CommunityFDL Main Blog

Help Me! I’m Dreaming About Ari Fleischer.

Ari! Scooter

Like a lot of folks here, I'm starting to feel the Fitzmas-like air of anticipation for the Scooter Libby perjury trial, which is due to get rolling next week.  Between M.T. Wheeler's new book and the plans for FDL-in-the-court coverage of the trial, it promises to be a very exciting time.

But I'm interested for some selfish reasons as well.  As I wrote here a few months ago, I've long been obsessed fascinated by a particular moment in the Valerie Plame Wilson outing saga:

… [a] September 2003 story in the Washington Post… seemed to break the leak scandal wide open with this sentence:

… a senior administration official said that before Novak’s column ran, two top White House officials called at least six Washington journalists and disclosed the identity and occupation of Wilson’s wife.

Due to the combination of one senior administration official (the Post’s source), two White House officials (the leakers), and six or more reporters, this version of events has become known as the "1×2×6 leak." 

The conventional wisdom (as typified in David Corn and Michael Isikoff's Hubris) is that the Post's 1×2×6 article turned out to be a red herring, the unhelpful product of a source who was confused about his or her facts.  But I have a different notion, as I wrote in a post at Needlenose last June:

I seem to be essentially alone among Plame-bloggers in thinking that there's a direct connection between [Karl] Rove's leak to [Matt] Cooper on July 11, 2003, and the mysterious strategy session on Air Force Two between VP Dick Cheney and his chief of staff, the now-indicted Scooter Libby, the next day. But then again, I've also been just about the only one who thinks any significant leaking about Plame took place that day.

It's kind of odd, when you think about it — why would special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald be raising questions in his filings about what happened between Cheney and Libby on July 12 if the outing of Valerie Wilson was essentially a done deal by then? Why would the chronologies of the case in those court documents have such gaping, multi-page redactions at that point in the week?

As regular readers know, I've long been on record about exactly what I think happened that day … that press secretary Ari Fleischer (with help from communications aide Dan Bartlett) made a series of calls about Plame from Air Force One as it returned from a trip to Africa, and were overheard by another top official (probably Colin Powell). That official not only dropped the proverbial dime on the leakers to the Department of Justice once it began investigating the leaks in September, but told what he knew to the Washington Post

Those calls by Ari Fleischer struck me as having been made on orders from Libby or Dick Cheney, making Fleischer a seemingly pivotal figure in any case special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald would bring against either. 

Now, I haven't been as anal-retentive diligent in examining all of the court filings as some other Plamemaniacs, but I've been catching up on important developments through emptywheel's recent posts at The Next Hurrah.  Among other things, I've learned that Ari Fleischer was likely given an immunity deal and will be a witness for the prosecution against Libby, and that Scooter's legal team has named Colin Powell as a potential defense witness.  Hmmmm… would that be to impeach Fleischer by describing the leaking he did (which would motivate him to save himself by pointing the finger at Scooter)?

Somewhere along the way, I also stumbled across something I hadn't realized before — that Scooter's first interview with the FBI was on October 14, 2003, only two days after the Washington Post reiterated the 1×2×6 leak story and specifically noted that one of its reporters had been called on July 12th.  In his testimony, Libby apparently claimed to have told multiple reporters (including at least Matt Cooper, Judith Miller, and the Post's Glenn Kessler) that Joseph Wilson's wife worked for the CIA, even though Kessler said there was no such mention.  Why would Scooter confess falsely to leaking to someone… unless he was trying to cover for Ari Fleischer's someone else's leaking?

All this, of course, is pure speculation… and part of me thinks I've jinxed myself by putting out a specific scenario so openly.  But in the happy-go-lucky spirit of amateur, open-source investigation, I've offered a dinner bet to emptywheel and prolific Plameologist commenter Jeff, payable either in D.C. or at Yearly Kos if my 1×2×6 theory is clearly proven or disproven by that time.

Now to wait and see if Ari and Colin come through for me — and, just in case, to make sure there aren't any restaurants in Washington, D.C., that serve crow.

Previous post

"The new phone book is here!"

Next post

Generation Next by the numbers



Swopa has been sharing prescient, if somewhat anal-retentive, analysis and garden-variety mockery with Internet readers since 1995 or so, when he began debunking the fantasies of Clinton-scandal aficionados on Usenet. He is currently esconced as the primary poster at Needlenose (