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Libby Liveblog: John Hannah One


NOTES: (1) This is not a transcript — It's the blogger's approximation, and no one really knows what that is yet! But I do know you shouldn't quote anything not in quotation marks. (2) I'll timestamp the updates and will update about every 15 minutes, servers willing. The hamsters that run the servers will appreciate it if you don't refresh excessively in the meantime. (3) If you're not having enough fun just reading along the liveblog, consider buying my book on this case.

One more note: in (dis)honor of John Hannah's bellicose statements of late, I will not follow my normal practice of referring to witnesses by their initials. Instead, I will refer to him as "The Year of Iran."

Cline up, C and The Year of Iran

The Year of Iran: John Hannah,  I work at OVP, currently VP's NSA. Advising VP on all matters concerning national security, foreign policy, writing an awful lot of memos for him.

C When begin duties as NSA

The Year of Iran End of October 2005. Mr Libby preceded. 

C When Libby had position as NSA, did you work with him

The Year of Iran Very closely

C What was your position

The Year of Iran I served as Mr Libby's principal deputy for Nat Security Affairs, prior to that responsibility for Middle East.

C Describe duties then

The Year of Iran Trying to keep Mr. Libby and through him VP informed on all matters relating to foreign policy in ME

C Can you give us sense, unclassified level, on those issues

The Year of Iran Iraq, Iran, palestinian, Saudi Arabia, AQ My responsibilities touched on all those areas.

C Other deputies

The Year of Iran He certainly had a principal deputy, Eric Edelman, two other, one responsible for Asia, one responsible for strategic planning.

C All reported to Libby, each had particular areas of responsibility, Libby responsible for all those areas.  You mentioned Edelman. Do you recall that Edelman left on June 6, 2003

The Year of Iran Don't recall exact date, but that time frame. 

C New principal deputy took rein in July 2003, who was that?

The Year of Iran Victoria Nuland

C During the time between, was there a principal deputy

The Year of Iran I took on the duties.

C You were short one deputy?

The Year of Iran That's correct.


The Year of Iran Duke, Stanford, law degree at Yale. Entered govt in early 1991, worked for SOS Baker. In Policy planning, Asked to stay on in Clinton Admin, worked for SOS Christopher. Left for about a year, invited to come back by Christopher, stayed through 1996, left to get a law degree and start a family. Joined OVP in early 2001.

C May 2003 to March 2004, Libby's titles

TYOI  COS, NSA Advisor, Asst to Pres

C You're currently NSA Advisor, full time job?


C Addington COS, full time job?

TYOI Looks like it to me.

C Fair to say Libby had two full time jobs.

TYOI From my perspective, yes.

C Daily info flow?

TYOI 10-12 advisors in my office, constantly streaming through 100s if not 1000s pieces of info on nat security matters. I've got an active set of meetings, either with foreign officials or govt officials. Try to support VP in his meetings.

C You find it challenging? Overwhelming?

TYOI It can be, yes.

C How well did Libby remember things.

TYOI On certain things Scooter had an awful memory.

TYOI Times too many to count, I'd come into Scooter in the morning, I'd give my views, give an analysis, show up 6 hours later that evening, have Scooter repeat back to me the recommendations I told him that morning. It was very striking.

C WOuld you call that to his attention.

TYOI I did once, in exasperation, but that was Mr Libby.

C Did he maintain files when NSA?

TYOI He maintained them through his own assistant.

C Volume of files.

TYOI Several person-size safes filled with top to bottom with materials.

C Safes would hold classified materials.

TYOI Those were the only files I'd have recognition of, since they were housed in the suite where I maintained an office.

C If Libby had files elsewhere you would not be familiar.

C Typical work day for Libby.


C How begin day

TYOI MIB with the Vice President

C What time?

TYOI 6:30-7 in the morning, often held at VP residence.

C On days in town, what then. 

TYOI Join motorcade into WH, join a senior staff meeting, return to office, deputies have time with him, begin to brief him, alert him to issues.

C Fair to say Libby's time consumed with meetings

TYOI YES (emphatic), he would have in any single week had multiple meetings, Deputies committees, 

C I'll take you through each. What you and I will be talking about has to do with his responsibilities as NSA.

TYOI Best knowledge i had, I was often aware of other meetings, on domestic policy issues.

C His COS responsibilities not a matter you concerned yourself with, let's talk about some of these meetings, Was Libby one of the Deputies who attended these meetings? Issues Deputies committee deal with.

TYOI High importance to US, where decisions need to be made, full panoply of issues, every region of the world, as well as WMD and terrorism, economics and trade?

