New York Times Tonight Puts Cheney Right In The Middle Of It
OK, let’s check tonight’s bombshell from the New York Times (and yes, we can ask later about why this paper got this information, from whom, and why now?).
According to the Times tonight, Fitzgerald knows that Scooter Libby learned of Valerie Plame’s employment at the Agency in June 2003, but not from a journalist, as he testified under oath to the grand jury.
Libby's own notes show that Libby learned of Plame’s employment from none other than his boss, Dick Cheney. And how did Cheney find out? Well, he heard about Plame’s employment from George Tenet, who was responding to Cheney’s fishing expedition to find out all he could about Wilson and his wife. It is important to note that there is nothing in these notes apparently that indicates Cheney or Libby knew any more from Tenet than Plame’s employment at the Agency, and there is no indication that Cheney or Libby knew that Plame was NOC.
But as David Corn notes, this causes major problems for Cheney. First, it puts him at the heart of the effort to find out about Wilson and his wife a month before Novak’s column came out. Second, Libby has an obstruction and possible perjury charge now hanging around his neck. Third, if Libby lied to the grand jury about where he heard about Plame in an effort to protect his boss (saying he heard about her from a journalist when in fact he heard about Plame from Cheney), then what did Cheney tell Fitzgerald about where he heard about Plame? If Cheney told Fitzgerald the same thing that Libby did, and now Fitzgerald has information that both Libby and Cheney lied to him, then he will have Cheney as an unindicted co-conspirator and someone who engaged in obstruction as well.
But note something else. The Times says tonight in this piece that Cheney was interviewed by Fitzgerald under oath.
What is also known now as a result of this disclosure, as Steve Clemons notes, is that Cheney was knee-deep in this whole sordid smear campaign from Day One, and let Libby catch spears for him.
It is also clear that Dick Cheney lied to Tim Russert on national television back in September 2003, as Digby notes.
It is also far from clear, despite the spin behind the Times' story, that George Tenet showed up at the White House and dumped the name Valerie Plame in Dick Cheney's lap in June 2003, as Larry Johnson notes over at TPM Cafe. It is more likely that Tenet went to confirm that she may have been involved in recommending him for the assignment, and that she works at the CIA. But it is doubtful that Tenet would have told Cheney that Valerie Wilson was Valerie Plame of NOC/Brewster Jennings fame. That would have come from someone else in the following four weeks before Novak's column came out, someone like John Bolton or his staff. Oh, that's right. Both Wurmser and Hannah worked in both places. Hmmmm...
Lastly, it is now clear that every time George W. Bush feigned ignorance of who knew about Valerie Plame these last two years, or who on his staff was involved in this, he was lying. Unless you want to believe that what Dick Cheney does every day is a mystery to George W. Bush. And if George W. Bush knew that Cheney had lied under oath to Patrick Fitzgerald about being the source of Valerie Plame’s identity, NOC or not, then isn’t George W. Bush also guilty of obstruction of justice?
And who is leaking the substance of the Libby notes now in Fitzgerald’s possession? Presumably it isn’t Fitzgerald himself, although he would do this to pressure someone to flip at this late date. We know it isn’t Libby or his attorney, since the revelation doesn’t do Libby any good. So who would know what was in Scooter Libby’s notes, and that Scooter was willing to lie to Fitzgerald to protect Cheney?
Judy Miller would.
(Thanks to dj, and reader Steve Kolb for the tip)