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Yesterday, Dan Froomkin highlighted serious doubts about the allegation that Guckert had access to the internal intelligence memo that was leaked, leading to the outing of Valerie Plame as a CIA operative.  Indeed, it looks like Guckert never had any access to the memo, but was just cribbing from the Wall Street Journal.

Froomkin cites righty blogger Tom Maguire (NOTE: there's an overkill of Kos-hatred on his site, and I have no idea who he is, so be forewarned before you click the link...but he's got a point on this one), who noted on Feb. 11 that Guckert's interview with Ambassador Wilson (during the week leading up to October 28, 2003) occurred after the WSJ published an article describing the leaked memo.  Most telling is the fact that Guckert seems to have read his question to Wilson about the memo straight off the Journal's pages.

From the Journal on Oct. 17:

An internal government memo addresses some of the mysteries at the center of the White House leak investigation and could help investigators in the search for who disclosed the identity of a Central Intelligence Agency operative, according to two people familiar with the memo.

The memo, prepared by U.S. intelligence personnel, details a meeting in early 2002 where CIA officer Valerie Plame and other intelligence officials gathered to brainstorm about how to verify reports that Iraq had sought uranium yellowcake from Niger.

Ms. Plame, a member of the agency's clandestine service working on Iraqi weapons issues, suggested at the meeting that her husband, Africa expert and former U.S. diplomat Joseph Wilson, could be sent to Niger to investigate the reports, according to current and former government officials familiar with the meeting at the CIA's Virginia headquarters. Soon after, midlevel CIA officials decided to send him, say intelligence officials.

From the Guckert/Wilson interview (during the week leading up to Oct. 28):

An internal government memo prepared by U.S. intelligence personnel details a meeting in early 2002 where your wife, a member of the agency for clandestine service working on Iraqi weapons issues, suggested that you could be sent to investigate the reports. Do you dispute that?

In other words, it looks an awful lot like Guckert pulled his memo question straight out of the Journal, which had reported on the memo about a week before the Guckert/Wilson interview occurred.  To be sure, Guckert subsequently claimed to have seen the memo and has refused to say much more, citing a need to "protect his sources."  (Spiderleaf's excellent timeline notes the relevant post from Guckert's site where the latter claims to have seen the memo).  However, we already know that Guckert isn't a real reporter and is prone to making self-aggrandizing claims and generally trying to make himself appear like a bigger fish than he is.  

In light of those facts, I'm inclined to discount Guckert's personal claims to having seen the leaked memo.  Which, in turn, means that the most explosive part of the Guckert story may not even exist.  How and why he got into the WH press room are questions that still need to be answered, but it sure looks like Guckert didn't have access to classified intelligence memos other than by reading about them in the Wall Street Journal.

Originally posted to Categorically Imperative on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 06:21 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank You (none)
    We've got to stick to the facts and remain credible.
    •  one more point (none)
      Wasn't it established fairly early on that Gannon cribbed from White House press releases instead of doing his own writing?  That is, what if Gannon is mostly just a lazy faux-journalist (that would go along with his self-aggrandizement) and a plagerist?  
      •  That's how he got discovered, isn't it? (none)
        Wasn't it the case that his now-infamous "divorced from reality" question was based on something he cribbed from Rush Limbaugh? He said Democrats had "divorced themselves from reality" because Harry Reid was allegedly talking about soup lines, and then it turned out that Harry Reid never said anything of the kind, but Rush Limbaugh had said he did.

        This is apparently something Guckert does all the time, and we have, in fact, been discussing this over the past few days with respect to the alleged memo, as well.

    •  But what are the facts? (none)
      If everybody would KISS and chuck their biases, the facts would be easier to see.

      RoveCo is NOT incompetent.  They screw up and make errors on occasion, but they are NOT incompetent.

      Gannon was a faux journalist embedded in the WH press corps, and the WH knew that.  Therefore, they would not risk passing primary leaks to Gannon.  How long would it take for questions about Gannon to have surfaced if he was seen as a primary contact for the WH outing of Plame?  Gannon's task was to be part of the WH propaganda spin operation for stuff that had already made its way into the media.  He was supposed to stay below the radar screen of the big name "reporters."

      There is no evidence that Gannon even wrote the articles that carried his byline.  He most likely wrote his comments at Free Republic, but one would be hard pressed to see similarities between those comments and "his" articles.  The idea that Gannon read the WSJ article before interview Wilson strikes me as ludicrous.  This is a guy who cribbed from Rush for a question he was going to get to ask of GWB and was too stupid to consider that maybe Rush makes shit up and therefore, it might be a good idea to verify the Reid quote.  

      Gannon was fed the questions for his interview with Wilson.  And he was either told or made to think that he was being given access to a top secret.  But care was taken to make sure someone else had already reported it to give Gannon cover if questions were ever asked of him.  That's why he can't keep his damn story straight and can't even seem to remember that he was supposed to have read it in the WSJ.

      The problem with narcissists is that they have a high need to embellish.  Hence, he just had to "improve upon" the question he was supposed to ask GWB and blew his cover in the process.