C Deputies deals with every major foreign policy issue

TYOI Anything that is on its way to being decided.

C How often would DC meet?

TYOI 45 minutes-hour. Multiple times in a single week. Sometimes several DC in a single day. 

C Did you from time to time attend with Libby.

TYOI Each agency would have the back bencher.

C DCs often involved strongly worded exchange of views. [translation, did Libby fight with State?]  Fair to say Libby "held his own."

TYOI Very active participant in those meetings.

C Customary way to prepare?

TYOI For each meeting, someone on staff would draft a memo for him based on background materials.

TYOI Certainly times his schedule too full, he didn't read everything.

C Sometimes in a rush get a memo before a meeting

TYOI Sometimes even IN the meeting. He'd be briefed before a meeting if we thought something important was going to happen.



TYOI's hair is much greyer than in the picture above. I guess it ages you, planning a useless dangerous war in Iran.  

C hands TYOI something.

C These memos have had material removed to protect classified info, correct?  Are these memos that were prepared for Libby and passed through you for DC meetings? Dates June 11, June 12, June 13, June 14, and (one more date)

Walton approach

Walton These exhibits I will offer into evidence, they're not offered for the truth

C Take a look at 413. Is that a memorandum prepared for Libby in anticipation of DC on Indonesia, A memo prepared for Libby in anticipation on DC on Iraq on 6/11/2003? Memo prepared for Libby for DC on Pakistan 6/12/2003? Memo prepared for Libby for DC on Afghanistan on June 11?


C I've asked about DCs. Let me ask about Principals Comm meetings?  Did he attend?

TYOI Quite frequently. The heads of those agencies that prepare for the President. They get together on a regular basis (not as frequent as DC) and engage in their own discussion on those issues.

C Head of State is SOS. Head of Defense is SOD, Head of OVP is VP. When you're talking about principals committee, you're talking about people at that level of govt talking about issues. What subjects cover?

TYOI Same full range of issues

C Did you ever attend with Libby

TYOI I probably would have in place of Libby. I don't recall ever attending in support of Libby.

C When you attended in Libby's place, what responsibilities

TYOI Take notes, keep a record.

C Be called upon to prepare VP for meetings like that, called upon to provide support to VP.

TYOI Notes to prod his attention, usually not in speaking role.

C How often would PC meet?

TYOI At least 2X week. Often more than that. Given that this has been a very active period for nat security, it could have been multiple times a week. 

C DCs, PC meetings, would Libby meet from Time to time with foreign officials [didn't ask about Chalabi, who is on Libby's schedule at this time period.]

TYOI With VP and alone.  A regular occurence.

C Process by which Libby would prepare?

TYOI Not entirely different, usually not as much background, we'd prepare with staff's own memos. A little background material.

C Different category: meet with VP

TYOI Yes, on daily basis. Depended on subject matter if I was included.

C Without delving too deeply, would the discussions cover full range of Nat Security matters [hey, I guess this means we don't get Dick either.]

C You mentioned senior staff meetings.

TYOI A staff meeting convened by President's COS  plus Libby convenes his own with VP's staff

C Were both ones that Libby would attend regularly. 

TYOI Yes, as participant on Pres side, conduct meeting on OVP side.

C Would he meet with reporters

TYOI I can't tell you he did it an awful lot. 

C Were you ever present?

TYOI I may have been in the room once or twice, I don't recall ever participating. 

C What time would his day end?


C Only time you got to see him was in evening, when press of business had slowed.

TYOI Absolutely, if you wanted to get Scooter's attention.

C Typical patter for May 03-March 04.

Taking a break. 


While we're waiting, Christy asked if he came off as whiny in person as he does on paper (or screen?). Yes. He has a really nasally voice and no apparent tonal modulation. ADD (Addington) came off as more personable than this guy (and didn't have the nasally voice). They really seem to fire themselves  some soulless bureaucrats, huh?  

TYOI remains on the stand. I've got a good idea, Libby! Keep this guy on the stand for the rest of the year, and we'll avoid TYOI!!

He just caught someone's eye, he's laughing a bit. Boy, they don't put the security bureaucrats through the same paces as they do journalists, huh?

Jane's here–she got bored out of the courtroom, I guess. She says Libby laughed heartily when TYOI told the story on Libby's forgetfulness. Yuck yuck yuck–these are the kind of people who run our national security!! Can't remember from morning till evening. No wonder they can't keep Sunni and Shiite straight.

[Marcy puts her soapbox away and will resume the liveblog now]

Jury's back in.

