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Ever wonder why George

Ever wonder why George Tenet's July 11, 2003 mea culpa about the Niger uranium snafu seemed so protective of the White House?

Maybe that was because it was written by Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

Unless I'm mistaken this is one of several interesting (if not that surprising) tidbits in the Friday Times article on the Plame investigation. Says the Times ...

"Karl Rove and I. Lewis Libby Jr., were helping to prepare what became the administration's primary response to criticism that a flawed phrase about the nuclear materials in Africa had been included in Mr. Bush's State of the Union address six months earlier. They had exchanged e-mail correspondence and drafts of a proposed statement by George Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, to explain how the disputed wording had gotten into the address. Mr. Rove, the president's political strategist, and Mr. Libby, the chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, coordinated their efforts with Stephen Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser, who was in turn consulting with Mr. Tenet."


This tells us a few things.

One, the seamless (or perhaps 'seamy', take your pick) integration of the political and national security staffs at the White House in organizing the push back against Joe <$NoAd$> Wilson and the controversy he'd ignited about the White House's use of phoney intelligence about an Iraqi nuclear weapons program.

Read the whole article and you'll see that these two were working together on this with a number of top White House officials.

Two, these were the two men who we know had conversations with reporters about Joe Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame. And it would seem that in the days leading up to the leak they were involved in active and detailed collaboration and/or dialog with Director Tenet about the Niger matter and the origins of Wilson's trip.

Another piece of the puzzle is suggested by a new article out from Bloomberg, which says that Rove's and Libby's testimony before the grand jury conflicts with testimony from the reporters whom they spoke to. Specifically, Libby reportedly told the grand jury that he heard of Plame's identity from Tim Russert. But Russert told the grand jury that that's not so.

Now, I know we've got a few balls in the air already. But let me note one other point.

A few days ago a former high-level administration official who was on Air Force One going to Africa with the president (and think for a moment how many now-former administration officials were on that flight in a position to vouch for this fact) told Bloomberg News that he saw Ari Fleischer "perusing the State Department memo on Wilson and his wife."

So Perhaps Libby and Rove found out about Plame from Fleischer, who would have been calling back to the White House. Or perhaps they got it from their research and authorship of the Tenet mea culpa. It seems quite conceiveable that they got it from both directions. Remember, Libby would have had no shortage of access to former CIA officers and CIA personnel on loan to the administration who could have given him more backstory on Plame. The two channels might even help explain the two versions of her name that were in circulation.

In any case, there was no shortage of channels through which they might have gotten the information. But each, it seems, in his grand jury testimony, has claimed he learned the information from journalists -- even though the journalists disagree.

A TPM Reader suggests

A TPM Reader suggests an idea ...

Is it worth asking readers to report in as to whether or not their Congress member or Senator has commented on the outing of a CIA operative? I think it is important to not let these reps hide in the weeds as their spiritual leader is roasting.

I spoke with my rep's office (Judy Biggert IL-13, who by the way has not responded to my numerous requests re: Tom Delay. 9 months & counting), and they couldn't direct me to any statements on her website.

So maybe no one's asked the question? I'm going to call local papers and see if anyone has asked.


Good idea. What has your rep or senator <$NoAd$> said?

John Bolton Frank Gaffney

John Bolton, Frank Gaffney and other Black Helicopter Republicans. Prepare to laugh, then click here.

Gaffney says Bolton needs to be confirmed immediately to help fend off UN attempts to institute world government and prevent new taxes imposed on Americans by the UN.

As you know here

As you know, here at TPM we've been reporting on the 2002 New Hampshire phone-jamming case for going on three years. There have now been a couple of guilty pleas. The former executive director of the state GOP is in prison. And, as we were the first to report, Jim Tobin, the former Northeast political director of the NRSC who orchestrated the scam, is now awaiting trial.

Now, in 2002 the NRSC (the National Republican Senatorial Committee) was run by Sen. Frist. Tobin worked for Frist. And Tobin is now under indictment for criminal conspiracy and election tampering for what he did while working as Frist's regional political director for the Northeast.

