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.