CommunityFDL Main Blog

FDL Book Salon: Anatomy of Deceit on the NIE

anatomy_of_deceit_72color_21.jpg

One thing that most journalists covering the Plame story (with the odd couple exceptions of Murray Waas, which we'd expect, and Tim Russert, which we wouldn't) still haven't examined adequately is the completely nonsensical story that Libby tells about the NIE. I'm going to excerpt the section of the book that deals with that story and then annotate it with my comments or evidence introduced during the trial. Normal text is the book, italicized text is my current commentary, and indented text is direct quotation from evidence.

As I show below, Libby has testified that he asked Addington about declassifying the NIE. I argue that his claim that he asked about the NIE (as opposed to, say, Plame's identity) makes no sense. And most importantly, I will show that at the same meeting he was asking about declassifying something, he was also asking about Joe Wilson's 1999 trip to Niger on behalf of the CIA. At the very least, this is proof that on July 8, at the same time as he was asking Addington about declassifying something so he could leak it to Judy, Libby knew well that Wilson had a wife–or rather, that Plame had a husband. This is an amazing smoking gun for Fitzgerald's perjury case against Libby. And it strongly supports my argument that it was Plame's identity (or at least the trip report) that Libby and Cheney insta-declassified, not the NIE. 

So here's the newly annotated excerpt: 


One other thing dribbled out of Fitzgerald's court filings: a suggestion that Dick Cheney–and President Bush–may have been much more involved in the leak of Valerie Wilson's identity than has been known until now.

The issue revolves around the meeting that Libby had with Miller of the Times on July 8, 2003. As Fitzgerald revealed, Libby had instructions in his notes that when he met with Miller that day, he should leak something to her. Libby told the FBI the note referred to portions of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq that refuted Joe Wilson, not to Valerie Wilson's identity. As Fitzgerald told the court: "Mr. Libby had an instruction to tell information to Ms. Miller on July 8 and he's saying the instruction reflected in his notes to tell . . . Judith Miller refers to the NIE. He says he did not discuss Mr. Wilson's wife that day. To our understand[ing] both were discussed."

Here is the note, which appears amidst the notes from Libby's daily meeting with Cheney. The notes are dated July 8 by Jenny Mayfield, Libby's assistant. By looking at Libby's schedule for that day, it appears clear that Cheney gave Libby this instruction at their 7:35 meeting on July 8, just an hour before the 3 hours that Libby had blocked off during which he met with Judy at the St. Regis.

libbynote.jpg

And here is how Libby explained that note to Fitzgerald in the GJ. Click here to hear the MP3 , thanks to Swopa.

Q. Let me show you what we'll refer to in the record as document Bates Stamped 1746, which I believe are some of your handwritten notes. Would you take a look at that page? And as you'll see, there's an entry — I'll point to it, three-quarters of the way down the page that appears to be your symbol for the Vice President, a Y with the line over it and can you tell us what the rest of that entry says?

A. It's his instruction to me to telephone Judith Miller —

Q. Okay.

A. — is how I read it.

Q. Is it the Vice President colon — and is the next reference S.L. —

A. Yes.

G. – – meaning "Scooter Libby?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And then there's a symbol which I'll skip past in a moment, and it says "Miller"?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And is the symbol a "T" with an arrow under, under it?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And is that your instruction to "telephone"?

A. Yes.

Q. And what do you recall that means? It's dated in the upper left corner, as I understand, "July 8th, '02," but I think, it's our understanding is that the '02 might be a typo, and it's July 8th, '03.

