Ex-CIA officer in leak case sues Cheney, Libby, Rove

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Wilson, Plame to Sue Cheney, Rove and Libby

Thu Jul 13, 2006 20:41

Wilson, Plame to Sue Cheney, Rove and Libby
From the Website of Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame
http://truthout.org/File_Stamped_Complaint.pdf site down
Mirrored: http://www.apfn.org/pdf/File_Stamped_Complaint.pdf

t r u t h o u t | Statement

Thursday 13 July 2006

Valerie Plame Wilson and Ambassador Joseph Wilson initiate a civil action against Vice President Cheney, Karl Rove, and Scooter Libby for violations of their Constitutional and other legal rights.

Washington, DC - Former CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson and her husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, filed suit in federal court today against Vice President Dick Cheney, his former Chief of Staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, top Presidential advisor Karl Rove and other unnamed senior White House officials, for their role in the public disclosure of Valerie Wilson's classified CIA status.

A copy of the Complaint as filed in court is attached, as is a page with excerpts from the Complaint.

The suit accuses the defendants of violating the Wilsons' constitutional and other legal rights as a result of "a conspiracy among current and former high-level officials in the White House" to "discredit, punish and seek revenge against" Mr. Wilson for publicly disputing statements made by President Bush in his 2003 State of the Union address justifying the war in Iraq.

The suit was filed nearly three years after Washington columnist Robert Novak disclosed Valerie Wilson's classified CIA employment in a column he wrote on July 14, 2003, based on leaks from senior administration officials. It subsequently was confirmed, during Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald's criminal investigation, that several top ranking officials in the White House leaked Wilson's name and status with the CIA to Novak and other reporters.

The Complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia by the international law firm of Proskauer Rose LLP, whose team is headed by Washington, D.C. litigation partner and privacy law practitioner Christopher Wolf. Noted Constitutional law scholar Erwin Chemerinsky, a professor of law at Duke University, is of counsel in the case.

As a result of Cheney, Libby and Rove's conduct, the suit claims that the Wilsons have suffered violations of their rights guaranteed under the United States Constitution and by laws of the District of Columbia.

The Complaint specifies that each of the Wilsons has been deprived of their First and Fifth Amendment rights; each has suffered a gross invasion of their privacy; each has been impaired in pursuing professional opportunities; and that they fear for their safety and the safety of their children as a result of the wrongful public disclosures. In addition, the Complaint alleges that Valerie Wilson was impaired in her ability to carry out her duties at the CIA, and to pursue her career at the agency in further service to her country, as she had planned. While no specific dollar amount is requested, the suit seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorneys' fees and costs.

Coinciding with the filing of the Complaint, the Joseph and Valerie Wilson Legal Support Trust has been established. Funds from the trust will help the Wilsons pay the substantial legal costs forced upon them by the unlawful leaking of Mrs. Wilson's covert CIA status. The objectives of the trust include:

* Counseling them in connection with their potential witness testimony during the upcoming trial of Scooter Libby; and

* Helping them to prepare the civil suit that will uncover the truth surrounding the leak, ensure all relevant public officials are held accountable for actions depriving the Wilsons of their privacy and constitutional rights, and serve as a deterrent to similar wrongdoing being committed in the future.

The Trust was established with the Wilsons' approval and provides that should the suit result in a payment to the Wilsons in excess of their legal costs, they will reimburse the Trust for all legal costs paid by the Trust. That money will then be distributed by the trustees to a charitable organization(s) that works to protect the rights of government whistleblowers.

Neither the Wilsons nor their attorneys will comment on the civil suit today, but they will meet with the news media at 10:00 a.m. Friday at the National Press Club, 14th and F Sts.

Excerpts From the Complaint in Wilson v. Libby, et al.:

"The lawsuit concerns the intentional and malicious exposure by senior officials of the federal government of one such human source at the CIA, Valerie Plame Wilson, whose job it was to gather intelligence to make the nation safer, and who risked her life for her country."

"The Defendants reached an agreement to discredit, punish, and seek revenge against the Plaintiffs.... Said agreement was motivated by an invidiously discriminatory animus towards those who had publicly criticized the administration's stated justifications for going to war with Iraq."

"The Defendants chose not to address publicly, directly, and on the merits why they may have thought Mr. Wilson was wrong or unfair in his statements on the President's misstatements. Rather, they embarked on an anonymous 'whispering campaign' designed to discredit and injure the Plaintiffs and to deter other critics from publicly speaking out."

"But for Mr. Wilson coming forward, it is unlikely that the Administration ever would have acknowledged its error. The fact that the administration had to admit its mistake is one likely reason why the Defendants chose to attack the Wilsons"

"The Defendants fraudulently concealed the existence of the Plaintiffs' cause of action . . . by, among other things, giving false or misleading testimony to federal law enforcement personnel and/or the federal grand jury empanelled to investigate the unlawful publication of Plaintiff Valerie Plame Wilson's classified CIA employment...."

Former CIA agent Plame sues U.S. vice president
Updated Fri. Jul. 14 2006 4:40 AM ET

CTV.ca News Staff

Former undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame, whose identity was leaked to the press, is suing U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney.

Plame has accused Cheney, his chief of staff Lewis "Scooter" Libby, presidential adviser Karl Rove and other White House officials of leaking her identity to discredit her husband Joseph Wilson, a former U.S. diplomat who questioned the reasoning behind the invasion of Iraq.

Both Wilson and Plame filed the lawsuit Thursday.

On July 6, 2003, Wilson wrote a column in The New York Times arguing that the White House had glossed over certain intelligence reports in its argument for the war.

