Plame's Name: Was it Cheney or a State Department Official?

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I'm having trouble reconciling this sentence from a WashPost piece on the Plame case:

According to the indictment, Libby learned Plame's identity from a senior State Department official in June 2003 and was told by Cheney that she worked in the CIA's Counterproliferation Division.

With this one:

Although the focus has been on Rove and Libby, Cheney himself has been publicly implicated in recent days in the chain of events that led to the exposure of Plame. The New York Times reported Monday that Fitzgerald possesses notes taken by Libby showing that he learned about Plame from the vice president [on June 12, 2003] a month before she was identified by Novak. The White House did not dispute the report.

Where did Libby first hear of Plame? From a State Department official or from Dick Cheney? What difference does it make? Maybe none, but one thing doesn't make sense in all this: Libby evidently lied to try to protect Cheney, by saying he had learned of Plame's identity from journalists. Why didn't he just say he was first told by a State Department official? Wouldn't that have mitigated Cheney's risk in being involved?

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  1. It’s probably just sloppy syntax. I think the distinction is between learning OF Plame, and learning (more) ABOUT her. Or between learning that “Wilson has a wife who works at the CIA,” and learning that “Wilson’s CIA-wife is named Valerie Plame, and her job is such-and-such.”

    Those distinctions have been frequently muddled by various commentators throughout this ordeal.

  2. What difference does it make whether Libby learned of Plame’s job from Cheney or the State Department? None.

  3. libby and vader…i mean cheney both have security clearance…dick has every legal right to talk about plame with libby.

  4. From Josh Marshal, as quoted by Kos:

    “Overlooked in the current discussion.

    Go to page 5 of the indictment. Top of the page, item #9.

    On or about June 12, 2003, LIBBY was advised by the Vice President of the United States that Wilson’s wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Divison. LIBBY understood that the Vice President had learned this information from the CIA.
    This is a crucial piece of information. The Counterproliferation Division (CPD) is part of the CIA’s Directorate of Operations, i.e., not the Directorate of Intelligence, the branch of the CIA where ‘analysts’ come from, but the DO, where the spies, the ‘operatives’, come from.

    Libby’s a long time national security hand. He knows exactly what CPD is and where it is. So does Cheney. They both knew. It’s right there in the indictment.”

    The State Dept. Official evidently told Libby about Plame’s job with the CIA, but it was Cheney who essentially told him she was undercover.

  5. Mark Borok,
    And if we’ve nailed Cheney, then we’ve nailed Dubya and his brain, Rove?

    I guess we don’t need to impeach Dubya if he’s headed to jail anyway?

    For want of a nail, a shoe was lost. For want of a shoe a horse was lost. And so on.

    Justin Raimondo is on top of this like no other human. Check out AntiWar.com.

  6. Ruthless –

    If Cheney and Bush did not create a layer of plausible deniability between themselves and this stupid leak, then they deserve to get nailed.

  7. Listen, Cheney wanted this premptive war so bad he was willing to do anything, including slipping the name of a CIA operative into the White House playing field. Libby is going down to protect his boss. However, Fitzgerald is not through.

  8. Libby evidently lied to try to protect Cheney, by saying he had learned of Plame’s identity from journalists.

    Evidently? Libby said one thing in his testimony and his notes say another thing. For all the “evidence” you’ve seen (have you seen the notes yet, for instance?), this could have been a minor, inconsequential, and innocent discrepancy.

    Jesus christ, I thought I was dealing with libertarians. Since when are we so goddamn eager to eat what a prosecutor is trying to feed us? Just because he’s prosecuting the High & Mighty?

    Where did Libby first hear of Plame?

    I don’t know, how about we check the indictment and see what it says?

    The timeline given by Fitzgerald shows that the first time Libby was given “oral reports” of the trip to Niger came from “an Under Secretary of State,” on or about May 29, 2003 and then:

    “On or about June 11, 2003, LIBBY 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 the his trip.” He then confirmed it with the CIA. Etc. Etc.

    Mark – where in the indictment does it say Libby told a reporter, or that Cheney told a reporter? I’m having trouble finding that page.

  9. “This indictment is a clear example of how the Bush administration punished its critics for publicly disclosing its misleading use of pre-war intelligence,” stated Shane Cory, chief of staff for the Libertarian Party. “The Bush administration has abused its power continuously and betrayed the trust of the American people.”

    http://www.lp.org

  10. I should have been more careful, and before it’s too late, my question to Mark should read, “Where does it demonstrate that Libby told ar reporter, or Cheney told a reporter?”

  11. Has Dubya ever said, “plausible deniabiltiy”?
    No.
    On his teleprompter, it says, “Achtung: PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY? Don’t EVER try to repeat it.
    Just say it’s time to head up to Camp David, or whatever. Or get Jeb to repeat it.