      He doesn't know who in the WH passed the Plame information to reporters or even who was leaking a story about a CIA memo they allegedly proved that Valerie Plame had gotten the Niger assignment for her husband.  But he does know who tasked him to push Wilson on this matter and whoever gave Gannon his script is part of the WH operation that outted Plame.  Therefore, he is a link in the chain of the leak.    

      What FDR giveth; GWB taketh away

      by Marie on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 09:08:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Could you post his admission? (none)
    Its evidentiary weight might depend on whether in context it does seem to be a matter of self-aggrandizement, or not.  It is hardly impossible that, upon hearing of the memo, he requested and received a copy of it.  But what he said about having it deserves to be considered in context.
    •  Sure (none)
      (from the Spiderleaf timeline linked in the diary)

      A memo written by an INR (Intelligence and Research) analyst who made notes of the meeting at which Wilson was asked to go to Niger sensed that something fishy was going on.  That report made it to the outside world courtesy of some patriotic whistleblower that realized that a bag job was underway.

      ....

      The classified document that slipped out sometime after the meeting put her name before the public, albeit a small group of inside-the-beltway types, but effectively ended the notion that she was still covert.

      ....

      I raised all of these questions with Wilson in October 2003 in an interview for Talon News. Since I was aware of the INR report, I confronted him about it.

      What is difficult to understand is the reason that the CIA would want to discredit this report.  The first clue came when the agents from the FBI came to my home in March 2003 to question me in connection to the leak probe.  I was flattered to think that I was important enough to be included among the luminaries like Andrea Mitchell, Tim Russert and Chris Matthews who were also named in a Justice Department subpoena of records from the White House.  But most of the questions were about the INR report.  They wanted to know where I got it and what I knew about it.  Of course, as a journalist there wasn't much I could say without revealing my sources.  I'm sure they were not satisfied, but it made me wonder why they were so interested in a document the CIA said was false.

      Arguably, this isn't even a claim that he had the document, but from what I've read, it's the strongest evidence that exists to support the notion that Guckert ever received the memo himself.

      The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. --George Bernard Shaw

      by Categorically Imperative on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 06:36:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Guckert has shown himself (none)
        to fold like a house of cards after a slight breeze when bloggers exposed him online into his resignation.  Why then, when the feds came a knockin' on his door, didn't he just blame David Cloud at the WSJ to get them to go away?  Instead of the more dangerous response of not cooperating...

        No more Mr. Nice Democrat

        by Viktor on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 06:42:20 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I imagine (none)
          He did blame Cloud and the WSJ.  After all, the FBI came knockin', but the subpoena didn't follow.  Which indicates that Guckert was plenty cooperative, and the feds decided that he didn't know much of anything.

          The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. --George Bernard Shaw

          by Categorically Imperative on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 06:46:07 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Possibility (none)
            Due to his shifting story on the memo issue and his other lies it's hard to take this joker at face value on anything much of anything.

            It's possible he lied again to Blitzer on his "anonymous sources," lied on the (Not)Free Republic site, and lied about the outcome on his website about encounter with the FBI.

            No more Mr. Nice Democrat

            by Viktor on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 06:50:50 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Let me ask you this. (none)
              How characteristic was it of Guckert to go out and arrange for interviews with sources?  Who put him up to the Plame story?  How many other reporters asked Wilson for interviews?

              Considering that it is fairly common knowledge that the press requires TWO independent sources to confirm a story, wouldn't it make sense that the leak went in two directions?

          •  but then (none)
            why be cagey with the media?  why not just say, whenever asked about it, "oh, no...i was just using my notes from this WSJ article."  hell, even if it weren't true, it'd be the smart move.
      •  There were also his words (none)
        on FreeRepublic -- "I disagree with the categorization of the memo itself"; and from the same post you mention he says "That report made it to the outside world courtesy of some patriotic whistleblower that realized that a bag job was underway." and "The classified document that slipped out sometime after the meeting put her name before the public,"

        They WSJ article clearly did not confirm the existence of the memo other than "two people who had seen it" and the CIA would not confirm.

        So he would have been going out on a HUGE limb by stating categorically that it existed.

        And so on and so on.

        Like I said in the timeline, it is possible he just cribbed from WSJ, but highly unlikely.

        I don't know if he ever received it himself, but someone sure as hell told him about it vs. just reading it in the WSJ.

        Jaded Reality... I've had enough spin for today thanks...

        by spiderleaf on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 07:06:31 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  When was that? (none)
          One important part of the timeline I'd love to add is when it first became public knowledge that this was an INR memo, not a CIA one.

          The WSJ leaves it ambiguous, as did JeffJim in his interview with Wilson. The Wapo published an article in December of 2003 that states that it was an INR memo. I believe that is the next published mention of the memo. Which says the Wapo had independent knowledge of the memo (because they knew it was written at State and not CIA). But if we can prove JeffJim knew it was INR before that Wapo article came out, then we've got him with independently acquired knowledge.

          (Also, it might be a good idea to clarify that the memo was an INR memo in the timeline.)

          •  Here's the WaPo quote (none)
            Sources said the CIA is angry about the circulation of a still-classified document to conservative news outlets suggesting Plame had a role in arranging her husband's trip to Africa for the CIA. The document, written by a State Department official who works for its Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), describes a meeting at the CIA where the Niger trip by Wilson was discussed, said a senior administration official who has seen it.

