Sunday, September 03, 2006

Somebody's Lying

Let's talk turkey. Plamegate's latest revelation? Doesn't mean a damn thing.

Or rather, doesn't mean a damn thing's changed. Robert Parry makes that point very well in "How Obtuse Is the U.S. Press?" and he covers a wide range of topics. We're not going to do that.

Backstory, Joseph Wilson went to Niger to determine whether or not Saddam Hussein had sought yellowcake as some alleged. Wilson found nothing to demonstrate that this allegation was accurate. He reported that back to the CIA. Then, in the State of the Union speech in 2003, Bully Boy used that disproven allegation. Wilson wrote an op-ed for The New York Times, "What I Didn't Find In Africa," that ran on July 6, 2003. In a syndicated column that ran about a week later (July 13th was the date for many papers), Robert Novak wrote a column that outed CIA agent Valerie Plame based on conversations with "two administration officials."

This was done, our opinion, to silence critics, the same way Team Bully Boy always operates. Taht's the recap. We're going to focus on how the latest revelation is not (or should not be) the "end of the story."

Though Armitage's role as Novak's primary source has been a subject of speculation, the case is now closed. Our sources for this are three government officials who spoke to us confidentially and who had direct knowledge of Armitage's conversation with Novak. Carl Ford Jr., who was head of the State Department's intelligence branch at the time, told us--on the record--that after Armitage testified before the grand jury investigating the leak case, he told Ford, "I'm afraid I may be the guy that caused the whole thing."
[. . .]
Ford recalls Armitage said he had "slipped up" and had told Novak more that he should have. According to Ford, Armitage was upset that "he was the guy that f**ked up."
The unnamed government sources also told us about what happened three months later when Novak wrote a column noting that his original source was "no partisan gunslinger." After reading that October 1 column, Armitage called his boss and long-time friend, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and acknowledged he was Novak's source. Powell, Armitage and William Taft IV, the State Department's top lawyer, frantically conferred about what to do. As Taft told us (on the record), "We decided we were going to tell [the investigators] what we thought had happened." Taft notified the criminal division of the Justice Department--which was then handling the investigation--and FBI agents interviewed Armitage the next day. In that interview, Armitage admitted he had told Novak about Wilson's wife and her employment at the CIA.

Do you follow that? Armitage was Robert Novak's source but didn't realize it. That's the argument David Corn makes in "The Meaning of the Armitage Leak in the Plame Case" (The Nation). Okay, we can go with that. To a point. From Corn's article:

. . . Armitage was also the source who told Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward in mid-June 2003 that Joe Wilson's wife worked at the CIA. Woodward did not reveal he had learned about Wilson's wife until last November, when he released a statement recounting a conversation with a source (whom he did not name). Woodward acknowledged at that time that he had not told his editors about this interview--and that he had recently given a deposition to Fitzgerald about this conversation.

There's a problem there. Armitage realizes he's said too much to Novak but is unaware he's also talked to Bob Woodward? That's what Woodward's statements to Larry King would indicate.

Then, the day of the [Scooter] indictment [October 28, 2005] I read the charges against Libby and looked at the press conference by the special counsel and he said the first disclosure of all of this was on June 23rd, 2003 by Scooter Libby, the vice president's chief of staff to "New York Times" reporter Judy Miller.
I went, whoa, because I knew I had learned about this in mid- June, a week, ten days before, so then I say something is up. There's a piece that the special counsel does not have in all of this.
I then went into incredibly aggressive reporting mode and called the source the beginning of the next week and said "Do you realize when we talked about this and exactly what was said?" And the source in this case at this moment, it's a very interesting moment in all of this, said "I have to go to the prosecutor. I have to go to the prosecutor. I have to tell the truth."
And so, I realized I was going to be dragged into this that I was the catalyst and then I asked the source "If you go to the prosecutor am I released to testify" and the source told me yes. So it is the reporting process that set all this in motion.

This is a man handling secure documents for the government and he can't even remember who he talked to? He needs them to jog his mind? It doesn't play right.

Those are Woodward's public statements on the issue. He realized his source had been feeding him the info prior to when Scooter was feeding the info. He maintains that he was brought into Plamegate prior to Rove. He didn't realize that, he asserts, because he didn't know the day Scooter got chatty. When he did, he knew he had to come forward, he states, and he called his source and his source, whom press accounts now maintain was Armitage, stated he'd have to go to the prosecuter because he hadn't realized that. This is supposedly after Armitage has already had one light bulb go off that he was talking about Valerie Plame to Robert Novak. Those light bulbs sure go off slowly for Armitage if the public record is accurate.

Now maybe Bob Woodward's sugar-coated the truth. But it's also true that a lot of this story doesn't play right. There's the fact that, although Robert Novak may or may not have seen Armitage as someone who wasn't "a partisan gunslinger," the rest of the press (which is assuming Armitage was Novak's source -- he may ahve been) has no reason to repeat that lie. Armitage wasn't the reluctant for war with Iraq that he's being made out to be. He had issues with the ways, not the war itself. As early as 1998, he was signing the PNAC letter urging war with Iraq. Portraying him as a reluctant supporter of the war is a bit of a stretch.

But the issue remains as to who Woodward's source was? If it was Armitage, why didn't he remember the conversation with Woodward? And, according to Woodward, it wasn't just one coversation. Woodward told King: "I made efforts to get the source, this year, earlier, and last year, to give me some information about this so I could put something in the newspaper or a book. So, I could get information out, and totally failed."

Was Woody lying? Maybe he was. But, if Woodward's telling the truth, we're supposed to believe that Armitage came forward on his talk with Novak but was unaware of his talk with Woodward? With Woodward making "efforts to get the source, this year, earlier, and last year" to provide more information? With all that going on, Armitage didn't realize, "Hey, I did talk about this with Woodward. Gee, I wonder when we had our first conversation?"

Again, maybe Woody's lying. Maybe he's telling the truth. If he's telling the truth, the latest spin on Armitage just being a "gossip" is a bit much. (The source for that identification is Armitage so it should be treated dubiously.) It's not adding up. Robert Parry is correct that the story isn't over. (That's not suggesting that David Corn is saying the story's over, he's not. We're avoiding discussing Corn because of his co-author. We provided a link to Corn but removed all links to the co-written book. Corn was on this story from the first. We're not commenting on Corn in this article. We have no respect for his latest book's co-author.)

It seems highly unlikely that the story winding down about Armitage and the story Woodward told can be both correct unless Armitage is not a gossip but a habitual liar. (Again, that could be.) As Chris Isaac sings, "Somebody's Lying."

And on that note, Robert Novak. In The Washington Post, Howard Kurtz reported in July that Novak stated he had named three sources to the Grand Jury investigating the Plame outing. One of the three he would not name. The other two were Karl Rove (the Bully Boy's right ass cheek) and Bill Harlow (then CIA spokesperson). With the public record, Harlow would be the unidentified one who stated he asked Novak not to name Plame. That leaves Karl Rove and the unnamed. "They came to me." That's what Novak wrote when the outing became an issue. "They came to me."

Who is "they"? Novak is claiming Karl only gave it up after he called Karl. Who is the "they" who "came" to Novak? According to the spin, Novak went to Rove to confirm what the source (alleged to be Richard Armitage) told him. That's in complete contrast to what Novak wrote in real time: "They came to me."

Even by the conventional spin, Novak and Libby were outing Valerie Plame. Even by the conventional spin, Armitage served the White House. It's still a White House smear.
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