Specifically, Wilson wrote that after a trip to Niger, he had concluded Iraq did not have an agreement to acquire uranium yellowcake to produce nuclear weapons, as was alleged.

Just eight days after Wilson's piece was published, syndicated columnist Robert Novak wrote that it was Wilson's wife, Plame, who used her influence as a CIA agent to send Wilson to Niger.

The lawsuit alleges that White House officials "embarked on an anonymous 'whispering campaign' designed to discredit ... (the Wilsons) and to deter other critics from speaking out," by revealing her identity to the press.

Not all reporters who obtained Plame's identity used the information. It's a federal offence in the U.S. to name an undercover operative.

The lawsuit also alleges that Cheney, Libby, Rove and 10 unnamed officials endangered the Wilson family - including their children - by leaking Plame's identity.

"This lawsuit concerns the intentional and malicious exposure by senior officials of the federal government of ... (Plame), whose job it was to gather intelligence to make the nation safer and who risked her life for her country," the couple's lawyer said in the lawsuit.

The Wilsons also allege that the leak infringed on their privacy rights.

Libby faces perjury and obstruction of justice charges in connection with the leak. He allegedly lied to FBI investigators and a grand jury about when he discovered Plame's identity, and what he told reporters about her.

According to The Associated Press, court filings in the Libby case allege that Cheney was active in countering Wilson's opinion piece.

Cheney apparently wrote on Wilson's article: "Have they done this sort of thing before? Send an ambassador to answer a question? Do we ordinarily send people out pro bono to work for us? Or did his wife send him on a junket?"

No other officials have been charged in the leak. And in June, Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald said he would not take legal action against Rove.

Wilson-Plame lawsuit ignored by ABC's World News Tonight and CBS Evening News

Neither ABC's World News Tonight nor the CBS Evening News reported in their July 13 broadcasts that former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV and his wife, ex-CIA officer Valerie Plame, had filed a lawsuit against Vice President Dick Cheney, Cheney's former chief of staff I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, and White House senior adviser Karl Rove. By contrast, NBC's Nightly News did report on the lawsuit.

While ignoring a lawsuit against the vice president of the United States and two top White House aides in connection with a matter that has been the subject of great media interest over the past three years, CBS featured a segment on the sale of an original printing of William Shakespeare's works, and both ABC and CBS devoted a segment to Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro's worsening health.

As Media Matters for America noted, Wilson and Plame are accusing Cheney, Rove, and Libby of leaking Plame's identity as a CIA operative and effectively ending her career. Wilson and Plame contend that the Bush administration officials were retaliating against Wilson for criticizing the administration's justifications for invading Iraq.

From the July 13 edition of NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams:

WILLIAMS: News out of Washington this evening, Valerie Plame Wilson, the ex-CIA agent whose cover was blown after her husband criticized the Bush administration claims about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, is suing Vice President Cheney, his former chief of staff Scooter Libby and presidential adviser Karl Rove. This lawsuit says they all conspired to discredit, punish, and seek revenge against the couple. It claims their constitutional and legal rights were violated. A spokesman for Karl Rove says the allegations are, quote, "absolutely and utterly without merit." http://mediamatters.org/items/200607140013

Why Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame Filed

By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t | Report
From: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/071406J.shtml  Friday 14 July 2006
Syndicated columnist Bob Novak and officials speaking on behalf of White House political adviser Karl Rove have attempted to convince the American people that there wasn't a White House campaign to smear and discredit former Ambassador Joseph Wilson three years ago for speaking out publicly against the Bush administration's use of pre-war Iraq intelligence.

In a stunning interview Wednesday on Fox News, which came across as yet another orchestrated Rovian crusade against the former ambassador, Novak claimed he did not see any evidence of a White House smear campaign against Wilson in the days prior to a column he wrote that disclosed Wilson's wife's covert CIA status and identity.

Novak's July 14, 2003, column took Ambassador Wilson to task for accusing the administration, in a New York Times op-ed the week before, of twisting the intelligence during the lead-up to the Iraq war.

Novak wrote that Plame was responsible for sending her husband on a fact-finding trip to Niger to determine if Iraq was trying to acquire yellowcake uranium from the African country. The trip, Novak was trying to impress upon his readers, was the result of nepotism and as such Wilson's findings should not be trusted.

Novak, in his interview on Fox News, where he now works as a consultant, called the disclosure of Valerie Plame Wilson's CIA status an accidental slip by one of his sources during the course of an hour-long background interview on foreign and domestic policy issues.

An all too willing Brit Hume, and for that matter the rest of the Washington press corps, lapped up Novak's version of the truth, and have treated the Wilson story as a non-issue, without so much as disclosing the documentary proof that has surfaced during the course of a three year federal investigation that would prove Novak and others in the media have been peddling lies in hopes of manipulating public perception about the truth regarding White House officials' roles in the Plame leak.

A month ago, Robert Luskin, the attorney defending Rove in the CIA leak case, claimed he received a faxed correspondence from Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald indicating that Rove would likely not be charged with crimes - barring any additional evidence - related to his role in the leak.

Fitzgerald's office would not confirm that the prosecutor sent such a letter nor would his office confirm that Rove is truly free from the burden of a criminal indictment. But that has not stopped the media and even some naïve bloggers from taking Luskin at his word and printing news stories with sentences like "Fitzgerald said Rove won't be charged" when in fact Fitzgerald said no such thing.

In helping to carry the message Rove and Novak are disseminating, the mainstream media and a slew of extreme right-wing bloggers have helped shield this administration from accepting responsibility for one of the most egregious crimes that has taken place since the presidency of Richard Nixon.

Earlier Thursday, the Wilsons filed a civil suit against Rove, Vice President Dick Cheney, and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff, who is the only White House official who has been indicted in the leak case.

