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Indicting Dick


In my sixth post after Libby's indictment–just two days after the indictment–I wrote a post called Indicting Dick. After noting that one of the indictment descriptions–the strategy session aboard Air Force Two on July 12, 2003–was really about Cheney even though it didn't name him, I wrote,

Tricky Fitzgerald!! He's been hiding Dick right in the middle of his Libby indictment.

I went on to list a whole bunch of details included in the indictment that might be references to Cheney. With all the evidence that has come out at the trial, I see I was right about several of these (but not that Cheney was a source for Martin of Plame's identity).

But we have learned far, far more about Cheney's personal involvement in the smear against Joe and Valerie Wilson. So it's time to gather it all into one chronology. If Fitzgerald wants to use this chronology to indict Cheney, he can be my guest.

By my reading, Cheney took his own notes on at least four documents pertaining to Wilson.  It appears likely that, after learning that Plame worked at CIA from Libby or Martin, he went out and found out precisely where she worked, then he reported it back to Libby. Cheney directed Libby on at least three occasions (with Judy, with David Martin and Mitchell, and with Cooper et al) to personally intervene with journalists. And Cheney remained actively involved in crafting the response to Wilson all week during leak week. In addition, it seems clear that Cheney was pushing the Wilson attacks after the Novak article.

All this at a time when–according to Libby–they were obsessed with making sure they got Iraq right. It'd be funny how that worked out … if only it weren't so tragic.

Anyway, here's the chronology. I'm focusing on things directly touching Dick here–either things we know he was involved in, or things that clearly indicate a wide push to "get the whole story out." I will leave out some events tied more closely to others in the Admin, though we may well find out Dick has ties to that, too.

May 14: In response to the May 6 Kristof article, OVP responded not by trying to figure out whether it had seen the Wilson report or actually sent him. Instead, they tried to find out if they had been told  of Wilson's report in one of two known instances where his report was known to be used to support the Niger intelligence. Libby's then-Deputy, Eric Edelman, asked CIA briefer Craig Schmall for any evidence that Cheney was behind a March 2003 report laying out evidence to support the Niger claims (the report had used Wilson's report). Schmall explains the report hadn't come in response to a Cheney tasker, but a Rummy one. The report generated in response to the tasker references the report on Wilson's trip in support of the Niger claims. The fact that they asked about this report in particular, and not Wilson more generally, seems to suggest they already knew his report had been used to justify the war.

May 29: Libby asks Grossman for information on the Ambassador who made the trip to Niger.

June 3: Libby makes a note to talk with Cheney about Pincus' upcoming article.

June 9: The President expresses an interest in the Kristof column on the SOTU. That interest is shared with Libby by somebody, though he says he "has no recollection" that it was Cheney who discussed the interest Bush had in the Kristof article.

Libby asks Craig Schmall whether OVP had requested information on uranium procurement. Schmall repeats what he told Edelman a month earlier–that Rummy had made such a request, but OVP hadn't. Libby copies his notation of this onto a separate sheet, indicating (according to his grand jury testimony) that it is something he thinks he needs to save.

John Hannah (who had effectively replaced Edelman by this time) receives a report from CIA (courtesy of Schmall) outlining the Niger claims–their notice to Congress that the Niger claim was no longer operative. He underlines the description of doubts relating to the British version of the story. He also writes, "Did CIA have it in their document" in the section relating WINPAC's report to IAEA which did, indeed, rely on Wilson's report. Hannah writes a memo for Cheney detailing the intelligence behind the Niger claim.

Someone else also wrote on a second copy of the notification to Congress document. This person marked several sections in the margins. In particular, this person marked with an asterisk the passage that reads:

While also asserting there had been transfers of uranium to rogue states, one subsource–a source we are confident would have known of uranium sales–also said that he believed Iraq was interested in yellowcake purchases when it sent a delegation to Niamey in mid-1999.

The passage is a misstatement of the report on Wilson's report.

June 11: Libby pulls Robert Grenier out of a meeting with Tenet to get information on Wilson. Grenier tells Libby that Plame works at the CIA. Grenier then has Bill Harlow call Cathie Martin. Shortly thereafter, Cathie Martin informs Libby and Cheney what she has learned from Harlow–that Wilson's wife works at the CIA.

June 11 or 12: Grossman informs Libby that Wilson's wife works at the CIA.

June 12: A CIA report on the Niger intell is delivered to Hannah and Libby ASAP.

Cheney also receives a document from the CIA on the Niger intelligence. On the first page, he writes, "prepared by the CIA." In the same paragraph identical to one marked by someone earlier in the week, Cheney underlines…

he believed Iraq was interested in yellowcake purchases when it sent a delegation to Niamey in mid-1999.

And writes, "Wilson?" in the margin.

At some point, Cheney receives two copies of the trip report. In addition to underlining key sections of one, he writes "Wilson" at the top of the page. On the second one, he draws a line from the identifier, "A contact with excellent access who does not have an established reporting record, (Sensitive contact)" and writes "Joe Wilson" next to the line.

Libby apparently receives a totally different copy of the summary on the Niger claims. Next to the paragraph describing the trip report, Libby wrote "Wilson" with an arrow pointing to that paragraph. In addition, someone marked the name "Joe Wilson" next to the paragraph. 

Note, all of this scrambling and scribbling seems to indicate that OVP was doing more than just responding to some Pincus requests. The VP himself was obsessing over all the documents pertaining to Wilson.