            CIA officials have challenged the accuracy of the INR document, the official said, because the agency officer identified as talking about Plame's alleged role in arranging Wilson's trip could not have attended the meeting.

            Am I mistaken in thinking this is the first published mention of the INR? Clearly, this story says the actually memo was circulating--and they specify that it was going to conservative news outlets (sounds like a great description of Talon). If Talon was included on the circulation list, then the CIA would seem to be saying that JeffJim had the actual memo.

            •  And here's another bit I should have included (none)
              "It has been circulated around," one official said. CIA and State Department officials have refused to discuss the document.

              This suggests that the sources alluded to are not State or CIA sources directly--Allen and Milbank are getting this info secondhand (since the article states that CIA and State sources wouldn't discuss the memo). But whoever says it has been circulating seems to believe that actual memo is circulating, not just reports of it.

          •  Important. (none)
            It would be very helpful to know that, no doubt. My bet is that Guckert finds out it was an INR memo from newspaper accounts, though, and then just casually chucks that into the above cited FR post, as though he's known it all along.

            If he knew it was INR and not CIA at the time he interviewed Wilson, you'd think that he'd include that fact just to give himself more credibility, especially seeing how Wilson disclaimed any knowledge of the memo, save the mention of its possible existence by another reporter.

            Importantly, at least to my mind, he doesn't even make the very easy mistake of assuming it's a CIA memo, but instead apparently relies almost verbatim on the oddly-constructed WSJ characterization of its origins -- which is to say that he says nothing in particular about its origins at all, when saying so would have established some important credibility.

            •  I agree to some degree (none)
              That the description by both the WSJ and JeffJim is stilted. "Intelligence personnel." But it might be a way for them to give the source the maximum credibility (associated somehow with Plame) without having to reveal that it was an INR memo, not a CIA one (and therefore isn't all that directly connected to Plame). In other words, both could have legitimately been trying to hide the fact that this was written at State in order to make it seem more credible.
              •  I can buy that. (none)
                Sure.

                Guckert says, "An INR memo says blah, blah." And Wilson retorts, "That's INR -- the State Department. What do they know about internal CIA meetings?"

                Could be.

                Don't know yet what might account for the rest of the verbatim cribbing, though.

                •  And consider (none)
                  That the CIA insists this memo was impossible--the writer couldn't have been at the meeting (presumably because they know he or she was somewhere else). If that is true, we can assume the memo was written solely to discredit Plame, that it was fraudulent.

                  If that's true, how do you want to deploy it, if you're in the business of disinformation and character assassination? You make sure people know as little about it as possible, so it can't be tracked down and discredited.

        •  also (none)
          I'm not surprised he may have lifted his wording from the WSJ article because that's his MO, but his masters at GOPUSA and his other 'friends' in the WH knew this was a huge can of worms... a criminal investigation was underway... even dumbass Gannon would know that it was playing with fire to drop all qualifiers and come out and state there was a memo.

          further, he had an agenda in that interview, one that was only being pushed by Novak at that time -- discredit the CIA and push the meme that Valerie wasn't covert, so no crime had been committed... way too many coincidences for me to believe he had not been at least told personally about the memo -- same as Cloud and Novak.

          Let's also not forget that the 'employers' from the Leadership Institute where Gannon graduated include the Evans & Novak Political Report and that two of Hollinger International's board members (who own the Chicago Sun-Times) are Feith & Kissinger... and the mysterious circumstances surrounding how Gannon actually got into the WH to begin with.

          Too many coincidences here for us to take Gannon at his word (and his word doesn't even deny that he saw the damn memo).

          I think we should remain skeptical, but I've seen enough of this admin to allow for their explanations at this point. they are doing damage control pure and simple. They may be right, but also, they could be wrong. It's too early to say.

          Jaded Reality... I've had enough spin for today thanks...

          by spiderleaf on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 07:28:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Disagree about WSJ article (none)
          I read it to pretty clearly state that the memo exists.  The first two paragraphs (which I've excerped above in the diary) speak without qualification of an existing memo.  The article's final paragraph states:

          According to current and former officials familiar with the memo, it describes interagency discussions of the yellowcake mystery: whether the reports of Iraq's uranium purchases were credible; which agency should pay for any further investigation; and the suggestion that Mr. Wilson could be sent to check out the allegations. Other officials with knowledge of the memo wouldn't say if it mentions Ms. Plame by name as the one who suggested Mr. Wilson, or if her identity is shielded but obvious because of what is known now about the mission.

          To me, the WSJ article is absolutely clear that the memo exists; hence, Guckert wouldn't have been perching himself on a limb by making the same suggestion (or at least no more of a limb than the WSJ put itself on).

          The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. --George Bernard Shaw

          by Categorically Imperative on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 07:30:17 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  It states it exists (none)
            because "two people" told Cloud it did. Cloud then told his intelligence sources he knew about it, but the intelligence officials would not confirm that it discussed Plame. There is a difference there... yes, there is a memo that talks about the yellowcake.. is it the memo that mentions plame... we won't confirm or discuss that.