The civil suit may help vindicate the Wilsons and hold these officials accountable for their actions three years ago, but it's worth revisiting some of the evidentiary findings that Fitzgerald's probe has turned up since he was appointed Special Prosecutor in December 2003 that prove the White House's culpability in the leak.

In April, Fitzgerald stated in a court filing related to a discovery motion in the Libby case that his investigators have obtained evidence that proves "multiple" White House officials conspired to discredit Wilson.

Libby's attorneys said, according to the filing, that they were entitled to the government's evidence in order to prove Libby was not engaged in a "plot" to discredit Wilson.

However, Fitzgerald says in the filing that long before Wilson published his July 6, 2003, op-ed in the New York Times there were pieces of evidence "some of which have been provided to defendant and there were conversations in which defendant participated, that reveal a strong desire by many, including multiple people in the White House, to repudiate Mr. Wilson before and after July 14, 2003."

Although he made it abundantly clear that Libby is not charged with conspiracy, Fitzgerald argues that Libby's suggestion that there was no White House plot to discredit Wilson is ludicrous, given the amount of evidence he has in his possession that suggests otherwise.

"Given that there is evidence that other White House officials with whom defendant spoke prior to July 14, 2003, discussed Wilson's wife's employment with the press both prior to, and after, July 14, 2003 ... it is hard to conceive of what evidence there could be that would disprove the existence of White House efforts to 'punish' Wilson," Fitzgerald wrote in the court filing.

Moreover, this court filing describes in detail how White House press secretary Scott McClellan came to publicly exonerate Libby and Rove during a press briefing in October 2003, three months after Plame Wilson's identity was unmasked.

The filing clearly states that Libby lied about his role in the leak when McClellan asked him about it in October 2003. Libby, with Vice President Cheney's backing, persuaded the press secretary to clear his name during one of his morning press briefings, and prepared notes for him to use. "Though defendant knew that another White House official had spoken to Novak in advance of Novak's column and that official had learned in advance that Novak would be publishing information about Wilson's wife, defendant did not disclose that fact to other White House officials (including the Vice President) but instead prepared a handwritten statement of what he wished White House Press Secretary McClellan would say to exonerate him:

And he did not leak classified information." "As a result of defendant's request, on October 4, 2003, White House Press Secretary McClellan stated that he had spoken to Mr. Libby (as well as Mr. Rove and Elliot Abrams) and "those individuals assured me that they were not involved in this."

McClellan's public statement and the fact that President Bush vowed to fire anyone in his office involved in the leak were motivating factors that led Libby to lie during an interview with FBI investigators in November 2003, Fitzgerald states in the court filing:

"Thus, as defendant approached his first FBI interview he knew that the White House had publicly staked its credibility on there being no White House involvement in the leaking of information about Ms. Wilson and that, at defendant's specific request through the Vice President, the White House had publicly proclaimed that defendant was 'not involved in this.'"

On September 14, 2003, during an interview with Tim Russert of NBC's "Meet the Press," Cheney maintained that he didn't know Wilson or have any knowledge about his Niger trip or who was responsible for leaking his wife's name to the media.

"I don't know Joe Wilson," Cheney said, in response to Russert, who quoted Wilson as saying there was no truth to the Niger uranium claims. "I've never met Joe Wilson. And Joe Wilson - I don't who sent Joe Wilson. He never submitted a report that I ever saw when he came back ... I don't know Mr. Wilson. I probably shouldn't judge him. I have no idea who hired him."

That was a lie. Cheney knew Wilson well. He spent months obsessing about him.

Cheney and then-Deputy National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley led a campaign beginning in March 2003 to discredit former ambassador Joseph Wilson for publicly criticizing the Bush administration's intelligence on Iraq, according to current and former administration officials.

In interviews over the past year, sources close to the case said their roles included digging up or "inventing" embarrassing information on the former ambassador that could be used against him, preparing memos and classified material on Wilson for Cheney and the National Security Council, and attending meetings in Cheney's office to discuss with Cheney, Hadley, and others the efforts that would be taken to discredit Wilson.

A former CIA official who has worked in the counter-proliferation division, and who is familiar with the undercover work Wilson's wife did for the agency, said Cheney and Hadley visited CIA headquarters a day or two after Joseph Wilson was interviewed on CNN.

In the interview, which took place two and a half weeks before the start of the Iraq war, Wilson said the administration was more interested in redrawing the map of the Middle East to pursue its own foreign policy objectives than in dealing with the so-called terrorist threat.

"The underlying objective, as I see it, the more I look at this, is less and less disarmament, and it really has little to do with terrorism, because everybody knows that a war to invade and conquer and occupy Iraq is going to spawn a new generation of terrorists," Wilson said in a March 2, 2003, interview with CNN.

"So you look at what's underpinning this, and you go back and you take a look at who's been influencing the process. And it's been those who really believe that our objective must be far grander, and that is to redraw the political map of the Middle East," Wilson added.

But it wasn't Wilson at first who Cheney was so upset about when he visited the CIA in March 2003.

During the same CNN segment in which Wilson was interviewed, former United Nations weapons inspector David Albright made similar comments about the rationale for the Iraq war and added that he believed UN weapons inspectors should be given more time to search the country for weapons of mass destruction.

The National Security Council and CIA officials said Cheney had visited CIA headquarters and asked several CIA officials to dig up dirt on Albright, and to put together a dossier that would discredit his work that could be distributed to the media.

"Vice President Cheney was more concerned with Mr. Albright," the CIA official said. "The international community had been saying that inspectors should have more time, that the US should not set a deadline. The Vice President felt Mr. Albright's remarks would fuel the debate."