  12. So, Libby lied to the prosecutor… Can anyone tell me why he didn’t just ‘take the fifth’?

    I still haven’t seen where any crime was actually committed… I would have kept my mouth shut and made Fitz actually prove something…!

  13. scott-Because in the nation that the politicians and media have created through their rhetoric, pleading the fifth is as bad as confessing in the eyes of the public. Because only the guilty need fear, after all…

  14. Dammit! I hate it when Republicans are indicted. All the cover-up’s, diversions, sketchy timelines and double-agent crap. It’s interesting for a while, but not much fun. Isn’t there a stained dress we can focus on?

  15. Why are people just assuming Libby lied to protect Cheney? Isn’t it possible he lied because he didn’t to reveal he learned Plame’s identity from a government official, and thus would have been aware that her status was classified? If he could sell a story that he heard it from reporters, then it makes his claim he didn’t know she was classified much more plausible.

    What’s wrong with that idea?

  16. However, Fitzgerald is not through.

    all important observation. i can’t believe how little it’s been noticed.

    So, Libby lied to the prosecutor… Can anyone tell me why he didn’t just ‘take the fifth’?

    this makes me wonder too. why did he testify to something which he knew his notes would then contradict? why not reconcile the two in any manner possible?

    i suspect that libby has been told to be the fall guy, and that the administration (or most of it) wants very badly for it to end here. the republican mouthpieces were out in force yesterday with the one-bad-apple argument.

  17. Where did Libby first hear of Plame? From a State Department official or from Dick Cheney?

    It was either the Undersecretary of State or a CIA officer; probably not Cheney. Pretty easy to figure out if you take the time to actually read the indictment. Page 4:

    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.

    7. On or about June 11, 2003, LIBBY spoke with a senior officer of the CIA to ask about the origin and circumstances of Wilson’s trip, and was advised by the CIA officer that Wilson’s wife worked at the CIA and was believed to be responsible for sending Wilson on the trip.

    […]

    On or about June 12, 2003, LIBBY was advised by the Vice President of the United States that Wilson’s wife worked at the Central Intelligence Agency in the Counterproliferation Division. LIBBY understood that the Vice President had learned this information from the CIA.

  18. Adam –

    “Where does it demonstrate that Libby told ar reporter, or Cheney told a reporter?”

    I was posting a passage from the indictment that seems to clear up Michael Young’s question. As for the rest of it, I thought it was established that Libby told Miller about Plame, but maybe I’m getting things confused. I still can’t figure out why outing Valerie Plame as Wilson’s wife would in any way discredit Wilson’s findings on the Saddam-Niger uranium non-connection.

    Then also, the indictment is for perjury and obstruction, not outing Plame, so I don’t really see what you’re driving at.

  19. Okay, after I posted that I went to DailyKos again and found this from Armando:

    “One of the most frustrating things I keep hearing on these idiotic cable shows is the line that even now we don’t know who the leaker of Plame’s identity was (I mean all of em, including Olberman.) Honest to Gawd if another person says that I am going to toss my TV. Were they NOT watching Fitzgerald’s press conference? Did they NOT read the Indictment? Let me help them now. From Paragraph 14 of the indictment:
    On June 23, 2003, LIBBY met with New York Times reporter Judith Miller. During this meeting . . . Libby informed her that [Joe] Wilson’s wife might work at the CIA.
    Paragraph 17 of the Indictment describes Libby telling Miller again that Plame was a CIA agent on July 8, 2003.
    Paragraph 21 of the Indictment describes Official A (Karl Rove) as confirming to Robert Novak that Plame was a CIA agent during the week prior to July 11, 2003 (presumably after July 6.)
    Paragraph 23 of the Indictment describes Libby telling Matt Cooper that Plame was a CIA agent on July 12, 2003.
    Paragraph 24 of the Indictment describes Libby telling Judith Miller again on July 12, 2003 that Plame was a CIA agent (apparently Judy Miller has a faulty memory and could not hold the thought in her head).”

    So I assume that when Adam says “demonstrates” he is looking for evidence/proof. However, I thought that the presenting evidence part happened during the actual trial, not in the indictment.

  20. Hey, Fitz, where’s the beef?
    Or, let’s open the enquiry a bit more and find out who in the CIA is misusing his authority to shift blame for bad intelligence away fron the CIA?

  21. Look, people, all we want is the Plame and simple truth. hokae? (sorry. will return to basement)

  22. “Jesus christ, I thought I was dealing with libertarians. Since when are we so goddamn eager to eat what a prosecutor is trying to feed us? Just because he’s prosecuting the High & Mighty?”

    yeah libby should burn if he commited purgary…just like Clinton should have. Just like anybody should.

    that said if I am ever brought up in court as a witness in a grand jury I am taking the fifth to do anything else would be just to risky.