June 12 to June 18 (date unsure): Cheney has learned more details about the trip. He informs Libby over the phone that Plame works in the functional office of counter-proliferation. According to Libby's notation, the same person who informed Cheney that Plame was CPD also informed him that the trip was done at the behest of OVP. Cheney directs Libby to hold something until the agency admitted they State and Defense showed a lot of interest in the Niger intelligence, in addition to OVP.

June 14: At his morning intelligence briefing, Libby asks Craig Schmall,

why was the Amb told this was a VP question?

Joe Wilson

Valerie Wilson

On the same day, Libby complains to Schmall that someone in a briefing Libby and Cheney attended at Langley spoke about him to the press. This may be a reference to the June 12 Pincus article, which said:

However, a senior CIA analyst said the case "is indicative of larger problems" involving the handling of intelligence about Iraq's alleged chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs and its links to al Qaeda, which the administration cited as justification for war. "Information not consistent with the administration agenda was discarded and information that was [consistent] was not seriously scrutinized," the analyst said.

July 6: Cheney saves Wilson's op-ed. Probably at the same time, he writes the following on it.

Have they done this sort of thing?

Send an Amb to answer a question?

Do we ordinarily send people out pro bono to work for us?

Or did his wife send him on a junket?

July 7: 6:45 briefing, Cheney and Libby asked Schmall about circumstances of trip.

7:33 Libby prints out copy of Wilson op-ed and underlines it.

8:45 Senior Staff meeting, Rove says that, we needed to get a message out about Mr. Wilson that the admin and the VP did not send him and that his report did not resolve the issue.

9:22 Cathie Martin emails Ari talking points pertaining to OVP.

9:36 Ari integrates those talking points into the gaggle.

12:00 Libby has lunch with Ari and tells him that Valerie Plame (or Plam-ay, Ari suggested) worked in Counter-Proliferation at CIA and this was very hush hush.

July 8: 7:35 Cheney directs Libby to leak something to Judy Miller.

At Senior Staff meeting, Rove says the Wilson story is going right to the President's credibility.

Between 8:30 and 11:45, Libby meets with Judy Miller and tells her Plame works at WINPAC.

3:30 Cheney dictates talking points to Cathie Martin. The talking points include a reference to leaking the NIE, which concerns Martin, as she believes them to be still-classified. In an edit, Libby mentions Wilson's 1999 trip.

At Cheney's direction, Libby starts to call journalists himself, possibly to leak the NIE. He speaks to David Martin and Andrea Mitchell.

4:46 Novak calls Libby, leaves a message.

July 9: Stephen Hadley complains that someone has spoken to Andrea Mitchell and blamed the CIA for the 16 words. He assumes it is Cathie Martin or Claire Buchan–and takes them out of the loop on the Tenet statement. Martin meets with Libby and Cheney to tell them she did not say that to Mitchell.

Libby returns Novak's call.

July 10: Stephen Hadley, Libby, and Cheney meet. They have the following dialogue:

Hadley: Tenet had declassified the Wilson report, but had not yet started to declassify the NIE [the same document that–according to Libby–Cheney had already insta-declassified].

[Hadley says something that Libby doesn't write down.]

Hadley: Condi says that "The President is comfortable."

Hadley: No, it's better if we leak the NIE.

Cheney: Anything less that full and complete disclosure is a serious mistake.

Hadley: I will–I told that to George Tenet.

Libby talks to Mary Matalin on the phone. She advises Libby to go broad on the story, says that Wilson is a snake.

[Late into the night] Martin worked on strategy while Cheney, Hadley, and Libby negotiated the Tenet statement. Every time Hadley or Cheney called, Martin had to leave the room. Among the other suggestions she makes is to give an exclusive leak.

July 11: 8:36 Novak calls Libby. The content of the call has never been revealed.

Cheney declares Tenet's morning draft of his statement, "unsatisfactory." He, Hadley, and Libby work further on the statement.

July 12: Cheney dictates a response to the media for Libby to deliver. He may direct Libby to leak Plame's identity, though that is not written on the dictated message.

July 14: In their morning intelligence briefing, either Cheney or Libby asks Craig Schmall if he had read the Novak article. They tell him, "it is not your problem."

July 16: Cheney (but not Libby) attends Gerald Ford's birthday party, at which Alan Greenspan, Andrea Mitchell's husband, is honored. Apparently, Cheney said something to Mitchell about Plame.

July 18: OVP prepares a bunch of (fairly bogus) talking points, Cheney reviews the document personally.

Cheney hosts a bunch of conservative journalists at his official residence. Cathie Martin, Libby, and (apparently) Mary Matalin attend. It is unclear whether the Novak article was discussed, though Wilson was discussed.

Sometime after July 14: Craig Schmall explains to Libby and Cheney the damage that could result if a CIA operative had her identity compromised.

(Roughly) October 3, probably in Jackson Hole: Libby and Cheney discuss the leaks. Libby claims he told Cheney that he learned of Plame's identity from Russert, Libby writes sonnet–a script for Scottie McClellan to use to publicly exonerate Libby. In response, Cheney writes,

Not going to protect one staffer and sacrifice the guy this Pres that was asked to stick his neck in the meat grinder because of the incompetence of others.

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Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel is an American journalist whose reporting specializes in security and civil liberties.