            Jaded Reality... I've had enough spin for today thanks...

            by spiderleaf on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 07:39:39 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Perhaps we're just arguing semantics (none)
              The description in the first graf is based on what "two people" told Cloud.  The description in the final graf is based on what "current and former officials" have apparently told Cloud.  Unless he's being very clever with ginning up sourcing credibility where none exists, I'd say Cloud has confirmation on the memo's existence from more than two sources.

              The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. --George Bernard Shaw

              by Categorically Imperative on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 07:56:30 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  It isn't just semantics (none)
                it is important to clarify what the Intelligence sources admitted existed -- and the key here is that they would not confirm that the memo Cloud referenced talked about Plame at all. So what if there is a memo that talks about yellowcake -- does it talk about Plame, that is the key.

                The only people who said it mentioned Plame were the "two people" (and Cloud didn't even identify those two people as being in the government, which is very odd for a reputable journalist).

                And that was what Gannon stated it categorically did.

                Jaded Reality... I've had enough spin for today thanks...

                by spiderleaf on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 08:04:48 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  and btw (none)
                  I also quoted the WSJ article in the timeline... right now the right is pulling up any plausible scenarios to discredit the investigation because Congresspeople have asked for a Special Prosecutor. That speaks volumes as well.

                  Put Gannon in front of the GJ and let him tell us why he asked Wilson what he did. Until then I'm positive the right will continue to try to spin this because it is a huge story.

                  Jaded Reality... I've had enough spin for today thanks...

                  by spiderleaf on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 08:14:36 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  i'm trying to dig up other info (none)
            But have some other things to do this morning so I may not be back for a while...

            But also, Froomkin himself stated in his March 10, 2004 column that he thought Gannon had received the memo:

            www.washingtonpost.com :

            And then there's Jeff Gannon of Talon News.

            Who? Of what?

            I first wrote about Gannon in my Feb. 19 column. Gannon works for a tiny, supremely conservative organization called Talon News which publishes a Web site by the same name as well as one called GOPUSA.com. With the sole exception of Gannon, who says he is compensated, all the "reporters" are volunteers.

            Gannon's presence in the White House briefing room is something of an irritant to most of the press corps, which considers his questions at briefings to be preposterous softballs. [Note: This paragraph has been corrected. Gannon does not have an assigned seat in the briefing room as was previously reported here.]

            And in return, Gannon sometimes writes on his own Web site about his views of the corps and how there is "perhaps no depth to which it will not sink in order to undermine a presidency."

            Anyway, the reason Gannon is on the list is most likely an attempt to find out who gave him a secret memo that he mentioned in an interview he had with Plame's husband, former ambassador and administration critic Joseph Wilson.

            Froomkin last week was quite snide about our investigation of Gannon and said 'which I wrote all about on March 10th'... he's pissed he didn't dig further and got scooped by bloggers... in this world one must question everyone's motivations.

            And like I said, Gannon may be full of shit, but I doubt it. He was told about the memo and since he wasn't a journalist he cribbed the words from the WSJ... also, his interview with Wilson was conducted by phone so we don't know for certain how he worded the question to Wilson. Could be interesting to get a copy of that tape.

            Anyway, I'll be back later.

            Jaded Reality... I've had enough spin for today thanks...

            by spiderleaf on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 08:01:02 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  THERE'S something. (none)
              And like I said, Gannon may be full of shit, but I doubt it. He was told about the memo and since he wasn't a journalist he cribbed the words from the WSJ... also, his interview with Wilson was conducted by phone so we don't know for certain how he worded the question to Wilson. Could be interesting to get a copy of that tape.

              A hybrid theory there: Guckert was told about the memo, but also cribbed his words from the WSJ. In other words, he doesn't learn of the memo from the WSJ, but borrows its wording in talking to Wilson.

              My candidate for most likely explanation as to how he could have "learned of the memo" from another source, but still have cribbed from the WSJ: the "other source," being a friendly conservative, says, "Hey, did you know there's even a memo that proves Wilson's full of shit?"

              "Really?"

              "Yeah! It's even been reported in the Wall Street Journal! Here, take my copy."

              •  The more I think about it (none)
                I think both the WSJ and JeffJim were working off a very carefully worded talking point, designed to give maximum credibility to someone who--at least according to the CIA--couldn't have known what he said he did. And designed to keep the memo somewhat mysterious to avoid the fraud behind it from being exposed.

                Of course that doesn't mean either of them didn't have the memo--it just means that they were very disciplined about how they referred to it.

                What I want to know is who told WaPo's Allen and Milbank that the actual memo was circulating among conservative outlets. Is this person credible? Or is this person just working off of hearsay. Heck, it could even be Wilson (it resembles some of the quotes Wilson made about what he knew--"journalists are calling and telling me," and he might have assumed given JeffJim's question that he had the actual memo). But the Allen Wilbank article clearly states the memo is circulating, to conservative outlets. And the only conservative outlet to get subpoenaed is Talon.

                •  The question is... (none)
                  what does it mean to say "the memo" is circulating?

                  A hard copy of a memo circulating among conservative outlets makes me think one thing, whereas word of, or electronic "copies" of a memo circulating among conservative outlets makes me think another.