A. Yes. I don't think that's my handwriting actually. I think that may be Jenny's.

Q. Okay.

A. Jenny Mayfield. I'm sorry, but I lost the question when I was thinking about the handwriting.

Q. Okay. And what did that reference mean?,

A. It was the Vice President telling me to go ahead and talk to Judith Miller,  

Libby's lawyer, Ted Wells, downplays the significance of this note, arguing that this NIE leaking was part of a larger campaign designed to prove three things: that Joe Wilson had not seen and debunked the forgeries alleging a Niger uranium deal, that Wilson had not been sent to Niger by Cheney, and that the NIE supported the claims about Iraq's attempts to acquire uranium. Wells is correct that leaking the NIE was part of a larger campaign. Bob Woodward has said that Libby leaked him the NIE on June 27. Libby also leaked portions of it to the Times's David Sanger on July 2. And Miller admits that Libby shared details of the NIE. Finally, we have the Wall Street Journal article that we now know arose because Libby instructed someone to leak the NIE to the Journal. So it's clear that, as Libby has testified, he leaked portions of the NIE to at least four journalists, in June and July.

By comparing Libby's Grand Jury testimony and reporting on Woodward's testimony, we can show that–at least with regards to the leak of the NIE–Judy did get a leak that was part of a larger campaign. She got the same thing that other journalists got. Click here to hear the MP3, thanks to Swopa.

Q. After you got the final go-ahead, you then told Judith Miller that the NIE said that Iraq was, quote, vigorously, close quote, trying to procure uranium?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And you also, I take it, included that reference to the NIE's language about, quote, vigorously, close quote, trying to procure uranium in the redacted document you provided Judith Miller?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And to your understanding is that the first time you disclosed to a member of the press that the NIE contained a reference that Iraq was, quote, vigorously, close quote, trying to procure uranium?

A. Yes, sir. I think so.

The WaPo reported that Woodward got the same "vigorous" treatment from Libby.

In sworn testimony for Fitzgerald, according to a statement Woodward released on Nov. 14, 2005, Woodward said Libby told him of the intelligence estimate's description of Iraqi efforts to obtain "yellowcake," a processed form of natural uranium ore, in Africa. In an interview Friday, Woodward said his notes showed that Libby described those efforts as "vigorous."

Clearly, the NIE leak was not the important or unique part of Libby's meeting with Judy.

Note, Libby's lawyers successfully fought to keep a discussion of this earlier NIE leaking out of the grand jury transcripts admitted as evidence–right after the section quoted above, for example, there's a long section of the grand jury transcript where a discussion of what Libby leaked to David Sanger was redacted for the trial. And Fitzgerald asked neither Sanger nor Woodward any questions about the NIE in the trial, presumably because Judge Walton ruled he could not. It seems that Wells is not so confident in Libby's NIE story, after all, huh? In fact, Jeffress even tried to get the bit of it that related to Judy Judy Judy redacted after both sides had rested! You see, I'm not the only one obsessing about this story!

But the explanation doesn't hold up–not when we learn how unusual Libby's meeting with Miller was on July 8. Libby treated it quite differently than he did the others. For example, Libby met Miller in person to leak this information, rather than having another person pass on the information as he did with The Wall Street Journal. To leak the NIE, Libby met Woodward in his office. But when it came to Miller, he met her at the ritzy St. Regis Hotel, two blocks north of the White House. Libby testified that "one of the reasons why he met with Miller at a hotel was the fact that he was sharing this information with Miller exclusively." And at this meeting, Libby took the unusual step of asking Miller to refer to him as a "former Hill staffer" rather than as a "senior administration official."

But the real difference in Libby's treatment of Miller lies in the approval he obtained for it. In his testimony, Libby admitted that he didn't know whether he was authorized to leak the NIE materials when he leaked them to Sanger (and possibly Woodward); said he may have received authorization, relied on public statements made by National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, or just "slipped."

But leaking to Miller somehow required approval from a higher authority. When Cheney directed him to leak material to Miller, Libby objected that he couldn't share it with Miller because it was classified. Cheney assured Libby he would get authorization from the president, which he then did, telling Libby that Bush had personally authorized the leak. For Libby, that still wasn't enough. Sometime after July 6, Libby asked David Addington, then counsel to the vice president, whether the president could unilaterally declassify information. Addington assured him the president had that authority.

