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Karl Rove, Scooter, and the missing press briefing transcript

David Corn sees more evidence. Karl and Scooter need some remedial reading lessons, but cause they somehow cannot understand that “S” stands for Secret.

In Thursday’s Washington Post, Walter Pincus puts another nail in what ought to be a coffin. He confirms that the already-reported State Department memo that mentioned Valerie Wilson< and that has caught the interest of special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald (because a copy was on Air Force One days before the Plame leak occurred) was stamped “(S)” for secret. Pincus writes, “Anyone reading that paragraph should have been aware that it contained secret information.” The paragraph did not ID Valerie Wilson as an undercover officer. But if Rove or any other White House aide was shown a copy of this memo and then leaked the info, he or she violated very specific rules about the handling of classified information–rules that the government usually takes quite seriously. But does Bush?

In other, unsurprising news, AmericaBlog reports that a press briefing is mysteriously missing from the White House web site. Sort of like the Coalition of the Willing page that kept shrinking and then suddenly disappeared.

In this caser it’s one from July 9, 2003, and has Ari Fleischer answering questions about Joe Wilson and his trip to Niger, and this was an exchange. [You can find it at the Australian embassy’s web page (boy, this crew of Bush government drones are dumbasses, aren’t they?).]

Q: What’s the final language, Ari, your final position on the State of the Union speech and the uranium — I know they were working on stuff last night, but I never got a chance to read it.

Q: Is this on the record?

MR. FLEISCHER: Yes, we’re back on the record. After the speech, information was learned about the forged documents. With the advantage of hindsight, it’s known now what was not known by the White House prior to the speech. This information should not have risen to the level of a presidential speech. There was reporting, although it wasn’t very specific, about Iraq’s seeking to obtain uranium from Africa. It’s a classic issue of how hindsight is 20-20. The process was followed that led to the information going into the State of the Union; information about the yellow cake was only brought to the White House’s attention later.

But there’s a bigger picture here, and this is what’s fundamental — the case for war against Iraq was based on the threat that Saddam Hussein posed because of his possession of weapons of mass destruction, chemical and biological, and his efforts to reconstitute a nuclear program. In 1991, everybody in the world underestimated how close he was to getting a nuclear weapon. The case for going to war against Saddam is as just today as it was the day the President gave that speech.

Q: Ambassador Wilson said he made a case months before that there was no basis to the belief —

MR. FLEISCHER: No, he reported that Niger denied the allegation. That’s what Ambassador Wilson reported.

Q: Was that report weighed against other —

MR. FLEISCHER: And of course they would deny the allegation. That doesn’t make it untrue. It was only later — you can ask Ambassador Wilson if he reported that the yellow cake documents were forged. He did not. His report did not address whether the documents were forged or not. His report stated that Niger denied the accusation. He spent eight days in Niger and concluded that Niger denied the allegation. Well, typically, nations don’t admit to going around nuclear nonproliferation.

They are fisking the whole press gaggle in the comments at AB.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding