Wednesday :: Jul 13, 2005

Treasongate (Part VI): Response to GOP/Neocon talking points on the Valerie Plame expose


by eriposte

[This page was last updated on 10/18/05]

INTRODUCTION: The Bush White House, the GOP and their extended arms in the media have issued misleading and false talking points (example) to discredit Joseph Wilson, rather than take responsibility for illegally outing the covert identity of Wilson's CIA wife Valerie Plame Wilson - an act orchestrated and executed by senior Bush administration officials. This page provides a systematic rebuttal to the deceptive or fraudulent talking points on this topic, put out by conservative media, bloggers, GOP partisans and operatives of the Bush administration. I have relied here on my own work as well as on that of various reporters and bloggers. In a nutshell this issue is about one thing and one thing alone. The Bush administration, embarrassed by revelations that they misled and lied to Americans about the reasons to go to war with Iraq (especially on the uranium in Africa issue), exacted revenge on whistleblower Joseph Wilson by needlessly exposing his wife (and setting their dogs loose on her) and jeopardizing America's national security in the process.

Owing to the large amount of disinformation in circulation, I decided to break-down the debunking into the following sections.

I. VALERIE PLAME AND HER IDENTITY

II. JOSEPH WILSON'S TRIP TO NIGER, AND HIS SUBSEQUENT CLAIMS

III. KARL ROVE

IV. LEWIS LIBBY

V. BUSH ADMINISTRATION (outside of Rove and Libby)

VI. THE CRIME AND THE INVESTIGATION

VII. OTHER


I. VALERIE PLAME AND HER IDENTITY

TALKING POINT: Valerie Plame/Wilson (Joseph Wilson's wife) was not covert and only had a "desk job" at Langley.
FACT: Utterly false. She most certainly was covert. The very fact that Bush administration officials are bending over backwards to claim that they did not know she was covert and hid their roles in her expose for almost 2 years, is further proof. Moreover, the INR memo mentioning her name (Valerie Wilson) and that she worked for the CIA had the corresponding paragraph marked (S) for secret. (More here and here). [updated 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Just because Valerie Plame worked for the CIA does not mean she was covert.
FACT: False and false. In her case, it did mean she was covert especially because no one was supposed to know that she even worked for the CIA. [added 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Joseph Wilson himself admitted that Valerie Plame was not covert.
FACT: False and false. [added 7/16/05]

TALKING POINT: As long as no one revealed the name Valerie Plame, just saying that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA was not illegal.
FACT: False. Her name was never a secret - only the fact that she worked for the CIA was secret. [added 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Valerie Plame's name was publicly available, and she and her name were associated with Joseph Wilson even before she was outed - so what's the big deal?
FACT: Neither Valerie Plame's name, nor the fact that she was Joseph Wilson's wife, was secret or classified, and only complete jackasses would make this argument. The secret was the fact that she was a[n] [undercover] CIA operative. [updated 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Bob Novak used the phrase "CIA operative" by accident (to describe Valerie Plame) and his sources did not say she was a CIA operative.
FACT: This is false, after-the-fact spin from Novak (who has a history of after-the-fact lying about the facts on this case). [updated 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Journalist David Corn was the one who first reported/leaked Valerie Plame's covert identity, not Bob Novak.
FACT: Libelously false, not to mention this contradicts the other GOP spin point that Valerie Plame was "not covert." [updated 10/15/05]

TALKING POINT: Joseph Wilson leaked his wife's name and identity to Judith Miller.
FACT: False. [added 10/18/05]