Here's what Addington had to say about that discussion during his trial testimony: 

[Addington] Yes. Took place in COS office to VP, West Wing, larger office in OEB. Very small office, probably about the size of your table. Question asked, did Pres have authority to declassify information. The answer was yes. It's clear a President has authority, I cited a specific case. In that case, court said Dept of Navy v. Egan. Pres by virtue of role as Commander in Chief. Flows directly from Constitution and therefore I said Pres does have the authority even though there is a separate provision, although there are procedures, that would not prevent Pres from declassifying something. It's open and shut. Libby didn't give context. he just asked question about Pres' power. 

[Fitzgerald] DId Libby give you an idea of what he was going to do with info

[Addington] No.

Note that, according to Addington, at the same meeting Libby asked about paperwork related to a CIA spouse's overseas travel. And, incredibly, Addington described Libby shushing him duing that discussion. 

[Fitzgerald] Conversation about CIA paperwork

[Addington] Asked if someone worked at CIA, would there be records. Normal for him to ask me bc he knew I worked at the CIA. Kind of paperwork would depend on whether you were on the Operations or Analytical side. On operational side, CIA officers are not just free to use whoever they want, need to get approval, requesting permission to use someone, would generate paperwork approval. On analytical side there'd be a letter of instruction or contract. In any case, this is the govt, when you spend money, there's a money trail. I did tell him also it had been 20 years since I worked at the CIA.

[Fitzgerald] During this conversation did Libby ask why he was asking?

[Fitzgerald] Did he give you a name?

[Addington] No

[Fitzgerald] Where did it take place.

[Addington] In that small office.

[Fitzgerald] Were they the same conversation?

[Addington] I believe so

[Fitzgerald] Is there a door to this room? 

[Addington, is babbling away] It's a very small office and you couldn't have more than two people.

[Addington] At one point he extended his hands and put them down [as if to quiet him.]

Libby may not have mentioned to Addington the name of the person–the spouse–he was asking about. But Libby's own notes make it crystal clear who he was inquiring about–Joe Wilson, and Wilson's 1999 trip to Niger to look into whether AQ Khan had gotten uranium. The notes also make it clear that the declassification discussion happened at the same time as the discussion of Wilson's trip.

gx1a-exhibits-to-march-5-testimony-39.jpg

Later in his notes, Libby records the results of his meeting with Addington, writing the name of the case Addington cited to insta-declassify (Navy v. Egan), referencing Wilson's 1999 trip again, then noting he should declassify something.

– Department of Navy v. Egan 1980s Supreme Court Addington

– A Q Khan

– Declassify 

Libby's own notes prove that he knew Plame had a husband when he was asking Addington to justify insta-declassification, because he also asked Addington about Wilson's 1999 trip to Niger in the context of a CIA employee's spouse making a trip for the Agency!

There's a point that Fitzgerald has been building at the trial–that this event was way too important for Libby to have forgotten. As John "The Year of Iran" Hannah has testified, after all, Libby would only make time in the busy early part of his day for a matter of utmost importance–and he set aside two hours to have coffee with Judy. This insta-declassification will be another prong of that argument–that this event was utterly unique in his career, which makes it doubtful that Libby would just forget it.

Libby testified that this July 8 conversation with Miller was "the only time he recalled in his government experience when he disclosed a document to a reporter that was effectively declassified by virtue of the President's authorization that it be disclosed." Libby had worked in and out of government for almost twenty-five years, so this was clearly a unique event.

The notion that leaking the NIE to Miller was this unique even is a tough sell, because Miller already had been leaked two of the other key claims in the NIE relating to Saddam's intent to acquire nuclear weapons. For example, a text box in the NIE reported the claims of a defector, Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri, which was information Miller had learned back in December 2001, when she interviewed Haideri personally. Miller had also been leaked the discussion about the aluminum tubes, information Miller (with her colleague Michael Gordon), had been leaked back in September 2002. Miller fairly routinely received classified leaks regarding WMDs.

All of which begs the question: Is it possible that Cheney didn't direct Libby to share the NIE with Judith Miller on July 8, but directed him to leak something else to her–a much more unusual kind of leak?

