How do you spell C-O-N-S-P-I-R-A-C-Y? New evidence suggests the scope of the White Houses "leaks" of NIE and CIA intelligence was more extensive than previously suspected.
WASHINGTON -- The special prosecutor trying the case against former vice presidential chief of staff I. Lewis Libby will try to show that the leaking of a CIA agent's name grew out of a highly organized administration effort that commanded high-level attention, a court filing this week shows.
Scooter Libby's defense seems to be he was so busy following President Bush's instructions to leak other NIE intelligence that Valerie Plame's name slipped out as an oversignt and then he forgot about it. So he never actually intended to deceive the Prosecutor.
Pretrial filings by Mr. Libby's defense team indicate they intend to argue that any misstatements made in Mr. Libby's testimony to investigators and a grand jury were innocent mistakes because of his focus on more pressing national-security issues. They are seeking a wide array of classified and sensitive information they say is necessary for trial, including secret daily intelligence briefings given to the president.
...the prosecutor...attacked Mr. Libby's bad-memory defense by introducing new information about the attention -- including by President Bush -- placed on responding to Joseph Wilson, a former ambassador and critic of the Iraq war.
Thank goodness for these pretrial motions that are disclosing much new evidence. I was afraid that the January trial date would suppress all the details until after the elections.
But, as it turns out, this daily water torture of new revelations is highlighting information that might otherwise get ignored. Machevelli recommended getting bad news out fast and all at once. So why is the Bush Administration sticking to this painful stonewalling approach?
Pretrial Motions Part Of PR Campaign?
It looks like Fitzgerald got the better of this exchange.
Lawyers say in a high-profile legal battle like this, where the judge already has warned both sides not to try their case in public, pretrial motions become a critical element in the public-relations campaign.
"Mr. Libby's defense, as we understand it, is that because of his 24-7 national-security responsibilities, he just forgot his conversations with reporters," says Scott Fredericksen, a Washington defense attorney and former prosecutor. "And what Mr. Fitzgerald is telling the judge here is that Mr. Libby was expressly authorized to go have these conversations with reporters by the vice president and authorized to release classified information by the president. That is a unique situation and not very forgettable."
White House Does Not Deny Declassification Was Intended To Counter War Critics
One of the most disturbing aspects of these leaks has been allegations they were conducted for political purposes. To discredit Joe Wilson for his challenges to President Bush's rationale for war. Bush claimed his reason for the war was to prevent an urgent threat that Saddham Hussein was on the verge of acquiring Weapons of Mass Destruction.
But after Wilson's challenges to Bush's WMD claims became more public, both Karl Rove and Stephen Hadley became concerned about the possible negative impact that public disclosure of their their numerous deceptions might on the 2004 re-elections campaign.
So critics have charged that the Bush administration wanted to discredit Joe Wilson by making it seem that his Niger trip was only a personal junket due to an innappropriate suggestion by his wife, Valerie Plame. This would imply that Bush declassified NIE intelligence to empower a political hit job. In the White House press conferences of the last two days, Scott McClellan has not denied these allegations, but focused instead on clumsy attempts to distinquish between others "leaking" intelligence and the President "selectively" declassifying" intelligence for the public good.
On Friday, the White House didn't challenge the assertion that Mr. Bush declassified intelligence information to counter war critics. White House spokesman Scott McClellan spent nearly an hour drawing a distinction between the leaking of information judged to be "in the public interest" and the willful disclosure of information that could endanger national security.
Comparing and Contrasting the WSJ Report With Prior Jason Leopold Report
Late yestersday, Jason Leopold published a much more extensive and detailed analysis of the same sections of the Fitzgerald court documents. In the past, new revelations would often take weeks to wind their way from avant garde investigative reporters such as Waas, Leopold, Larrisa into their subsequent report in the MSM
Now, revelations about the Fitzgerald investigation are jumping from the fringe blogs to the MSM within hours.
Yesterday, HoundDog, advanced a theory that this reduction of delays in information flow might be evidence that this investigation has passed a "tipping point," and we have moved into a new phase. And he predicts this acceleration will continue.
And as further evidence of the exponential growth in information surrounding these charges, HoundDog's diary built around this Leopold piece has grown so rapidly, that he asked me if I would take it so he could focus more on resignations. So thank you HoundDog.
Jason Leopold Reports Evidence of Conspiracy May Be Surfacing In Fitzgerald Court Papers,
Jason reports in Truth Out Evidence Suggests White House Conspiracy
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald stated in a court filing late Wednesday in the CIA leak case that his investigators have obtained evidence during the course of the two-year-old probe that proves "multiple" White House officials conspired to discredit former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a critic of the administration's pre-war Iraq intelligence.
This is the first time the special counsel has acknowledged that White House officials are alleged to have engaged in a coordinated effort to undercut the former ambassador's credibility by disseminating classified intelligence information that would have contradicted Wilson's public statements.