II. JOSEPH WILSON'S TRIP TO NIGER, AND HIS SUBSEQUENT CLAIMS

TALKING POINT: Joseph Wilson lacked the credentials to undertake his trip to Niger (which he used as the basis for his challenge to Bush's SOTU claim on Saddam Hussein seeking uranium from Africa).
FACT: False and false. Moreover, his report was assigned a grade of "good" by the CIA. [updated 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: The Senate Intelligence Committee confirmed that Valerie Plame was the one who suggested or authorized or set up Joe Wilson's trip.
FACT: False and false (also see here and here). In fact, there is a fair amount of evidence that indicates that Valerie Plame did not even recommend/suggest that Wilson be sent on the trip; it also appears that the author of the memo insinuating that Plame suggested Wilson for the Niger trip was not even present during the meeting in question and got some of the facts wrong. [updated 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: The U.K. Butler Report vindicated Bush's "uranium in Africa" State of the Union claim.
FACT: False. The Butler Report was intended to cover-up the facts and exonerate Tony Blair and George Bush. Moreover, it excluded reams of information about Bush's claim that showed that the White House lied through it's teeth in defending Bush's claim. (Indeed, as the link shows, people from the NSA, CIA, etc. themselves stated that the SOTU claim did not have a sound backing.) [updated 10/11/05]

TALKING POINT: The U.S. Senate (SSCI) Report vindicated Bush's "uranium in Africa" State of the Union claim.
FACT: False. [added 10/11/05]

TALKING POINT: Joe Wilson said Dick Cheney sent him to Niger.
FACT: False and false. [added 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Exposing Valerie Plame was justifiable because Rove "was discouraging a reporter from writing a false story" based on Joe Wilson's "false premise" that George Tenet or Dick Cheney authorized or requested his trip.
FACT: False. Indeed, the fact that George Tenet's response to Joseph Wilson's op-ed did not refer to Valerie Plame or her alleged role in Wilson's trip provides direct evidence that there was no need to reveal Valerie Plame's CIA identity to "set the record straight." Moreover there's no "...'trying to prevent a bad or innaccurate story from being run' exception to the relevant statute..." [updated 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Joseph Wilson has lied numerous times, as documented by the Senate (SSCI) Report.
FACT: False. [added 10/15/05]

TALKING POINT: Joseph Wilson supported John Kerry and is a "Democrat".
FACT: He voted for George Bush Sr., financially supported Republicans in the past, including a $1000 campaign contribution to George W. Bush in Election 2000 (before the GOP turned on him and his wife, treasonously) and was recognized by George Bush Sr. for his bravery against Saddam Hussein in Iraq - where he was acting* ambassador before Gulf War I. He not only "sheltered 800 Americans at the embassy in Baghdad during Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait," his wife has long been a CIA WMD operative working to keeps WMDs away from terrorists. His pre-Iraq war (II) stance even got some support from George Bush Sr. Also see here. [*added; updated on 10/10/05]


III. KARL ROVE

TALKING POINT: Karl Rove did not leak Valerie Plame's name.
FACT: This is irrelevant since her name was not a secret; only the fact that she worked in the CIA was (which is the issue here) and he leaked that. (Also see here and here and this one, where the singularly appaling stupidity of John Gibson, Andrew Napolitano and John Podhoretz is revealed on this particular talking point. How these people continue to get paid for their commentary is beyond me). [updated 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Karl Rove did not know [mp3] the name of Valerie Plame when he spoke to Matt Cooper of Time.
FACT: Very likely false, especially given that this claim is a joke and is implausible (also see this) [updated 10/15/05]

TALKING POINT: Karl Rove was "not the leaker".
FACT: Rove's attorney's statement and Time magazine's Matt Cooper's email shows this claim is false. Rove did leak Plame's identity to Cooper at the minimum. (Whether or not this is found to be prosecutable is another matter).
P.S. Considering Rove was Nixon's henchman for dirty tricks, and has a long history of vile misbehavior and leaking secrets, this shouldn't exactly be a surprise to anyone. [updated 10/15/05]

TALKING POINT: Karl Rove was only the recipient of information, not a leaker.
FACT: False and false. [added 7/16/05]

TALKING POINT: Karl Rove did not reveal classified information.
FACT: A CIA agent's (in this case Valerie Plame's) identity is considered classified. Not to mention, Rove himself admitted that he was sharing classified information with Matt Cooper. [updated 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Karl Rove did not leak Valerie Plame's (CIA) identity.
FACT: Utterly, completely false. Again, the fact that Valerie Wilson was a CIA employee was a secret. [updated 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Karl Rove never knew that Valerie Plame was covert.
FACT: Almost certainly false. [updated 10/15/05]