Not surprisingly, Republicans have tried to distance themselves from Tobin's action, implying that, if guilty, Tobin's scheme was no more than one man's rogue operation. Frist has basically managed to avoid answering any questions about it for two years.

But now comes word that Tobin's legal bills may be being paid by the RNC.

Today's Manchester Union Leader -- not exactly a liberal sheet -- reports that recently filed court documents show that one of Tobin's attorneys was representing him "in his capacity as an employee of the Republican National Committee."

Tobin's attorneys come from Williams & Connolly (a high profile DC firm that represents many in both parties). And the latest RNC disclosure filings show half a million dollars paid to W&C for "legal services."

The money to W&C means little in itself. They probably do various stuff for the RNC.

But most telling, the RNC refused to answer the Union Leader's questions about whether they were paying for Tobin's defense.

Remember, Tobin is under indictment for tampering with a federal election. Two of his alleged co-conspirators have already pled guilty and received jail sentences. Why would the RNC be footing the bill for his defense? And if they're not, why won't they say so?

Thoughts? We've got a discussion thread going on this over at TPMCafe.

Youve probably seen reports

You've probably seen reports now of a new round of bombings and evacuations in the London transportion system.

Before saying more, thankfully, these appear to be far less deadly, at a minimum, than those of two weeks ago.

But I'm not sure I remember seeing coverage of breaking news that was odder or more obscure. London authorities appear to be referring to these as 'incidents' and the bombs themselves are being referred to as 'minor' or 'small', almost as if they weren't large enough to do any serious damage.

The Post now has a piece in which they are calling them "attempted explosions" or 'small bombs'. They note BBC radio reporting that "detonators had exploded but not large-scale explosives."

The noose tightens.Our topic

The noose tightens.

Our topic again <$NoAd$> is that classified State Department memo, the one that contained a brief mention of Valerie Plame's relationship to Joe Wilson and which may have been the conduit through which White House officials learned about the connection.

A couple days ago the Journal published an article that revealed that the memo made clear that the information contained in it was sensitive and should not be divulged.

In tomorrow's Post, Walter Pincus provides the specifics.

A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked "(S)" for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified, according to current and former government officials.

...

The paragraph identifying her as the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV was clearly marked to show that it contained classified material at the "secret" level, two sources said. The CIA classifies as "secret" the names of officers whose identities are covert, according to former senior agency officials.

Anyone reading that paragraph should have been aware that it contained secret information, though that designation was not specifically attached to Plame's name and did not describe her status as covert, the sources said.


What does that mean? First of all, I think this is pretty much what we'd expect in such a memo that contained that sort of information. What this does is knock out one more basis for a defense based on ignorance. Whoever saw this memo knew that the information was not to be revealed.

I found this entry

I found this entry in the Reader Blogs section at TPMCafe. It suggests that Condi Rice might have been in the mix on the tar Joe Wilson with info about his wife plan too. What the reader comes up with is at best suggestive -- working from briefing transcripts. And it certainly doesn't prove anything. But I think he may be on to something. Take a look and let us know what you think.

When I first started

When I first started thinking about and planning TPMCafe, one of the things I wanted to do was to be able to set up limited duration blogs to cover particular events -- sort of like we did with our Bankruptcy Bill blog. Now, in time for all the fun, we've just launched our Supreme Court Watch blog. The posts will also be cross-posted to the site's front page since this will be a regular topic of conversation with our regulars over the coming weeks. So you'll be able to read it there too.

We'll be adding a few more names to the list over the coming days. But we launched overnight with Professors Jack Balkin and Robert Gordon of Yale and Professor Peter Rubin of Georgetown. Rubin is also a founder of the American Constitution Society, whose staff we've worked with in assembling our group. Take a moment to check out their site and their organization blog. ACS, as we discussed a couple months ago, has set out to become a progressive counterweight to the highly influential Federalist Society on the right.

Robert Gordon put up his first post yesterday evening, giving an overview of the Roberts nomination here. We're also going to be adding a Supreme Court selection discussion table later this afternoon.

Today a group of

Today a group of 11 former intelligence officers delivered a letter to the Republican and Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate on the Plame case. See it here.

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