Fitzgerald's court filing was made in response to attorneys representing I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, who was indicted on five counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, and lying to investigators related to his role in the leak. The attorneys are desperately trying to obtain evidence from the government that will prove Libby did not intentionally lie to the grand jury when he was asked how he found out about Plame Wilson and whether he shared that information with the media.
Furthermore, Libby's attorneys have argued that they are entitled to the evidence in order to prove Libby was not engaged in a "plot" to discredit Wilson. However, Fitzgerald says the evidence he has obtained proves there was a coordinated effort by White House officials to discredit Wilson.
Notice that when looking at the same sources, Jason, includes Fitzgerald use of the word conspired, which the WSJ more abstractly describes as "coordination."
Evidence of a "Coordinated" Effort By White House Officials.
Fitzgerald wrote in the filing, "There exist documents, some of which have been provided to defendant and there were conversations in which defendant participated, that reveal a strong desire by many, including multiple people in the White House, to repudiate Mr. Wilson before and after July 14, 2003."
Although Fitzgerald makes it abundantly clear that Libby is not charged with conspiracy, he argues that Libby's suggestion that there was no White House plot to discredit Wilson is ludicrous, given the amount of evidence Fitzgerald has in his possession that suggests otherwise.
"Once again, defendant ignores the fact that he is not charged with participating in any conspiracy, much less one defined as a 'White House-driven plot to punish Mr. Wilson,'" the filing states. "Moreover, given that there is evidence that other White House officials with whom defendant spoke prior to July 14, 2003, discussed Wilson's wife's employment with the press both prior to, and after, July 14, 2003 - which evidence has been shared with defendant - it is hard to conceive of what evidence there could be that would disprove the existence of White House efforts to 'punish' Wilson."
In HoundDog's narrative of this he notes:
Now we seeing Fitzgerald in action. And is he not one tough cookie? I wish I could see video of this. Is he raising his voice here, or calmly reading of off? Which would be more devastating?Leopold Say Sources Suggest Karl Rove and Stephen Hadley Are Involved
Fitzgerald did not name the other White House officials who were involved in the effort to undercut Wilson, but sources close to the case said that White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley are the officials who were involved in the alleged plot.
A footnote in the court filing states that Hadley was involved in conversations and meetings at Cheney's office in which White House officials discussed how to respond to Wilson's statement that the administration used bogus intelligence to make a case for war.
Hadley suggested declassifying a portion of the highly sensitive National Intelligence Estimate and leaking it to reporters as a way of responding to Wilson's statements.
"The government is producing to defendant Mr. Hadley's notes of meetings and conversations in which both defendant and Mr. Hadley participated, and in which the potential declassification of the NIE was discussed," the court filing says.
New Evidence Of Libby Move To Have WH Exonerate Him Via McClellan
And another new piece shows that Scotter Libby was trying to get Scott McClellan to exhonerate him.
Moreover, Wednesday's court filing lays out for the first time how White House press secretary Scott McClellan came to publicly exonerate Libby and Rove during a press briefing in October 2003, three months after Plame Wilson's identity was unmasked.
The filing suggests that Libby lied about his role in the leak when McClellan asked him about it in October 2003. Libby, with Vice President Cheney's backing, persuaded the press secretary to clear his name during one of his morning press briefings, and prepared notes for him to use.
"Though defendant knew that another White House official had spoken to Novak in advance of Novak's column and that official had learned in advance that Novak would be publishing information about Wilson's wife, defendant did not disclose that fact to other White House officials (including the Vice President) but instead prepared a handwritten statement of what he wished White House Press Secretary McClellan would say to exonerate him:
People have made too much of the difference in
How I described Karl and Libby
I've talked to Libby.
I said it was ridiculous about Karl.
And it is ridiculous about Libby.
Libby was not the source of the Novak story.
And he did not leak classified information."
"As a result of defendant's request, on October 4, 2003, White House Press Secretary McClellan stated that he had spoken to Mr. Libby (as well as Mr. Rove and Elliot Abrams) and "those individuals assured me that they were not involved in this."
McClellan's public statement and the fact that President Bush vowed to fire anyone in his office involved in the leak were motivating factors that led Libby to lie during an interview with FBI investigators in November 2003, Fitzgerald states in the court filing: "Thus, as defendant approached his first FBI interview he knew that the White House had publicly staked its credibility on there being no White House involvement in the leaking of information about Ms. Wilson and that, at defendant's specific request through the Vice President, the White House had publicly proclaimed that defendant was 'not involved in this"
Conclusion And Next Steps
I agree with HoundDog's note that the Bush administration's credibility in this matter is degenerating quickly. And I second HoundDog's call for Bush and Cheney resign. But, I do not believe they will do so. If they had that much of a conscience they wouldn't have committed half of these this transgressions in the first place.
So we need to refocus public attention on the John Conyers Articles of Inquiry. HRC 635, 636, and 637.
I will put up links from the House Judiciary Committe and we can think up some useful actions steps to try and identify two GOP HJC memeber to turn from the dark side to the forces of good. LOL