                  A paper copy makes me think (or used to, before the TANG memos): hey, someone has gotten hold of this memo and copied it.

                  An electronic copy makes me think: hey, someone wants me to think this memo exists, but isn't giving me a copy, for some reason.

                  With normal people, that reason is usually that it's much easier to e-mail it to me than send me a copy or even fax it. But with weirdos, it makes me think that there might not be any memo, and they're hoping I'm not a critical enough thinker to consider that.

                  It all depends, of course, on knowing who's a weirdo, and who's not, if that can be known at all.

                  I think it's very likely that the WSJ and Guckert were working off the same plan, in that someone clearly wanted friendly voices in the media to think there was "insider" proof that Wilson was motivated by partisanship and enabled by nepotism. I think that person told WSJ reporters that such a memo existed. That person may also have told Guckert the same thing, or may have left it to someone else to show Guckert the WSJ article. Or, the same person may well have played dumb about it and just told Guckert, "look what I found in the WSJ."

                  Or, it could have been intended for the WSJ and other top-tier outlets, and Guckert got involved by accident, having heard from, say, Rush Limbaugh (as was the case with the false Reid quote), or even in casual conversation with his conservative pals that such a memo existed, that it discredited Wilson, and that "proof" of its existence and its contents could be found in the WSJ.

                  •  Why does the distinction matter? (none)
                    Whether it circulates as a hard copy or an electronic one?

                    At least according to the CIA, the memo is fraudulent. The author could not have been at the meeting where the Niger mission was discussed. If that is true, it means that the memo is a fraud no matter how it is circulated.

                    The question we're interested in is whether JeffJim was used to help propagate the notion that there was a memo that discredited Wilson. If he did receive even an EMAIL that says there was a memo and he should report on it, it corroborates the theory that he is a shill placed precisely to do this sort of thing--to lend legitimacy to Rove's campaigns of disinformation. What is important is that he was getting this information directly from those who used it to discredit Wilson, not whether he had the actual memo itself.

                    •  The distinction. (none)
                      The distinction matters only (I think -- I'm losing track!) in considering what Allen and Milbank knew or were told. You mentioned that their article clearly states that the memo is circulating among conservative outlets. Now that we know the memo is a fraud, I'm curious whether there were any red flags at the time -- i.e., nothing that would even tend to prove the physical existence of even a fraudlent memo, like a hard copy.

                      If Allen and Milbank should properly have said that something that purported to reflect the contents of a memo was circulating, that would change the range of possibilities we should consider in thinking about what happened.

                      Unfortunately, what that says is that we've reached a point where healthy skepticism requires us now to automatically assume that electronic communications aren't necessarily true and accurate representations of even fraudulent documents. Which is sad. But the bottom line is that seeing is still believing, even if you're only looking to believe in the physical existence of a fraudulent memo.

                      An e-mail fraudulently purporting to reflect the contents of a memo that it itself fraudulent can cause a lot of problems in trying to reconstruct a true timeline of events, especially when the investigation into that timeline depends on secondary sources.

                      Did that make any sense, or did I lose my way in the writing?

            •  Could very well be (none)
              I definitely noticed the haughty "I scoff at bloggers" tone of Froomkin's post, and can see where his motivation to discredit any stories that dig further than his would lie.  And I'd agree with your original post that we simply don't know enough yet to say for sure how much (if any) access Guckert had to the memo (i.e. did he get the memo itself, was he told about it, or did he only read it in the WSJ).  Taking it as a given that Guckert was a lazy, incompetent, fake reporter who frequently cribbed GOP talking points as news, it's plausible that he was told of the memo but still decided to take the Journal language verbatim.  Still, as Kagro X (I think) posted above, it seems to be a stretch to think that he had the actual memo, but decided to use the WSJ's stilted language when questioning Amb. Wilson.

              The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. --George Bernard Shaw

              by Categorically Imperative on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 08:18:39 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  I agree, but.. (none)
    I have to say that we shouldn't be linking the two without credible proof.

    However, he's also on record (elsewhere this morning, in another thread) as saying the FBI had repeatedly asked him if he had seen the memo, and all he would say is that 'as a journalist, he cannot reveal'...yadda yadda...which is especially ironic, since he WASN'T a journalist (can he be gotten for lying to the FBI, if this is what happened?)

    The only reason I can think of to not just say "I actually didn't see anything classified, I got what I know from the WSJ, talk to them" is he didn't want to spoil his own credibility, or wanted to radiate an aura of intrigue or something...

    Still, without PROOF of things like this or that he had any other sort of 'official' role at the WH, we should be careful of what we accuse..

    •  Yes, but then again (none)
      Gannon is also on record (per E&P), equivocating about the memo, hinting that he never had it, but being vague enough to allow for the possibility that he did see it.  What seems clear, however, is that whatever he said to the FBI didn't merit his being called in front of the grand jury in the Plame case, which indicates to me that he either didn't give the FBI the full truth, or he never saw the memo.

      From E&P's article giving the highlights of their Guckert interview:

      Guckert said that contrary to many press reports, he was never subpoenaed by the special prosecutor and has never testified before a grand jury in the case. But he said he was interviewed by two FBI agents in his home for about 90 minutes last year.

