Thursday :: Aug 25, 2005

Los Angeles Times Summarizes Plame Case To Date

by Steve

"He's a Democrat"
--The reason given by Karl Rove as to why he was determined to destroy Joe Wilson

The Los Angeles Times runs a good summary of what we know so far on the White House effort to destroy Joe Wilson and collaterally destroy Valerie Plame, an article that touches on the lengths the Bush White House will go to exact political payback against its opponents. Most of the information in this piece is known to readers of this blog already thanks to the great work of Eriposte and others.

You can be sure that Patrick Fitzgerald knows all about this information and these tactics by now, but here are some of the major points the Times makes in the story today.

A Rove ally has said it was necessary for Rove to counter Wilson's exaggerated claims about the import of his mission.
However, some of Rove's colleagues say that he and others used poor judgment in talking about Wilson's wife.
"With the benefit of hindsight, it's clear our focus should have been on Wilson's facts, not his conclusions or his wife or his politics," said one official who was helping with White House strategy at the time.
In one White House conversation, investigators have learned, Rove was asked why he was focused so intently on discrediting the former diplomat.
"He's a Democrat," Rove said, citing Wilson's campaign contributions. By that time, Wilson had begun advising Sen. John F. Kerry's presidential campaign.

Presto! I agree with the unnamed White House official: It would have been perfectly legitimate for the White House to challenge Wilson on the facts. But this was another case of Rovian overreach, honed by years of watching Democrats cower in his wake instead of going toe-to-toe with him on, yes, the facts.

What role Plame played in securing the mission for her husband has become a noisy sideshow to the substantive questions his trip raised about prewar intelligence. It is not clear why Plame's role would have been relevant to Wilson's uranium findings. But it was very important in the campaign to discredit him.
Wilson was not an intelligence officer or investigator, but his resume suggested he was a logical candidate. He had served as ambassador to Gabon and in U.S. embassies in Congo and Burundi; he had experience with the trade of strategic minerals; and he was senior director for Africa on the National Security Council in the Clinton administration.
On his trip, he interviewed Niger officials and citizens and talked with French mine managers. He also spoke with the U.S. ambassador to Niger, Barbro Owens-Kirkpatrick, who recently had examined the Iraq uranium claim herself — as had a four-star general, Carlton W. Fulford Jr., deputy commander of the U.S. European Command.
Like Fulford and the ambassador, Wilson said, he concluded that there was little reason to believe Iraq had tried to purchase yellowcake from Niger. He did learn, however, that Iraqi officials had previously met with counterparts from Niger.

Yes, Wilson’s conclusions were consistent with what others knew as well, and contrary to the crap that Pat Roberts put into the Senate Intelligence Committee report, Wilson’s conclusions were not out of left field. They were just inconvenient for Roberts as he was running interference for the White House.

An ingrained antipathy toward the CIA may help explain the hostile reaction to Wilson's public claim that he and others had debunked the reported Iraqi interest in uranium from Niger.
That skepticism was validated for Cheney and Libby by more than a decade of CIA blunders they had observed from their days at the Pentagon.
"It's part of the warp and woof and fabric of DOD not to like the intelligence community," said Larry Wilkerson, a 31-year military veteran who was former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's chief of staff.
After the 1991 Persian Gulf War, U.N. inspectors discovered that Hussein had far greater capabilities in chemical, biological and nuclear weapons than the CIA had estimated.

For Cheney and Libby, this experience shaped their skepticism about the CIA and carried over to preparations for the war in Iraq, said a person who spoke with Libby about it years later.

"Libby's basic view of the world is that the CIA has blown it over and over again," said the source, who declined to be identified because he had spoken with Libby on a confidential basis. "Libby and Cheney were [angry] that we had not been prepared for the potential in the first Gulf War."

You know what? I’ll buy that; the CIA had screwed up for over a decade so I can understand why Cheney and Libby would be distrustful of what the Agency was telling them. Yet it was the IAEA that found the CIA was wrong back in 1991 and the same IAEA found that Saddam didn’t have what Cheney thought they had this time, yet Cheney chose to ignore the IAEA. And, Cheney and Rummy were more willing to trust their gut on Ahmed Chalabi than they were the Agency, who had documented instances of Chalabi’s lies.

And lastly, the Times story makes reference to the same point that Richard Wolff does in his Vanity Fair piece this month: Time magazine’s editors knew that Matt Cooper had a huge story on their hands about Rove’s involvement and the lengths the White House went to in order to discredit an opponent, but they sat on the story until after the election for fear of becoming part of a story that might affect the election.

Cooper did not ask Rove for a waiver, in part because his lawyer advised against it. In addition, Time editors were concerned about becoming part of such an explosive story in an election year.

I’m sure watching what the White House and Mighty Wurlitzer did to CBS over the TANG memos convinced Time that they made the right decision to keep the public in the dark on this until well after the election.

Steve :: 12:57 PM :: Comments (24) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!