A week later, Wilson was interviewed on CNN again. This was the first time Wilson ridiculed the Bush administration's claim that Iraq had tried to purchase yellowcake uranium from Niger. "Well, this particular case is outrageous. We know a lot about the uranium business in Niger, and for something like this to go unchallenged by US - the US government - is just simply stupid. It would have taken a couple of phone calls. We have had an embassy there since the early '60s. All this stuff is open. It's a restricted market of buyers and sellers," Wilson said in the March 8, 2003, CNN interview. "For this to have gotten to the IAEA is on the face of it dumb, but more to the point, it taints the whole rest of the case that the government is trying to build against Iraq."

What Wilson wasn't at liberty to disclose during that interview, because the information was still classified, was that he had personally traveled to Niger a year earlier on behalf of the CIA to investigate whether Iraq had in fact tried to purchase uranium from the African country. Cheney had asked the CIA in 2002 to look into the allegation, which turned out to be based on forged documents but was included in President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address nonetheless.

Wilson's comments enraged Cheney, all of the officials said, because they were seen as a personal attack against the Vice President, who was instrumental in getting the intelligence community to cite the Niger claims in government reports to build a case for war against Iraq.

The former ambassador's stinging rebuke also caught the attention of Stephen Hadley, who had played an even bigger role in the Niger controversy, having been responsible for allowing President Bush to cite the allegations in his State of the Union address.

At this time, the international community, various media outlets, and the International Atomic Energy Agency had called into question the veracity of the Niger documents. Mohammed ElBaradei, head of IAEA, told the UN Security Council on March 7, 2003, that the Niger documents were forgeries and could not be used to prove Iraq was a nuclear threat.

Wilson's comments in addition to ElBaradei's UN report were seen as a threat to the administration's planned attack against Iraq, the officials said, which would take place 11 days later.

Hadley had avoided making public comments about the veracity of the Niger documents, going as far as ignoring a written request by IAEA head Mohammed ElBaradei to share the intelligence with his agency so his inspectors could verify the claims. Hadley is said to have known the Niger documents were crude forgeries, but pushed the administration to cite them as evidence that Iraq was a nuclear threat, according to the State Department officials, who said they personally told Hadley in a written report that the documents were bogus.

CIA and State Department officials said that a day after Wilson's March 8, 2003, CNN appearance, they attended a meeting at the Vice President's office with Cheney, Hadley and others who worked in the Office of the Vice President and it was there that a decision was made to discredit Wilson.

"The way I remember it," the CIA official said about that first meeting he attended in Cheney's office, "is that the vice president was obsessed with Wilson. He called him an 'asshole,' a son-of-a-bitch. He took his comments very personally. He wanted us to do everything in our power to destroy his reputation and he wanted to be kept up to date about the progress."

The CIA, State Department and National Security Council officials said that early on they had passed on information about Wilson to Cheney and Libby that purportedly showed Wilson as being a "womanizer" and that he had dabbled in drugs during his youth, allegations that are apparently false, they said.

The officials said that during the meeting, Hadley said he would respond to Wilson's comments by writing an editorial about the Iraqi threat, which it was hoped would be a first step in overshadowing Wilson's CNN appearance.

A column written by Hadley that appeared in the Chicago Tribune on February 16, 2003, was redistributed to newspaper editors by the State Department on March 10, 2003, two days after Wilson was interviewed on CNN. The column, "Two Potent Iraqi Weapons: Denial and Deception" once again raised the issue that Iraq had tried to purchase uranium from Niger.

Cheney appeared on Meet the Press on March 16, 2003, to respond to ElBaradei's assertion that the Niger documents were forgeries.

"I think Mr. ElBaradei frankly is wrong," Cheney said during the interview. "[The IAEA] has consistently underestimated or missed what it was Saddam Hussein was doing. I don't have any reason to believe they're any more valid this time than they've been in the past."

Behind the scenes, Wilson had been speaking to various members of Congress about the administration's use of the Niger documents and had said the intelligence the White House relied upon was flawed, said one of the State Department officials who had a conversation with Wilson. Wilson's criticism of the administration's intelligence eventually leaked out to reporters, but with the Iraq war just a week away, the story was never covered.

Wilson said he had attempted to contact the White House through various channels after the State of the Union address to get the administration to correct the public record.

"I had direct discussions with the State Department, Senate committees," Wilson said in April in a speech to college students and faculty at California State University Northridge. "I had numerous conversations to change what they were saying publicly. I had a civic duty to hold my government to account for what it had said and done."

Wilson said he was rebuffed at every instance and that he received word, through then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice that he could state his case in writing in a public forum. And that's exactly what he did. Wilson decided to write an op-ed in the New York Times and expose the administration for knowingly "twisting" the intelligence on the Iraqi nuclear threat to make a case for war. Wilson wrote that had he personally traveled to Niger to check out the Niger intelligence and had determined it was bogus.

"Nothing more, nothing less than challenging the government to come clean on this matter," Wilson said. "That's all I did."

With no sign of weapons of mass destruction to be found in Iraq, news accounts started to call into question the credibility of the administration's pre-war intelligence. In May 2003, Wilson re-emerged at a political conference in Washington sponsored by the Senate Democratic Policy Committee.

There he told the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristoff that he was the special envoy who had traveled to Niger in February 2002 to check out allegations that Iraq tried to purchase uranium from the country. He told Kristoff he had briefed a CIA analyst that the claims were untrue. Wilson said he believed the administration had ignored his report and had been dishonest with Congress and the American people.

When Kristoff's column was published in the Times, the CIA official said, "a request came in from Cheney that was passed to me that said 'the vice president wants to know whether Joe Wilson went to Niger.' I'm paraphrasing. But that's more or less what I was asked to find out."