      "I answered their questions truthfully and honestly, but I would prefer not to say more," he said. "I assume the information was routed back and that is why I was not called to testify."

      Although he hinted that he had not seen a classified CIA document after all, he added, "I am not going to speak to that. It goes to something of a nature I do not want to discuss."

      The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. --George Bernard Shaw

      by Categorically Imperative on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 06:44:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  There was an interview (none)
        On Monday with Guckert on NPR's show "Here and Now," and I know this was mentioned near the end, here is the link if anyone wants to listen:

        http://www.here-now.org/shows/2005/02/20050214_2.asp

        What baffles me is how he carefully phrases replies to these questions about Plame & Fitzgerald's investigation - if he were totally out of the loop and the prosecutor hadn't questioned him, why the secrecy?   There's something weird about it.

  •  "looks like G didn't have access..." (none)
    not really.  What it looks like is that the situation is unclear.  The fact that he hasn't backed down on these claims (in spite of the fact that making them might bring down the Grand Jury on his head) is interesting.

    The situation remains murky.  If only the Fitzgerald investigation was as leaky as Starr's!

    The odds are pretty good but the goods are pretty odd. -Dr. Frank

    by Cheez Whiz on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 06:40:48 AM PST

    •  Maybe (none)
      But he's given the FBI sworn statements on the issue that are probably more determinative of whether he gets subpoenaed (he hasn't been) than the bragging claims once made on his now-defunct website.  I'm not saying he definitely didn't have the memo, but a fair reading of the evidence leads me to believe he didn't.  Since I was under the impression there was a firmer link between Guckert and the memo (and have made such a claim myself here and elsewhere), I thought that pointing out the pretty clear link between the WSJ and Guckert's first mention of the memo would be useful.

      The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. --George Bernard Shaw

      by Categorically Imperative on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 06:48:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wilson did not know about the memo (none)
        when Gannon/Guckert asked him about it. Seems odd if the WSJ article had already been published (all of these events occurred during the same few weeks):


        Were you struck immediately during the course of the interview by the fact that he discussed the internal memo?

        As to the memo, I knew nothing about it other than a Post journalist had told me there was one circulating which he characterized as having been written by somebody who was not at the meeting where I was asked if I would be willing to go to Niger. The fact is Valerie was not at that meeting. Neither she nor I had any ulterior motive in this.  It was not until almost six months later that I began to speak out on the war question....

        Back to the memo, when Gannon mentioned it to me, I told him I knew nothing about it but
        repeated that my wife was not at the meeting at which the subject of a trip to Niger was broached with me. I may have mentioned that I had heard that there was a memo out there but had no other knowledge about it. I still don't.

        •  Odd, perhaps (none)
          But I'm just going with what seems to be the established fact that the Guckert/Wilson interview took place on the week of October 21 (I take it the date is murky because Talon News scrubbed the site and/or the article doesn't have a date stamp).  It's incontrovertible that the WSJ article was published on October 17.  Which means that the info was out there; perhaps Wilson just doesn't read the Journal.  

          Then again, later in the Wilson quote you highlight, he does note that he may have "heard there was a memo out there but had no other knowledge about it."  So he may have known that a memo existed, without knowing what the contents were or who else had seen it.

          The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. --George Bernard Shaw

          by Categorically Imperative on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 06:59:30 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Nothing other than a Post journalist (none)
            It seems highly plausible that the WH was shopping around this fake(?) memo to numerous "reporters" just as it had with Plame's identity. So the Post reporter was a target; so was the WSJ, and so was Gannon.

            I just can't imagine not knowing about an article in the WSJ about you and your wife under these circumstances, whether Wilson can nail down the timing or not.

            •  Maybe Wilson did know (none)
              Regardless, it seems beyond odd that Guckert would have the memo himself and then lift his question about it directly from the pages of the WSJ.  Everything he says that relates to the content of the memo (ostensibly indicating that he'd seen it) is taken straight from the Journal article.  Which leads me to believe that Guckert read the Journal, not the memo.

              The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. --George Bernard Shaw

              by Categorically Imperative on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 07:09:57 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Your strongest evidence: (none)
                it seems beyond odd that Guckert would have the memo himself and then lift his question about it directly from the pages of the WSJ

                As was so often his wont.

                I think you're on solid ground here.

              •  But Wilson hadn't heard about it? (none)
                I just don't believe Wilson wouldn't at least getting a phone call telling him about the memo after the article appeared. It's simply incredible. Wilson is a bit fuzzy on the date (the interview was about "a week" before publication on Talon) but is very clear that his only source for the memo was buzz from a Post reporter--not the journal article.
  •  One detail (3.66)
    That JeffJim seems to have learned at some point is that this was not a CIA memo (and incidentally, we ought to stop referring to it as such). Rather, it was written by an INR (state department intelligence) analyst. That detail doesn't show up in the WSJ newspaper or JeffJim's Wilson interview. But it does show up in the later undated JeffJim article (in spiderleaf's timeline).

    In other words, we should be looking at who first published information that this was an INR memo, not a CIA one. It would provide a pretty compelling clue about who had either firsthand information (had seen the document noting that the writer was an INR employee) or had direct leaked information on it.