TALKING POINT: Karl Rove first learnt of Valerie Plame's identity from Bob Novak.
FACT: False. Moreover, Rove also *confirmed* Valerie Plame's CIA identity to Novak; also see here and here. [updated 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Rove only circulated information about Valerie Plame after he saw Novak's article.
FACT: False. [added 7/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Rove first heard of Valerie Plame's identity from a reporter.
FACT: Misleading at best, and possibly false. It is possible that he did not hear this from a reporter. It is quite possible this talking point is just spin or post-facto myth-making to escape prosecution, not to mention it reflects a lack of interest in securing the identity of CIA officers by reporting what he heard back to the CIA for action. [updated 10/15/05]

TALKING POINT: Rove only confirmed Plame's identity to people who already knew it.
FACT: False, not to mention that confirming classified information to unauthorized people is illegal. [updated 10/15/05]

TALKING POINT: Karl Rove discussed Plame's identity only incidentally with Matt Cooper, after talking about welfare reform (the main topic).
FACT: Not according to Matt Cooper. Assuming Cooper is right, and there's no reason not to think so considering that Rove has been deceiving people throughout, then Rove's "welfare reform" claim in his email to Stephen Hadley reflects a deliberate intent to lie about what he said or did. [updated 10/15/05]

TALKING POINT: The fact that Karl Rove was on "double super secret background" with Matt Cooper indicates Rove did not want to expose Valerie Plame's identity to the public.
FACT: False. In fact, the exact opposite is true. If he DID NOT want to expose Valerie Plame's identity to the public he would have not have disclosed it at all or would have mentioned it to Matt Cooper off the record. Instead he specifically chose to speak on (deep) background. Also see this. [updated 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Exposing Valerie Plame was justifiable because Rove "was discouraging a reporter from writing a false story" based on Joe Wilson's "false premise" that George Tenet or Dick Cheney authorized his trip.
FACT: False. Indeed, the fact that George Tenet's response to Joseph Wilson's op-ed did not refer to Valerie Plame or her alleged role in Wilson's trip provides direct evidence that there was no need to reveal Valerie Plame's CIA identity to "set the record straight." Moreover there's no "...'trying to prevent a bad or innaccurate story from being run' exception to the relevant statute..." [updated 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Exposing Valerie Plame's identity was a "relevant detail if you were trying to come to a position on whether Iraq had tried to buy uranium in Africa"
FACT: Completely false. As George Tenet showed in his response to Wilson's op-ed, he did not need to bring Valerie Plame into the picture to set the record straight. [updated 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: All Rove was doing was trying to reveal the truth to Matt Cooper of Time magazine. [added 7/14/05]
FACT: False.

TALKING POINT: Karl Rove has never lied about his role in this matter.
FACT: Yes he has (also see here and here). [updated 10/15/05]

TALKING POINT: Rove has been entirely truthful to the Justice Department prosecutors and the grand jury.
FACT: False and false. [added 10/15/05]

TALKING POINT: Rove wasn't being untruthful, he just forgot to mention his conversation with Matt Cooper of Time magazine to the grand jury.
FACT: This claim doesn't even pass the smell test. [added 10/15/05]

TALKING POINT: Rove only told the White House he was not part of "any scheme", not that he wasn't "involved" in any way.
FACT: False. Not to mention he was very much part of a "scheme". [added 10/15/05]

TALKING POINT: Even if Karl Rove leaked Valerie Plame's identity, it's no big deal and deserves a medal.
FACT: False, false, and false. In fact, at one time the GOP's Ed Gillespie and George Bush disagreed (with an emphasis on 'd') with the notion that such things are not a big deal. In fact, if it's so not a big deal, why all the intrigue about what the White House can or cannot comment on? Why did Rove hide like the coward he is - behind Matt Cooper - and not come out in 2003 and tell the world about his 'noble' efforts? Why let Fitzgerald and Time magazine and Cooper go through all the s*** they went through when he could have stepped forward and revealed he was Cooper's source, especially considering his boss George Bush asked all Bush administration officials to come forward with the truth? All of this, in itself, shows what a pile of hogwash the claims are about Rove trying to set Cooper straight about his reporting. (As for medals, it probably deserves a medal in prison, to define the "role model" for fellow prisoners at Gitmo - while eating rice pilaf in the process). [updated 10/15/05]

