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Reason No. 384 Why I Love Our Commenters

armitage.jpgRichard Armitage was a guest on CNN’s Late Edition yesterday.  Crooks and Liars has the full clip of his appearance where, surprisingly, he was asked about his betrayal of Valerie Plame Wilson (to both Bob Novak and Bob Woodward, just to be clear on all the facts, since only Novak comes up).  Armitage’s response was unusual for people in the Bush Administration in that he owned up to some culpibility.  But was it a full acceptance of responsibility?  Let’s go to the comments, shall we?

Hugh says:   November 11th, 2007 at 9:47 am

cinnamonape @ 118

Ann in AZ @ 42

OT, sort of. So Armitage says that Valerie Plame is right, that what he did was very foolish and he should have known better than to talk to “a” reporter about her employment. His excuse, he saw her name (Valerie Wilson, not Plame) in a memo, something about she was chairing a meeting or something, and since he had never before seen a covert agent’s name listed in any memos, he thought she was not covert…..

The “memo” was actually a report. A report that had Top Secret designations all over it, including at the top of the page in which Valerie’s identity is discussed. FURTHERMORE there was another encoding on that page…one that contained the name of a covert operation…and which was also classified.

Armitage not only revealed an agents name from a document that was Secret, and the page itself classified….he discussed some of this information with Woodward and Novak. It’s how they learned she was an officer of the COVERT Counter-Proliferation Division of the Operations Section.

And it was clear from these conversations with reporters that he WANTED them to release the information publicly…he practically implored Woodward to do so. “Don’t you f*ckin’ SEE THE LINK! She’s his WIFE! SHE sent HIM!” is what Armitage kept repeating to Wadword…when even the report never made such a claim.

Good catch. It seems a common ploy of professional liars in Washington to slip in some innocuous detail “a memo” which opens the door to and makes reasonable the lie which follows.

Gosh, that sure is a lot to leave out, isn’t it.  But, hey, when you are tap dancing, I guess it’s tough to keep the feet moving at a distracting speed, your lips moving to keep the filibustered answer going, and actually tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.  Asking a lot from someone who would betray a covert CIA operative to two separate journalists on two separate occasions, I know, but there you are.

What did Armitage own up to in his interview?  To wit:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VALERIE PLAME WILSON, AUTHOR, “FAIR GAME”: Mr. Armitage did a very foolish thing. He has been around Washington for decades. He should know better. He’s a senior government official. Whether he knew where exactly I worked in the CIA, he had no rights to go talking to a reporter about where I worked. That was strictly off-limits.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Those are strong words from Valerie Plame Wilson.

ARMITAGE: They’re not words on which I disagree. I think it was extraordinarily foolish of me. There was no ill-intent on my part and I had never seen ever, in 43 years of having a security clearance, a covert operative’s name in a memo. The only reason I knew a “Mrs. Wilson,” not “Mrs. Plame,” worked at the agency was because I saw it in a memo. But I don’t disagree with her words to a large measure.

BLITZER: Normally in memos they don’t name covert operatives?

ARMITAGE: I have never seen one named.

BLITZER: And so you assumed she was, what, just an analyst over at the CIA?

ARMITAGE: Not only assumed it, that’s what the message said, that she was publicly chairing a meeting.

BLITZER: So, when you told Robert Novak that Joe Wilson, the former U.S. ambassador’s wife, worked at the CIA, and she was involved somehow in getting him this trip to Africa to look for the enriched uranium, if there were enriched uranium going to Iraq, you simply assumed that she was not a clandestine officer of the CIA.

ARMITAGE: Well, even Mr. Novak has said that he used the word “operative” and misused it. No one ever said “operative.” And I not only assumed it, as I say, I’ve never seen a covered agent’s name in a memo. However, that doesn’t take away from what Mrs. Plame said, it was foolish, yeah. Sure it was.

BLITZER: So you agree with her on that. ARMITAGE: Yeah. Absolutely.

I don’t see any mention by Mr. Armitage of the multiple notations of TOP SECRET being stamped on the memo, do you?  Nor do I see a follow-up question by Mr. Blitzer regarding the affirmative duty that someone holding a security clearance under the SF 312 who sees a memorandum with such a notation on it has to first ascertain whether or not (1) the information is top secret classified, (2) that they can talk about any aspect in it and (3) whether the person to whom they will be blabbing is, in fact, on a “need to know” basis.  

(Dear Wolf:  It’s the SF 312.  Try reading it.  Soon.)

I dunno about you, but I sincerely doubt that either Bob Novak or Bob Woodward were on a “need to know” basis with the DO at the CIA.  Which says to me that Richard Armitage was way out on a very thin limb when he opened his yap — not once, but twice.  And I’d say his failure to accept full responsibility for his actions says that there is a whole helluva lot more that we don’t know.  How about you?

Still waiting on those answers as to what sorts of hairballs Armitage coughed up in exchange for keeping his ample ass out of the Grand Jury indictment rodeo. 

And, while I’m asking questions, why exactly did both Blitzer and Armitage give Bob Woodward a pass as being leaked to by Armitage?  Because Bob was too dim to catch a pointed leak when he got one and they felt sorry for him?  Sorry, not buying it.  I want the full story on the Woody involvement as well…as long as we’re hoping for disclosures, we might as well ask for the whole kit and kaboodle.

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com

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