remiss if I didn't point out the aluminum tube fairy tale referred to in this passage from this SOTU address also turned out to be false.

    Finally I'd  be remiss if I failed to point out that Iraq has its own domestic yellowcake and doesn't need to import it.


    "Where Will That Lead?" (1.00 / 2) (#6)
    by Fredo on Fri Jan 12, 2007 at 09:20:15 PM EST
    Luckily, you have Fredo here to give you a prompt and succinct answer: It won't lead anywhere, because Cheney needs no protection.

    As for the argument that the editors of the WaPo didn't read what their reporters wrote, I will take that to be the best argument available in support of Mr. Wilson, and accordingly will conclude that there is no need to respond.  As I learned in Little League, when the bottom of the ninth rolls around and you're ahead, you needn't come to the plate.  

    Is it necessary to quote from the reports of the 9/11 Commission or the SSCI?  I'll be happy to do so, if anyone really thinks that Wilson is anything other than a fully-exposed liar and a self-promoting fraud.  (I suspect that even the goofiest monbats have, in their heart of hearts, given up on this poseur.  But if I'm wrong, just let me know and I'll shoot some more fish in this marvelous barrel.  It's great fun!)

    Murray buried the lede, which makes this more (none / 0) (#4)
    by scribe on Fri Jan 12, 2007 at 07:14:16 PM EST

    Libby also testified that when he told reporters that Plame was a CIA officer he had totally forgotten by then that that he might have been originally told that information by Cheney. Investigators are still attempting to determine whether he made the claim to protect Cheney.

    Where will that lead?

    Now it may seem (none / 0) (#10)
    by Che's Lounge on Sat Jan 13, 2007 at 02:16:48 PM EST
    like Wilson was a big deal before and now I'm trying to downplay his role. Well, it WAS a big deal in 2003 when the editorial ran, because Wilson was one of the first to show some huevos in calling out the fraud. But so many more sources have since then confirmed the cherry picking that today Wilsons speaking out publicly was just the beginning.

    The topic here (none / 0) (#17)
    by Jeralyn on Mon Jan 15, 2007 at 10:31:41 AM EST
    is Murray Waas' article and the Scooter Libby trial.  While Joe Wilson is a part of that, some comments have been deleted that are totally off topic.  Please stay on topic.