In his column, Kristoff Had accused Cheney of allowing the truth about the Niger documents the administration used to build a case for war to go "missing in action." The failure of US armed forces to find any WMDs in Iraq in two months following the start of the war had been blamed on Cheney.

What in the previous months had been a request to gather information that could be used to discredit Wilson turned into a full-scale effort involving the Office of the Vice President, the National Security Council, and the State Department to find out how Wilson came to be chosen to investigate the uranium allegations involving Iraq and Niger.

"Cheney and Libby made it clear that Wilson had to be shut down," the CIA official said. "This wasn't just about protecting the credibility of the White House. For the vice president, going after Wilson was purely personal, in my opinion."

Cheney was personally involved in this aspect of the information gathering process as well, visiting CIA headquarters to inquire about Wilson, the CIA official said. Hadley had also raised questions about Wilson during this month with the State Department officials and asked that information regarding Wilson's trip to Niger be sent to his attention at the National Security Council.

That's when Valerie Plame Wilson's name popped up showing that she was a covert CIA operative.


Novak "Source" Warned Reporters About Iraqi WMD Claims

By Jason Leopold
t r u t h o u t | Investigative Report
From: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/071206A.shtml 
Wednesday 12 July 2006
Bill Harlow, the former spokesman for the CIA who syndicated columnist Robert Novak claimed Tuesday was a source who confirmed the identity of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson for Novak's July 14, 2003, column, had broken ranks with Bush administration early on for telling reporters there was no "smoking gun" that proved Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

In his book Plan of Attack, Bob Woodward, the assistant managing editor of the Washington Post, recounted Harlow's warnings to reporters in the months leading up to the Iraq war.

"Well-placed officials in the administration were skeptical about the WMD intelligence on Iraq - among them [Richard] Armitage, some senior military officers, and even the CIA spokesman Bill Harlow, who repeatedly warned reporters that the intelligence agencies were convinced that Saddam had WMD but that they lacked a "smoking gun," Woodward wrote.

Fingering Harlow as one of the sources he relied upon for his column that identified Plame Wilson parallels the White House's long-standing tactic of shifting responsibility for all intelligence failures related to pre-war Iraq intelligence onto the CIA.

Novak's close ties to Bush administration officials lead to obvious questions: is Novak being forthcoming about Harlow's true role in the leak, or is the columnist simply pulling a page out of the White House playbook by blaming the CIA?

Writing on Tuesday about his role in the CIA leak case, Novak said that he had relied upon three sources for the column that revealed Plame Wilson's identity and work at the CIA: White House political adviser Karl Rove, an unnamed government official, and "Bill Harlow, the CIA public information officer who was my CIA source for the column confirming Mrs. Wilson's identity."

But Harlow's account, as reported in the Washington Post on July 27, 2005, differs dramatically and suggests that he was never truly a confirming source for Novak.

"Harlow, the former CIA spokesman, said in an interview yesterday that he testified last year before a grand jury about conversations he had with Novak at least three days before the column was published," the Washington Post reported. "He said he warned Novak, in the strongest terms he was permitted to use without revealing classified information, that Wilson's wife had not authorized the mission and that if he did write about it, her name should not be revealed."

"Harlow said that after Novak's call, he checked Plame's status and confirmed that she was an undercover operative," the Washington Post report added. "He said he called Novak back to repeat that the story Novak had related to him was wrong and that Plame's name should not be used. But he did not tell Novak directly that she was undercover because that was classified information."

What's crucial about what Harlow relayed to Novak is something that seems to have been lost on all of the reporters who followed up on the story about Plame Wilson: the charge that Wilson's wife was responsible for his trip to Niger was untrue, but the charge against the administration that Wilson made in a New York Times op-ed on July 6, 2003, was the important story - Iraq did not attempt to acquire yellowcake uranium from Niger.

But Plame Wilson's connection to the CIA and rumors that she sent her husband to Niger was the more salacious story for many mainstream reporters, not the veracity of the intelligence that led this nation to war.

Harlow, a captain in the US Navy for 25 years, and a former assistant White House press secretary for national security and foreign affairs in the Reagan administration, would likely never be a source - confirming or otherwise - for Novak on a story that would end up having clear national security implications, judging by the way he worked with other reporters over the years.

Ronald Kessler, author of The CIA at War: Inside the Secret Campaign Against Terror, described in his book how Harlow helped transform the CIA's "no comment" policy on news stories and instead worked with reporters to make sure their information was rock-solid.

"If a reporter already had the glimmer of a story, Harlow worked with him to get it straight, while denying untrue charges," Kessler wrote in The CIA at War. "Like the best PR people, Harlow got his message across while giving the reporter material he or she could use.Because he leaned over backwards to be honest, Harlow had credibility." Harlow hasn't commented on whether Novak's assertion that he was a confirming source is true. Harlow, who retired from the CIA, has been working on a book with former CIA director George Tenet titled At the Center of the Storm.

Tenet's publisher, HarperCollins, has promised that the book will provide the real story as to how the infamous "16 words" regarding Iraq's alleged interest in acquiring uranium from Niger made its way into President Bush's January 2003 State of the Union address, which is what sparked the controversy that led to Joseph Wilson's op-ed column in the New York Times and Plame Wilson's outing by Novak.

"Tenet will give a privileged view of the controversial decision to go to war - providing previously unreported context and background, including an insider's account of how the controversial 'sixteen words' made it into the president's State of the Union speech, the real context of Tenet's own now-famous 'slam-dunk' comment, and the CIA's views on the rise of the Iraqi insurgency," according to a press release issued by the book's publisher.

Tenet and Harlow's book was slated for release in October, close to what's sure to be a contentious mid-term election. Last week, HarperCollins announced that At the Center of the Storm has been delayed until February 2007.