  •  ok, now i'm confused (none)
    when gannon tells wolf blitzer and others in the RWNM that he never added content to his gay websites, he is not questioned further and his statement is conferred as a fact, never minding his cedibility in terms of telling the truth.

    but, when gannon tells all he saw the memo, the RWCM and their hacks say "he's probably lying- consider the credibility of the source."

    trying to keep it straight here. maybe i should ask john mccain for some advice.

    •  Easy there (none)
      Just looking at the evidence....do you think the remarkable identity between Guckert's question to Wilson and the WSJ article is the result of random chance?  Or that Guckert had the memo for himself but just thought the Journal summed it up nicely?  

      As for what the RWCM has to say about Guckert's credibility, you never saw me post something discounting the possibility that Guckert added content to his websites, so that little non sequitur has me confused.

      The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. --George Bernard Shaw

      by Categorically Imperative on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 07:02:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  not you, (none)
        the RWNM. the fact these guys all took gannon at his word on the prostitution thing discounts their credibility with me. i'll certainly value a legitimate kossack's input here highly.
      •  Speculation (none)
        There are easier ways to get at the truth. Put him under oath in front of a grand jury for instance.

        "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

        by Armando on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 07:12:16 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Same script writer for both? (none)
        Maybe Cloud at the WSJ and Gannon were using the same script, the same talking points coming from a media manager in the WH.  

        Didn't a media center do a study of the WSJ and determine that a high percentage of its content comes from press releases?

        We've all noticed the choir singing those talking points --from David Brooks to the WSJ to the Weekly Standard.  The identical language and word order are used.  Guckert would be in that same loop.

        •  Hmmm... (none)
          That would certainly be another way to explain it.  I wasn't aware of the study noting that the WSJ regurgitates talking points as news, but it doesn't surprise me.  Could be that Cloud and Guckert just had the same script, as you suggest.

          The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. --George Bernard Shaw

          by Categorically Imperative on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 07:21:15 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  not at all (none)
        in fact, if i were Gannon and in my 'journalism' role, trying to get Wilson to put himself in a partisan corner, I'd be doing my best not to reveal what non-public information I was party to. therefore, I would go to the articles themselves and borrow their language as much as possible to avoid anything extraneous that might reveal my position.

        i'm not saying this is what happened, but you're engaging in conjecture and mine is equally plausible.

        •  They are equally plausible. (none)
          But one scenario requires only that we believe this relatively untrained and inexperienced "journalist" merely be smart enough to read.

          The other scenario requires us to believe that he's a cunning, careful plotter, taking pains to cover his "journalistic" tracks, but at the same time forgot to remove publicly-accessible evidence that would tend to show he was a prostitute.

          •  no (none)
            the second scenario requires nothing of the sort. only that a cunning, careful plotter have instructed him as to the questions to ask. the websites were done on his own time.
            •  Ah, OK. (none)
              I thought that when you were referring to being, hypothetically, in your "journalism role," you meant Guckert, who was supposedly the "journalist" in all this. You apparently really meant that the "journalism role" would be scripted by someone else, and played by Guckert. While that's certainly more plausible, it wasn't what you said, so I couldn't get on the same page with you until you cleared it up.
  •  Hmmmm.... (none)
    This does take away one of the more plausible explanations regarding why on earth the WH would:
     1. Plant a shill in the Press Corps. Couldn't they have let someone from, say, Fox News or the WSJ fill this role?
     2. Plant this shill in the Press Corps. Couldn't they have found someone with a squeaky clean (as far as anyone knows) record?

    Like this? Check out Answer Guy Online. (Please. Pretty please.) "I want my country back." - Howard Dean

    by Answer Guy on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 07:10:27 AM PST

  •  I think all we can say right now (4.00)
    ....is that Gannon/Guckert had knowledge of the memo.  That knowledge could have come about in various ways-

    1.  He could have actually had the memo.
    2.  He could have seen the memo
    3.  Someone could have told him about the memo.
    4.  He could have read about the memo from other news sources.

    Nothing is clear right now, other than the fact that he had knowledge of the memo.
  •  Well (none)
    No offense CI, but the guy said he saw it and you have constructed a scenario where he may NOT have seen it.

    When Gannon/Guckert recants, then we can drop it.

    Has he? No?  Well then we march on.

    "Just say no to torture." -Semi-Anonymous Blogger.

    by Armando on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 07:11:06 AM PST

    •  That's fair enough (none)
      But I'd still say that on the weight of the evidence, it looks like he never saw it.  All of his claims to have seen it are oblique and hedged; I don't think he ever straight up says "I had the memo."  He makes comments from which one can infer that he's seen it, but that's about it.  

      I will agree that putting him in front of the GJ would put this all to bed.

      The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. --George Bernard Shaw

      by Categorically Imperative on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 07:18:28 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Steny Hoyer... (none)
    ...wants the Guckert/Plame link investigated...that in and of itself is powerful, IMO.  When this issue started heating up, the various sites connected to Gannon were being scrubbed.  He had access to the memo long before almost every media outlet...a lot of smoke there, and here's the fire (that you've heard a million times):

    A man gained access to the WH for two years under an assumed name.  If you don't believe there is a WH/Guckert connection you must also believe that a man was within four rows of the President...traveled to Crawford with the president, without EVER having had a background check.  Sorry, but that is absolutely impossible.

