Yes, the Libby indictment was a very interesting read. For one thing, it is becoming clearer who the other players in the leak scandal are. From the Indictment:
On or about June 11 or 12, 2003, the Under Secretary of State orally advised LIBBY in the White House that, in sum and substance, Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA and that State Department personnel were saying that Wilson’s wife was involved in the planning of his trip.
Which Undersecretary of State would have knowledge about specific CIA counter-proliferation personnel? Obviously, the indictment is referring to former Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and current UN Ambassador John Bolton, a long-time neocon cohort of Cheney and Libby. I predicted months ago that Bolton was probably involved with this. Readers will remember that during his hearings there was ample testimony that Bolton often "played dirty" with CIA and State Department professionals who didn't give him answers that matched his agenda.
The CIA had debunked the forged memo twice in 2001-2002, first when they initially learned about it and again (after having been asked to check it out again by Cheney's office after the latter had been prompted by the Italians) by sending Ambassador Joseph Wilson on the factfinding trip to Niger. However, the CIA's position on the bogus document never became public until Nicholas Kristof's New York Times article of May 6, 2003. It is clear that Vice President Cheney's office immediately reacted to the public emergence of this previously safely buried information as a matter of spin control by getting ready to discredit the CIA and the Ambassador who took the Niger trip, and probably also by trying to identify Kristof's sources (remember this administration is characteristically hypervigilant with respect to leaks and leakers).
To dig up dirt, they apparently turned to WMD expert and neocon hatchetman Bolton, not the CIA itself, which they viewed as an adversary to their agenda. In all likelhood Plame and the Brewster Jennings operation had been a thorn in the neocon side for some time and they were eager to undermine it. Walter Pincus's June 12 article in The Washington Post further sparked their desire to get at the leak and fix the damage with some selective spin control.
Libby's notes indicate that he learned that Joe Wilson's wife worked at the CIA directly from Dick Cheney on June 12, 2003. Where did Cheney get this information? Almost certainly either directly from Bolton (the most likely scenario), or possibly from neocon Perle protege Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Michael Wurmser or from Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Cheney, Cheney's own daughter. In any event it almost certainly came through the informal neocon network, not through official CIA channels. Two days later Libby met with a CIA briefer and the name "Valerie Wilson" (not "Plame") was discussed. The name "Plame" apparently first appears in Judith Miller's notes (it was mispelled as "Flame") of her second conversation with Libby, on July 8, 2003.
Among other things, the 5,800-word article discloses that in the same notebook that Miller belatedly turned over to the federal prosecutor last month, chronicling her July 8, 2003, interview with I. Lewis Libby, she wrote the name "Valerie Flame." She surely meant Valerie Plame, but when she testified for a second time in the case this week, she could not recall who mentioned that name to her, the Times said. She said she "didn't think" she heard it from Libby, a longtime friend and source.
Where did Miller first learn the name Flame/Plame, and why is the New York Times so upset at her that she is being pushed out of her job? I will return to that presently.
The worst dirt that the neocon cabal could come up during this time is a general allegation of nepotism in regard to the CIA's selection of Joe Wilson for the Niger mission, despite the fact that he had been previously posted as a diplomat in both Niger and Iraq and was obviously well-qualified for the job. So Libby (despite knowing he was on shaky legal ground, as shown by previous statements he had made that are recounted in the indictment) leaked the fact that Joe Wilson's wife worked at the CIA and possibly Plame's name to Judy Miller, who was a well-established conduit for disseminating of neocon fabrications. In doing so, he undermined not only Wilson, but the ability of the CIA to gather facts that might be inconvenient to the neocon agenda down the road insofar as Iran and other target countries are concerned.
One interesting question that has yet to be answered involves the identity of sources for the June 2003 Kristof and Pincus articles. There is speculation around Washington that Valerie Plame/Wilson or someone else at the CIA may have been a source for one or both of those articles, and the neocons may have surmised or learned that to be the case. This theory is interesting and quite compatible with the account of events given above. Hypothesize for a moment that Valerie Wilson, using the name "Plame," was a confidential source for Kristof's article and Miller learned of this from her colleagues at the Times prior to the July 8 convsersation with Libby. Could Miller have informed Libby of Plame's identity as a source for the Kristof article in this or an earlier conversation? Is that the real reason why she has become persona non grata at the newspaper that has employed her for two decades? It is certainly food for thought. I find it unlikely that The New York Times has soured on her purely because she accepted a security clearance during the period of time that she was reporting from Iraq, as has been reported elsewhere.
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