Reporters could be subpoenaed again if Plame suit advances

  • Conversations White House officials had with journalists in 2003 are central to a lawsuit filed Friday by former CIA operative Valerie Plame and her husband, Joe Wilson, who claim the officials violated their free speech rights.

July 14, 2006  ·   Journalists would likely be called to testify in federal court if a lawsuit filed Thursday by former CIA agent Valerie Plame against Vice President Dick Cheney and other White House officials proceeds.

Conversations those officials had with Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus, former New York Times reporter Judith Miller and Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper about Plame are at the heart of the lawsuit, which alleges that the disclosure of Plame's identity to those reporters violated her and her husband's constitutional rights.

The lawsuit, which also names I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff, presidential adviser Karl Rove, and several John Does as defendants, was filed on the third anniversary of Robert Novak's column which identified Plame as a CIA agent.

Following Novak's column, several other journalists reported receiving the same information.

"I would much rather be continuing my career as a public servant than be a plaintiff in a lawsuit but I feel strongly and justice demands that those who acted so harmfully against our national security must answer for their shameful conduct in court," Plame said at a press conference Friday. Plame left the CIA in January.

Plame and her husband, former Ambassador Joe Wilson, contend that the defendants in the case destroyed her cover in retaliation for Wilson's public criticism of the Bush administration's assertion that Iraq had been attempting to buy uranium from Niger to make nuclear weapons.

The eight-count complaint includes allegations that the Wilsons' First Amendment rights were violated when officials punished the couple for Joe Wilson's public criticism of the Bush administration, their privacy was invaded when personal information about Plame was disclosed, and that the defendants were engaged in a conspiracy to discredit and punish the Wilsons.

The Wilsons' attorney, Christopher Wolf, declined to comment on the likelihood that reporters will be subpoenaed. http://www.rcfp.org/news/2006/0714-con-report.html

Who Sent Joe Wilson to Niger Is Totally Irrelevant
July 14, 2006
by Karl M Evans

RE: Ambassador Joseph Wilson

Something has continued to puzzle me throughout the controversy surrounding the Plame scandal, and I have to wonder if anyone has addressed it before now (if they have, I haven't seen it).

It is clear that the Bush administration, and Vice President Cheney in particular, decided quite early to try and discredit Ambassador Joseph Wilson's exposure of the complete fiction the Bush administration was pushing that Iraq was trying to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger. These attempts to discredit Wilson began even BEFORE he went public with the findings from his investigative trip to Niger at the request of the CIA (an investigation, ironically, ordered by the office of the Vice President). It is also clear that Cheney et. al believed Wilson would be thoroughly discredited if they could claim his wife, a covert CIA operative specializing in WMD proliferation, was responsible for arranging the trip. Even now, despite the documented fact that Valerie Plame was NOT responsible for sending her husband to Niger, nor held the authority to arrange such a mission, Cheney and his minions continue to push the meme that Wilson's mission was a frivolous case of nepotism.

The facts are in. They have been in for some time. The Cheney "scenario" of Wilson's trip is complete nonsense. Quite literally - the argument makes no sense. Who sent Wilson is totally irrelevant. But for the sake of argument, let's pretend for a moment that Valerie Plame did arrange for her husband to go to Niger.

SO. . . FRIGGIN. . . WHAT?

How exactly is that supposed to discredit Wilson's findings? Was Plame otherwise qualified to be involved in the CIA investigation of the yellowcake claims? She was a veteran CIA WMD proliferation specialist - of COURSE she was qualified.

Was Ambassador Joseph Wilson qualified to investigate an alleged transaction between Niger and Iraq? Let's take a look. Wilson was a member of the US Diplomatic Service for 22 years. His very first assignment was to the mission in Niger. Following assignments included the U.S. missions in Togo, South Africa, Burundi, and the Congo as well as the State Dept Bureau of African Affairs. He was appointed Ambassador to Gabon and to Sao Tome and Principe. He also held the positions of Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs at the National Security Council where he was responsible for the coordination of U.S. policy to 48 sub-Saharan African countries. And finally, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad - and became acting Ambassador during Desert Shield.

Joseph Wilson had first-hand knowledge of who the main players were in both Niger and Iraq. He had direct knowledge of who would have to be involved on both sides in a transaction such as that being claimed by the Bush Administration. He possessed expert knowledge of who to talk to to get to the truth - who was reliable and who wasn't - who's information was good and who's was suspect. And, in fact, his expertise DID uncover the truth - that the Niger documents were forgeries and that the entire episode was a work of fiction.

If there were anyone MORE qualified to conduct the CIA's investigation, I don't know who they could possibly be.

So again, even if, just for shitz-n-giggles, we were to accept Cheney's fantasy that Wilson's well-qualified wife was responsible for sending her outrageously-qualified husband on this investigation, how does that in any way bring any of Wilson's perfectly-qualified conclusions into doubt?

Obvious answer: It doesn't.

Karl M Evans
Wilmington, NC


Another Stab at the Truth

By Dan Froomkin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Friday, July 14, 2006; 1:26 PM

There are some hugely important aspects of the Bush presidency that remain insufficiently examined, and the most important are about the run-up to war in Iraq.

Polls show that a majority of Americans believe President Bush and his associates intentionally misled the public in making their case for war. It's a terribly serious charge, if true. In fact, it's hard to imagine a more serious charge against a president.

Did Bush, Vice President Cheney and others know the intelligence they were citing wasn't reliable? Did they purposefully understate the considerable doubts within the intelligence community? Did they consciously exaggerate the extent of the findings?

And after the war, when critics began to emerge, why were they so obsessed with discrediting anyone who suggested as much, rather than just responding with a factual defense?