  23. “Libby evidently lied to try to protect Cheney, by saying he had learned of Plame’s identity from journalists. Why didn’t he just say he was first told by a State Department official? Wouldn’t that have mitigated Cheney’s risk in being involved”

    If he learned from journalists, then he didn’t leak to them, so that takes the heat off everyone.

    If he learned from Cheney *or* State, that leaves the question of whether he told journalists, and if so why, which naturally leads to questions of what Cheney’s role was.

    Just my $.02

  24. “I still can’t figure out why outing Valerie Plame as Wilson’s wife would in any way discredit Wilson’s findings on the Saddam-Niger uranium non-connection.”

    Well, I suppose it explains why the CIA tapped him for the trip, rather than the preferred White House policy of hiring some clueless neophyte from Heritage who’d go to Niger, ask the wrong people the wrong questions, and spend most of his time trying to pass out Jack Chick pamphlets.

    I still think they should have spread the story that “Wilson has been sleeping with a woman who works at CIA, and *she* got him the job.” They’d accomplish the same ends, without naming a CIA agent, with the bonus of making Wilson look like an adulterer, which Wilson couldn’t rebut because doing so would require him to out his own wife.

    Cliff May is probably enough of a weasel to be the point man on spreading something like that.

  25. Let’s decapitate Dick,dick Cheney.

  26. If Libby had taken the Fifth, Fitzgerald would have immunized him and made him testify anyway. Had he then lied to protect his boss, he would still be vulnerable to a perjury charge. You can’t say, “I refuse to testify on the grounds that it might incriminate my superiors.”

  27. “Why didn’t he just say he was first told by a State Department official? Wouldn’t that have mitigated Cheney’s risk in being involved?”

    Because he was trying to protect the administration from political fallout, and blaming “a State Department official” doesn’t do that. The blame had to be shifted out of government.

    Walter Wallis, “Or, let’s open the enquiry a bit more and find out who in the CIA is misusing his authority to shift blame for bad intelligence away fron the CIA?” You efforts to help establish the motive for the crime are appreciated. FYI, blowing the cover of a covert CIA operative is a crime, even if you do it to save a million fuzzy baby bunnies from red hot magma.

    joshua corning, you are absolutely right, the VP conveying covert information to his CoS is, by itself, completely legal. It is only potentially illegal if it is done as part of a conspiracy to commit another crime. On the other hand, knowing the context and the result, it stinks to high heaven.

  28. Now that the center of gravity is shifting from the Oval Office to the VP’s office, how’s this for a theory: the “real” reason for the war is that people from the Bush 41 administration (like former Sec Def Cheney) who were involved in the first Gulf War have spent the last decade riddled with guilt for letting Saddam commit so many horrific massacres putting down the Shiite insurrections, and have been desperate for a “Do Over” ever since.

    It would explain why a hardheaded guy like Cheney let himself be suckered by a (Shiite) scam artist like Chalabi, and by the fuzzy headed, gang-that-can’t-shoot-straight neocons. Redemption for a troubled soul is a powerful temptation.

  29. Well, I suppose it explains why the CIA tapped him for the trip, rather than the preferred White House policy of hiring some clueless neophyte from Heritage who’d go to Niger, ask the wrong people the wrong questions, and spend most of his time trying to pass out Jack Chick pamphlets.

    That is inspired, BTW. Sounds logical to me.

    There is one aspect that I have only heard addressed once in the bloviation about this whole affair, and it is that the management of some classified information is not exactly intuitive. If you read the rules, it all seems cut and dried. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

    For the “normal people” working with this information, you jump through a bunch of hoops that invade your personal life, sign a pile of papers waiving certain rights and acknowledging you’ll be prosecuted if you screw up. Then, no one tells you what you can and cannot say. I suspect for high appointed officials, the process is, well, somewhat more expeditious, but that’s just my cynical side.

    Here’s the sticky part though:
    Imagine sitting in a 3 hour conversation with a colleague; talking about any business or professional pursuit, like law or medicine, or even computer programming. Now imagine that in the course of an engaged, technical, and friendly discussion, you have to stop yourself every 5 minutes or so and tag certain seemingly innocuous comments with sensitivity levels, or even stop in the middle of a thought and check to see whether your colleague has “B” or “Q” or “Z” or “PURPLE COW” or whatever the heck the compartment is under which you first heard the innocuous comment that you are about to relate for legitimate business reasons. It is maddening. Now imagine that you have to sign/learn/protect FORTY different flavors of info just to work on one project. What mere mortal can keep it all straight in their head?