Book SalonCommunity

FDL Book Salon: Anatomy of Deceit on the NIE

anatomy_of_deceit_72color_21.jpg

One thing that most journalists covering the Plame story (with the odd couple exceptions of Murray Waas, which we'd expect, and Tim Russert, which we wouldn't) still haven't examined adequately is the completely nonsensical story that Libby tells about the NIE. I'm going to excerpt the section of the book that deals with that story and then annotate it with my comments or evidence introduced during the trial. Normal text is the book, italicized text is my current commentary, and indented text is direct quotation from evidence.

As I show below, Libby has testified that he asked Addington about declassifying the NIE. I argue that his claim that he asked about the NIE (as opposed to, say, Plame's identity) makes no sense. And most importantly, I will show that at the same meeting he was asking about declassifying something, he was also asking about Joe Wilson's 1999 trip to Niger on behalf of the CIA. At the very least, this is proof that on July 8, at the same time as he was asking Addington about declassifying something so he could leak it to Judy, Libby knew well that Wilson had a wife–or rather, that Plame had a husband. This is an amazing smoking gun for Fitzgerald's perjury case against Libby. And it strongly supports my argument that it was Plame's identity (or at least the trip report) that Libby and Cheney insta-declassified, not the NIE. 

So here's the newly annotated excerpt: 


One other thing dribbled out of Fitzgerald's court filings: a suggestion that Dick Cheney–and President Bush–may have been much more involved in the leak of Valerie Wilson's identity than has been known until now.

The issue revolves around the meeting that Libby had with Miller of the Times on July 8, 2003. As Fitzgerald revealed, Libby had instructions in his notes that when he met with Miller that day, he should leak something to her. Libby told the FBI the note referred to portions of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq that refuted Joe Wilson, not to Valerie Wilson's identity. As Fitzgerald told the court: "Mr. Libby had an instruction to tell information to Ms. Miller on July 8 and he's saying the instruction reflected in his notes to tell . . . Judith Miller refers to the NIE. He says he did not discuss Mr. Wilson's wife that day. To our understand[ing] both were discussed."

Here is the note, which appears amidst the notes from Libby's daily meeting with Cheney. The notes are dated July 8 by Jenny Mayfield, Libby's assistant. By looking at Libby's schedule for that day, it appears clear that Cheney gave Libby this instruction at their 7:35 meeting on July 8, just an hour before the 3 hours that Libby had blocked off during which he met with Judy at the St. Regis.

libbynote.jpg

And here is how Libby explained that note to Fitzgerald in the GJ. Click here to hear the MP3 , thanks to Swopa.

Q. Let me show you what we'll refer to in the record as document Bates Stamped 1746, which I believe are some of your handwritten notes. Would you take a look at that page? And as you'll see, there's an entry — I'll point to it, three-quarters of the way down the page that appears to be your symbol for the Vice President, a Y with the line over it and can you tell us what the rest of that entry says?

A. It's his instruction to me to telephone Judith Miller —

Q. Okay.

A. — is how I read it.

Q. Is it the Vice President colon — and is the next reference S.L. —

A. Yes.

G. – – meaning "Scooter Libby?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And then there's a symbol which I'll skip past in a moment, and it says "Miller"?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And is the symbol a "T" with an arrow under, under it?

A. Yes, sir.

Q. And is that your instruction to "telephone"?

A. Yes.

Q. And what do you recall that means? It's dated in the upper left corner, as I understand, "July 8th, '02," but I think, it's our understanding is that the '02 might be a typo, and it's July 8th, '03.

A. Yes. I don't think that's my handwriting actually. I think that may be Jenny's.

Q. Okay.

A. Jenny Mayfield. I'm sorry, but I lost the question when I was thinking about the handwriting.

Q. Okay. And what did that reference mean?,

A. It was the Vice President telling me to go ahead and talk to Judith Miller,  

(more…)

Previous post

Next post

Kentucky bill to ban gay partner health benefits advances

emptywheel

emptywheel

148 Comments