With a few partial exceptions , the media has proven itself unable to answer these questions definitively.

There were once two promising official lines of inquiry. Special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald, by all accounts, has collected a considerable amount of related information in the process of investigating the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity during a White House drive to discredit her husband.

But it looks as though he's not going to make public most of what he's found out, apparently having decided to limit himself to a narrowly defined obstruction-of-justice case against former vice presidential chief of staff Scooter Libby.

And the Senate Intelligence Committee long ago ostensibly committed itself to investigating the administration's use of the faulty intelligence. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid even shut down the Senate eight months ago to force Republicans to speed up the investigation.

But as Tim Starks writes for Congressional Quarterly, the committee's efforts remain, charitably speaking, "in limbo."

Yesterday's filing of a civil lawsuit in the CIA leak case is quite possibly a legal dead-end, and arguably a thinly veiled attempt at political harassment. Nevertheless, it offers what may now be the most possible avenue of uncovering the truth.

Plame and Wilson say the defendants conspired to "discredit, punish and seek revenge against the plaintiffs that included, among other things, disclosing to members of the press Plaintiff Valerie Plame Wilson's classified CIA employment."

Eric M. Weiss and Charles Lane write in The Washington Post, "legal analysts said the civil lawsuit could open new avenues for extracting information from the administration, because Plame and Wilson could conduct discovery if the U.S. District Court in Washington lets the suit proceed.

"Plame and Wilson might be entitled to demand documents from Cheney and others, as well as to require them to sit for sworn depositions, much as President Bill Clinton had to answer questions under oath in Paula Jones's sexual harassment lawsuit.

"And, because the accusations in the suit are separate from the issue Fitzgerald was looking into -- whether anyone violated a federal law against disclosing CIA officers' identities -- Plame and Wilson 'could go out and look into a lot of things that Fitzgerald didn't look into,' said Eugene Volokh, a law professor at the University of California at Los Angeles."

Richard B. Schmitt writes in the Los Angeles Times: "Though legal experts were divided over the strength of the allegations, the suit is likely to become a rallying point for administration critics -- in a similar manner, perhaps, to the focus by partisans a decade ago on Paula Jones' sexual harassment litigation against President Clinton. In this case, the charges are rooted in one of the most divisive and intensely debated issues of the Bush presidency: whether the administration twisted the intelligence it used to justify the war in Iraq."

Neil A. Lewis writes in the New York Times: "But the suit is also likely to face major hurdles, notably the issue of whether the officials have any immunity for their actions. The general standard from a 1982 Supreme Court case is that federal officials may be sued for violating someone's constitutional rights if a reasonable person would believe they had violated 'clearly established law.'"

Toni Locy writes for the Associated Press: "Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Rove, said, 'Without even having had a chance to review the complaint, it is clear that the allegations are absolutely and utterly without merit.'"

The Wilson's have set up a Web site for the Joseph and Valerie Wilson Legal Support Trust.

Novak vs. Waas

Earlier this week, syndicated columnist Robert Novak broke his long and unseemly silence on the case, in a column and several appearances on Fox News.

Novak didn't say much we didn't know already. But some of what he said just wasn't true.

Justin Rood of the liberal TPM Muckraker Web site noted yesterday: "Trying to dodge criticism for his role in outing Valerie Plame, columnist Bob Novak last night attacked a National Journal story by Murray Waas on Fox's Hannity and Colmes. 'I know that the Murray Waas piece in the National Journal, which interestingly was not picked up by anybody, was totally wrong and a total lie,' he said. . . .

"In truth, two major news outlets confirmed the National Journal story the same day it was published, May 25. . . .

"The story is particularly damaging to Novak because it raised concerns that Novak and Rove coordinated their grand jury testimony, even possibly developing a 'cover story' for themselves. At the very least, the conversation was inadvisable and unethical -- and, if a false story was concocted, against the law."

And I just heard Novak assert on Fox News that it was "well known around town" that Plame was a CIA operative before his column came out. While this has been a right-wing talking point for ages, it has never been confirmed.

What does the White House want? Senators trying to some sort of way to bring terror suspects to trial in the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision invalidating Bush's unilateral approach are seeing clear signs of divisions within the administration.

R. Jeffrey Smith and Jonathan Weisman write in The Washington Post: "Three days of congressional testimony this week by senior Bush administration officials about U.S. treatment of detainees in the war on terrorism have made clear that the administration remains deeply divided on the issue and unsure how to replace a key policy that the Supreme Court declared illegal two weeks ago.

"Interagency divisions normally kept hidden from public view have been on unusual display as officials from the Justice Department and the Pentagon have offered starkly different accounts of the administration's reaction to the court's opinion, baffling members of Congress and other interested parties about U.S. intentions.

"The testimony has shown that the Justice Department -- which had insisted on the legality of the existing policy -- is eager to sharply limit the impact of the Supreme Court's decision, while military lawyers and some other Pentagon officials are celebrating it as a vindication of their long-held concerns about U.S. detainee policy."

Kate Zernike writes in the New York Times: "The top lawyers from the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines contradicted the Bush administration on Thursday on how to bring terror suspects to trial, endorsing an approach that extends more human and legal rights to detainees than one that administration lawyers have pressed Congress to authorize. . . .

"Senators complained that they were hearing mixed messages from the administration. Even as administration lawyers have been publicly urging Congress to ratify the president's plan for trials that offer few rights, they said, other White House officials have privately said that they would go along with an approach similar to what the military lawyers support, offering broader protection for detainees.

"Senator John W. Warner, Republican of Virginia, the committee chairman, said he was 'somewhat perplexed' by the testimony of administration lawyers this week, given his conversations with some White House advisers. 'I do not believe we in Congress have received the last words by any means,' Mr. Warner said."