    Arrogant lips are unsuited to a fool-- how much worse lying lips to a ruler - Proverbs 17:7

    by Barbara Morrill on Tue Feb 15, 2005 at 07:21:45 AM PST

  •  FWIW, my take (none)
    1. Novak had different sources from inside the administration. Verbal, no memo.

    2. Cloud had access to a classified memo from INR with bad information in it.

    3. I think Gannon had access to the same memo. Nowhere does he deny having it. Not even on Blitzer this week.

    4. This could possibly be all bluster and he cribbed from the WSJ. BUT:

    5. Given how quickly this past week Gannon went from being full of hubris ("I love it! Gannongate! I'm a rock star!") to crying on talk radio about how he's a victim in all this, I can't see him standing up to FBI questioning (as he claims he did) to "protect his sources" if he really only cribbed from the WSJ. I think that information would have been out of his mouth in the first 30 seconds of what he claims is a 90-minute interview by FBI agents.

    6. Now that he's clearly not a journalist, what does he have to gain by not admitting he lifted the information from the WSJ? He clearly now does not have any hope of having any sources shielded.

    7. Somebody thought he was worthy of investigation based on the grand jury list (and I personally see little difference between subpoeanaing his correspondence in this instance and subpoeaning him. If he has a copy of the memo, surely that would fall under correspondence.)

    8. We may be entirely wrong and Froomkin and McGuire may be entirely right. But that does not discount the need for him being questioned to absolutely rule out whether he saw the memo or no.

    9. Both Froomkin and McGuire seem to be negating the need to get to the bottom of it. I disagree with this. Sure, maybe we're wrong, but all we've been driving toward all along is getting questions answered. The answers may not be what we expect, i.e., it may turn out he was full of bluff and never had access to a memo or information about it, but I think they're both way off in intimating that we're nuts for wanting those questions answered. Don't we as citizens have a right to know if he did or did not have access to classified information? Why the big deal about stopping all questioning on the matter?
    •  Subpoena (none)
      and I personally see little difference between subpoeanaing his correspondence in this instance and subpoeaning him

      I'm not so sure that's true. Correct me if I'm wrong, but grand jurys have fairly narrow fields of investigation. This one, for example, has the job of finding out who first leaked Plame's identity. It is not tasked to finding out whether there is a machine designed to discredit Administration critics--it will only investigate such issues insofar as they pertain to the question at hand, whether someone in the Bush Administration violated the law.

      Suppose the Grand Jury has identified possible suspects, Libby, Cheney, and Abrams. It will not necessarily investigate the correspondence that goes from Cheney to Eberle (who is campaign donor) after the name has already been leaked, because it doesn't directly affect the leaking. It doesn't necessarily even affect the coverup. So JeffJim could have gotten the memo from some other Republican operative, without it coming to the attention of the Grand Jury (given what JeffJim has said about his contact with the Grand Jury).

      So it's one thing to ask to see what Cheney (and the rest of the White House) sent directly to JeffJim, which is what JeffJim said they subpoenaed. It's another thing to sit JeffJim down, under oath, and ask how he found out certain information.

      Thus far, reporters have only asked JeffJim whether he has gotten instructions from the White House (and more often, they ask only about Bush and McClellan). Which means they're not asking the question broadly enough to answer the question we're considering: Is anyone giving you directions about what to ask at the White House.

    •  Some responses. (none)
      A 90 minute interview still takes 10-15 minutes just to set up, get tapes rolling, introduce all those present, lay down the ground rules, etc. Then, it probably takes a few more minutes to lay down the grounds for asking about the memo. So let's be super generous and say that accounts for 20 minutes.

      That said, if you were the investigating agent, and when you asked your question, Guckert did tell you he just cribbed it off the WSJ, do you thank him for his cooperation, pack up and leave? Of course not. You question him further, asking about his contacts with others whom your other existing theories of how he got the memo tell you you need to ask about.

      And even if he finally convinces you that he did, indeed, crib off the WSJ, you'll then ask why he didn't simply cite the WSJ to Wilson in the interview, why he doesn't disclose that the WSJ is his source in his FR posts, etc., etc.

      It could easily take 90 minutes to get a full picture of his involvement. It has taken us weeks, and not just because we don't have him available for direct questioning. We still spend hours discussing among ourselves what the meaning of this or that word is, or what the other possibilities might be for every scenario.

      To your point #6, yes, now it's clear he's not a journalist, but at the time he does his talking about the alleged memo, Guckert still believes he can salvage his career. He probably believed it was salvageable in some form right up until yesterday. In 2004, he not only remains sure of himself and his position, but is taking a certain pride in appearing to play with the FBI, telling Freepers they went home "unsatisfied."

      If the FBI spent 90 minutes finding out that Guckert's secret source was the Wall Street Journal, I think it would be safe to assume they could be characterized as "unsatisfied," at least with how they'd spent their time.

      Wryly hinting at that, without any inkling of the whys and wherefores, allows Guckert to maintain his "operator" status on Free Republic.

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