    It’s easy when it’s written on paper, the top margin of the document tells you everything you need to know. It’s a little different with conversations.

    From what I’ve seen of that world, I was amazed that anything got done at all, because otherwise intelligent people had to edit every thought, and set a whole new (stilted) frame of interaction every time they met a new person, until the learned what letters that person has. Everyone’s access is different ‘ya know.

    I’m not defending the guy, and I think that people who damage an intel officer’s cover should be put away for ages, whether the officer has worked overseas recently or not. Leaking is unconscionable because people really do get killed and things that took years to establish can fall apart in seconds. I’m still miffed about the “Osama bin Laden satellite phone” news stories, which seem to have resulted (from press accounts) in the loss of that source – unforgivable.

    All that having been said, the fact of a visible figure’s spouse having a relationship with a particular agency is exactly the kind of thing I can see someone screwing up on, intentionally or otherwise. It’s definitely in the fuzzy edges of an already murky process.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that someone’s CIA affiliation might be sensitive though.

  30. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that someone’s CIA affiliation might be sensitive though.”

    Let alone the VP’s National Security Advisor. Who also worked for the VP when the VP was SecDef.

    I could see Ari Fleischer making this kind of mistake. I could see Rove making a sexist assumption that, as a woman, she couldn’t possibly be classified.

    But Libby? Possibly in consultation with Cheney? Who apparently knew she worked in the Directorate of Operations, and who well know the Directorate of Operations people are covert. No frickin’ way was it a mistake.

  31. I’m not a lawyer and I don’t play one on TV, but grand jury testimony appears to be different in substance from criminal proceedings. I don’t think you can “plead the fifth.” You are either under oath or not under oath (depending) and you give answers to questions according to your ability to answer them. I don’t think you are entitled to a lawyer in many cases, and the judge can make you give an answer. This being said, I would like to hear Novak’s, Miller’s, Plame’s, and Wilson’s side of the story on how actually this Plame/Flame’s name got “leaked” to begin with. Wouldn’t that go a long way toward providing an answer to all the questions? It seems the three-headed monster, the proverbial Cerberus guarding the flow of info to the public, Democrats, the CIA, and AP, strange bedfellows as they may seem, has settled on the version, or any version, that would lead to as much political damage to Bush as possible. Shouldn’t the people be a bit suspect of all these indictments, in light of the current balance of power in the executive and legislative branches, and soon, the judicial branch?

  32. Something I haven’t heard anyone talk about is Joe Wilson’s lies. He lied about who sent him to Niger when he told reporters it was Cheney. Cheny’s office new it wasn’t Cheney so they found out who it was who sent and it turns out it was his wife. Valerie Wilson. Why did Wilson lie about who sent him? Was he trying to protect his wife? If so, why did he give inteerviews to reporters knowing Cheney’s office would dispute him on this and try to find out who really recommended him? And why did he lie about what he found? He claims to have seen the documents the Italians had at least 6 months before they were revealed and also claims he knew they were forgeries. His stories don’t add up, either.

  33. joe: “FYI, blowing the cover of a covert CIA operative is a crime, even if you do it to save a million fuzzy baby bunnies from red hot magma.”

    Yeah, too bad no one was indicted for that.

  34. So, Libby lied to the prosecutor… Can anyone tell me why he didn’t just ‘take the fifth’?

    It was a grand jury investigation, so he couldn’t take the fifth.

  35. “Something I haven’t heard anyone talk about is Joe Wilson’s lies.”

    Except, you know, from every Republican who’s been near a video camera in the last week.

    “He lied about who sent him to Niger when he told reporters it was Cheney.”

    Except, you know, he didn’t say Cheney sent him – he said Cheney requested some information from the CIA, and the CIA sent him. Which is, you know, the truth.

    But I love the “Hey, look over there.”

    “Yeah, too bad no one was indicted for that.”

    It ain’t over yet, Peter K. Also, you might want to read the part of Fitzgerald’s statement, in which he said Libby’s dishonest testimony has prevented him, and the grand jury, from having the information they needed to make a decision about that charge.

  36. Libby’s dishonest testimony has prevented him, and the grand jury, from having the information they needed to make a decision about that charge

    I found that part of the indictment particularly disingenuous. There are other sources for any information that Fitz might need to bring any charges against anyone. Fitz seems to be complaining here that he cut bad deals with reporters who gave very limited testimony, or didn’t ask the followup questions he should have.

    I mean, it just doesn’t add up. You can’t accuse someone of perjury unless you have independent sources of information regarding whatever it is they are lying about.

  37. They all lie and we have become nothing more then economic cattle to the machine god help us all

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