Maura Reynolds writes in the Los Angeles Times: "White House officials offered little clarity Thursday, saying that they preferred a tough approach but that 'no doors are closed.'

"'Terrorists don't deserve the same rights as the troops in uniform,' White House Deputy Press Secretary Dana Perino said while in Germany with President Bush."

Zernike also notes: "Pentagon and White House officials took issue with an editorial in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday that cited sources saying Mr. England's memorandum [acknowledging that detainees were entitled to those rights under Common Article Three] 'was issued without any wide deliberation with, or even particular awareness by, the White House counsel's office or the Justice Department.' A senior Defense Department official said the memorandum 'was coordinated across the interagency.' Perino would say only that 'the White House was notified' and not whether the president himself was informed."

Here are some of the aspects of the deal negotiated between Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and the White House over the administration's warrantless domestic wiretapping program, as best I can tell:

* Bush voluntarily will request a ruling from a secret court the function of which historically has been to approve individual wiretap warrants, not assess the constitutionality of a massive, warrantless wiretapping program.

* It's not clear if the court actually will hear arguments from anyone outside the administration.

* The court's decision could be kept secret, and if the court decided to strike down the program, the administration could resubmit it for approval over and over again.

* In return, Congress would ban any other legal action on the issue; would relax eavesdropping rules generally; would recognize officially Bush's dubious assertion of expanded presidential power, and would gut the law that made Bush's program illegal in the first place.

One could argue that the big-talking Specter has been outfoxed again by the wily White House. But a press corps so used to the White House completely and utterly refusing to agree to anything is seeing this as a historic concession.

David E. Sanger writes in a New York Times news analysis that, just as the detainee tribunals might end up very similar to the ones Bush proposed, when all is said and done "American spy agencies might still have as much latitude to listen in on calls that originate or end in American territory."

But that's not the point, because "in both cases something dramatically different will have happened: Congress will have played a major role in setting the rules."

Charles Babington and Peter Baker write in The Washington Post that "the accord is a reversal of Bush's position that he would not submit his program to court review. . . .

"Although the deal represented a clear retreat by Bush, White House aides traveling with him in Germany put an upbeat face on the move. . . .

"'The bill recognizes the president's constitutional authority and modernizes FISA to meet the threats we face from an enemy that kills with abandon and hides as they plot attacks,' said spokeswoman Dana M. Perino. . . .

"The White House balked at an early draft that would have mandated the president submit the NSA program to the FISA court for review. Specter agreed to make it voluntary as long as Bush promised to submit the program if Congress passes the bill. Aides privately acknowledged it was a big concession by a president who until now has resisted judicial interference in how he wages war against terrorists."

Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times notes that not absolutely everyone saw it as a significant reversal.

"Representative Jane Harman of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said she saw the Specter-White House agreement as an 'end run' around the FISA law requiring the approval of individual wiretapping warrants.

"'I have great respect for this guy,' she said of Mr. Specter, 'but he hasn't been briefed on this program, and he's giving away in this legislation a core Fourth Amendment protection by basically saying that the FISA court has permission to bless the entire program, which will abandon as best I can tell the requirement of individualized warrants.'"

Julie Hirschfeld Davis writes in the Baltimore Sun: "It's too early to tell how far-reaching or lasting Bush's shift is, analysts cautioned.

"'When there's some push-back from another branch, then they will respond somewhat, and the big question is the extent to which they're being responsive now,' said Carl W. Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor. . . .

"Michigan Sen. Carl Levin, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said neither of this week's moves were concessions from Bush.

"'They'll be as unitary as they can get away with,' Levin said."

Davis also quotes former associate White House counsel: "Despite the appearance of some about-faces, the administration's overall approach has remained very consistent, and that is to do everything possible based on the president's authority alone, and then make adjustments only when forced to do so by outside factors -- whether that's an adverse court ruling or an obstreperous Senate chairman."

Foreign Policy Watch


Reuters reports: "President Bush wants Israel to minimize the risk of casualties in its campaign in southern Lebanon, but will not press it to halt its military operation, the White House said on Friday.

"White House spokesman Tony Snow told reporters that the U.S. leader spoke by telephone to Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and other Middle East leaders as he sought to defuse a crisis between Israel and Hizbollah guerrillas in Lebanon."

Yochi J. Dreazen writes in the Wall Street Journal: "The surge in Mideast violence means conditions are deteriorating in the very places -- Israel, Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Afghanistan -- that President Bush had been able to point to as bright spots for his policies."

Peter Baker writes in The Washington Post: "President Bush and his top diplomats scrambled Thursday night to quell spiraling violence in the Middle East and protect the new democratic government in Lebanon as Israeli forces escalated their strikes."

Jim Rutenberg writes in the New York Times: "Even as he cautioned Israel to be careful not to destabilize the young democracy in Lebanon, Mr. Bush's position immediately put him at odds with European nations just before the annual summit meeting of the Group of 8 economic powers."

Fact Check

Paul Richter, Josh Meyer and Sebastian Rotella write in the Los Angeles Times: "The Bush administration was quick to pin responsibility on Iran and Syria when Hezbollah militants captured two Israeli soldiers this week. Yet those countries may not have specifically planned and ordered the raid that has brought the Middle East to the edge of war, U.S. officials and terrorism experts say."

The Democratic Policy Committee held a hearing this afternoon to examine the manipulation of pre-war Iraq intelligence. Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), who previously disavowed his vote for the war, attended the hearing and asked the panelists why a small number of individuals in the administration “had more influence…than the professionals.” Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, said he only needed three words. Watch it.:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-6ibicKl50



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