Saturday :: Jul 16, 2005

Saturday Rove-Plame Update

by Steve

Rather than construct a write-up of my own, I'll let Armando's great write-up over at Daily Kos speak for itself. The shorthand is that Patrick Fitzgerald's staff are focusing on the State Department memo that claimed Joe Wilson was set up to go on his trip by his wife, a memo that the CIA discredited a long time ago because the Agency staffer identified as having been in the meeting to discuss Wilson's dispatching to Niger could not possibly have been at the meeting in question. This State Department memo was written four weeks before Wilson's column came out, and after the NYT's Nick Kristoff said that a former US ambassador to an African nation (Wilson) had already debunked the Niger uranium story long before Bush used it as the "16 words" in the 2003 SOTU. As Bush and his staff went on an early-July 2003 trip to Africa, Colin Powell asked for a copy of the June 10 memo to take with him on the plane.

This is where Mike Isikoff of Newsweek wrote last year that it was possible that the memo was the source of information that someone inside the White House used to out Plame. According to today's Times, Fitzgerald is broadening his focus beyond Rove to include other people who either may have seen that memo or went on that African trip, namely Ari Fleischer, Scooter Libby, and others.

This focus on the memo may be shortsighted; the memo refers to Valerie Wilson, but Novak already knew from another source that Wilson was actually Valerie Plame, which was the name she operated under as a NOC agent at the Agency. So it would appear that the source of Novak’s information was something other than this memo, which given the Agency’s subsequent dismissal of its veracity could have been written purely as an effort to drag State and Powell into the web.

Of course it’s plausible that someone like John Bolton knew already from his staffers and his work on WMDs with the Agency that Valerie Wilson was really Valerie Plame, because according to the Senate report the meeting in question back in 2002 was held by CIA’s Counter proliferation Division (CPD), and was attended by analysts from the State Department’s INR and CIA's Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control Center (WINPAC) division. Bolton's chief of staff, Frederick Fleitz, was on loan to Bolton from WINPAC. And remember that Bolton and Novak were good friends…

Steve :: 10:30 AM :: Comments (34) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!