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Stephen Hayes Tells the Truthiness: CIA Trip Report

I laid out earlier all the details that Stephen Hayes suppressed for his hagiography of Dick Cheney. There are two areas in which his propaganda tract is useful, the second of which I’ll deal with in a later post.

Declassifying the Trip Report

The first is a consistent theme Hayes uses for his tale about OVP’s involvement in the Plame leak. He says that, from day one, OVP wanted to leak the trip report to rebut Wilson’s claims. In June, Hayes tells, they wanted to leak the details of the trip:

But they could give reporters few concrete reasons to be skeptical about Wilson’s allegations; the details of the trip were still classified.

Then, in response to Wilson’s op-ed, the White House wanted to declassify the details (watch this language closely, because Hayes completely obscures when the White House got the report):

White House officials were stunned. They had obtained from the CIA the Agency’s one-and-a-half-page report on Wilson’s trip.

"We were given the contents of what the report had said," says one White House official. "The guy goes over there and comes back and says Iraq was looking for uranium. We though, ‘Shit, we should declassify that and put it out.’"

After telling the Mayaki story, Hayes notes:

But journalists covering the story had no way to know this. So the White House considered declassifying the report and releasing it.

And then Hayes blames Hadley for not pressuring Tenet to declassify it.

Several of Bush’s advisers–a group that included such normally cautious officials as the White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett and Anna Perez of the National Security Council–wanted to declassify and release Wilson’s report. But there were risks. Confronting Wilson on his fabrications might further antagonize the CIA.


The deputy national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, was on the phone several times a day with George Tenet, handling the sensitive diplomacy between the White House and the CIA. Hadley did not want to do anything to further antagonize the CIA leadership. So despite the fact that Joe Wilson was free to discuss and mischaracterize his report–the CIA never made him sign a nondisclosure agreement–Wilson’s report would remain classified.

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