TALKING POINT: Karl Rove had "guts" to do what he did.
FALSE: False. Even if one ignores Rove's lying and leaking Valerie Plame's identity (above), he hid like a coward for almost 2 years, resulting in wasted taxpayer money, effort and legal fees for Matt Cooper and Time magazine and put them through hell while they tried to protect him in response to a court order. Cowardice is the word that is most appropriate here, and considering that he is part of an administration of chickenhawks that's no surprise either. [updated 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Karl Rove is not a target of Fitzgerald's investigation.
FACT: He is at least a subject of the investigation. [updated 10/18/05]


IV. LEWIS LIBBY

TALKING POINT: Dick Cheney's Chief of Staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was not involved with the Valerie Plame expose.
FACT: False and false. [updated 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Libby and Rove may have known about Wilson's wife but did not know her name or her CIA identity.
FACT: This claim is a joke, is implausible and is false (also see this). [updated 10/15/05]

TALKING POINT: Libby first heard of Valerie Plame/Wilson and her CIA identity through NBC's/MSNBC's Tim Russert.
FACT: False. [updated 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Libby did not discuss Valerie Wilson's CIA identity with any reporters.
FACT: False. [updated 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Libby did not know about Valerie Wilson and the origins of Joseph Wilson's trip prior to meeting with Judith Miller.
FACT: False. [updated 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Libby and his lawyer did not behave in a way as to obstruct justice.
FACT: There seems to be sufficient evidence that Libby did obstruct justice. [added 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Libby met with Judith Miller and spoke about Valerie Wilson only after Joseph Wilson's op-ed.
FACT: False. [added 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Libby has always been truthful with the grand jury.
FACT: False and false. [updated 10/18/05]


V. BUSH ADMINISTRATION (outside of Rove and Libby)

TALKING POINT: Even if Karl Rove or Lewis Libby were involved in the Valerie Plame leak issue, this does not mean there was any involvement by others in the White House including Bush and Cheney.
FACT: False, false, and false. [added 10/15/05]

TALKING POINT: The White House has never lied or misled people about its role in this matter.
FACT: False.

TALKING POINT: The White House was not trying to "affirmatively" reach out to reporters to expose Plame's identity and there was no "calculated" or concerted effort here.
FACT: False. [updated 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Dick Cheney did not know Joseph Wilson.
FACT: Irrelevant but false. [updated 10/15/05]

TALKING POINT: The White House/GOP cannot comment on questions regarding Rove or his role because of the ongoing investigation.
FACT: False. A completely bogus claim considering that they are talking behind the scenes (also here) or issuing false/misleading press releases (also see here and here) spreading fakery about Wilson. Not to mention, they felt free to comment self-servingly about the whole matter until the Rove story broke and even after that. [updated 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Bush will not "prejudge the investigation based on media reports".
FACT: False. By claiming Karl Rove did nothing wrong and maintaining the fiction (for long) that there was no White House involvement in the Plame expose, he and the GOP more than prejudged the investigation. [added 7/14/05]

TALKING POINT: The White House response to questions on the Plame issue has been consistent.
FACT: False. [added 10/15/05]

TALKING POINT: Bush never said he would fire or take action against the leaker of Valerie Plame's identity.
FACT: False and false. [updated 10/15/05]

TALKING POINT: Bush only said he would fire the leaker of Valerie Plame's identity if it was "illegal" or done "knowingly".
FACT: False and false. [updated 7/16/05]

TALKING POINT: The Bush administration did not interfere in any way with the Fitzgerald grand jury investigation.
FACT: No one knows for sure. For one thing, John Ashcroft was forced to recuse himself after suspicions arose that he might have been sharing unauthorized information from the investigation with Karl Rove. [added 10/15/05]