C Focusing on this time period, Iraq was significant event. Saddam had falled April 2003. May 2003, Libby with assistance from you was helping to determine proper size and role of security forces. Determining the proper composition of governing entity. Governance issue in Iraq, was a particular interest and concern.

TYOI Very important issue for us. [then why did you F it up so badly]

C Following fall of Saddam, Libby grappling with sensitive issues on role of Iraq. June July 2003, Libby considered plans for CPA, included consideration of alternative courses of action. Iraqi security, use of third country troops, and governing Iraq, incl when to establish governing body, and how it would be composed.

TYOI Yes, that's correct.

C Build up police forces.

TYOI  Timing sounds right.

C Libby believed these insufficient to foster a peaceful Iraq.

TYOI The issue of the size and speed of new security forces was an important issue that was vigorously debated, Libby was involved in that as major participant. [Huh–Libby thought what they were doing was sufficient?]

C June July 2003, Libby urgent discussion of Iraqi security. Participated in basis for coalition and Iraqi forces as leading part of security infrastructure. US perceptions of security situation changed repeatedly from June to December, correct?

TYOI There were changes and alterations made to fit changing environment.

C Were those matters something Libby concerned with.

Fitz May I approach



C Plans for governing Iraq changed repeatedly (names 4 changes)

C Loyalty of potential Iraqi leaders, which factions to participate in political process [like Chalabi dealing intell to Iran?] Libby active participant?

C Move to Iran. Events in Iran also particular concern? 

C Why were events in Iraq of such concern

TYOI We had tons of troop in danger. Iraq was one of the two or three most important initiatives any president has made into the ME, concerning terrorism, WMD, democracy, in region of highest nat security interest to the US. [some laughs in the media room.]

C Libby dealt with Iran's nuclear weapons. Arrest and potential harboring of AQ members, and Iran's involvement in Iraq. Monitored WMD efforts, whether Iran would sign IAEA protocol, 

TYOI Those were a concern as soon as I started the job.

C Live issues in May 03-March 04.  Also evaluated Iranian efforts to influence IRaq. Considered methods to discourage Iranian support for terror groups inside and outside of Iran.

TYOI A very active effort to start Iranian terrorism either against its neighbors or American targets in the ME.

C Also monitored student protests in Iran.  Student protests erupted.

TYOI Signs of internal turmoil in Iran, that "people" in USG monitored quite closely.

C Student protests something that you and Libby were monitoring. 

TYOI tried to watch internal sit in Iran closely.

C Iran harboring AQ leaders, some of whom had contacts outside of Iran.

TYOI THis has all been declassified by govt?

C Just a yes or no, please?


C Libby considered possible means of obtaining custody of AQ terrorists.

C Looking at it in unclassified terms, why was Iran such a concern.

TYOI Iran a major state in ME, one of the most populous, for the last 25 years a declared adversary of the US, probably trying to acquire nukes, and WMD, major state sponsor of terrorism, in this case, shared a border with Iraq at a time when we had forces in Iraq. Some reason to believe Iran trying to undermine US purposes.

C For you and Libby. Dealing with Iran Libby devoted considerable amount of time and attention.  Turn to ME [hey, Cline, Iraq IS theME]

C Addressed the Israel-Palestine relationship including Abbas as alternative to Arafat, addressed threat that Hamas posed in ME. Monitored developments between Israel and Palestinians. Marred with ongoing fighting between Israel and militants. Libby considered how continued attacks could delay plans for peace.  Describe plan for peace?

TYOI Peace would not be possible with Arafat. US thereupon worked very hard to see if we could foster some kind of new leaders [you mean like Hamas?, what we ended up getting] that would run a clean government. First time in history that we'd seen the emergence, someone took job of prime minister, would begin to take authority away from Arafat. That individual was Abbas.

C Continuing terror attacks, would disrupt plan for peace. Assessed intentions and level of corruption and depth of their relationship with terrorist. Evaluating leaders conduct and assessing possible course of action. Possible withdrawal from Gaza. Met with leaders regarding borders, settlements, security. Assessing whether PA had sufficient security forces. May 1 2003, installed first Prime Minister, potentially first govt not dominated by Arafat. US sought to support new leadership.  By encouraging new steps, including disengage from Gaza. New govt fell within six months.  Why were these developments in the ME a matter of such concern.

TYOI Historical perspective, every American president has said peace is a high national priority in order to advance our own interests, this conflict seen as part of that effort, and in this case, Bush himself had invested "laid out a vision" for a new middle east, a new Palestinian leadership, we were on the cusp of achieving in this time period.


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