VI. THE CRIME AND THE INVESTIGATION

TALKING POINT: The leak was justifiable.
FACT: False. The current crop of GOP leaders have a history of denouncing leaks in the strongest terms - without qualifications. President Bush has particularly been strongly against leaks of classified information of any kind. And if it was so justifiable, why have many officials refused to sign waivers to allow the journalists they spoke to on this case to testify and reveal their sources? Why would Libby ask Judith Miller to deceive readers about his position or allow her to sit in jail if it was so justifiable? (Not to mention, by Executive Order 12958 the White House is expected to investigate all leaks of classified information by administration officials). [updated 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: There was no crime committed with the Plame expose.
FACT: False, false, false, false, and false. When you start looking at the possible criminal statutes involved here, there are many to consider:

TALKING POINT: There was no crime committed since there was no "intent to impair national security" or intent to disclose Plame's identity "maliciously", especially if there was a "careless spilling of the beans"
FACT: None of these conditions have any connection whatsoever to the Law. This is complete B.S. pulled out of thin air. [updated 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was asked to investigate a violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act (IIPA) and nothing else - and should therefore not be "widening" his investigation.
FACT: Completely and totally false. The CIA referral to the Justice Department did not specifically mention the IIPA and only asked for an investigation into "federal laws" that were violated (and there are many laws that could fall into the picture here). When Fitzgerald was appointed, he was vested with "all the authority of the Attorney General with respect to the Department's investigation into the alleged unauthorized disclosure of a CIA employee's identity" and was given an open charter to decide whatever prosecution path he wanted to pursue on the Valerie Plame expose. [updated 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: Indicting Bush administration officials for perjury or similar crimes represents a "criminalization of politics" and is a dangerous trend.
FACT: Funny statement coming from the GOP, considering their long standing crusade against senior officials committing perjury even on matters associated with their private lives. [added 10/18/05]


VII. OTHER

TALKING POINT: Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is just an ideologue or partisan on a relentless campaign against the Bush administration.
FACT: False. Fitzgerald is a political independent who has prosecuted both Democrats and Republicans and is known for his integrity and superior legal skills in prosecuting serious national security related cases (including Al Qaeda) and organized crime/mafia cases. He is the first lawyer to build a criminal indictment against Osama bin Laden, well before 9/11. A former Deputy Attorney General in the Bush administration who appointed him to his current role, James Comey, said: "What's been interesting is seeing the media accounts and the columnists portray him as some sort of runaway prosecutor. That makes me smile...Because there is no prosecutor who is less of a runaway than this guy." One of Patrick Fitzerald's biggest backers is former GOP Senator Peter Fitzgerald (no relation) who said of Fitzgerald that he is "someone who couldn't be influenced...to prosecute someone unfairly". In fact, Sen. Fitzgerald has said that he picked Patrick Fitzgerald particularly on the recommendation of long-time Clinton-hater (and former FBI chief) Louis Freeh who, in response to this question: "Who's the best assistant U.S. attorney you know of in the country?'", said "Patrick Fitzgerald in the Southern District of New York". [updated 10/18/05]

TALKING POINT: This is all just a partisan attack by Democrats
FACT: False. The GOP leadership has a habit of minimizing numerous acts of treason from individuals inside the Bush administration over the last several years, by smearing truth-tellers. This is just the latest episode among many. In private, even Republicans admit that this kind of nonsense would have resulted in Congressional hearings "in a second", if the President had been a Democrat. Republicans like Dick Armey were calling the Plame expose a "cowardly act of revenge" that should be prosecuted, before Rove was revealed as a leaker. Not to mention the hypocrisy of Rove himself (or that of other Republicans).

BONUS TALKING POINT (just for fun): President Bush is committed to upholding the honor and dignity of his office.
FACT: For the umpteenth time, false, false, false, false and false.

P.S. *One item in this list (about Rove's lawyer) was deleted on 10/15/05 since it lacked any substantive relevance.

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